Residents in Massachusetts are in the midst of a rolling action to protest the construction of a fracked gas pipeline through their state. The high-pressure pipeline to be built by Kinder Morgan, a Houston-based energy company that is the fourth largest in North America, and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. will run from Richmond in the West to Dracut, just North of Boston. The rolling march is being organized by No Fracked Gas in Mass.
It began on July 6 with a kick-off rally in Richmond and will proceed from town to town along the path of the pipeline to end with another rally at the Statehouse on Wednesday, July 30. Below are photos and videos so far and more information about the pipeline. All are welcome to join the rolling action at any point along the way.
Rolling March to the State House – Dublin Road Stop, Richmond, MA – July 6, 2014 (Video by Rosemary Wessel, Three Salamanders Design Studio)
Rolling March – Pittsfield Standout & Riders Launch – July 7, 2014, Pittsfield, MA (Video by Rose Wessel – Three Salamanders Design Studio)
Selected photos: (By Rose Wessel)[nggallery id =”156″]
The proposed pipeline path runs through hundreds of private properties and through some of the state’s most sensitive ecosystems and would be paid for through new tariffs on our electric bills.
We have been researching the need for this pipeline (or lack thereof), environmental and economic impacts and presenting across the state since February and are constantly updating and filling out with new findings.
LOW DEMAND SCENARIO SHOWS NO NEED
Studies commissioned by NESCOE and conducted by Black & Veatch show that if current levels of state energy efficiency programs continue, there is no need for additional natural gas infrastructure even with economic growth taken into account. This is called the “Low Demand Scenario”. The low demand scenario is the only one that was never cost-analyzed as a possible solution to current peak demand crunches in electric generation gas supply. ISO New England’s own report states that their number one challenge is dependence on natural gas. Yet ISO New England and NESCOE are calling for more pipeline capacity, rather than first developing more efficiency and clean energy solutions.
POOR INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT
Even if there were an actual need, there are currently enough leaks in the existing infrastructure to provide another 400 MW of power. The two most dangerous classes of these leaks are now slated to be fixed under new legislation that has passed, but repairing Class 3 leaks (considered non-dangerous) is not mandatory. We think it should be.
There are also existing pipelines that are standing at least partially unused. Using these to capacity to store gas during non-peak times can keep enough reserve to cover the few days every winter when peak demand drives up prices. This project is not being driven by a shortage of gas supply, just a shortage of cheap gas available to electric generation plants during extremely cold weather when people use more of the gas supply for heat.
OVERSIZED SOLUTION TO PROPOSED “PROBLEM” – LIKELY EXPORT
Even if the Low Demand Scenario was not proven, the amount of additional pipeline capacity requested by NESCOE is 0.6 Billion cubic feet a day (Bcf/d), but the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project proposed by KM/TGP is being planned for 2.2 Bcf/d.
With nearly four times the capacity called for, where is the other three quarters of that capacity destined? The terminal hub in Dracut is also connection point to the Martimes & Northeast (M&NE) pipeline which has just applied to switch direction, bringing gas from Massachusetts, through Maine to the Maritimes of Canada, where two ports have just applied to switch from import to export. There is also new potential for export from facilities in Maine and Everett, MA.
In selectboard meetings across the state, KM representatives have repeatedly said that they have no control over who their customers are, so exports are on the table. Their own open season bidding memo called from LNG developers and customers in the Maritimes as well as local distribution and electric utilities.
NATURAL GAS POLLUTES MORE THAN EXISTING GRID SOURCES in MA
Looking into the CO2 emissions averaged over all sources of electric generation in MA, the average per source is 910 lb. per MWh. The average natural gas generation plant is 1,210 lb. per MWh. Natural gas has done it’s “bridge” work. With renewables phasing in at an unprecedented rate, adding more natural gas would now take is in the wrong direction for achieving the state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals – based on CO2 output alone.
Natural gas is also primarily methane, a greenhouse gas over 86 times more powerful than CO2. When a full accounting of methane’s impact is taken into consideration, studies show that it has no benefit over coal or oil in reducing greenhouse gas effects.
Natural gas is often touted as a “bridge fuel” to a clean energy economy. We are standing at the far end, having crossed that “bridge”. It’s time to step forward into that future we’ve been building.