It’s been discouraging to see the Boston Globe’s editorial page ape the Wall Street Journal’s in environmental ignorance, derp, and plain old name-calling. In fact, the WSJ just published the same talking points the Globe has been using, to wit: Enviros are actually causing damage by opposing pipelines because of the supposed necessitating of environment-damaging LNG shipments, oil-burning peaking power plants, etc.
As we’ve said, it’s a bizarre, literally Orwellian doublethink argument: They’re asking you to believe that building more fossil infrastructure is actually better for the environment. If that sounds — to put it generously — counter-intuitive, Slate-pitchy, contrarian, and indeed far-fetched … well, you’re not the only one. In any event, bold claims require bold evidence: Shouldn’t the Globe have done the math on GHG emissions based on a few different scenarios? Break out some charts and data?
Speaking in his own capacity, Boston’s Energy Efficiency and Distributed Resources Finance Manager Joe LaRusso counts as a very informed observer. His tweet-thread started here – do read the whole thing:
1/ Once again the @BostonGlobe has oversimplified the debate of building pipelines to bring #natgas into NE, and it has resorted to ad hominem attacks on opponents: their politics are “faddish,” their motive a doctrinaire sense of “moral purity.” https://t.co/wq8qxUcLaH#mapoli
— Joe LaRusso (@jglarusso) March 9, 2018
I want to summarize the evidence and arguments made by LaRusso:
- The pipeline will cost between $3.2B (per the utilities) and $6.6B (per Synapse energy consultants). We would pay for that one way or another. They’re not building it for free.
- While LNG has been delivered into Boston for 47 years, *two* shipments have been Russian. Those are the baby-seal-killing shipments the Globe warned about in lachrymose fashion. (Where are they getting this stuff?)
- Something called the Jones Act prohibits us from getting domestic gas via ship. And changing that would be cheaper than, say, $3-6B.
- As far as the rest of the energy mix is concerned, we don’t use much coal or oil, at all. The oil peaker plants operate at a max of 720 hours per year (see page 6.)
- We’re not fully using the pipeline capacity we have — whether or not the reason is anti-competitive.
- While grid reliability is a concern going forward, there are many ways to skin that cat that don’t involve expensive building of new fossil fuel infrastructure.
In other words, the justifications are pretty flimsy for building more gas pipelines — at great expense: up-front; to the climate and air quality; in the opportunity cost of crowding out renewables — which means jobs in Massachusetts.
The chirpy, personal tone adopted by the news professionals at the Globe was shockingly sub-standard; and it’s also a tell that their arguments are substantively weak.