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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?

LTE: Bernie Sanders’s Plan On Climate Change Includes Opposing NH Pipeline

Dear Editor,

letters to the editorI endorse Senator Bernie Sanders and his well thought out Climate Plan.  You can read the details here, https://berniesanders.com/issues/climate-change/.  

In his plan Senator Sanders highlights the need to break the stranglehold that the fossil fuel industry has on our economy and our politics.  While most of our NH Democratic leadership celebrates the denial of the Keystone XL pipeline, they turn a blind eye to the push for export pipelines in our own state.   Why is that?

In August of 2014, FERC had 24 bcf/day of pending pipeline applications, approving 92% within a year.  By August of 2015, that number soared to 50 bcf/day.   Congress just passed a bill to lift the 40 year ban on exports of crude oil and speed up pipeline approvals.   They can’t sell off our future fast enough, I guess?

It’s disappointing to think that our politicians, in the face of overwhelming evidence that Greenhouse Gases  have a disastrous effect on our climate, find themselves unable to confront the oil and gas industry with the facts because they rely on their money to get elected. 

Why were there no questions about Climate Change or Energy in Saturday night’s Democratic Debate? 

Only Bernie Sanders has had the courage to speak the truth.  After he came out with his statement against the NED pipeline project, other elected leaders joined him (though with less robust opposition).  We need leadership.  We need Bernie Sanders as our next President.

Sincerely,

Patricia Martin
Rindge, NH


Letters to the editor do not represent the opinions of the NH Labor News.
Submit your own letter to the editor here.

Letter To The Editor: CLIMATE ACTION IN PARIS, DENIED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE!

New Hampshire White Mountains (A. Duarte FLIKR)

New Hampshire White Mountains (A. Duarte FLIKR)

While the world met and marched in Paris for a clean energy future, New Hampshire, a state known for its scenic beauty, country living and outdoor lifestyle, was denied climate safeguards.

Despite facts piled before Governor Maggie Hassan by state representatives, town officials, health and environmental professionals, she remains unmoved. Given weeks of notice, on Friday she refused to address hundreds of activists and elected officials who marched against the NED pipeline and for climate action in Concord.

The world is saying no to fossil fuels, solar is booming in New Hampshire, but Governor Hassan says yes to filthy, outdated energy? This Senate seat seeking woman on a mission has her career at center stage, not our needs.

With little to no budget, pipeline opponents are rising up globally, speaking out, empowering their neighbors with information. Pipeline pushing frackers are systematically poisoning our air, drinking water, soil, farms, wildlife and citizens in crimes against humanity.

Up against limitless resources from companies like Kinder Morgan, who flood the airwaves with propaganda, the message remains strong. We must move away from fossil fuels. The tipping point is at hand. We must act now.

Amongst all of the chaos, one leader’s message stands strong. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is the only Presidential candidate to speak without fear, without answering to questionable campaign backers, saying, “If you believe climate change is the most serious threat facing our planet, it’s easy to oppose the NED pipeline” and ban fracking.

At mid-December in a snow-free New Hampshire, the proof is right outside our windows. Leadership on climate, jobs, families and health is essential to the future of humanity. Move forward New Hampshire. The time is now.

Stephanie A. Scherr
Founder, ECHO Action
Fitzwilliam, NH

Open Democracy Report Show How Much Kinder Morgan Has Spent Lobbying To Build NED Pipeline

As NED Pipeline Fight Heats Up, Report Finds Kinder Morgan Spent Millions of Dollars on Lobbying and Political Donations Since 2014

MANCHESTER, NH – Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan has spent over $2.5 million in lobbying and campaign donations since 2014, even as it is seeking approval for a controversial new natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to a new analysis of lobbying and campaign finance records by the nonpartisan organization Open Democracy. 

The analysis finds that Kinder Morgan Inc. and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP began lobbying in New Hampshire and Massachusetts concurrent with the introduction of its Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline proposal in each state. The company spent $53,500 to lobby New Hampshire state government officials in 2014 and an estimated $70,780 in 2015, more than any single public interest, non-profit, or labor organization. 

