Gas pipelines and Salem’s water supply: the recent proposal to build a gas pipeline here on the North Shore could adversely affect the drinking water supplies of North Shore communities. Massive amounts of weed killer (herbicide) is sprayed on a regular basis around these pipelines to prevent plants from growing near them. These herbicides can then wash into our rivers and streams, and our water supplies. Panel discussions and presentations by: Wayne Castonguay, Executive Director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association; Dr. Erin Bennett, Salem Resident and Environmental Chemist; and Cathy Kristofferson, Stop Northeast Energy Direct. Sponsored by Salem Alliance for the Environment.
According to the legislators’ letter, there are three reasons why they want NextEra Energy Seabrook shuttered. First is the continuing concrete degradation condition known as alkali-silica reaction, or ASR, that affects the concrete walls at the power plant.
The second reason is the legislators believe that, should there ever be a problem at the power plant, “a timely, safe, and realistic evacuation of the (10-mile) evacuation zone and beyond in the case of a nuclear public safety risk is impossible.” They also believe the evacuation zone should be extended beyond the 10-mile radius.
Their last reason criticizes the NRC specifically.
“Thirdly, the NRC has failed to provide adequate oversight, particularly over the degradation that plagues the Seabrook Station,” they wrote in the letter. “The NRC’s lack of knowledge about the progression of the degradation combined with the non-existent regulatory track record on concrete degradation has already put people of New England at unknown risk.”
Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives
[Below are detailed ideas on what to ask for in the bill, and a link to find out who your Mass. elected officials are.]
Massachusetts has been a national leader on clean energy, but now are at a crossroads: we are poised to invest billions of dollars to replace retiring power plants and make energy choices that will shape our future.
Comprehensive energy policy is now advancing through the state legislature. Please urge your elected officials to invest in clean energy like wind and solar, and to ban any public financing of fracked gas pipelines!
Will you contact your respresentative and senator today?
When you call, meet with, or email your Representative and Senator, here is what you can say:
“I want to urge you to strengthen clean energy provisions in the House energy bill, H4336 – an Act Relative to Energy Diversity. Please work to pass an energy bill that reduces our reliance on imported gas and harnesses our state’s abundant renewable energy resources like wind and solar. The energy bill should:
- Stop the “pipeline tax.” Ratepayers should not foot the bill for new fracked gas pipelines. The cost and risk to consumers and the environment are too great and the legislature has a role to play in protecting the public by banning this practice. Please amend this legislation to head off the DPU’s plan to charge electric ratepayers for gas pipelines.
- Be bold with offshore wind: Legislation should establish long-term contracts for at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy. The current bill calls for 1200 megawatts – a good start, but increasing this will allow our state to grow wind jobs and capture a cost-saving economy of scale.
- Accelerate the Renewable Portfolio Standard to increase 2% per year: Maryland, California and Hawaii have all set ambitious RPS targets. To meet cuts the scientists say we must make in our climate change causing pollution, we can and should do the same. Please increase the RPS and accelerate the growth of local renewable power and the growth of clean energy jobs.
- Restore low-income and community solar: To ensure all communities can access solar power, the legislature should restore compensation for low-income and community solar projects.
Thank you for your support of clean energy, and please urge your colleagues to support these provisions.”
If you don’t know who your elected official is, you can find out here. Once you are ready to call, you can call them directly or you can call the state house switchboard at (617) 722-2000. And once you call, please let me know what your Representative and Senator says. It is super helpful to helping us strategize!
“This suggests that the utilities aren’t doing a good job tracking leaks,” said Audrey Schulman, president of the Home Energy Efficiency Team, or HEET, a Cambridge nonprofit that analyzed the data. “If they don’t have them on their books, they’re not monitoring them, and if they’re left unmonitored, leaks get worse.”
Utility companies are spending billions of dollars to replace leaky gas pipelines across the state, and repair leaks as quickly as possible, company officials say. The leaks, which are responsible for a significant portion of the state’s greenhouse gases, are often caused by corroding cast-iron pipes or construction accidents.
National Grid employee Lane Guidry connected the chute to the gas pipe./DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF
The two main obstacles to new designs for nuclear reactors are still exactly the same: cost and unforeseen technical problems:
The nuclear industry is forever reinventing itself with one brilliant ‘new’ idea after another, Amory Lovins wrote in this classic 2009 essay. But whether it’s touting the wonders of future SMRs, IFRs or LFTRs, the reality never changes: the reactors they are building right now are over time, over budget and beset by serious, entirely unforeseen technical problems.
“But on closer examination, the two kinds most often promoted – Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) and thorium reactors – reveal no economic, environmental, or security rationale, and the thesis is unsound for any nuclear reactor.”
