Rep. Kuster: Kinder Morgan Pipeline is a bad deal for New Hampshire
As the Representative for New Hampshire’s Second District, it is my responsibility to look out for the best interests of my constituents. This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Over the past year and a half, I have been engaging in a deliberative process regarding the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline (NED), a natural gas project that proposes to build a 70-mile pipeline that would cut through 17 New Hampshire towns.
As I have assessed the project, I have met and spoken on countless occasions with Kinder Morgan officials, representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), local business and community leaders, energy policy experts, constituent stakeholders, and residents from affected communities. It is important to me that I hear directly from my constituents, and that is why I chose to visit many of the critical sites along the proposed route of the NED Pipeline. Based on what I have seen, heard and learned about the proposed pipeline, I do not believe this project serves the best interests of the Granite State and its residents.
My extensive research on NED has led me to find ways to leverage the voices of my constituents to impact Kinder Morgan’s pre-filing process with FERC. I have signed onto eight letters with the full New Hampshire delegation to extend the comment period, hold additional open houses in the impacted communities, and voice other concerns from our constituents.
Additionally, I have sent several letters of my own to express my concerns about the proposed NED route. Most recently, I led colleagues representing four New England states in signing a letter to FERC requesting a regional assessment of energy projects to analyze regional need and prevent overbuild given other proposed energy infrastructure projects currently under consideration in New England.
This regional assessment has been important to me because New England shares an electricity grid, and we all feel the impact of losing energy sources and adding new ones. Furthermore, the cost of these projects is typically borne by all New England ratepayers.
Throughout this process, I have made it clear that I am in favor of bringing additional clean energy sources to our region while preserving the rural character and safety of our communities. However, it is critical that we are intentional and thoughtful about every project that is proposed and how it impacts our state’s future.
NED crosses crucial public water supplies, cuts across rivers, puts at risk the many private wells that are ubiquitous across southern New Hampshire, and impacts pristine conservation lands and state parks. In addition to these concerns, the NED project creates a safety and security burden on small towns along the proposed route - many of which possess limited emergency response resources in the event of an incident with the pipeline or compressor station. Furthermore, Granite Staters understand that the overwhelming majority of gas moved through the pipeline will go to other states.
Recently, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, filed a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” with FERC that will trigger a year-long environmental review by the agency. As the sole agency in charge of citing natural gas pipelines in the United States, it is the FERC Commissioners who will ultimately decide if the NED project is in the best interest of the public.
As the Federal representative for 15 of the 17 New Hampshire towns located along the route of the NED pipeline, I have concluded that this project does not provide sufficient benefits to New Hampshire families and businesses to justify the disruption and long-term negative impacts to our communities. In the coming weeks, I will be filing my opposition to the project with FERC, and I will urge the agency to deny the issuance of a permit for the NED project.
Throughout the evaluation process, I have aimed to be fair, open and accessible when listening to both supporters and opponents of the NED project. However, without tangible evidence of substantial economic gains to the communities that are affected, I have not seen enough evidence to justify the potential damage. Given that there are less invasive projects being proposed in New England, I believe that the NED Pipeline, as it is proposed, is the wrong vehicle for bringing meaningful reductions in wholesale electricity costs in New Hampshire.
I am adding my voice to the thousands of citizens who have filed their opposition to the NED Pipeline with FERC. I implore FERC to take into account the potential damage to our water resources, our conservation lands and our environment when making a final decision on this project. I believe that when taking these factors into consideration, FERC should see that the NED project is not in the best interest of New Hampshire families.