Category Archive: Pipelines
Climate Action Now (CAN) has a long-standing commitment to challenge the construction of any new and existing fossil fuel infrastructure in our region. As part of that commitment we have been deeply involved, along with other groups and organizations in Western Mass, in efforts to protect Otis State Forest, in Sandisfield, Mass. CAN opposes construction of the Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion Pipeline, which will involve the felling of thousands of trees, endangerment of protected bird species and wetlands, and destruction of sacred Native American ceremonial stone landscape features, in this pristine forest in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts. At present, Kinder Morgan is awaiting a “Notice to Proceed” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission so that they can begin tree felling in Otis State Forest. Tree felling could begin soon.
Seventy-three sacred ceremonial stone landscape features have been identified along the proposed pipeline route. There is currently an effort to explore legal avenues to protect these sacred ceremonial stone landscapes from being destroyed by the pipeline project.
We are writing to you to ask for financial support to help pay for the initial costs of this effort. If you are able to contribute to this undertaking, please make your check payable to “Creative Thought and Action”, the fiscal sponsor for Climate Action Now. Please put CSL in the “for” line and mail it to our treasurer:
250 Shutesbury Road
Amherst, MA 01002
If money is raised in excess of the attorney’s fees needed in this endeavor, we will redirect any excess funds from your donation to help cover the legal costs incurred in the ongoing legal challenge to the 401 Water Quality Certificate for the Connecticut Expansion Project, another avenue we are pursuing at this time. Thank you for your kind attention to this urgent and time sensitive request.
Susan Theberge from Climate Action Now
By Marty Nathan
An issue of worldwide concern is at stake in the drylands of North Dakota, where those opposing climate charge are supporting Native Americans from all over the country who fear for the loss of their water and sacred grounds and demand the respect for their treaty rights.
Thousands of people have gathered at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, bedding in recreational vehicles, tipis, tents, yurts and vans. The flags of different native American bands wave in the wind as residents of all ages and many ethnicities share food, outhouses, campfires, information, and work. They have come for a single purpose: stopping the building of the enormous underground Dakota Access Pipeline that will carry fracked crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to Illinois and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. If this Dakota Access Pipeline is finished, 500,000 barrels of oil a day will pour through it to New Orleans for refining and shipping.
Paki Wieland, my friend for more than two decades, called me from Standing Rock. She is a retired social worker and former nun, a woman deeply devoted to peace and the rights of the poor. She has used her retirement to engage in all the social change that work had previously forestalled.
The encampment of Native Americans is led by the local Standing Rock Sioux and calls itself the Water Protectors. Its leaders put out an international call for help to stop the Pipeline which will run under the Missouri River just upstream from their water source. Any leak in the pipeline would destroy that precious resource and make their community unlivable. Such an accident could contaminate both the Ogalala aquifer underlying all land between the Missouri and the Rockies as well as the Mississippi River that the Missouri enjoins some miles south.
Further, the pipeline is being constructed through traditional Sioux burial grounds. On Labor Day construction crews invaded that sacred site. The Water Protectors’ attempt to stop the destruction met a heavy-handed response by local sheriffs and corporate private security who sicced vicious dog on peaceful protesters.
Paki had responded to the Water Protectors’ call, packing a few belongings into a friend’s RV and driving the 27 hours to Standing Rock. There she witnessed a profoundly moving display of unity among folks who have not acted together for decades, if ever.
For the first time in 140 years the seven bands of the Sioux Nation had come together physically and politically to oppose the pipeline. Navajo traditional runners made the trek on foot all the way from Arizona and a group of young people, ReZpect Our Water, ran to Washington. DC, to deliver a petition to President Obama.
The circle has widened beyond indigenous peoples. Five hundred religious leaders incensed by the inexorable violation of Native American treaties stood together in early November to protest the ongoing colonization that the DAPL represents. Non-native environmental activists have joined tribal members lashing themselves to the construction machinery. Money for the encampment has poured in from around the country.
Why the focus here? What is pulling these disparate groups together?
1. The call of justice and the rights of Native Americans to their land, communities and livelihoods is a major propelling force.
2. The destruction of precious aquifer and surface water, at a premium in the west, would be an irretrievable loss throughout the region.
