No Hemming and Hawing from This Party's Opposition to Oil and Gas Pipelines

 Map of initial plans to expand the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, provided by Kinder Morgan. (El Paso Corporation)It has been difficult for those fighting the proposed New England expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, especially when it comes to educating the public and lobbying policy-makers. It seems impossible to get a clear message from elected representatives on where they stand on the issue. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick seems to be on the wrong side of it, quite vocal and adamant in his support for this fossil fuel expansion that is a huge step in the wrong direction.  

On the other hand, when politicians like Ben Downing, Paul Mark, and Smitty Pignatelli here in the Berkshires do issue statements on the subject they are tempered. They express no vision or resolve, and they instill no confidence that they are on the right side and willing to stick their political necks out in a very difficult fight against a powerful corporation.  They tell the public that they are 'torn' and that it's a 'difficult issue,' that it's the Feds who are the authority, that the issue must be further 'studied,' and that they will follow the developments 'with interest and concern.'  They may suggest that the pipeline should be situated on a different route, but they do not use their leadership position to broadly address the real issue of our continuing dependence on fossil fuels or to challenge the governor or the fossil fuel energy interests who pump money into the coffers of the Democratic Party.  They won't say that their own leaders are wrong.  They are mute on the subject when they are not speaking to environmental groups or when not answering questions from the media.

How refreshing, in this context, to have a firm statement to share that was adopted by a small yet organized political opposition to establishment politics, the only political party in Massachusetts that does not solicit or accept funding from private energy interests, or from any corporate interest. The Green-Rainbow Party issued the following statement:

"We are fundamentally opposed to the two major gas pipeline expansion projects being proposed in Massachusetts:  The Algonquin fracked gas pipeline being proposed by Spectra Energy and the "Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Expansion Project" proposed by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.

Our Commonwealth is facing a dire threat from unchecked climate change caused by fossil fuel consumption.  In response, Massachusetts has set a goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.   This is not the time to approve infrastructure projects that would increase our dependence upon fossil fuels.  The proposed pipeline expansions would create infrastructure that, by their proponent's own admission, would commit us to decades of fossil fuel dependence and would strike at the heart of our emission reduction standards.  We must go in the opposite direction

We urge both Federal regulators and local communities to take steps to stop the two pipeline expansion projects and to redirect our energy infrastructure investments into green and sustainable energy projects such as conservation, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and solar power.  The trajectory of our electrical consumption should be toward 100 percent renewable sources, with rapidly dwindling consumption of fossil fuels.  By seriously pursuing a green energy future,  we will make pipeline expansions uneconomical and unnecessary.

We call upon Governor Patrick to withdraw his support for imposing a tariff on electricity ratepayers in order to subsidize pipeline expansion.  Pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a project to increase our dependence on fossil fuels is blatantly inconsistent with the stated goals of the Commonwealth's energy policies. We should be making investments that allow us to phase out natural gas consumption, not increase it.

A number of communities in Massachusetts have taken steps to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within their borders and the Green-Rainbow Party has supported a statewide ban due to concerns regarding the environmental contamination produced by drilling operations.  We feel it would be improper to subsidize and encourage fracking in other communities by importing more fracked gas into the Commonwealth.  We should stand in solidarity with all Americans fighting to protect their water resources from fracking pollution - just as we once asked them to support our efforts to protect our offshore sanctuaries and our beaches from offshore oil drilling."

Green-Rainbow Party members are active at local, state, and interstate levels, working with concerned citizens of all political persuations to fight this pipeline.  I suggest that we challenge our elected representatives to do better, put pressure on them to speak clearly and forthrighly, and to hold them to this higher standard of advocacy, policy-making and environmental stewardship.

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