Statement on Pipeline, proposed by Peace and Social Concerns for consideration in the 12/13 meeting for business

We oppose the construction of new natural gas pipelines such as the one that is proposed to run through lands in our area. This has not always been the case. In 1988, the Algonquin Gas Transmission Company proposed building a 42 inch natural gas pipeline through Massachusetts and  across our property in Leverett. We approved allowing them to survey the land for this purpose, despite the potential danger and disruption such a project would bring. We were concerned about global warming and saw the environmental advantages of natural gas which contributes less to the greenhouse effect than other fuels. Natural gas could be seen as a “bridge fuel” as we worked to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

It is now 27 years later and we haven’t done nearly enough to lower our use of fossil fuels. The greenhouse effect is changing our climate just as was predicted. Fracking has made natural gas a large part of our energy usage, which may be good to the extent that it produces less CO2 than coal or oil, but it also comes with its own set of problems. Health and environmental issues related to its production and transportation are substantial. Methane leakage is also a huge problem. Given that methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, it is unclear how much of a climate benefit there really is. Beyond that, it has lowered the costs of energy overall, sapping our incentive to create and use the renewable resources which are the only true solutions to our energy crisis. It has become clear that making natural gas more available only puts off making the real changes we desperately need, while CO2 levels continue to rise.

A large part of our religion as Quakers is based on valuing everyone. This was hard enough when we only had to worry about the people we met every day. It got harder when we found that we had to consider how our actions affect others who we may never meet. (For example, wearing dyed clothing when dyes were made with slave labor.) We now find that our actions may permanently affect our planet. We have the ability to harm all future generations. When we take actions today, the benefit to us must be weighed against the harm we are inflicting upon our descendants, and it is our hope that there will be many thousands of generations to come. We are obligated to do whatever we can to leave them a livable planet retaining as much of the resources and beauty that were left to us by our ancestors as we can.

Our use of fossil fuels is the most significant contributor to the disruption of our climate and the increasing threat to all life on our only planet. Our efforts to supply energy must be devoted to finding, financing and building solar, wind, water and other green energies. While we cannot make the transition to clean energy instantaneously, investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure only commits us to burning more.

We have faith that once we commit ourselves to a direction that we know is right, the steps necessary will become clear as we take them. Once we are committed to leaving fossil fuels in the ground and developing alternative energy sources that are accessible equitably to all, we will release our ingenuity and will together create the energy solutions we need. We understand this means that our lives and economies will need to change, discerning and eliminating what is unnecessary. We understand we cannot do this alone – that solutions must be community solutions and ultimately global solutions that are ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just.

A new gas pipeline is not only unnecessary, it is a step in the wrong direction; one that will fail to engage the creativity that committing to the moral course would release.