3. Pipeline owner Energy Transport Partners has used corrupt insider tactics to gain access to the land, and federal oversight has been lacking. ETP has never performed an environmental impact assessment, has never negotiated with the Standing Rock Tribe and has continued with construction despite a joint recommendation from the Department of Justice, Department of the Army and Department of the Interior to halt.
4. The purpose of the DAPL, like its now defunct sister, the Keystone XL is to release to the world more fossil fuels to burn. The US is drilling too much oil and natural gas for domestic consumption, and prices are too low for fossil fuel companies to profit. They must reduce production and transport costs and send the excess oil to overseas markets. Yet the emissions from burning the DAPL oil pose a true threat to an atmosphere that already has absorbed enough carbon dioxide to raise world temperatures more than 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
We have the capacity to substitute the oil drilled in North Dakota with conservation measures and renewable energy. And for the sake of the Standing Rock Sioux and our own children’s future, we must.
There will be a standout in support of the Standing Rock Sioux on Nov. 29 in Springfield.
It will be a tough fight since Donald Trump himself is invested in Energy Transport Partners and its CEO donated to his campaign.
If you would like to support the Standing Rock Sioux, visit the website http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/donate.
Marty Nathan MD is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center, lives in Northampton, and is on the steering committees of Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and Climate Action NOW.
Published in MassLive: http://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/11/showdown_at_standing_rock_siou.html
KICK OFF RALLY
Great Barrington: 12 pm – 1 pm
Gazebo behind Great Barrington Town Hall
RALLY at Lower Spectacle Pond
Cold Spring Road
Music, speakers, kayak & canoe flotilla!
Sponsored by Sugar Shack Alliance
Co-sponsors include: Climate Action Now, Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT); Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposed to the Pipeline (STOP); Western Mass AFSC; Massachusetts Sierra Club; the Enviro Show; Stop NED; Mothers Out Front; Collective Copies
For more info contact Kathy Daly 413-586-4435 mailto:email@example.com
Photo by Geoffrey Coelho… thank you!
Houston-based Spectra Energy is building a pipeline carrying fracked gas in West Roxbury, a densely populated residential area in Boston.This high-pressure pipeline would run within a hundred feet of an active blasting quarry, through residential neighborhoods, and past several schools. Opposition to the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (WRLP) has been fierce and falls into two categories: Local Concerns and Climate Change. Beginning on June 19th, pipeline fighters from across New England will join together for multiple, all-day, mass actions that will completely shut this project down.
This Tuesday, June 14th, Marla Marcum from Resist the Pipeline is coming to Northampton to help build for the June 28th Western Mass Day of Action to shut down the Spectra Pipeline in West Roxbury. She will tell the story of the powerful community of resistance that has come together, and talk about how we can offer support. Marla will provide context and details about the June 28th Action in West Roxbury to help us to prepare for the day. Everyone is welcome to join us to learn more about the growing movement to resist the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. RSVPs appreciated to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, June 14th at 7 PM
Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence
220 Main Street, Northampton, Mass
Accessible and on a bus line
Tuesday, June 28th (begins at 8 AM)
West Roxbury construction site: Exact location to be announced
By Dineen O’Rourke
Throughout the bitter months of winter in 2014, veiled representatives of the billion-dollar energy company Kinder Morgan knocked on the doors of residents in the small hill-towns of Massachusetts. Their company emblems were covered and their smiles were wide. “Do we have permission to survey your property? We’re collecting data for a regional environmental study.”1 Clipboards and cameras in hand, they were shown to the backyards of dozens of properties, quietly collecting and recording information. It was weeks later when homeowners learned what they had actually granted permission for, when Kinder Morgan-marked letters were received in mailboxes across the state outlining the plan to build a fracked gas pipeline in those very backyards. Naturally, this didn’t favor well in the birthplace of Shay’s Rebellion; a movement quickly spread like wildfire, with resolutions and ordinances banning the project in over seventy towns, tens of thousands of petition signatures, legal cases, multiple marches across the state, and opposition declared by dozens of public officials.2
Now, after a dedicated two-year-long grassroots movement, Kinder Morgan suspended the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline on April 26, 2016 and then officially withdrew their application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on May 23. Our grassroots movement defeated one of the largest energy companies in the country.
