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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. This pipeline would not provide natural gas service to Hollis customers. The pipeline is meant as a lateral connector that ends somewhere in Merrimack, near South Merrimack Road and PC Connection on Route 101-A.

 

At a Hollis town meeting on Monday, April 21st during Kinder-Morgan representatives presented an outline of the project taking 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 conservation. One speaker cited the 30 million dollar investment made by Hollis residents over the past decades to preserve Hollis, and the effect a 50 foot easement through conservation lands poses on people’s willingness to donate money or land for future preservation. Others made similar arguments regarding the effects a 50 foot easement through private lands, would have on diminishing property values.

Kinder-Morgan representatives were unable to answer some of the questions posed at the meeting. They were unable to provide information regarding alternative routes which they said had been considered. They were unable to provide a complete list of homeowners impacted by the proposed route. When asked for a picture of what a the ‘buried pipeline’ or a ‘fenced in junction valve’ look like, they had no visual example. When asked how the route was chosen, they said they generally use the shortest distance between two points and the intended endpoint for this lateral gas pipe is on Route 101A in Merrimack. However, when pressed, neither Kinder-Morgan, nor Liberty Utilities, who also had a representative in the audience, were able to identify any business need or call by customers in the area for the new gas source. It was clarified that Hollis would not be a recipient of the lateral line. Although some housing on the Hollis-Nashua border currently is piped for gas from Nashua sources, the remainder of the Hollis uses propane and other fuel sources.

The Town of Hollis has posted maps, Kinder-Morgan materials, and video at the following link. http://www.hollisnh.org/announce/gas_pipeline/pipeline_main.htm

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. All the Governors in New England are said to agree that additional energy sources will become necessary in the future. This seems to be the only solid justification provided for the expansion.

Kinder-Morgan’s route crosses Beaver Brook conservation easements and Beaver Brook Association’s letter of opposition may be found at the following link. They started a property defense fund and welcome any and all assistance.

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

Our neighbors to the south in Pepperell, MA are highly concerned will house not only the north-south lateral offshoot that runs from Pepperell through Hollis, but also, the main, larger Pipeline Expansion running west to east through Pepperell. The Nashoba Conservation Trust has posted information regarding the entire project, links to pipeline safety, fracking (hydraulic fracturing), and information on the land survey process here: http://nashobatrust.org/pipeline/

During the presentation in Hollis, Kinder-Morgan were non-committal on the size of the pipe. They did say the likely size would be 8 or 12 inches in diameter. However the map on the Nashoba Trust website: indicates 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 ) They also explained the pipe would be buried between 3-5 feet below ground. To which one resident responded that his property on Witches Spring road, which is an effected parcel, would pose a problem for burying lines, as it is located on a mound of granite. He said when Home Depot went in on 101A they too encountered granite and the blasting that project required caused contamination to ground water - another valid concern.

Kinder-Morgan explained the Hollis pipeline is still in planning stages and the route is ‘preliminary’. The mission of the FERC (Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission) is to facilitate the permitting process - not oversee environmental impacts - so the main takeaway from initial investigation on prior gas projects is that the laws are written to benefit industry, not citizenry. Concerns regarding the threat of eminent domain were verified during the meeting.

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. 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. Here is a chart put out by Kinder Morgan of the chemicals involved in gas pipe leaks: Chemical chart A chart showing the number of incidents on gas and oil pipelines in the US may be found here.

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; perhaps our only victory will be to see the pipeline re-routed. As the map of leaks and other problems across the US shows, we are creating an infrastructure to support our fossil fuel habit, but there is a cost to this course. The Northern Expansion 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. A gmail account has been set up by Julie Forgaard to facilitate communication - if interested in gaining more information on the project and Hollis’ plans to protect our town - send your note to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will bring you updated information as work continues.