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Spectra Energy Partners LP management is rethinking the Access Northeast project, with plans to add local distribution companies (LDC) to its customer mix after some New England states have effectively nixed contracts with electric distribution companies (EDC). The company also might pursue a legislative fix in at least one state.

Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut have all prevented EDCs from contracting for natural gas pipeline capacity and passing costs on to ratepayers (see Daily GPI, Oct. 27). Spectra said Wednesday that it and its Access Northeast partners -- Eversource Energy and National Grid -- "...are extremely disappointed by some of the recent actions by certain New England states."

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also recently rejected a blanket capacity release waiver sought by Spectra’s Algonquin Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC as part of a plan to allow EDCs owned by Eversource Energy and National Grid to contract for firm capacity on Access Northeast and then release that capacity directly to New England generators through state-regulated electric reliability programs (see Daily GPI, Sept. 1).

Access Northeast, which would expand the Algonquin system, has been seeking EDC contracts to underwrite the project.

"We have shifted our focus a bit and said, 'OK, so there are some electric distribution companies that will still stick with us and can legally stick with us, but at the same time there is a lot of unmet local distribution company load...' This is a project that can be morphed into something that meets both electric and LDC needs," Spectra's Bill Yardley, president of the U.S. transmission business, said Wednesday.

The company is going back to the drawing board to add LDC contracts into the mix, Yardley said, adding that the additional time needed for that "probably makes this into a 2019 effort when we reformulate it." Previously, Access Northeast in-service was planned for late 2018 (see Daily GPI, May 4).

"There's one other avenue, probably a couple other avenues, but the other logical one is to do something legislatively," Yardley said during an earnings conference call. "The Massachusetts legislature does reconvene early next year, and we may contemplate trying to throw something in there because overall...the governors in the region are supportive of [Access Northeast]; there have just been some adverse rulings that have set us back a bit."

As the company brings LDCs into the Access Northeast fold, Yardley said care would be taken to ensure that the New England states involved will feel that they are sharing the cost of the project equally. "That's important to the governors...It's going to take a little time to work our way through that," he said.

An announcement about contracting details for Access Northeast could come later this year or early next, he said.

Spectra Energy Partners reported third quarter net income from controlling interests of $275 million (64 cents/unit) compared with $321 million (85 cents) in the prior-year quarter. Spectra Energy Corp. reported third quarter net income from controlling interests of $195 million (28 cents/share), compared with $174 million (26 cents/share) in third quarter 2015. 

"This piece is very personal because, as an Indigenous woman, my analysis is very personal, as is the analysis that my friends on the frontlines have shared with me. We obviously can’t speak for everyone involved, as Native beliefs and perspectives are as diverse as the convictions of any people. But as my friends hold strong on the frontlines of Standing Rock, and I watch, transfixed with both pride and worry, we feel the need to say a few things.

I’ve been in and out of communication with my friends at Standing Rock all day. As you might imagine, as much as they don’t want me to worry, it’s pretty hard for them to stay in touch. I asked if there was anything they wanted me to convey on social media, as most of them are maintaining a very limited presence on such platforms. The following is my best effort to summarize what they had to say, and to chime in with a few corresponding thoughts of my own.

It is crucial that people recognize that Standing Rock is part of an ongoing struggle against colonial violence. #NoDAPL is a front of struggle in a long-erased war against Native peoples — a war that has been active since first contact, and waged without interruption. Our efforts to survive the conditions of this anti-Native society have gone largely unnoticed because white supremacy is the law of the land, and because we, as Native people, have been pushed beyond the limits of public consciousness.

The fact that we are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other group speaks to the fact that Native erasure is ubiquitous, both culturally and literally, but pushed from public view. Our struggles intersect with numerous others, but are perpetrated with different motives and intentions. Anti-Black violence, for example, is publicly performed for the sake of social and economic control, whereas the violence against us has always had one pragmatic aim: our total erasure.

The struggle at Standing Rock is an effort to prevent the construction of a deadly, destructive mechanism, created by greed-driven people with no regard for our lives. It has always been this way. We die, and have died, for the sake of expansion and white wealth, and for the maintenance of both.

The harms committed against us have long been relegated to the history books. This erasure has occurred for the sake of both white supremacy and US mythology, such as American exceptionalism. It has also been perpetuated to sustain the comfort of those who benefit from harms committed against us. Our struggles have been kept both out of sight and out of mind — easily forgotten by those who aren’t directly impacted.

It should be clear to everyone that we are not simply here in those rare moments when others bear witness.

To reiterate (what should be obvious): We are not simply here when you see us.

We have always been here, fighting for our lives, surviving colonization, and that reality is rarely acknowledged. Even people who believe in freedom frequently overlook our issues, as well as the intersections of their issues with our own. It matters that more of the world is bearing witness in this historic moment, but we feel the need to point out that the dialogue around #NoDAPL has become extremely climate oriented. Yes, there is an undeniable connectivity between this front of struggle and the larger fight to combat climate change. We fully recognize that all of humanity is at risk of extinction, whether they realize it or not. But intersectionality does not mean focusing exclusively on the intersections of our respective work.

It sometimes means taking a journey well outside the bounds of those intersections.

In discussing #NoDAPL, too few people have started from a place of naming that we have a right to defend our water and our lives, simply because we have a natural right to defend ourselves and our communities. When “climate justice”, in a very broad sense, becomes the center of conversation, our fronts of struggle are often reduced to a staging ground for the messaging of NGOs.

This is happening far too frequently in public discussion of #NoDAPL.

Yes, everyone should be talking about climate change, but you should also be talking about the fact that Native communities deserve to survive, because our lives are worth defending in their own right — not simply because “this affects us all.”

So when you talk about Standing Rock, please begin by acknowledging that this pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact white people. And please remind people that our people are struggling to survive the violence of colonization on many fronts, and that people shouldn’t simply engage with or retweet such stories when they see a concrete connection to their own issues — or a jumping off point to discuss their own issues. Our friends, allies and accomplices should be fighting alongside us because they value our humanity and right to live, in addition to whatever else they believe in.

Every Native at Standing Rock — every Native on this continent — has survived the genocide of a hundred million of our people. That means that every Indigenous child born is a victory against colonialism, but we are all born into a fight for our very existence. We need that to be named and centered, which is a courtesy we are rarely afforded.

This message is not a condemnation. It’s an ask.

We are asking that you help ensure that dialogue around this issue begins with and centers a discussion of anti-Native violence and policies, no matter what other connections you might ultimately make, because those discussions simply don’t happen in this country. There obviously aren’t enough people talking about climate change, but there are even fewer people — and let’s be real, far fewer people — discussing the various forms of violence we are up against, and acting in solidarity with us. And while such discussions have always been deserved, we are living in a moment when Native Water Protectors and Water Warriors have more than earned both acknowledgement and solidarity.

So if you have been with us in this fight, we appreciate you, but we are reaching out, right now, in these brave days for our people, and asking that you keep the aforementioned truths front and center as you discuss this effort. This moment is, first and foremost, about Native liberation, self determination and Native survival. That needs to be centered and celebrated.


K and friends"

Concord Steam - Task Force Press Release


- - - - - - - - - - 

September 16, 2016
Media Contacts:
Kate Jiaquinto Jim Rivers
(603) 271-3043 (603) 271-3664

Morse, Jasper announce creation of Concord Steam Task Force
Daniels named chair, to lead review of options for state buildings
Concord, NH – Today, Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) announced the formation of a Task Force to review the options for the State of New Hampshire as Concord Steam plans to cease operations in May 2017.
The Concord Steam Task Force includes Senator Gary Daniels (R-Milford), who will chair the task force, Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), Representative Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack), Representative Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook), Representative Lynne Ober (R-Hudson) and Representative Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett).

“With the impending closure of Concord Steam, which supplies the heat for a number of state office buildings, we need to develop a plan to keep costs low while providing energy efficient replacement options early next spring,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem). “The task force will be chaired by Senator Gary Daniels, whose experience serving on the Capital Budget Committee will serve us well in guiding the rest of the legislators to find the best option for the state. The Task Force will produce recommendations and legislation that we hope to fast track early next session.”
“It is important that we address the issue of Concord Steam sooner rather than later,” said Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson). “There are several options for the state to study and I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to come up with a solution that best serves the interests of the taxpayers of New Hampshire. The State House and 25 state office buildings are affected by this move. Hopefully it will be an opportunity for us to cut our heating bills significantly while maintaining energy efficiency throughout our buildings.”

“We realize that losing Concord Steam in such a short period of time will require a well-devised plan to come together quickly, which is why I am encouraged by Senator Morse’s and Speaker Jasper’s call for this Task Force to begin work right away,” said Senator Gary Daniels (R-Milford).

“We have our work cut out for us in the next two months to find a solution that can be implemented seamlessly once Concord Steam goes offline. I believe we all agree that replacing the heating system that serves a number of state buildings needs to be both cost effective and energy conscious, and I look forward to meeting with other Task Force members and Administrative services to begin our discussions on September 29.”

The Concord Steam Task Force will hold its first public meeting on September 29 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 100 of the State House and the final report is due by Thursday, December 1.

A proposed natural gas pipeline through southern Massachusetts increasingly looks like a pipe dream. Two major utilities that were supporting the project have now officially backed out of their current contract for the pipeline.

The gas and electric utilities Eversource and National Grid had teamed up with pipeline company Spectra Energy to construct Access Northeast. The pipeline would have enlarged, expanded and upgraded the existing transmission line coming in through Rhode Island — carrying nearly a billion cubic feet of natural gas a day and adding two enormous liquid natural gas (LNG) storagetanks in Acushnet.

The companies say the pipeline would have saved consumers a billion dollars a year and more — mostly in winter when demand for gas is highest and pipeline capacity constrained.

But the pipeline consortium wanted ratepayers to foot the $3 billion upfront construction costs. Last week, Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court ruledthe finance scheme violated state law — and now, the utilities have officially withdrawn the project from the regulatory process.

"This does not mean the project is dead," Amie O'Hearn, spokesperson for National Grid, said. "This means that it is just a setback for the project as far as we are concerned."

In prepared statements, the utilities say the the high court's decision was not a judgement on the benefits of the project.

"Right now what we're doing is we're reconvening and thinking how and if we can go forward with the pipeline," O'Hearn said.

Attorney Caitlin Peale Sloan, who is with the Conservation Law Foundation, said: "This is a pretty huge deal." The Boston-based organization led the legal battle against the proposed pipeline.

Sloan says ratepayers would have borne the financial liability if the Access Northeast project went south.

"And now that the Supreme Judicial Court says they can't do that, they're pulling the plug because it's too risky for themselves to fund," Sloan said.

Neither National Grid nor Eversource would say they'd finance the pipeline themselves.

Roger Cabral, of Acushnet, is with South Coast Neighbors United, a group formed to oppose the pipeline project.

"We're cautiously optimistic, but we're hoping this is the end of Access Northeast," he said.

The utilities had planned to build two LNG tanks in Acushnet. They'd be the largest on the East Coast storing liquid natural gas.

"They wanted to build that in a residential neighborhood, in an area surrounded by homes and hospitals and schools and children — and wildlife is important and wetlands are important," he said. "And they were just going to bypass all of that."

But supporters of the Access Northeast pipeline say if the region had enough natural gas to burn in the frigid winter of 2013 instead of coal and oil, it would have saved annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to 625,000 cars. But for now, the cost benefits are moot.

The proposed pipeline, if not dead and buried, is most definitely dormant.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and IITC file an Urgent Communication to the United Nations Citing Human Rights Violations Resulting from Pipeline Construction


August 19, 2016


Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and IITC file an Urgent Communication to the United Nations Citing Human Rights Violations Resulting from Pipeline Construction 


Dakota Access Pipeline Protest In North Dakota.

Photo Credit: "No Dakota Access in Treaty Territory - Camp of the Sacred Stones" 


Ft. Yates, North Dakota, United States: On Thursday, August 18, 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) jointly submitted an urgent action communication to four United Nations (UN) human rights Special Rapporteurs. It cited grave human rights and Treaty violations resulting from the construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline in close proximity to the Standing Rock Reservation by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer. 


The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) stands in firm opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline would carry nearly half a billion barrels of crude oil a day, and would cross the Missouri River threatening the Tribe’s main water source and sacred places along its path including burials sites. The urgent communication was submitted to UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders; the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; and Environment and Human Rights, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It requests that they urge the United States to halt the human rights violations and uphold its human rights and Treaty obligations to the Standing Rock Tribe. It was also forwarded to key officials in the U.S. State Department, Department of Interior and the White House. 


The urgent communication focuses on violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty and other International human rights standards to which the United States is obligated. It also cites actions against human rights defenders, including arrests and other forms of intimidation, violations of the human right to water, and lack of redress and response using domestic remedies. The submission noted that this action violates Article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms the obligation of States to obtain Indigenous Peoples’ free prior and informed consent before development projects affecting their lands, territories or other resources are carried out. The Lakota and Dakota, which includes the SRST, were part of the Sovereign Sioux Nation, which concluded the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty with the United States. The United States has legally-binding obligations based on this Treaty to obtain the Lakota and Dakota’s consent before activities are carried out on their Treaty lands.


The urgent communication also highlights environmental racism in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination Convention (ICERD) to which the US is legally obligated. It notes that the United States has permitted Energy Transfer to divert the pipeline’s route from near the mainly non-Indigenous population of Bismarck, ND to disproportionately impact the SRST.