Fig. 1: Kinder Morgan Lobbying Expenditures in NH and MA since 2011 (2015 data incomplete)  Figure 1

The company also spent $148,500 to lobby Massachusetts officials in 2014 and $301,334 in 2015, prior to year-end disclosures. No lobbying expenditures were reported in New Hampshire prior to 2014 when the proposed pipeline route was changed to include seventeen southern NH towns. Kinder Morgan reported $20,000 and $60,000 in Massachusetts state lobbying in 2012 and 2013, respectively. 

Analysis of federal lobbying expenditures finds several Kinder Morgan companies including Kinder Morgan, Inc., Kinder Morgan Co2, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, and Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals have engaged in extensive lobbying activities over the last twelve years. Kinder Morgan reported spending $170,000 to-date in 2015, including $110,000 specifically targeted at the NED pipeline proposal which is pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The five-member commission of presidential appointees is expected to approve or reject the proposal next year.

In addition to its reported federal and state lobbying activities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and other states, Kinder Morgan executives have made significant campaign contributions in recent years, according to the Open Democracy analysis. At least ten Kinder Morgan employees made state and federal campaign contributions totaling more than $3 million in 2014-16. Company Chairman Richard Kinder and his wife Nancy accounted for the bulk of the contributions, giving $2 million to the Right to Rise Super PAC supporting presidential candidate Jeb Bush. 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz received $11,400 in campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan employees to his 2012 Senate campaign and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a $1,000 contribution in 2015. Former House Speaker John Boehner received $90,200 in campaign contributions. 

Fig. 2: Kinder Morgan Contributions to 2016 Presidential Candidates 

Candidate

Amount

Year

Jeb Bush

$2,205,829

2015

Hillary Clinton

$1,000

2015

Ted Cruz*

$11,400

2012

TOTAL

$2,218,229

 

At the state level, NH Governor Maggie Hassan and MA Governor Charlie Baker received $2,000 and $1,000 in campaign contributions, respectively, from Richard and Nancy Kinder in 2014. 

All told, the analysis found $397,950 in federal and $557,000 in state campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan executives in 2014, and at least $2,211,269 in contributions to 2016 federal campaigns to-date. Analysis of campaign contributions over time finds a total of estimated $5.3 million since 2000, 87 percent of which was given to Republicans (2014-16 partisan contributions breakdown is estimated).

Fig. 3: Kinder Morgan Contributions to State and Federal Candidates and Super PACs, 2000-2015

Year

Total Amount

Republican

Democrat

2000

$329,388

97%

3%

2002

$315,996

99%

1%

2004

$375,562

96%

1%

2006

$126,061

82%

18%

2008

$152,555

63%

36%

2010

$433,849

61%

38%

2012

$389,110

97%

1%

2014

$982,689

92%

3%

2016

$2,211,269

99%

1%

TOTAL

$5,316,479

87%

11%


 

472617b1-f7c4-4930-ab9d-636b2181b5c0

Open Democracy is a Concord, NH-based nonpartisan organization that works for transparent and accountable governance in the Granite State. Learn more at www.OpenDemocracy.me

Kuster Sends Letter To FERC Calling for Review Kinder Morgan NED Pipeline

 Concord, NH – On Tuesday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) presented a letter to the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) calling for FERC to consider assessing energy projects across the region in tandem with its review of the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. The letter was read at the final scoping meeting before FERC’s preliminary scoping period ends and Kinder Morgan officially files with FERC initiating the Environmental Impact Study process. Congresswoman Kuster has fought for a respectful, comprehensive, and transparent public review process for the pipeline.  Moreover, Kuster has made a point to tour key sites in southern New Hampshire that would be impacted by construction and operation of the pipeline. 

“Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have advocated for smart energy policies that preserve our environment, protect the public, and lower electricity costs for Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “New Hampshire and the greater New England region are currently faced with a number of energy projects designed to meet the electricity needs of the regional energy market. As the preliminary scoping process comes to an end, I urge FERC to assess all of the region’s proposed projects together to determine a course of action that is in the best interest of the public.  FERC must consider all options and alternatives in this process. I will continue listening to town officials and residents from impacted communities and ensuring their concerns are addressed by FERC. I share many of these same concerns and am confident that New Hampshire can find a way to satisfy its energy needs without endangering the people, natural beauty, or the character of our state.” 

