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Opposing The Kinder-Morgan Pipeline Does Not Make Me Anti-Union

"Kinder Morgan Building Houston" by WhisperToMe - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons -

“Kinder Morgan Building Houston” by WhisperToMe – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons –

Richard Kinder, CEO of Kinder-Morgan, has a history of
supporting anti-union politicians

Recently I have been taking a lot of flak from some of my union brothers for my staunch opposition to the Kinder-Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline. People have accused me – a union member, labor activist, and the creator and managing editor of the New Hampshire Labor News – of somehow being anti-union because I will not support the pipeline, even though it is backed by some unions.

Let me be very clear: it is not anti-union to oppose a construction project just because a union worker would be hired to complete the job. I support union workers and I have built the NH Labor News to help promote the positive message of labor. I have been against the NED pipeline since its inception, just as I was against the Keystone XL pipeline. The newly-signed agreement to use union labor to construct the NED pipeline is not going to sway my opposition.

It is my belief that we should be moving away from fossil fuels and rebuilding our energy infrastructure with new, more efficient, renewable energy. Look around your neighborhood and see how many people are installing solar panels on their roofs, easing the burden of coal and gas power plants in our area – improving air quality and our children’s health.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers regularly promotes the fact that their union members are out there installing solar arrays. The IBEW recently finished construction on the largest rooftop solar array in the country that is estimated to generate 6.5 Megawatts (million watts) of clean energy. That would power approximately 6,500 homes and businesses.

So yes, I can be for union jobs and green energy at the same time. New Hampshire is peppered with large solar arrays like the one in Peterborough that produces 947 Kilowatts annually.

Then there is the issue of eminent domain. I am against the government using its police powers to take private land rights and give them to a for-profit corporation. Eminent domain should only be used to better the community, not for boosting the profit margins of a billion-dollar corporation. Cities and towns use eminent domain to widen roads or install sewers, as they provide a direct benefit to the local community; but using eminent domain to improve profit margins is just plain wrong.

When asked about the NED pipeline at the VFW Town Hall in Hudson, Bush responded:  "There's a trade-off in this, which is how public policy works. The trade-off is how do you balance the economic interests of working-class families with environmental considerations? And those are best sorted out at the state level, not in Washington, DC," said Bush. After the town hall, Bush told News 9 that he won't be taking sides. "Governor of Florida Jeb Bush at VFW in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8th, 2015 by Michael Vadon a 09" by Michael Vadon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

When asked about the NED pipeline at the VFW Town Hall in Hudson, Bush responded:
“There’s a trade-off in this, which is how public policy works. The trade-off is how do you balance the economic interests of working-class families with environmental considerations? And those are best sorted out at the state level, not in Washington, DC.”.
After the town hall, Bush told News 9 that he won’t be taking sides.
“Governor of Florida Jeb Bush at VFW in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8th, 2015 by Michael Vadon a 09” by Michael Vadon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Proponents of the pipeline say it will reduce our energy costs but fail to provide any hard evidence as to how much we will actually save. Do those saving show up immediately, or after Kinder-Morgan has recouped enough money to pay for the construction of the new pipeline? Remember the lessons we learned from Seabrook, about who ends up paying the costs of construction?

Kinder Morgan has been trying to buy elected politicians in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for the past five years, spending over $2.5 million dollars in lobbying and campaign donations in the past two years alone. Would Kinder-Morgan really spend millions of dollars lobbying to get this pipeline approved out of the goodness of their heart? Or is it because they are expecting to make millions more in profits after it is completed?

Richard Kinder, November 2012. (Photo credit: Matt Hawthorne)

Richard Kinder, November 2012. (Photo credit: Matt Hawthorne)

The CEO of Kinder-Morgan, Richard Kinder, was also cited as “the top conservative CEO donor” in America and has deep ties to the Bush family from Kinder’s days as an executive of the ENRON Corporation. You remember ENRON, the company that went belly up, the CEO went to jail, the workers lost their jobs and their pensions, and the executives received multi-million dollar golden parachutes.

Kinder and his wife have already personally donated $2 million dollars to Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise. Richard Kinder also gave out over $98,000 dollars to conservatives in the 2014 elections and over $68,000 in the 2012 elections with a majority of it going to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Ted Cruz for Senate campaign.

Both Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are vigorously anti-labor. Bush made national headlines when he told the Union Leader that, “people need to work longer hours.” Bush also praised Governor Rick Snyder’s underhanded political coup that made Michigan a “Right to Work” state. (Read how “Right to Work” worked out in Wisconsin here.)

As a sitting Senator, Cruz attempted to override vetoed legislation that would make it harder for workers to form unions. The TEA Party Republican was instrumental in forcing a government shutdown.

If we build this pipeline, how much more money will Kinder-Morgan and Richard Kinder funnel into the campaigns of anti-worker politicians like Bush and Cruz?

How much damage will Kinder-Morgan do to our environment as the pipeline goes through local nature preserves and watersheds? How much more damage will be done to our children’s health, while our politicians keep promoting Big Oil rather than Green Energy?

Is that worth the potential of a few hundred jobs for a year?

I believe that costs of this pipeline outweigh the potential benefits, and I am not alone. The Massachusetts Attorney General opposes the construction of the pipeline stating, “A new pipeline is not the best solution to New England’s energy needs.”

I guess the real question is: why are some of New Hampshire’s elected labor leaders helping to force through this pipeline, so that the same corporation can turn around and give money to politicians who are attacking unionized workers?

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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