State regulators have allowed almost three dozen groups and organizations to take part in the review of a proposed natural gas pipeline through Addison County.
Vermont Gas Systems needs approval from the Public Service Board to extend a pipeline south to Middlebury and then west to Ticonderoga, N.Y.
The board recently admitted multiple parties into the case, which means they can present testimony and cross examine witnesses. The interveners include the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, the gas company’s main competitors.
Matt Cota is the executive director of the association, which represents independent fuel oil and propane dealers. He said his organization plans to challenge some of the arguments for the project.
“I think the board recognized, as well as the Public Service Department, that the fuel dealers can provide some insight into the claims made about Vermont Gas Systems with regards to their product when it comes to the economics of it and the environmental aspects of it,” Cota said. “And now thanks to the PSB, the public will be able to hear both sides.”
The PSB did not allow an environmental group called Vermont Intergenerational Stewards to get involved in the pipeline review. The board said it did not have enough information to evaluate whether the group’s members would be affected by the project.
Will Bennington is an environmental activist and spokesman for Intergenerational Stewards. He said he was surprised by the ruling.
“We’re going to continue to hold our public officials accountable to make sure that they’re representing these interests,” he said. “And we want to hold organizations that we see as allies, like the Conservation Law Foundation, accountable to really look at and keep bringing up the real environmental impacts of this project, from the well head to the burner tip.”
The board did allow the Conservation Law Foundation into the case, as well as numerous landowners along the route.