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Hundreds Oppose Pipeline Project at FERC Scoping Session
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:11AM / Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Natural Gas distributor Kinder Morgan filed some 6,500 pages of environmental reports on Friday.   On Tuesday, residents filled the Taconic High School auditorium to tell federal regulators their concerns about the environmental impacts of Kinder Morgan's proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project.   "These documents are massive with highly technical and important information," said state Rep. Paul Mark at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission scoping session.   He said the documents that were submitted contain omissions of critical importance and it is "simply impossible" for stakeholders to have reviewed them in

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Environmentalists, Solar Industry Push For Net Metering Increase
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:14PM / Monday, July 20, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Utility companies have nearly hit the statewide net-metering cap and now environmentalists and the solar industry are pushing to raise it again.   Net metering is a program that requires utility companies to buy unused energy produced by alternative or sustainable energy. The cap limits the amount the utility is required to buy from the sources and is currently around 5 percent of the total generation.   Photovoltaic energy has been the most popular use of net metering and, in 2008, the state has several times over the past half-dozen years increased the power generation eligibility for net metering.   With utility companies buying all that they are

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Kinder Morgan Shrinks Pipeline Size; Public Hearings Scheduled
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:12AM / Saturday, July 18, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Kinder Morgan is prepared to move forward with the proposed natural gas pipeline through the Berkshires, albeit the plan is for a somewhat smaller size.   On Thursday, Kinder Morgan announced it will continue with the permitting process for the Northeast Energy Direct Project, a 30-inch (down from 36 inches) pipeline from New York state through the Berkshires to Dracut. The project is a $3.3 billion investment in which the company says would cure a shortage of energy in New England.   "We are excited that the market path component is moving forward and a determination now has been made on mainline capacity for the project, which is specifically

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North Adams Farmers Market Expands This Season
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
05:21AM / Saturday, June 20, 2015
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Farmers Market expands this year with more vendors and activities for children.

Director of Community Events Suzy Helme said this season's farmers market, which kicked off last weekend, is hosting nearly 30 vendors.

"It is a nice downtown space where everyone can gather, visit, and see each other but also support local businesses," Helme said. "You are supporting your local community farmers, you are eating healthier, and you are supporting a healthier environment."

Helme said Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art intern Emily Edwards will be the market manager and will help bring in new vendors and activities, such as craft

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Williamstown Con Comm Clears Way for Solar Project
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:14AM / Wednesday, June 17, 2015
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Conservation Commission on Thursday OK'd plans for a 1.9-megawatt solar project on the town's capped landfill.   The commission reviewed plans for the project with engineer Steven Wiehe of Peabody's Weston and Sampson.   Wiehe explained that the project will include about 6,000 solar photovoltaic panels on about 7 acres of the 12-acre site.   In order to avoid harming the liner that covers the landfill, the work will be done above ground, and the area with the panels will be covered by 4 inches of stone gravel, Wiehe said.   And to prevent the growth of vegetation through that gravel layer, the developers of the solar project

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Williamstown Wants More Info Before Joining Anti-Pipeline Coalition
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:25PM / Tuesday, June 09, 2015
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Monday opted to gather more information about the pros and cons of joining an anti-gas pipeline group before making a decision on whether to actually join.

The vote to seek a conference call with Northeast Energy Solution's lawyer came after an hour of discussion prompted by a presentation by Tad Ames, president of Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

Ames came before the board to ask that Williamstown join NEES, a coalition of nonprofit environmental organizations and other stakeholders that was formed in response to the proposed Kinder Morgan high-pressure natural gas pipeline that would run through the

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Williamstown Con Comm OKs Restoration Plan for Waubeeka
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:35AM / Sunday, May 24, 2015
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Conservation Commission has approved a restoration plan for a portion of denuded riverbank at Waubeeka Golf Links.   At its May 14 meeting, the commission reviewed a plan developed by a wetlands scientist from Guntlow & Associates and reviewed by officials at the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.   Guntlow's Megan Myers appeared at the meeting to represent Waubeeka owner Michael Deep, who also attended the session, televised on the town's community access station, WilliNet.   Commissioner Henry Art had some specific concerns about details in the plan, but the commission voted to approve an enforcement

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Lanesborough Residents Calling On Town To Oppose Pipeline
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:07AM / Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — It was standing-room only in the Selectmen's office Monday night with dozens of residents asking the board to stop the proposed natural gas pipeline.   The proposed Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct project is eyed to install a high-pressure gas line through 19 properties in town on its way from the Marcellus Shale territory in Pennsylvania to Maine. The route cuts through Hancock, Lanesborough, Cheshire, Dalton, Hinsdale, Windsor and Peru. It runs along the electrical lines just north of Town Hall, bisecting the town.   The residents on Monday delivered a petition with more than 500 signatures asking the Selectmen to oppose the project, citing

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Williamstown Bag Bylaw Advocates Want Town Meeting Decision
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:39AM / Friday, May 15, 2015
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Proponents of bylaws to ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers say it is time to make a stand, not a study.   The town will decide at Tuesday's annual town meeting whether to enact two bylaws generated by citizens' petitions.   The Board of Selectmen recommends that the bylaws be reshaped over the next year.   Brad Verter, one of the organizers of the citizen-driven bylaw effort, is having none of that.   "There is zero point in tabling it," Verter said shortly after the board's vote. "Each of their concerns is very easily addressed.   "They're worried about the legality and

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Friends Group Formed To Improve Public Lands & Forests
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:21AM / Monday, May 11, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There have been plenty of studies and press conferences touting the economic impact of local cultural institutions, all with the backdrop of the beautiful Berkshires.

But why can't the "beautiful Berkshires" be an economic driver as well?   Companies and politicians all see the benefits of investing in culture but some say not nearly the same level of emphasis is placed on open spaces, hiking trails, natural beauty, and outdoor recreation.   Ryan Aylesworth is hoping to change that.   The former president and CEO of Audubon International and once a intergovernmental affairs liaison for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has formed the

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