"Where are our selectmen?" shouted out at Fremont pipeline meeting
Residents of Granite Bridge towns entered the Pipeline Awareness Presentation to find attendees calling out their addresses. Sue Durling stood at the front of the room searching each one on the ECHO Action interactive map, showing residents the proximity of their home to the Granite Bridge Pipeline and Epping LNG tank. Friendly conversation was already buzzing as people drifted in after a long day at work.
Danielle, a Fremont resident, asked ECHO Action to provide a community presentation about the pipeline. Fremont is in close proximity to the LNG tank, but the pipeline does not go through town land. They have not been offered tax revenue and even as controversy rises, has largely been ignored.
It was clear from the beginning of the presentation that the audience came with their neighbors and their questions, as requested. For every topic covered, there were multiple questions. Conversations bubbled up around the room and a healthy discussion continued throughout.
Attendees were respectful of each other as each question brought more questions. For some this was the first information meeting they had attended. Others had met with residents in a nearby town.
Stephanie Scherr provided an overview of the project, safety, why pipelines leak, Liberty Utilities' violations in regards to inspections and unreported leaks. She also talked about the Epping LNG tank and site, claimed benefits and becoming an intervenor.
At times, comments volleyed around the room in response to questions raised, with responses energetically flying about. More than once, "Where are our selectmen? Why aren't they here?" was shouted out.
While there were obvious concerns over safety after last week's 70+ gas explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover MA, residents also expressed concern over the cost, appearance, size, health and climate impacts.
One attendee is worried about the children who attend her school, which is located in close proximity to the pipeline. She knows she's putting her business at risk, but said her conscience won't allow her to stay silent while the pipeline goes through.
She quickly found out that there's a daycare in the residential area right next to the LNG tank. This gave way to questions about property values and conversations with real estate agents.
Sue Durling, a retired nurse, focused on emissions and health concerns. Maps, diagrams, charts and lists of toxic chemicals in fracked gas were explained. She mentioned physicians' concerns, organizations that document disease and the rising evidence of the negative health impacts associated with living near metering and compressor stations.
Another lively discussion arose when Sue explained the need to have baseline water and air quality testing done in advance of any construction.
The room silenced while she allowed a moment for people to look at the list of chemicals in fracked gas. Whispers began and then somber bits of stories about the cancer clusters in New Hampshire were told.
Pictures of the fracking fields of Pennsylvania brought silence again and a question about fracking in NH. Most of the gas combusted in NH comes from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. NH sits on granite, not shale.
This brought little relief when the conversation shifted to water threats. Stephanie and Sue shared the response Liberty Utilities usually gives, that gas is light and will just dissipate, that it cannot contaminate water.
Sue explained horizontal directional drilling and Stephanie added that it's the drilling fluid used that the most experienced companies have ended up contaminating water with during the process before the pipeline is even installed. A former energy company worker commented on this as well.
Conversation moved on to Liberty's claim that natural gas reduces carbon dioxide emissions, without mentioning in the increased methane emissions. Methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Liberty Utilities had 2.2% "lost or unaccounted for" (leaked) gas in 2017, which could heat thousands of homes. Sealing leaks and home weatherization would free up a great deal of energy without any additional pipeline capacity.
Finally, Stephanie briefly shared the summer she and Sue had attending political forums around the state, raising awareness about Granite Bridge, asking candidates tough questions.
Epping residents were quick to vent about Representatives Vose and Morrison's support for the pipeline and wanted to know why their state senators are supporting a project so obviously flawed.
At that point the group moved to open discussion with a great deal of energy and ideas on how to engage neighbors and friends.
There's at least one person at every meeting that walks in having heard that "the pipeline is a done deal", but those that stayed to the end seemed more confident about taking action to "stop the pipeline" - words now heard across America and the globe.
The next Granite Bridge Pipeline organizational meeting will be held shortly, to capitalize on the positive community engagement solidified in Fremont!
• Make a DONATION to our organization of all unpaid volunteers
• Learn more about the pipeline and LNG tank
• View the interactive map Sue helped residents find their homes on
• Learn how to become an intervenor at the PUC
• Subscribe to the ECHO Action newsletter
• Participate in the next conference call
• PETITION: "Clean Energy, Not Catastrophe" Please share!
• STATEMENT: Why do you oppose the Granite Bridge Pipeline?
• Fossil Free 603 discussion group on Facebook
Join the ECHO Action Team and #MakeYourVoiceEcho!