WINDSOR -- I just got in from a walk in the woods of Notchview, here in Windsor. I took three of my dogs. We sloshed along the trail, they drank from streams and vernal pools, it was relaxing; the area I walked on is a slice of heaven. I thought of my elected officials during this particular walk as I thought of the proposed buried gas pipeline that would be coming through almost exactly where I was.
We have an information meeting planned for May 13 and I have invited every one of our town officials to attend. All of the towns in this area have had one; it's not that Windsor's will be any different, but I think it would be beneficial for you to hear the voices of those who live in the immediate area in addition to those voices of big corporations who seem to run this country now. I've been to a number of these meetings. They are well run and the questions are sincere, intelligent and concerning.
I think I have heard most of the reasons why Kinder Morgan thinks the line should come through Western Mass. but I have also heard good, solid, factual information for why we do not need an additional gas pipeline. I have heard that fixing the leaks in the existing pipelines could recover more than half (400 MW) of the shortfall that has been cited as being 700 MW. Expanding existing efficiency programs like Mass SAVE could easily make up the rest.
Beyond that, in this amazing state we live in, I think the majority of us want to find safer, renewable ways of generating the energy we use. We do not want to invest our land and our health in a finite source of fossil fuel, in a method that will continue to create environmental havoc long after it's use is over. We do not want to add to the world's climate change problems with more leaked methane that is over 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. We want to look ahead and think of what is the best, cleanest source of energy for our area so our offspring, seven generations from now, will thank us for our insight.
That aside, I think there are a number of clear reasons why a buried fracked gas pipeline does not belong in western Massachusetts.
* Well water. This pipeline will be buried in an area where the residents use well water. They want to bury a pipeline transporting gas and the cocktail of carcinogenic benzene derivatives 50 feet under the Deerfield River. They want to bury a pipeline in the same area where we get our water from aquifers under ground. How will we know when our aquifer has been compromised? And why won't it be? Not because they have a record of safety and zero leaks.
* Our climate is humid and our soil is predominantly clay. The average annual rainfall is between 45- 50 inches. We have been told there would be periodic off-gassing at compressor stations along the pipeline. What goes into the air comes down with the rain. In this wet location we can expect rain containing higher levels of the benzene toxins coming into our streams, puddles, ponds, pet water dishes, on our gardens and inadvertently tracked into our homes on our feet. I realize that this is already happening to some degree, of course. We, on the east coast get significant pollution drifting our way from Pennsylvania and all points west. But it would become more; and when do we draw the line? Where is the hero who will stand up and say to these corporations “Enough is enough! This is not sustainable. “More drilling? More pipelines? When does it end? \¦ ¦We are an area that is still recovering from the damage done by General Electric's PCBs. We have very high cancer statistics. Why would we want to add more benzene to our air and in our water and on the food that we grow
*Please consider coming to the May 13 meeting at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Town Hall. The Berkshires are a fragile gem. We, who choose to live here, do so because we value all that this pristine area offers. The correct decision concerning this pipeline is obvious to anyone who isn't in it for the money. This project and all of the other gas drilling and transporting projects mean decades of more reliance on fossil fuel and spell trouble for future generations.
In a recent interview with New Yorker Magazine; James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said regarding more gas drilling and pipeline transportation: “ Essentially, it's game over for the planet.” Please do not let this be your legacy. Stand up for what you know is right and you'll have us right behind you.
Janet Bradley is a retired Earth Science/A.P. Environmental Science teacher. She and her husband have farmed organically in Windsor for 30 years. They raise produce, layer chickens and dairy goats.