Saturday, July 26, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;64.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-07-26 01:05:09
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hollis gas pipeline meeting has 100 participants, and just about 100 thumbs down

By IRENE LABOMBARDE

Staff Writer

HOLLIS – An overwhelming majority of more than 100 residents spoke out against a controversial natural gas pipeline that would cut through town at a public hearing Monday evening, with many saying they oppose the project regardless of what route it takes.

“This isn’t about Hollis versus Brookline,” said Mark LeDoux, chairman of the Hollis Board of Selectmen. “This is a regional issue on the subject of having energy in our community. The problem is we are dealing with a multibillion-dollar corporation, Kinder Morgan, and we are a small community.” ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

HOLLIS – An overwhelming majority of more than 100 residents spoke out against a controversial natural gas pipeline that would cut through town at a public hearing Monday evening, with many saying they oppose the project regardless of what route it takes.

“This isn’t about Hollis versus Brookline,” said Mark LeDoux, chairman of the Hollis Board of Selectmen. “This is a regional issue on the subject of having energy in our community. The problem is we are dealing with a multibillion-dollar corporation, Kinder Morgan, and we are a small community.”

The 187-mile-long buried pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., would bring billions of cubic feet of natural gas from New York state to existing facilities in Dracut, Mass. A smaller spur line would carry gas through Hollis to a Liberty Utilities facility on Route 101A in Nashua.

LeDoux explained to the audience that the board would not take an official stance until collecting input from the public and from other town boards. He said the focus of Monday’s meeting was to determine if residents support having a natural gas pipeline in the region, as well as whether they prefer the route originally proposed – which runs through conservation land – or would rather redirect it through a public right of way.

“If the choice is trashing Hollis, including Beaver Brook, or trashing a part of Hollis and sparing Beaver Brook, I’d rather see Beaver Brook spared,” said Steve Spaulding, whose Fletcher Lane home is on the pipeline path. “Kinder Morgan is the only entity that stands to benefit from this boondoggle project. It’s bad policy, and that’s not just me and my resentment that they want to put this through my yard.”

Hollis resident Jeff Loftus spoke about what happened when he was contacted by Kinder Morgan last winter. He cited a report from Liberty Utilities indicating that 56 percent of the proposed pipeline is to replace what currently runs through Dracut, Mass.; 36 percent is to replace what leaks out in Manchester and Nashua; and 7 percent is to be used for growth and residential heating.

“I was shocked,” he said. “Should they not be obligated to repair what they already have or run a supplemental pipeline from Dracut and not through Hollis?”

More than two dozen people spoke, almost all opposed to the pipeline being built at all. Many expressed concerns about whether the pipeline was really necessary and if it would be used to export energy. Others said selecting one route over another was a false choice if they were opposed to the entire project.

Dr. James Squires was one of the few to speak in support of the natural gas pipeline, saying he is concerned with meeting future energy needs.

“It is clear that the Northern Pass project is in big trouble,” he said, referring to a proposal to bring electricity from Quebec hydropower down through New Hampshire. “When faced with a decision like this, I think it is reasonable to get a grasp of the problem in the region. What happens if there are no additions to the energy supply for New Hampshire going forward? We owe it to our children and grandchildren to see if something can be done to accommodate local communities to see that we don’t run out of energy.”

Hollis resident Maura Loftus said she was opposed to the pipeline because of potential safety and health issues, as well as financial concerns.

“You need to take into account the worst possible case,” she said. “What if it leaks into our aquifers or explodes? You cannot put a price on human life, and your sole priority (should be) human life.”

State Rep. Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline, suggested a tax on the exportation of natural gas.

“We would be myopic to think that we don’t need energy, and we don’t know what the need will be in a few years,” he said, “but if you take away the economic benefit, if you tax natural gas being shipped out of state, it may take away the economic benefit to the supplier.”

Before the comment period, Darrell Philpot, chairman of the Brookline Board of Selectmen, updated the board’s official position, which also is being conveyed in a letter to Kinder Morgan.

“Beaver Brook had to propose alternatives, and some of them happen to go through Brookline,” he said. “We just don’t want it in our town. It doesn’t make good sense. There are economic reasons, but primarily safety reasons. The pipeline will run along a critical communication path. Should anything happen along that route, at the most critical time, we will be without communication. We need to align ourselves with those with similar interests but deeper pockets.”

At the end of public comment, which lasted about 90 minutes, LeDoux summarized other concerns the board has, including the economic impact that eminent domain would have on the town if the tax base is reduced by the value of properties taken. He also pointed out that some residential mortgages have terms that forbid underground transportation of energy, and the pipeline would invalidate those loans.

LeDoux said all the town’s land use boards – Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Cemetery Trustees – would be discussing the pipeline at their meetings. The Planning Board is reviewing statutes that suggest this type of pipeline is not permitted in Hollis. LeDoux said Kinder Morgan has not responded to requests to participate in those meetings.

“Kinder Morgan believes this cake has already been baked,” he said.

He invited the public to attend a session at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 17, in the Town Hall Meeting Room, where members of the Board of Selectmen and land use boards will confer on pipeline matters with attorney Robert Ciandelli.