The spring of 1986 turned out to be a harbinger of potentially great risk to the quality of Washington’s environment and the potential destruction of many of its most beautiful natural resources.
In May of that year, Iroquois Gas Transmission System (Iroquois Pipeline) submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to build a 356 mile long natural gas pipeline through New York and Connecticut. The pipeline would run south through Lake Waramaug’s eastern watershed, cross the Shepaug, run through Steep Rock into the center of our town and proceed south towards the Roxbury Land Trust and beyond. Washington was to be twice blessed in that Iroquois also proposed that a second pipeline (spur) be built, which would begin at the Green proceeding east through the Gunnery athletic fields, cross Nettleton Hollow, bisect the Dorr Nature Center and then on to Hartford.
Needless to say, a clarion call to arms was sounded by WEC. The Council, along with six prominent local residents, led the charge. It organized a grass roots effort, became an intervenor in the proceedings, raised close to $300,000 and was instrumental in forming the Northern Valley Environmental Council (NVEC), a group of nine towns affected by the pipeline that joined together to confront Iroquois. WEC on behalf of NVEC hired a prominent Washington DC law firm that specialized in FERC regulatory matters.
FERC prepared an environmental impact statement that supported many of the concerns raised by NVEC. As a result, Iroquois was forced to change the route of its pipeline so that it would not do as much environmental damage as originally proposed.
WEC through its leadership of a strong and far reaching opposition to the pipeline was rewarded in early 1989 when Iroquois decided not to route its pipeline through Washington.