Open Letter to James Judge, CEO of Eversource Energy

Dear Mr. Judge:

As Eversource assumes the mantle from Columbia Gas in providing gas utility service to Western Massachusetts, the undersigned individuals and organizations welcome the opportunity to work with you to transition away from fossil fuels and move toward energy conservation and non-combustible clean energy sources. With Eversource’s participation, we are confident that we can create an energy future where wind and solar sources heat and cool our homes and businesses, while powering our grid and transportation systems.

What makes this lofty goal possible is the fact that Eversource Energy, unlike Columbia Gas, includes subsidiaries that supply both electricity and gas service. If Eversource is, in fact, committed to implementing the policy conveyed in its public document, “Commitment to Clean Energy & Carbon Neutrality” by 2030, the company needs to begin reducing natural gas distribution services provided by NStar and actively pursue non-combustible clean options like geothermal district heating and electric pump technologies. Eversource Energy, unlike Columbia, has the distinct ability to transition both its ratepayers and its workers to the clean energy future you have already identified as a corporate priority.

We are mindful that the Columbia Gas acquisition was prompted by consequences related to the Merrimack Valley gas disaster and its aftermath—an event that is reason enough to mandate a transition to non-combustible fuels. In addition to this threat to our safety, however, is the danger that gas fuel poses to our climate. Beyond the greenhouse gases emitted by burning natural gas, however, is the methane produced by gas power’s leaky pipes, planned and unplanned releases, and ear-splitting “blowdowns”—all of which have a devastating impact on climate change and global warming.

Finally, there is the issue of the financial cost of unwarranted gas infrastructure expansion—an expense that is inevitably passed on to ratepayers and one that has recently been scrutinized by the Attorney General of Massachusetts. The Columbia Reliability Plan has never presented data that would justify the expense and risk of this pipeline expansion.

Indeed, it was concern regarding all of the above-mentioned issues that brought community members and elected officials together in a campaign that led to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts announcing on October 11, 2019, that it would abandon its plan to build a pipeline from West Springfield to the edge of Holyoke to provide an “alternative backfeed” of gas to Holyoke Gas and Electric Company.

Given these realities—the ability of Eversource to expand its electricity component through a link to renewable energy sources, the stated intention of the company to pursue carbon neutrality by 2030, and the expense and inherent danger of gas infrastructure with respect to our neighborhoods and our climate—we respectfully request that Eversource abandon its plans to move ahead with the Longmeadow Supply Strategy Project as described in the Department of Public Utilities 20-59 Settlement proceeding Discovery from William Akley, President, Gas Operations at Eversource.

From its inception in 2017, the Longmeadow Supply Strategy Project has involved the construction of a 16” backbone main high-pressure (200 psi) pipeline that would run from a new meter station to be built in the middle of a well-established neighborhood along well-trafficked Longmeadow streets into Forest Park, passing through a densely-settled environmental justice neighborhood in Springfield’s South End.

From the outset, plans for the pipeline’s precise route have been vague. Repeated efforts from both communities to find answers to questions regarding the pipeline’s specific route and destination have also been met with no response. Community input has not been sought—and officials’ efforts to determine the need for such expansion have also been rejected.

A few observations regarding the project are certain, however. As our state races to comply with the mandated emissions reductions called for in the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act, experts agree that it will simply not be possible to reach net zero by 2050 without a close to 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and 75% by 2040. Certainly, building a high-pressure pipeline to expand gas services in any area will not contribute to that reduction but will, in fact, serve to challenge the progress that has already been made toward that goal.

As Eversource embarks on its new venture in Western Massachusetts, and indeed in all three service areas, we ask that you regard this moment as an opportunity to switch from a path involving harmful gas and fossil fuel development to a business plan that embraces green energy, stopping the steamroller of climate change that is now consuming communities across the globe.

We ask that you meet at your earliest convenience with elected town and city officials as well as representatives of concerned community groups to discuss moving forward with your Commitment to Clean Energy & Carbon Neutrality. Representatives will be contacting you in the near future to arrange a meeting to pursue this important agenda.

cc: William J. Akley, President of Gas Operations at Eversource
James W. Hunt, III, Sr. V.P. for Regulatory Affairs & Chief Communications Officer
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno

Respectfully submitted,
Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign

Along with the following twelve elected officials and ninety-two community organizations:

Elected Officials

Joanne M. Comerford
MA State Senator, Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester

Eric P. Lesser
MA State Senator, 1st Hampden and Hampshire

Brian Ashe
MA State Representative, 1st Hampden

Lindsay N Sabadosa
MA State Representative 1st Hampshire

Melvin Edwards
Springfield City Councilor

Adam Gomez
Springfield City Councilor &
MA State Senator-Elect Hampden

Jesse Lederman
Springfield City Councilor

Orlando Ramos
Springfield City Councilor &
MA State Representative-Elect 9th Hampden

