Opposition to Pipeline Encourages Letter Writing as Company Donations Pour In

Opponents to Kinder Morgan’s proposed natural gas pipeline organized a workshop on writing letters to local elected officials and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) expressing their concerns with the project.

The meeting also served as an opportunity for activists from several communities to share information and discuss their efforts to mobilize against the project.

Among the group’s concerns are that the project won’t directly benefit New Hampshire communities, property loss and disruption, introduction of health and safety risks and environmental impacts.

“We wanted to follow a workshop format to share what we’ve done and exercise this together,” said Julia Steed Mawson of Pelham, who co-hosted the July 16 meeting at the Londonderry Cable Access Center with Cherylann Pierce of 23 Mayflower Drive. “We’re all trying to learn and listen. There are no easy answers to this project.”

“Letters to the FERC don’t need to be fancy. They can be only a few sentences long. Every submission counts,” Pierce said.

“None of us is as smart as all of us,” Steed Mawson said. “We’re hoping to share information, and gather people together to share their experience. That would be a big step forward for us.”

Pierce called the process a “rollercoaster,” noting Kinder Morgan’s recent $300,000 donation to the Londonderry Trailways, which she believes is “a conflict of interest.”

Kinder Morgan also sponsored the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Legislative Breakfast, and last week the company donated $1,000 for the Town’s Old Home Day celebration.

Old Home Day Committee Chairman Kathy Wagner announced at the group’s last meeting before the annual celebration that Kinder Morgan will staff a booth on the Town Common, as will a non-profit opposition group.

Although organized opposition to the pipeline is growing, Wagner said Old Home Day is open to all groups and political parties, adding it’s not unprecedented for a major company like Kinder Morgan to make a donation for Old Home Day when it is proposing a substantial project in the community.

Eversource Energy, which now includes the company formerly known as Public Service Company of New Hampshire or PSNH, has proposed construction of a new transmission line in Londonderry and also donated $1,000 for Old Home Day.

Ray Breslin of 3 Gary Drive, who attended the letter writing workshop, said he doesn’t see the value of the pipeline to New Hampshire – in particular, southern New Hampshire.

“This is the big power companies looking at a market in the future. A lot of these power companies are going to want to convert to natural gas, and nuclear plants are going offline,” he said. “As far as the individual homeowner, they’re spinning this like there’s a real value, a real need, when there’s not. Common sense says they’re going to build compressor stations, compress it and sell it overseas to the highest bidder.”

In an effort to educate residents about the proposed pipeline and provide answers to commonly asked questions, Kinder Morgan launched a new website in southern New Hampshire last week.

Energymattersnh.com provides access to information ranging from the need for the project and the construction of pipelines, to the company’s safety record, according to a press release from Kinder Morgan. The website includes videos explaining various project elements and will keep interested stakeholders up-to-date through a project blog, as well as a running list of upcoming project-related meetings.

“We are proud of this project and what NED (Northeast Energy Direct) will bring to New Hampshire and New England,” said Tiffany Eddy, project spokesperson. “This website is just one more way our project team is working with the local communities to answer questions and be transparent about the process. There is a lot of misinformation about this project and this website provides the facts and is accessible to everyone. We look forward to Granite Staters using this new resource to learn more about this energy solution that works for New Hampshire.”

Pierce and other activists opposing the pipeline recommend residents visit NHpipelineawareness.org for more information and recommendations for writing letters to FERC and local officials.

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