With Kinder Morgan evidently out of the picture, Spectra Energy Partners has the pipeline field to itself in Massachusetts. The issue then becomes one of how much additional natural gas, if any, is needed.

The Houston-based company's Access Northeast project involves expanding existing pipelines, and much of it is under coastal waters. This is obviously highly preferable to a pipeline boring its way through Berkshire County.

Massachusetts' energy future must include greater use of green energy, specifically solar, wind and hydro. Governor Charlie Baker is a big advocate of the latter, and the Legislature is exploring ways of tying in to Canadian hydroelectric suppliers. No energy source is perfect, but green energy's selling point is that it does not increase global warming by pumping fossil fuels into the air.

Natural gas can't make that claim, but as far as traditional energy sources go, it is cleaner than most. Nuclear power should be part of the green energy grid in the state, but the industry has sabotaged itself with its blunders. With nuclear energy coming off the grid for good, Massachusetts isn't in a position to abandon natural gas.

The challenge Beacon Hill faces is in enabling the state to make use of Spectra's natural gas without becoming so reliant upon it that it chokes off investment in green energy sources. Spectra will sell what it can — that's its job — but state officials have to find the right balance so natural gas can be used to keep energy costs down while the state grows its green energy industry. That balance will be at the core of the Legislature's ongoing effort to craft the state's energy future.