Climate Action Now is part of the global movement to replace dangerous, dirty fossil fuel energy with clean, renewable energy. Read on to find out why we are resisting the Columbia Gas pipeline expansion and how we can stay warm without new pipelines.
The Challenges We Face
We face a climate crisis, with heat waves, droughts, severe storms, wildfires and mudslides all attributable to climate change. This crisis is caused by and worsened with the burning of fossil fuels. For our world to remain livable we must stop relying on fossil fuels and instead implement energy efficiency, conservation, and conversion to renewables. In order to make this necessary transition equitable, our investment in clean energy and energy efficiency must include attention to keeping people safe, warm and healthy, particularly low-income people most at risk.
The Columbia Gas Reliability Project: A False Solution
In 2014 Columbia Gas of Massachusetts imposed a moratorium on homes and businesses installing new or expanded gas hookups in Easthampton and Northampton, stating that there was insufficient capacity in Kinder Morgan’s Northampton Lateral pipeline to serve needs on “peak use” days in winter. In November 2017, Columbia Gas proposed to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MA DPU) that it would lift the moratorium on both cities by 2021 if it is allowed to build a series of new gas pipelines in its Greater Springfield Service Area. A new pipeline to Holyoke is central to this project, which is based on an assumption of increased gas consumption of 2.2% annually which will amount to over 25% in less than ten years.
Residents of the lower Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts will be directly affected by this proposal. The life of a pipeline is at least 40 years, so building these new pipelines means investment in gas-burning for decades. This is in direct contradiction to the court-mandated emission reductions of the Global Warming Solutions Act. The pipeline proposal offers us a choice: shall we spend millions of dollars of ratepayer money on new pipelines that contribute to air pollution and the climate crisis, or on investment in clean technology and energy use reduction?
What Columbia Gas is NOT telling us
Columbia Gas has not given us the evidence (the numbers) to prove that the Northampton Lateral lacks sufficient capacity to make new gas service possible to Northampton and Easthampton without additional pipelines.
Columbia Gas has not taken into account the commitment of our region to moving toward a fossil fuel free future. Northampton’s largest gas user, Smith College, has cut its overall usage by 15% since the moratorium began, and is planning major energy conservation measures that will further lessen its reliance on the Northampton Lateral Pipeline. Northampton’s Heat Smart (air source heat pump installation) converts home heating from oil or gas boilers to efficient electric heat. The ener-G-save program markets weatherization to hundreds of homes in the Valley.
Columbia Gas has not revealed the cost to gas consumers for the building of these new pipelines. We know that the ratepayers will pay the price. Why not invest instead in conservation efforts to relieve the demand on the Northampton Lateral?
Columbia Gas claims new pipeline infrastructure is the sole solution to the alleged pipeline capacity deficit. They have used the moratorium as a scare tactic, creating fear in Northampton and Easthampton of insufficient capacity for economic development. Yet the last three years have proven otherwise; we have moved forward without more gas capacity. Both large projects on South Pleasant Street in Northampton were built using air source heat pump heating. On Village Hill in Northampton, most new units built under the moratorium heat with air source heat pumps. Development in Northampton does not appear to be stifled by lack of new pipeline infrastructure.
Instead of building new gas pipelines, we propose to systematically eliminate our use of fossil fuels in the cities and towns served by the Northampton Lateral Pipeline, including Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, and Westfield.
- Maximize energy efficiency measures in new and existing buildings.
- Promote conservation by minimizing energy waste in heating and cooling.
- Support the conversion from fossil fuel energy use to electricity that can be sourced from renewable solar and wind generation.
Our goal is to work with other concerned residents to develop and establish a workable plan for sustainable, fossil fuel-free energy for our region.
The link below is for the comments filed by Climate Action Now Western MA.