Recurring pipeline incidents

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Question: What do 16,500 gallons of contaminated wastewater in Agawam, 40 minutes of deafening methane gas “blow-down” in Richmond, a pipeline explosion that killed two people in Illinois and a 3,000-gallon diesel oil spill in East Granby, Conn., all have in common?

Answer: Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline are responsible for each one of these in the last two months. What is to be done to protect us? The members of Sugar Shack Alliance are working to bring attention to these incidents. We believe, and studies have shown, that efficiency and renewables make the continued expansion of fossil fuels unnecessary (and dangerous).

U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren have written to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the EPA. The discharge in Agawam is “exactly the kind of environmental and public health risk feared by local communities when the CT Expansion Project in (Sandisfield) was approved,” they wrote. The regional EPA is now investigating the Agawam discharge.

The big question is do we need more gas pipelines? The Conservation Law Foundation in Boston said, “Many of our gas power plants are also capable of burning oil if gas supplies run low or prices spike. So during this cold spell, when gas prices spiked all over the country, our system relied on gas-fired power for less than 20 percent of its electricity supply (down from 45 to 50 percent normally), and the system was fine. One of the reasons the electricity system could easily handle this significant drop in gas-fired power was the performance of renewable energy and hydropower. During the interminable cold, these clean resources represented as much as 20 percent of our power. That’s right: clean energy was matching our gas-fired power.

To follow this story or get involved, see the Sugar Shack Alliance Facebook page or website.

Micky McKinley

Sugar Shack Alliance member, Montague