A primary concern expressed by the Tribe is potential devastating effects on its primary water source. SRST Chairman Dave Archambault II, who was among those arrested and is also being sued by the company for obstructing the pipeline’s construction, stated on August 15th “I am here to advise anyone that will listen, that the Dakota Access Pipeline is harmful. It will not be just harmful to my people but its intent and construction will harm the water in the Missouri River, which is the only clean and safe river tributary left in the United States.”


In response to the Tribe’s opposition, Dakota Access LLC, the developers of the $3.8 billion, four-state oil pipeline, has waged a concerted campaign to criminalize and intimidate Tribal leaders, Tribal members and their supporters who have consistently been peaceful and non-violent. The IITC and SRST are calling upon the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to call upon the United States to immediately cease all arrests and other forms of intimidation, drop any pending lawsuits, and ensure that all legal charges against these human and Treaty Rights defenders be lifted. The urgent action communication cited this case as an example of the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders around the world, as noted by various UN bodies.

Despite 28 arrests reported to date, the peaceful protesters have succeeded in temporarily halting the pipeline’s construction. A hearing is currently scheduled for next week in federal court to consider the Tribe’s request for an injunction. Construction has reportedly been halted until the hearing, providing an important initial victory for the Tribe and their supporters.

The joint urgent UN communication requests the intervention of these UN human rights mandate holders to call upon the United States to uphold its statutory, legal, Treaty and human rights obligations and impose an immediate and ongoing moratorium on all pipeline construction until the Treaty and human rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, including their right to free prior and informed consent, can be ensured. 

Glimpses of the Sacred Stone Camp near the town of Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation and the adjacent Seven Councils Camp in Morton County. Both camps are where people are living who are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Community organizer Joye Braun who has been at the Sacred Stone Camp since April said the number of people in both camps is 1500 or more but could soon swell up to 7000 people.


While it's been touted by some energy experts as a so-called "bridge" to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure.

For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union's (EU) 2020 Strategy.

That 10-year strategy (pdf), proposed in 2010, calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by least 20 percent compared to 1990 levels and increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20 percent.

The researchers found that "progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments."

For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal. Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants. The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity.

"With reference to reductions in carbon emissions and adoption of renewables, clear relationships emerge between patterns of achievement in these 2020 Strategy goals and the different groupings of nuclear use," they wrote.

For non-nuclear Group 1 countries, the average percentage of reduced emissions was six percent, and they had an average of a 26 percent increase in renewable energy consumption.

Group 2 had the highest average percentage of reduced emissions at 11 percent, and they also boosted renewable energy to 19 percent.

Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up three percent, and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.

"Looked at on its own, nuclear power is sometimes noisily propounded as an attractive response to climate change," said Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, in a media statement. "Yet if alternative options are rigorously compared, questions are raised about cost-effectiveness, timeliness, safety, and security."

"Looking in detail at historic trends and current patterns in Europe, this paper substantiates further doubts," he continued. "By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive," he said.


The new study focused on Europe, and Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy and director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, stated, "If nothing else, our paper casts doubt on the likelihood of a nuclear renaissance in the near-term, at least in Europe."

Yet advocates of clean energy over on the other side of the Atlantic said the recent planto close the last remaining nuclear power plant in California and replace it with renewable energy marked the "end of an atomic era" and said it could serve as "a clear blueprint for fighting climate change."

NRDC president Rhea Suh wrote of the proposal: "It proves we can cut our carbon footprint with energy efficiency and renewable power, even as our aging nuclear fleet nears retirement. And it strikes a blow against the central environmental challenge of our time, the climate change that threatens our very future."

As we celebrate our national parks’ 100th anniversary, we must ask why our politicians aren’t responding to an increasingly serious threat to these national treasures. In “Climate Exposure of U.S. National Parks in a New Era of Change,” National Park Service scientists reported that 81 percent of our national parks have experienced extreme warm conditions and changes to precipitation patterns were widespread when comparing the last three decades to the historical trend.

In Rocky Mountain National Park the average temperature has increased 3.4 degrees F over the last century, meaning shorter winters with much less water for increasingly hotter summers. Glacier National Park had 150 ice sheets in the mid-1800s; today it has 25 and it may be glacier-free by 2030.

Worldwide, glaciers store about 75 percent of fresh water, which is essential to survival for millions of people and countless species. Glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate, with consequences beyond those who depend on them to the coastal communities flooded by rising seas.

It’s easy to dismiss this problem when the dirty-fuels interests spend millions of dollars buying media and politicians to confuse the issue. Are you willing to ignore 97 percent of scientists and risk that our children will face a much warmer world?

The predicted dangers from rising sea levels, droughts and playing warming roulette with severe storms have begun. Carbon dioxide, which blew by the danger level of 350 parts per million to 400 ppm, will be in the atmosphere for decades, meaning higher temperatures are baked in. The longer we wait the more costly this gets.

We need a solution that both parties can embrace now that will not add regulations or have the government pick winners and losers. The Carbon Fee and Dividend policy proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby is a realistic policy that addresses consumer costs with a monthly dividend and a border adjustment that removes any incentive for businesses to relocate operations to countries more permissive on emissions. A fee is placed on carbon-based fuels at the source (well, mine, port of entry). This fee starts at $15 per ton of CO2 emitted and increases steadily each year, so that clean energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade. All of the money collected is returned to American households on an equitable basis. About two-thirds of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend checks than they would pay in higher prices due to the fee, thereby protecting the poor and middle class.

A predictably increasing carbon price will send a clear market signal that will unleash entrepreneurs and create many more jobs in the clean-energy economy. A 2014 study by Regional Economic Models Inc. found that a Carbon Fee and Dividend would save hundreds of thousands of lives over 20 years while cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half and adding 2.8 million jobs to the economy.

It’s time to use the power of the market to curtail toxic, hazardous pollution and save our treasures including our parks and children; to learn more about this appealing policy visit


P.O. Box 584


For the Concord Monitor, Saturday, August 20, 2016


Who knew? Who knew that after 78 years of Concord Steam Corp. serving the downtown community, we’d be shutting the doors? Certainly none of us here on the “steam team” thought that would ever be the case.

We have always viewed our place here in downtown Concord as more of a community service than a business. We have valued the relationships that we’ve built with the business community and the city of Concord, and have fought hard to maintain those relationships over the past several years.

That being said, most know we’ve struggled to maintain a business model that makes sense for both Concord and the owners of Concord Steam. Unfortunately, due to circumstances that neither Concord Steam nor the downtown business community could control, we are all facing a future without Concord Steam as an institution of the downtown.

Certainly a sad day for all of us here at Concord Steam, as the door closes on what was a wonderful and unique business that helped make downtown Concord the special place that it truly is.

It has indeed been a difficult journey these past few years, as we’ve made every effort possible to carry on this rich tradition, but it is time for change to take place and for the city of Concord to move into a new era.

Change is often difficult, and we certainly understand that it is not easy for the downtown business community, the city of Concord or Concord Steam employees. However, we do believe that this necessary change is going to be made much easier, smoother and more beneficial to all of us in the Concord community by the fact that Liberty Utilities has decided to partner with us in order to effect that change in a positive manner.

How difficult has this been? Difficult enough that one of our own employees has made inaccurate statements in a letter to the editor regarding the agreement with Liberty Utilities.

Everyone knows that strongly felt loyalties can, and often do, give rise to misunderstandings. The truth of the matter is that we approached Liberty Utilities and requested their help to find a workable solution to a difficult situation. We have found them very honest and forthright about all of the challenges and costs that would be associated with making this transition.

In fact, Liberty Utilities worked with us to structure the agreement so we can continue to use wood chips when it is more economic than buying natural gas on the spot market, which will save our customers money.

Contrary to what others have written and have said, Liberty hasn’t seen this as a mere business opportunity or as a way to monopolize energy service to Concord Steam customers.

Concord Steam customers will still have a number of energy options available to them to use for heating. We happen to believe that natural gas makes the most sense for our existing customers by providing a low-cost, clean and safe option. We believe that Liberty Utilities, like Concord Steam before them, sees this as more of an opportunity to carry on the tradition of community service that Concord has grown used to.

We appreciate the hard work and effort that Liberty Utilities has put into trying to make this necessary transition as painless as possible for all involved.

They, with us, left no leaf unturned looking for every possible scenario that would help the downtown community accomplish the goal. What is that goal? It is to ensure every business and government building that is part of our system has low-cost, reliable energy service for the foreseeable future.

We encourage the downtown community to join us and see this transition as new opportunity for the downtown to grow, as we look to a bright future for our beloved city.

By Sheldon Whitehouse and Elizabeth Warren, August 9

"The writers, both Democrats, represent Rhode Island and Massachusetts, respectively, in the U.S. Senate.





For years, ExxonMobil actively advanced the notion that its products had little or no impact on the Earth’s environment. As recently as last year, it continued to fund organizations that play down the risks of carbon pollution. So what did ExxonMobil actually know about climate change? And when did it know it?

Reasonable questions — particularly if ExxonMobil misled its investors about the long-term prospects of its business model or if the company fooled consumers into buying its products based on false claims.

So now the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York are investigating whether ExxonMobil violated state laws by knowingly misleading their residents and shareholders about climate change. Those investigations may be making ExxonMobil executives nervous, and their Republican friends in Congress are riding to the rescue. House Science, Space and Technology Committee ChairmanLamar Smith (R-Tex.) and his fellow committee Republicans have issued subpoenas demanding that the state officials fork over all materials relating to their investigations. They also targeted eight organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Rockefeller Family Fund and Greenpeace, with similar subpoenas, demanding that they turn over internal communications related to what Smith describes as part of “coordinated efforts” to deprive ExxonMobil of its First Amendment rights."

Read more

350,000 People Call on Gov. Brown to Stop Irrigating Crops With Oil Wastewater

"Pushing a wheelbarrow filled with 350,000 petition signatures, concerned Californians gathered outside the capitol Tuesday to urge Gov. Brown and the California Water Resources Control Board to stop the potentially dangerous practice of using wastewater from oil drilling to irrigate California's crops.

The wastewater, sold by Chevron and California Resources Corporation, is now being used to irrigate more than 90,000 acres in the Cawelo Irrigation District and the North Kern Water Management District and is slated to expand in the near future to other districts."

Read more

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that global temperatures last year were the highest on record — and that this year is likely to be hotter still. That is a powerful reason for rich countries to begin making good on their promises to help low-lying island nations, some of the poorest countries in the world, build their defenses against the disastrous effects of climate change, which some are already experiencing.

In the Solomon Islands, receding shorelines have destroyed some villages and rising sea levels have submerged five uninhabited islands, according toa study published in May. Drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce in Kiribati, another Pacific Ocean nation, as wells run dry or become contaminated by saltwater. And droughts appear to have become more intense in Africa and the Middle East and are probably a contributing factor to the migration of millions of people to Europe in recent years.

At last year’s United Nations climate summit meeting in Paris, countries agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, a point beyond which the widespread drought, flooding and extinctions of species are expected to kick in. But even if the world meets that target — and the various national plans offered in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are still not strong enough to get there — many poor countries will still be vulnerable to warmer temperatures, higher sea levels and more frequent natural disasters. Some small island nations could disappear entirely in the coming decades.

While it’s hard to connect any single natural disaster to climate change, weather-related calamities worldwide have increased in recent years. There were an average of 335 such disasters a year between 2005 and 2014 — nearly twice the yearly average from 1985 to 1994, according to a report by the United Nations and the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. And these disasters are more severe and more likely to displace people, according to a 2015 report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Last year, about 19.2 million people fled their homes because of disasters.

Developing countries will not be able to make the investments needed to survive conditions brought on by global warming — nor should they have to do so alone, as a matter of fairness. Poor countries are responsible for only a small share of all greenhouse gas emissions. Industrialized nations bear the greatest responsibility for climate change. It is also in their interest to help the rest of the world adapt, because experts expect that tens of millions to several hundred million people will be displaced by climate change. Most will move within their countries, but some of them inevitably will seek refuge in developed nations because they have no other place to go.

In 2014, the world’s leading powers and institutions, like the World Bank, committed about $25 billion to help developing nations adapt to climate change, according to aUnited Nations report published in May. Developed countries have said that they will increase their support, to $100 billion a year starting in 2020, to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. That promise was made at theclimate meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 and reaffirmed in Paris. (Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, was a major force behind the 2009 pledge.) But that falls far short of the United Nations report’s estimate that between $140 billion and $300 billion a year will be needed for adaptation by 2030.

Some of that spending would go toward building warning systems like those that exist for tsunamis, as well as stronger barriers against storm surges. Developing countries will also need to improve water conservation and flood management, restore wetlands and strengthen building codes.

Increases in temperatures and sea levels are likely to reduce agricultural yields, forcing more people to migrate to crowded cities. That’s why political leaders need to start making policy changes that could take years to have an impact — like helping farmers switch to other crops and investing in infrastructure and housing in urban areas. While the world ponders ways to reduce emissions, the consequences of climate change are already underway.

"What would happen if the federal government ended its subsidies to companies that drill for oil and gas?

The American oil and gas industry has argued that such a move would leave the United States more dependent on foreign energy.

Many environmental activists counter that ending subsidies could move the United States toward a future free of fossil fuels — helping it curtail its emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Natural gas being flared off at a site in North Dakota. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Chances are, it wouldn’t do much of either.

In a new report for the Council on Foreign Relations, Gilbert Metcalf, a professor of economics at Tufts University, concluded that eliminating the three major federal subsidies for the production of oil and gas would have a very limited impact on the production and consumption of these fossil fuels.

