Sunday’s Boston Globe had a lead article about the demise of opposition to the Weymouth natural gas compressor station, defeated by Commonwealth and federal support for its operation. Many people I know protested that scourge of Weymouth and the Commonwealth, and I understand their downheartedness that its operation is approved, even after suffering two technical fails in trials.
But, frankly, after the approval of the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline despite protests, in which I took part, it was pretty clear the only way to stop these projects was:
- Make them redundant.
- Make them expensive.
- Make them shown to be harmful in comparison with alternatives.
- Stop using natural gas.
In other words, natural gas needs to fail in the marketplace because it is no longer the cheapest source for any use, electricity, heat, manufacturing. But that demands there be an alternative. This alternative is aligned with what Massachusetts leadership, both executive and legislative, claim they want to do, and that is electrify everything and then generate the electricity using 100% Carbon-free sources.
Accordingly, all those who oppose the Weymouth compressor, and natural gas in Massachusetts, whether its pipelines or its generation plants, ought to line up and support the building of utility-scale solar and wind farms wherever they are feasible and the owner of the land is amenable. Unfortunately, people cannot have it both ways. If natural gas is to be eliminated as a risk to health, safety, and climate, it needs to be replaced. Zero Carbon energy is more land intensive at the consumption end because its efficiency, in part, derives from being generated close to consumption. (Overall, Zero Carbon energy is less land intensive, and I have documentation of that, but I won’t share it here. Ask in the comments.) So, to oppose a solar generation plan in Westwood or Walpole is, I’m afraid, a vote in favor of natural gas and the Weymouth compressor.
Now, I know there’ll be trees cut and I have recently spent a lot of time addressing that trade-off. But trees will be cut and drowned for hydropower from Quebec, both there and in Maine. And our collective lack of stewardship of damage to Earth and its ecosystems has happened because we have neglected our responsibility. It is not going to fix itself because of the degree of damage we’ve done. Anyone who argues we just need to walk away and let it take care of itself (a) doesn’t appreciate the scale of the destruction we’ve wrought on natural systems, and (b) doesn’t understand how ecosystems operate. And I suspect, directly or indirectly, some of these groups are receiving funding from sources like those who indirectly funded opposition to Cape Wind on Cape Cod, in Barnstable. There the Koch Brothers reimbursed all legal expenses of the county to fight Cape Wind.
Accordingly, if you don’t want natural gas, go out to public hearings, go out and demonstrate against groups like the Walpole Preservation Alliance. If they don’t want natural gas, they sure act like they do. And their choices and opposition will, if successful, see more natural gas in Massachusetts, even if its citizens will eventually need to pay, through taxes, to reimburse its owners and operators to shut it down.