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N.H. Lawmakers Weigh Options On Pipeline Eminent Domain

Consumer Energy
Flicker CC

New Hampshire lawmakers are wrestling with whether they have any authority to regulate the construction of new natural gas pipelines. Legislation that lays out a series of proposals which would modify the way pipeline developers could use eminent domain went before a senate committee today.

A bill that has already passed the House of Representatives would give landowners who are losing part of their land to eminent domain the ability to require a pipeline developer take the whole property. Two proposed amendments would impose stricter restrictions on pipeline construction: like mandatory setbacks from schools, homes, and public buildings, noise limits, and stiff fines.

The only problem, according to the attorney for the Public Utilities Commission Anne Ross, is the federal government holds all authority when it comes to gas pipelines that cross state lines.

“It’s great to give guidance, but when you do I think my advice to you is it better not be burdensome to the applicant, or you are eventually going to have a fight and it’s not a fight the state can win,” said Ross.

These bills were prompted by concerns from residents near the route of the proposed Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline, which if approved would include 70 miles of new pipeline in New Hampshire. Kinder Morgan, the pipeline's developer, says the project is a way to combat the price volatility that New England's electric market has faced in recent years. Kinder Morgan has said they expect to submit its application at the end of this year.

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