Mr. Metcalf’s analysis is the most sophisticated yet on the impact of government supports, worth roughly $4 billion a year. Extrapolating from the observed reaction of energy companies to fluctuations in the price of oil and gas, he models how a loss of subsidies might curtail drilling and thus affect production, prices and consumer demand.

Cutting oil drilling subsidies might reduce domestic oil production by 5 percent in the year 2030.

As a result, he thinks, the worldwide price of oil would inch up by only 1 percent. He assumes it will hardly be affected because other countries would increase production as the flow of American crude slowed. Demand would hardly budge, as the price of gasoline at the pump would rise by at most 2 cents a gallon.

Natural gas is a slightly different story. It is not as much a global commodity. A decline of 3 to 4 percent in American production would raise prices by as much as 10 percent. In response, demand for natural gas would most likely fall 3 to 4 percent. At most, the average household’s monthly electricity bill would rise by $7.

Oil Prices: What’s Behind the Drop? Simple Economics

The oil industry, with its history of booms and busts, has been in its deepest downturn since the 1990s, if not earlier.


In terms of carbon emissions, nothing much would happen at all, he concludes. An earlier study concluded that eliminating subsidies would have reduced CO2 emissions between 2005 and 2009 by less than 1 percent. Mr. Metcalf argues that this “overstates the emissions reduction potential of tax reform.”

And still, these modest findings could give some political muscle to those fighting climate change. They may not mobilize Republican politicians to join in the battle. But they help to undermine the case made by energy companies that drilling for fossil fuels merits federal support.

One study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, for instance, suggested that cutting some federal subsidies would reduce domestic production of oil and gas by 15 percent in 2023. Almost a quarter of a million jobs would be lost by 2019, the study said, and the United States would be at the mercy of foreign oil.

Mr. Metcalf’s conclusions suggest subsidies could be eliminated without causing much pain. And if the United States cuts its supports, it will have better standing to demand the same from the many countries that provide big consumer subsidies encouraging the consumption of fossil fuels.

The United States’ subsidies “impair its ability to coax major developing countries to roll back fossil fuel consumption policies,” Mr. Metcalf writes."


"McCLELLAN PARK, Sacramento County — Even before the plane left the runway, it was clear the crew of researchers examining the fallout from California’s historic drought would not return with good news.

Dead trees dot the landscape of the southern Sierra. The death toll will probably rise by tens of millions of trees,the head of a research team from the Carnegie Institution for Science says."

‪#‎GOP‬‪#‎ClimateScience‬ is real and so is the ‪#‎ClimateEmergency‬. We all need to ‪#‎ActOnClimate‬ together, now!

"Today, during a convention in New Hampshire hosted by the bipartisan group No Labels, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took a moment to differentiate himself from the rest of the GOP fieldby talking about climate change.

As one of the only Republican presidential candidates to repeatedly bring upclimate change in the press and during campaign stops, Graham began by asking the audience if anyone there believed climate change was real. Nearly half of the attendees raised their hands and applauded.

“I do, too,” Graham said. “So here’s the trade-off. For those of you who believe climate change is real, you’re gonna have to deal with a guy like me who will push a lower carbon economy over time and in a business friendly way. The great trade-off is energy producers and environmentalists in a room trying to find, over a 50 year period, a way to go to a lower-carbon economy while in the meantime responsibly exploring for fossil fuels that we own and trying to create alternative energy in every sector of the economy.”

Graham’s assertion that climate change must be solved in a business-friendly way — a position that includes support for continued fossil fuel extraction — elicited a call of “Keep it in the ground!” from one audience member. An analysis of global fossil fuel reserves published last January in Nature found that, in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, the vast majority of existing fossil fuel reserves will need to remain in the ground.

Graham continued by contrasting Democrats who view climate change as a “religion” with Republicans that refuse to accept the mainstream consensus on climate science.

“It is, to me folks, a problem that needs to be solved, not a religion,” Graham said of climate change. “So to my friends on the left who are making this a religion, you’re making a mistake. To my friends on the right who deny the science, tell me why.”

Trotting out a popular climate denier talking point, Graham told the audience that he is “not a scientist,” joking that he received a “D” in science in school only because the teacher didn’t give “F’s.” But, he continued, he has seen first-hand the way that climate change is altering the landscape and lifestyle of places around the world, from Alaska to Antarctica.

“I’ve been to the Antarctic,” Graham told the audience. “I’ve been to Greenland. I’ve been to Alaska and I’ve heard from people who live in these regions how the climate is changing. And when 90 percent of climatologists tell you that it’s real, who am I to tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about?”

Technically, Graham’s comment is incorrect — 97 percent of climate scientists, not 90 percent, believe that climate change is real and that human activity is the primary cause. But Graham’s acceptance of mainstream climate science could work in his favor with voters — according to a recent poll, 90 percent of Americans — across political parties — believe that candidates running for Congress or president should have an understanding of the science that informs public policy.

Graham concluded the climate section of his speech by outlining how he would combat climate change while helping business. The trade-off, Graham said, would include more nuclear power and oil and gas exploration combined with a push toward low-carbon technologies."


Organizations calling for a ban on fracking. March with us in Philly!

Organizations like Food & Water Watch are calling out the ‪#‎DemPlatform‬ for blocking the ‪#‎BanFracking‬ movement.


"Regulations" means fracking will continue to pollute ‪#‎air‬ ‪#‎water‬ ‪#‎food‬ and accelerate the‪#‎ClimateEmergency‬. Please contact your state representative and tell them you want fracking to stop and consider marching with us next Saturday in Philadelphia ‪#‎SeeYouInPhilly‬ at the ‪#‎MarchForACleanEnergyRevolution‬!...

"The body of evidence is growing that fracking is not only bad for the global climate, it is also dangerous for local communities.
And affected communities are growing in number. A new report, released Thursday, details the sheer amount of water contamination, air pollution, climate impacts, and chemical use in fracking in the United States.

“For the past decade, fracking has been a nightmare for our drinking water, our open spaces, and our climate,” Rachel Richardson, a co-author of the paper from Environment America, told ThinkProgress.
Fracking, a form of extraction that injects large volumes of chemical-laced water into shale, releasing pockets of oil and gas, has been on the rise in the United States for the past decade, and the sheer numbers are staggering. Environment America reports that at least 239 billion gallons of water — an average of three million gallons per well — has been used for fracking. In 2014 alone, fracking created 15 billion gallons of wastewater. This water generally cannot be reused, and is often toxic. Fracking operators reinject the water underground, where it can leach into drinking water sources. The chemicals can include formaldehyde, benzene, and hydrochloric acid.

Fracking is also bad news for the climate. Natural gas is 80 percent methane, which traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2 over a 20-year period. Newly fracked wells released 2.4 million metric tons of methane in 2014 — equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 22 coal-fired power plants.

“Whether you are already on the front lines of fracking or are simply worried about your children having a safe future, the numbers don’t lie,” Richardson said.

At this point, more than a thousand square miles of the country have been disturbed by fracking activity, the report says, with 137,000 fracking wells drilled or permitted across more than 20 states.
“I think the report paints a frightening picture of fracking’s harms,” Richardson said. “A lot of these harms are things that people living on fracking’s front lines are experiencing first hand.”
It’s not just humans who are being impacted. In one area of Wyoming, the mule deer population has fallen by 40 percent in the past 15 years — coinciding, the report says, with a fracking boom in the Pinedale Mesa region.
The detrimental results of fracking are borne up by a slew of stories and lawsuits documenting the practice’s impact on local communities.

Two families in Pennsylvania were awarded more than $4 million in March — ending a seven-year legal battle against a fracking company they said contaminated local water sources. Last summer, a Texas man was severely burned after methane, allegedly from nearby fracking, caused an explosion in his well shed. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, earthquakes are on the rise, and at least one woman is suing a local oil and gas company for damages from injuries incurred during an allegedly fracking-related earthquake.

Last summer, scientists in Texas found elevated levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the drinking water in one of the state’s major fracking regions.

Moreover, fracking just one part of a growing phenomenon that is putting Americans at risk: our entire natural gas system. Fracking is just the first step. Natural gas transportation — largely through an extensive pipeline system — also poses serious risks and environmental degradation. In Pennsylvania, a group of farmers is fighting eminent domain claims that have allowed a pipeline construction company to come onto their property and cut down trees to run a liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline that will ultimately connect with export terminals along the east coast. Natural gas storage is an issue: The nation’s largest-ever natural gas leak occurred this past winter, when a Southern California storage facility released more than 97,000 metric tons of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere.

On the distribution side, there are dangers, too. In 2010, an LNG pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, killing eight people, injuring dozens more, and destroying homes in the Bay Area suburb. The Environmental Defense Fund and Google teamed up on a series of studies of methane leaks and found that older cities, such as Boston, are riddled with leaky pipes.
President Obama recently announced that the EPA will begin a rule-making process for limiting methane from existing oil and gas facilities.

Some states are also fighting back against fracking. New York State has banned fracking, while Maryland has put a moratorium on the practice, pending further investigation into its risks. On Wednesday, a Maryland county became the first in the state to ban fracking outright.

The report's authors are hoping that putting all this data together can help convince policymakers and communities to take the threat of fracking seriously -- and to do something about it.
"The best way to protect our health from fracking is to ban this practice and keep these dirty fuels in the ground," Richardson said."

You may have heard about it, and passed it off as unlikely, but yes, crops can be watered with tainted water. During the referenced severe ‪#‎drought ‬(since 2011), ‪#‎fracking‬ was not halted and fresh, potable water was used in the fracking process in ‪#‎CA‬. Join us in telling Governor Brown this is‪ #‎unacceptable‬.

"It comes as no surprise that the oil industry is willing to put our safety at risk for the sake of making a profit. While we know we’ll regularly have to fight oil spills, pipe leaks and other natural disasters, we were absolutely outraged last year when our friends at Water Defense revealed that the Cawelo Water District was accepting oil wastewater and selling it to farmers.

Because of the severe drought sweeping through California, some farmers have little choice other than to turn to this potentially polluted water to grow their crops. The thought of just one farmer being forced to use possibly poisonous water on our food is ridiculous enough—but Food & Water Watch has discovered that the sale of oil field wastewater is more widespread than we thought.

After months of research, Food & Water Watch has discovered that the North Kern Water Storage District is also using this outrageous practice, meaning those crops are potentially being grown with toxic chemicals, including methylene chloride and benzene.

California grows 83% of fresh carrots produced in the U.S. — and Kern County, CA, is a leading producer. Eighty-eight percent of all grapes produced in the U.S. are grown in California, and Kern County is a leader in table grape production. And mandarin oranges, like Halos? Kern County's a top producer there too. Odds are, something you packed for lunch or cooked for dinner yesterday very well may have been irrigated with this water – and there’s no way for us to tell at the store.

The potential scope of this mess can’t be understated. Some of the United States’ most popular brands grow some of their food in the Cawelo and North Kern water districts, like Trinchero Family Estates (makers of Sutter Home wines), Halos Mandarins (formerly known as Cuties), and The Wine Group (makers of Cupcake and Fish Eye wines)—and many other producers.

Read more, sign petition

When new coal plants are still being excused because they're already "in the pipeline", at a rate of one per week, an emergency stay is in order.‪#‎ClimateEmergency‬

"BEIJING — The Chinese government is trying to slow down the approval of new coal-fired power plants because of overcapacity, but projects already in the pipeline, as well as loopholes in policy, mean China is on track to add an average of one new coal-fired plant a week until 2020, according to a report released on Wednesday by Greenpeace East Asia.

The construction boom would result in about 400 gigawatts of excess capacity and would waste more than one trillion renminbi, or $150 billion, on building unneeded plants, the report said.

China now has 910 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity and is expected to retire 70 gigawatts of that. The new construction means the country would increase capacity at a time when additional coal-fired power is not needed, Greenpeace said.

As part of its broad climate change policy, China — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — has promised that it would try to make 20 percent of its energy renewable by 2030. But given the planned growth in coal power capacity, some environmentalists question that goal.

Even though China has promised to reduce its dependency on coal power, there are 210 new coal-fired power plant projects approved for construction.

“China’s worsening coal overcapacity crisis is acting as a dead weight on the country’s ongoing energy transition,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, who wrote the report with Shen Xinyi."

