Post-Pilgrimage Reflections from Hattie Nestel

As part of my opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan Corporation pipeline that would carry fracked gas from fields in Pennsylvania through New York State, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, I participated in six days of a Pipeline Pilgrimage led by Young Adult Quakers through six New Hampshire towns.

The pilgrimage occurred one year since my knee replacement. I wasn’t sure how I would manage in hilly New Hampshire, but I was determined to give it a try. I was the oldest person on the pilgrimage by twenty years.

Going through New Hampshire’s beautiful hills, lakes, and forests along the proposed pipeline route, I was sickened by the thought that this all can be destroyed with one signature from FERC, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, approving the proposed pipeline.

Since late last spring, I have worked with hundreds of others in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania to oppose this pipeline, called the New England Direct pipeline by Kinder Morgan. In November, I demonstrated against FERC with newly formed Beyond Extreme Energy, BXE activists DC and will do so again at the end of May.

I have sold more than five hundred lawn signs and bumper stickers opposing the pipeline. I have interviewed more than thirty-five people who are targeted to have the pipeline go through their properties. I have video-interviewed our federal and state politicians about the proposed pipeline and have arranged to have the interviews aired on twenty-six Massachusetts cable access stations and Youtube.

Nothing is ever enough. Almost daily, headlines in our local newspaper report on our progress or lack of to stop the pipeline.

Informational meetings bring experts in energy fields, politicians, and now lawyers hired to help us stop this destruct and destroy the corporate dinosaur threatening our beautiful states and ways of life.

We know New England does not need nor would we benefit from the two billion cubic feet of fracked gas intended to go through this pipeline. The gas is likely intended for Europe via duty-free ports in Maine. Fracking extracts an extremely fossil fuel via an extremely dirty process that injects chemically treated water into shale formations to break up rock. The process is an immense water hog, and storing chemically toxic waste used in drilling is as unsolvable a problem as storing radioactive waste from nuclear power reactors.

The proposed Kinder Morgan, Tennessee Gas thirty-six-inch pipeline would deliver enough fuel to produce more than twice the combined power generated in all of New England by coal, petroleum and nuclear fuels in 2012!
The gas would be liquefied and exported to Europe from Dracut, Massachusetts through the port of Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada.

Many of the towns that this pipeline would go through have only wells for all their water and feel threatened by the risk and destruction that pipelines pose to their water supply. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, much land is conserved against development to protects wildlife corridors, wetlands, farms, and forests. The proposed pipeline threatens even conservation land, although lawyers and land specialists look for every avenue to oppose the pipeline. During the pilgrimage, I heard heartbreaking stories of homeowners who had conserved, protected, and loved their lands for decades only to face eminent domain proceedings that would rob them of their property and the prospect of land too toxic to live on or sell if the pipeline is built.

More than fifty Massachusetts towns have passed resolutions opposing the proposed pipeline to prevent it from going through their towns. New Hampshire towns have adopted the same strategy. Still, no one knows how our states rights’ to decide will stack up against the feds.

One arguments about gas pipelines is that natural gas is cleaner than coal. However, drilling, storing, distributing, and burning gas produces both carbon dioxide and methane. They are both powerful greenhouse gases. Over time, methane becomes concentrated in the atmosphere and is a great risk to global warming. Although the propaganda about fracked gas is that it is cleaner than coal, when considering both carbon dioxide and methane, gas is not a safe bridge to renewable fuels.

My knee survived the pilgrimage, and I ended up with lots more physical energy, more contacts, and increased appreciation of the beautiful landscapes and lives that will be devastated if we lose this battle. I am grateful that I was able to participate in the pilgrimage. And I had fun.

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