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End Fossil Fuel Dependence

Sierra Club CT opposes the increased use of fossil gas for energy and heat in Connecticut and New England, and was among the first environmental groups to oppose the state subsidized gas expansion plan. Getting off of fossil fuels now is necessary to protect public health and the climate, and it is also achievable. In view of the expense, danger, climate ruination and negative public health impacts of fracked gas, it is critical to transition to a renewable energy economy founded on energy efficiency, local energy creation, distributed generation and justice.

Fracked Gas Projects Opposed by Sierra Club CT (Updated February 2024)

  • Project Maple Project Maple is a proposed major expansion to the Enbridge owned fracked gas pipeline that runs from New Jersey to Maine and potentially the Canadian Maritimes. Enbridge is seeking to increase capacity of this line by up to 500,000 Dekatherms/day at the Ramapo, NY receipt point, and up to 250,000 Dekatherms/day at the Salem, MA receipt point. While currently this fracked gas appears to be for electric power generation in Massachusetts, its final destination, usage, or need under the proposal is unclear. This pipeline runs from Danbury to Putnam in Connecticut and includes a segment of pipeline in Coventry that Enbridge is seeking to replace with a regulation station under a 40 year old permit. A protest against the project in Coventry (which in reality is a segment of the Project Maple proposal) will be submitted to FERC in February 2024. 

  • Expansion By Compression (ExC)  Despite the climate emergency, the giant energy corporation, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and TC Inc. (BHETC) plans to increase the use of climate-destroying fossil gas in our region by expanding compressor stations in CT and NY. The amount of gas piped through CT to Long Island and NYC will increase by 125 million cubic feet per day. BHETC will add 24,000 hp of compression and gas cooling in Brookfield and more gas cooling in Milford. This proposal received FERC approval in early 2022. Sierra Club CT and Brookfield residents are opposing this project, and have engaged in community education, calls and emails to Governor Lamont and Commissioner Dykes calling for the state air permits to be denied, and submitting testimony and letters on permits. Follow the campaign here.

  • Capitol Area System The Capitol Area System, located at 490 Capitol Avenue, Hartford adjacent to residential neighborhoods as well as the State Capitol has a history of emitting harmful pollution with impacts felt by the local community and to the climate. Hartford is one of the ‘asthma capitals’ of the US, with some of the most asthma-related fatalities, emergency room visits, and patients in the country. For decades it operated as a fracked-gas fueled co-generation power plant. It is no longer generating electricity, but it is still operating its gas turbines to supply steam and chilled water to heat and cool 18 public and private buildings in Hartford including the  CT Supreme Court, State Library, Appellate Court, Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the State Office Building and more. The State of Connecticut now owns this aging plant and must find a new way to provide heating and cooling to the buildings it serves. Sierra Club is campaigning for the Capitol Area System to transition from fossil fuel-based heating and cooling to one capable of being operated without carbon emitting fuels using 100% renewable technologies. 

  • New gas power plants  We helped stop not one, but two dirty power plant proposals - one in Killingly and one in Middletown - that would have emitted over 3 million more tons of carbon into the atmosphere. 

  • Ratepayer subsidized gas conversion  Sierra Club advocated for and won an end to the ratepayer funded gas expansion plan to lay new gas pipelines and convert customers to fracked gas in PURA docket 21-08-24. On March 23, PURA issued a draft decision recommending an end to the gas expansion program, finding that it was inconsistent with Connecticut’s climate and energy goals.

 

Connecticut Needs a Future of Gas Docket To meet our state’s climate goals, Connecticut must make an equitable transition away from gas to all-electric, renewable technologies. Sierra Club is advocating for the state to open a Future of Gas proceeding. A Future of Gas proceeding would provide a comprehensive plan to dismantle the state’s reliance on gas and reduce emissions by charting a path for a planned phase out of the gas distribution system, strategically targeting sections of the system for electrification. Such a docket is also necessary to address affordability and equity concerns for ratepayers and to determine how much additional investment in the gas system is prudent in the next 30 years to ensure a safe and reliable gas distribution system as statewide gas demand declines. 

To learn more or to get involved, contact samantha.dynowski@sierraclub.org


What is Fracked Gas?  

“Natural” gas is 97 percent methane combined with trace other gases and components that remain from the drilling process. Methane is a short term pollutant and greenhouse gas which is wreaking havoc on our climate. Methane is the second most common greenhouse gas (GHG) in our atmosphere and by far the most damaging. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change analysis estimated that methane’s potential contribution to global warming is more than 81 times that of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide when impacts are measured over 20 years. 

 

At least two thirds of all methane piped to our region is extracted by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The extraction, transport and use of methane result in a high number of leaks, both fugitive and intentional. Due to the cumulatively large amount of emissions over the lifecycle of methane, this fossil fuel is worse for the climate even than burning coal or oil. In addition, the extraction of methane since 2010 may have contributed more than half of all increased greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels globally. Fracked gas is always burned and transported in pipelines in its gaseous state. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is stored in a liquid form at extremely cold temperatures (-260 degrees Fahrenheit) and is transported by special ships. There are a number of LNG storage tanks in Connecticut. 

 

History

The technological advances in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal directional drilling (HDD) in the early 2000s led to a cheaper way to extract methane from the earth, and as a result, the cost of fracked methane declined. Fracked methane is known commercially and euphemistically as “natural gas.” Due to the declining cost of fracked methane in the early 2000s, Connecticut’s leadership decided to depend heavily on the expansion of gas for future energy supply for the state, which has resulted in Connecticut becoming a hub for dirty power generation, and a net energy exporter. It has also caused electricity price spikes for consumers, and increasing residential shut-offs. More fracked gas increases climate impacts from methane leaks, and negative public health impacts for those living close to gas infrastructure, particularly on the respiratory systems of children. Methane is also a dangerous explosive that caused loss of life and millions of dollars in damage in Massachusetts in 2018. 
 

New fracked gas infrastructure added in Connecticut since 2015

 

  • CPV Towantic Energy Center in Oxford, an 805 megawatt (MW) Gas Power Plant;

  • PSEG Bridgeport Harbor Station, 485 MW Gas Power Plant;

  • AIM gas pipeline expansion and the Atlantic Bridge pipeline expansion on the Enbridge owned gas pipeline system across four states, massively increasing methane transport into and across Connecticut, and creating infrastructure to ship gas to Maine via the Maritime & Northeast pipeline, potentially for overseas shipment at ten times the profit for industry;  

  • Gas pipeline expansion on the Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas line from Massachusetts into Connecticut;

  • At ratepayer expense, the state added approximately 100,000 new connections to Eversource and UI as gas customers, requiring hundreds of miles of brand new intrastate pipeline that is built without any environmental oversight or public notification of any kind in Connecticut.

  • Hundreds or thousands of megawatts of new or replacement fracked gas power and heating infrastructure at universities and businesses all across the state, such as ESPN in Bristol, and the Bushnell in Hartford.   

 

Additional Resources 

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