THE PROBLEM WE FACE
Why does Eversource Gas want to build a brand new unnecessary gas pipeline right through towns in Western Massachusetts? Legislators, climate activists, health professionals and local residents are in agreement that this project must be stopped.
ABOUT THE PIPELINE
The proposed high pressure pipeline would start at a new metering station in a residential neighborhood in Longmeadow, very close to Wolf Swamp Elementary School, and travel through very densely populated neighborhoods, and then continue over the border into the Forest Park neighborhood in Springfield.
It would pass right by Sumner Avenue Elementary School and Pre-School, before traveling through another densely populated neighborhood in the South End. The pipeline route would continue into downtown Springfield, terminating at the Bliss Street Regulator Station, just a few blocks away from City Hall, the MGM Casino, and the Basketball Hall of Fame.
DO WE NEED A NEW PIPELINE? NO!
A full-size, hi-resolution map is available here.
Eversource says this new pipeline is just a backup, or redundant, pipeline for reliability. We already have a pipeline that supplies the area with enough gas. Is the existing pipeline in danger of failing? The answer from Eversource was No. An Eversources spokesman said: “The existing system is...really indefinite as long as we continue to maintain it.”
Even if they built this new pipeline, it wouldn't make our gas system less vulnerable to failure. It would go through the same Bliss Street Regulator Station as the current pipeline that brings gas over the Memorial Bridge from Agawam; the Bliss Street station would still be a single point of failure for all of Springfield’s gas supply.
So what’s the purpose of this new pipeline when we already have one that shows no sign of failure? Eversource makes a profit, at MA ratepayers expense.
The new pipeline will cost ratepayers $65 million, and earn shareholders 9.67% return on equity, all of which would be funded by increased charges on our utility bills.
This isn’t just about a pipeline that’s going underground. This is about people and public health. We know that gas lines all leak. They leak methane, the main component of gas, which is toxic, along with other harmful chemicals, all of which can cause and exacerbate respiratory illnesses like asthma while adding to our greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a new report shows that gas stoves cause at least 12% nationwide of all childhood asthma and in MA even higher at 15.4%.
Springfield already suffers from high rates of respiratory illness, and ranked 12th on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s list of asthma capitals in 2021, after two previous years ranking first. The new meter station in Longmeadow will increase air pollution from venting methane directly into the air sited less than a quarter of a mile from an elementary school and as little as 36 feet from abutting neighbors.
The more pipelines that we have, the more pollutants will be in the air, the worse the health of the Springfield and Longmeadow communities will be.
Springfield is already overburdened with air pollution and targeted by multiple toxic and polluting industries. Neighborhoods that have already been devastated by toxic health hazards are typically composed of black and brown, poor people and others whose lives are devalued because of systemic oppression; this is the case for many neighborhoods in Springfield. These targeted and over-polluted neighborhoods are called environmental justice neighborhoods/communities. Springfield has been designated an Environmental Justice Neighborhood, which has legal ramifications.
The Massachusetts Climate Roadmap Act requires that Environmental Justice designations must be taken into consideration when planning any new fossil fuel project. The Springfield-Longmeadow pipeline falls right into that category — so the government of Massachusetts must follow these new laws when deciding whether to grant permits to run this pipeline through environmental justice neighborhoods. We’re watching them closely to see whether they will enforce these laws, as this is one of the first fossil fuel projects to be proposed in an environmental justice neighborhood since the passage of this new law.
Gas is highly flammable and explosive. The Springfield community has already been impacted by the gas explosion of 2012, which injured 18 people, including 10 first responders, and damaged 42 buildings.
Several people were left with third degree burns, and more would have been injured or even killed if the explosion had happened during the daytime, when businesses were open. That was over a decade ago and the area is still recovering, just as communities in the Merrimack Valley are still recovering from the disastrous and deadly gas explosions and fires of 2018.
The 2012 Springfield explosion was triggered by a worker doing maintenance on a building's connection to a low-pressure gas delivery pipeline. If such a devastating explosion can occur from a small, low pressure pipeline, we are deeply concerned about what kind of explosion could result from Eversource's proposed 16" 200 psi pipeline, which is over 3 times higher pressure than any other pipeline in the city.
The biggest question of all is why Eversource wants to lock its customers into fossil fuel in the midst of the global climate crisis. Methane, the main component of gas, is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years. When this pipeline would leak, as all pipelines do, and when the meter stations would vent gas, as all stations do as a matter of standard operating procedure, they would all release methane into the atmosphere, trapping heat and worsening the climate crisis.
Building new gas infrastructure is the opposite of what Massachusetts has pledged to do. The new Massachusetts Climate Roadmap Act mandates that we decrease the use of fossil fuels, quickly and dramatically. It also mandates that all communities in Massachusetts must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. The Governor’s Commission on Clean Heat Report released in November of 2022 stated "Investments that would support new or increased natural gas infrastructure or capacity should instead be deployed to advance measures that help support the net zero future." The project flies in the face of the bipartisan goals we have in Massachusetts to transition to clean renewable energy.
We need to invest in clean, green, and renewable energy sources and take measures to truly make our energy systems more resilient. $65M could do a lot to bring us safely towards carbon neutrality, instead of funding the century-old business-as-usual practices of a fossil fuel corporation and sending us further on the path to climate destruction.
WHAT WE CAN DO
This pipeline is NOT a done deal. Eversource has none of the government issued permits it would need to build the Springfield-Longmeadow Pipeline. Therefore, this proposed project falls completely under the new climate and environmental justice laws and the will of the new administration on Beacon Hill.
In her inaugural speech, Governor Healey said "Massachusetts can and will lead the world." Now is the time for all of us to speak up and demand that her new administration stands up for the people and enforces our climate laws!
We can stop this pipeline! Join us and sign the petition!