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Berkshire Economic Development Agency Stands By Kinder Morgan's Investment

The company behind a controversial $5 billion natural gas pipeline that would cut across New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire is investing in Berkshire County’s economic development agency. It’s a move that’s raising eyebrows around the region.Opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct project has grown over the past year, with groups forming a three-state coalition to prevent the natural gas pipeline. Which why news that the energy company invested $20,000 to become one of nine leadership investors of 1Berkshire this past summer has some concerned. 1Berkshire COO Jonathan Butler says membership does not mean support.

“Think of the message it would send if we told them they couldn’t be a member because we don’t like a project that they’re doing,” Butler said. “Then imagine how that would transcend to 1,700 businesses that are members of our organization. We’ve got probably hundreds of businesses that at some point or other have done something politically that we probably didn’t have a position on. I don’t think it would be a healthy thing for us to start picking and choosing who can members of our organization based upon a political issue or a specifically proposed project.”

Butler says 1Berkshire, which encompasses the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, doesn’t take a stance on political issues or specific projects unless compelled to by a majority of its members.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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