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Thursday, August 14, 2014

NH Attorney General’s office concerned about natural gas line through Hollis conservation easements

The state Attorney General’s Office has expressed concern about the possibility of a natural gas pipeline going through conservation lands, saying it would “directly contravene the public policy in favor of protecting conservation land,” which are “charitable trusts that exist for the benefit of the public.”

The concerns are raised in an Aug. 12 letter signed by Lisa English, director of the Charitable Trusts Unit of the Department of Justice, and sent to Allan Fore, vice president for public affairs at Kinder Morgan. The Houston-based energy firm wants to build natural gas pipeline through northern Massachusetts with an extension through Hollis. ...

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The state Attorney General’s Office has expressed concern about the possibility of a natural gas pipeline going through conservation lands, saying it would “directly contravene the public policy in favor of protecting conservation land,” which are “charitable trusts that exist for the benefit of the public.”

The concerns are raised in an Aug. 12 letter signed by Lisa English, director of the Charitable Trusts Unit of the Department of Justice, and sent to Allan Fore, vice president for public affairs at Kinder Morgan. The Houston-based energy firm wants to build natural gas pipeline through northern Massachusetts with an extension through Hollis.

That proposal has drawn protests in Hollis, notably from Beaver Brook Association. A rough map of the proposed route for the pipeline showed it cutting through several large parcels owned by Beaver Brook that are protected by conservation easements, which are legal documents that prevent development.

The association has reacted strongly, including hiring an engineering firm to draw up alternate routes which avoid all conservation land, some running through Brookline.

English’s letter adds heft to their argument, although regulations for gas pipelines occur mostly at the federal level.

“We understand the regional energy needs and the importance of this project to meet those needs. Given the important public policy implications of this project, it could prove beneficial to meet in order to discuss the proposed routes and any potential alternatives,” English wrote in the letter.

Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas Pipeline, is expected to make its initial application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next month, kicking off a series of regulatory hearings before various bodies – including New Hampshire’s site evaluation committee – that will last at least a year.

The firm wants to build a three-foot-diameter trunk line across northern Massachusetts, carrying gas from shale fields in New York state to a distibution facility in Dracut, Mass. A smaller, buried transfer line would run north from Pepperell, Mass., to a Libery Utilities facility on Route 101A in Nashua.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).