Connecticut and New York Gas Pipeline Proposal Threat to Climate, Public Health, and Safety
There is overwhelming consensus that addressing climate change requires an all out effort to decarbonize by reducing the use of fossil fuels. Despite this, fossil fuel corporations are still trying to increase the use of fossil fuels. Here in our region, the giant energy corporation, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and TC Inc. (BHETC) wants to double the size of four ALREADY toxic and noisy compressor stations along the route of the 414 mile “Iroquois” pipeline — in Brookfield and Milford, Connecticut and in Athens and Dover, New York.
Compressor stations are facilities sited along a gas pipeline that compress gas to increase its pressure and keep it moving through the pipeline. They are widely known for blowdowns where emissions are vented that include methane and other toxic chemicals.
The environmental, health and safety threats of compressor stations are numerous:
Photo: Gas pipeline warning by the side of the road
Photo credit: Flickr - John S. Quarterman
Climate Change: In total, the new turbines and generator in Brookfield will release 92,160 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) to the atmosphere. When adding existing emissions, the Brookfield compressor station will be responsible for 174,966 tons of greenhouse gasses each year. This number is analogous to the emissions of nearly 35,000 cars on the road annually. The controversial compressor station in North Weymouth, MA shut down twice in September 2020, venting a combined 364,000 standard cubic feet of gas.
Increased emissions: Connecticut is failing to reach its greenhouse gas emission goals, which require a 45% reduction by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050. CT DEEP reports that we are not on track to meet those goals. Approving this project would take us further off track.
Increased Toxic Pollution: Compressor stations generate toxic substances, which harm surrounding communities when released. These chemicals include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride; particulate matter, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke; nitrogen oxides; radioactive material; ozone; and other hazardous air pollutants. Many of these toxins, such as benzene, have been labeled as known or probable carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Noise Pollution: Noise is also an issue as compressor stations produce high levels of noise pollution around the clock.
Public Health Impacts: The toxic emissions from blowdowns and other leaks can cause a litany of health impairments to communities. Common chronic health impacts experienced by individuals living or working near compressor stations include damage to the liver and kidneys, nervous system, and cardiovascular system; developmental issues and reproductive damage; and leukemia.
Safety: Compressor stations and pipelines are susceptible to major accidents, as there have been numerous reported explosions in the country. Blowdowns of high volumes of fumes create a dangerous fire hazard.
There is no real need for this project for Connecticut. This expansion of gas capacity is to transport gas to New York, where new climate laws require more clean energy and less greenhouse gas emissions. And neither Brookfield residents — or anyone in Connecticut, for that matter — will use this gas, yet will have all the impacts.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Authority has disappointingly given the proposal the greenlight despite stating it was unable to determine the climate change impacts of the project.
Now it is up to regulators in Connecticut and New York to protect the public and the climate from this harmful proposal. In New York, advocates from the Sierra Club and many other groups organized to deliver over 3,300 comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in opposition to the permits in New York. Here in Connecticut, our state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection is reviewing the Brookfield permit application, and your Sierra Club is watching closely for a public notice to be issued.
We will hold an informational meeting on March 16 at 6 pm via Zoom to learn more about what is being proposed, how it will impact Connecticut — especially Brookfield and Milford, and how you can take action to stop this dangerous and destructive proposal. Please join us! RSVP here.
Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.