If Connecticut is to meet its self-imposed goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it will not happen via increased use of natural gas.
The threat of global climate change goes far beyond Connecticut, but it would be wrong to say we don’t have a part to play in allaying its worst impacts. We have a responsibility to do all we can, because, as we have seen, the effects will be felt not only in future but are happening today, in the form of extreme weather, more severe storms and threats to coastal communities.
It will only get worse. Connecticut has made laws pledging a reduction in the kinds of emissions that cause global warming, and needs to increase its efforts. The state must move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Technology is already available, and costs are dropping rapidly, but it’s up to the state to make the process go faster.
Natural gas was long considered by some to be safer for the environment as compared to coal or oil, but the difference, evidence has shown, is not enough to make a difference in climate change, and by some accounts may make matters worse.
As an important step, the state must eliminate a law that would put all citizens on the hook to pay for a new pipeline importing natural gas. There is not currently a plan for a pipeline, but according to legislation passed several years ago, the state can make such a move and charge the people for it.
A new pipeline isn’t needed, and the state should remove the temptation to build one by passing the Pipeline Tax Repeal Bill.
In Massachusetts, a similar law that would have required all ratepayers — not just those who use natural gas — pay for a new pipeline was struck down. That would put the burden of paying for a new pipeline, should it ever arise, even more on the backs of Connecticut residents. The Legislature should ensure it never comes to that.
The mix of energy sources Connecticut relies on to keep the lights burning has changed quickly in recent years. The demand for more natural gas is down and is likely to keep declining, even as new natural-gas-burning plants continue to open and be proposed. The state needs to put a halt to that trend, understand that natural gas is not the way of the future, and close off any path toward importing even more fossil fuels.
As the sources of Connecticut’s energy have changed, so too has efficiency increased. Electric cars still are rare today, but will become more common in years to come. We’re using less energy and finding better ways to procure it. There is vast potential to increase our production from wind-powered facilities in Long Island Sound.
The state doesn’t need a new pipeline, and the ability to charge state residents for it should be rescinded.