NED, Socioeconomics, and Jobs – Garth Fletcher’s Comment at FERC Scoping Meeting in Lunenburg, MA 8-12-15

Another of my favorite 3-minute comments to FERC at Wednesday evening’s Scoping Meeting in Lunenburg, MA. Garth tailored this comment to the MA audience but it’s message is important to us in NH as well. This comment is posted here with Garth’s permission.


“My name is Garth Fletcher. I’ve lived the past 45 years in Mason New Hampshire.

I would like to speak about what you call the Socioeconomic issues and also concerning an un-necessary divisiveness I’ve noticed.

I am not a union member, but I am a strong supporter of them.

Unions are the only way that those who do the work can get large corporations to pay a decent wage. And it is those good union jobs through the 40s, 50s, 60s and into the 70s which built our prosperous middle class and our modern economy.

In the past 40 years the unions have been under unrelenting legal, political and economic attack; membership has decreased from over 30% down to single digits. It is no surprise that our middle class has stagnated for those 40 years despite enormous gains in productivity.

So I do get it – jobs matter and union jobs really really matter!

I am glad that Kinder Morgan will use all union labor. I doubt that was what they would have preferred, but it is encouraging that unions still have enough clout to demand fair pay for their work.

So, if the NED pipeline gets built, and I hope it will NOT, I will be happy that union labor is building it, even though it be only a few hundred jobs for a year or two.

HOWEVER, I am very concerned about the long run effects of the NED project on jobs.

Our most famous project – Boston’s “Big Dig” – took 20 years and $20 billion; state and nation- al taxpayers will still be paying for it 20 years from now.

NED is smaller – only $5.5 billion now, maybe 8 billion when done – so perhaps only 1/3 of the Big Dig’s size – but still a really BIG expense.

Those billions have to come from somewhere – it certainly won’t be from Kinder Morgan share- holders or executives. I fear that lots of it will come from the cancellation of clean energy projects, and that could cost thousands of good long term jobs.

Clean energy jobs are BIG and very significant. Quoting from the:

2014 MASSACHUSETTS CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY REPORT: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY which … is the fourth annual report released by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (Mass- CEC) on the size, scope, and nature of the Commonwealth’s clean energy industry.

THE MASSACHUSETTS CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO BOOM, GROWING 47% SINCE 2010. … to 88,372 clean energy workers and 5,985 firms.

Clean energy firms have added more than 28,000 … jobs … since 2010
Employers expect to add another 11,700 jobs over the coming 12 months, a 13.3% growth rate.

The Massachusetts clean energy industry is expected to exceed 6,000 employers and 100,000 workers by early 2015.

Clean energy employment now equals 2.4% of all workers in the Commonwealth …is respon- sible for 2.5% of Massachusetts’ Gross State Product at about $10 billion.

Those who have worked on big projects know you can’t just flick a switch to stop them and later flip the switch back to resume them. Like a huge ocean freighter it takes a long time to stop and a very long time to get back up to speed. What NED stops may not restart when the NED jobs are gone.

So I fear those few hundred short term jobs may cost a much larger number of much longer term jobs. Of course, Kinder Morgan does not care about that, but the local workforce should!

So I would ask that FERC include an analysis which compares jobs, and especially good jobs, over the next 2, 5 and 10 years for the cases of:

NED built, funding to clean energy is decreased as a result versus no NED, investments in clean energy continue.  Thank you.”