Four months ago, I joined fellow citizens in celebrating the official withdrawal of the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) natural gas pipeline proposal by Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan. Under the proposal, Kinder Morgan would have installed 77 miles of pipeline bisecting 17 towns in District 5 to deliver 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of fracked natural gas to New England (more than twice the projected regional demand). I was proud to join many of my fellow citizens from across the political spectrum attending hearings and rallies, delivering testimony to the FERC, and writing op-eds exposing Kinder Morgan's undue influence in politics (official submissions below)

Although stopping the NED pipeline proposal was a major victory, we cannot stop there. Unlike my opponent, who has used his position on the Executive Council to block renewable energy projects brought forward by cities and towns at no taxpayer expense, I will continue working with concerned citizens, environmentalists, and the business and scientific community to proactively build a sustainable clean energy future including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and conservation incentives, among others. Not only will such projects help us respond to catastrophic climate change – they will also be a vital of good green jobs to grow our economy for the benefit of all. For more on my clean energy policies I invite you to view the following and please don't hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns, and ideas:


Weeks' Official Submission to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 

January 1, 2016
FERC Docket PF14-22 / CP16-21 (KM/TGP NED) -6672- Vol 8

Basis for Intervening: I live with my family in Nashua, NH and my 65 year-old mother lives within a short distance of the proposed NED pipeline route in Temple, NH. My family and I have a direct interest in this proceeding and wish to intervene in opposition to the NED pipeline for the following five reasons: 

1) We are members of an impacted community that may be adversely affected in economic, environmental, and public health terms, and we do not feel these publicly-voiced concerns have been adequately or satisfactorily addressed by Kinder Morgan to date. 

2) We are electric and gas ratepayers who, if Kinder Morgan secures our electric or gas utilities as customers, may see an increase in our utility bill in connection with NED and the likelihood of new infrastructure being built that exceeds of realistic growth forecasts. 

3) We are proud donors to a New Hampshire land conservation organization and are concerned that the purpose of our donations would be violated if this project is allowed to secure easements over land that was legally committed to permanent protection from development. 

4) We are concerned that the process of natural gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing has been proven to adversely affect local drinking water, public health, and the natural environment. Although natural gas is cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels like coal and oil, expanded reliance on any fossil fuel serves as a disincentive to widespread adoption of renewable energy sources, thereby contributing to climate change. 

5) As citizens of a democracy, we are committed to the premise of equal political representation and deeply concerned that the more than $3 million Kinder Morgan and its executives have spent on campaign contributions and federal and state lobbying expenditures, since 2014 alone, may unduly influence the decisionmaking process and subvert democratic representation.

 


Op-Ed: Democracy is missing from pipeline debate

By Daniel Weeks
December 23, 2015
NH Business Review

Growing up in Temple, there were few things we valued more than our land, our voice and our independence from outside interests. When it came time to repave a road or buy a new fire engine, our duly-elected selectmen would gather proposals and make their case to the town. Come town meeting in the spring, we all got to have our say.

That’s the New Hampshire way.

Now, Temple and neighboring towns are facing the biggest threat to land and self-determination I have ever seen.

In 2014, Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan announced plans to build a natural gas pipeline through 17 New Hampshire towns, complete with a 41,000-horsepower compressor station in New Ipswich.

The Northeast Energy Direct pipeline would originate in western Pennsylvania and deliver 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of fracked natural gas to New England – more than twice the projected need for the region.

In order to install the 77 miles of pipeline through southern New Hampshire, Kinder Morgan would cut a 125-foot path and maintain a permanent 50-foot easement through private lands, as well as the existing right-of-way. 

Regardless of whether you support or oppose the project, every Granite Stater can agree that it is fundamentally a local concern. The decision must be based on a careful weighing of the costs and benefits to the affected towns and the region, not Kinder Morgan’s bottom line.

Yet most of us in New Hampshire do not have the means to buy a seat at the debate table in a political process increasingly dependent on money. 

Over the last two years, Kinder Morgan the company has spent more than $100,000 lobbying in New Hampshire. The $50,000 they spent on lobbying in 2014 was more than any public interest, nonprofit or labor organization spent that year, and it is expected to rise even higher in 2015. (The New Hampshire Secretary of State has thus far failed to publish the mandatory lobbying disclosures for the second half of the year). 

Grassroots groups opposing the pipeline did not make any lobbying expenditures of their own, according to the Secretary of State.

That means that long before state leaders heard a word from their constituents about the proposed pipeline, they had already been contacted by well-paid lobbyists arguing in support of the project. Official disclosures reveal that those same lobbyists have given thousands of dollars to help fund state lawmakers’ campaigns. 

Over the same period, Kinder Morgan has spent nearly $450,000 lobbying in Massachusetts and another $260,000 lobbying the federal government, for a combined $1,000 per day. Over $100,000 of their federal lobbying expenditures were specifically targeted at influencing the FERC process to ratify the NED pipeline.

And 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.

Since 2012, Kinder Morgan employees and their families have invested millions of dollars in state and federal races, including current presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. In 2015 alone, Chairman Richard Kinder and his wife have already spent $2.2 million to influence the presidential election. 

In a political system where elected officials set energy policy – directly and via appointments to the FERC – while simultaneously raising millions of dollars from special interests to get elected, Kinder Morgan’s investments make perfect business sense. But what about the vast majority of Granite Staters who cannot afford to hire lobbyists or candidates of our own?

As Kinder Morgan holds its obligatory public hearings across southern New Hampshire, complete with slideshows and dozens of company representatives, I can’t help wondering if it isn’t just a charade. Why would a company spend millions of dollars to influence the political process if the voices of affected citizens are the central concern? And how can a democratic republic allow unlimited spending by special interests in the first place?

For the sake of my old town and the values we hold dear, I hope citizens across New Hampshire will make their voices heard in the current pipeline debate and put an end to endless spending in elections.