Just before Christmas, Vermont regulators approved a significant expansion of a natural gas pipeline in the western part of the state. You can read the decision here.
During the proceedings, Conservation Law Foundation raised serious concerns about the greenhouse gas emission impacts of the project. CLF made recommendations on how to reduce those impacts with significant expansion of energy efficiency.
As we are sitting in a polar vortex, it is clearer every day that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is imperative.
If all we do is replace oil with gas, we will not meet our climate change needs. We need to reduce fossil fuel use, including natural gas, now.
CLF’s advocacy put the issue of climate change and the effect of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure front and center in the case. The project began with an overly simplistic and unexamined evaluation of emissions that failed to consider full life-cycle greenhouse gas impacts.
CLF showed the flaws in this analysis. We showed the need to include the emissions from drilling and fracking of gas, and the need to guard very carefully against increasing emissions.
The final decision recognized the perils of climate change and the importance of reducing emissions. It also recognized the need for better assessments and mitigation of greenhouse gas impacts.
The decision requires development of more robust energy efficiency. Although a fairly small step, it recognizes the need to to address greenhouse gasses from fossil fuel use and can serve as a model for future projects.
A proposal for the next phase of the project has already been submitted. CLF will be looking for further emission reductions. We can’t afford to build projects that destroy our climate.