What We Need to Know about the Pipeline Fight in Massachusetts
From the Mothers Out Front Pipeline Task Force
The Massachusetts Spectra/Enbridge pipeline fight is important to the whole planet. Gas companies want to extract and ship the Appalachian Basin’s vast climate destroying gas/methane reserves worldwide. Massachusetts is a key location in their plans. Our resistance stands in their way!
1. "NATURAL GAS" IS A DIRTY, NON-RENEWABLE FOSSIL FUEL
- The key climate challenge in the United States right now is to stop the ongoing extraction and distribution of dirty “natural gas,” a climate destroying fossil fuel that is 95% methane.
- Over a 20 year time frame, methane warms the planet 86 times more than carbon dioxide. (1, 2)
2. FRACKING AND NEW PIPELINE INFRASTRUCTURE DESTROYS OUR LIVABLE CLIMATE
- Since 2002, the United States has been rapidly extracting methane gas through an extreme extraction process called “fracking.” Methane leaks into the atmosphere throughout this process—from fracking, transmission pipelines, other pipeline infrastructure and leaks in our neighborhood pipelines. (3)
- Between 2002 and 2014 “US methane emissions increased more than 30%, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere.” (4,5)
3. THE MASSACHUSETTS PIPELINE FIGHT IS IMPORTANT TO EVERYONE
- Vast quantities of methane gas are in the Marcellus Shale region, stretching from West Virginia to Pennsylvania and New York. "Quantities of gas that geologists said might be available were so vast that they were measured in trillions of cubic feet and in centuries of supply.” (4)
- The gas industry would like the Northeast to be a conduit for much of this fracked gas, from Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian Basin to Europe and Asia, where they can get higher prices for the gas.
- The multibillion dollar pipeline company, Spectra/Enbridge is trying expand its pipeline infrastructure to and through MA and other Northeast states to export terminals in the Canadian Maritimes. (13)
- Massachusetts physically lies in the path of industry plans for the worldwide fracked gas distribution from Marcellus Shale through the Northeast.
4. THE PIPELINE FIGHT IS IMPORTANT TO COMMUNITIES MOST DIRECTLY IMPACTED
The pipelines harm human health. Like all large fracked gas pipeline projects, Spectra’s Algonquin pipeline expansion is a huge toxic, industrial infrastructure consisting of compressor stations (6), metering and regulating stations, pigging facilities, LNG ( liquid natural gas) storage terminals, and more. Fracked gas coming through this infrastructure carries toxic and carcinogenic chemicals as well as radioactive elements from the fracking sites. These are released at many points in the distribution system. In addition, ‘blow-downs’ at compressor stations release volatile organic compounds and other toxins. (6, 7, 8, 9)
The proposed pipeline infrastructure involves many issues of economic, social, and racial justice. For instance, the Weymouth compressor station would be built in the most densely populated location ever in the U.S. The station, which is expected to increase asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases in the community, would be built in and near communities already suffering health and other effects of decades of industrial infrastructure.
3,100 children live or go to school within one mile of the proposed Weymouth compressor station. (10)
Pipelines can and do explode. The proposed new pipelines are very high pressure.
They harm the natural environment. Wildlife loses habitat and open space is lost when trees are clear cut for pipelines. Toxic emissions harm trees, plants, and animals as well as humans Our air, our water and our soil is affected.
5. ABOUT THE ALGONQUIN PIPELINE EXPANSION AND THE CONNECTICUT EXPANSION PROJECT
- Spectra Energy Corporation is working to bring fracked gas to the Northeast and the Canadian Maritimes through its Algonquin Pipeline Expansion. In Massachusetts the expansion includes these connected projects: Access Northeast, W. Roxbury Lateral (AIM) and Atlantic Bridge (Weymouth compressor station). (See maps below)
- Through Access Northeast and Atlantic Bridge, the gas from Marcellus Shale would connect with Algonquin Gas Transmission's HubLine near Beverly and from there to the Maritimes. (11) (The HubLine is "an approximately 29.5 mile natural gas pipeline constructed primarily in the ocean along the coast of Massachusetts between Beverly and Weymouth.” (12)
- As part of the Access Northeast project, large, high pressure transmission pipelines are proposed through at least 22 communities (Q-1 Loop; W. Boylston Lateral; I-8 Loop; Acushnett Connector). Compressor stations – the worst infrastructure element in terms of adverse health and climate effects – are proposed for N. Weymouth and Rehoboth. Huge LNG storage facilities are proposed for Acushnet.
- Spectra wants to bring Marcellus Shale gas into the City of Boston through West Roxbury. A high pressure pipeline will connect there to a metering and regulating station across from the entrance to an active crushed Stone blasting quarry. The health and safety of West Roxbury is affected by this project.
