On June 23 of this year, Kinder Morgan representatives traveled to Groton to explain their plans to build a high-pressure natural-gas pipeline through 45 Massachusetts towns. The main presenter was Kinder Morgan spokesman Alan Fore. After his presentation, residents were invited to ask questions of the Kinder Morgan reps.
A local woman asked a simple question: “Would you really want this pipeline going through your backyard?”
Alan stated that he would only know the answer to that if it was actually his land that was being impacted and he didn’t think it was “fair” for him to try to put himself into her shoes. Boos were heard from the audience. Alan then began the familiar tap dance about the upcoming rigorous environmental review and that it was not really up to Kinder Morgan to decide about the pipeline because it was actually the regulators who would determine.
The meeting moderator interrupted, asking him to “Please answer the lady’s question.” The audience applauded.
Alan tried a new tack. “Well, my house is in a city so it’s not possible that this could be built in my backyard.” This resulted in more grumbling and cat calls from the audience. “Pretend” someone said.
Alan turned to the audience. “Pretend? Pretend if I had 100 acres … or 50 acres … or it was next to my house … 20 … 2?” This elicited increasingly louder complaints from the audience. The moderator finally stepped in and put Alan out of his misery, stating that if Alan didn’t feel that he could answer the question, they would move on.
I wonder if Mr. Fore ever considered actually answering the question. How would he feel if a private, for-profit company was planning to force the construction of a pipeline through his property? It might happen like this…
One day there’s a knock on Alan’s front door and a Kinder Morgan agent shows him a map. On this map he can see his parcel — and someone has drawn a line through it. He immediately realizes what this means for the property that he and his wife bought and fixed up and scrimped to pay the mortgage on — the property where they are now raising their children. Kinder Morgan has drawn a line on a map — and his life and the lives of thousands of others along that line are going to be significantly changed for the worse if this pipeline is built.
One serious concern is his loss of control. Kinder Morgan is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for eminent domain rights along their selected pipeline route. With these rights, they can take an easement through his property if he won’t agree to their terms. He will never again have complete control over what he had always considered to be his property. From now on, he will share that control with an out-of-state pipeline company.
And he is concerned about his property’s value. He understands that Kinder Morgan’s position is that pipelines do not decrease property values (as a company spokesman, he has told many others this very thing). So he knows that his chances of being fairly compensated for the decrease in property value caused by the pipeline are not too good. He can accept what they offer — or else they will take the easement and then decide what to pay him.
He also worries about safety, pollution, remediation, the ugliness of a 100-foot clear cut pipeline scar, etc., etc.
As embarrassing as it must have been to be called out twice by the moderator for not answering that one simple question, it was probably much less embarrassing than it would have been for Alan to give a truthful answer. After all, who in their right mind would want this pipeline to be anywhere near a property that they cared about?
(You can view a video of this meeting at grotonspace.com/ pipeline/category/videos. Scroll down and click on Video from our meeting with Kinder Morgan. The question is asked at 1:25:04.)