Are any officials for the pipeline?
It’s easy to understand why people in our communities are upset that a natural gas pipeline might be coming right by their properties, yards or even feet from their homes.
That the pipeline will, in great part, follow the path of existing power lines can’t be of great comfort. The power lines, after all, are perceived by some people to have their own issues. It wasn’t too many years ago, for instance, that the well-respected New Yorker magazine carried a series of articles on the link between power lines and cancer.
That we still have power lines in our neighborhoods doesn’t necessarily obviate that belief for some people, but there has never been substantive proof of any real connection, at least no proof that was strong enough to change how we deal with power lines.
Add a natural gas pipeline to the equation and, while cancer isn’t an issue, it just seems to some residents as if there’s no escape for them.
It is easy for those not affected to say we need natural gas, we need electricity, to keep our homes warm, our lights and televisions on, and these lines must go somewhere. For most of us, “somewhere” is invariably somewhere else and we prefer it that way.
But for some folks in Milford and Amherst, that somewhere is now very close and they aren’t happy. Who can blame them? We doubt even the people at the pipeline company, Kinder Morgan, blame them. Surely they expected such a reaction. They got it in Massachusetts, so they changed their route and came north to us. And they got it in Hollis.
And Hollis’ reaction?
Said Amherst Selectman John D’Angelo: “Hollis did manage to make the pipeline go away – they sent it to Amherst.”
Well, thank you so much, neighbor.
Amherst and Milford aren’t sitting still, either, and Amherst is forming a task force to analyze the town’s options and the pipeline’s potential impact on things like property values. There are plans for a special town meeting once the task force has completed its task and at that meeting, residents can tell officials “what they want us to do,” D’Angelo said at a recent meeting on the pipeline.
It’s not hard to guess what residents will say.
The problem, though, is that towns like Amherst and Milford have little clout when it comes to issues like pipelines. It’s eventually up to state and federal agencies. But a task force can, it is hoped, gather enough information to influence those agencies.
That, of course, is always the hope in these cases. Once the Republican Congress approves and Keystone pipeline and, with the help of some Democrats, overrides President Obama’s expected veto, many states will be hoping they can find a way to, like Hollis, send it elsewhere.
But just because the odds are against winning a battle that regulatory commissions don’t want people to win, that is no reason not to wage the fight. Towns and local officials can’t just roll over and bark “Yes.”
That said, though, we wonder if every local official is adamant in opposition to the pipeline. With so many people on town boards, it is possible, at least, there there are one or two who think the pipeline is necessary. We haven’t heard from them, perhaps because they see what an unpopular position that would be.
If they are out there, in whatever town, we’d like to hear their reasoning. After all, if you believe something is good for the area, the state or the country, you should speak up and the electoral consequences be damned.
Short of that, are we to infer that no local official favors the pipeline? Perhaps that’s so.