As of November 19th, Deerfield Academy stands in public opposition to the Tennessee Gas Company’s NED Pipeline “as currently proposed.” The pipeline would be constructed through Franklin County in April of 2017, passing within a half-mile of the Deerfield campus. Deerfield’s announcement follows those of both Bement and Northfield Mount Hermon, and together, these public stances fuel what The Greenfield Recorder calls “growing opposition.” In an effort to provide safety for students, to limit environmental destruction of the area, and to preserve the history of Deerfield, the Deerfield Board of Trustees has formally opposed the project as it now stands.
Director of Communications Mr. David Thiel’s statement for The Greenfield Recorder, explains that the pipeline “affects such a broad swath of people that it had to be addressed.” Once the issue was brought to the Board, the members felt that the pipeline could pose danger to the Deerfield community, an important factor in their ultimate opposition.
Dr. Curtis explained to The Scroll: “It was clear that safety and environmental concerns weighed heavily in the [Board’s] decision.”
In order to make this decision, the Board followed a process Dr. Curtis called “deliberate and careful” in a school-wide email. This process, she later explained, involved the Board of Trustees reading two articles, “One in favor of the pipeline, and another against,” as well as the two page spread on the pipeline that was published in last month’s edition of The Scroll. The Board then met to “discuss the issue thoroughly.” At this meeting, Mr. H. Rodgin Cohen, Head of the Board of Trustees, came prepared with a resolution based on the information he had obtained. That resolution “was slightly amended based on the feedback from trustee members,” Dr. Curtis added.
She explained that The Board “felt it was important to highlight that it did not support the pipeline project ‘as currently proposed.’”
The Board’s process did not end at that meeting, however, as the members took another two weeks “to study the issue further” before arriving at their final decision. Dr. Curtis shared the Board’s decision with the Deerfield community shortly after it was shared publicly by way of The Greenfield Recorder. Dr. Curtis also found it important to establish an advisory committee to meet regularly as the NED project unfolds.
Thismcommittee, comprised of Dr. Hills, Mr. Stobierski, and Mr. Finan, serves as the link between the ongoing matter of the pipeline and Deerfield administration, and will continue to closely analyze the issue.
Dr. Curtis shared that Deerfield’s plan going forward is “to stay informed about the evolution of [the] project, and to continue to focus on the safety and environmental factors that concern the school.” The Deerfield Scroll will continue to cover the pipeline and update its readers to any new announcements.