Read more

"Keene city councilors are taking steps to oppose a plan that would allow electric ratepayers to bear the cost of a new pipeline project.
Eversource Energy is asking the N.H. Public Utilities Commission to approve a contract permitting the company to buy natural gas off the Access Northeast pipeline expansion.
Cheshire Medical Center: 2016 Walk-In Care 22149 - ROS - MB - instory
If approved, the contract would set a precedent allowing electric companies to charge customers for the construction of a natural gas pipeline, through a tax called the distribution cost recovery rate tariff.
The tariff would be a way for electric utilities to recover costs from a pipeline project by billing customers for it.
Opponents of the contract have argued such an approval would put an unfair burden on customers and would harm the New England region’s efforts to explore energy-efficient and renewable-energy options.
They also argue allowing companies to bill customers for such projects is against the law.
The City Council voted unanimously June 16 for a resolution opposing a tariff that would fund a private natural gas pipeline. It would still have to vote on a final resolution to make its opposition official.
The council’s five-member planning, licenses and development committee had unanimously recommended the council support drafting the resolution.
The council’s decision came about a month after the developers of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline withdrew that project’s federal application, setting the project back by years if they ever decide to pursue it again.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, a subsidiary of energy giant Kinder Morgan, had proposed building the 419-mile interstate pipeline to carry fracked natural gas from the shale fields of northern Pennsylvania to a hub in Dracut, Mass. Along the way, it was slated to pass through 18 towns in southern New Hampshire, including the Cheshire County towns of Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.
Officials in those towns began efforts to oppose the project soon after it became clear in late 2014 that they were in the path of the pipeline.
Keene officials remained on the sidelines of the region-wide issue through March, which is when some city residents and members of the five communities asked the council to take a position on the project.
After the project’s application was withdrawn, Ward 3 Councilor Terry M. Clark — who pushed councilors to take a stand on the pipeline — worked with fellow Ward 3 Councilor David C. Richards to propose the council take a position on the tariff matter.
Clark told the City Council on June 16 that he was surprised to learn earlier this year that electric ratepayers might have to foot the bill for the Northeast Energy Direct project or any other pipeline project coming through New Hampshire.
He said he thought the matter had been resolved in 1979, when the N.H. Legislature enacted a law essentially overturning the N.H. Supreme Court’s 1961 decision to allow Public Service of New Hampshire to get compensation for construction work while it was in progress.
“That’s the old devil coming back to haunt us,” he said.
Electric companies shouldn’t be charging their customers for projects investors don’t want to take chances on, he said.
Jay V. Kahn, city councilor at-large, said he concurred with Clark as long as the companies were being exclusively dependent on ratepayers to fund projects, and investors weren’t sharing in the costs.
“I can’t imagine a utility expansion or future investment that doesn’t involve some ratepayer implication,” he said.
The Access Northeast project seeks to provide New England with access to fracked natural gas from the shale fields of northeastern Pennsylvania through the Algonquin Gas Transmission system’s existing connections and new interconnections to pipelines in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Algonquin is a subsidiary of Houston-based Spectra Energy. The company is also proposing the construction of a new liquefied natural gas storage facility in Acushnet, Mass., as part of the project."

Pipeline Opponents Rejoice at News of Application's Withdrawal




"Eighteen months ago, what would become a passionate fight against the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline in New Hampshire was just beginning.On Monday, the hashtag #NEDisDEAD peppered social media with the news that the project’s developers had pulled its federal application. The move by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC officials ends any possibility of the pipeline moving forward, and sets the project back by years if the company ever decides to pursue it again.“I’m excited and amazed,” Richmond Selectwoman Carol Jameson, a pipeline opponent, said Monday afternoon. “This is as good as it gets.”Jameson she and other pipeline opponents knew it was going to be an uphill battle to get Tennessee Gas to withdraw the project’s application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agency has a near-perfect record in approving natural gas pipeline projects, she said. And any efforts by the grassroots opposition wouldn’t match the money and personnel Tennessee Gas would be putting forward to get the project approved, she said.


“It’s empowering and amazing. It’s like being back in the 70s in some ways,” she said. “It shows we can do it. It’s just incredible, even with all the cards stacked in a corporation’s favor for a project like this.”FERC was the sole agency that had the power to decide whether or not the pipeline, which would have been 30-inches in diameter as it came through New Hampshire, was approved.Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, a subsidiary of energy giant Kinder Morgan, had proposed building the 419-mile interstate pipeline to carry fracked natural gas from the shale fields of northern Pennsylvania to a hub in Dracut, Mass. Along the way, it was slated to pass through 18 towns in southern New Hampshire, including the Cheshire County towns of Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.Proponents of the $5.2 billion pipeline saw the project as a solution to meet the energy demands of the Northeast, and lower energy costs. Opponents — including several living in the communities along the pipeline’s proposed route — cited concerns about possible environmental and health effects, and the potential for land to be taken by eminent domain.In a letter to FERC Monday, J. Curtis Moffatt, deputy general council and vice president of Gas Group Legal, wrote that Tennessee Gas would withdraw its application for the pipeline.


The letter thanked FERC staff for its “diligent efforts” on the project, but said little else. Tennessee Gas filed it three days before a self-imposed deadline of May 26, which is when company officials said they’d provide a status report to FERC.On April 20, Tennessee Gas officials announced they were suspending any further work and expenditures on the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline.Company officials cited in a news release at the time a lack of customers either buying, or seeking to buy, space on the pipeline, as the main reason for suspending the project.The firms weren’t interested in signing onto the project because of low prices of natural gas and economic market conditions, and the uncertainty of natural gas regulations from one New England state to another, according to the news release.


The suspension announcement came six months after the company filed the project’s application with FERC in November 2015.Winchester resident and pipeline opponent Benjamin Kilanski said Monday it feels good to know that as a community, local pipeline opponents were able to stop the pipeline and save many special places in Winchester and across New Hampshire.“Moving forward, I feel that we need to make sure our state and local officials are doing all they can to protect the people of New Hampshire from any other threats,” he said.Other opponents feel the same way, saying even though the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline is dead, it doesn’t stop Tennessee Gas or another company from proposing another natural gas pipeline project in the region.“We’ve won the battle, but the war continues,” Rindge resident Maryann Harper said.She noted Kinder Morgan’s April news release announcing the project’s suspension, which stated Tennessee Gas remains committed to meeting “the critical need” for construction of additional natural gas infrastructure in the region.


“I do think what we did mattered. It caused project delays, which cost money,” she said. “I hope if they do decide to come back to New England, they propose something more reasonable. Honestly, they’re such a terrible company in the way they treated all us, they don’t deserve to do business here.”FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen confirmed Monday the agency had received Tennessee Gas’ letter seeking to withdraw its application, and the commission will soon issue a notice of the receipt.It is up to the company to determine its next course of action, as FERC has no say on that, she said.“If another application is filed, it will be assigned a different docket number and the review process will begin anew,” she said.Northeast Energy Direct project spokesman Richard N. Wheatley didn’t say if Tennessee Gas would use the time after the application’s withdrawal to regroup and eventually present the project, or a different version of it, to FERC as a new application.“(I) have no speculation to offer and no other information to provide on today’s withdrawal request to the FERC,” he said.


Richmond resident and pipeline opponent John C. Boccalini said while the opposition can take a lot of credit for stopping the pipeline, it was a perfect storm of factors that contributed to the project’s application being withdrawn.“It all brought us to the point economically where it was no good for them,” he said.They might still come back and do something, but if they do, he said, this region stands ready to fight it."


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, 5/24/16


Some in the Monadnock region thought they would never see this day: Kinder Morgan has officially withdrawn its application for the Northeast Energy Direct gas pipeline.When Kinder Morgan announced in November 2014 that it would be seeking an alternate route for NED, moving part of the proposed route north from Massachusetts to southern New Hampshire, many residents of the Monadnock region were in disbelief. How could this have happened, they asked, and what are we going to do about it?The alternate route, Kinder Morgan said, was designed to help avoid significant environmental impacts. It also came at a time when the Massachusetts opposition had reached considerable mass. Would New Hampshire have the numbers, the money and the time to launch a formidable opposition, one that would get the multinational energy developer’s attention, many wondered.


While more than a few residents opposed to the plan felt defeated from the start, the enormity of mounting an opposition didn’t faze others. They hit the ground running, inviting leaders of the Massachusetts opposition to help guide efforts in the Monadnock region; forming nonprofit groups that could leverage donations for marketing and legal assistance; organizing local, regional and state opposition efforts; holding fundraisers for the cause; not to mention writing letters, petitioning legislators and protesting in the streets. Town officials in affected towns, including Rindge, New Ipswich, Greenville, Mason and Temple, also took up the cause.The energy and resources gathered to fight the proposed gas pipeline was staggering.


Among the groups that led the opposition are N.H. Spirit, N.H. Pipeline Awareness and its local chapters, StopNED, Kidz of the Pipeline Resistance, Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast, and N.H. Municipal Pipeline Coalition.Kinder Morgan cited a lack of commitments from prospective customers and economic reasons for its decision to stop the project. But there’s no doubt that local opposition played a significant role, too. As co-founder of N.H. Pipeline Awareness Network Maryann Harper pointed out, pipeline developers have told Black & Veatch, a global engineering company, that delays from opposition groups pose the greatest obstacle to pipeline construction.Despite the uncertainty over how much their voice would really matter in the federal approval process, the opposition pressed on, and their labors have paid off. It’s a testament to just how powerful the people really are."

"Colorado’s high court today struck down the rights of Coloradans to enact localfracking bans. It’s no surprise, given the massive sway of the oil and gas industry in the state. The suit was brought against Longmont (which passed a popular fracking ban in 2012) by Gov. John Hickenlooper and his industry cronies. While it’s easy to be discouraged by this decision, the fact is, it will help activate citizens to pass statewide ballot measures to ban fracking in November.


And let’s not forget: The movement to stop fossil fuel development just keeps winning.


On Earth Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put a stop to the Constitution pipeline, a dangerous project to shipped fracked gas from Pennsylvania into New York, intersecting almost 300 bodies of water. His action sent a clear message that protecting the safety of the state’s drinking water was more important than expanding Big Oil’s profits. And the move didn’t come out of nowhere; the same grassroots pressure that successfully pushed Cuomo to ban fracking in 2014 pushed him to reject this dirty fracked gas pipeline.


It wasn’t just Earth Day that brought good news for the planet. Two days before, the Kinder Morgan energy behemoth canceled a gas pipeline that would have run through parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The company faced stiff opposition from activists and residents of the towns where the pipeline would have been constructed.


While it’s good to see Big Oil pull the plug on a bad idea, citizens must put pressure on their elected officials to make sure fossil fuels stay in the ground. That’s what the residents of Prince George’s County in Maryland did this month, convincing the county council to pass a resolution banning fracking. The vote was unanimous.

Even government regulators that are accustomed to green-lighting dirty energy projects are changing their tune. Last month in Oregon the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said no to a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Coos Bay. The battle against the Jordan Cove terminal and more than 200 miles of pipeline goes back over a dozen years—proving once again that dedicated, sustained activism is what will win the fight against corporate greed. And then the Oregon LNG company announced that it’s ending its plan to build an export terminal and pipeline in the state.


The fact is, activism—when we apply enough pressure to our decision makers—works. We’ve seen it in New York, where Gov. Cuomo banned fracking in 2014 and stopped the Port Ambrose LNG facility. While Cuomo has emerged as a climate hero, other Democratic governors haven’t been as responsive to their constituents on climate matters, even though the Democratic establishment is feeling the activist pressure to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Despite his rhetoric, Gov. Jerry Brown in California continues to frack even in the face of the huge climate disaster in the Porter Ranch community. In addition to Governors Hickenlooper in Colorado, Tom Wolf and Gina Raimondo (Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, respectively) continue to support the fracking industry and related infrastructure despite mounting opposition in those states.


While some politicians and regulators are finally catching up with the science, Big Oil isn’t going to give up without a fight, of course, but they are clearly worried that the narrative on dirty energy is shifting.


What’s the next step? Keep up the pressure—and amp it up a few volts. The March for a Clean Energy Revolution will hit the streets of Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention this summer—where Democratic leaders around the country will convene—to call for a ban on fracking, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, to stop dirty energy and make a swift, meaningful transition to renewable energy.


We’re winning—and we plan on continuing to do so. We’ll see you in Philadelphia."

"About every other day over the past decade, a gas leak in the United States has destroyed property, hurt someone or killed someone, a USA TODAY Network investigation finds. The most destructive blasts have killed at least 135 people, injured 600 and caused $2 billion in damages since 2004.


The death toll includes:

• The explosion that leveled part of a New York City block in East Harlem in March, killing eight and injuring 48 more.

• A blast that flattened the concrete floors of an apartment building in Birmingham, Ala., killing one woman in December.

• A flash fireball in 2012 that left an Austin man dead, a scarred foundation where his house once stood and debris strewn across yards of his neighbors."


Read entire article

Not content with Kinder Morgan’s assurances that plans for a new natural gas pipeline through New Hampshire have been shelved, the leading pipeline opposition group wants to put a stake through the heart of the Northeast Energy Direct project once and for all.

In a May 2 filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast asks that the NED application, which has not been formally withdrawn by Kinder Morgan, be immediately dismissed and denied with prejudice, meaning it can never be filed again.

“We believe that not only is immediate denial warranted, but that keeping the proceeding in suspended animation is not justifiable,” said PLAN President Katy Eiseman.

Kinder Morgan announced on April 20 that it had “suspended further work and expenditure” on the NED project, citing a lack of sufficient interest by natural gas shippers, wholesale customers and gas-fired power plants.

In her FERC filing, Eiseman notes that natural gas distribution companies like Liberty Utilities in New Hampshire and National Grid in Massachusetts have withdrawn their requests before state regulators to purchase space on the now-defunct pipeline.


Read entire article.

A fracking ban in Longmont and a moratorium in Fort Collins were overturned by the state's high court, which ruled oil and gas decisions rest with state regulators.


The Colorado Supreme Court struck down local fracking restrictions in two cities—Longmont, which had passed a ban, and Fort Collins, which had issued a five-year moratorium—issuing a one-two punch to the state's anti-fracking movement.


Regulators at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, not local communities, have the exclusive authority to regulate oil and gas activity in Colorado, the Supreme Court judges ruled Monday.

The Colorado decision echoes a similar ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court last year, which overturned a fracking ban in the town of Munroe Falls.


