State Rep. Gonzalez urges Eversource to discuss pipeline proposed for Springfield

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Chairman of Public Safety and Homeland Security State Representative Carlos Gonzalez has called on Eversource to meet over concerns of a proposed second pipeline in Springfield.

“I am concerned for the potential hazard the proposal may have on the residents of Springfield. My priority should be moving to a less hazardous and greener production of energy,” said Chairman Gonzalez.

Chairman Gonzalez mentioned in a statement his interest in discussing the pipeline and any disruptions caused by the existing pipeline both in Springfield and throughout the remainder of the state of Massachusetts.

On Thursday, November 4, the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) and allied groups held a news conference on the steps City Hall in Springfield at 11 a.m. opposing the proposed Eversource gas pipeline. According to the SCJC, the proposed pipeline is a large, high-pressure gas pipeline from a proposed large metering station in Longmeadow north to the Bliss Street gate station across from MGM in Springfield.

According to SCJC spokesperson Verne McArthur, “This pipeline is unnecessary, polluting and unhealthy, dangerous, climate-destroying and expensive for those who least can afford it. There are rapidly expanding clean, non-polluting alternatives to gas that our state is demanding our utilities turn to. This pipeline is a step in the wrong direction. It follows a game plan it and other gas utilities have created to try to squeeze their last dollars from ratepayers by building pipelines and other gas infrastructure at guaranteed profit as their industry faces necessary obsolescence. It is clear Eversource does not have the interests of Springfield or Longmeadow residents in mind, but rather the returns to its shareholders. We call on the people of Springfield to join us and oppose it.”

The groups cite the following reasons for their opposition:

  • Eversource has never stated that there is any need for more gas in the Springfield area.
  • Gas has reached Springfield customers for decades through a pipe within the Memorial Bridge structure which has not been cited as either carrying an insufficient supply or needing replacement. In fact, Eversource officials have admitted that there is no concern with the integrity of the Memorial Bridge pipe.
  • Eversource states the new pipeline is necessary for “redundancy”, to ensure the gas supply to the city should disruption occur with the pipeline from West Springfield. However, the gas supply could be interrupted by a problem at the Bliss Street Station or in the large interstate delivery pipeline, each of which would serve both the existing and proposed gas lines.
  • Gas pipeline leaks and the burning of gas both pour toxic pollutants into the atmosphere and the home worsening the air for children and the elderly in a city which has been awarded “The Asthma Capital of the U.S.A” in past years.
  • All pipelines carry the risk of explosion, as witnessed in Springfield in 2012 and most tragically in the Merrimack Valley in 2018 in which one person was killed and hundreds driven from their homes and businesses when a blast occurred during pipeline construction.
  • Natural gas is methane, a potent greenhouse gas (ghg), believed responsible for 20-25% of today’s global warming. World scientists say we must stop the burning of fossil fuels and particularly stop methane emissions in order to avoid global catastrophe that will most affect low-income people of color in our country and around the world. This policy is being implemented in the Massachusetts Roadmap Climate law, which legislates cutting ghg emissions by 50% by 2030 in the state. There is no room in such a plan for new pipelines and more gas.
  • The new pipeline will cost over $40 million, a burden that will be carried by Eversource Gas ratepayers, who increasingly will be lower-income due to financial inability to switch off gas for heating and cooking as the law demands.
  • At a time when, in order to fight climate change, gas sales and profit must necessarily dwindle, it assures a 9.7% return to shareholders at gas ratepayers’ expense.

In a statement to 22News, Eversource spokeswoman Priscilla Ress released the following:

“In order to enhance reliability for more than 58,000 of our natural gas customers in the Greater Springfield area that are currently served by a single supply through infrastructure that is 70 years old, we are proposing the Western Massachusetts Natural Gas Reliability Project to provide a much-needed redundant supply source.

We have not yet submitted a formal proposal to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, which will open an approximately two-year regulatory proceeding, as well local, state and federal permitting processes.

With a comprehensive public process just now beginning, we are committed to close collaboration throughout with our neighbors in the community and stakeholders at all levels to listen to their feedback and input – starting with two virtual open houses next week to give local residents and business owners an opportunity to learn more about the proposed project with subject matter experts, ask questions and provide comments.”

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