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Natural Gas Pipeline to Run Through Hollis

by Mary Fokas

Tennessee Gas, a subsidiary of Kinder-Morgan plans to build a natural gas pipeline that will run through Hollis, NH. This pipeline is an offshoot of the Northeast Pipeline Expansion project that is intended to bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale fields in New York State to New England. The main pipeline will run from NY to Dracut, MA with several offshoots meant to serve customers along the way. One such proposed offshoot would traverse Hollis, through lands belonging to the town of Hollis, the conservation lands of Beaver Brook Association, as well as lands belonging to residential homeowners. The pipeline is meant to end somewhere in Merrimack, near South Merrimack Road and PC Connection on Route 101-A.

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A Hollis town meeting was held on Monday, April 21st during which Kinder-Morgan representatives presented an outline of the project and took questions from town selectmen, town legal counsel and an audience of concerned residents.

 Audience members voiced serious opposition to the building of this pipeline in Hollis, a community that prides itself on a commitment to land conservation. The pipeline runs contrary to our historic local conservation efforts.

 Kinder-Morgan representatives were unable to answer many of the questions posed at the meeting. Although the company claims that alternative routes were studied, they were unable to provide information regarding such routes. When pressed, they stated they do not yet have a complete list of lands they intend to survey. When asked for a picture of what a the ‘buried pipeline’ looks like, they had no visual example. It seemed reasonable to conclude that building a pipeline through Hollis is simply the shortest and cheapest way for Kinder-Morgan to benefit their bottom line.

 A representative from Liberty Utilities, an intended pipeline customer, was in attendance and was questioned. Neither Kinder-Morgan nor Liberty seemed to know, or were willing to say, who the consumers of this natural gas would be, but it is very unlikely Hollis residents would benefit from this project.

 The Town of Hollis has posted maps, Kinder-Morgan materials, and video at the link below. Updates will posted here as well. Please note: Kinder-Morgan’s slide show included a picture of Governor Hassan in their power-point presentation but made a point of clarifying that she has NOT endorsed this proposed pipeline.

http://www.hollisnh.org/announce/gas_pipeline/pipeline_main.htm

 Beaver Brook Association’s letter of opposition may be found at the following link. They started a property defense fund and welcome all assistance.

http://www.beaverbrook.org/beaver-brook-position-pipeline/

 Our neighbors to the south in Pepperell, MA are highly concerned regarding the pipeline. The north-south lateral offshoot runs from Pepperell through Hollis, but in addition, the main, and larger Pipeline Expansion is also running through their lands. The Nashoba Conservation Trust has posted a great deal of information regarding the entire project, links to general pipeline safety, information about fracking (hydraulic fracturing), information about what happens during a land survey, and more on their website:http://nashobatrust.org/pipeline/

 Of significant note, during the presentation in Hollis, Kinder-Morgan claimed the Hollis offshoot will consist of a 12-inch diameter pipe, however the map found on the Nashoba Trust website: clearly shows a 20” pipe for the lateral offshoot (in purple on the map). (http://nashobatrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Town-of-Pepperell-Proposed-Gas-Pipeline-Route.jpg )

Kinder-Morgan stated that the Hollis pipeline is still in planning stages and the route is ‘preliminary’. Local experts in the field of environmental defense counsel that exercising our right to offer an alternative plan, may be our best course since support for increased gas in New England has already been tacitly approved by regional governmental bodies. Since regulatory rules are fairly well stacked against the citizenry when it comes to energy production, local leaders are reviewing the option of developing a counter-proposal with a preferable route. Although ‘Stop the Pipeline’ is where we want to be, we need to work within the context of what will succeed. Apparently the FERC (Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission) process is intended to facilitate the permitting process - not oversee environmental impacts - so again, the system isn’t all that helpful because its been written to benefit industry, not citizenry.

Since the 2005 Energy Bill passed into law, the Oil and Gas Industry has been exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA pollution regulations. Nicknamed ‘The Halliburton Loophole’ this exemption gives landowners far less recourse than they had prior to 2005. However, one landowner in Texas recently won the first in the nation lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum.

Kinder-Morgan is a pipeline company. New England does not rest on fields of shale gas. No one will actually be drilling in our backyards, but in the end, there is more at stake than our own backyards and our corner of the world; there is a far greater battle in progress. Perhaps our only victory can be to see the pipeline re-routed. But this project, striking so close to home, should prompt a serious dialogue regarding the continued pursuit of fossil fuels, the extraction of shale gas and oil, and the prospects for moving to truly clean alternative energy sources, including nuclear, wind, solar and geothermal. We will bring you updated information as work continues.

The NY Times offers additional perspective on this issue in their article, 'The Right Way to Develop Shale Gas'.