"This decision fits with the trend across most states, which is for state governments to preempt local control," said Hannah Wiseman, an environmental law professor at Florida State University. "The exceptions have been New York and Pennsylvania, but most other states in which this issue has arisen have preempted local government, either through legislation or through courts interpreting existing legislation."


The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the state industry trade group that sued both cities, celebrated the news. "This decision sends a strong message to anyone trying to drive this vital industry out of the state that those efforts will not be tolerated," COGA president Dan Haley said in a statement. "Bans and moratoriums on oil and gas are not a reasonable or responsible way to address local concerns."

Environmentalists decried the decision and vowed to keep fighting for local control.


"The Colorado Supreme Court's decision has not only tarnished the scales of justice, it places the citizens of communities at risk from a largely unregulated system of harmful pollution," Shane Davis, a leading activist in the state, told InsideClimate News in an email.


"It's beyond comprehension and it's unconscionable," Kaye Fissinger, a Longmont resident and activist, told InsideClimate News. "If anyone thinks we are going to lie down and play dead because of this ruling, they've got another thing coming."


Colorado ranks sixth in the nation for natural gas production and seventh in crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state's energy boom is largely due to the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling to extract previously hard-to-access fossil fuel resources.


With that boom, however, came concerns about how the expansion of oil and gas development would impact public health, the environment, noise pollution, road quality and property values. Longmont, about 15 miles northeast of Boulder, took the bold step of banning hydraulic fracturing and the storage and disposal of fracking-linked waste within its boundaries in 2012. It  was quickly sued by the oil and gas industry. In 2013, Fort Collins passed a five-year fracking moratorium and was also served with a lawsuit by the industry.

A Colorado district judge ruled against both communities in 2014. After Longmont and Fort Collins appealed their previous decisions, the state appeals court successfully petitioned the high court to take on the controversial cases.


Fissinger and other activists are now looking to push for local control in a different way: the November ballot. A green group called Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development has proposed two ballot initiatives on fracking. Their first proposal is to amend the state's constitution to give local communities authority over fossil fuel activities, including the power "to prohibit, limit, or impose moratoriums on oil and gas development."

Their second proposal seeks to expand the state's setback rule. Currently, oil and gas operations in the state must be 500 feet away from homes and 1,000 feet away from any hospitals and schools. Activists propose a 2,500-foot separation from those buildings, as well as from bodies of water.


Similar ballot initiative efforts were blocked by a last-minute political deal struck between Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and key donors of those campaigns in 2014. Environmentalists are hoping to avoid a repeat.

"If the system won't protect us and the environment," Davis said. "We will change the system."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as a Republican. He is a Democrat.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Harvard’s Investment in Kinder Morgan

In late 2014, the Harvard Management Company purchased an utterly whopping $97,944,000 in Kinder Morgan Energy Partners public equity and $47,925,000 in Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) public equity. However, KMI is not a company that reflects the values of the Harvard community. As the largest natural gas pipeline company in North America, Kinder Morgan has repeatedly used ethically questionable tactics such as corporate dishonesty, eminent domain, excessive campaign donations, and environmentally harmful practices in order to advance its own interest at the expensive of society at large.


For instance, KMI has been found to communicate false or misleading information to people living in communities through which their pipelines would run or their compressor stations would lie. In fall 2015, Kinder Morgan’s underlying company, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, included in their newsletter sent out to a New Hampshire community that “benzene, other hazardous air pollutants (HAP), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) …have been removed prior to custody transfer into the TGP pipeline system” (property of Dennis and Kathie Gauvin, in print). This statement assured worried citizens that in the case of a leak, these hazardous chemicals would not be released into their community’s air supply. However, some community members, the third step on the list of things to do in the case of an emergency (following evacuation and securing of the area) was to monitor the benzene and H2S levels.


Unfortunately, this is not the only instance in which KMI blatantly lied to vulnerable citizens. Another instance occurred in a Massachusetts community affected by the same proposed pipeline. KMI engaged in a push-polling effort by calling local citizens and coaxing them into declaring a statement of support for the pipeline. A CommonWealth article reporting on the effort claimed, “One wonders who would believe any survey that comes out showing significant pipeline support in these towns—communities that have almost universally voted resounding opposition to the [Northeast Energy Direct] pipeline at town meetings,.” KMI has even been accused of “astroturfing,” a strategy in which the company would hire people from unaffected areas to attend town hearings and support a proposed project. One of the most common concerns voiced by legitimate citizens at many of these meetings is that a pipeline’s natural gas may just be exported, causing negligible effect on local energy prices. Allen Fore, VP of public affairs for KMI, attempted to refute this concern by asserting “the idea that gas would be exported from the pipeline is ‘pure speculation’ by pipeline opponents.” However, the aforementioned CommonWealth article points out a contradiction in Fore’s stance—KMI’s filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clearly show that KMI intends to export much of its liquefied natural gas to Canada.  It is clear that time and time again, Kinder Morgan has engaged in misleading or blatantly erroneous discourse with its affected communities to gain a political advantage.


If KMI does not succeed in gaining permission from local communities, it nearly always invokes eminent domain to claim its desired property. Eminent domain is legal action through which the government commandeers privately owned property in order to suit public welfare, while providing some sort of compensation for the affected party (the level of compensation can obviously be a highly contentious issue). The harms of this eminent domain tactic are well addressed in an editorial by William S. Morris III, who tried to fight a KMI pipeline set to snake through his county.  In this editorial, published by a newspaper that Morris owns, he points out that Kinder Morgan banks on its ability to overcome the power of everyday citizens with its financial leverage in the courts, using the “power of government” to achieve corporate advantages. He writes,

“[Kinder Morgan] has unlimited resources, an army of lawyers and consultants, and a massive public relations division to push its interests … As , Kinder Morgan survey crews trespassed on private property after being told to stay out. When confronted by a deputy, one crew supervisor said, ‘You can’t stop the pipeline, they have enough money to push the pipeline through the county’ … Obviously I am not poor. But certainly I do not have Kinder Morgan’s money and resources. What I do have is a voice, and one that represents the vast majority of voices on this issue. And I plan to continue using it as this debate continues.”


When Kinder Morgan’s corporate power is not enough, it can rely on its political power. KMI, based in Texas, has been profoundly engaged in both state and national election funding. The company and its executives have been known to engage in abundant political spending since the company’s founding, almost always donating to candidates who either ignore or deny climate change and leave renewable energy initiatives off their platforms. Between 1990 and 2012, Kinder Morgan’s executives donated $1,075,443 to campaigns. The Center for Responsive Politics even reported that Richard and Nancy Kinder are the 32nd most highly donating household in 2016—they donated over $2 million to Right to Rise USA, Jeb Bush’s primary SuperPac for the 2016 presidential election. It is highly plausible that Kinder Morgan executives make these donations to support deregulation of the fossil fuel industry, which would allow higher KMI profits in the future to far outweigh the temporary losses the executives face in the form of donations. If $1 million of donations can assure the company will continue to meet weak FERC regulations and the provision of eminent domain in the future, the millions of dollars generated from foreseeable profits are likely to outweigh the original donations. Moreover, even if KMI does not receive direct benefits as a result of its donations, it is still ethically questionable for a corporation to have such a disproportionate impact on the political process.


Read the entire article.

A long-standing fight for the public’s right to their land and waterways came to an end April 22 when Gov. Cuomo’s New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The pipeline was proposed to run for 124 miles and require the destruction of nearly 700,000 trees.


Further, the pipeline would have carried fracked natural gas through the Hudson River estuary, crossing 289 waterbodies, multiple public drinking water sources and three watersheds. There was no expected public benefit from the pipeline. While the pipeline’s proponents alleged they would ship the fracked gas to New England, it was clear that the gas pipes leaving the pipeline’s terminus are all constrained, leaving no other option but to ship the gas to a Nova Scotia LNG facility before ultimately shipping it to Europe and Asia. Thankfully, New York State recognized the applicant’s failure to demonstrate how they would mitigate or avoid impacts to the state’s waterways.


This landmark decision in New York was the latest in a flurry of victories over pipeline projects across the country within the past two months. In Oregon, a proposed liquified natural gas(LNG) terminal in Warrenton and the Jordan Cove Energy project were defeated. The Jordan Cove project would have crossed nearly 400 waterbodies, a number of which are critical habitat for endangered coho salmon. Further, the Jordan Cove LNG terminal would have become Oregon’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. Along the Georgia coast, Kinder Morgan pulled the plug on its Northeast Energy Direct-Tennessee pipeline and its Palmetto Project.  Moreover, the Georgia legislature moved to block easements for the Sabal Trail Pipeline and Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a moratorium on pipelines.


The common denominator of these victories was the galvanized communities who mobilized and used the power of democracy to subjugate Big Energy’s greed. These communities took back the rights that had been stolen from them when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission transferred the sacred authority of eminent domain through its outrageous rubber-stamping of permits for expansion of the gas industry. As these pipeline projects threatened to bulldoze land, pollute waterways and destroy communities, people raised their collective voices and used the law to bring about action, proving yet again that democracy is the best safeguard for our water, air and land resources.


This is the beginning of a new era. It is a time when the people will demand more for their future, by exerting their collective democratic power and forcing politicians to do the right thing to reclaim our natural resources from the hands of big business. It is this grassroots power that is catalyzing action against climate change. It is this movement that is driving our energy future away from dirty fossil-fuel projects to clean renewables. This is a shift that is imperative if we are to save our home from the destructive impacts of a fossil-fuel carbon overload in the Earth’s atmosphere.


These defeated pipeline projects are a testament to the power of the growing bottom up movement for change. They are stories of communities galvanizing around the notion that we must leave polluting fossil fuels in the ground and invest in a clean energy future. Not only are these inspiring tales of David versus Goliath, they are examples of people power over corporate power that we will see repeated time and time again on the road to victory for our climate and and our planet.

Letter from Senator Kelly Ayotte to FERC: Motion To Dismiss

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Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund has rejected a $47 million offer from Spectra Energy that would have required the South Shore community to cease its opposition to a natural gas pipeline compressor station planned for a 16-acre industrial site along the Fore River basin.


Under the terms of the bargain, Hedlund and the Town Council would have welcomed the facility, part of Spectra's proposed Atlantic Bridge project. In exchange, Spectra would pay the town $16 million upfront and millions more over time.


Opposition to the project has been intense in Weymouth, Quincy and Braintree, with opponents urging Hedlund to walk away from the deal.


"I will continue our unrelenting fight against this ill-conceived and unwanted project," said Hedlund Friday on his Facebook page. "In the end, there is no offer or argument that can justify the siting of this compressor station in North Weymouth. It's the wrong project in the wrong location."


edlund noted that federal regulators recently allowed an expedited environmental review of the project, thereby diminishing the town's leverage. Hedlund has not ruled out taking legal action.


Hedlund in his statement referred to a "rigged federal process" and predicted that through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, "five President Obama appointees will very likely approve this compressor station in spite of our aggressive fight and compelling reasoning."


He said the practice of "allowing big utility companies to site compressor stations and gas pipeline wherever they want is a creation of Washington D.C." and called upon Congress to change the rules under which FERC operates.


Read the entire article.


"Unbeknown to anyone outside the House of Saud, the two men, separated in age by 59 years, had a rocky history together. King Abdullah once banned his brash nephew, all of 26 at the time, from setting foot in the Ministry of Defense after rumors reached the royal court that the prince was disruptive and power-hungry. Later, the pair grew close, bound by a shared belief that Saudi Arabia must fundamentally change, or else face ruin in a world that is trying to leave oil behind.

For two years, encouraged by the king, the prince had been quietly planning a major restructuring of Saudi Arabia’s government and economy, aiming to fulfill what he calls his generation’s “different dreams” for a post carbon future."


The Kinder Morgan NED pipeline project has been suspended. IS NED DEAD? Not yet, but we're well on our way there! Visit our blog for a list of articles related to the NED PIPELINE SUSPENSION!



The Kinder Morgan NED pipeline project has been suspended. IS NED DEAD? Not yet, but we're well on our way there!


"Highlighting his opposition to nuclear power ahead of the Empire State’s primary later this month, Bernie Sanders is calling for the shutdown of a nuclear power plant outside New York City that has leaked radioactive material into groundwater supplies.


The Indian Point plant has long been a source of controversy, thanks to numerous leaks and safety concerns. In February, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the latest leak at the plant “unacceptable.” But the plant produces about a quarter of the electricity used by New York City and neighboring Westchester County, making it difficult to replace.


“I am very concerned that the Indian Power nuclear power reactor is more than ever before a catastrophe waiting to happen,” Sanders said in a statement Monday. “In my view, we cannot sit idly by and hope that the unthinkable will never happen. We must take action to shut this plant down in a safe and responsible way. It makes no sense to me to continue to operate a decaying nuclear reactor within 25 miles of New York City where nearly 10 million people live.”


“Even in a perfect world where energy companies didn’t make mistakes, nuclear power is and always has been a dangerous idea because there is no good way to store nuclear waste,” Sanders said. “That is why the United States must lead the world in transforming our energy system away from nuclear power and fossil fuels...”


In Iowa and New Hampshire, he campaigned against pipelines that had general local opposition. In Minnesota, he came out against two Enbridge Pipelines, which he said would a similar impact on climate change as the Keystone XL pipeline."


