The high cost and pollution from new gas pipelines are no secret. They deliver a clear reminder that investing in new fossil fuels is a bad bet for our energy future – bad for the environment and bad for our pocketbooks.
When costs ballooned for Vermont Gas Systems’ proposed new pipeline, the company failed to tell regulators, or the public, until months later. Vermont Gas is now facing penalties for the failure.
Unfortunately for the public, only the Public Service Department and the Company were allowed to present information during the hearing to evaluate the penalty. Since the two of them already agreed to a penalty, the proceeding took on an air of the sound of one hand clapping. A few concerned citizens resorted to waiving posters in the back of the room with questions they’d like answered.
At the hearing, a Vermont Gas executive acknowledged the loss of faith and lost credibility that resulted from not disclosing the cost increase sooner. Sadly that credibility was not restored when the same executive had to acknowledge that cost figures reported to regulators were not accurate.
A new gas pipeline is a big energy project. All big energy projects need to demonstrate that they advance the public good. With high costs and misinformation, confidence is sure waning on this project.