NED Pipeline Opponents Speak Out: One Year Later
It's like running into a burning building when you're not quite sure if someone is inside. Well, at least metaphorically. You don't think about the consequences to your life, you just...respond.
To hear your community is under attack and to think, "okay, this I can handle", is not the usual response to a fracked gas pipeline possibly being blasted through your historic village, but the fact is, that's how I felt. It's easier to jump in, to keep busy, than think too much about the massive gas bomb that might be only a mile from my home, right next to the homes of neighbors, schools, churches.
The NED pipeline was like a volcano with an eruption imminent. Should you stay and try to protect that which cannot be protected from the Kinder Morgan behemoth, stand by and watch gases billow and wait for the magma that will incinerate all in its path, or be like those who shake it off and figure the odds are in their favor or that profit can allay all fear?
With good reason, people were scared. What do you say to someone who has been told a pipeline will go through their home? Offer your hand, introduce yourself, ask questions, gather information and just listen.
Without allies from Massachusetts who had already been fighting the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline for a year, we would have had to start from scratch, to scramble. Cathy Kristofferson and Rosemary Wessel of No Fracked Gas In Mass came to the rescue. There were others for sure, but it was Cathy, at every meeting, guiding us, supporting us, giving direction, support and instruction that gave us strength. Rosemary, a master with graphics and web design added New Hampshire to the three states she was already compiling data for and we were off.
Our stories are unique to our communities, but really, they are ubiquitous in America and across the globe as the fossil fuel industry drills in, fighting to keep a dying industry alive at our extraordinary expense.
I often say that I am thankful to Kinder Morgan for the NED pipeline.
Thankful? Yes. In our effort to #StopNED, to defend our homes, land, historic villages, families, air, water, food and future, we learned, we grew, we came together in a bipartisan effort and we are better for it.
Before the NED pipeline, Troy, Fitzwilliam, Richmond and Winchester were four rural towns with nary a connection. These four towns at the most Southwestern end of the route through New Hampshire played a critical defense role and yet, were left with little of the support other towns received. Out of need, a four town alliance was to emerge.
Each town had a designated point person. Marianne Salcetti revived the non-existent Troy Conservation Commission, Sarah Lounder, and her mother Sue Durling, co-founded Winchester Pipeline Awareness, John Boccalini used the Richmond Rooster to keep his town informed, and I became Fitzwilliam's representative at Stop NED pipeline meetings that networked the towns along the route.
Susan Silverman and Carol Jameson, Fitzwilliam and Richmond Selectmen, spoke in Winchester, inviting them to join the NH Municipal Pipeline Coalition, which joined leadership from the impacted towns.
If only we gave tribute more often to those in our lives who stood up, gave so many precious hours of their lives they might have shared with family and friends or savoring the magnificent wildness of our state.
At a town meeting, a resident stood and asked that the amount of money paid to Fitzwilliam Selectmen, $5K a year, be reduced because other towns paid so much less. I was startled, and then relieved. Not one other person agreed. I have been witness to the endless hours put in by those who continued with the usual town business, meetings and committees and then also poured over maps, met with legal counsel, wrote comments to FERC, led pipeline meetings, drove to Municipal Pipeline Coalition meetings and testified against FERC. Their work, their contributions, largely go without notice or thanks, but I stand in awe of their dedication.
Personally, I was not harmed by the effort to stop the pipeline, in fact, I benefitted.
The knowledge I gained is worthy of a second Master's degree. Networking across the East Coast and nation has been an invaluable resource. It has truly been an education and a labor of love in defense of all that I hold dear.
Each conference call, summit, march, protest, training, is affirming of the work I have been called to do.
The greatest gifts of the NED pipeline are the friendships and the education I have received, the support, patience and kindness in response to my relentless and exhausting internal drive.
I value the friendships, the strength I have received, from what is almost exclusively a team of women. There are too many to list, but those whom I draw inspiration from, Sue Durling, Laura Lynch, Anne DiCicco, Mary Beth Raven and an enormous team of others have been a joy to work, march and stand in solidarity with, for environmental and political justice.
Pat Martin, Marianne Salcetti and Susan Silverman have been the epicenter of my education as I continue to fine-tune my skills in writing, PR, energy policy and politics.