Read full article   Read related blog post

Tepco is struggling to contain the highly radioactive water that is seeping into the ocean near Fukushima. The head of Japan’s NRA, Shinji Kinjo exclaimed, “right now, we have an emergency,” as he noted the contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier and is rising toward the surface – exceeding the limits of radioactive discharge. In a rather outspoken comment for the typically stoic Japanese, Kinjo said Tepco’s “sense of crisis was weak,” adding that “this is why you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone” to grapple with the ongoing disaster. As Reuters notes, Tepco has been accused of covering up shortcomings and has been lambasted for its ineptness in the response and while the company says it is taking actions to contain the leaks, Kinjo fears if the water reaches the surface “it would flow extremely fast,” with some suggesting as little as three weeks until this critical point.

Turning Point in Climate Fight as AGs Unite to Target Exxon Crimes

MA & VT ARE IN THE COALITION. HELLO NH? ‪#‎ExxonKnew‬‪#‎ActOnClimate‬

"Big Polluters have done everything in their power to deny climate change, it is time for our justice system to take back the climate debate," declared Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA executive director, who said the AGs' announcement was "a clear demonstration of climate leadership."


The coalition includes Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, District Of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington state, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Appearing alongside members of that group, former Vice President Al Gore, whose 2006 documentary film An Inconvenient Truth is credited with spurring public debate about climate change, said, "I really believe that years from now this convening ...may well be looked back upon as a major turning point in the effort to hold to account those commercial interests...who have been deceiving the American people about the dangers of climate change."


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Some world leaders, especially in developing countries like India, have long said it’s hard to reduce the emissions that are warming the planet because they need to use relatively inexpensive — but highly carbon-intensive — fuels like coal to keep energy affordable. That argument is losing its salience as the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar continues to fall.

Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, according to a recent United Nations report. More than half the $286 billion invested in wind, solar and other renewables occurred in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil — also for the first time. Excluding large hydroelectric plants, 10.3 percent of all electricity generated globally in 2015 came from renewables, roughly double the amount in 2007, according to the report.

The average global cost of generating electricity from solar panels fell 61 percent between 2009 and 2015 and 14 percent for land-based wind turbines. In sunny parts of the world like India and Dubai, developers of solar farms have recently offered to sell electricity for less than half the global average price. In November, the accounting firm KPMGpredicted that by 2020 solar energy in India could be 10 percent cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.

These are all hopeful signs. They suggest that reductions in carbon emissions can be achieved more quickly and more cheaply than widely believed. And they provide hope that nations will be able to achieve the ambitious goals they set for themselves at last December’s climate summit meeting in Paris — to keep warming below the threshold beyond which the world will be locked into a future of devastating consequences, including rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, widespread food and water shortages and more destructive storms.


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"SPRINGFIELD ‒ New England consumers could see $234 million in refunds following a federal judge's ruling that found the amounts electric transmission companies charged to ratepayers for infrastructure investments is too high, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.Administrative Law Judge Steve Sterner's ruling, which would reduce the return on equity transmission companies are can earn on their investments from 2013 to 2015, is the result of ongoing litigation before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to the AG's office.Although the commission must still approve the decision, Healey praised the ruling, saying she's pleased the judge agreed "that the profits electric transmission companies and their investors are earning at the expense of ratepayers is too high."


"If FERC agrees, New England ratepayers will be refunded hundreds of millions of dollars and will save millions more going forward," she said in a statement.


While transmission companies can recover transmission line construction costs plus a profit, FERC, based on the AG's 2011 initial complaint, reduced transmission owners' allowed profits in 2014 -- an order that resulted in a one-time refund of $78 million to New England customers, according to Healey's office.Sterner's decision would further reduce the allowed profits for rates that were in effect between January 2013 and April 2014, resulting in a $234 million refund if affirmed. Massachusetts, Healey's office said, would see about $106 million of the refund dollars, as it pays for about half of the New England region's transmission costs.


The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, Connecticut AG George Jepsen and several others also joined in the complaints and in pursuing customer refunds.Assistant Attorney General Rebecca L. Tepper, chief of Healey's Energy and Telecommunications Division, and Assistant Attorney General Donald W. Boecke, also of the AG's Energy and Telecommunications Division, are handling the case along with assistance from the Connecticut AG's office and others."

"A coalition of 10 groups from four states filed a petition with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals asking the court to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market gas pipeline expansion project.The group includes Riverkeeper, Inc., Food & Water Watch, Reynolds Hill, Inc., Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion and a dozen individuals.Yesterday was the last day they could file an appeal under federal rules. On Jan. 28, FERC denied eight separate rehearing requests from groups, individuals and municipalities, including the City of Boston and coalition members. Those who were denied a rehearing had 60 days to file a federal appeal.The City of Boston and the Township of Dedham, Massachusetts have also filed Federal appeals.Its foes say the AIM project is particularly contentious because it includes construction of a 42-inch diameter high pressure interstate gas pipeline within 105 feet of infrastructure at the Indian Point nuclear facility, which is situated at the intersection of two earthquake fault lines. Also they express concern that a 36-inch pipeline that is part of the AIM project also runs within 500 feet of a stone quarry in the West Roxbury section of Boston, where blasting occurs."


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"In a letter last month to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the congressman asked for a review of decades-old health standards for the stations, which can release high levels of potential carcinogenic gas like benzene.


The Kinderhook Republican came out late last year against the proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline, which wants to build a compressor station in southern Rensselaer County that has drawn vocal local opposition.Gibson asked FERC Chairman Norman Bay also to include "public health expertise" that is "independent, credible and free from conflicts of interest" as part of the federal environmental review for NED, in his March 15 letter. Gibson wrote that current federal exposure standards for air pollution near gas compressor stations "may be inadequate to protect public health. Many of these standards were set many years ago, and may be obsolete.


"Those standards rely on averaging emission levels of benzene, as well as methane, hexane and other volatile organic compounds, over long periods of time and "may not address higher exposure rates at peak times," Gibson wrote."


Read full article

Berkshire judge says pipeline giant Kinder Morgan can’t ignore state constitution

"Pittsfield — Though Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company wants to hurry into a constitutionally protected and rare, old-growth area of Otis State Forest in Sandisfield to start cutting trees for its pipeline storage loop, Thursday’s (March 31) hearing in Berkshire Superior Court gave early hints that the company might not have such an easy time using their usual eminent domain strategies to roll over little Sandisfield, not to mention the state.


Judge John A. Agostini moved a preliminary injunction hearing originally scheduled for March 31 to April 15 at 1 p.m.The existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline corridor that the company seeks to enlarge and extend. Photo: Heather BellowA section of forest along an already established pipeline route would have to be cut to make way for a third, 3.8-mile pipeline loop that will serve Connecticut. This requires easements on land now owned by the state and protected by its constitutional Article 97, which legislates residents’ right to a clean environment, and gives the state the ability to purchase land for that reason. While the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife says the company must cut between October 1 and March 31 to avoid disrupting nesting among other wildlife habitat issues, the company said it had applied for a May 1 extension, though that has not yet been granted, and may push cutting into the fall.


The situation in Sandisfield is fast becoming a precedent-setting testing ground for the power and teeth of Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution. That’s why the Attorney General is now involved and got an extension last week on Kinder Morgan’s motion to get those easements and begin work. And while yesterday’s court hearing was mostly procedural, there were clues that Kinder Morgan won’t be able to sweep pesky Article 97 aside.


“Any decision will echo and have grave implications,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ireland in response to Kinder Morgan attorney James Messenger’s claim that “the Commonwealth isn’t going to experience any injury” if the company proceeds quickly, whereas “injury to the pipeline company” may be “significant.”Messenger further said that unless every thing it needs to proceed is wrapped up by June 1, the whole project could be jeopardized." (more)


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"Saudi Arabia is getting ready for the twilight of the oil age by creating the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund for the kingdom’s most prized assets.Over a five-hour conversation, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman laid out his vision for the Public Investment Fund, which will eventually control more than $2 trillion and help wean the kingdom off oil. As part of that strategy, the prince said Saudi will sell shares in Aramco’s parent company and transform the oil giant into an industrial conglomerate. The initial public offering could happen as soon as next year, with the country currently planning to sell less than 5 percent.


“IPOing Aramco and transferring its shares to PIF will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,” the prince said in an interview at the royal compound in Riyadh that ended at 4 a.m. on Thursday. “What is left now is to diversify investments. So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”


Almost eight decades since the first Saudi oil was discovered, King Salman’s 30-year-old son is aiming to transform the world’s biggest crude exporter into an economy fit for the next era. As his strategy takes shape, the speed of change may shock a conservative society accustomed to decades of government handouts."


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"groundbreaking study published today in Seismological Research Letters has demonstrated a link, for the first time, between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas and earthquakes. “Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismicity in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin” confirms the horizontal drilling technique (which in essence creates an underground mini-earthquake to open up fissures for oil and gas extraction) is responsible for earthquakes, above and beyond what is already canonized in the scientific literature. We already knew that injecting fracking waste into underground wells can cause quakes. But now it's not just theinjections wells, but the fracking procedure itself that can be linked to seismicity. The study focuses on an area in Canada known as the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB), one of Canada's biggest shale basins and tight oil and gas producing regions.The researchers “compared the relationship of 12,289 fracking wells and 1,236 wastewater disposal wells to magnitude 3 or larger earthquakes in an area of 454,000 square kilometers near the border between Alberta and British Columbia, between 1985 and 2015,” explained a press release. They “found 39 hydraulic fracturing wells (0.3% of the total of fracking wells studied), and 17 wastewater disposal wells (1% of the disposal wells studied) that could be linked to earthquakes of magnitude 3 or larger.” 


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"Attorney General Maura Healey has signaled that her office intends to defend the state against Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., which seeks an easement through the Otis State Forest for a new natural gas pipeline spur that would serve three natural gas utilities in Connecticut.


The Kinder Morgan subsidiarysued the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation last week in Berkshire Superior Court seeking access to to the state conservation land so it can begin tree-cutting along the pipeline route."Our state Constitution protects conservation land across Massachusetts, including Otis State Forest," Healey stated in an email to The Republican. "Any company with plans to build on or re-purpose state-protected land has an obligation to fully comply with the requirements set forth in our Constitution.


"The company won a certificate from the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission on March 11 for the Connecticut Expansion project, but DCR has not conveyed a previously-negotiated construction easement, citing Article 97 of the state constitution, which requires legislative approval for the disposition of conservation land.A House bill that would have conveyed the easement was reported from committee with a recommendation for further study on March 16, effectively halting progress on the measure. Tennessee Gas filed its lawsuit later that same day.


Tennessee wants to begin tree-cutting right away because aspects of the Endangered Species Act won't let the company cut trees in the forest past March 31, unless an extension is granted. The company hopes to have the pipeline operational by November."

Fun with maps: How did your state rep vote on commuter rail?

"Just for fun – or also maybe to get a visual on where support is strongest for rail and where state reps who are against rail congregate – Manchester resident Ed Staub took the March 10 vote on Commuter Railand mapped the results. MAP HERE


Ed StaubHere’s the full view map.His map displays the recorded NH House of Representatives vote onFloor Amendment #2016-0941h, which removed funding for the Capitol Corridor passenger rail project from HB 2016. Its primary purpose is to allow citizens to quickly see how their representatives voted.*


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"“After a half century of neglect, America now has a railroad system that the Bolivians would be ashamed of,” wrote James Howard Kunstler, the piercing writer who introduced me to urbanism, in 2006. “There isn’t another project we could do that would have a greater impact on our oil consumption than fixing our rail system and restoring passenger service.”Ten years later, little has changed. A new ranking of high-speed rail networks by nation from GoEuro, a travel search engine, puts the U.S. at 19th out of the 20 countries assessed. Bolivia isn’t on the list, but the U.S. does rank below Turkey and Uzbekistan.GoEuro ranked all countries with high-speed rail lines (as defined by its slightly complex criteria) and made some arbitrary choices as to which factors matter most. It put the biggest emphasis on population coverage, as it should, but its second most important factor was record speed, which is silly. America would benefit more from 10 train lines that can go 150 miles per hour than one that can go 250. Operating speed, which is the third most valued factor in this ranking, is more useful."


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"The Rockefeller Family Fund will divest from fossil fuels and ditch its holdings ofExxonMobil, citing the oil giant’s “morally reprehensible” stance on climate change issues.


John D. Rockefeller, the fund’s founding father, made his fortune on Exxon’s predecessor, Standard Oil, but spokespeople for Rockefeller stated, “There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons.”


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"Carbon hasn’t entered our atmosphere this quickly in at least 66 million years—since an asteroid slammed into our planet and wiped out the dinosaurs, or perhaps even earlier. Our addiction to fossil fuels has pushed the planet into a “no-analog” state that’s “likely to result in widespread future extinctions,” an exceedingly humorless study published today in Nature Geoscience concludes.


It’s no secret that industrial society is racking up a serious carbon bill, nor that our CO2 emissions—roughly 2,000 billion tons since the start of the industrial revolution—are warming and changing the planet. But to understand just how exceptional this moment in Earth’s history is, we need to look at the geologic record.


That’s what Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his colleagues did, and what they found is truly terrifying. Modern carbon emissions outpace anything our planet has seen over the entire Cenozoic—the period that began after the K-T extinction—by at least a factor of ten.


For a long time, geologists have considered the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) a close analog to modern global warming. Fifty-six million years ago as the supercontinent Pangea was breaking apart, global temperatures rose at least 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), possibly due to a massive release of methane from the seafloor. But the timescale of high carbon emissions during the PETM isn’t well known: did all that methane gush skyward over the course of decades, or did it leak slowly for thousands of years? Answering that question can help us determine whether the PETM really was comparable to the present.


