Access Northeast Pipeline: Not Dead Yet

Don’t be fooled by recent headlines in Massachusetts indicating that the Access Northeast Pipeline proposal has been withdrawn.  As Mark Twain supposedly said, when told that his obituary had appeared in a local newspaper, “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  

Yes, the decision to “pause,” made by Eversource, National Grid and Enbridge, may be positive news in terms canceling this utility rip-off. But it’s more likely to be a false positive. These companies have spent years claiming that Massachusetts is at critical risk for energy reliability.

But with gas demand heading into sharp decline due to the state’s nation-leading efforts on energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions, they have not yet convinced the state legislature to stick ratepayers with the $3.2 billion pipeline construction costs, ballooning to $6.6 billion with operations and maintenance (according to the independent energy analyst group Synapse.)

Attorney General Maura Healey has also deemed new natural gas pipelines unnecessary and the state Senate voted 39-0 against pipeline taxes.

The recent media coverage includes quotes from the pipeline developers that they are reloading for a fresh lobbying assault, as early as this fall.  An Enbridge vice president said the company is confident of getting “back on track” with state legislators and federal regulators. A National Grid senior vice president said he hoped, “we can get cooler heads to prevail and get the votes.”

The big utilities really hope that they can get legislators to lose their heads, using their old scare tactics, supported by ISO- NE, an agency that makes its living by crying wolf. 

Natural gas was briefly seen, a decade ago, as a welcome bridge from coal and oil in slashing greenhouse gas emissions. But we are now well past its environmental and economic benefits. More fossil fuel will accelerate climate change and make it more expensive to address. We need to stop the Access Northeast pipeline now and forever.

Please take a minute to write your elected officials.  They need to continue to stop the pipeline tax, and fight the pipelines themselves, no matter what fakery the developers try.  Why should we be forced to pay for pipelines that we don’t need, don’t want and can’t afford, just to enrich gas developers?