CT Sierra Club hosts Rally For Renewable Energy April 20

On Wednesday, April 20, sixth anniversary of the BP Horizon Deepwater Oil Spill Disaster, the CT Chapter Sierra Club is hosting a Rally For Renewable Energy in Hartford at 5 p.m.

The latest science news is not encouraging. According to a recent study co-authored by James Hansen, the world's most famous climate scientist, global sea level rise will happen more rapidly and will be higher than previously predicted, due to melt of the Antarctic ice sheet. In addition, a February 2016 study from Harvard reported that due to increasing methane emissions, any benefit from reduced carbon dioxide emissions has been offset, and in reality, global greenhouse emissions are probably rising, not falling.

Governor Malloy's energy plan is contributing to these increased methane emissions. Although there are no frackable stores of gas or oil under the ground in Connecticut, the governor supports fracking anyway. His energy plan, the Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES), invests public money in the statewide expansion of natural gas use, a primarily fracked fuel. A little known 2011 study found that expanding the use of natural gas potentially could save the state money. Interestingly, that study was funded by Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Yankee Gas, which are now owned by Eversource and Iberdrola. The CES is based largely on the conclusions of this report, and Eversource and Iberdrola are direct beneficiaries of it. All the putative economic benefits of a large scale conversion to natural gas use have been erased by the drop in the price of oil.

Although Connecticut has campaign finance laws which restrict corporate campaign contributions, "energy companies have found loopholes," according to Dan Fischer of Capitalism versus the Climate. He documents the cozy relationship between Eversource and other energy companies, and the Connecticut Democratic Party "federal fund" which helped to get Malloy reelected (read article here: Counterpunch). The Governor returned the favor by encouraging legislation (passed by an obedient General Assembly) that forces ratepayers to subsidize in part, both the intrastate residential gas conversions as well as future interstate gas pipeline expansion.

The Governor's support for fracked gas expansion, in contrast to the scant production of renewable energy in Connecticut, is not only economically and environmentally unsound, it is unjust. People who are disadvantaged socially and economically suffer the worst effects from climate change, and the same communities are most besieged by industrial pollution, often from the energy sector. Moving to a renewable energy economy means creating secure jobs without the human exploitation that often accompanies resource extraction.

The expansion of fracked gas pipelines potentially puts the drinking water of half a million MDC customers at risk, as one of the five interstate pipelines planned to cross the region, the Northeast Energy Direct, will cut across MDC watershed land.

The gas expansion is not needed. The CES seeks to convert 280,000 customers to gas for residential heating, which creates a massive new need for methane gas. This fabricated need provides justification for expanding interstate pipeline, which gas distributers like Eversource are pushing for, because it provides opportunity for increased profits. The entire gas pipeline expansion in New England is unnecessary, and future energy need increases can be met with more renewable power, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy.

Methane gas is not a reliable resource; according to figures just released from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for 2015, both shale gas and conventional gas are in decline. The gas boom is already ending, and some North American communities are coming to terms with this reality: for example, a number of Ontario organizations representing schools, manufacturers, power producers and others, recently expressed their concerns to the Ontario Energy Board regarding natural gas infrastructure overbuild, and cost and greenhouse gas emission increases.

Governor Malloy's energy plan encourages fracking, worsens climate change from increased methane emissions, and forces working people to subsidize construction of corporate owned gas pipelines. It is time to leave fossil fuels in the ground or under the sea, and transition to a 100% renewable energy powered economy. Join the CT Chapter Sierra Club on Wednesday, April 20 at 5 p.m., to Rally For Renewable Energy at the Governor's Residence, 990 Prospect Avenue in Hartford.
Martha Klein
CT Chapter Sierra Club