Gubernatorial candidate Andru Volinsky is singling out the Granite Bridge natural gas pipeline proposal as a dividing line in that race’s Democratic primary, holding a campaign event Friday that his opponent, state Sen. Dan Feltes, dismissed as a political stunt.
The project, from Liberty Utilities, involves a 27-mile gas pipeline between Stratham and Manchester, along Route 101. It would connect two existing gas arteries that follow Interstates 93 and 95 and would also include a large liquefied natural gas storage tank in Epping.
The project has been stalled in the state Public Utilities Commission for most of this year, with a decision that would advance it to the Site Evaluation Committee still pending.
Volinsky, who sits on the Executive Council, stood on the steps of Exeter Town Hall Friday and called on Liberty Utilities to pull the plug within the next month on the Granite Bridge proposal.
He says New Hampshire must stop burning the fossil fuels that cause the deadly effects of climate change.
"This is a bad project,” Volinsky said. “We need to get on the right side of history.”
Volinsky’s primary opponent, Feltes, also says he supports transitioning to low- or no-carbon forms of energy, but has not opposed Granite Bridge.
On NHPR’s The Exchange Friday, Feltes said the project could shore up the region’s often-constrained heating fuel supplies. The project’s developer has argued it will help them serve new gas customers in the area, moving people off less efficient and more expensive sources of heat and electricity.
“We need actually to move forward so people who heat their homes with natural gas or oil heat in the wintertime have a meaningful opportunity to transition to clean energy,” Feltes said. "And the singular barrier to clean energy progress in New Hampshire...is Chris Sununu.”
Governor Sununu does support Granite Bridge. But on most other climate solutions, Feltes and Volinsky are closer to each other than to Sununu.
The Republican incumbent has repeatedly vetoed energy efficiency and clean energy proposalspassed by the Democrat-controlled legislature, citing short-term cost concerns. He does share his Democratic challengers’ support for offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Maine.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Granite Bridge proposal would span 13 miles. In fact, it's about 27 miles long.