In our drive to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline’s march through New England, today Conservation Law Foundation officially intervened to oppose the oversized and unnecessary project at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). We are confident that Kinder Morgan will not be able to justify this project economically if FERC carefully assesses the regional need for new pipelines.
The project, known as the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline (or NED project), is a massive new pipeline proposed by Tennessee Gas, a subsidiary of oil giant Kinder Morgan. Once complete, the pipeline would carry billions of cubic feet of fracked natural gas every day from the Pennsylvania shale fields to Eastern Massachusetts (through the backyards of many Massachusetts and New Hampshire communities).
An oversized reaction to a minimal problem
Tennessee Gas – which acknowledges that the project’s size dwarfs that of others in recent memory – has argued that New England needs all that gas to keep our lights on and our homes heated. But that simply doesn’t fit with the facts.
A recent report by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office concluded that the project is not needed to ensure electricity reliability at any time of year. At the same time, CLF’s own white paper debunked Tennessee Gas’s most recent scare tactic of claiming that electricity shortages are inevitable if we don’t solve our winter natural gas deliverability issues. But those deliverability issues occur just a few hours a day on the very coldest days of the year. A massive new pipeline is nowhere near the cheapest or quickest way to relieve those limited constraints.
On the contrary, building a pipeline the size of the Kinder Morgan project would be like swatting a fly with a wrecking ball. It makes no sense.
A bad deal for customers, our economy, and our climate
This isn’t the only reason we oppose the project. At a time when New England is already moving beyond its reliance on dirty, outdated fuels such as coal and oil, major costly investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure are simply the wrong direction to take for our economy and our climate. Indeed, as the region moves to stem more damage to our climate, this pipeline can only become an albatross. Either it will quickly fall into disuse as energy efficiency and home-grown clean energy overtake demand for dirty fuels – or its continued use will block progress toward reaching state and regional climate goals.
At its base, the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal is opportunistic, taking advantage of the fear caused by natural gas price fluctuations during the 2013–2014 polar vortex. It fails the test for economic need and would impose the costs of speculative natural gas expansion (including export abroad) onto the backs of current electric and gas customers.
We need local clean energy, not more dirty fuels
Our energy landscape holds no happy ending if the Kinder Morgan pipeline moves forward as proposed. New Englanders would not only lose money on the bet Tennessee Gas is asking FERC to approve – we would also lose much-needed resources and momentum toward shifting our energy future to one built on clean, local sources.
CLF’s intervention can be read here.