Energy 106: Lead up to a Dirty, Little Secret

Ever hear of Liberty Utilities’ Granite Bridge pipeline project? It’s remarkably similar to all the other pipelines that have been proposed that web across the United States. It is promoted as a job creating, economic investment that will save money in the long run, and create a secure and dependable supply of fuel. The project would “bridge” two existing pipelines. By using existing infrastructure, it would lower environmental and private property impacts, and open the flow of lots of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The pipeline would wind through New Hampshire to Epping, where it would be stored during low demand times for high demand times. Proponents state that natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than other fossil fuel options. It provides jobs, jobs, jobs, and lowers energy bills for some of us, for a little while, anyway. And it frees us from the shackles of our dependence on foreign oil. This is about energy security, not individuals. It will bolster our current energy infrastructure.

As with so much else in life, there are opposers of Granite Bridge. They are fire and brimstone against this project, and any other that has to do with LNG, fracking and its byproducts. They raise safety concerns: the myriad reports of leaks, explosions and earthquakes, the long term health of water, soil and humans and the toxicity of wastewater byproducts of this “cleanest of fossil fuels”. They point to the fact that, back in 2014, Rex Tillerson, CEO of pro-fracking Exxon, and then-House Majority Leader Dick Amey sued to stop fracking near their neighborhoods. And yet both men publicly and vehemently support/ed fracking, claiming it is a boost to the economy, and not dangerous to the health of people, water tables, and the environment. So why do they not want it near their homes?⁠1 

 Gas leaks: not if, but when? Not to mention earthquakes…

Interesting, too, that Liberty Utility has agreed to pay fines for not doing their required “due diligence” safety inspections on, at least, three occasions.⁠2 Truth be told, every company that’s applied for a pipeline has a history of leaks, of noncompliance to rules and laws, of paying violations so as not to attract attention.

And Liberty won’t guarantee that the towns affected by the building of the pipelines will have access to the gas.⁠3 More likely, it will be shipped abroad. Which counters their argument that the pipes are being built because we need the gas.

In an effort to be fair and balanced, bear in mind this fact: a tanker with LNG anchored outside of Boston this winter provided the Northeast with an extra boost of energy during high demand times, thus New Hampshire weathered the storms and cold without losing power.⁠4 Yet another example of the wonders and convenience of fossil fuels. Why bother to change? Why not stick with the old infrastructure? It’s so much easier and convenient. 

The answer depends on if you want to include the climate crisis debate. If yes, then you need to factor this into the mix: if we use the oil and gas that’s already been dug up, we will push ourselves well over the edge of livable carbon levels. (We already have.) If that’s the case, we must leave what’s still in the ground, in the ground, and figure out a way to re-sequester all that carbon that’s getting released.

If, on the other hand, we don’t include the climate crisis debate? Fossil fuels are finite. On July 14, 2014, the British Petroleum company (BP) came out and admitted it: oil reserves will be used up in 50 years. BP said that five years ago. So if we are going to be out of oil reserves in 45 years, would it not behoove us to stop building fossil fuel driven infrastructure, and instead use what fossil fuels we have left to build and transition to a new infrastructure? Sort of like having American employees train-in their Chinese replacements prior to being fired. But in a good way.

One could point out that “oil reserves” are not “oil in the ground”. Just dig up more, right?

That brings us to our dirty little secret. See you next Friday!