Residents empowered

Published: 4/25/2016 7:26:42 PM

Kinder Morgan’s suspension of the Northeast Energy Direct gas pipeline is cause for celebration for residents, town officials and the grassroots opposition groups that have sprung up in the more than two years since parts of the line moved north to New Hampshire.

When the people of southern New Hampshire learned a proposal for a gas pipeline included a leg – previously set to run through northern Massachusetts –through 70 miles in 17 towns in their state, including Greenville, Rindge, Mason and New Ipswich, many were in shock.

Few could see the benefits such a line might have for New Hampshire, despite calls from the governor and New Hampshire business leaders for lower energy costs.

But the state of shock did not last long, as residents, town officials and grassroots opposition in a number of towns, including Temple – which would have had a compressor station near its border under the plan – began raising money for legal expenses, strategizing among themselves and with other effected communities, and holding information meetings and public protests. There was no time to waste.

Residents of the Monadnock region have learned so much in the process, met people from near and far, and engaged in meaningful dialogue about what matters to them: their rural way of life – free of large development, and the noise, light and chemical emissions that comes with .

Along the way, residents have become empowered. They know the process developers go through in gaining approval for gas pipelines and what residents can do to protect their interests.

State legislators have also gone through a learning curve, one that is having them look at protections the state can offer its residents when large companies seek to develop interstate energy projects.

Though there’s cause to celebrate, it’s not time to exhale just yet. Kinder Morgan has asked for a one-month stay of federal and state application processes related to the project. But a stay is not a withdrawal. As spokesperson and co-founder of N.H. Pipeline Awareness Network Maryann Harper, of Rindge, said, the market could change and the project could be brought back to life.

It’s good to know that if NED is resurrected, or another such project comes forward, Monadnock region residents will be ready.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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