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Proposed Granite Bridge Pipeline Draws Supporters and Skeptics in Manchester

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Residents of the Manchester area got a chance on Tuesday to ask representatives of Liberty Utilities about its proposed natural gas pipeline, The Granite Bridge.

The 27-mile pipeline would link two existing pipelines in New Hampshire that run north to south. It would be buried along Route 101, between Stratham and Manchester, and would include a large liquefied natural gas storage tank in Epping.

Liberty Utilities sent invitations to landowners whose property abuts the proposed pipeline route. Some wanted to know whether the development would give them access to natural gas in towns like Candia, where natural gas is not easily available. Liberty representatives said they couldn't make any promises until after the pipeline was approved and the company submitted a franchise application.

Dorothy Currier came from Concord with a list of environmental concerns, including water contamination and possible methane leaks. She left after talking for two hours with Liberty representatives. "I have tried to understand the issues around this pipeline and I'm still confused and suspicious," she said.

Other attendees said they supported the project because of job creation and lower energy costs. The local chapter of Laborers' International Union of North America has an agreement with Liberty Utilities to work on the three-year pipeline construction project, should it be approved. LiUNA teamster Ricky Twombly of Manchester told environmental activists at the event that jobs should take precedence over environmental concerns.

"Everybody wants a cleaner better tomorrow for our kids. Everybody wants that, but what difference does it make if we can’t afford to make it to next week? You know what I mean? I gotta feed my family."

Liberty says the pipeline is needed to meet growing demand for natural gas and to keep costs down for New Hampshire customers. Liberty plans to submit an application to regulators in early 2019. Chico DaFonte, vice president of Regulated Infrastructure Development at Liberty, said that if approved, the earliest possible date for the pipeline to begin operating is November 2021.

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