We must keep up pipeline fight

Well, then, can we say that’s that?

Given the report from the Milford Pipeline Task Force that essentially says little benefit would be derived from the natural gas pipeline proposed by the Kinder Morgan company and that what benefit there would be would not make up for its harm, can we put the proposal behind us?

And given a letter from the Amherst selectmen to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), based upon information from its pipeline task force, that says in part: “Massachusetts would be the prime beneficiary of a the proposed natural gas pipeline through 71 miles of southern New Hampshire,” can we say that’s that?

Don’t bet on it.

Kinder Morgan has shown no sign of abandoning its plan despite widespread opposition from New Hampshire towns on the pipeline’s route, so a report from a local task force probably isn’t going to make much difference. Only FERC can put a stop to a pipeline that will go through Amherst and Milford, including Amherst’s environmentally sensitive Ponemah Bog area, and who knows what a federal agency will do when faced with the magic word “energy.”

And why is that word magic? Because of our long-standing, and so far futile, desire to be independent of the need for foreign oil. Remember when we thought nuclear power was the answer? And solar power?

Well, now some folks want to put their energy eggs into the basket of natural gas, at least to the extent that it could cut down on the need for oil, so given that desire, would a federal agency stand in the way of what might appear to be progress toward that end?

Who knows?

What we do know is, we really cannot say “that’s that” because there must be a lot of money at stake for Kinder Morgan and they must have a sound economic/business reason for proposing the pipeline route they’ve proposed, so we doubt they’ll simply say that’s that and go away.

But neither should New Hampshire communities give up the fight because, based upon figures supplied to the Milford selectmen in the task force report, the benefits to New Hampshire are negligible at best.

For instance:

Of the 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day that would go through the pipeline, New Hampshire would use only 6 percent.

New England would use about 22 percent of that 2 billion cubic feet.

Only one power-generating plant in New Hampshire would be served by the pipeline.

Milford will see $428,000 in tax revenue and perhaps lower gas and electric bills. That $428,000 doesn’t even come close to representing $1 on the tax rate.

Some residential properties could see lower valuations.

That’s a lot of negativity to overcome, but that doesn’t mean a federal agency won’t simply ignore it.

The Amherst letter is blunt in the way official communications usual aren’t, to wit:

It calls the idea that New Hampshire needs more power generation “a phony problem,” and describes the state as a “net exporter of power,” having “one of the highest ratios of power generation versus consumption in the country.”

The letter also references the New England State Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) and the tax on electric rate payers NESCOE has proposed.

“Using NESCOE regional data as a cover,” the letter says, Kinder Morgan “proposes to subject New Hampshire property owners to potential losses in value, use and enjoyment, due to easements ‘negotiated’ under the background threat of seizure by eminent domain.”

The Amherst selectmen, in their letter, call NESCOE a “quasi-governmental authority that has rejected any form of accountability.”

Well, that hurts. Or it should.

The point here is that neither Amherst nor Milford have much faith in the value of this proposed pipeline and seem poised to fight it with everything they have, and that should include you. While it’s probable that the pipeline won’t affect you directly, just some of your neighbors, this is your fight, too, because, one way or another, we’re all in this together.

Let your town officials know you’re with them. Send them letters and emails that they can include with any new communications to higher government authorities.

It might not do any good but, as is the case with chicken soup, can’t hurt.