As the pipeline story continues to unfold, it becomes more evident that while risks to health, water and air may primarily affect those living along the actual pipeline route in the southern tier of New Hampshire, other costs will be shared by the entire state.
Up until now, you might have thought you’d escaped the fate of those of us who live along the pipeline path. But you cannot dismiss this story without realizing the pipeline will affect everyone in the state. Kinder Morgan wants residents of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut to pay for the pipeline construction — somewhere in the $5 billion range. It is likely this will be approved by our state agencies at the behest of our governors and begin showing up as a charge on our bills from energy companies that sign up to use the piped fracked gas.
The governors of N.H. and Massachusetts look favorably on this funding scheme and it is likely to be approved by the N.H. Public Utilities Commission. Asking consumers to bear these risks is unconscionable; it turns the notion of capitalism on its head by socializing losses while privatizing gain.
Kinder Morgan would have nothing to lose if we pay for the pipeline and they reap profits derived from selling space on “their” transmission pipeline. If fracked gas plays run dry, if prices become too high, if climate temperatures continue to rise, if more people move to renewable sources of energy and there is less demand on our grid, what happens to our pipeline investment then?
What happens when less and less pipeline capacity is sold and the 30” — 36” pipe lies dormant, decaying in our backyards while we are all still paying for it in our energy bills? This scenario is not unrealistic given the fact that some energy experts are predicting peak shale gas by 2017. The cost of extracting fracked gas will become more expensive, making it less and less attractive as an energy source around the world. Energy companies are frantically attempting to build infrastructure to export and sell what they can get out of the shale plays as quickly as possible.
With ratepayers funding their pipelines, they lose nothing if we’re left with a useless infrastructure and all the stranded costs that go with it.
Over the past two years, Kinder Morgan spent more than $100,000 lobbying in New Hampshire. In 2014, it spent $50,000, more than any public interest, nonprofit or labor organization. The N.H. Secretary of State has failed to publish the mandatory lobbying disclosures for the second half of 2015. This means that long before our state leaders heard a word from their constituents about a proposed pipeline, they had already been contacted by lobbyists, arguing in support of the project.
These same lobbyists gave thousands of dollars to help fund lawmakers’ campaigns. While Kinder Morgan touts its policy of political neutrality by saying the company does not make any campaign contributions, many of its top executives do precisely that.
The only counter-weight to this rigged system is the voice of the people. If you don’t want to bear the cost of yet another boondoggle in the long history of bad investments made by Eversource; if you don’t think a private company should ask the public to bear the risks of its investments; if you don’t think New Hampshire stands much to gain from a gigantic investment in fossil fuels as we’re perched on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution; if you don’t buy the unsubstantiated and patently untrue claims that this pipeline will bring “cheaper energy costs” to ratepayers ... then please contact your governor, your Public Utilities Commission, your state and federal representatives. They all have websites soliciting feedback.
Tell them no pipeline, no subsidy.
Susan Levin Wessels