Forum, June 14: How Does Pipeline Make Sense in Upper Valley?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
How Does Pipeline Make Sense?

I am confused about the financial viability of Liberty Utilities’ fracked gas storage and 11-mile underground pipeline project proposed for Lebanon and Hanover.

Over a year ago, the Public Utilities Commission ruled that this project was not financially viable and declined to approve it. Yet Liberty continues to aggressively pursue this project despite increasingly tenuous assumptions, to wit:

In April 2017, Dartmouth College, a potential large anchor customer, announced its approval of a sustainable energy strategy that will forgo fracked gas as an intermediate energy source. Seemingly, it has forever eliminated itself as a potential anchor customer.

DHMC, another potential large anchor customer, would have to ignore multiple studies that document the detrimental health effects on people living near fracked gas drilling sites. In essence, DHMC would have to consciously violate the medical credo of “do no harm” to become an anchor customer.

On May 9, 2017, the citizens of Hanover voted to adopt the Ready for 100% campaign, which calls for 100 percent carbon-free energy for electricity by 2030 and for heating and transportation by 2050.

In early June, the Valley News reported that the Lebanon City Council voted to remove all references to the use of fracked gas from the city’s Master Plan.

The PUC has attempted to ameliorate the financial problems of this project. On Aug. 4, 2016, it authorized Liberty to charge a 30 percent premium for its distribution costs to customers located in Lebanon and Hanover. Also, the PUC appears to have accepted Liberty’s assumption that 60 percent of “uncommitted premises along a proposed main extension will take service.”

Lack of publicly committed anchor customers, years of shredded infrastructure, a 30 percent premium on costs for customers in Hanover and Lebanon, inevitable gas leaks, an implausible 60 percent customer hook-up rate, lack of local political support — how does this project make financial sense?

Peter C. Paquette


Close the Loopholes

The Supreme Court’s profoundly injurious Citizens United decision has unleashed an unprecedented storm of blockbuster dark money donations that have changed the face of our electoral politics. As if this were not a dire enough departure from democratic process, we now have foreign money as well. I support Maryland U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s bill to close these loopholes and protect our democracy from foreign influences.

Katharine Christie


A Day to Remember

Unless I missed it, there was no reference to the 73rd anniversary of the Normandy, France, Allied D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, in the June 6 issue of the Valley News, except in the Peanuts cartoon (“To Remember”) and in the Weather History on page A10.

This is very distressing, especially given the number of young men who gave their lives defending our freedom, and its military and historic importance.

Don Watson


Baseless Attacks on Israel’s Critics

During the Vietnam War, critics of U.S. policy were accused of hating America. Today, in a recycled iteration of that meme, critics of Israel are accused of hating Jews. It’s proved wrong once, but is it correct this time?

Jews who criticize Israeli policies are accused of “self-loathing.” The implication is that Israel’s Jewish critics are only marginally Jewish, emotionally unstable and motivated by hate, and that arguments from such “self-loathing Jews” have no merit and should be dismissed out of hand. In fact, as every Jew knows, the one true test of Jewish identity has no qualifiers. It’s been passed down to every one of us, as it was to me, from parent to child, since the Holocaust: “What would Hitler do to you?” If the answer conjures up death camps, you are unconditionally Jewish and your birthright includes a seat at the table.

Far from being self-loathing, many Jews view their opposition to Israeli policy as an expression of the best of Jewish values, reflected in the Passover message on the evil of oppression. They view their criticism as rooted in the ancient Hebrew concept of tikkun olam — mending the world. In sum, such criticism is not viewed as anti-Jewish but rather quintessentially Jewish.

Non-Jewish critics of Israel are accused of anti-Semitism. The premise is based in the fallacious notion that nation-states and religions are equivalent. As an analogy, does criticism of the British government demonstrate bias against the Anglican Church? Is criticism of one of the 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world emblematic of hatred toward all 1.8 billion of the world’s Muslims? Also, lest we forget, Israel is not just home to Jews. Its population represents three religions and is 20 percent Palestinian — which, of course, speaks to the heart of the dispute.