This following research was originally conducted and written in December of 2015, when Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas had just significantly changed the proposed path of the pipeline, brining the eastern section of the route into New Hampshire. Publishing this research now is a way to portray a capsule in time of a successful social movement and reflect on the strategies that brought on a major victory in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. What did our movement do particularly well? Where could we have improved? The threat and consequences of this pipeline are shared with all the other proposed fracked gas projects in our region. Fighting one helps us fight others; we must not back down because we’ve won just one battle. Reflecting on this recent victory can help strengthen our understanding of this industry and inform us on how to defeat Spectra Energy’s AIM Pipeline, the West Roxbury Lateral, the compressor stations in Burrillville, Rhode Island and North Weymouth, and inspire us to continue organizing for a just and sustainable world.
In this light, I hope you will join us in escalating this summer against Spectra and acting in solidarity with our neighbors in Eastern Massachusetts. On Tuesday, June 28th, the Sugar Shack Alliance will be bringing a contingent of Kinder Morgan pipeline fighters to risk arrest in West Roxbury. Then from July 14-18, we will march along the route of the proposed Spectra Access Northeast route, back to West Roxbury, and end at the Boston Statehouse to send the message: Stop the Pipelines or the People Will!
The Mass House of Representatives will soon release the Omnibus Energy Bill. The fossil fuel industry is working overtime to ensure that this bill includes a PIPELINE TAX, effectively forcing the public to finance unnecessary and dangerous gas pipeline expansion projects. This tax has the potential to help bring the Kinder Morgan fracked gas pipeline back to life.
We stand firmly against any bill that taxes the people of Massachusetts to pay for fossil fuel pipeline subsidies; the climate crisis we face requires intensive efforts at increasing energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy. We are asking everyone to take the actions below and to spread the word.
Go here to send a letter to your state representative telling them that an energy bill containing a pipeline tax is completely unacceptable; if a pipeline tax is included we want a NO VOTE on the bill. We are hearing from people in the State House that legislators need this reminder now; events will move swiftly once the draft of the bill is released and it will be harder to make our voices heard.
A number of our reps have submitted a letter against the pipeline tax; when you call, you can thank your rep if they signed the letter, but let them know that no matter what, you want them to vote against a pipeline tax! Please ask your rep to sign (if they have not already) an excellent letter about energy priorities being circulated by Rep. Ehrlich’s office. Please go here to read the letter and to see if they have signed on. Please call (617.725.4005) and write to the Governor with the same message.
On May 3, several hundred climate activists from around the Commonwealth gathered at the Statehouse to show legislators strong support for policies that preserve a livable planet. The event opened with an inspiring rally, where activists heard of current struggles to stop pipeline projects still underway and what it will take to put the final nail in the NED coffin. Even though Northeast Energy Direct is suspended, three proposals in the eastern part of the state are moving ahead despite strong opposition: Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market; Spectra Atlantic Bridge; and Access Northeast, proposed by Spectra, National Grid, and Eversource. In Berkshire County, Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion would cut through an area including the Otis State Forest, despite violation of the MA constitution’s Article 97.
Speakers included community activists describing on-the-ground organizing efforts, as well as statewide leaders explaining strategies to build a unified movement. Although it was raining, spirits were with kept high with singing led by Rev. Fred Small and free pizza for all, along with the thought-provoking presentations.
After the rally, activists entered the Statehouse with two missions. First, to witness the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee hearing called to address the impact of natural gas pipelines. The Commonwealth committed to reducing global warming emissions in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), and this hearing focused on the question, “how will new pipelines and increased reliance on natural gas impact our ability to meet these mandates?” Second, to meet with Valley legislators and their staffs regarding climate change legislation. Mass Power Forward, a grassroots network of 150 organizations, led the lobbying by developing and distributing a position paper advocating six policies to guide Omnibus Energy Bill currently being considered by the House: Oppose New Gas Infrastructure; Support Offshore Wind; Support Solar; Double the Renewable Portfolio Standard Rate of Increase; Improve Siting Requirements for New Transmission Projects; and Support Communities with Retiring Power Plants. Activists also lobbied on behalf of Divestment, Fair Carbon Pricing, and Green Bank legislation.
