On paper, Boston looks like it has reduced its carbon emissions for the past six years mostly due to our regional power grid replacing much of its coal and oil generating capacity with natural gas. Natural gas, however, has an immense life-cycle cost “from well-head to burner tip” which the City, the Commonwealth, and the various regulatory agencies that make decisions about our energy infrastructure (FERC, ISO, DEP, etc.) largely ignore. Because of this deeply politicized undervaluing of natural gas impacts, fossil fuel companies and their allies have created a narrative that gas is a clean “bridge” fuel that must be expanded further in the Northeast in order to keep the lights on. Massive gas pipelines are being proposed which would lock our region into billions of dollars of unnecessary investments, with serious ramifications for our energy costs, our climate, our fragile ecosystems, landowners that will be affected, and the future of our renewable energy industries. The same investment in energy efficiency and renewables would create more new jobs and provide our Commonwealth with a stronger economy and more resilient energy grid.
Extracting gas and running it through leaky pipelines has substantial impact on our environment and economy. For example, it is estimated that there are over 4,000 natural gas leaks in the City of Boston alone, and in nearby Somerville, it was recently estimated that households pay over $2 million per year, or an average of $102 per household, on this wasted gas (see HEET’S Squeaky Leak report here). The climate impact of this natural gas is enormous, with the same study finding that carbon emissions from Somerville leaks are greater than that from all Somerville vehicles!
A large and growing number of grassroots groups, aided by a small cadre of capable environmental advocacy organizations, are mobilizing to stop new pipelines, fix gas leaks, and change the narrative about our region’s energy needs. BostonCAN has supported this effort helping pass a gas leaks bill in the State Legislature and by helping more remote anti-pipeline allies organize events targeting the Governor and regulatory bodies who meet in Boston.