This letter comes in the wake of previous letters that Congresswoman wrote to FERC and Kinder Morgan highlighting her concerns with the project. Additionally, the Congresswoman has previously joined with the other members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation to call for more public meetings in communities that could be affected by the proposed pipeline, in calling for a review of FERC’s process for determining public need, and expressing concerns about the ability of impacted residents to contribute to the federal review process of Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) natural gas pipeline.

The letter presented at Tuesday evening’s scoping meeting can be read in its entirety below:

September 29, 2015
The Honorable Norman Bay
Chairman
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426

  

Dear Chairman Norman Bay,

 

Thank you for hosting this scoping meeting in my district today.  I am grateful for all the efforts that you and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have made over the course of the Preliminary Filing for the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) Pipeline.  

The siting for the current preferred route of the NED Pipeline has been a complicated process and the project has raised a number of concerns among the impacted communities here in New Hampshire.  I am an advocate for smart energy policies that protect the public, preserve our environment, and lower electricity costs.  I have made it a point to visit a number of the sites associated with the route and to speak with town officials and impacted residents. It is with these experiences in mind that I write to you.  

As the only agency with direct oversight over the siting of natural gas pipelines, FERC has a critical process ahead of it.  I have appreciated the opportunity to give greater voice to the thoughts of my constituents.  As FERC’s preliminary filing period continues and the official filing begins, I would ask that you respond to the concerns that many of my constituents have raised. 

It is the natural beauty and pristine character of our state that provides us with the New Hampshire advantage.  It is important that any project being proposed in our state protect that character.  I share the concerns of my constituents about the environmental impact that this project may have on existing conservation lands, high priority habitats, and drinking water aquifers.  I ask that you take particular care in studying the impact of wetland and river crossings, private wells and aquifers, and habitats of high concern.  It is my goal to ensure that the public interest is upheld in this process.

It is with the public in mind that I request that you consider the impacts that this project could have on public safety, both because of its proximity to schools—particularity Temple Elementary school’s proximity to the compressor station, and because of the very limited ability of these small, volunteer run, rural communities to handle any potential events relating to the pipeline.  I ask that this reality be addressed openly and transparently.

My goal, similar to yours, is to ensure that we encourage smart energy policies that protect our environment, preserve our way of life, and lower electricity prices.  I am acutely aware of the regional need for electricity and the plethora of energy projects that are being proposed to meet that need.  Given the regional nature of our electric market and the complicated changes that are underway across the region, both with new projects being proposed and with older power sources leaving the grid, I believe that FERC can only properly preform its duties by assessing these projects as a whole, instead of in silos.  All options and alternatives must be considered as we look at these proposals and fit them to the needs of our region.  Whereas New England is on a regional grid, it stands to reason that we should site projects that impact the grid as a region. 

Given the magnitude of this project and all the projects being proposed in the northeast, I can appreciate the task that your agency has ahead of it.  Please know that the record number of comments that this project is receiving is a direct reflection of the time, energy, and thoughtfulness that my constituents have put into this process.  I am certain that you will take the same time, energy, and thoughtfulness as you review and incorporate these concerns into your work moving forward.  It is imperative that this process be as respectful to the public as possible, and I will continue efforts to ensure that happens.  

I look forward to your responses and continuing this dialogue as I seek to advocate on behalf of my constituents. Thank you for your time. 

 

Sincerely,

Ann McLane Kuster

Member of Congress

Franklin Pierce to Host FERC Public Scoping Meeting

Public can voice opinions regarding Kinder Morgan’s
proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline.
 

RINDGE, NH — On Tuesday, September 29, Franklin Pierce University will host the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s public scoping meeting for the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. The meeting will be held on the Rindge, NH campus in the Fieldhouse, beginning promptly at 6pm and ending at 11pm. Those wishing to speak at the meeting are asked to arrive at the Fieldhouse by 5pm to register. 

