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This is no time to be expanding a dangerous system

The timing is right for more natural gas? Really? So says the Globe editorial board (“Don’t curb gas utilities; clean them up,” Nov. 27). I think the residents of the Merrimack Valley would beg to differ.

Ask the kids in Lawrence who are afraid for their mothers to cook. Ask the woman who will not lock her door when she is inside because she worries she may not be able to get her family out to safety fast enough. Ask the people who are still living in hotels and trailers because their heating and hot water systems and appliances were blown out in the explosions caused by the collapse of the gas system.

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Renewable natural gas will be no less explosive than conventional natural gas. The same goes for hydrogen. Financial gain comes at the expense of safety. That was evident at the Senate hearing in Lawrence this week.

Let’s take a more forward-looking approach to providing heat to Massachusetts. Let’s heed the warning in the latest climate change reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and even the Trump administration . We have precious little time to reduce our carbon (and methane) emissions. Instead of expanding our gas system, let’s turn up the heat on green renewables.

Karen Martin

Boxford

The writer is chair of the climate justice group at the North Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in North Andover.

Mass. should take leading role in boosting renewable natural gas

Vanguard Renewables was delighted by the editorial advocating for expansion of renewable natural gas investment in Massachusetts. Clean renewable energy is a win for our state, businesses, residents, and struggling Massachusetts family farms.

Forty percent of food processed in the United States ends in landfills or incinerators. It should be recycled into renewable natural gas. The first important steps exist for Massachusetts to claim leadership in producing this energy.

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Vanguard Renewables’ current network of five Massachusetts farm-based anaerobic digestion facilities recycles food and farm waste into renewable natural gas, including food waste from Whole Foods, MGM Springfield, and Cabot Creamery. Besides generating renewable energy, we are also helping to save some of the Commonwealth’s family farms.

The 500 tons of food that Vanguard is processing daily is a small portion of what’s thrown away, but it is the beginning of a renewable natural gas network in our state.

Now the Massachusetts Legislature must set an example for the rest of the nation, by passing a measure to support clean renewable energy. Twice this legislation has passed through the House and Senate, only to die in conference committee. We applaud the Globe’s efforts to raise awareness for the possibilities that this energy source can provide.

John Hanselman

Chairman and CEO

Vanguard Renewables

Wellesley

Given industry’s strides, heating oil should be part of state’s mix

The editorial “Don’t curb utilities; clean them up” does not recognize the advancements the heating oil industry has made over the past decade to improve the fuel’s environmental profile and increase energy efficiency in oil-heated homes.

The industry has demonstrated that it’s a partner in helping the state meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act by lobbying for and embracing laws and regulations to advance the use of clean, renewable biofuels statewide. Every gallon of heating oil sold in Massachusetts contains at least a 5 percent blend of biofuel, and many retail heating oil companies provide blends of 20 percent to their customers. The fuel is also almost entirely free of sulfur, and research shows that when ultra-low-sulfur heating oil is blended with biofuel, it’s cleaner than natural gas.

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In addition, the industry has moved aggressively to install new, high-efficiency equipment in homes, and this has significantly reduced heating oil use statewide. Heating oil is, and should remain, part of the energy mix in Massachusetts.

Michael Ferrante

President

Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association

Burlington