Take part in town pipeline debate

Here’s a date to keep in mind: Aug. 11.

That is the day that trustees of the Beaver Brook Association might meet with Milford selectmen to discuss their suggested alternate routes for a proposed natural gas pipeline. Those routes could include Milford and Amherst.

Right now, the company proposing the pipeline would run it through Hollis and Brookline and if you’ve been following news , you’re aware that residents of those two towns are not pleased.

Beaver Brook is concerned because the current plan would have the line crossing Beaver Brook land, which is protected by conservation easements and used by the public for outdoor activities like hiking.

Despite that, such land could be taken for a pipeline by eminent domain, which seems incongruous to us. It’s either protected land or it’s not.

Wally Key, a Beaver Brook trustee, recently told the Amherst selectmen that of the three alternate routes the Association is proposing, two would go through Milford and Amherst. These routes appear to follow existing power lines to an Amherst industrial park called Bon Terrain where natural gas would be welcome . That had Amherst Selectman John D’Angelo enthused, but Selectman Tom Grella warned of a possible effect upon the large aquifer below Bon Terrain.

Nothing is ever simple.

Key told The Cabinet that Beaver Brook representatives would discuss the issue with Milford selectmen Aug. 11 or later. We think the sooner the better, especially given the concerns of Milford selectmen’s Chairman Gary Daniels who, after attending a pipeline meeting in Hollis, said there were many unanswered questions.

Energy issues are always causes for concern on at least two levels:

1. How to we ensure the nation’s ability to meet its always expanding energy needs?

2. How do we do it and discomfit the fewest number of people?

As to the first, we relay primarily on oil, electricity and natural gas and there are a limited number of ways to get them to consumers. For oil and gas, pipelines are among those ways and proposals for their construction often meet with a great deal of local opposition. Witness the concerns over the Keystone pipeline and Northern Pass power line.

People are concerned, people have a right to be concerned, and it isn’t always a case of Not In My Backyard. Keystone foes, for instance, fear spills and even sabotage.

But …

Short of really turning to the sun, risking the possible health effects from burning coal, or accepting the dangers of nuclear power , we are stuck with oil, gas and electricity. So, then, how do we get it to consumers?

Certainly we could move oil and natural gas by truck or train, but for gas, pipelines seem to be the best way.

Well, we don’t pretend to know if the Beaver Brook Association’s proposals are the best way, but we applaud the trustees for taking steps to protect conservation land and for meeting with local officials to discuss their alternatives.

When they come to Milford, it would be a good idea for the public to pack the selectmen’s meeting room and, in a respectful and orderly manner, to listen and to ask questions. Knowledge is power. Too bad we can’t run our homes and cars on it.

But we can use it to run our decision-making processes.