• Stephanie Scherr

An open letter to the City of Keene: Don't get addicted to frack, protect yourselves from pipeli

Dear Keene City Council Members,

As a NED pipeline opponent, I feel obligated to share with you what towns and cities in Southern New Hampshire, your neighbors, went through in fighting the Kinder Morgan pipeline that Liberty Utilities is trying to resurrect, using Keene as an unsuspecting victim.

Did you know that Kinder Morgan was looking at Vernon VT or Hinsdale NH to build an industrial gas plant? Keene is conveniently in close proximity to those locations and is being set up for what towns across America are fighting - fracked gas infrastructure.

In December, I testified in Washington, DC at the National Press Club against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) #FERCabuses along with other pipeline organizations. I have met with people who live near the fracking fields amongst compressor stations and gas plants. They wouldn't wish what they live with on you or their worst enemy.

The temporary gas plant will provide fuel for the Monadnock Marketplace. Once approved, Liberty Utilities will seek approval for a permanent gas plant. After that, the expansion begins. Gas for Keene, a larger plant, a pipeline to supply the gas, a compressor station to keep it moving, methane blowdowns and now you're no longer a quaint New England town, you have an industrial plant in your back yard.

I want to save you from the fear, the restless nights, the groups and meetings, spending endless hours researching, learning, organizing, not sleeping, stressing about lost property values, spending money on legal defense, worrying about losing your house or the pipeline going next to your child's school or your church, from standing on ice in freezing temps in winter and in the blazing summer sun with signs, from carrying petitions and talking 24/7 about the thing that haunts your dreams - fracked gas pipelines, gas plants, compressor stations, blow downs, breathing toxic fumes you can't see or hear, the illness and disease.

You might think about selling your house, moving away, but who wants a house next to a pipeline or in a town where fracked gas emissions, complaints and concerns are regularly in the news?

Here's the good news. The towns along the NED pipeline route have already been through all that. We spent thousands and thousands of dollars on legal defense. We carried the signs, wore the shirts, begged for signatures, met with towns and legislators. We stayed up all night writing letters to FERC and testimony for hearings. We've done it all and you, Keene, can benefit from that. I wouldn't wish that on you, on anyone. That's why we're here, helping you to understand that you can't let this go. You have to take action now, while you still can.

Keene has a reputation for making wise planning decisions. It has a climate action plan, a climate adaptation plan, a Climate Protection Committee, state-of-the-art recycling center and a food co-op. You're a city on the right track, the guiding force in the Monadnock Region, now this. What happened? It's time to stop and rethink this decision.

Mayor Lane was in support of the NED pipeline. I don't want to believe that he, the City Council and Keene businesses think the discounted fuel rate being offered is worth selling out Keene's future for. To save money, make a wise economic choices. There is an abundance of information and assistance available and alternatives. Why aren't they being considered? Converting to heat pumps and renewable energy now is the wise economic choice.

Liberty Utilities offers cities a 10% reduction in fuel rates to cities across New Hampshire and raises rates on their other customers. If you are currently using gas, that's you. The gas industry currently has a glut (excess of gas) and are selling below normal rates. Businesses will pay to convert, the rate will go up and as we rapidly move to renewable energy, they will be forced to pay to convert again. It's the 'ol bait and switch.

The Monadnock Marketplace gets hooked up for gas with a temporary plant. Liberty Utilities then starts an application for a permanent gas plant. They're not doing this for the benefit of Keene businesses and residents. They have a devious plan.

Once the gas plant is installed and gas contracts have been attained throughout New Hampshire, Liberty Utilities gives Kinder Morgan the thumbs up and they're in your back yard. Yup, that's where the term NIMBY comes from. You realize you should have said something, done something, oh, if you'd only known, and now you're screaming, "Not in my back yard!"

We were fortunate. There weren't enough contracts for the gas, so Kinder Morgan withdrew their application. One year later, they're watching Liberty Utilities set it all up for them. Is that something you want to be a part of?

I have met people who can't drink their polluted, toxic water. They can't bathe in it. They have huge plastic water bins in their yard and water delivered to them because theirs is flammable. Their rivers bubble up methane and can catch on fire. When their stipend for water runs out, they are on their own to pay for potable water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. The company creates the problem, but they don't solve it. No one wants to be complicit in what's happening to the people who live in the fracking fields.

