Fight EFSB22-05 Western Massachusetts Gas Reliability Project to,

Dear Massachusetts Energy Facility Siting Board,

Please find attached comments for EFSB22-05/DPU22-69.

This proposed pipeline – a new 200 psi high-pressure 16” pipeline main – would run through many EJ neighborhoods in Springfield and would impose yet another inequitable environmental burden on a city already targeted by multiple toxic and polluting industries. We need to remind the EFSB about their responsibility to protect EJ communities.

Methane, the main component of gas, is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years. When this pipeline leaks, as all pipelines do, and when the meter stations vent gas, they all release methane into the atmosphere, trapping heat and worsening the climate crisis. This pipeline project would increase greenhouse gas emissions at a critical moment when both climate experts and the MA state legislature say that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to reach a livable climate future. This is no time to be doubling Eversource’s capacity to ship gas to their Springfield Territory.

Methane, the main component of gas, and the nitrogen oxides released during its combustion can cause and exacerbate respiratory illnesses like asthma. Springfield already suffers from high rates of respiratory illness, and ranked 12th on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s list of asthma capitals in 2021, after two previous years ranking first. The new meter station in Longmeadow will increase air pollution venting methane directly into the air sited less than a quarter of a mile from an elementary school. The new pipeline and expanded meter station in Springfield would increase air pollution, indoors and outdoors, and worsen respiratory illness throughout the city.

Gas is highly flammable and explosive. The Springfield community has already been impacted by the gas explosion of 2012, which injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings. Communities in the Merrimack Valley are still recovering from the disastrous and deadly gas explosions and fires of 2018. This pipeline would be larger and higher-pressure than any other pipeline in Springfield, meaning that any fires or explosions could be much larger and more disastrous than the 2012 explosion.

Eversource does not claim that their Springfield Territory needs any more gas. Instead it says the pipeline is needed for “redundancy”, i.e., a back-up system. However, the proposed pipeline would go through the same Bliss Street Regulator Station as the current pipeline that brings gas from Agawam; that regulator station would still be a single point of failure for all of Springfield’s gas supply. This isn’t about reliability; It’s about Eversource making more money for their shareholders by putting more pipe in the ground to earn guaranteed return on equity.

Additionally, this project is out of alignment with the Massachusetts Commission on Clean Heat Report released November 30th. That Report made the following Recommendations: “Investments that would support new or increased natural gas infrastructure or capacity should instead be deployed to advance measures that help support the net zero future”, “The Commonwealth should also avoid future investments in gas pipeline infrastructure that will disproportionately burden LMI households” and “The Commonwealth’s long-term building decarbonization strategy requires transitioning customers from existing pipeline gas infrastructure to electric infrastructure.”

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