FERC meeting good, but there is still more to be said

To the Editor:

To the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:

I congratulate you on FERC’s well-run meeting in Milford. It was impressive, overflowing with articulate, determined, well-prepared citizens expressing concern over their myriad concerns attending the proposed Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline (Docket No. PF14-22).

Of the manifold objections to the project, this letter will explore the impact of environmental degradation on tourism in New Hampshire.

Tourism is vital to New Hampshire’s economy. More than 15.4 million visitors came to NH in 2014, up 5.3 percent from 2013. Famously, they come to enjoy the fall foliage. They come to ski, to hike, to swim, to take hay rides and sleigh rides – to ski, to fish, to pick berries – to enjoy concerts, theatrical productions, country dances, garden, barn and house tours. They visit antique stores and organic farms and tractor shows. They spill out beyond the area in every direction, staying at southern New Hampshire’s myriad bed-and-breakfast establishments, inns, and hotels and hotels, and eating at its many excellent restaurants.

And they spend money: $2,015 million last year, up 4.3 percent. The New Ipswich compressor station is scheduled to be built a mile from my own bed and breakfast, Auk’s Nest, which has served visitors to the area for nearly 50 years. Half a dozen other lodging facilities, plus numerous restaurants, flourish within a dozen miles, all of which will be forced out of business by the pipeline.

The impact on the thriving tourist industry in this peaceful corner (fondly known as The Currier & Ives Corner) will be calamitous. The statistics provided below and on the attached sheet are from the Institute for New Hampshire Studies, at www.plymouth.edu/institute-for-new-hampshire-studies: Tourist spending in the Mondadnock Region, 2012: $246,000,000.

Residents and visitors alike prize New England for its peaceful rural character, for the agrarian values and way of life that give our beloved homeland its special character. One example of many: In July, the Historical
Society of Temple presented Temple Barns & Farms, a tour of barns dating between 1754 and 2015. A couple of hundred men, women, and children visited the barns, petted lambs and baby goats and miniature horses, admired tractors and trucks and other vintage farm apparatus dating from the late 19th century. Several of the old vehicles, gleaming with fresh paint, were kept running full blast and filling the air with satisfying groans, shrieks, and chugging sounds.

That is the kind of low-grade cacophony that rural New Englanders – and their envious guests and friends – enjoy.

The throngs that crowd such popular events are not made up solely of country people. Visitors to Temple Barns & Farms came from the Boston area, from New York, and from cities across New England, as well as from towns and villages.

While tourism is a crucial element of New Hampshire’s economy, it is just one of residents’ many pressing concerns. Some of the most daunting include:

  • Hazards to wetlands, aquifers, and wells

  • Disruption of habitat, migratory patterns, mating habits of our fragile flora and fauna

  • Calamitous impact on property values

  • Light and noise pollution

The compressor will be situated one-half mile from the Temple Elementary School (TES) and within five miles of schools in Greenville and New Ipswich. How can pupils learn when they are unrelentingly assailed by deafening noise? How can teachers teach? Will towns be forced to relocate the schools, and if so, how can we ensure the calm, reflective atmosphere essential to study and to learning?

TES serves as the single emergency refuge for Temple’s 1,300-plus citizens.

The Tobey Reservoir, which supplies water for Temple and Greenville, is even closer to the planned compressor. What heedless recklessness prompts proponents of the pipeline to put the water supply for a thousand families at risk?

Is our agrarian way of life, so treasured throughout America, to vanish under the onslaught of this pipeline and similar projects? Together with fellow citizens of Temple and the surrounding towns, I beg that you will give your thoughtful consideration to our myriad concerns. Thank you.

Anne D. Lunt