These baseless attacks — “self-loathing Jew,” “anti-Semite” — use character assassination to delegitimize opponents, sabotage opposing points of view and muzzle opposition. This is particularly disturbing in academia, where diversity of thought should be encouraged and civil discourse enabled, all with the goal of promoting civic engagement.

Len Ziefert


Why Be President?

I think that any person who wants to be president is insane. Almost from the moment he announces his interest in becoming chief executive, he surrenders his personal life and becomes public enemy No. 1 to approximately half the country. (To the other half, he is, at best, on borrowed time.) His words, decisions, motives, morals and indiscretions (even the slightest) will all be interpreted — or misinterpreted, as the case might be — based upon the judgment of anyone but himself. If his run for president is successful, for four years or more a president displays his laundry, clean or dirty, on the White House lawn for all the world to see.

That brings us to the current president. Here was a man who, at one point, probably went to sleep at night thinking he had it all — friends, family, financial security and a guaranteed future. He had enough money that he could not, even in a lifetime, come close to spending it all. He could have retired. He could have spent time with the family he so obviously adores, played golf, traveled, did whatever he wanted, whenever he chose to.

He, however, wasn’t satisfied. At 70, with far fewer years ahead of him than behind, he threw away his happiness for reasons few of us will ever fathom. Was it to make more money? To add to his long list of friends? To lead lesser men? To add yet another achievement to his already bulging resume? Who knows?

At present, our president is at a crossroad. He can’t go back, and he can’t find the right path forward. He is stuck in the moment, fending off challenge after challenge and attack after attack — all of his own doing, mind you. He simply cannot accept that he is in a struggle that can’t be won. In his position, no president could.

My advice would be to buy an island and retire to it.

Ralph Epifanio


Sanders’ Religious Test

I, like Russell Vought, nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, believe Christianity’s claim of exclusivity; and, also like Mr. Vought, I am a graduate of a conservative Christian college. Classes for my history education degree at my alma mater taught me not only the tenets of the Christian faith, but also the Constitution’s guarantee of the freedom of religion and the prohibition of a religious test. As a Christian, an American and a Vermonter, I am outraged by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ imposition of a religious test upon Mr. Vought.

Sen. Sanders not only violated Article VI of the Constitution, but also denigrated a sizable percentage of Americans. While Vermont is largely religiously unaffiliated, many of us whom Sen. Sanders represents do adhere to Christian doctrine and, while exercising our own First Amendment rights to religious expression, also support the same First Amendment rights of our non-Christian neighbors.

By casting Russell Vought (and by extension all who believe as he does) as guilty of religious bigotry, Sen. Sanders is, himself, guilty of religious bigotry.

I have voiced my opinion to Sen. Sanders through a letter to his office and urge all Vermont Christians to appeal to him to uphold the Constitution he has sworn to defend.

Heather Peets

Bradford, Vt.

N.H. Should Join Climate Action

Recently the president announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords. By rejecting that international agreement, he has put efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling global climate change at risk.

States, cities and towns across the nation are committing themselves to actions that will protect their communities from the risks that confront us. Here in New Hampshire, Portsmouth, Dover and Nashua have taken the lead. They recognize that the business-as- usual path, and the doubling down on fossil fuels, only increases the risks — of flooding, drought, sea- level rise and the national security threat of mass population movements — as people flee areas that will no longer sustain them.

The president and others claim that protection will be too costly. But taking action leads us to a win-win solution. Investments in clean energy will mean more locally produced energy, reduced health expenditures, more and better-paying jobs, and a boost to our drive to establish a high-tech innovation economy in New Hampshire. It will also attract the young, skilled workforce our business community tells us we need to thrive in the 21st century.

In fact, what we truly cannot afford are the costs of inaction.

Please contact Gov. Sununu — urging him to join our fellow New England states in the U.S. Climate Alliance and pledge support to the commitments made by the U.S. in Paris at governor.nh.gov/contact. Contact your selectboard and ask your town to sign on to the alliance. Ask your friends and neighbors to sign the petition at  http://bit.ly/2s6mov8.

Rep. Lee Oxenham