The Town Council voted 5-0 to approve a resolution opposing the construction of Kinder Morgan’s proposed natural gas pipeline in Londonderry.
“The pipeline will create no direct benefit to the residents of Londonderry, and the disruption to the residents of Londonderry caused by the construction of the new pipeline may outweigh the benefits to the Town and its residents,” the resolution states.
“I’m concerned about a shortage of energy in general in the region, and I think a pipeline needs to be built to address that need,” Councilor Tom Dolan said. “But I’m going to put that aside because I’m here to represent the residents of Londonderry, and there’s a really strong contingent that would like us to at least recommend this not be built.”
“I would like to applaud the Council and the Town Manager for taking this action and presenting this resolution,” said Cherylann Pierce of 23 Mayflower Drive, who has been mobilizing opposition to the pipeline project in Londonderry.
Pierce asked the Council if the Town plans to join the coalition of communities that have contributed money to a legal fund for fighting the Northeast Direct Project.
“The Council has not taken that up yet. We are just coming into this now. We did have a lawsuit a number of years ago against Granite Ridge, and we’re looking at six boxes of files from that to try to determine what the Town’s position was on that. We’re trying to understand the positions people are taking,” Councilor John Farrell said. “We did learn from the attorney examining files thus far that we have a 30-inch pipeline in town.”
“Looking back at what we did is good, but we’re wasting time,” Pierce said. “Other communities in New Hampshire know what they’re doing. Massachusetts knew what they were doing.”
Pierce, who expressed concern the pipeline will threaten public safety in the Town and divert support for alternative energy sources, said with Kinder Morgan hoping to submit its application for siting the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Aug. 31, the State is short on time.
Upcoming FERC public scoping meetings are scheduled on Wednesday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua; and Thursday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. at Milford’s Town Hall.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was also to hold a hearing to consider a contract between Liberty Utilities and Kinder Morgan, evidence the energy infrastructure company needs to show that there is a demand for natural gas in the region.
The company has said the agreement will enhance the reliability of their natural gas system in New Hampshire and lower electricity prices, enhancing the overall reliability of the electric grid in New England.
But opponents to the pipeline argue the scope of the project is far more extensive than what is needed to support demand for natural gas in the region and lower electricity costs – a concern that was supported in testimony from the PUC’s expert witness and the agency’s consumer advocate, who oppose the deal.
At the Council’s July 20 meeting, Pierce recommended the Town refuse to allow Kinder Morgan to survey any town-owned properties in the study corridor for the project.
“As of last Thursday, July 16, the Coalition was at an estimated 70 percent participation in refusal to survey,” Pierce said.
Pierce also called into question Kinder Morgan’s $300,000 donation to Londonderry Trailways (see stories pages 1 and 7), asking the Council if they also have any concerns related to the substantial gift made at the same time the pipeline project has been proposed.
“They are a private organization,” Farrell said. “That’s not in the purview of the Town Council. Obviously, by the resolution put forward tonight, we weren’t influenced by it.”
“The Trailways is not an agency of the Town. We don’t extend an arm of government over that organization,” Dolan agreed.
“I’m concerned about the stigma that may be perceived by other communities in the Coalition,” Pierce said. “How would you make other towns in the coalition understand without going to a meeting to explain it?”
Pierce also expressed concern with Kinder Morgan’s failure to provide a list of abutters to the proposed pipeline, which residents of the community asked for in a list of questions submitted to the energy infrastructure company after a meeting at the high school last month.
“We’re moving as fast as we can,” said Farrell, who directed the Town Manager to look into obtaining a list of abutters from Kinder Morgan by the end of the week.
Farrell added that Pierce’s questions related to joining a coalition against the pipeline and committing funds to legally defend such a position would require a conversation with legal counsel.
“I think this resolution is a wonderful, huge step and well wanted and well needed by many townspeople,” Pierce said.
As opposition to the pipeline project in New Hampshire has continued to grow, Kinder Morgan has dedicated resources to outreach in Southern New Hampshire, joining the Chamber of Commerce in several communities, granting large donations to various community organizations and launching a website where residents can find information about the proposed project and upcoming meetings.
Public Affairs Director Alan Fore said at a ceremony celebrating the company’s donation to the Rail Trail that Kinder Morgan is also looking into opening an office in Southern New Hampshire.
More information about the project is available on Kinder Morgan’s website at www.energymattersnh.com, and on opposition group New Hampshire Pipeline Awareness’ website at www.nhpipelineawareness.org.
Representatives for Kinder Morgan, as well as an opposition group, will also be available to speak with the public at booths on the Town Common during the Town’s Old Home Day celebration.