(April 27 story in CommonWealth Magazine, in the Environment section)
Cape Wind appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court at the end of April because of the decision by a state board, the Energy Facilities Siting Board, to deny a two-year extension of transmission permits.
Cape Wind claims that the siting board exceeded its authority and asserts the decision to deny a two-year extension of transmission permits “is based on errors of law, is made upon unlawful procedures, is unsupported by substantial evidence and lacks requisite subsidiary findings and is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion…”
from the Cape Wind website
In today’s Salem News:
To the editor:
In order to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, 80 percent of currently listed fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground, unburnable, as stranded assets. It is unconscionable for Salem State University to continue to profit from fossil fuel companies and investments that will lock us into catastrophic climate change. More than 650 students and 110 faculty members have signed a petition asking Salem State to immediately freeze its investments in fossil fuel companies and divest its holdings completely from these companies within five years.
Until Salem State divests from fossil fuels we encourage future patrons to instead donate to the Multi-School Divestment Fund.
We have the opportunity to show leadership for our students and join more than 500 divested institutions worldwide in a time of unprecedented transition.
It is time to act.
Salem State University (source: WikiMedia Commons)
Film focuses on efforts to discredit climate change, other issues
Almost every seat was filled at the National Park Service Visitors Center last night, for a screening of the film, Merchants of Doubt (the story referred to above ran in the Salem News on May 5th). The film showed how the struggle to expose the tobacco industry’s practice of hiring “experts” to discredit the dangers of smoking is happening all over again with climate change. However, that battle took 50 years, and we don’t have the luxury of that many decades this time around, according to James Hansen and other scientists focused on the hard science of what is happening to our atmosphere.
Here is a YouTube clip of the question-and-answer session with Congressman Moulton, filmed by SAFE Advisory Board Member, Stan Franzeen. The Salem News article that ran on the 5th before the screening can be read here.
Congressman Seth Moulton
From SAFE Advisory Board Member, Stan Franzeen:
On Friday May 6, Congressman Seth Moulton will be hosting an audience Q&A after a free screening of the film MERCHANTS OF DOUBT at the NPS Visitor Center, 2 New Liberty Street, Salem. Doors open at 6:00 pm, screening at 6:30 pm. Released in 2015, this satirically comic documentary exposes the deceptive tactics (borrowed from the tobacco industry’s playbook) that well-paid lobbyists have been using to create doubt and obscure the facts about climate science.
We are very excited about this unique opportunity to reach new audiences and help dispel some of the myths perpetrated by the anti-science crowd.
In Georgia, the citizens just defeated a Kinder Morgan pipeline from being installed; in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, they’re currently fighting one; and WE ON THE NORTH SHORE need to fight the extension of it that they want to build right alongside the Ipswich River. It’s partly due to the fact that they’ll be tearing down fragile ecosystems in the Ipswich Watershed (part of our drinking water supply on the North Shore), but perhaps more urgently due to the fact that they’ll routinely and indefinitely have to spray very strong herbicides for 12 feet on either side of the pipeline to prevent tree roots from growing into it and damaging it. We can’t let them do that so close to our drinking water, nor in a protected ecosystem!
Furthermore, the Kinder Morgan pipeline will be carrying fracked gas. The process of fracking releases so much methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2) into the atmosphere that it makes it a moot point that burning fracked gas releases less carbon dioxide than burning coal.
From Christian M. Wade, Statehouse Reporter, in the Eagle-Tribune on April 5, 2016:
State officials are planning six hearings over the next two weeks, including one Wednesday at Lynnfield Middle School and another at Andover High School on Thursday, April 14. Both begin at 7 p.m.
“We don’t want this company to run a destructive and potentially dangerous high-pressure, fracked gas pipeline across our community,” said Bob Croce, who heads an opposition group in Peabody. “And we certainly don’t want the state to give them permission to trample over property rights and conservation land for a pipeline project that wouldn’t benefit us at all.”
Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary want to pump gas from the Marcellus shale region across Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
Its pipeline would connect with other proposed and existing lines through Haverhill, Methuen and Andover. Smaller, lateral pipelines are proposed through Peabody, Danvers and Lynnfield…
Wayne Castonguay, executive director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, said environmentalists are particularly concerned about a section of pipeline that would run along the Ipswich River — a drinking water source.
Besides the impact on wetlands and wildlife, he worries about the use of herbicides to clear the pipeline of brush.
“More than 300,000 people drink water from the Ipswich River every day,” Castonguay said. “There’s no way to mechanically clear the vegetation, so they have no choice but to use herbicides, which raises serious public health concerns….”
Project opponents — including Attorney General Maura Healey — contend that the demand for natural gas is exaggerated.