Testimony on HB 1376

The Connecticut River near its headwaters in Pittsburg, New Hampshire.Today HB 1376, bill in the New Hampshire House heard testimony. If passed, House Bill 1376 would require the Department of Environmental Services to examine the potential harm to the public and the environment resulting from such pipeline transportation of tar sands bitumen.

The following testimony was submitted by one of 350NH’s members.

February 17, 2014

Rep. David Borden

Chairman, Science, Technology, and Energy Committee

NH House of Representatives, Concord, NH

Dear Chairman Borden

My name is Corry Hughes, I live in Jefferson NH. My husband and I stand in support of HB 1376 which would require the examination of the potential harm to the public and the environment of New Hampshire from the transportation of bituminous tar sands through Coos County by the Portland-Montreal pipeline.

Our town of Jefferson is one of five communities in southern Coos County that lies directly in the path of the Portland- Montreal Pipeline. Reversing the flow of this aging pipeline to carry toxic tar sands bitumen would put these communities at grave risk in the event of a leak or spill. The pipeline transverses forests and farmlands, parks and yards, and 80 bodies of water, from small brooks to major rivers like the Connecticut and the Androscoggin as it goes through northern NH.

Pipelines transporting tar sands diluted bitumen are statistically more than 3 times more likely to spill than those carrying typical crude; this would certainly be likely in the case of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, an old pipeline that was not designed to carry this heavier, denser substance under high pressure in a reverse direction than intended. A spill in a stream or river would be almost impossible to clean up, and would pollute the water for miles downstream. A broken pipe on farmland or in a neighborhood would displace families and render that land unusable indefinitely. Diluted bitumen and its additives such as benzene (a carcinogenic neurotoxin) put the health of our wildlife, livestock, and above all, our families at risk.

In my town of Jefferson, the pipeline goes within feet of our elementary school, creating a nightmare scenario should a leak occur in that area which could make dozens of young children very sick. And think of the economically disastrous consequences if the leak occurs in rivers or near businesses, especially those that depend on tourism, such as Santa’s Village in Jefferson, a well-known family attraction that has delighted generations (and which is Jefferson’s biggest employer). The pipeline passes very near Santa’s Village; a spill there could shut it down, probably permanently.

We simply cannot afford the risk of dirty tar sands oil passing through New Hampshire, to be carried to overseas markets. All the risks (and no reward) would fall on us and put in peril our precious families, our homes, our landscape, and our economic future. We strongly urge passage of HB 1376 as a first step in protecting us and our environment.

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