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Monday, July 21, 2014

Grassroots effort begun in Brookline to stop pipeline

BROOKLINE – About a dozen residents attended the first meeting of a group created to oppose a natural gas pipeline that may run through town.

“I want to make it clear that this is not an official town committee,” Keith Thompson, who is spearheading Citizen Response, said at the Thursday meeting. “It is a group of private citizens organized to fight the proposed pipeline.” ...

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BROOKLINE – About a dozen residents attended the first meeting of a group created to oppose a natural gas pipeline that may run through town.

“I want to make it clear that this is not an official town committee,” Keith Thompson, who is spearheading Citizen Response, said at the Thursday meeting. “It is a group of private citizens organized to fight the proposed pipeline.”

Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas, has proposed building a 187-mile-long pipeline carrying pressurized gas through New York State and then up through Massachusetts and into southern New Hampshire. The route proposed by Kinder Morgan would cut through Beaver Brook conservation land in Hollis.

In an effort to protect its holdings, Beaver Brook hired Tri-Mont Engineering to research other paths that would avoid conservation lands. They came up with three alternatives: one runs mostly along Route 122 in Hollis, east of the original plan, and the other two run through Brookline, one along Route 13 from Townsend, Mass., and the other along the border between Brookline and Hollis.

Drew Kellner, president of the Beaver Brook trustees, presented these options during the July 7 meeting of the Brookline Board of Selectmen. That evening, the Selectboard officially took a stance in opposition to the pipeline being situated in Brookline and voted to send a letter to Kinder Morgan informing them of its opposition. Residents also suggested forming a committee to help oppose the pipeline.

Strategies discussed at the community meeting focused on educating residents and connecting with other towns also affected by the project.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” Thompson said. “This is not going to boost Brookline’s economy. Any jobs created will be temporary and not long-term. It’s an outrage that we will be paying for this with our electric rates while having our property taken and (incurring) health risks.”

Gwen Whitbeck, of Mason, is active in 350NH.org, an organization that opposes all fossil fuels

“People are all talking about money but not about the cost,” Whitbeck said. “There is a cost to somebody who finds his house in the way, a cost to the environment. If the pipeline in Massachusetts can be stopped, you won’t see anything up here.”

Thompson and others agreed that uniting with our neighbors to the south would be important.

“We’re the branch,” he said. “If there’s no trunk, there’s no branch.”

A coalition of groups from Massachusetts towns have organized a march from the New York border to Dracut, Mass., the major connection terminus for this new pipeline, and Thompson encouraged Brookline residents to show solidarity by participating.

The rolling walk began July 6 in Richmond, Mass., and will pass through Pepperell on Tuesday . After passing through the 29 communities potentially affected by the pipeline, the walk will end with petitions being presented to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick at the Statehouse in Boston on July 30.

Residents also can make their voices heard – for or against the pipeline – by contacting state officials regarding Senate Bill 191 at www.nh.gov/oep/energy/programs/SB191.html.

Senate Bill 191 directs the Office of Energy & Planning, in coordination with a newly formed Energy Advisory Council, to develop an energy strategy for New Hampshire. The deadline for public comments is July 25.

There will be a public hearing regarding the pipeline at 7 p.m. Monday at Captain Samuel Douglass Academy on Townsend Hill Road in Brookline. Anyone wishing to join the Citizens Response group should contact Thompson at kthomp0909@aol.com for more details.