This is huge. And another huge victory came two days before, when Kinder-Morgan announced it’s “suspending” its work on its Tennessee Gas Company Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline, citing both a lack of contracts to purchase the gas and a lack of assurances that ratepayers would help pay for the $3.3 billion project. I’m hoping “suspending” has the same meaning here as when presidential candidates “suspend” their campaigns and you never hear from them again.
Grassroots protests played a huge role in these victories. (See this industry consultant report saying such activism is the major source of the delays and rising expense of building these monstrosities, significantly more than the Number 2 reason, "regulatory uncertainty.") So all those freezing walks along the proposed pipeline route in northwest Massachusetts paid off (not to mention that as a member of Beyond Extreme Energy, I got to meet some wonderful local people who are now my friends).
Several other projects have recently been cancelled or delayed, including two major pipelines – the Atlantic Sunrise and the Atlantic Coast pipelines – that are planned to bring fracked gas to Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export terminal, now under construction on the shores of Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Maryland. Both postponements were related to environmental concerns; the latter also to opposition from hundreds of homeowners whose property is in its revised path.
Companies drilling for fracked gas and companies building gas pipelines and other infrastructure are in serious financial trouble. Prices are so low they often can’t make a profit; thus their need to export the stuff overseas, where prices are higher.
Defeating a project like this always takes attacking it from a lot of angles. The grassroots rose up vehemently to protect their property and their quiet rural way of life. They raised the alarm about health and safety concerns, and some – especially students – warned of the devastating climate impacts of building more gas infrastructure and leaking more methane. (“Natural” gas is methane.) Local and state governments pushed back against corporations like Kinder-Morgan insisting their right to build a pipeline overrode state Constitutional protections of open space.
It may feel like the tide is turning, but just to bring us back to reality, the two senators from MA, Warren and Markey – arguably among the most progressive in the Senate – just voted in favor of the “Energy Policy Modernization Act,” which, along with promoting efficiency, also "expedite[s] liquid natural gas exports, [and] loosen[s] permitting rules for construction of natural gas pipelines on federal lands."
That would be a huge boost for Dominion’s Cove Point terminal and for siting more pipelines.
We've got plenty of other projects to stop, like Spectra's AIM pipeline through the Northeast, as protesters above are working to do, or Kinder-Morgan's Connecticut Expansion Project.
This is all prelude to 350.org's Break Free from Fossil Fuels international week of action, including a May 7 protest in Philadelphia and a May 14 action in Albany, NY. Then BXE’s next week of action follows from May 15-22, in D.C. at FERC and at the D.C. headquarters of some of these “bad actor” pipeline companies. We are continuing to build and strengthen alliances with grassroots groups all over the Eastern U.S. and beyond. It’s going to be a good time. For more information visit our website, or contact me directly.