What Interstate Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines Serve Connecticut?
The map shown here from Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) shows the three main natural gas pipelines that cross CT. PURA’s web page has more information about them.
Major Pipeline Releases Affecting Connecticut
Information about major releases from hazardous liquid and gas transmission pipelines is compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Searching their National Pipeline Mapping System reveals two accidental major natural gas releases in 2018:
On May 5, the Cromwell compressor station owned by Algonquin Gas Transmission, L.L.C. (Spectra Energy Partners) released over 5 million cubic feet of natural gas.
On July 16, just over the state line in Agawam, MA, 8,610 million cubic feet of natural gas was released from the Tennessee Natural Gas Pipeline Company’s compressor station due to equipment failure.
Source: National Pipeline Mapping System
The Connecticut Chapter Sierra Club will hold a People Over Pipelines Walk on Sept 24
The walk is intended to draw attention to the ratepayer subsidized gas pipeline expansion which is taking place throughout Connecticut. Starting at noon on September 24, participants will join in the walk to demonstrate against the increase of fracked gas in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Walkers will follow the Kinder Morgan pipeline route in Suffield and East Granby. It is a free event and all who would like a better energy future for Connecticut are welcome to participate.
Many Connecticut residents have unknowingly been paying for the expansion of fracked gas in Connecticut through ratepayer increases on their electric bill since 2013, thanks to CT law makers passing the “Comprehensive Energy Strategy”. In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law that mandated future ratepayer subsidies for multi-state gas pipeline projects. Soon, ratepayers will be subsidizing the construction of interstate gas pipelines; Connecticut residents will essentially be paying for gas to be shipped through New England and exported to Canada.
The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is the agency in the state that both procures large natural gas projects, and also issues permits for aspects of the construction. The aim of the State energy plan is to create thousands of new gas customers, through advertising and ratepayer subsidies. Only the two large corporations, Eversource and Iberdrola, will benefit from the expansion. They have a monopoly on gas distribution in the area.
Will Connecticut citizens benefit? Not likely. Natural gas is not cheaper, cleaner or safer than other fuels. Gas, which is methane, is currently more expensive than heating oil in Connecticut and according to the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), worse for the environment than oil or coal. Methane extraction (fracking), use, and transport produce significantly more greenhouse gas emissions causing worse climate change than other fossil fuels. Studies also show that there is no unmet demand for natural gas in Connecticut. Gas pipelines are routinely only half full now and electricity demand in New England has remained virtually flat over more than 10 years.
Why would our State and Federal representatives allow gas expansion at a time when they claim to be concerned about climate change and are announcing various greenhouse gas reduction initiatives? It might be due to the corrosive influence of money on politics. According FEC data, Eversource alone has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Connecticut politicians.
Connecticut citizens should contact their State representatives and tell them to stop the ratepayer subsidies for natural gas expansion. Demand an immediate transition to a 100% renewable energy powered future. To show your support for a clean energy future, join the People Over Pipelines Walk on Saturday, September 24 (rain or shine).
Comments on Kinder-Morgan Pipeline Proposal (NED Project) Through Class I and II Lands
Below is testimony submitted to FERC by Rivers Alliance and the Farmington River Watershed Association on Kinder-Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) Project. (See all the comments that were submitted)
Rivers Alliance Comments to FERC:
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut strongly urges you to disapprove the section of the above referenced project that crosses highly protected drinking-water lands on the property of the Metropolitan District Commission in Hartford.
Connecticut law provides the highest protections in the nation for drinking water. First, no water body that has received a waste discharge can be used for public supply of potable water. Second, water utility land hydrologically linked to drinking-water reservoirs must be kept as natural open space and cannot be disturbed in any way other than certain limited permitted actions necessary to maintain operations. By statute the protected lands are termed Class I (closest to the source) and Class II (also impacts the source).
