On Sept. 17, at 5:30 p.m., at Oxford High School, Connecticut residents will join together to protest the construction of a new gas powered plant in Oxford and the expansion of fracked “natural” gas pipelines. Numerous faith, justice and environmental groups have endorsed this action to oppose Governor Malloy’s plan to increase fracked or “natural” gas use in the state. The new CPV/Towantic power plant is vehemently opposed by residents of the area, and the town of Middlebury along with 16 other plaintiffs is suing the Connecticut Siting Council in Superior Court for their conditional approval. Connecticut doesn’t need this power and has adequate energy resources through 2022, according the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), so the power from the new plant won’t be used in Oxford or the surrounding area.
According to Dr. Gary Bent, who led his town of Mansfield to pass the first resolution in the state opposing gas pipeline expansion, “Natural gas is primarily methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas that is 86 times worse than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a period of 20 years. Because of the necessity of rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the high rate of methane emissions associated with fracking, transport and use of shale gas, natural gas is not clean energy, and the increase in its use will increase global warming. We must stop burning all fossil fuels, and quickly convert to an efficient and 100% renewable energy economy.”
In Windsor, Deb Bologna wants to save the last three acres of property her grandfather farmed, land that Kinder Morgan needs to build a vastly expanded gas pipeline. She says, “This piece of land has been in my family for four generations. It makes me sick to think of the disruption to the wildlife corridor, the extinction of the eastern lady slipper and the eastern box turtle. This land is a refuge for wildlife and Kinder Morgan will destroy it all. It’s the nature of the project!”
Fracked gas infrastructure projects are encountering unprecedented resistance all across the country. In Massachusetts, the majority of impacted landowners have denied Kinder Morgan the right to survey property for their expansion projects. The resistance noted in New England is similar to that occurring all across the U.S. where communities are fighting extreme energy extraction and transport. Pramilla Malik, co-chair of Protect Orange County in NY which is fighting another CPV power plant, says, “We are all connected by the pipelines that poison us upstream, midstream and downstream, and projects like the CPV power plant that drive the related infrastructure and fabricate markets for fracked gas industries.”
Not only residents and environmentalists are worried about fracked gas infrastructure expansion. The Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan District, Scott Jellison, wrote in a letter to FERC about Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline expansion project, “The proposed pipeline could potentially impact MDC’s public drinking water supplies in West Hartford and Bloomfield, Connecticut.”
Pipeline companies such as Spectra and Kinder Morgan are building large diameter, high pressure pipelines across New England which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, will export gas from Maine to Canada for the purpose of overseas export. Senator Blumenthal pointed out to the DOE in February that this export scheme will have adverse effects on Americans, including increasing the price of natural gas and adversely impacting industry: “We are concerned that LNG exports will disproportionately benefit the natural gas industry, at the expense of households and industries that will suffer from higher natural gas and electricity prices.”
One of the organizing groups of the protest is The Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter, and communications chair Martha Klein, says: “When the Governor, DEEP and Eversource made the energy plan for the state a few years ago, they believed natural gas would be less expensive and so it made sense to power more of Connecticut with gas. Then, due to fracking, the price of oil also dropped. The CT legislature made laws allowing electric distribution companies like Eversource to fund their campaign to convert hundreds of thousands of customers to gas with ratepayer subsidies, which caused our electric bills to increase. In June, the CT legislature passed a law making electric consumers responsible to pay for future fracked gas pipeline expansions, so our bills will go up again. Then we learned that the large pipeline expansions to carry gas across the state, like the Algonquin pipeline that’s under construction now, are being built to export gas overseas, which will cause the price of gas to go up even more. This choice to expand fracked gas use and transport in CT will make our bills higher while destroying the climate.”
Public money being channeled to a private company like Eversource is “textbook extractive economics” says James Root, a resident of Danbury. “Our hard earned dollars should only be used to convert homes and businesses to renewable energy, which lowers costs to consumers.”
There are no economic or environmental benefits to be gained from increased use of fracked gas. Now is the time to show our opposition to the disastrous Connecticut energy plan, and demand an emergency transition to sustainable sources of power such as wind and solar.
Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter