Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Natural Gas Pipeline in Hinesburg

If you're in Vermont, you've probably heard about the VT Gas pipeline expansion in the news, maybe even the controversy about the planned route passing through Geprag's Park in Hinesburg.

As a member of a renewable energy company here in VT, was I happy about investment in old-tech, fossil fuel infrastructure? No. Was I hopping mad? No. I have to say, my reaction was more like, “seems to be inevitable, right?” Look, I'm not perfect, that's where I was.

Well, we bought a house in Hinesburg, moved in at the end of March. We’re thrilled to be joining this community. New neighbors, meeting new people, visiting schools where our kids will be enrolled, new friends for the kids, grabbing a coffee to and working with other occasional digital nomads at the Bristol Bakery (which hatched an idea...more on that later), and generally being a cheery newbie. Then, I learn about the proposed route of the pipeline, with what appears to be a less than optimal process between the Town and Vermont gas. Here's what happened June 1st.

Well now, that’s a bummer.

Did I mention our house has natural gas service? So, we'll be paying for that pipeline too.

Well, we’re a member of a Community Solar Array (CSA), we're exploring solar on our new home (imagine that), installed a wood stove (I know, they’re not necessarily “sustainable” - it depends) and are investigating the addition of multi-zone cold climate heat pumps, and maybe even a plug-in hybrid. So, are we perfect? No. Are we CO2 neutral? Heck no. Are we seeking to get better and do the right thing? Yup.

While the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change happening right here, it's about more than that. It's about waste, crappy design, and short term thinking. It's even about how we envision the future we'll all be sharing - we build that future with every decision we make. Whether or not one believes in climate change, the waste associated with combusting dead dinosaurs is staggering. Does anyone know how the EROI works out for natural gas heating (LMGTFY)? What about the dollars we pay for that energy? Staying here? Nope. 

When we dig up the earth for hundreds of miles to bury a pipe that'll carry flammable gas through towns, parks, and backyards, what does that say about our values? What happens when those pipes are old and leaky, decades after we've moved past burning fossil fuels? Who owns those stranded assets? Will we be uncovering toxic impacts decades later? Look what's happening in North Bennington with PFOA. Oh wait, in Essex and Colchester too. Good times.  

What's my point? It's easy to sit back and say that this pipeline is "inevitable", that it's progress. It's progress, and not necessarily in the right direction.

We have choices.

1 comment:

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