In their study, Zeebe and his colleagues re-evaluated the carbon-13 and oxygen-18 isotope records—which track atmospheric carbon concentrations and global temperature, respectively—from sediment cores collected on the New Jersey coast. They learned that carbon emissions and global warming occurred nearly simultaneously during the PETM, suggesting a slow release of greenhouse gases. (If billions of tons of methane had poured out of the ground in a sudden burst, Earth’s climate would have taken some time to catch up.)


Using climate and carbon cycle models, the researchers calculated that somewhere between 2,000 and 4,500 billion tons of carbon were released over a period of at least 4,000 years. The annual emissions rate was somewhere between 0.6 and 1.1 billion tons per year.


Today, humanity is offloading 10 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year—and that rate is still going up, despite our recent resolution to end fossil fuel consumption this century. We’re emitting carbon way, way faster than the planet was during the PETM.


And if the most abrupt global warming episode of the Cenozoic doesn’t measure up to the present?

Well, we have to look even deeper into the geologic past. At the K-T boundary 66 million years ago, a six-mile wide asteroid slammed into the planet with the force of a billion Hiroshima bombs, kicking off a period of intense volcanic activity that lasted approximately a half million years. It’s possible that this dramatic chapter in Earth’s history saw a comparable carbon release. But we can’t be sure. “It’s not well known if or how much carbon was released [at the K-T boundary],” Zeebe told Gizmodo in an email, adding that “geologic records are getting progressively worse for older events.”


Still, it’s unsettling to think that we can’t find any comparison to the present since the dinosaurs kicked the bucket. The authors note that life during the PETM would have had some time to adapt to global climate change and ocean acidification, given the slow rise in atmospheric carbon concentrations. Life during the present? Maybe not so much.

“If anthropogenic emissions rates have no analogue in Earth’s recent history, then unforeseeable future responses of the climate system are possible,” the researchers write.


If I had to make a prediction? We’re going the way of the dinosaurs."


Read more!

Our leaders thought fracking would save our climate. They were wrong. Very wrong.

By Bill McKibben


"lobal warming is, in the end, not about the noisy political battles here on the planet’s surface. It actually happens in constant, silent interactions in the atmosphere, where the molecular structure of certain gases traps heat that would otherwise radiate back out to space. If you get the chemistry wrong, it doesn’t matter how many landmark climate agreements you sign or how many speeches you give. And it appears the United States may have gotten the chemistry wrong. Really wrong.There’s one greenhouse gas everyone knows about: carbon dioxide, which is what you get when you burn fossil fuels. We talk about a “price on carbon” or argue about a carbon tax; our leaders boast about modest “carbon reductions.” But in the last few weeks, CO2’s nasty little brother has gotten some serious press. Meet methane, otherwise known as CH4.In February, Harvard researchers published an explosive paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Using satellite data and ground observations, they concluded that the nation as a whole is leaking methane in massive quantities. Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere.To the extent our leaders have cared about climate change, they’ve fixed on CO2. Partly as a result, coal-fired power plants have begun to close across the country. They’ve been replaced mostly with ones that burn natural gas, which is primarily composed of methane. Because burning natural gas releases significantly less carbon dioxide than burning coal, CO2 emissions have begun to trend slowly downward, allowing politicians to take a bow. But this new Harvard data, which comes on the heels of other aerial surveys showing big methane leakage, suggests that our new natural-gas infrastructure has been bleeding methane into the atmosphere in record quantities. And molecule for molecule, this unburned methane is much, much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.The EPA insisted this wasn’t happening, that methane was on the decline just like CO2. But it turns out, as some scientists have been insisting for years, the EPA was wrong. Really wrong. This error is the rough equivalent of the New York Stock Exchange announcing tomorrow that the Dow Jones isn’t really at 17,000: Its computer program has been making a mistake, and your index fund actually stands at 11,000.These leaks are big enough to wipe out a large share of the gains from the Obama administration’s work on climate change—all those closed coal mines and fuel-efficient cars. In fact, it’s even possible that America’s contribution to global warming increased during the Obama years. The methane story is utterly at odds with what we’ve been telling ourselves, not to mention what we’ve been telling the rest of the planet. It undercuts the promises we made at the climate talks in Paris. It’s a disaster—and one that seems set to spread.The Obama administration, to its credit, seems to be waking up to the problem. Over the winter, the EPA began to revise its methane calculations, and in early March, the United States reached an agreement with Canada to begin the arduous task of stanching some of the leaks from all that new gas infrastructure. But none of this gets to the core problem, which is the rapid spread of fracking. Carbon dioxide is driving the great warming of the planet, but CO2 isn’t doing it alone. It’s time to take methane seriously."


Much more! Read this great article!

[Editor’s note: Twenty-one youth plaintiffs, as well as climate scientist Dr. James Hansen as guardian for future generations, is suing the federal government to cease conduct that promotes fossil fuel extraction and consumption, and instead develop and implement an actual science-based climate recovery plan. The complaint argues the youth have a fundamental constitutional right to be free from the government’s destruction of their Earth’s atmosphere. Yesterday’s court appearance was scheduled for the judge to hear oral arguments from the U.S. government and the fossil fuel industry on their motions to dismissthe landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit.]


At Wednesday morning’s historic hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin questioned Department of Justice attorney Sean C. Duffy on whether the federal government was allowing tradeoffs between present and future generations. To illustrate his question, the Judge used an example of a discount rate, and pondered whether the government’s actions were effectively trading future harm for present day benefits.


Read full article.

"A global platform “Break Free” was launched today featuring a series of peaceful, escalated actions aimed to disrupt the fossil-fuel industry’s power by targeting the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel projects.


This May, thousands of people from around the world will join actions taking place across six continents which aim to stop dirty fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100 percentrenewable energy. Major actions are currently planned in countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, U.S., Germany, Philippines, Australia and more, led by the communities that have spent years already fighting dangerous fossil fuel projects.


On the back of the hottest year in recorded history, communities worldwide are demanding governments move past the commitments made as part of the Paris agreement resulting from the summit held last December. In order to address the current climate crisis and keep global warming below 1.5 C, fossil fuel projects need to be shelved and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced, now.


“The science is clear: we need to keep at least 80 percent, if not more, of fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” Payal Parekh, global managing director of, said. “Communities worldwide are experiencing first hand the consequences of climate change and the damage inflicted by the fossil fuel industry. It’s up to us to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift towards a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. It’s in our hands to close the gap between what current commitments will achieve and what science demands is necessary in order to protect our common home.”


The climate movement’s commitment to scaling up its resistance to the fossil fuel industry comes at a time when renewable energy is already more affordable and widespread than ever before. These new tools give communities at the front lines of climate change new ways to respond to the crisis and build their own power.


“Moving towards 100 percent renewable energy is possible with the political will to make the change,” Arif Fiyanto, coal campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, said. “There are no major economic or technical barriers to a future supported by renewable energy. Any new infrastructure built to support fossil fuels expansion, such as coal mines, power plants, oil rigs and export terminals will be a waste of money and further lock us into a path to irreversible climate change.”


Read more about planned actions this May.

"SCRANTON -- A jury ruled that Cabot Oil and Gas was negligent in its natural gas drilling and created a private nuisance for two families in Susquehanna County.Cabot Oil and Gas must pay millions of dollars to the families involved in the federal civil suit.The Hubert family and the Ely family, both from Dimock Township, did not settle with Cabot Oil and Gas over water contamination. In 2012, 40 other residents settled with the company.


The Hubert and Ely families allege Cabot's natural gas drilling contaminated their drinking water.The jury awarded $2.75 million to the Ely family. The Hubert family is awarded $1.49 million.It took jurors two days to reach the verdict."

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge FERC to Reject Proposed Permit Application for Northeast Energy Pipeline (NED) Project; Proposal Seeks to Install Gas Pipeline & Compressor Stations through Several NYS Counties - Senators Say New Yorkers Bear the Environmental & Health Risks and Reap None of the Benefits

NED Pipeline Would Cut Through Five Counties Broome, Delaware, Schoharie, Albany, and Rensselaer & The Hudson River in New York – And Three Additional States, Including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts & New Hampshire Schumer, Gillibrand:


The potential long-lasting and negative environmental, quality-of-life and health impacts are clear; New Yorkers would bear all the environmental and health risks while receiving no benefit from the pipeline once it is built Schumer, Gillibrand: Ensuring the saf

March 9, 2016


Albany, N.Y. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, today urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the current permit application for the Northeast Energy Pipeline (NED) pipeline project proposed by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan. The $5 billion NED pipeline covering over 400 miles would cut through the Schoharie Valley to Albany and Rensselaer Counties in the Capital Region. It would also require compressor stations in Delaware, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties. 

“I keep an open mind on energy infrastructure projects, but in this case it seems that too many residents’ quality of life, health and safety are being compromised for a pipeline that has not demonstrated any long-term benefit to the communities it impacts. We have asked the company multiple times to consider less impactful sites for the compressor stations, and to demonstrate the benefits to New Yorkers, but they have failed to satisfactorily address either concern,” said Senator Schumer. “So I am urging FERC to reject the permit application because this proposed pipeline would result in New Yorkers bearing all the environmental, security, quality-of-life and health risks while receiving none of the benefits from the pipeline.”

“The NED pipeline represents a redundant expansion of natural gas infrastructure in New York State,” saidSenator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “The potential impacts to the communities and their residents along the proposed route far outweigh any stated benefit. It remains unclear if NYS rate payers will ever benefit from this proposal, but what is clear, the health, safety and quality of life of hundreds of New Yorkers could forever be altered.”


Last April, Schumer and Gillibrand called on the FERC to expand the range of the scoping meetings to include communities that are also impacted by the compressor stations, valve stations and meter stations. In the beginning community meetings were held only where the pipeline would be positioned. Residents in these meetings all expressed serious concerns of the project; these concerns were also addressed in hundreds of calls and letters to the senators.


In their letter, the senators explained the proposed project represents a redundant expansion of industrial natural gas infrastructure on a route that travels from Pennsylvania and through a number of rural communities in New York State in Broome, Delaware, Schoharie, Albany, and Rensselaer Counties. Schumer and Gillibrand noted that at no point did Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline make a case that there is a compelling economic need for this project in New York and explained that these New Yorkers would bear all the environmental, safety, quality-of-life and health risks while receiving no benefit from the pipeline. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company officially filed its formal application last November.


Full text of the senators’ joint letter is included below:


Dear Chairman Bay:


We write to express our opposition to the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline (NED) (Docket No. PF14-22-000) project proposed by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, and request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reject the current permit application for construction of this project.


The NED Pipeline project represents a redundant expansion of industrial natural gas infrastructure on a route that travels from Pennsylvania and through a number of rural communities in New York State in Broome, Delaware, Schoharie, Albany, and Rensselaer Counties, which will bear all the impact and risk, while receiving little to no benefit from this project.  Since the announcement of this project, our offices have received comments from community leaders, advocacy groups and individuals all who have legitimate concerns about the safety and potentially negative environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline and associated infrastructure.  Most specifically, the gas compressors stations proposed for Rensselaer and Schoharie counties, have the potential to negatively impact air quality, public health, and the quality of life currently being enjoyed in these communities.


The overwhelmingly negative feedback we have received from the public during scoping sessions hosted by FERC, and community meetings hosted by Kinder Morgan, has made it clear that this project, both the construction of the pipeline and building of these compressor stations in New York, does not have the support of our constituents. The proposed infrastructure would disrupt the lives of hundreds of New Yorkers, many who rely on the land for their livelihoods and have resided in and contributed to these communities for generations. At no point has it been made clear that there is a compelling economic need for this project in our state, however, the potential for long lasting environmental and health impacts is clear.  It is for these reasons that we must express our opposition to this project and ask FERC to consider alternatives to this proposal.


Charles E. Schumer                                                                

United States Senator


Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

Pipeline's opening delayed amid impasse: Constitution Pipeline delays schedule to 2017

The Constitution Pipeline company conceded Thursday that it will have to delay its projected date of putting the natural gas transmission system into service from late this year to the second half of 2017.


The pipeline company had said that to proceed this year it would have to cut trees along the planned route in New York by the end of this month to comply with environmental concerns regarding bird habitat.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not acted on the company's request for a "limited notice to proceed" with the New York tree felling.


The federal agency has been under pressure from the state Attorney General's office in Albany to disapprove the tree felling in New York because the pipeline planners have yet to obtain a water quality certificate from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.


The state agency is expected to rule in April on that permit application. A Cuomo administration spokesman assigned to the DEC, Sean Mahar, has not responded to requests from The Daily Star to release the exact date of the company's filing for the permit.


Opponents of the pipeline, who have predicted that the project will never be completed, have said that the agency has a full year to consider the permit application.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been silent on the proposed pipeline, although high-ranking members of his administration have met privately with pipeline executives.


In a statement Thursday morning, Constitution Pipeline said of the updated schedule for putting the project into service: "This adjustment is to ensure compliance with the environmental conditions of the FERC Order, as well as the USFWS Biological Opinion."


The company added: "Specifically, the in-service date adjustment is in response to the rapidly closing environmental window to complete tree felling activities prior to March 31. To date, Constitution has completed nearly all tree felling activities in Pennsylvania."


The company said that pending receipt of the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification from DEC and the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it "anticipates beginning limited mainline construction in the summer of 2016."


"Full mainline construction would continue after October 1 to minimize and avoid adverse impacts to migratory birds and the Northern Long Eared Bat," the company said. "All activities are subject to third party environmental monitoring."


