Liberty Abandons Plans for Costly, Polluting Pipeline | Conservation Law Foundation

Liberty Abandons Plans for Costly, Polluting Pipeline

The New Hampshire utility dropped plans for controversial Granite Bridge pipeline and LNG storage facility.

Nick Krakoff

After a three-year battle, Liberty Utilities has dropped plans for a controversial gas pipeline and liquified natural gas storage facility. This unnecessary, dirty project would have cost an eye-watering $400 million dollars – saddling New Hampshire families and businesses with the costs for decades to come.

The fossil fuel project would also have been a major setback in the fight against climate change. We’ve stood against the Granite Bridge project from its inception, and its withdrawal is a victory for all who have fought against it, as well as for the environment and all New Hampshire residents.

New Hampshire Doesn’t Need The Pipeline

Already, New Hampshire is feeling the effects of the climate crisis – including increased coastal flooding, communities ravaged by Lyme disease, a surge in extreme heat during the summer, and mild winters that hurt our ski industry. These impacts will only get worse if we don’t take action to reduce the emissions that cause climate change. But even though time is running out to tackle the crisis, Liberty sought to make a massive new investment in climate-damaging infrastructure.

Granite Bridge – a proposed 27-mile pipeline between Exeter and Manchester and a liquified natural gas (LNG) storage facility in Epping – would have increased New Hampshire’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels for decades. Neither the pipeline nor the storage facility is needed – we have enough gas for the foreseeable future already – and both would have been a step in the wrong direction.

Plus, pipelines don’t just threaten our climate. They also harm people directly. Gas explosions kill and injure people every year, and the fumes and pollution from gas increase the risk of asthma and heart disease. 

Big Gas Ignored All the Facts in Seeking Granite Bridge

In pushing its Granite Bridge project, Liberty claimed it needed more gas to meet demand in winter months. But Liberty didn’t take into account that New Hampshire has been greatly reducing its use of gas by ramping up energy efficiency measures in the state. Liberty also didn’t consider that more and more people in New Hampshire are now using cleaner electric heat pumps for heating and have no need for dirty gas to heat their homes. 

Liberty ignored these facts, instead seeking approval from the Public Utilities Commission for this massive and unnecessary infrastructure project based on incomplete and inaccurate estimates of New Hampshire residents’ future use of gas.    

Granite Bridge Was a Boondoggle

Liberty’s plans would have burdened its customers with decades of payments. And the proposal couldn’t have come at a worse time – just when the region is working to phase out its reliance on fossil fuels in favor of clean, renewable energy. This means that investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, like Granite Bridge, will be left stranded and unused before we’re done paying for them.

Building a massive, expensive new gas pipeline would lock New Hampshire into a fossil fuel future until well after 2050. This is long beyond the time when scientists agree we must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  Because Granite Bridge was an expensive boondoggle with only speculative energy benefits, the project was not in the best interests of New Hampshire families and businesses.

Granite Bridge is Dead. What’s Next?

CLF has steadfastly fought Granite Bridge since it was first proposed nearly three years ago. We argued at the Public Utilities Commission that the project was not needed, would cost too much, and was bad for the environment. Now, Liberty has decided to face up to facts and abandon the project. It’s just too expensive compared to other – cleaner – alternatives. Liberty’s decision to withdraw Granite Bride is a huge win for us all – New Hampshire residents, the environment, and our climate. 

Instead of Granite Bridge, Liberty is now proposing a new gas contract with a different supplier that could involve upgrades to an existing pipeline. While the new proposal is undoubtedly an improvement over Granite Bridge, CLF will be evaluating its impacts on our communities and our climate future and will work to make sure any replacement project is in the best interests of our environment and New Hampshire families and businesses.

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