The hearing was quite a remarkable event. Activists filled the room to overflowing, with many sitting on the floor and lining the walls. The flow of presentations was designed to provide a rigorous review and critique of the “business as usual” strategy proposed by Gov. Baker. This became apparent with the first two questions directed to the opening speaker, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. First, Sen. Pacheco asked why Massachusetts was not taking the progressive regulatory path taken by its sister state New York, where the Public Utilities Commission takes policies protecting the states environment (analogous to the Commonwealth’s Article 97) fully into account in their pipeline decisions. Sen. Pacheco also questioned why the MA Department of Public Utilities doesn’t consider the Commonwealth’s GWSA goals in its decision-making. Second, Sen. Eldridge asked politely but insistently about the full-cycle impacts of natural gas on global warming emissions. The review and critique continued to unfold over the next three hours with detailed testimony by Attorney General Maura Healy’s staff; a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy who now advises Northeast Energy Solutions; the Conservation Law Foundation; and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Backed by solid research and impeccable logic, the presenters hammered home the conclusion that the Commonwealth and its citizens will be far better off making a rapid transition to renewables without significant dependence on natural gas. For example, Rebecca Tepper, energy division chief with the office of Attorney General, provided details regarding the feasibility of increasing efficiency through conservation programs and dealing with winter peaks through investment in modern clean power generation.
And the Senate panel signaled its skepticism about efforts to increase electric utility rates to charge for pipeline construction when Sen. Pacheco described the meeting as “an oversight hearing so the ratepayers aren’t taken to the cleaners.” Throughout the hearing, all the panelists – Senators Pacheco, Eldridge, Barrett, and Downing – skillfully questioned presenters to bring out the most critical points favoring renewables while pointing to the problems inherent in a strategy that relies on fossil fuel dependence.
More details on the hearing can be found in this article published on Mass Live:
By Susan Theberge, Editor of CAN newsletter
Neighbors, students, farmers, conservationists, children, elders, affected land owners, small business owners, politicians, artists, faith leaders, musicians, lawyers, climate activists, builders, poets, climate justice organizers and hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals came together united around one common goal: The Kinder Morgan NED fracked gas pipeline will never be built! From day one our community in Western Mass knew something that Kinder Morgan could not see: our long and storied history of successful resistance to injustice and exploitation by corporate outsiders.
United by a love of the land and a passion for a livable future and in powerful collaboration with others across the state and region, people organized on every front: legal, political, educational, and regulatory; at the local, state and federal level; through direct actions including walking the proposed pathway, organizing rallies, overflowing the halls of numerous hearings, building a Thoreau Cabin in the pathway of the pipeline, ongoing vigils and active preparation for massive non-violent civil disobedience with the support of a brilliant legal team.
While remaining mindful of new twists and turns, we know that for now one toxic and completely unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure project has been blocked. While celebrating our success, we need to continue to focus our energies on the bigger picture: the need to stop the many other proposed fossil fuel projects that remain. This includes our fight to protect public lands threatened by the CT Expansion pipeline in Sandisfield, to block the Spectra pipeline in the eastern part of Massachusetts, and to stand together with those in New York who are resisting the Constitution Pipeline.
Preventing climate catastrophe binds us together as never before in human history. It is only by working together on a global scale that we will prevent the extinction of life on earth. This, the call of our times, contains a paradoxical gift: to prevent climate catastrophe we must find new ways of occupying planet earth that are grounded in equity, justice, respect and love.
photo credit: Rene Theberge
“Neighborhood environmental group demands action on natural gas leaks”
Northampton. A newly-formed Northampton neighborhood environmental group has demanded action on 91 ongoing natural gas leaks, some unrepaired for over fifteen years, from local natural gas distributor Columbia Gas. Calling the leaks dangerous, unhealthy, expensive to ratepayers and a threat to the climate, twenty Northampton residents requested that a plan be created immediately to fix them, that neighborhoods affected by them be informed, that their cost over the years be assessed, and that ratepayers be recompensed for that cost.
The group Twodegrees@Greenneighbors.earth, formed in the fall to respond to the threat of climate change, sent the letter today to Stephen H. Bryant, president of Columbia gas.
The neighbors living in the Massasoit Street area, had gathered to plan local actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The year 2015 was the hottest on record, spurring action to support both individual lifestyle and government policy changes to stop the burning of fossil fuels that releases carbon dioxide. They had already planned an Earth day street fair and community yard sale on Saturday, April 23.
Recently, though, they became aware of a report by Home Energy Efficiency Team MA at www.HEETMA.org listing all natural gas leaks by city in Massachusetts. The report was compiled from data collected by gas distributors. In Northampton, Columbia Gas had reported 91 existing leaks in 2015, one of them on Massasoit Street in front of a group member’s house. She had been unaware of the leak, never notified by the company.
