Galvanized by the possibility that a new fracked natural gas pipeline will traverse Southern New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts, 350NH participated in the Stop the Pipeline rally held at the Massachusetts State House on July 30.
350NH believes that there are better alternatives to meeting New England’s and our State’s energy needs than adding additional pipelines carrying natural gas. Conservation in energy use, more efficiency in existing natural gas operations, and the development of renewable energy resources are all better alternatives.
Further, while natural gas releases fewer greenhouse gases than does coal when it is burned, natural gas is at least as damaging to the environment when the methane released in its production and through undetected leaks is taken into account. (Methane is the main component of natural gas. A recently released report by the International Panel on Climate Change shows that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than previously thought, with 34 times the heat-trapping intensity of CO2.)
Quoting the Conservation Law Foundation, “there is a role for gas, but it must be limited…We cannot simply replace every retiring coal and oil plant with natural gas and expect to leave our children with a livable climate… the increased use of existing natural gas electric generation capacity has helped to pave the way for the retirement of dirtier coal plants, but building new, long-lived natural gas infrastructure without any constraints isn’t compatible with meeting our climate goals”. (4 Things You Should Know About CLF’s work on Natural Gas, Jul 29, 2014, by Shanna Cleveland)
Many pipeline opponents believe the planned pipeline is designed less to meet New England’s energy needs than to export gas to Canada, where it can be sold on world markets at a greater profit than that commanded in this country.
The immediate concern for NH is that the pipeline connection proposed by Kinder-Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. would, after traversing Massachusetts, run from Pepperell, Massachusetts through Hollis or its vicinity to a location in Merrimack or Amherst, from which Liberty Utilities hopes to serve new customers.
New England Governors have been proposing to finance the building of the pipeline (as well as hydropower transmission projects) by a tariff imposed on consumers of electricity. This kind of financing, forcing consumers to bear infrastructure costs, would be a first. On August 1, however, the Governors’ representatives voted to delay votes on the gas and hydropower transmission proposals, including the tariff; their vote suggests that at least the financing plan is being reconsidered.
The Stop the Pipeline rally engaged more than 400 people, individuals whose property would be destroyed or depreciated by the pipeline, members of environmental advocacy groups and legislators, all protesting the proposed tariff in addition to construction of the pipeline. Protesters delivered petitions to Governor Patrick, the speaker of the Massachusetts House and the President of the Massachusetts Senate. They lobbied their legislators and, through a delegation, met for almost an hour with Governor Patrick and his Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs.