Bill seeks to block tariffs for LNG exports

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STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 2, 2015…..Gas companies would be prevented from potentially levying tariffs on Massachusetts ratepayers as a means of funding a pipeline that would export to foreign markets, under a bill considered by a panel of lawmakers on Tuesday.

The bill “puts the brakes on the gas customers and taxpayers footing the bill for a pipeline” that connects with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, according to Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead), the sponsor of the legislation (H 2494).

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue took testimony on the bill, filed for the first time this session, on Tuesday. Environmental activists supported the legislation; there was no testimony Tuesday in opposition to the bill.

Massachusetts imports its natural gas from other states and countries and the lack of capacity on existing pipelines has been identified by officials as a reason for the region’s high energy prices.

Ehrlich said she filed the bill because several proposals for a pipeline raise the prospect of a tax on gas ratepayers and taxpayers. The bill would prohibit tariffs, taxes or fees to fund a natural gas pipeline connected to a liquefied natural gas export terminal.

“The line of reasoning I will pursue today will lead one to conclude that the primary reason for this pipeline is not to address the needs of Massachusetts ratepayers but to supply overseas markets with inexpensive fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, something that seems obvious to me but is completely underplayed or denied by pipeline proponents,” she told the committee.

Ehrlich also pointed to two recently built import terminals off the coast of Gloucester and Marblehead, which she worried would be turned into export terminals. The Marblehead import terminal was built in 2008; the one 10 miles off Gloucester was built in 2010.

“In reality, the specter of export is so incredibly lucrative that there is really no need at all for gas customers or taxpayers to pay for this pipeline,” she said.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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