State Rep. Stephen Kulik files bill seeking royalties for foreign sale of natural gas

Bill mandates Kinder Morgan declare whether it has plans to liquify the gas and sell some of it abroad.

March against proposed Tennessee Gas pipeline continues in Ashf
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline is not popular in Franklin County. (Greg Saulmon / The Republican)
By Fred Contrada | on January 21, 2015 at 2:34 PM

WORTHINGTON - As promised, Rep. Stephen Kulik has filed a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature seeking royalties for foreign sales of natural gas for landowners whose property will be crossed by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

Kulik, a Democrat from Worthington, had promised to file the bill so that Kinder Morgan, the company behind the pipeline, will have to declare whether or not it plans to liquify the gas and sell some of it abroad. The 36-inch pipeline would run 125 miles through Massachusetts from the New York border to Dracut and deliver up to 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, some if it created by the controversial process of fracking. Six towns in Kulik's district-- Plainfield, Ashfield, Shelburne, Conway, Deerfield and Montague-- are along the proposed route.

Critics of the project have said that Kinder Morgan is not being transparent about the destination of the gas. A company spokesman has said at, at present, it only has commitments from customers in the Northeast U.S. The spokesman declined to speculate on future customers, saying the industry is subject to supply and demand. A report released this month by the Patrick Administration concluded that Massachusetts is facing a shortage of natural gas.

Kulik's bill, which will go out to committees, seeks a flat royalty of 12.5 percent of all foreign sale of gas from the pipeline for property owners whose land will be taken by the project.

"We don't get the benefit of it if it's exported," he said.

Kulik, who has also said Kinder Morgan lacks transparency, hopes the bill will force the company's hand and declare how much of the gas it plans to export.

"I view this as truth in advertizing," he said.

Conway attorney Cristobal Bonifaz, who is representing the town of Deerfield pro bono in its battle with the pipeline, said he supports Kulik's bill.

"There is no reason why a company that is transporting gas for its own profit should not pay royalties to land owners," he said.