Beyond an ‘either-or’ energy policy
It’s absurd to blame Mass. residents for presence of Russian tankers
Yes, we all feel the pain of the Russian reindeer, polar bears, and endangered Siberian sturgeon (“Our Russian ‘pipeline,’ and its ugly toll,” Editorial, Feb. 13) Yes, the environmental cost of Russia’s liquefied natural gas plant is high. But it’s absurd to blame Massachusetts residents for these environmental depredations.
It was absolutely the right decision to purchase LNG, rather than spend billions for unnecessary gas pipelines that would be obsolete within a few years and would prevent us from meeting our climate goals.
Massachusetts gets about 13 percent of its energy from renewable resources. By 2030, renewables will account for at least 25 percent, and possibly 50 percent, of our energy, while at the same time demand is expected to decrease.
The United States is now the leading natural gas producer in the world and has become a net exporter. Why not buy our LNG from US suppliers?
The reason: An arcane 1920 law, the Jones Act, requires use of American ships on all domestic voyages. But there are no US ships capable of carrying LNG. Hence, a ship carried Russian LNG to our Boston ports.
We don’t need more pipelines; just change the Jones Act so that we can buy American LNG.
The writer is a founding director of the New England chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs.
We’re failing to explore potential for clean energy, here and abroad
The Globe’s editorial “Our Russian ‘pipeline,’ and its ugly toll” tortured reason. It argued that environmental opposition to building ever more gas pipelines simply created markets for even dirtier fuels around the globe. That might make sense if we exhausted the potential for clean, renewable energy, here or abroad. We have not. President Trump has put a tariff on solar panels. Massachusetts has an arbitrary cap on solar installments. The Commonwealth’s Department of Public Utilities is slowing the process for offshore wind with a request for proposals with a 10-year deadline, when wind developers can be in the grid in five years.
Before we rush to more fossil fuels, perhaps we should expedite the full potential of renewable energy, rather than stalling it.
We cannot control Russia or other fossil fuel marketeers. But we can lead by example, pushing the envelope toward more rapid development of wind, solar, and hydro.
The writer chairs the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund.
State should carefully reconsider its energy policy
In more than 30 years as a Globe subscriber, I have never written a letter to the editor. I must congratulate the editorial board on its insightful, and courageous, editorial on the Russian “pipeline.” Energy policy is complex, and all options have tradeoffs. The best policy will carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each policy option to maximize the public good. As the editorial so astutely points out, too many energy policy makers in the Commonwealth have failed that test and neglected to consider all the ramifications of their actions. I join the editorial board in hoping that this timely warning will cause a careful reconsideration of the Commonwealth’s energy policy.
We can grow with a green-energy economy
The Globe editorial’s attack on environmentalists, characterized as “pipeline absolutists” taking “righteous-sounding stands against local fossil fuel projects,” wrongly accuses them of giving “scant consideration” to the “global impacts of their actions.” Yet the editorial ignores what the green-minded know — that we can be building out a resilient, efficient system that relies much more than we do now on local clean energy. We know we can move forward and provide jobs for our own economy this way, as well as substantially reduce impacts.
The Globe falls victim to the fossil-fuel industry arguments that compare one really bad project with one that’s only less bad. Green reliability, along with the prosperity and health benefits it brings, is there for us to make happen. The industries will not do it for us.
The feasibility of a green-energy economy was well demonstrated by the thousands of jobs created under Governor Patrick, and that movement has slowed under Governor Baker. The Globe should be helping us all see that we can have the courage to reach for the future we deserve.
Utilities are not our friend — we need to hasten move toward renewables
I was surprised to read that the Globe’s editorial board seems to believe that Massachusetts’ only energy choices are either: (1) send money to Russian oligarchs who are despoiling the Arctic for liquefied natural gas or (2) build pipelines across New England to tap fracked gas, while poisoning water supplies at ratepayer expense. This is a false choice.
Pipelines take years to build and decades to expire. They are not, as the Globe suggested, an interim solution to anything but the utilities’ collapsing business model. We should be following the example of many other countries in building an economy based on renewable energy — one that creates tens of thousands of jobs across the state, provides permanent clean energy for Massachusetts, addresses major health concerns in low-income communities, and allows us to become a net energy exporter, bringing in billions in new revenue.
What’s the real reason that our utilities are trying to scare us about gas shortages and demanding that we build new pipelines? The answer is simple: They make a bulk of their profits from such huge capital projects. They have chosen this path because they no longer function as true public utilities serving our public interest. They are owned and run for the benefit of institutional investors and hedge funds, and they are being backed up by Governor Baker.
With the cost of solar, wind, and energy storage batteries plummeting, we could be saving everyone in the Commonwealth money by making the transition to renewable energy now.
The writer is a Democratic candidate for governor.