The confluence of climate concern and NIMBY environmental concerns (not a bad thing) may prove to be the political force that puts an end to fossil fuel infrastructure buildout in Massachusetts for good.
And not a moment too soon: As a new report in Nature Communications states, the only way we can stay below the critical 1.5°C is to cease building new fossil plants immediately.
To do this, the study argues, all fossil fuel infrastructure — from power plants, pipelines, and industrial facilities to vehicles, ships, and planes — would need to be replaced with zero-carbon alternatives at the end of their lifetimes. Delaying this phase-out until 2030 reduces below 50 percent the likelihood that the world could stay under 1.5 degrees C of warming, the study’s authors wrote.
Furthermore, note the broad, deep and bipartisan reaction to the Baker administration’s final approval of the gas compressor in Weymouth: Pure, white-hot outrage.
[Hull State Rep.] Meschino continued, “I mean really, I understand. And what I understand and they didn’t want to hear but I told them was that I was completely appalled that in Massachusetts, that the DEP, the agency that should be looking out for us – you know governor’s administrations come and go, state representatives and senators, we come and go – DEP should be the ones with the strength of their convictions to look out for us and they failed yesterday.”
or Rep. Mark Cusack:
“It’s beyond idiotic what the Baker administration is allowing to happen here.”
Baker himself seems to recognize how unpopular this is, couching the news in reluctant terms: “Our hands were tied.” I don’t have the technical knowledge to know whether this is true. But rules change; laws change in reaction to public input.
I hope that both South Shore citizens and anyone else who’s watching put two and two together, and we can work on making more robust our alternatives to gas — to making this kind of conflict unnecessary. Fossil fuels are no good, neither in the backyard nor anywhere.