Statement from Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign regarding Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions

(September, 2018)  The Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign (CGRC), a coalition formed to oppose the Columbia Gas Reliability Project wishes to express our horror and sadness at the injury and loss of life and homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover caused by explosions and fires from Columbia Gas pipelines. We can only imagine their pain.

Before this tragedy occurred, we had already been planning an organizing forum in Northampton to take place on September 25thand cosponsored by thirty-nine local groups. The Columbia Gas Reliability Project calls for expanding gas infrastructure in the Greater Springfield Service Area impacting the communities of Agawam, Longmeadow, Springfield, West Springfield, Easthampton, Northampton, and Holyoke.

Columbia wants to bring more gas, much of it fracked, to the Connecticut River Valley by upgrading the Agawam compressor station, adding 2.1 miles of pipeline looping to the Agawam Lateral, and building a new 6-mile, 12-inch pipeline through West Springfield to Holyoke. Purported to cost 24 million dollars (paid for by their ratepayers), it would result in increased gas-burning, heightened carbon and methane emissions, and worsening air pollution.

We believe that the Columbia Gas Reliability Project’s expansion runs contrary to the health and climate needs of our communities, the Global Warming Solutions Act and several affected cities’ commitment to 100% renewable energy. Massachusetts has the second oldest pipeline infrastructure in the nation and gas leaks are common. Gas, its additives, and the products of its burning, are toxic when breathed in the home or in the street. Its pollution contributes to asthma and chronic lung disease, which claim lives particularly in poor communities of color. We are in the midst of a climate emergency. We must immediately do all in our power to reduce methane and carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic global warming. Huge investment in new, expensive gas pipeline infrastructure is a dangerous and outdated answer to our 21st century needs.

Now we are given a potent reminder of another, fearsome reason to oppose pipeline expansion: the threat of explosions and fires. Explosions are occurring throughout the U.S. and are not new to us here in Massachusetts: in 2012 eighteen people were injured when a worker severed a pipe in downtown Springfield.

Old pipelines need to be repaired for reasons of resource conservation, health, climate, and safety. We have fought hard to have the gas leaks in our communities repaired, and we support the repair of existing leak-prone pipes.  However, gas expansion is not in the interest of people or the planet.

  • We stand with the affected people of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover and call for emergency relief, housing and reparations for the victims, paid for by Columbia Gas.
  • We join politicians in Massachusetts who are demanding a thorough and independent investigation of the Columbia Gas explosions and fires of September 13, 2018.
  • We insist on an end to all gas infrastructure expansion. The Columbia Gas Reliability Project must be limited to repair of old and dangerous pipes only.

The following organizations have endorsed this statement:

Climate Action Now

Success Without New Pipelines (SWAP)

The Enviro Show
The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice
Easthampton Democratic Committee
Pioneer Valley Women’s March
Springfield No One Leaves
Arise for Social Justice Homelessness Committee
Out Now!
Indivisible Northampton
Coop Power
Springfield Area Interfaith Climate Action Network
Longmeadow Environmental Transition Group
Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership
Rising Together
Living the Change Berkshires
UUSA Green Sanctuary Committee
Indivisible Williamsburng
Pioneer Valley Resist Coalition
Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution
Green Team of the UU Society of Greater Springfield
Belchertown Voices for Justice
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Pioneer Valley
Social Justice Commission (Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts)
Traprock Center for Peace and Justice
Earth Ministry Team, First Congregational Church of Amherst
Western Mass Code Pink
Pioneer Valley Mothers Out Front
Neighbor to Neighbor
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County