Council Reiterates Opposition to Proposed Gas Pipeline

In response to a letter U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte wrote to town selectmen and administrators of towns affected by Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline, the Town Council reiterated their position against the project.

In her letter, Ayotte wrote she opposes the project going forward unless and until important questions and concerns from New Hampshire residents are sufficiently and meaningfully addressed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General.

Ayotte noted that despite repeated questions from members of the congressional delegation and local residents regarding the proposed pipeline, FERC and the DOE Inspector General have not provided meaningful answers.

“About six months ago, we passed a resolution in opposition to (the proposed NED pipeline),” Chairman John Farrell said. “We came out against it before the governor or anyone else came out against it. There’s nothing new, we remain where we are, 5-0 opposed.”

Thomas Batton of 32 Severance Drive, who attended Kinder Morgan’s most recent informational session in Rockingham County at Windham High School, said “there were a lot of questions asked that weren’t answered.”

“I was very concerned when I saw the list of abutters. I’m across the street,” he said, noting the list provided to the Town only contained parcels the pipeline cuts through. “My neighbors across the street are right up against the property they’re proposing to use.”

Badden asked why the abutter list isn’t more extensive.

“We have been asking for the abutter list for close to a year and we just got it,” Farrell said. “We’ll check that information out for you and try to answer your questions.”

Ayotte said she has joined members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation in repeatedly pushing federal regulators and Kinder Morgan to provide answers to the questions residents have raised-particularly with regard to the threshold need for this project, the safety concerns involved, and potential interactions with other projects, as well as the potentially significant impact on local communities.

On Dec. 10, the delegation sent a letter to the FERC requesting substantive answers to the following specific concerns:

• Do you agree that FERC should make the threshold determination for “public need” before siting a proposed pipeline? Has FERC made that threshold determination in the case of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline? If so, please share with us your detailed analysis regarding the determination.

• Do you agree that in determining the “public need” for a proposed pipeline in a particular region, FERC should evaluate the potential impact of other proposed projects in the region, which may collectively provide unneeded excess capacity? Has it done so for the proposed NED project?

• Do you agree that FERC should give strong consideration during its “public need” review to a project’s economic and environmental impact on communities? Has it done so for the proposed NED project?

• The public comment system is receiving a very high volume of comments. What steps do the Commissioners take to directly review information on “public need” submitted via that system? Does FERC staff review, analyze, and brief Commissioners on those submissions?

• How do stakeholders with information relevant to the determination of “public need” ensure Commissioners will directly review that information?

• Do you agree that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) should have a role in FERC’s determination of whether to permit a proposed pipeline? Has PHMSA provided FERC with safety analysis for the proposed NED project?

The delegation also wrote the DOE Inspector General raising concerns with the complexity of FERC’s permitting process for new interstate natural gas pipeline and the Commission’s consideration of public comments during that process, according to Ayotte.

The DOE Inspector General twice responded that it was reviewing the FERC’S permitting process as part of its audit plan for fiscal year 2016, but did not provide answers to questions raised by the delegation, Ayotte wrote.

Additionally, the delegation asked Kinder Morgan for a detailed explanation as to why the original route, which ran primarily through Massachusetts, was shifted to New Hampshire.

“While Kinder Morgan responded to the delegation’s letter, I remain concerned about the shift in the route,” Ayotte wrote. “It is disappointing that despite requests from both the delegation and local residents, FERC and the DOE Inspector General have thus far failed to provide meaningful answers to these concerns, let alone provide assurance that they will take them into account. These are important questions and New Hampshire residents deserve substantive answers.”

Soon after Ayotte sent her letter to local communities affected by the pipeling project, Gov. Maggie Hassan sent a letter to the FERC reiterating the need for the Commission and Kinder Morgan to address the concerns of local communities.

“I share many of the concerns that communities and individuals have raised,” she wrote. “I ask again that FERC address these concerns and require that the company work to address the environmental, public health and safety issues raised by affected communities. It is my belief that if the company cannot do so, the project should not move forward as currently proposed.”

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