How big is this pipeline (and why)?

To the Editor:

The natural gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan / Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is 36” in diameter and rated at 1460 psi pressure. It is designed to provide up to 2.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas transportation capacity. The six New England State Governors have said “… we need investments in additional energy efficiency, renewable generation, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission …” My question is “Do we really need this much?”

The proposed pipeline is big, REALLY BIG. By my calculations it could deliver more than enough natural gas to supply 20 electrical power generation plants the size of Seabrook’s electrical generators. I encourage Amherst residents to think about how much energy that is. Mull it over as you drive across the proposed pipeline path in the morning school traffic on Boston Post Road.

David Gilbert Keith, a member of the Deerfield Massachusetts Energy Resources Committee and an independent environmental researcher, said that even if all of the coal, petroleum or nuclear plants in New England were to be converted to natural gas, it would still only require about half the volume of gas that would come through the pipeline. Keith said he based his findings on an analysis of data acquired from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Does New Hampshire need that much fossil fuel? – No. Not even all of New England needs that much fossil fuel. Not now, and hopefully not ever. Proponents will say that natural gas is “clean burning” but there are several environmental health and safety factors that led to the New York State ban on natural gas fracking since 2008.

Back to the original question – “Why is it so big?” The US shale revolution has led to an overabundance of natural gas production looking to find a market. Reading between the lines, the Northeast Energy Direct project looks a lot like Kinder Morgan’s entry in a race to see who can carry the most natural gas from Pennsylvania shale fields to liquefied natural gas export terminals.

Families, town leaders, and conservation commissions across New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are impacted by this project. Construction will require a new 100 foot clear-cut right of way, half of which will be permanent. For many affected properties it means they will now get an open view of the existing power lines.

They are faced with the prospect of negotiating easements or facing eminent domain takings. All this for the monetary benefit of environmental profiteers who are likely to garner the federal government’s blessing.

The Town of Deerfield, Massachusetts has filed a claim for monetary damages caused to the town by negligent actions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Their claim is that a 2005 change in the federal Natural Gas Act giving FERC authority to regulate the transportation and sale of natural gas destined for sale overseas is unconstitutional. Do you think that foreign trade justifies the use of eminent domain takings which are enabled by FERC approval of the project? I don’t.

The Town of Amherst web site has lots of good information about the project. Go to http://www.amherstnh.gov and click the Tennessee Gas Pipeline link. At the bottom of that page there is a link marked “<<<<click here>>>>” that will put you on the email list for updates to that page. Get informed, stay informed, and let your government representatives know how you feel.

The proposed pipeline is not the best answer to New England’s energy needs. There has to be a better solution. I hope we find it before the bulldozers come to town.

David S. Beach

Amherst