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Eiseman/My Turn: Stop this pipeline

In the last several weeks, landowners across the state — from the Berkshires to Essex County — have been contacted by representatives of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (“TGP,” a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P.), for permission to survey land for the proposed “Northeast Expansion” natural gas pipeline. I urge landowners to deny the company permission to survey, or to rescind permission where it has already been granted.

I am also calling on local, state and federal officials to do everything in their power to block this unnecessary and ill-conceived pipeline, and to champion sustainable solutions to our energy needs.

According to the Boston Globe, natural gas already accounts for 67 percent of our state’s electrical generation. Increasing our reliance on this single, nonrenewable source of energy would make ratepayers even more beholden to volatile commodities markets.

The intent for this route to link up to Canada also belies claims that more pipelines would decrease prices. (According to a TGP memo, intended customers include developers of liquefied natural gas projects in New England and Atlantic Canada.) Exporting American gas would drive prices up and would perpetuate the perceived need for more pipelines. At present, the New England governors are seeking to require electric ratepayers to pay for new pipelines with a new tariff.

The environmental and safety problems with these shale gas pipelines are well-documented. The possibility that land protected under state law could be crossed by this pipeline is outrageous. Fatalities, fires, explosions and evacuations due to leaks in the natural gas infrastructure seem to be occurring with increasing frequency. At the source of the gas, the environmental devastation wrought by hydraulic fracturing across the country has already been substantial. Also, while natural gas is touted as “clean energy” because of its relatively low carbon dioxide emissions, leaks in extraction and transmission emit methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Massachusetts citizens should not be forced to aid and abet this dangerous and shortsighted exploitation of our nation’s natural resources.

The hyped up “need” for new pipelines is a fallacy. Proponents have claimed that the capacity of this single pipeline would provide many times more energy than our projected energy shortfall. Simply fixing the leaks in existing pipelines in our region would likely cover about one-third of the shortfall; investments in energy efficiency could cover much if not all of the rest. Sustainable, renewable energy should be where we turn for any increase in capacity.

In a perversion of market incentives, our state and others cap the amount of energy that can be sold back to the grid by customers with their own renewable energy systems. If there are to be any caps in place, they should be on fossil fuel sources, not renewables.

The “3,000 jobs” this pipeline would allegedly create would be mostly temporary jobs for employees of the gas company from out of state. The pipeline would also compromise affected landowners’ ability to obtain mortgages or sell their property, and leave a tainted legacy on the land for generations to come. A locally based energy infrastructure (e.g., rooftop wind and solar) would bring long-term, local jobs and real energy independence. Such a disperse or “distributed energy” generation infrastructure would also be much safer in terms of national security and the potential for sabotage and terrorism.

In sum, this pipeline would continue a reckless and misguided energy policy that fortifies our reliance on fossil fuels. Instead, we should devote our resources to creating a comprehensive, sustainable renewable energy infrastructure.

Katy Eiseman, who lives in Cummington, is co-founder of nofrackedgasinmass.org. She holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

I believe these pipeline companies and gas companies are exempt from the Clean Drinking Water act as of 2005.

This high volume, high pressure gas pipeline is quite different from neighborhood pipelines most of us are accustomed to. One feature that is concerning is that requirements for construction and safety are different in rural areas, and are determined by population density. High Consequence areas are places where there are many people. Low consequence areas are where there are few people. It doesn't seem to matter when these pipelines run along all of the aquifers and drinking water sources for much of Massachusetts. If I remember correctly, gas entities and their pipelines are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water act that protects water potability. And we have no idea what chemicals will be transported through these areas. We need to know more about these concerns.

These high volume, high pressure transmission lines appear to be quite different from neighborhood gas lines. And because these are rural communities where these transmission lines will be located, there will be less stringent requirements for pipeline safety than in "high consequence areas" (e.g. more populated areas). We are evidently considered a "low consequence area", even though most of the drinking water in our state comes from the regions where these industrial gas lines plan to be located.

A nicely written article without facts. Nor has anyone from the solar community given an answer for the destruction of solar panels when they no longer work. I think they hope to have an answer by that time. The insides of the panels are hazardous to the environment

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