Massive gas pipelines planned for the Northeast can expect fiercer opposition in coming weeks, now that a five-state Green party alliance has joined the fight to stop two of the biggest pipeline projects. The Green Alliance to Stop the Pipelines (GASP) adds a new front in battles which are already underway in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. In all five states, residents and officials in the path of the Spectra Energy "Algonquin," and Kinder Morgan "Tennessee" pipelines have held meetings, called protests, and sent stacks of critical comments to federal regulators.
"These massively dangerous gas pipelines put our families and neighborhoods, our air, water, and soil, at grave risk," said Howie Hawkins, Green Party of New York State candidate for governor. "Have we already forgotten the March 12 gas explosion in East Harlem, that killed or injured more than seventy people?" In his campaign across New York, Hawkins is calling for a halt to all new fossil fuel infrastructure and 100% clean energy by 2030.
Yet the unpopular projects have a good chance of approval, since most of New England's politicians, Democrats and Republicans, strongly support the pipelines. The region's six governors, and eight of its U.S. senators, have encouraged an "expeditious" federal review.
Now, Green Party candidates have declared against the pipelines, citing environmental contamination from fracked gas production, safety risks during pipeline construction and operation, and expansion of fossil fuel use, making global warming much worse. Instead, Greens call for region-wide commitments to wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal energy, as well as energy efficiency. With development of renewable energy options, there is little future need for new pipeline capacity.
In New Jersey, for example, the Green Party’s candidate for Congress, Steve Welzer, is calling for dramatic federal action on renewable energy and fuel efficiency. Welzer will campaign against building the pipelines, in an open-seat contest against Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Republican Alieta Eck. Welzer says "We'd be better off investing the same $971 million in efficient conservation and clean energy."
In Massachusetts, Jill Stein was the national Green Party's 2012 presidential candidate, and is currently co-chair of the Massachusetts Green Rainbow Party. She has declared that for reasons of "climate protection and public safety," Massachusetts Greens oppose pipeline expansion, and call upon Governor Deval Patrick to withdraw support for a new pipeline tariff on electricity ratepayers.
Tim McKee represents Connecticut Greens on the Green Party’s National Committee, and back home, has seen gas disasters close up. "In 2010 I lived in Middletown," he said, "where a gas plant exploded, killing six and injuring 50 people. That gas explosion was just across the river from a storage dump for nuclear waste."
In a surprising twist, Greens are warning that recently uncovered industry plans indicate gas through these pipelines may be destined for coastal LNG terminals, from which it would be shipped overseas. The resulting lucrative export trade would create billions in extra profits for gas companies while raising—not lowering—prices paid by gas customers here in the Northeast.
Green Alliance to Stop the Pipelines (GASP) StopThePipelines@rigreens.org
Green Party of New Jersey <gpnj.org>
Green Party of New York State <gpnys.org>
Connecticut Green Party <ctgreenparty.org>
Green Party of Rhode Island <rigreens.org>
Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party <green-rainbow.org>