- Resistance to all parts of the overall project is critical. A particularly strategic point may be Weymouth, where residents and allies are fighting to stop an essential compressor station and pipeline from being built in or near Weymouth. It is strategic because Spectra must get to the HubLine to connect to the Maritimes. Already this community and allies may have delayed the compressor station for a year!
- Although most of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline plans were withdrawn, there is still one component in Massachusetts: the Connecticut Expansion in Sandisfield, which will cut down old growth forest and destroy important vernal pools. This project would serve customers in CT.
6. THE PIPELINE INFRASTRUCTURE IS BEING BUILT FOR PROFIT
Access Northeast partners Spectra Energy/Enbridge, National Grid and Eversource, will hugely profit from their project. Utilities can make a good return by investing in new gas pipelines - so long as they can sell the gas.
7. WE DON’T NEED THE GAS FOR ELECTRICITY GENERATION
The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey recently conducted a detailed study of the state’s projected natural gas needs. The study included worst-case scenarios, yet concluded that building new pipeline would be the most costly alternative for Massachusetts ratepayers.
”A much more cost-effective solution is embrace energy efficiency, and demand response programs…”
8. THIS GAS IS NOT FOR HOME HEATING
It’s not for home heating, but to create electricity. Spectra Energy justifies the new pipeline by claiming that New England needs more gas for the electric generators. The study from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) determined that not only do we NOT need the gas, but also that increasing pipelines in Massachusetts would be the most expensive way to power our electric generators.
9. THERE'S NO PROMISE OUR GAS BILLS WILL COME DOWN
Oil and gas prices depend on many factors, and can’t be predicted. There may be a savings to consumers, or there may not. At the December 1st, 2015 presentation in Sharon, Spectra Energy representatives admitted that they cannot promise cost savings.
10. STOP THE PIPELINES! AND FIX THE LEAKS!
The Environmental Defense Fund notes “thousands of small gas leaks add up to a major climate threat,” mostly due to methane. There are also health effects from these leaks in our neighborhoods. (14)
We need to stop the pipelines and fix the leaks!
"Our leaders thought fracking would save our climate. They were wrong, very wrong.” Bill McKibben (4)
ACTION STEPS BELOW
YOU CAN TAKE ACTION WITH MOTHERS OUT FRONT
Talk with your Mothers Out Front team about how to incorporate this information into your local campaigns. Whether you are working on gas leaks, renewables, or household switches, the pipelines are related. Mothers Out Front can bring increasing numbers to the pipeline fight and help change the narrative on "natural" gas.
Support the campaigns in communities directly impacted: We are allying with those leading the fight in the directly affected communities, through groups such as Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, No Sharon Gas Pipeline, Resist the West Roxbury Pipeline, and others. Sign up to receive email action alerts about community meetings and hearings, phone calls, events and other ways we are asked to support their work to stop the pipelines and for justice. http://www.mothersoutfront.org/sign_up_for_action_alerts
Support Legislative and legal efforts Governor Baker’s newest plan - Plan B! - is to have the gas utilities, not the electric utilities ’sign the long-term contracts for natural gas capacity that are needed to finance a new pipeline. This plan may face legal hurdles. (See http://commonwealthmagazine.org/back-story/plan-b-for-a-pipeline/)
- Join Mass Power Forward, 350 MA, Mothers Out Front and others in pressuring Governor Baker. Let him know we want new renewable energy! No new pipeline projects! (http://www.mass.gov/governor/constituent-services/contact-governor-office/)
- 350MA for a Better Future Clean Money for Climate Pledge: 350MA is calling on all candidates in Massachusetts to pledge not to take campaign contributions from the top climate polluters. Already, 35 candidates for the Mass state legislature have signed on our pledge. Sign up to ask your local elected officials to sign the pledge.
Contact Your Utilities Directly
Resist the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline asks us to call, tweet, or email National Grid and tell them to #CancelTheContract for the West Roxbury Lateral gas. Go to resistthepipeline.org.
Join our Mothers Out Front Pipeline Task Force to help us use our power as mothers in the pipeline fight. Contact - Susan Lees: [email protected].
Be part of building the large movement we need by organizing at the intersection of climate, economic and racial justice.
MAPS AND FOOTNOTES BELOW
Access Northeast Map
‘Horsepower’ = compressor station. There is also a compressor station proposed for Rehoboth.
Atlantic Bridge (i.e. Weymouth Compressor Station) Map
(5) Harvard study http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL067987/abstract
14) Please request letter from Richard Clapp, D.Sc., MPHProfessor Emeritus Boston School of Public Health - to state legislators.
(An ongoing work from the Mothers Out Front Pipeline Task Force - comments welcome to [email protected])
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