Category Archives: hydrofracking

Letter to the editor (not published yet) re: Kinder-Morgan pipeline

From Rabbi Judy Weiss in Brookline, a well-known LTE writer and champion of climate causes:

From: Judy Weiss
Subject: Letter to editor
To: northshore@wickedlocal.com

Dear Editor,
Charlotte Kahn’s climate change column is excellent, as always. But she made one questionable comment: regarding public protests against proposals for new Kinder Morgan pipelines to carry gas for sale abroad, she wrote “victory seems improbable.” Actually, property owners in conservative Georgia created such an uproar opposing a new Kinder Morgan pipeline to carry gas across Georgia to Florida, that Republican legislators in Georgia sponsored legislation “to enact a temporary moratorium on the use of eminent domain for construction of petroleum pipelines and the permitting for construction of such pipelines so that a commission of elected officials and field experts can conduct a detailed study.”

Kinder Morgan decided to suspend further work following the Georgia legislature’s action.

If Bay Staters make as much noise as Georgians, our legislature, Governor, Rep. Seth Moulton and even Kinder Morgan will hear, and victory will be ours!

Judy Weiss
Brookline, MA 02446
Volunteer member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

 

judyweisspic
Rabbi Judy Weiss lives in Brookline, MA. She teaches Hebrew Bible locally, and volunteers on climate change advocacy both locally and nationally.

Pipeline Feedback Website from Congressman Seth Moulton

Those of us on the North Shore have to pay close attention to this issue, because we need to find out if it’s true that herbicides will indeed be sprayed on a regular basis on either side of the pipeline (to keep trees from growing and sending their roots into the pipeline). Much of the proposed course of the pipeline is very close to one of the sources of our drinking water supply, the Ipswich River.

The following very important resource was brought to our attention by SAFE member, David Radue:

Yesterday, Congressman Seth Moulton’s office launched a web portal (available here) to solicit feedback about the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline proposal. CCL North Shore met with his staff yesterday to discuss a couple of other topics, but we set aside some time to talk about the pipeline, as well. Moulton’s staffers, Morgan Bell and Dennis Magnasco, told us that their office has not yet taken a position on the pipeline. They have heard concerns from many constituents in town hall meetings, and they made this website to cast a broader net in gathering feedback. The portal will be open until May. I encourage members of the SAFE network to familiarize themselves with the details of the proposal and associated environmental risks and to then to provide feedback to Moulton’s office.

Sincerely,
David Radue

U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton (from his website)
congressman seth moulton

SALEM GAS PLANT AND THE LOW-CARBON FUTURE

Salem Alliance for the Environment (SAFE) released the following statement in response to the February 8 demonstration in Salem by 350-MA.

SAFE fully agrees with 350MA that the United States must take immediate steps to address global climate change. However, SAFE believes that the proposed quick-start, high efficiency natural-gas power plant for our city is consistent with the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act and can play a positive role in decarbonizing the electric grid in the three decades ahead.

As a seaside community, Salem should be on the forefront of addressing the climate crisis. If we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including sea level rise that could risk putting a part of our own community under water, the world must reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050. Like the sponsors of the protest against the proposed gas plant in Salem, we are in search of a viable path forward.

Our vision for Salem includes a large-scale maritime wind farm off of Cape Ann—a project that would become more viable if the proposed Salem gas plant goes forward.  And as advocates for solar energy, we are pleased that Salem is one of 15 communities that have been selected for the second round of Solarize Mass.

We also recognize the growing evidence that hydrofracking is severely damaging the environment and peoples’ lives. We strongly oppose this practice and believe it should be stopped until proven safe. To that end, SAFE supports federal and state regulation of fracking and legislation that forces utilities to prevent chemical contamination of drinking water supplies and to fully address methane leaks in the gas distribution infrastructure.

The “easy” work in reducing emissions has been done here in Massachusetts, with all coal-fired power plants scheduled to close by 2017. Going forward the choices become more difficult. Among the steps we can take to further reduce emissions in the short run is to replace older gas generation with high-efficiency quick-start plants similar to the one proposed for Salem.

The challenge of renewable energy is that it is intermittent: the sun doesn’t shine at night, and the wind can die down at any time. The older plants that currently power the grid are not good at filling in these interruptions in power production because they take 12-36 hours to ramp up to full power. The proposed gas plant for Salem is a much better choice to be paired with large renewable projects because it offers super-efficient generation with the flexibility of being able to increase or decrease power generation in an hour’s time, without having to run any more than needed.

During this recent cold spell, our reliance on the dirtiest fossil fuels – coal and oil – for our region’s electricity has escalated dramatically. This situation underscores the need for gas as a transitional fuel until renewables can take up the slack. Otherwise, we are exposing ourselves not only to the unnecessary risks of rolling brownouts that ISO New England (the region’s non-profit electric grid manager) has so forcefully warned us about in their recent statements but also a reliance on dirtier fuels that increase our greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural gas power generation is not a panacea but rather a transitional step. It is a much cleaner-burning fuel and creates fewer carbon emissions than either coal or oil. For gas generation to be part of the solution, however, public policies must ensure that gas extraction and transmission meet the highest standards.

In the next 30 years, we must make major changes in how we generate, transmit and use electricity. Our policymakers here in Massachusetts and in Washington, DC, need to make a far greater commitment to investing in renewable energy generation and in the national network of transmission infrastructure needed to deliver that power to every community in America. Once that infrastructure is in place, then natural gas generation can—and should—be phased out.

This is a need and vision that will take decades to make real. During this transition we have a choice of relying on older gas generation or upgrading to the latest and most efficient gas turbines that will allow us to introduce more renewables, not fewer, into the regional power grid.

Our goal should be to build a national transmission network powered by thousands of renewable energy projects distributed all over the system. That will allow us to decarbonize our electricity in this country safely and dependably.  If we choose not to build high-efficiency gas plants at strategic locations on the existing power grid, we miss the opportunity to create the infrastructure of the future–today.

We must recognize that in order to transition from our current electric system to one in the future powered mostly by renewable energy, we need several interim steps. We believe this proposed plant is one of the steps on this pathway to a low carbon future that our region and country must pursue and develop.

We should not let unrealistic short-term idealism, regardless of how well-intentioned, limit long term progress.

Read  SAFE’s earlier statement on Footprint Power’s proposed gas generating plant for Salem Harbor.

Colorado Governor proposes stricter fracking regs

According to the New York Times, Governor Hickenlooper is proposing to crack down on methane leaking from gas wells. The pollution has become so pervasive that Rocky Mountain National Park is experiencing elevated ozone readings.

Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado proposed on Monday tough new limits on leaks of methane and other gases from well sites and storage tanks. Supporters called the limits, which would exceed existing federal rules, the most sweeping in the nation.

Although the rules would also cover traditional petroleum and gas exploration and production, pollution from fracking — hydraulic fracturing, used to extract gas and oil from rock formations — is the driving force behind the proposal.

The proposal, which would directly regulate emissions of methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, for the first time, came just after Colorado voters indicated their unease with the state’s booming oil and gas industry in elections this month.

Mr. Hickenlooper developed the proposal in negotiations with three of the state’s largest oil and gas developers — Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Encana Corporation and Noble Energy — and the Environmental Defense Fund, a national advocacy group.

Among other measures, it would require companies to regularly search for and repair gas leaks in their drilling and production equipment and to keep records of their findings. Read more.