Officials need to aid pipeline fight

Several decades ago, in a land not too far from here – actually, it was New Jersey – there was a very serious drought. People were asked to voluntarily limit their water use and when that didn’t work, state and county officials put heavy restrictions on the use of water. For instance, if you had a newborn baby and used cloth diapers, you had to get special permission to use more than the monthly allotment of water.

For those without dispensation, if they used more than their monthly allotment, fines were involved.

Eventually, the drought ended and the reservoirs filled again and it was at that point that the water company approached the state Public Utilities Commission and said, in essence (this is not a direct quote):

“During the drought, we didn’t make as much money in water usage fees as we normally do so we don’t have as much money to pay our board of directors or to do whatever else it is we want to do, so give us a really hefty increase in our water rates.”

Care to guess what the PUC did?

Right: They gave the water company a hefty increase in its water rates and you know, of course, who paid that increase: The water users who just suffered through a drought that included restrictions on their water usage and, for some, fines.

Why should you care? Well, if you’re one of the people opposed to Kinder Morgan’s plan to run a pipeline through the area, and in some cases your back yard, it might be an object lesson:

Utility companies always win. Oh, they don’t always get everything they want. If they ask for a 20 percent increase in rates, they PUC might only give them 17.5 percent, but that’s still a win.

Clearly we are pessimistic about the ability of our communities to keep Kinder Morgan from getting its way, or right-of-way to put a linguistic spin on things, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it.

So, we are glad to see that Milford, like Amherst, has decided to form a task force to study the issue. One of the first things these task forces should do is combine their efforts.

Then, one of the primary areas of study should be the contention of some Milford opponents that Kinder Morgan was deceptive when it estimated the size of a proposed compression station in Mason. According to one of the homeowners who spoke with Milford selectmen last week, that station would be 15 times bigger than the one exhibited during Kinder Morgan’s Jan. 5 presentation in Milford.

Can that be true? Would Kinder Morgan be that deceptive? That is very difficult to believe, but absolutely it should be looked at and if it turns out to be so, well …

Well, what?

You see, for us the question will always come back to the approval process and such a process is not in the hands of local officials and certainly not in the hands of homeowners.

But all homeowners can do is try and we’re glad to see that local officials are giving them a boost with study committees.

We look forward to seeing their reports.

But we’d also like to see some of our state officials chime in on this.

Where is Congressman Frank Guinta? Where are Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen? They represent this region and must have a point of view. Unless they’re waiting for some poll to tell them what that point of view should be.

Well, here’s a poll: The people most affected by this pipeline, those who live nearby its proposed route, don’t like it. How’s that for a poll?