My Turn: ‘No justification for new fossil fuel infrastructure’

  • Mike Watson Images

Published: 8/9/2021 4:51:31 PM

If you crossed the Coolidge Bridge on Friday, July 30, you may have noticed three women dressed in bright red robes dancing in the center of the roundabout and a group of people holding signs on the sidewalk. This was a protest against Eversource organized by Extinction Rebellion Western Mass (the dancers were part of XR’s signature Red Brigade). Simultaneous protests took place in Boston and Hartford.

People in Massachusetts understand the urgency of making a just transition to renewable energy, and our state has pledged to do so. Eversource, a utility company serving New England, recently bought Columbia Gas and continues to push fossil fuels while making claims about its commitment to sustainability and racial and social justice.

Eversource is aggressively marketing fracked gas (“natural gas”) and planning new infrastructure to deliver it. They are even distributing pro-fossil fuel propaganda to school children, calling fracked gas “your invisible friend.”

Fracked gas consists largely of methane, whose warming effect on the atmosphere is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years. The process of extracting underground gas has devastating negative effects on the surrounding land and water, and its transport is extremely dangerous. (You may remember the series of explosions in the homes of Merrimack Valley Columbia Gas customers in 2018.)

The people most at risk from pollution and climate change are invariably low-income communities and communities of color. Eversource has new pipeline projects planned for Agawam and Longmeadow. There is proposed legislation to address these issues: An Act Promoting Local Energy Investment and infrastructure Modernization (S. 2144 and H. 3265), and An Act to Protect Ratepayers (Bill H.3259/S.2143); both are championed by state Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. Natalie Blais.

Eversource needs to admit that fossil fuels have no place in our energy system and stop pretending that “natural gas” is a solution and not another fossil fuel. We are already living in a climate emergency. There’s no justification for new fossil fuel infrastructure, especially not in environmental justice communities.

 Montserrat Archbald lives in Whately.


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