The main component of natural gas, methane, is highly flammable and its explosion in Springfield in 2012 flattened a two-story building.
Methane is also a potent greenhouse gas, eighty times as powerful as carbon dioxide in heating the climate over twenty years.
Further, ratepayers have been charged for the wasted gas in lieu of fixing the leaks. Separate studies assuming losses of .5% * vs. 2.7% ** per year through unrepaired leaks have estimated that in the state of Massachusetts as a whole consumers have paid from $22 million to $122 million for gas they never used.
In light of the company’s ability to recover this ongoing wasted fuel, the group in their letter question the need for new natural gas infrastructure, particular the hotly contested Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct pipeline being proposed to cross farmland and forest in Franklin County. Columbia Gas has placed a moratorium on all new hookups in Northampton and Easthampton until the pipeline is approved, stymying local development.
The group encourages residents to contact Columbia Gas and their local officials and demand action to fix the leaks as a measure in conservation, public health and reduced energy costs.
- – Sue Fleck. VP of Gas Safety, Ngrid, in video testimony to the Boston City Council, Sept. 2015.
** – Wofsy Harvard-University-led study, 2015, http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2015/01/boston-s-natural-gas-infrastructure-releases-high-levels-of-heat-trapping-methane
Link to .DOCX document: northampton letter to colulmbia gas
Stephen H. Bryant, President, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts
4 Technology Drive Suite 250
Westborough, MA 01581
We write to you out of grave concern for the at least 91 outstanding unrepaired gas leaks from Columbia gas equipment and hookups in the City of Northampton, some of them dating back to 1999.
We are a group of neighbors who have begun meeting to address the challenge of climate change. We know that methane is a potent greenhouse gas, eighty times as powerful as carbon dioxide. We also know that Columbia Gas, along with Berkshire Gas, claims that there is insufficient natural gas supply on winter peak use days, and has called for a moratorium on new gas hookups in Northampton until the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission.
It was while investigating the validity of these claims concerning gas supply to our area that we discovered the research/ done by Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEETMA) with its “Squeaky Leak” Project. /http://www.heetma.org/squeaky-leak/natural-gas-leaks-maps/. The information about the 91 gas leaks in the Northampton are from Columbia Gas records alone. Your company has known about them and not repaired some of them for more than fifteen years.
This is startling and dismaying to us for several reasons:
1) Gas leaks are dangerous. Natural gas is flammable and could lead to fires and explosions, like the one which flattened a two-story building on Worthington Street, Springfield in 2012.
2) Leaks are unhealthy. The additive mercaptan is toxic to brain and nerves.
3) Gas leaks contribute in an outsized way to climate change because of methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas.
4) Leaks burden your customers who, for years, have been paying for gas that has been wasted. It has been estimated that the total yearly cost to ratepayers in the State of Massachusetts ranges from $22 million * to almost $122 million*.
As we were reviewing the leaks, we discovered to our collective alarm that one of the leaks is at the home of one of our members. She had never been informed. When she called your company to inquire, she had to demand that a work order be created.
We are at a loss as to why these leaks have not been repaired and require answers immediately to the following questions:
1) Why have the gas leaks, some of which have been known about since 1999, not been repaired or even reported to the neighborhoods at risk?
2) How much gas is being leaked daily into the atmosphere, and how much has been leaked over the last twenty years?
3) Why, if the sufficiency of natural gas supply to Northampton is at issue, have the gas leaks not been repaired?
4) What are your plans to repay Northampton customers for the years of payment for gas wastage from these known leaks?
5) What is your specific plan for repairing all the leaks?
In the interest of public health, it behooves you immediately to inform all neighborhoods of the existence of the leaks and to start work on repairs.
In light of this long-term profligacy with the gas supply, you should also reconsider your assessment of the adequacy of gas supply to our area and the need for new natural gas infrastructure.
We expect a timely response. Please contact us through
Marty Nathan MD at 413-531-9915 or at
24 Massasoit St., Northampton, MA 01060,
We will be speaking to our public officials and to the press about our concerns.
Kit Sang Boos
Hermine Levey Weston
Mary Lavo Ford
- – Sue Fleck. VP of Gas Safety, Ngrid in video testimony to the Boston City Council, Sept. 2015.
** – Wofsy Harvard-University-led study, 2015, http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2015/01/boston-s-natural-gas-infrastructure-releases-high-levels-of-heat-trapping-methane