The people are what make it all worthwhile. You end up holding banners on raw, wet, windy autumn days on the side of highways as cars whiz by, standing in boots no snow pack wearing three pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear holding signs it's only 10º, marching with thousands of others for miles in 100º temps on hot pavement you feel could melt your shoes to your feet, being soaked to the bone in a thunderstorm as you march for a much-needed political revolution and ending up under a highway overpass with hundreds of people singing, playing instruments, laughing and yeah, making memories. You're exhausted, but empowered by the chanting, the signs, the people who come by car, bus and yes, plane, to be together in solidarity for environmental, racial and social justice.
Perhaps the greatest gift of all has been the raising of what I call New Hampshire's "Energy IQ".
Solar panels are being installed at an exciting rate and the companies that install them are rapidly expanding their staffs, creating jobs. Solar, wind and offshore wind are more promising than ever. Energy legislation is scrutinized and challenged by an enlightened citizenry.
Granite Staters are active, engaged and making a difference in leaps and bounds. They show up at the State House by the thousands to be seen and heard. Organizations are networking and citizens are demanding change. The people are saying no to pipelines, Northern Pass and the Granite State Power Link. They are educated and motivated and elected officials are being forced to take notice.
Where there were once regional issues, there is now statewide discussion. Expectations of our leadership have risen significantly. Acceptance is to be complicit in crimes against our neighbors and friends across state and international borders. We want to protect our air, water, safety, health and live a future without fear.
Yes, New Hampshire we can do this. We're ready to be #FossilFree603.
- Stephanie Scherr, Fitzwilliam, NH
ECHO Action Founder
ECHO Action's Frontline Leaders
A year after the NED pipeline was withdrawn, what's changed? Who's still fighting pipelines? Are we prepared for what comes next? Are we ready to be #FossilFree603?
I was engaged as a member of my town's energy committee before the pipeline was proposed, but with the announcement I realized that I had to work much harder and involve other people.
Now, I follow energy policy and legislation at the State House and the Public Utilities Commission on a regular basis. I've also found allies in many environmental organizations and feel we are most effective when we join forces on policy campaigns. The NED Pipeline fight actually had a positive impact on energy policy and helped create more clean energy activists.
- Pat Martin, Rindge NH
ECHO Action Founding Member
"One year later I am suspicious. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. On the other hand as I look around the beautiful spring weather I'm grateful that we are not looking at an ugly scar in the ground where the pipeline is going. Not very eloquent but that's what I have on the top of my head."
- Sue L. Durling, Winchester NH
ECHO Action Founding Member, Winchester Pipeline Awareness
"The NED pipeline changed my life.
I'm not exaggerating. Ask my husband and my kids.
Here are some of the ways in which it changed:
I now realize that my precious 3.3 acres of land is not really mine; private companies can manipulate eminent domain rules to take your land away from you.
I learned how FERC works (In favor of fossil fuels)
I saw how big business can be more powerful and manipulative than I ever imagined.
Once I learned all of this, I could not remain silent.
I got involved in state politics to support bills that would mitigate the harms of eminent domain. I've lived in NH for over 25 years. I had never been to the state house. In the past year, Iv'e been there over 20 times. And I have learned the importance of acting at the state level. Even though NED is dead (for now), I and others remain active at the state level.
I attended FERC feedback sessions, I submitted comments, I learned what the heck and "intervenor" was and I applied for "intervenor" status. and I bugged the crap out of my spouse, my neighbors and others to do the same.
I realized that the NED pipeline is only one pipeline and that the larger issue is a massive pipeline buildout across all of North America. Pipelines are part of the cause for Global warming. So I got involved in Climate activism, green energy, and sustainability.
I now spend my weekends doing things like staffing a table about "Citizens Climate Lobby" at the Souhegan sustainability fair... advocating for offshore wind power....making signs for marches... and getting my kids to come with me to the Climate march. Kinder Morgan could resurrect the NED pipeline at any time. I want to do everything possible to provide clean energy alternatives so that it will not be economically feasible for any company to consider building any more pipelines anywhere."
- Mary Beth Raven, Merrimack NH
ECHO Action Team
"I fought this pipeline because of the threat to our water, conservation areas, the large compressor station near a school and we learned that a large amount of pipes are leaking. We should repair infrastructure and not just build more. High pressure pipelines are risky and are not adequately monitored around the country."
