If you’re not caught up in the pipeline controversy here in New Hampshire or elsewhere in the US and Canada, you’re normal. Living your life. Not concerned about things that don’t concern you. Life is busy and hard, and we don’t have time to rally around every cause.
And there have been all these commercials talking about the need for more energy, and the cleanliness of natural gas. So, of course we want it. Right?
I get that. Until people I care about were directly affected, I was pretty much ignorant, too. I have books to write and a garden to tend and massage clients who need things fixed and family illness and all manner of things that lay claim to the too-few hours of every day.
But people I knew and respected were opposed—vehemently so. Out of respect for them, I got informed. I looked at both sides. And the more I learned, the more appalled I became. Because I still thought our government looked out for us. I thought laws were in place for the protection of ordinary people like me.
I was that naive.
And I should have known better. When I was an infant and my mother was pregnant with my brother, we were caught in the fallout from our government’s perfectly safe nuclear testing in the Mojave Desert. There’s a book—The Day We Bombed Utah—that talks about what happened to so many of us that year. Every baby born in our neighborhood had some form of disability. My brother was hit the hardest with a profound intellectual disability that forever changed our lives.
So, here’s what I’ve learned about the NED project that will shortly become part of our landscape. I don’t think it is possible to stop it. Corporations have too much control over our government, including our governor and our state reps. And we have no rights.
The natural gas that will be transported through this pipe is not for us. It is destined for Nova Scotia, where it will be converted to liquid natural gas and exported. So those who believe this gas will lower their energy costs are mistaken. We will be paying world market prices, which are monumentally higher than what we pay now.
But export is good for the economy, right?
Yes and no. Fossil fuels are finite. By exporting our limited reserves in order to line the pockets of the likes of Kinder Morgan, we deplete our resources, making us more dependent on foreign energy.
Pipelines require compressor stations, and compressor stations are ginormous polluters. Their emissions do not have to be disclosed. They do not have to be monitored or managed. Compressor stations are exempt from such regulations. Recent studies of populations in the vicinity of compressor stations show increases in all manner of health issues, from constant bloody noses to cancers to still births.
New Ipswich, NH gets to host this one. Hence the title of this piece.
And this is at the “clean” end of things. The people with the misfortune of living above the Marcellus shale fields have already had their air and water and livestock poisoned, and have had to simply walk away from their now worthless properties. The properties they worked their whole lives for.
Kinder Morgan has, in its FERC application, requested that the costs of building this pipeline be passed on to us. Yes, the people who host this pipeline also get to pay for building it, even though the gas is not for us, even though it will dramatically increase our air pollution. This will most likely come in the form of a tariff on the electric bills that the pipeline supporters think are already too high.
Kinder Morgan has to demonstrate NEED by signing on customers. Liberty Utilities has signed on. But Liberty Utilities is a subsidiary of Algonquin, and Algonquin is in partnership with Kinder Morgan in the construction of this pipeline. So what we have here is a game of smoke and mirrors, not evidence of need.
Fixing the leaks in the existing pipelines would, in fact, result in a surplus. Sadly, this is not profitable and will not be considered.
And, while we’re on the subject of leaks, there’s this: all pipelines leak. The pipeline companies have no obligation to fix them, only to identify, categorize, and monitor. Kinder Morgan agrees to do just that in its FERC application. On their website, Kinder Morgan proudly states that this is New Hampshire! Who even lives there to be polluted?
Eminent domain will be used to take land where negotiation fails. By negotiation, I mean threat. “You take $12/linear ft. for this easement across your property, or we’ll simply take it from you.” They negotiate like Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element.
There is a very real chance that our aquifers will be altered and possibly poisoned by this process. You know—the underground rivers that supply our drinking water—the ground water that feeds our wells. Kinder Morgan will be fracking as they go. Fracking chemicals are the same ones that travel through the pipeline with the natural gas and are vented at compressor stations. You know—the chemicals that do not have to be disclosed and that cause illness and death. Those chemicals. They could easily end up in both our air and our water.
And Kinder Morgan says no problem! They’ll cover any costs of repairing and mitigating for any affected wells within 200’ of the pipeline.
Two hundred feet.
How generous, especially in light of a history of single blastings affecting aquifers 30 miles away.
Southern NH has been deemed a “low kill zone,” so this section of the pipeline will be built using the thinnest, cheapest metal available. It will leak. It will pollute. It could explode, but that’s not a given. The pollution—that is a given.
Kinder Morgan hires locals to speak positively about the pipeline in our communities, and to comment on articles like this. You can identify them easily, because they use terms like NIMBY, and OVERREACTING, rather than showing any real grasp of the issues.
While this controversy plays out across southern New Hampshire and much of this continent, our Governor also gets on board by calling the people affected NIMBYs. One wonders why.
That’s just great, Governor Hassan. Say it again into the microphone, please. Because this is a derogatory term used by people who have no rational argument. It marginalizes the citizens who deserve to be heard. And listened to.
So, today I say loudly, SHAME ON YOU, Governor Hassan. We all know you have political aspirations that live in Washington and not here. We all know that opposing this project would not help with that. You have sold us in exchange for your future.
We also know that, someday, you will fight an opponent who uses this day against you. And we will be there.