Letter to the Editor: John J. Fitzgerald

I am opposed to expanding the use of natural gas. I am therefore opposed to the metering station proposal for Longmeadow.

This pipeline project for processing more natural gas is a means to an end that is not in the public interest. We should oppose it. It might be in the interest of the gas and pipeline corporations, but it is not in the public interest.

The pipeline expansion is designed to ship and sell, and thus burn, more natural gas and in consequence increase the harm already being done to the environment. We should be reducing our use of natural gas, not increasing it. Natural gas is not a solution to our energy needs. In fact, it contributes to and aggravates our economic and climate problems.

Like all fossil fuels, burning natural gas results in the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and thus contributes to global warming. A very real condition that has been and is being documented by scientists.

The extraction, distribution, and storage of natural gas result in the leakage of methane (CH4) — a powerful global warming gas 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period —which diminishes the alleged climate advantages of natural gas over coal. I will concede that burning natural gas is less harmful than burning coal. Getting shot once in the foot is better than being shot twice in the foot. Not getting shot is better than both.

What is more important is that increasing our reliance on natural gas could discourage and delay the deployment of much cleaner renewable energy, such as wind and solar, putting us at greater risk of failing to meet the level of emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Natural gas production, particularly hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), also presents serious risks to public health and the environment. These include potential contamination of drinking water supplies by the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing and air pollution from natural gas operations.

What is the alternative? Renewable energy – wind and solar – do not pollute. Once a renewable energy facility is built, the fuel — wind and solar power — is free, providing long-term price stability. What’s more, the cost of electricity from renewable sources has been declining for years. In many locations, it is already cost-competitive with fossil fuels and is projected to become even more so in the years ahead. In addition, wind and solar power produce little to no global warming emissions and do not cause air or water pollution.

Continuing on a “business-as-usual” scenario — with no changes to existing energy policies — will keep our country on a pathway to greater natural gas use, rising carbon emissions, higher natural gas prices and an endangered atmosphere of growing toxicity.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

The Natural Gas Gamble

– John J. Fitzgerald