- Carol Morgan DiPirro, Merrimack NH
ECHO Action Team
"NED had a tremendous impact on my life . I stopped my projects, my plans and worked 12 hours a day doing FB feeds, vigils , photographs to STOP NED. It was a main priority my life . I understood that if it happened my husband and I would have no choice but to move and this beautiful area would be destroyed . From a moral imperative standpoint I could not stand by and do nothing . I still do as much as I can to help get the information out because I believe information is the key . We must provide a solid front to these corporate fossil fuel companies that we mean NO."
- Deirdre Olson, Northfield, MA
ECHO Action Team
"I helped to form a committee to bring Community Supported Solar to Chesterfield NH, in 2 phases. First, for the town this year, second for the school next year. In process as I write this. Sunshine, NOT pipeline(s). STOP THE INSANITY!"
- Jeff Scott, Chesterfield, NH
ECHO Action Team
Pipeline Opposition Frontline Leaders
"A year ago, when Kinder Morgan withdrew its proposal for the NED pipeline, we'd been lied to so many times it felt unlikely to be true. We'd been demonstrating, protesting and otherwise getting together to prevent the pipeline for the previous year. I remember that cold demonstration at Greenville town hall, the two pipeline pilgrimages, the march in Concord, lobbying day, the Rindge and New Ipswich exhibitions, the installation on Route 45, the FERC hearings... We seemed to have won, but we'll never look at our woods, fields, and rivers again without the knowledge that it might all be take away if we aren't ready to fight for it."
Jim Giddings, Greenville NH
Greenville NH Pipeline Resistance
"A year later & there's no comfort. I hear rumblings of pipeline people poking their heads around the area, our current leader in the White House is unpredictable & if we had little protection from private companies taking personal land before, we have none now. (Research Trump wanting to take a home for a casino if you haven't already.) NH still has no real protection from eminent domain in a private company taking personal land.
Winchester's awareness was raised and I hope they will take a strong stand if the pipeline project were resurrected. As the town is being revitalized, we have more at stake than ever."
Sarah Lounder, Winchester NH
Winchester Pipeline Awareness
"When Kinder Morgan suspended their Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline project, many of us were able to get back to other obligations we'd neglected during the struggle to protect our land and our health.
But the threat hasn't completely disappeared. We have elected a governor and a president who have expressed their desire to streamline the process for large energy projects. Pipeline advocates are still working to cultivate relationships with our state and federal representatives. Allie Morris's article in the Concord Monitor pointed out that one of our key representatives owns stock in Kinder Morgan, Spectra Energy and Nextera – three companies affected by the power policies he helps craft. Legislation is continually being proposed that will make it more difficult to defeat such projects the next time around.
Liberty Utilities has already said that they will need additional capacity in the 2017-2018 timeframe, and no doubt will cite the conversion of many city and state buildings to use fracked gas following the closing of Concord Steam to reinforce their claim.
Many who worked to oppose NED have kept working to build more protection into New Hampshire's regulations. For example, the NH Pipeline Health Safety Committee worked with the NH Site Evaluation Commission to incorporate a Comprehensive Health Impact Assessment into their approval process for pipeline infrastructure. They've asked NH's Department of Environmental Services to include fracking chemicals on their watchlist of substances to be monitored.
Many continue to attend hearings to remind our legislators that NH's 10-Year Energy Strategy wisely advocates a diversified energy portfolio and encourage them to support progressive energy policies.
Thanks to everyone who opposed the NED project. Kinder Morgan and the others haven't gone away. Stay vigilant."
- Douglas Whitbeck, Mason NH
Community Activists & Property Defenders
"I feel wiser and sadder in general than I was before I found out how a company can screw you over through no fault of your own. When Kinder Morgan pulled out a year ago, I felt as if I had had cancer for a year and a half, going through terrible treatments and feeling awful, spending a lot of money and every free moment preoccupied with fighting it. Now the doctor has told me the cancer is not detectable in my system.....but it might come back. I will never be as blissfully ignorant again.
I learned that I cannot depend on the government to protect individual - in fact the government can sometimes be behind the crushing blows delivered against individual rights. I found out that the expected effect of Citizen's United on politicians has actually come to pass and that politicians only want to give you the impression of caring about your vote. They really only care about large donors. I was already very conservative about energy use, so this has not changed. I learned something about how to be an activist in your spare time after work."