While parking will be available to the public, the University recommends car pooling when possible in order to accommodate the anticipated vehicles. Campus safety officers, as well as the Rindge Police Department, will be on hand to direct the traffic and assist with parking. 

 Attendees are asked to respect the directions and requests of Campus Safety officers and Rindge Police while on campus in order to maintain an orderly environment. 

Franklin Pierce University is providing the meeting space as a service to the residents in and around the Monadnock region who wish to express their opinions on this matter. 

Kinder Morgan Signs Agreement With NH Construction Unions As Controversy Over Pipeline Rages On

In what is sure to add more complexity and controversy to the ongoing debate over the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline through Southern New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Kinder Morgan to utilize only NH union workers.

KM-BT Pic1In their support of NED, Building Trades leaders cited the vital jobs that will be created by the project and the need for more natural gas to reduce the cost of living and doing business in New Hampshire.

“Granite State families and businesses across the entire state are hurting from the burden of our high energy costs,” said Steve Burk, President of the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council. “By helping solve New England’s energy supply crunch in an environmentally responsible way, the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline will strengthen our economy and help New Hampshire’s working families get ahead.”

The MOA states that Kinder Morgan and all of its construction contractors will use union labor at all pipeline construction sites in New Hampshire, and negotiate a project labor agreement (PLA) for work on the project.

“Kinder Morgan is proud to be working with Building Trades workers in New Hampshire to create hundreds of construction jobs for local workers” said Allen Fore, Vice President of Public Affairs for Kinder Morgan. “This MOA will ensure that construction of the pipeline occurs safely, efficiently, and in a timely fashion so that Granite Staters can receive much-needed natural gas sooner.”

“Every year, New Hampshire working families and businesses are being squeezed by high energy costs because of our region’s natural gas pipeline constraints.  Our energy crisis is growing every year and we aren’t doing anything about it,” said Denis Beaudoin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 490. “We need more natural gas transmission capacity to meet New England and New Hampshire’s energy needs, control the cost of doing business, and create jobs.  Kinder Morgan’s pipeline proposal is the most effective, least disruptive plan to increase the supply of clean domestic natural gas for all of New England.”

The NED project has created massive controversy since it’s initial proposal.  Kinder Morgan, based in Tennessee, wants to build a new natural gas pipeline from Richmond Massachusetts to Dracut Massachussetts.   The project was originally proposed to run in a straight line through Northern Massachusetts but was scrapped after the people of the effected towns and Governor Patrick came out against it.

The high cost of energy in New Hampshire is an issue for many working families, however there is no solid proof that this new pipeline will reduces prices in the long term.  Some argue that the cost of building the pipeline passed on to consumers will offset any savings that would be gained by lower gas prices.

Keith Thompson, a resident of Brookline, NH has been against the NED project since Kinder Morgan proposed the line through NH. The proposed pipeline would cut right through his home town.

 He stated three reasons why he opposes the pipeline:

  1. No benefit to New Hampshire (NH produces more electricity than it uses.)
  2. Not needed. Conservation, renewables and better fuel pricing practices would more than make up the needed supply for southern New England.
  3. Overbuilding/corrupt process. FERC needs to consider segmentation by the pipeline companies as a violation of the process. Failure to discuss export plans by the gas companies is further evidence of a corrupt process.

He concluded by stating, “This is making a 50 year commitment to solve a 5 year problem. It is taking NH and New England in the wrong direction.”

There is another issue that needs to be discussed as well.  The use of “eminent domain” to acquire the needed land for use by a private company.  Basically eminent domain allows the government to take private property and use it for the common good of the community.  A good example of this is widening a roadway.

The question still being debated is, can eminent domain be used for the benefit of a private corporation?  This same debate is playing out on a national level, and in the courts, as communities are fighting to stop the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In Kinder Morgan’s case, the pipeline will bring additional natural gas to the area, however the majority of the natural gas that flows through the pipeline will be exported and all of those profits will go to Kinder Morgan.

The fact that Kinder Morgan has signed a MOU with the Building Trades to use union workers on the project is good for those workers if the project ever gets approved, but growing opposition to the project is making that even less likely.

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