By Kathleen D. Bailey / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Mar 15, 2018 at 5:33 PM
Updated Mar 15, 2018 at 5:33 PM
EPPING -- Stephanie Scherr wants the town to think twice about supporting a proposed 27-mile natural gas pipeline and to get a comprehensive health impact assessment.
Scherr and Susan Durling of ECHO Action, which bills itself as New Hampshire’s Dynamic Environmental Justice Network, spoke at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting about Liberty Utilities’ proposed Granite Bridge natural gas pipeline, which would run along Route 101 and have a storage tank in Epping. The project raised concerns from the Planning Board at its most recent meeting.
The 16-inch pipeline would run from Manchester to Stratham and link existing facilities on the Seacoast with the Concord Lateral pipeline. It would be located in the state Department of Transportation right-of-way along 101, eliminating the need for eminent domain, according to Granite Bridge promotional materials. The liquid natural gas (LNG) storage facility would be on a 140-acre site in Epping, with a 14-acre footprint.
The pipeline and storage facility combined are expected to save $950 million over 20 years for Seacoast customers, compared to other alternatives, the Liberty material states. There is also an estimated $200 million in state and local property tax revenue for all communities over the life of the project.But Scherr and Durling say the money will come at a cost.
ECHO Action formed in 2014 after members protested Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, said Scherr, its founder and director.“
We want to present information from another perspective, so people can make informed decisions,” she told selectmen.
While Liberty is planning a public forum, Scherr said it’s important to obtain information from sources other than the energy company.
“Some residents don’t realize it would literally be in their back yard,” she said.Facts presented by Liberty can be contradicted by other sets of data, according to Scherr. She said while the proposed tank would be contained within a tank and located in a recessed area most LNG accidents start with fires outside the tanks.
Scherr said the project may lower energy costs for users but these work out to “small rebates equal to the cost of a cup of coffee.” She also doubted Liberty’s claim that there would be $200 million in revenue to towns along the corridor during the life of the project. Scherr said that could decrease depending on the market. “Right now, there’s an excess of energy and prices are low,” she said. “It might not stay that way.
”Scherr said natural gas has less carbon dioxide emissions than other fossil fuels such as oil and propane. But it also contains methane, which she said is “30 times more potent than carbon dioxide and 80 times more potent over 20 years.”
“When we choose gas we are complicit in what happens to other people,” she said, pointing out any release of LNG could poison water supplies.The proposed pipeline will affect two crossings of the Lamprey River, she said.
Scherr said she attended a meeting last week with the Public Utilities Commission and Consumer Advocate Don Kreiss, who, she said, noted among other things that Liberty doesn’t have the experience with a project of this magnitude.
Durling also expressed concern for safety, noting certain chemicals that are hazardous to humans could be discharged and that the effect of other associated chemicals on humans are not known yet. She was also critical of emissions research, noting statisticians for energy companies take an average over a year. “But it’s different if you’re drinking one glass of water a day, or 14 over two weeks,” she warned.
Durling and Scherr advised Epping to do a comprehensive health impact assessment. Durling said this should include a baseline health assessment for the community, identification of vulnerable groups, socio-economic data, identifying of wetlands and more.
They also advocated for Epping residents to become “interveners.” According to the website for the Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast, an intervener has the right to “participate in a hearing, file a brief and challenge a FERC decision (you don’t have these rights if you simply file comments).
”Resident Mark Vallone said he was considering becoming an intervener. “I would like to see this more closely scrutinized,” he said, noting the effects of the pipeline and storage tank could stretch out for 30 or 40 years.
Selectman Adam Munguia, who expressed concern in the Planning Board meeting, said, “The residents of Epping are the most important thing to this board.”
Selectmen’s Chairman Tom Gauthier said the board will make sure information on the proposed pipeline, public meetings and intervener process is available on the town website.
We know we covered a lot of information in a short time, so we're clarifying some of the information covered in the article.
"Scherr said the project may lower energy costs for users but these work out to “small rebates equal to the cost of a cup of coffee.”
• This was in reference to funding for energy efficiency programs, that instead of being implemented, the funds are refunded to ratepayers in meager rebates.
“When we choose gas we are complicit in what happens to other people,” she said, pointing out any release of LNG could poison water supplies."
• Our reference to being complicit in the poisoning of others was a concern for those who living in the Marcellus Shale fracking fields and are subjected to excessive emissions and water so polluted it cannot be used for drinking, cooking or bathing. Some tap water is flammable and methane bubbles up in rivers. When the company decides to pull the plug on funding potable water, the homeowners are left with poisoned water and property and very often, ill health.
"She was also critical of emissions research, noting statisticians for energy companies take an average over a year. “But it’s different if you’re drinking one glass of water a day, or 14 over two weeks,” she warned."
• Sue Durling was explaining that utilities or pipeline companies may offer data depicting low emissions that are an annual average, but during a potent release of toxic gases, the exposure can be much higher and more risky than implied by the the graphs or numbers presented.
Please contact us through ECHOaction.org to schedule a pipeline information session or learn more.