After a horribly botched review process, MA DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg has given the go-ahead to Enbridge/Spectra Energy to build a new compressor facility on the banks of the Fore River in Weymouth. That project isn’t totally out of the woods yet – it faces a lawsuit and requires some additional permitting.
But Suuberg’s approval is a disappointing and major step backwards in the state’s effort to fight climate change and a step forward in the gas industry’s efforts to expand the use of dirty, dangerous, climate-shifting, fracked gas in Massachusetts, New England, the Canadian Maritime provinces, and Europe.
Unable to overcome opposition to large pipeline projects, the fossil fuel industry has changed its strategy. It is now trying to build many local projects that may seem small but add up to the same thing. The Weymouth compressor is just one of several projects across the state that are part of this scheme. In Ashland and Hopkinton, in Charlton, in Longmeadow and Agawam and in the Pioneer Valley, the industry is pressing to build new pipelines, new tank farms, new metering stations and new compressors – all of them designed to compete not with gas or coal but with cost-effective renewables.
Companies like Eversource, Tennessee Gas and Columbia Gas are trying to get away with local building schemes despite climate impacts, competition from renewables and all of the evidence – including their own state-approved efficiency plans – that demand for gas is actually in significant decline.
So far, nobody has stopped them – certainly not federal officials in the grip of Trumpian climate denial, or state officials who claim to understand the threat of climate change but haven’t anything to slow it.
U.S. gas executives are trying to make their problem our problem: They know that the fracking boom has produced a surplus of gas and that the industry’s profits are in decline. Fossil fuel companies are likely trying to force these unwanted, unneeded and terribly expensive projects down our throats because they fully understand that their days as our primary energy supplier are numbered.
They surely understand how they are losing the public relations war when 29 of 40 MA state senators recently signed a letter calling for a halt to the Weymouth Compressor and all expansion of gas infrastructure. Those senators, representing communities across the Commonwealth, clearly say that using less gas is the only way for Massachusetts to achieve its emissions goals and move closer to a clean energy future.
Also, many local Public Health boards in the commonwealth have signed a letter to the Governor citing the public health risks of natural gas and asking him to stop supporting any fracked gas expansion. These letters were written before the gas disaster in the Merrimack Valley last fall.
You can help maintain the momentum to move away from all fossil fuel use as rapidly as possible. For a list of local gas expansion projects, visit No Fracked Gas in Mass. Contribute to a state-level group. And while, you’re online, please take a moment to sign this petition. Desperation is making the gas industry rushed and reckless. They know they’re in trouble. Let’s show them that the fossil fuel party really is over and it’s time for them to back off.