Editorial: Power of the people 

Published: 5/24/2016 11:13:23 AM

Some in the Monadnock region thought they would never see this day: Kinder Morgan has officially withdrawn its application for the Northeast Energy Direct gas pipeline.

When Kinder Morgan announced in November 2014 that it would be seeking an alternate route for NED, moving part of the proposed route north from Massachusetts to southern New Hampshire, many residents of the Monadnock region were in disbelief. How could this have happened, they asked, and what are we going to do about it?

The alternate route, Kinder Morgan said, was designed to help avoid significant environmental impacts. It also came at a time when the Massachusetts opposition had reached considerable mass. Would New Hampshire have the numbers, the money and the time to launch a formidable opposition, one that would get the multinational energy developer’s attention, many wondered.

While more than a few residents opposed to the plan felt defeated from the start, the enormity of mounting an opposition didn’t faze others. They hit the ground running, inviting leaders of the Massachusetts opposition to help guide efforts in the Monadnock region; forming nonprofit groups that could leverage donations for marketing and legal assistance; organizing local, regional and state opposition efforts; holding fundraisers for the cause; not to mention writing letters, petitioning legislators and protesting in the streets. Town officials in affected towns, including Rindge, New Ipswich, Greenville, Mason and Temple, also took up the cause.

The energy and resources gathered to fight the proposed gas pipeline was staggering.

Among the groups that led the opposition are N.H. Spirit, N.H. Pipeline Awareness and its local chapters, StopNED, Kidz of the Pipeline Resistance, Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast, and N.H. Municipal Pipeline Coalition.

Kinder Morgan cited a lack of commitments from prospective customers and economic reasons for its decision to stop the project. But there’s no doubt that local opposition played a significant role, too. As co-founder of N.H. Pipeline Awareness Network Maryann Harper pointed out, pipeline developers have told Black & Veatch, a global engineering company, that delays from opposition groups pose the greatest obstacle to pipeline construction.

Despite the uncertainty over how much their voice would really matter in the federal approval process, the opposition pressed on, and their labors have paid off. It’s a testament to just how powerful the people really are.




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