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Natural gas pipeline hearing in Hinesburg - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Natural gas pipeline hearing in Hinesburg

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HINESBURG, Vt. -

The proposed Addison natural gas pipeline isn't sitting well with many residents of Addison County, and Thursday night was their chance to say so.

But the discussion drew more than just the local crowd.

Singing in the halls and shouting outside, an environmental group called Rising Tide sang their message loud and clear Thursday night. They oppose this pipeline and all future fossil fuel projects.

"Our stance has always at Rising Tide has always been no new fossil fuels because we need to be switching to renewable energy and this is just not a sustainable resource," says Emily Reynolds with Rising Tide.

Others who were inside testifying at a Public Service Board hearing believe in the benefit the natural gas pipeline could bring to local business.

"When completed it will promote the vitality of Addison County's economy. The region is home to a variety of enterprises, all of which could benefit from this expansion plan," says Lisa Ventriss with the Vermont Business Roundtable.

One business owner from Burlington says the low cost of natural gas could be a way to draw in new business to the region.

"In my company I currently use $29,000 in natural gas. If I were to use the same amount of propane it would cost $81,000 a year," says Burlington business owner Al Gobeille.

A second phase of the project would eventually connect the line under Lake Champlain to the International Paper Mill in Ticonderoga. Phase one involves bringing the pipeline from Chittenden County along the VELCO corridor through 11 towns in Addison County. Residents in Monkton largely oppose the plan, though they'll be able to tap into the pipeline in 2016. Hinesburg will not be serviced by the pipeline, but in the hours our cameras were at the meeting, only one resident spoke up though his attorney.

"What happens with property waste and the safety of the installation and maintenance of the line. Those are the concerns that we have, thank you," says attorney Jeffrey Messina.

A portion of the pipeline in Hinesburg will run through private property. A spokesman for Vermont Gas says they learned a lesson in Monkton and are doing what they can to calm concerns for residents in Hinesburg.

"We would compensate them for any damage to crops or any interruption in that so there wouldn't be any losses," says Steve Wark with Vermont Gas.

There will be more hearings to come as the regulatory process continues. Vermont Gas hopes to start the project in 2014.

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