Vic Davila
Springfield City Councilor

Justin Hurst
Springfield City Councilor

Tracye Whitfield
Springfield City Councilor

Kerri O’Connor
Agawam School Committee Member &
Candidate for MA State Representative 3rd Hampden

Community Organizations

Perri Meldon


Renna B. W. Pye, MD
2degrees Northampton

Ken McDonnell
350 Central Mass

Carolyn C Barthel
350 Massachusetts for a Better Future

Pat Konecky
350MA Berkshires

Nancy Bobskill
Agawam Zero Waste

Fanny Rothschild
Amherst chapter of Amnesty International

Russ Vernon-Jones
Anti-Racism Team – First Church Amherst, UCC

Tanisha Arena
Arise for Social Justice

Jane Winn
Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

John Prusinski
Berkshires Democratic Socialists of America

Perri Meldon
Boston DSA Ecosocialism Working Group

Jennifer Wexler
Canton for a Sustainable Equitable Future

Robert J Bonney
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Northshore Massachusetts

Richard H. Pree
Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Ashfield MA Chapter

Elizabeth Saunders
Clean Water Action

Susan Theberge
Climate Action Now

Regina LaRocque, MD
Climate Code Blue

Debbie New
Climate Finance Action

Carol Lewis
Climate Witness Committee of Mt Toby Friends Meeting

Elizabeth J Erickson
Colrain Energy Committee

Russ Vernon-Jones
Coming Together Anti-Racism Project

Sylvia Broude
Community Action Works

Pamela Schwartz & Amy Leos-Urbel
Congregation B’nai Israel Tikkun Olam Committee

Lynn Benander
Co-op Power

Russ Vernon-Jones
Earth Ministry Team – First Church Amherst, UCC

Constance Dawson
Easthampton Climate Action

Maiyim Baron
Elders Climate Action – Massachusetts Chapter

Mark Pohlman
Environmental Justice Team of First Church Of Christ Longmeadow

Susan Lemont
Extinction Rebellion Boston

Emmalie Dropkin
Extinction Rebellion Western Massachusetts

Lawrence R. Hott
Florentine Films Hott Productions

Alice Arena
Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station

Bob Armstrong
Franklin Co Continuing Political Revolution

Ibrahim Ali
Gardening the Community

Shel Horowitz

Anna Baker
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility

The Reverend Lauren J. Holm
Greater Springfield Campaign Nonviolence

Mary Jo Maffei

Gail Page
Green Sanctuary, Climate Justice Group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading

DeAnne Riddle
Greening Grace, Grace Church Amherst

Deacon Bill Toller
Holy Cross JustFaith Community

Zaida Govan
Indian Orchard Citizens council

Natalie Dunn
Indivisible Massachusetts

Brenda Kennedy Davies
Indivisible Northampton

Penny Schultz
Indivisible Williamsburg

Rabbi Katy Allen
Jewish Climate Action Network-MA

Kirstin Beatty
Last Tree Laws

Stephanie J Kent
Learning Lab for Resiliency

Samantha Hamilton
Live Well Springfield

Mark Pohlman
Longmeadow Environmental Transition Team

Michele Marantz
Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group

Sarah Dooling
Massachusetts Climate Action Network

Jacqueline Velez
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice

Carol Chamberlain
Mothers Out Front Massachusetts Leadership Team

Ernesto Cruz
Neighbor to Neighbor MA

Juana Girona
New North Citizen’s Council

Diane Brooks Ring and Lynn & Chuck Lidz
No Ashland Pipeline

Rosemary Wessel
No Fracked Gas in Mass

Bri McAlevey
No Sharon Gas Pipeline | Clean Energy Now

Eben Bein
Our Climate

Holly Richardson
Out Now

Laura Haight
Partnership for Policy Integrity

Michaela Brangan
Pioneer Valley Democratic Socialists of America

Margaret Sawyer
Pioneer Valley Workers Center

Katy Eiseman
Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast, Inc.

Jeanne Krieger
Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts

Taylor Porco
PV Housing Now

James Michel
Resist the Pipeline

Steven Botkin
Rising Together

Deb Pasternak
Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter

Michele Marantz
Sinai Temple Green Team

Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Social Justice Commission (Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts)

Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian
Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership

Alice Fan
Spring Forward

Susan Theberge
Springfield Climate Justice Coalition

Rose Webster-Smith
Springfield No One Leaves

Verne McArthur
Springfield Pipeline Awareness & Response Coalition

Sarah Reyes
Sunrise Hampden County

Julia Norcross
Sunrise Ipswich

Haven Vincent-Warner
Sunrise Western MA

Birgitta McAlevey
Sustainable Sharon Coalition

Don Ogden
The Enviro Show

Miranda Groux
The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice

Caroline Williams
UMass Amhest MASSPIRG Students

Laura Wagner
Unitarian Universalist Mass Action

Rev. Jason Seymour
Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield

Rob A. Okun
Voice Male Magazine

Laurel Facey
Wendell State Forest Alliance

Priscilla Lynch
Western Mass CodePink

Maria Perez
Women on the Vanguard Inc.