August 12, 2020

Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station Updates & Gives Thanks

Posted by TManzella

With yet another year under our belts, CARCS is happy to announce the successful completion our 2018 Baseline Air and Well Water Testing program! In the words of William A. Ward, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” So, thank you to all of our dedicated CARCS volunteers, members, and supporters. Also thank you to our BOS and our local and state representatives, and for the spirit of open communication we now share. Without your willingness to act, and without your support, we would not be where we are today in staving off new gas projects and protecting our community from a compressor station.

Since the National Grid union workers lock out and the tragic Merrimack Valley gas explosions this fall, the spotlight has been on an industry that has up until now pretty much enjoyed a free pass. The recent natural gas National Transportation and Safety Board federal investigation and oversight hearings at the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy at the statehouse, highlight a deeply embedded culture of complacency when it comes to underground pipelines. As we have come to find out, an aged pipeline infrastructure combined with understaffed and/or poorly trained workers, inadequate oversite and safety protocols is a dangerous mix. Columbia Gas and National Grid may be on the hot seat for now, but this is a pervasive culture of short cuts and neglect by gas and utility company’s nationwide.

In the wake of these tumultuous events there have been some positive reverberations. Besides the recent Columbia Gas hearings, in October the Governor called for a statewide moratorium on all non-emergency gas work. Yesterday however, despite the continued lock out and shortage of qualified workers, the Department of Public Utilities lifted the ban for N Grid, after announcing stiffer oversight safety regulations. Meanwhile Rehoboth joined dozens of concerned communities in late October with a gas moratorium of our own. And last month, Eversource announced the write off of its $33 million stake in Enbridge’s Access Northeast project. Yet despite PR and legislative setbacks, the prospect of massive pipeline project remains. At the statehouse the pro-gas lobbying firm ‘Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy’, (which has nothing at all to do with “sustainability”), is growing its ranks and redoubling its efforts. Their organization pledges to continue to push hard to overturn the 2016 Supreme Court decision which prevents utility companies from reaching into our pockets to fund costly gas expansion projects. Clearly this fight is not over, and Access Northeast Partners and their powerful lobbying organizations remain a considerable threat. 

There can be no doubt that in 2019 huge ethical and environmental challenges lie ahead, but with your help we stand a fighting chance to hold the gas industry in check. Our position has been and remains the same- that the push for more gas capacity in our region is primarily about export- motivated by corporate greed. That fracked gas is neither clean, nor sustainable, is harmful to our health and the environment, and would come with a price tag that would raise our electricity rates rather than lower them. And that propping up and paying for an antiquated fossil fuel system decades into a renewable energy future is backward, unjustifiable, and wrong. Furthermore, if concerns over a short fall of gas during peak energy use are legitimate, then we must enact legislative mandates to fix the dangerous pipeline leaks now. Our moratoriums should not end with the completion of NTSB Merrimack investigation, or the N Grid lock out, but we must insist all gas leaks get repaired prior to us getting back to business as usual. A degraded pipeline system is expensive (as we pay for the lost gas) is wasteful, and can have catastrophic consequences. Neglecting this common-sense strategy would be analogous to your plumber suggesting the remedy for a leaky faucet is to ignore the leak and just find more water! We must all continue to remain vigilant, and CARCS needs your participation and support in the year ahead. Please join us, get involved, come to our next meeting, write your legislators, support our 2019 Baseline Testing Initiative, donate! CARCS is a 501 c3 and your contributions are tax deductible!

Tracy Manzella


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