- Marilyn Acker Ezell, New Ipswich, NH
“Even though the pipeline has "officially" been withdrawn, there is still the feeling in the back of my mind that they're just biding their time until they return. It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop and when it does watch out because it will hit hard and fast.”
- Nancy Nye, Fitzwilliam, NH
"It ruined my faith in the elected officials of New Hampshire and the country. I attend all rallies and protests that I can. We need renewable energy nationwide. Governor Sununu was the ONLY member of the Executive Council to refused to sign the petition to then Governor Hassan to stop the NED Pipeline. I have no faith or trust in him."
- Pam Shuel-Sargent, Rindge, NH
"Fighting the Ned pipeline helped me become aware of how the fossil fuel industry doesn't care about it's impact on people or the environment and how the government is in their pockets. I had never spoken in public before or attended any protests before and now I will be ready if they try something like that again. I won't be caught unaware or uneducated again."
- Jennifer Schongar, Mason, NH
"I hope people in NH will vote [Governor Sununu] out of office. We will try to vote Gov Baker out in Massachusetts in part because of his support of pipelines (and ratepayers being forced to pay for pipelines)."
- Jane Winn, Pittsfield, MA
"[Because of the NED pipeline, I have become more active on the state level fighting fossil fuel usage and fracked gas pipelines and infrastructure in NH."
- Bev Edwards, Temple, NH
"It motivated me to do climate research, discover the extent of the problem, and the solution proposal Carbon Fee and Dividend and the group Citizens Climate Lobby. When the federal government puts a price on carbon emissions, it will cause such fossil fuel infrastructure to become a bad investment in the future of our energy supply."
- John Gage, Amherst, NH
"I worried, what would happen if......... I am an abutter, living in the extermination zone, should there be a catastrophic event. I live on a road which only has one egress which runs parallel to the proposed pipeline. There would be no way to escape. The aquifer would be contaminated, destroying drinking water. The value of the country life style would be destroyed forever. On and On....
I feel [Governor Sununu] and/or his family businesses and business associates are looking to profit from the implementation of the gas pipeline. He has no concern for the majority of NH residents and the long term effect a gas pipeline will have on them. There are more and better sources of renewable energy for NH. I feel that the cost of the pipeline will be passed on to the electric customers who are not even aware that this will happen to them. Residents of any state should not be responsible for this cost."
- Ed Goodell, Fitzwilliam, NH
"I learned that my government truly doesn't care about it's people [and] I am angry."
- Lara Shields, Temple, NH
"I'm on my town's select board now...working to promote renewable energy and conservation every day."
- Julia Blythe, Northfield, MA
"It is clear that pipelines destroy the environment in many, many ways. The fossil fuel industry has to stop its hatred of planet earth. Sununu must take a deep breath and courageously reverse his fiscal blindness and support environmentally clean energy.
- Peter Majoy, Richmond (now Keene), NH
"Continuous secrecy by all the Pipe-line Companies and their agenda's for any Risks and ruptures that will occur. They say they have a safety record second to none - NO look at the CSB 2014 to 2016 reports on Pipeline infrastructures. Too many Lobbyist in Concord the regular NH folks cannot have a real say!
[Governor Sununu] refuses to enter into Dialogue about renewable' s (bio-wastes/Mass) or Solar/Wind as, his backers are the Industry Lobbyist- look at the STE amendment on Solar written by TransCanada Lobbyist and was passed- the NH folks lose to TransCanada diddling. Let's hope the Senate vetoes the amendment and returns it to what is was meant to be. Solar help for low income folks. Also FERC cannot form a quorum so cannot issue any permits for the PUC to address or USACE for River, stream, wetlands, lakes, or endangered areas on any routes, only EPA concerning emissions along the routes and pump stations etc."
- Geoff Daly, Nashua, NH
NED pipeline community survey
Were you impacted by the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline? We're still collecting comments and data. Please participate in our survey!
No pipelines, no Northern Pass petition
Say no to pipelines and the Northern Pass in New Hampshire. Please sign our petition today!
We invite you to comment below about this article and your experience in opposing fossil fuel infrastructure.
Part 1 of a 3 part series from ECHO Action's Activist Echoes Blog.