“Natural” Gas Pipeline Controversy Comes to NH

Driving through the towns just below the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border, one sees a lot of signs these days.

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Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Texas-based Kinder Morgan, wants to build a pipeline to carry fracked natural gas (NG) across the northern edge of Massachusetts from Richmond, on the New York border, to an existing NG hub in Dracut, MA, roughly 13 miles southeast of Nashua, NH. There it would join an existing network of pipelines taking much of that gas northward to Canada. The capacity of this pipeline would be nearly four

times that required to overcome any shortages experienced during winter periods of peak demand.

Residents of towns along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border were first alerted that something was up when representatives of Kinder Morgan came knocking on their doors, asking whether KM could survey their properties by drilling to find what is under the topsoil.

Why Canada?

NG can be sold in Europe for two to three times the U.S. market price and in Asia for three to four times the U.S. price. Under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), exporting to Canada does not carry the restrictions that apply to export to non-free-trade countries. The reason for the rush to build pipelines to Canada is to get the gas where it can more easily be sold abroad for more money.

The New Hampshire Connection

Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Canadian energy giant Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp., would like to see a spur line from Massachusetts to a yet-to-be-constructed hub in Merrimack, NH. The route originally proposed would pass directly through conservation land of Hollis’ Beaver Brook Association, a popular land trust.

In an effort to preserve land which had been donated or purchased with monetary gifts, Beaver Brook Association hired an engineer to come up with alternative routes for the pipeline. One of those alternatives would still pass through the town of Hollis, but would avoids the conservation land; two would pass through adjacent Brookline, NH. Both towns are now joining their Massachusetts neighbors in a fight to stop these pipelines altogether.townsent march

Land owner concerns and options

Residents along the proposed routes question if there’s any real need for the added capacity the pipeline would provide. They resent the intrusion into their towns. They question the ethics of having to pay for pipelines through a surcharge on their electric bill. They are concerned about Kinder Morgan’s safety record. The gas passing through the pipeline would not have been purified, and would contain residues of chemicals used in the fracking process. It would not have had an odorant added to aid in leak detection.

Some residents have found that allowing an energy pipeline to pass through their property would violate the terms of their mortgage. Some have been told that, if the pipeline goes through their property, or even if their land abuts property traversed by a pipeline, their homeowner’s insurance would be canceled.

Landowners are faced with a limited number of choices. The final pipeline siting decision will be made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Once a FERC permit has been granted, their land can be taken through eminent domain.

Nearly 30 towns have united to oppose the construction of these lines. That’s the reason for the signs, and for a rolling protest moving from west to east in Massachusetts, ending with the presentation of a petition to Massachusetts’ Governor Patrick on July 30.

Deeper Environmental Concerns

The proposed pipelines ignore our need to get away from producing and burning fossil fuels. Natural gas is primarily methane, a greenhouse gas over 80 times more powerful than CO2 in the short term, over 20 times more in the long term. Studies show that, when a full accounting of methane’s impact on the environment is taken into account, fracked natural gas has no benefit over coal or oil in reducing greenhouse gas effects. Building the proposed pipelines would involve an enormous investment, only to postpone the inevitable need to transition to sustainable energy sources.

To support your neighbors and our environment, contact your Governor and your state representatives, and join the upcoming rallies.

For info:

In Brookline, NH, contact:

In Hollis, NH, contact:


NH Pipeline Awareness here

No Fracked Gas in Massachusetts here

Nashoba Trust here

Follow the rolling protest here


“No Tar Sands” People’s Conference Inspirational!

July 13 photo 1 More than 80 dedicated climate activists met for the “No Tar Sands!” People’s Conference and Rally on Sunday, July 13, 2014. The event, sponsored by the Tar Sands Free Northeast coalition, drew folks from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. The demonstrators met to voice their demands that the governors of New England states draw the line against fossil fuels and lead the way to sustainable energy sources that do not create greenhouse gases that increase climate change.(photo:Gwen Whitbeck)

The protesters assembled in a parking area directly across from the Mt. Washington Hotel, where governors from New England states and Premiers from eastern Canadian provinces were about to meet to discuss energy and trade issues. The Canadian government is eager to transport increasing amounts of bitumen (“tar sands oil”) through New England states by rail and by pipeline. Canada would also like to send hydro-electric power from Quebec to the USA, which would require the construction of gigantic high-tension wires that would cross NH from North to South, a project called “Northern Pass.” A large group protesting the Northern Pass project held a protest rally on the same date learn more here .

Tar sands free NE at Bretton Woods, July 13, 2014 081-1

Speakers from Maine’s Sierra Club, 350 Maine, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), 350 New Hampshire, and others spoke about the environmental devastation caused to Alberta, Canada, where the tar sands are being extracted. The destruction of the health and livelihood of the First Nations peoples who live in the extraction area, and the total disregard for their historic and human rights, was emphasized by speaker Sara Lachance. Jim Murphy (NWF) pointed out that fuel derived from tar sands contains much more carbon than most forms of fossil fuel, and should be banned from inclusion in our states’ heating and transportation fuels. (Photo:Read Brugger)

There was a somber moment of silence to honor the memories of the 48 residents of Lac Megantic who died as a result of the oil train explosion on July 6, 2013. The harm and death caused by the exploitation of the earth for fossil fuels occurs on global, local, and personal levels – and so we resist and act!

For more about the rally, visit 350 New Hampshire’s Facebook page and check out press coverage by NHPR here .


“Oil Train Hazards” rally held in Dover, NH


350 NH members and friends recognized the anniversary of the oil train explosion in Lac Megantic, Canada on July 6, 2014, by holding an “Oil Train Hazards!” Protest Rally in downtown Dover, NH. On July 6, 2013, an oil train that was parked near the town of Lac Megantic rolled into town, derailed, and exploded. The explosion and fire killed 47 people and destroyed some 30 homes, a library and a busy bar. The train had been carrying volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, which is also the kind of crude being shipped through Dover.


As we gathered in Dover, at a site just blocks away from the tracks where oil trains regularly travel, our goals were to raise awareness of the hazards of transporting oil by rail, and to keep the memory of the Lac Megantic disaster alive.

Several of us wore hazmat suits and wielded mops and buckets to clean up a simulated oil spill, while others displayed posters to the constant stream of traffic. Two local news sources covered the event: Foster’s Daily Democrat here and Seacoast Herald here.

The rally concluded with a solemn remembrance of those who died in Lac Megantic a year ago. As we stood circled in a nearby park, each name and age was read aloud and a gong sounded. We left feeling renewed determination and dedication to work toward shifting our nation from fossil fuel dependence to sustainable sources of energy that do not cause climate change.