photo credit: Bob Ackley, Gas Safety Inc
Last week’s tragic gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley have many people wondering about the future of gas in Massachusetts and whether the dangers outweigh the risks. The fact is, this tragedy could have happened in any community with gas, no matter what gas company was involved. Gas is a highly volatile substance and human error is always a possibility. Since 1987, there have been more than 3,200 gas accidents in the US that were deemed serious or significant by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (part of the US Department of Transportation).
There are safer choices. We don’t have to rely on gas to power our homes and businesses. The Mass Clean Energy Center has great resources on alternatives so you can start making the switch to clean, safe heating and cooling — and start saving money.
As we face this crisis together, let’s not repeat last century’s mistake and simply rebuild out-moded — and dangerous — gas pipelines. Even before the horrific accident in the Merrimack Valley, the state had projected a cost of $9 billion for the necessary replacement of all the failing gas pipe in Massachusetts. Let’s choose a faster, cheaper, safer way forward! We need to rethink our fuel source and how the state regulates and oversees our utilities.
Meanwhile, let’s do everything we can to help our neighbors in the Merrimack Valley. Sustainable Wellesley is active with the Gas Leaks Allies who have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy electric induction cooktops for folks who have electricity but no way to cook or heat water. We are helping with the volunteer effort to deliver the cooktops to those in urgent need — let us know if you can help!