Yet Another Proposed Fracked Gas Expansion In Connecticut
In a time of global climate catastrophe with nations on fire and air quality worsening dramatically, it is widely understood that we cannot expand the use of fossil fuels or construct any new fossil fuel infrastructure in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Yet, Connecticut is currently threatened by two major fossil fuel projects: the proposed expansion of the Brookfield compressor station (read more about efforts to Stop the Brookfield Compressor Station here) and energy giant Enbridge’s “Project Maple,” a nice sounding name for a very dangerous proposal.
Unfortunately, our state government has a recent history of approving and overseeing the construction of massive interstate gas pipeline expansions, enlargement of virtually all the gas powered compressor stations in Connecticut, brand new intrastate gas pipeline, and new fracked gas powered schools. Together, we can change this.
Fossil fuel corporation Enbridge purchased a gas pipeline that extends from New York to Maine, and this pipeline has been enlarged twice since 2015, with Eversource as a co-
investor of prior expansions. This pipeline is labeled with an Indigenous name of linguistically linked people who have nothing whatsoever to do with the pipeline, the corporation, or its profits, and for that reason we do not use that culturally exploitative and appropriated name, the so-called “Algonquin” line. Enbridge now wants to install an even larger pipeline along the route from Ramapo, NY to Salem, MA for the third expansion in less than ten years. Specifically, this project aims to increase capacity to transport fracked gas by approximately 500,000 Dekatherms/day at Ramapo and by about 250,000 Dekatherms/day at Salem, by enlarging pipelines and compressor stations along the entire route. The majority of this pipeline, roughly 300 miles, runs through Connecticut, as the map of Project Maple shows.
Enbridge claims that more fracked gas is needed because even with the recent expansions, there is still not enough fracked methane for our use, and we might have “black-outs”. Connecticut political leaders often echo this false narrative. This argument is false and is used to frighten residents into accepting more fossil fuel infrastructure. First, we must understand that fracking for oil and methane is at an all time high in the United States. We have never before blasted up from underground amounts of fossil fuels equal to what we are extracting now. Export of fracked oil and gas are also at all time highs. The objective of most fossil fuel companies is overseas export as the profit margins are substantially higher than those obtained domestically. There is ample gas in the pipelines but it is more remunerative for corporations to sell the methane to foreign countries. That export drives up costs for consumers here, and creates the illusion of scarcity.
There is such an abundance of methane available that the gas and electricity monopoly in Connecticut consisting of Eversource and Avangrid continue to convert new consumers to methane for residential use. Adding fracked gas powered heating appliances, while fortunately no longer subsidized by all ratepayers, still takes methane out of the pipelines and away from use on the electrical grid. In the cold climate of Maine, residents have the option to convert to electric heat pumps which reduce fossil fuel use by up to two thirds. If a scarcity of fracked gas actually existed, it would be logical to convert new heating appliances to high efficiency, air sourced heat pumps, thereby leaving methane in the pipeline for electricity, and as a benefit, cutting greenhouse gas emissions significantly. In Connecticut, a new fracked gas pipeline will be built in Wilton to connect as few as ONE home to methane for residential use.
Fracked methane is a short term pollutant and greenhouse gas with 100 times the climate destroying power of carbon dioxide over ten years. Use of fracked gas is accelerating climate disruption. Export of domestically fracked resources leaves U.S. residents paying more for energy and creates competition for those resources. True independence comes from having an energy system that works for everyone, and during extreme weather events that are increasing, we observe only renewably powered energy continue to flow.
The upstream and downstream effects of fracked gas extraction, use, and transport are having a measurable impact on the planet’s temperature. Fracking in the United States is linked to worsening climate change globally and according to Robert Howarth, “shale-gas production in North America over the past decade may have contributed more than half of all of the increased emissions from fossil fuels globally….”1
It is morally bankrupt, economically irresponsible, and short-sighted to approve ever larger amounts of fossil fuels transported into Connecticut. Connecticut has better choices like increasing solar power and battery storage, lifting the caps on solar, and making heat pumps available for fossil-free heating and cooling.
Martha Klein, R.N. is a nurse and Beyond Gas Lead Volunteer for Sierra Club Connecticut.
Explore some related articles from previous newsletters:
1 Howarth, R. W.: Ideas and perspectives: is shale gas a major driver of recent increase in global atmospheric methane?, Biogeosciences, 16, 3033–3046, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-16-3033-2019, 2019.