So why the big pipeline push in New England? For one, fossil fuels are a dying industry. They're trying to keep afloat by trying to lock us into 20-30+ years more of fossil fuels. Come on, even Exxon knows that's a disastrous decision.

The shale deposit in Nova Scotia that has been supplying gas to the states has nearly petered out. A pipeline that used to deliver gas to us from Canada has been reversed. Now they're trying to send fracked gas from PA to Canada and guess who gets to be the carbon corridor? New England.

Right now, there's an excess (a glut, if you will) of gas, so they can sell, sell, sell at discount prices. They start exporting, the prices go up and whammo, you're wondering where you went wrong. Do your research.

The truth of the matter is that heat pumps, biofuels and responsible renewable energy are where it's at. I can't imagine why businesses would choose a controversial, damaging fuel source that will have be cheap in the short term, but by the time the permanent gas plant is built, have rates bouncing back up. Haven't they noticed how excited consumers are about clean energy? Isn't that the image to portray, a company that cares about the community and makes decisions with them in mind, a good community partner? I hope so.

Mayor Lane has stated that "there will be no pipeline". If he and the City of Keene provide the conditions, help create the need for a pipeline, saying no will not stop a pipeline. They don't come to town and ask your permission. Ask anyone who lives near one or had their land confiscated through eminent domain. Our representatives in the Senate and Congress can't stop pipelines when fighting FERC, what makes Mayor Lane think he has this authority? He's wrong. If it was that easy, people wouldn't be taking desperate measures like turning their property into a cemetery in an attempt to fight off a pipeline.

Maybe you think that if it gets to that point, you'll worry about it then. These are some quotes from people who used the FERC landowner help line:

Sarah told one caller, “Compressor stations are just big chemical plants. There is no pollution. I don’t know what you’re worried about. I have worked on gas pipelines for FERC for over 30 years and never heard the term blowdown. You have been sold a bill of goods. You need to get off YouTube!” Then she hung up. This was the second person at FERC to tell her blowdowns do not exist. I'm here to tell you, they do. They are toxic methane gas emissions, happen any time day or night, and are very loud.


During a blowdown, toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, many that are trade secrets even the government is unaware of, are released along with methane. You can't see or smell the leaks from compressor stations and pipelines except with a FLIR camera.


The decision to approve a gas plant in Keene should be made with the utmost attention to the consequences of bringing a monstrosity of toxic fumes into the community.

Three years after the NED pipeline was proposed, I feel certain that Keene residents, businesses and the City Council are not fully aware of the chain of events that is likely to follow an approval of the gas plant and the part they are willingly playing as pawns of Liberty Utilities.

I invite you to look images of gas plants and compressor stations and read more. What you have now in Keene is not what they have planned for you. It's far, far more immense and sinister. Whatever you do, DO NOT take the information given to you by a gas company or pipeline company representative as the truth. They have a reputation for showing misleading images and giving misleading information in their favor. At the beginning of the NED pipeline proposal, a small shed was shown at an open house as depicting a compressor station.

Liberty Utilities has an agenda and your health, safety and future are not in the plans. Please, do your research, ask questions of knowledgeable people that do not have a stake in the approval of this gas plant. Your children's health and future are on the line.

A gas plant is not in line with Keene community values and the Keene Climate Action Plan. I ask that you please write an email, make a call to Mayor Kendall Lane and the rest of the City Council today. Write a letter to the editor at the Keene Sentinel. Ask that he not approve the gas plant until a community information forum can be held. Get the facts, discuss them, consider the impacts and the alternatives, none of which have yet been considered. We are a community. Let's work together to shape our future.

PETITION: Sign now!

Email Keene's Mayor Kendall Lane and the Keene City Councilors

mayor@ci.keene.nh.us, jmanwaring@ci.keene.nh.us,shooper@ci.keene.nh.us, mgreenwald@ci.keene.nh.us,cjacobs@ci.keene.nh.us, dcrichards@ci.keene.nh.us,tmclark@ci.keene.nh.us, roconnor@ci.keene.nh.us, rsutherland@ci.keene.nh.us, pjones@ci.keene.nh.us, tpowers@ci.keene.nh.us, rfiliault@ci.keene.nh.us, bchadbourne@ci.keene.nh.us, bsapeta@ci.keene.nh.us, ghansel@ci.keene.nh.us, glamoureux@ci.keene.nh.us

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