Read full article

"Law360, New York (March 10, 2016, 5:14 PM ET) -- New York's two U.S. senators on Tuesday urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject Kinder Morgan Inc.'s $5 billion natural gas pipeline proposal, citing "overwhelmingly negative feedback" from constituents worried about public health and the environment.


The proposed Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline would ship gas from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale into New York and New England, and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told FERC Chairman Norman C. Bay in a letter that the project "represents a redundant expansion of industrial natural gas infrastructure," which would force rural New Yorkers to shoulder "all the impact and risk, while receiving little to no benefit.


""The proposed infrastructure would disrupt the lives of hundreds of New Yorkers, many who rely on the land for their livelihoods and have resided in and contributed to these communities for generations. At no point has it been made clear that there is a compelling economic need for this project in our state, however, the potential for long lasting environmental and health impacts is clear," the lawmakers wrote.


The senators said they've heard opposition from community leaders, advocacy groups and individuals opposed to the project. Specifically they called attention to gas compressor stations proposed for two counties that "have the potential to negatively impact air quality, public health, and the quality of life."The NED project, consisting of about 350 miles of supply and distribution pipelines, as well as a series of lateral pipelines to supply local gas utilities, is intended to ship natural gas from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale through New York to New England and Eastern Canada.Kinder Morgan claims it is intended to ease capacity restraints in the region and help bring down costs, both for natural gas and for gas-fired electricity.


The company, whose Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC unit asked for formal FERC approval of the project on Nov. 20, said it wants FERC to approve NED by the fourth quarter of 2016, with the expectation of beginning construction in January 2017 and having the new pipeline up and running by November 2018.


Maine Gov. Paul LePage threw his weight behind the project in February, telling FERC the pipeline is "particularly critical for Maine's economic strategy" and that the commission should approve it without delay.But the project has run into opposition from communities along its planned route, as well as environmental groups like the Sierra Club, and several state officials — including bothNew Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey — have urged FERC to explore the necessity of the project.Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley told Law360 on Thursday the company is aware of the senators' letter, will continue to brief their staffs on the project, and values comments from all stakeholders.


"We look forward to continue to work with all stakeholders and the senators with regard to the project and the benefits to the region," Wheatley said.Kinder Morgan Inc. is represented in the FERC application by Brian D. O’Neill and Michael R. Pincus of Van Ness Feldman LLP, Suedeen G. Kelly of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and in-house by David R. DeVeau, J. Curtis Moffatt, Jacquelyne M. Rocan, Susan T. Halbach and Mosby G. Perrow."

A proposed 124-mile pipeline to deliver low-cost gas from Pennsylvania's shale gas fields to New York and New England has been delayed for lack of a state water quality permit.


Constitution Pipeline Company says it's changing its projected start of service from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the second half of 2017. The company says it won't be able to complete tree-clearing before the end of March, as required to avoid harm to nesting birds.


The company has completed tree-felling along the Pennsylvania leg of the project. But work can't begin in New York until state regulators issue a water quality certification.


Meantime, armed with the recent correspondence by United State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, together with that of Congressman Chris Gibson,  Town of Nassau Supervisor David Fleming is calling for the immediate suspension of the review of the NED Pipeline application. The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan has proposed this industrial gas pipeline to cross Rensselaer County as part of the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline Project.  The pipeline would provide no gas service in the communities it would pass through.

NH House Passed Two Pipeline Bills This Week

DuThe New Hampshire House passed two of the pipeline bills this Wednesday and Thursday, March 9th and 10th. Many thanks to all those who worked hard to get these bills passed.


HB 1148 Relative to pipeline capacity contracts - requires the public utility commission to determine whether any pipeline capacity contract is in the public interest -  Passed 208 - 124 


HB 1660 Relative to eminent domain for gas pipelines and relative to assessment of the land use change tax for eminent domain takings for energy infrastructure - allows an owner of land to require a pipeline company to take an entire tract of land under eminent domain, allows for pipeline company eminent domain takings to include public lands with consent of the legislative body, and provides for assessment of the land use change tax for certain eminent domain takings of land for energy infrastructure - Passed 235 - 47 


All of the other pipeline bills have been deemed inexpedient to legislate except for HB 1101, which will be the subject of an Interim Study.


HB 1101 Prohibiting charges to New Hampshire residents for the construction of a high pressure gas pipeline - prohibits the imposition of any tariff, tax, or fee on any state resident for the construction of a high pressure gas pipeline - Interim Study


HB 1148 and HB 1660 will be sent to the New Hampshire Senate for their consideration. I’ll send something out once the Senate schedules hearings.

From the Berkshires to Boston, activists are mobilizing against the construction of a pipeline that would bring fracked natural gas from the Marcellus Shale fields of Pennsylvania to New England. It’s a chess match of politics, propaganda and grassroots democracy. The board is now set for some crucial moves.


One of the key players in this game is Kinder Morgan, the operator of the country’s largest pipeline network. They want to build a high-pressure pipeline from upstate New York, through western Massachusetts into southern New Hampshire, and finally back to Dracut, Massachusetts. The project, namedNortheast Energy Direct (NED), has the support of a moneyed consortium of utilities and businesses.


There’s no shortage of arguments against the proposed pipeline. It would slash through woodlands, in some places clear-cutting a swath up to 150 feet wide.


But there’s a robust resistance. A coalition of citizen groups called Mass Pipeline Awareness Network has led the way in blocking the pipeline’s approval.  At every public hearing and town hall meeting, coalition members and other local organizations have marshaled vocal opposition. They’ve carried the signs, written the letters, called the talk shows and tirelessly lobbied the legislators.


There’s no shortage of arguments against the proposed pipeline. It would slash through woodlands, in some places clear-cutting a swath up to 150 feet wide. It would carve upconservation land and could seize private property by eminent domain. High-pressure pipelines are known to explode, and when they do, it can be devastating. Compressor stations located along the pipeline’s route present their own set of environmental hazards, including venting of gases and excessive noise. New gas infrastructure would push the region’s future energy mix toward more carbon emissions and away from clean renewables.


And even the very need for the pipeline is disputed. A study commissioned by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office late last year concluded that the region’s demand for electricity could be met without new pipelines.

But the key question that activist groups are now pursuing is whether the gas carried by the NED pipeline is likely to be exported to other countries.


Read full article.


Hitting the cap: Industry, utilities, lawmakers debate changes to renewable energy net metering limits

"Quirk and Kellar both want to lift the current 50-megawatt cap that has put a lid on what had been explosive growth of the state’s solar industry. Lawmakers appear to be ready to do that somewhat, but at deadline, the cap is still there and has been reached by every utility except for Until.


Lawmakers created that cap, which is apportioned among the state’s four electric utilities, some 17 years ago – a time when a limit no one thought it would be reached. It took 13 years before the state produced its first five megawatts through solar energy, two years for the next five, one year for next, six months to add 10 more and by the by the end of 2015, 30 megawatts have already been put into service.


A confluence of factors has led to an astonishing acceleration in renewable energy, particularly solar:

• Cheaper and more efficient solar technology.

• The arrival of two national companies that allow homeowners to rent out their roof with no money down.

• A new law enabling group projects.

• A rush to get solar done because of the threatened end of a variety of incentives, including net metering.


The solar industry now employs more than 730 people in the state, according to a recent report by the Solar Foundation.But as impressive as that growth is, New Hampshire lags behind other states, and part of the reason is the cap, which is at 1 percent of our generation capacity. Vermont is at 15 percent, Massachusetts at 9 percent and Maine has no cap at all.Most now agree that New Hampshire’s cap should be lifted, but how far, for how long, and for what type of user – residential homeowners, midsized businesses, municipalities?"


Read full article.

"Cooperatives, which are less regulated and usually smaller than utilities, can try more stuff in an attempt to avoid this death spiral. That’s what NHEC is doing in two ways, both through technology and through post-net-metering prices. First the technology, which is more fun.


Turning down the peak loadAs soon as this spring, said Seth Wheeler, NHEC spokesman, the cooperative will make use of the “smart meters” it has installed in recent years and roll out a three-step program to get people to use less electricity during peak periods, such as a summer heat wave.Under the most innovative program, volunteers will have load-control devices put on certain power-hungry appliances, such as the hot water heater and air conditioner, so the devices can be remotely turned off as necessary. In return, they’ll get a seasonal break on bills.


This would allow NHEC to actively reduce its power load as needed, rather than depending on customers’ actions. It will be the first such program for residences in the state, although utilities use “demand response” programs for corporate and industrial customers that operate on the same model, just not necessarily using load-control devices.


Under the second NHEC program coming this year, volunteers can sign up for a rate-based initiative, under which electricity costs more during peak periods such as late afternoon, when everybody comes home and turns on the air conditioning or heat. Such “time-of-day pricing” is an incentive for people to shift certain usage, such as drying clothes and taking showers and plugging in the Tesla, to off-peak times.There will also be a much more expensive “critical peak” rate that Wheeler said could be called a maximum of 15 times a year, lasting five hours each time, if NHEC anticipates it might hit its monthly or annual peak demand.Customers would be notified via email or text in advance so they could plan. “The incentive is there to really curtail your usage during those periods,” said Wheeler.


The third program will be totally voluntary, in which NHEC will send emails to all its members asking them to cut back on electricity use for a certain period, with no direct incentive except the goodness of their hearts – and the possibility that they might drive down rates by reducing peak demand."


Read full article.

"A planner maps extreme sea level rise, turning Los Angeles, New York, London, and other cities into urban archipelagoes."

Read full article

Bernie Sanders: 'Hillary Clinton Supports Fracking. I Do Not.'

“Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.”


These words appeared in a recent fundraising email from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which fiercely attacked fracking and Hillary Clinton’s support from and for the natural gas industry.

In blunt language, Sanders contrasted his call for a national moratorium on fracking against Clinton’s fundraising from natural gas investors:


Just days before the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton left the campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser at a hedge fund. That same hedge fund is a major investor in fracking, an incredibly destructive practice of extracting natural gas by pumping hundreds of secret chemicals into the ground. 

Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not. 

And just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.

Sanders’ message is referring to a January 27 fundraiser attended by Hillary Clinton at the headquarters of Philadelphia hedge fund Franklin Square Capital Partners. Franklin Square invests in private fracking and oil drilling companies across the nation, as well as Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. 


Sanders’ email comes on the heels of the Clinton campaign’s February 12th release of a policy promoting new natural-gas extraction and infrastructure. Clinton’s promotion of “safe and responsible natural gas production” (the phrase “safe and responsible” was used five times) was praised by LiUNA, a trade union that had vigorously supported the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.


“Domestically produced natural gas can play an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy,” Clinton’s policy position states, making no mention of the candidate’s February 4th pledge, caught on camera, to ban the extraction of fossil fuels, including natural gas, from public lands.


Read full article and see video.



"One family has sold its land while another family continues its lawsuit against Kinder Morgan over the 2014 pipeline spill that soaked both of their Belton area properties with gasoline.


According to Anderson County property records, Jeremy and Crystal Jameson sold their 6-acre Lewis Drive farm last fall to the Plantation Pipe Line Co., the Kinder Morgan subsidiary that operates the pipeline that spilled more than 250,000 gallons of gasoline into the soil and groundwater in December 2014. The company paid the couple $210,000, the price they paid for the land just six weeks before the gas spill. The transaction history is available at


The Jamesons could not be reached for comment on this story, and a search of state and federal court records did not turn up any settlement information between the family and Kinder Morgan. The company has stated several times that it does not comment on its dealings with private individuals.


Crystal Jameson told the Independent Mail in 2015 that her family's plans to plant a fruit grove on their land were prevented by long-term contamination from the gasoline spill.


Meanwhile, the owners of the land around the Jamesons' old property are proceeding with their lawsuit against Kinder Morgan. The lawsuit filed last year by Eric and Scott Lewis in Anderson County has been moved to U.S. District Judge Henry Herlong's court in Greenville.


According to Spartanburg attorney Gary Poliakoff, who represents the Lewis family, the suit is currently in discovery phase, which means both sides are compiling evidence to present to Herlong. He said his clients allege the spill has inflicted long-term damage to the local groundwater supply in and around their 350-plus acres northwest of Belton."


Read full article.

New term, "frac out", for wetland drilling disasters

From Cathy Kristofferson of Stop TGP Northeast Expansion /


"Learned a new term today: "Frac Out" is when horizontal directional drilling (HDD) goes awry and the drilling mud, bentonite clay mixed with water used to keep the drill bit from overheating, escapes into the wetland through fissures in rock, or other "weaknesses", suffocating everything in its path. Can't wait to see Kinder Morgan's Frac-out Contingency Plan 'cuz apparently it happens "all the time."

""What we're going after is the financial fulcrum that the developer was going to rely on to ensure they could get bonded in the first place for this multi-billion dollar project," he said. "It is essential, as far as we can tell from their stand point, to have the kind of fiscal footing that would be derived from a guarantee that New Hampshire rate payers will be obligated, in perpetuity, to in large part defray the construction costs of this mammoth project."


Eastman said the situation is such that, without the guarantee of fee increases, the company will be forced to reconsider their decision to complete pipeline construction in New Hampshire. Moody's downgraded the company's credit rating from stable to negative in December."Why should we, New Hampshire's rate payers, as individuals and businesses large and small, be compelled to serve as the guarantors for this private company's for-profit enterprise which will lead to a statistically negligible change in this state's natural gas supply?" Eastman said."


Read full article