Pipeline going in wrong direction
No one can fault Don Gilbert, president of the Vermont Gas Company, from promoting his favorite fossil fuel, but his assumptions on the emissions and cost savings of a proposed gas pipeline are based on outdated information and not aligned with more recent science.
Vermont Gas Systems is in the planning and permitting stages of a major natural gas transmission pipeline expansion in Chittenden and Addison counties. The proposed pipeline project will extend from Colchester to Vergennes and Middlebury, then under Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga, N.Y., to serve the International Paper mill.
In recent weeks, opposition to the pipeline has increased as landowners, climate activists, like Bill McKibben and environmental groups like VPIRG, Toxics Action Center and the Vermont Natural Resources Council became aware of the environmental and human health risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, gas consumption and high transmission pipelines.
VGS’s gas supply would come from hydraulic fracturing wells producing methane emissions. Methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is particularly troubling because, molecule for molecule, methane has roughly 25 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, according to recent EPA estimates.
Any expansion of the delivery of natural gas to customers in Vermont has the potential to substitute for other nonrenewable, carbon-based fuels (such as fuel oil), but also has the potential to displace current and future uses of renewable energy (such as wood-based home heating or district heating).
Energy cost savings for individuals are likely available through weatherization, costing less than the per-customer cost for the pipeline, and this would be a way to lower energy bills for these customers.
I believe this huge investment in the pipeline infrastructure takes us in the wrong direction.