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Group rallies against pipeline in Keene

About 40 people, many from Keene and towns around the region, met in Ashuelot River Park to show their opposition to a proposed pipeline through southern New Hampshire Saturday.

The protesters marched down West Street holding signs with anti-pipeline slogans, cheering and giving thumbs up to the cars that honked in support.

They were there, Rindge resident Patricia A. Martin said, to make sure people in Keene know about Kinder Morgan’s plan to construct a natural gas pipeline through the southern part of the state.

“We just don’t think people know,” she said. “The ones that do, they hear the story that the pipeline is going to bring them all this cheap gas.”

The group was in Keene the pipeline proposed by Houston-based energy company Kinder Morgan that would traverse about 70 miles of southern New Hampshire, including the local towns of Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.

The company plans to file an application for the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline with federal regulators in September.

If approved by the federal regulators, it would take natural gas from Pennsylvania shale fields to Dracut, Mass. Kinder Morgan says the increased availability of natural gas in New England would address energy shortages and high costs in the region.

The planned pipeline has faced opposition from Massachusetts and New Hampshire residents, and town officials who say the pipeline would cause environmental destruction and drive down property values.

“People have to know there is a cost,” Martin said.

In related news, Study: N.E. doesn’t need new pipelines.

Liberty Utilities, the state’s largest natural gas distributor, is weighing a plan to divert gas from a controversial proposed pipeline to serve customers in Keene.

Liberty is negotiating a deal with state regulators to buy space on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline and sell natural gas to its customers statewide, including a 36-inch pipeline that would connect with the Keene area.

The marchers ended their rally in Keene’s Central Square just before noon Saturday, waving sings with anti-pipeline messages.

N.H. House Reps. James W. McConnell, R-Swanzey and Marjorie J. Shepardson, D-Marlborough attended Saturday’s rally.

But aside from their support and some limited interest from state legislators, many of the voices in Concord have been silent on the pipeline issue, said Troy selectmen William T. “Tom” Matson.

“We’ve heard nobody at the state level speak about these things,” Matson said, pointing to a young boy holding a “stop the pipeline” sign up to passing traffic. “We’ve got little kids out here showing more passion than elected officials.”

The group got more honks of support in Central Square, but several Keene residents and passers-by who were visiting from Connecticut and Massachusetts had never heard of the pipeline.

Anyone who lives nearby should be paying attention to the debate over the pipeline, Shepardson said.

“They’re going to be affected one way or another,” she said. “We have to think of the whole state, the whole region.”

This article was written by Martha Shanahan from The Keene Sentinel, N.H. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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