Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign

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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.
Please see PLAN-NE website for in-depth technical and legal information about regional pipeline infrastructure.

Sign this petition to demand that Eversource withdraw support for construction of Columbia Gas’ proposed large high-pressure new pipeline from Longmeadow to Springfield

WHO WE ARE

The Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign (CGRC) formed in 2017 to oppose the Columbia Gas Reliability Project. We came together to address the climate emergency by strengthening the growing environmental and climate justice movement in Western Mass.

We include community groups resisting the pipeline project in all the impacted cities and towns: Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Longmeadow, Northampton, Springfield, West Springfield; along with Climate Action Now, Neighbor to Neighbor, Arise for Social Justice and Sugar Shack Alliance. The Pipe Line Awareness Network for the North East has provided invaluable consultation and technical advice.  

MAJOR GRASSROOTS WIN

The Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign had a major win on Oct. 11, 2019 when Columbia Gas of Massachusetts (CMA) announced it was abandoning its plan to build a six-mile long pipeline through West Springfield to Holyoke to provide an “alternate backfeed” of gas to Holyoke Gas and Electric. This pipeline was one of five fossil fuel infrastructure projects included in the proposed Columbia Gas Reliability Project.

This win was the result of broad, grassroots resistance to the Columbia Gas project throughout our valley. 

You can read more about the history of the Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign and how this major win unfolded in this article, written by Climate Action Now member Marty Nathan!

NEXT UP

NEW PRESS ADVISORY: Community Groups Request Halt To Springfield-Longmeadow Pipeline

FROM: Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign

DATE: October 27, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, MA. On Tuesday, October 27, 2020, the Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign delivered an open letter to Eversource CEO James Judge signed by 92 community organizations and 12 state and local politicians.   The letter with the list of signatories is attached.

The signatories welcome Eversource to Western Massachusetts as successor to Columbia Gas and requests a meeting to discuss transitioning from fossil fuels toward energy conservation and non-combustible clean energy sources.  The letter states, “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.”

The letter also notes the dangers posed by gas fuel, from the Merrimack Valley explosions to the greenhouse gases emitted by burning natural gas to the methane escaping from leaky pipes, planned and unplanned releases, and ear-splitting “blowdowns”— all of which have a devastating impact on climate change and global warming. Leaked and burned gas both contribute to the toxic soup in the air in Springfield, twice named the “asthma capital of the country”.  It notes as well the extraordinary financial cost – inevitably passed on to ratepayers – of unwarranted gas infrastructure expansion, and that data has yet to be presented to justify the expense of the pipeline infrastructure expansion proposed by the Columbia Gas “Reliability” Plan. 

Given these realities the writers request that Eversource abandon pipeline expansion plans in Western Massachusetts, including the proposed Longmeadow Supply Strategy Project; the construction of a 16” backbone main high-pressure (200 psi) pipeline running from a meter station to be built in Longmeadow and up into Forest Park, passing through a densely-settled environmental justice neighborhood in Springfield’s South End.

Finally, the letter advises that members of the Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign will be contacting CEO James Judge to schedule a meeting to discuss these issues and Eversource’s plans to move forward with its Commitment to Clean Energy & Carbon Neutrality

You can read the open letter to Eversource CEO James Judge here.

You can read more about our current and upcoming efforts in this article, written by Marty Nathan as a second part to accompany her first article about the Columbia Gas Resistance Campaign.

EVERSOURCE

On February 25, 2020 the US Attorney for Massachusetts announced that it had accepted a $53 million guilty plea deal for CMA’s crimes that led to the September 2018 gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Part of the plea deal included CMA’s ceasing to conduct any business in Massachusetts moving forward. 

Six hours later, Eversource announced that it intended to buy Columbia Gas from its parent company NiSource for $1.1 billion and take over the responsibility for serving Columbia Gas customers. 

Gas pipelines – no matter who owns them – explode. Gas pipelines leak methane, a major contributor to the climate crisis and to the air pollution that impacts our health. In the midst of a climate emergency that threatens all of us, particularly poor people and people of color, we cannot continue with business as usual. We need to leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground and move rapidly towards a just energy system fueled by 100% clean renewable energy.

UPDATE: With state approval in hand, Eversource will celebrate purchase of Columbia Gas with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno Tuesday

Posted Oct 09, 2020

Eversource plans to announce Tuesday the completion of its $1.1 billion purchase of Columbia Gas’ Massachusetts operations, which includes facilities in Springfield, Brockton and Lawrence. The announcement event is set for 1:30 p.m. with Mayor Domenic J. Sarno at the Eversource offices at 300 Cadwell Drive in Springfield, according to Sarno’s office.

The state Department of Public Utilities approved the sale Wednesday‚ and in the same document OK’s a $56 million settlement between Columbia Gas’ former owner, NiSource, and the state over the over the 2018 gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley region that killed one person, injured many others and damaged homes and businesses. Read more here.

We will continue to call upon Eversource to abandon the Columbia Gas Reliability Project and instead to work with us towards a just transition to 100% clean renewable energy and a livable planet.


The Columbia Gas Resistance Coalition is made up of several frontline groups.  Please see these pages for more information:

Columbia Gas Resistance Coalition flyer from 2020 Women's March
Springfield Women’s March 2020 flyer from Columbia Gas Resistance Coalition

Read here for a Nov 2019 Update on the project and the resistance campaign: “Abandonment of gas pipeline a win for climate, region” Hampshire Daily Gazette column by Mary Nathan


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.

Our Proposal

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.

Click here for CAN comments to DPU 17-172