Protection of Class I and II lands is the highest priority in our state water policy. To violate this protection would set a precedent that would put at risk Connecticut’s drinking water sources. The state’s standards for drinking water are uniquely high (only Rhode Island has similar standards). These high standards are increasingly justified as science reports document the myriad new pharmaceuticals, plastics, pesticides, and other toxins in ordinary wastewater. Existing treatment methods cannot adequately define or manage this array of toxins.
As an advocate for water health, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut frequently works on land-use policy. Thus, for example, I am a member of the statute-based, state land conservation board (Connecticut Natural Heritage, Open Space, and Watershed Land Acquisition Review Board); and I am co-chair of the Watershed Lands Sub-Committee of the statute-based Water Planning Council Advisory Group.
Two lesser points. We are aware that Kinder Morgan has a small easement on the property it wishes to cross; the easement predates the law that defines and protects source water lands. I attended a Kinder Morgan open-house presentation in Farmington, Connecticut, on August 13. There was no suggestion or evidence that the current project could be done within that easement. I also saw no detail on alternative paths for the pipeline. Until alternatives are fully described and reviewed, there is no reason to approve a pipeline path that would necessarily disrupt the hydrology of the site and would undermine the state’s legal protections for drinking water.
Is Connecticut Water Vulnerable To Pollution By Oil Pipeline Spills?
In January 100 barrels of diesel fuel spilled from a pipeline into a Salt Lake City park. A crude oil pipeline in Montana contaminated drinking water supplies in March. In 2010, 843,000 gallons of oil flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 35 miles downstream.
Could oil spills like these happen in our state?
We DO have pipelines in Connecticut (or upstream from CT) carrying liquid petroleum products like gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, etc. The map displayed here shows the approximate locations of refined oil product pipelines in Connecticut from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Here in Connecticut, 125 miles of Buckeye pipelines carry around 10,154,000 barrels per year of heating oil, jet fuel, or diesel fuel from New Haven toward Middletown, Hartford, Bradley International Airport, and Springfield through the watersheds of the Quinnipiac and Connecticut Rivers. See the chart below for details. This pipeline system was built in 1961. Also, the 84-mile Exxon-Mobil East Providence to Springfield pipeline carries gasoline through the northernmost areas of tributaries of the Thames River. There is also a 10 mile fuel oil line from Hew Haven Harbor to Hamden.
Note there are also many miles of natural gas pipelines not considered here.
Companies that transport liquid oil products by truck, train, or ship are required to train their employees and have equipment ready to respond to accidents that can happen anywhere. These accidents are usually highly visible and responded to quickly. (But, as we saw February 16, when a train carrying crude oil derailed in West Virginia, current safety practices were inadequate.)
Transport by pipelines is in some ways more problematic. Pipelines are usually buried and out of sight, so unless a leak is large enough to trigger pressure alarms, a small leak could potentially go unnoticed and contaminate a lot of groundwater before any sign appears on the surface or is detected by surface or groundwater sampling.
Pipelines are often touted by the industry as the safest way to transport fluids, and statistics are available to show that less oil is lost from pipelines as a percentage of the volume transported than from truck, train, or ship.
However, that safety claim is relative. The U.S. DOT’s Pipeline Safety and Hazardous Materials Administration reports that nationwide there were 745,013 gallons of heating oil, jet fuel, or diesel fuel spilled from pipelines in the last five years from 292 reported incidents. Buckeye reported 39 incidents, none in CT in the last five years.
There were leaks in New Haven in 1994, 1996 and 2000 during which 1220 barrels (51,239 gallons) of fuel leaked. 955 barrels were reported recovered, so 265 barrels of fuel oil polluted Little River (a tributary of the Quinnipiac River) or somewhere nearby. A 2011 leak of about 8400 gallons of fuel oil into the Mill River in Hamden-New Haven came from a pinhole leak in a 56 year-old pipeline.
The national data indicate that improved leak and spill prevention is essential to protection of water resources. Rivers Alliance believes that more rigorous leak detection is needed now in Connecticut and New England.