ThinkProgress today provides a reminder that, like any form of fossil fuels, natural gas pipelines come with big risks:
A little after 11 p.m. local time in the western Illinois town of Erie, residents heard a massive blast and then saw flames shooting 300 feet into the air, visible for 20 miles.
A cornfield had just exploded.
Underneath the cornfield, a natural gas pipeline carrying gas byproducts ethane and propane had somehow ruptured, caught fire, and exploded, sending gouts of smoke into the air. Around 80 families within a one-mile radius of the blast were initially evacuated, though by Tuesday morning, all but two had returned to their homes.
The blast was reminiscent of the massive natural gas pipeline explosion in California in 2010 killed eight people. Fortunately, this one occured in a much less densely populated area.
The oil & gas industry wants to dramatically expand gas pipelines running into Massachusetts. But we got burned for our overreliance on gas-fired electricity last winter, natural gas prices are now rising again, and they could shoot up permanently if new gas export facilities are approved.
In the short-term, natural gas is a better choice than coal. But in the long run, simply switching our energy addiction from climate-disrupting, expensive coal to climate-disrupting, unknown-priced gas won’t create jobs in Massachusetts, won’t make us more energy independent, and will make the climate crisis much, much worse.
I’d much rather have more Massachusetts-made clean energy than more pipelines, wouldn’t you? If you agree, tell our members of Congress.