BETHEL— The formation of an ad hoc committee to explore the possibility of bringing natural gas to the Bethel area was approved at the Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night.

The board agreed to a proposal proffered by Christopher Garner, a business development consultant from East Bethel, to form an ad hoc committee to study the feasibility of the Bethel area tapping into a nearby high-pressure natural gas pipeline known as the Rumford Lateral.

The Rumford Lateral is a 47.5-mile-long natural gas transmission system owned and operated by Portland Natural Gas. The Rumford Lateral was initially built to connect the Rumford and Jay paper mills with the system’s larger 24-inch diameter natural gas trunk line which extends 272 miles from the New Hampshire/Quebec border to Haverill Massachusetts.

The Bethel Board of Selectmen recommended to Chris Garner that the five-member ad hoc committee should be comprised of a diversified group including members from the Bethel Area Businessmen Association, Bethel Conservation Committee, John Yates of the Dead River Company volunteered his services, private citizens and even a representative that was skeptical of the idea.

The Board of Selectmen advised the ad hoc committee to return in 30 days from its fact-finding exploration on tapping the natural gas line.

“I’m originally from New Jersey,” Garner said, “where natural gas is much more prevalent than in Maine. It is more affordable, very abundant  and cleaner than oil.”

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