National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

E. Building a Trans-State Natural Gas Pipeline

A Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline Project has been announced, proposing the extension of a natural gas pipeline through Maine. The underground pipeline would bring natural gas from new sources in Nova Scotia, terminating in the Boston area. The route would cover 243 miles in Maine, 32 miles in New Hampshire and 15 miles in Massachusetts. The plans also call for siting a "compression station" in a rural area of central Maine.

Maine is now unserved by natural gas except in one urban location, Lewiston, which terminates a pipeline beginning in Montreal. Fuel oil and hydroelectric power are major sources of energy for Maine's largest consumers, the paper industry. The pipeline is not expected to be a source of natural gas for Maine's residential customers; however, spur lines are proposed to four towns which are sites of paper mills, which are potential customers.

According to news reports, right-of-way issues have not yet been addressed. Though the State will have some environmental role in the approval process, regulatory control of the project will be under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Maine's governor hopes that "misplaced fears" will not obstruct this project. A working group of the State Planning Office (which has in- house GIS) will be examining the issue.

Characterization of public goals and dialogue:

The public is largely unaware of this proposal. News coverage has been positive but minimal. Alternative routes and landowner interests have not been identified. Goal of public process would be to raise awareness, if only to mitigate "misplaced fears."

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