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Summit drops plan to extend natural gas pipeline to Midcoast

By Stephen Betts | Mar 02, 2021
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland City Council met Monday evening, March 1 to discuss the proposed natural gas pipeline plan which has subsequently been dropped.

Summit Natural Gas announced Tuesday it was dropping its plan to extend a natural gas pipeline to the Midcoast,

The announcement came less than a month after the company said it planned a $90 million expansion to communities including Rockland, Camden, Rockport, and Belfast.

“While there is strong interest in our service among residential and commercial customers and among many community leaders, it has also become clear that a consensus about the region’s energy future does not currently exist among leaders across all area communities," said Kurt Adams, chief executive officer of Summit Natural Gas of Maine

"Infrastructure projects, such as Summit’s proposed expansion in Maine, require regional cooperation and a collaborative political environment to be successful.

“Without regional alignment on the best ways to reduce emissions and promote cleaner energy usage, we will no longer pursue plans to bring natural gas to this part of Maine,” Adams said in a news release issued March 2.

The proposal to extend the pipeline was immediately met by widespread opposition in the Midcoast. An online public forum last week in Rockland attracted more than 150 people with nearly all the speakers in opposition.

The concerns were over the environmental damage done in getting the natural gas through fracking, which pollutes water sources and can create earthquakes. The process of extraction also generates the global warming gas methane.

Rockland City Councilor Nate Davis said Tuesday morning he was pleased that Summit has withdrawn its plans for a fracked gas pipeline in the Midcoast.

"Let's harness the enthusiasm that this discussion has generated to advance clean energy, efficiency, and grid modernization in our region, and to build alliances among municipalities to accomplish this. There is so much we can do, and it's all easier at scale: weatherization, electrification, community solar, future-proofing our electrical grid, and many other projects. There's a world of opportunity before us; we just need to reach out and embrace it," Davis said.

The City Council had discussed meeting with its attorney to map a strategy on how to contest the project.

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Comments (7)
Posted by: Michael Whitman | Mar 04, 2021 08:28

In response to Barry…

Only speaking for myself, I could heat my house for a winter with 4 cord of hardwood (efficient stove, could take 24” sticks, 12 hour burn, monthly chimney sweeping, beside the point).

Let’s be generous and say it takes 100 years for a tree to reclaim the carbon released from the burning of one tree (one cord), so for this scenario it would take 400 years for a growing tree to reclaim one winter of me heating my house. That certainly sounds unreasonable, until you take into account that a wooded acre has 100 trees, now we are already down to four years. Have you seen an arial photo of the mid coast region lately? We’re not talking about just one wooded acre. So your statement is phrased in such a way (perhaps not intentionally) that many people will read it and think that burning a single tree will have a lifetime lasting consequence (supporting my previous statement on people being short sighted), which simply isn’t the case as demonstrated here.

As to your other points, #1 is incorrect, it is not carbon neutral, it is a carbon capture from the atmosphere and a benefit, feel free to use this for your future arguments, you are welcome. #2 I agree, the rate at which it is released is greater, 100 years of capture versus one season of release, and yes on the day of combustion the concentration is high, but in reality it is still 100:1, and not all the carbon captured is released (ashes are captured carbon) but let’s just call that even for the use of logging equipment, which is a good segue to #3, all forms of energy for power/heat have the same carbon cost of capture, even uranium milling, solar panel manufacturing, and wind turbine construction, so your statement is true but irrelevant.

I’m no fan of Scott Pruitt, and disagree with how his stewardship has made us all worse off, but my comment that wood burning is carbon neutral had noting to do with his desire to rape natural resources for the profit of a few wealthy donors. The basis for my statement was that the carbon released by burning wood for heat is merely returning some carbon (again, ashes) to the atmosphere that had previously been there.

Happy to cite sources for my calculations, but I think people would be well served to do their own homework on this and many issues, which I hope might spark a trend.

Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Mar 03, 2021 18:54

I'd like to clear the air on one issue: Burning wood is not carbon neutral, regardless what Scott Pruitt declared in 2018.




Feel free to read the Smithsonian article, which explains well. In summary, it takes many,  many decades for a growing tree to recapture what is releases during burning of a dead tree. If you burn one tree for heat, maybe a new tree will have recaptured the carbon in your lifetime. I'll add: 1) The only "carbon neutral" dead tree is one that falls to the ground and decays naturally. Any other process, like combustion or even mulching, causes airborne carbon release on a time scale that is hundreds of thousands of times shorter. 2) In the case of combustion, most of that carbon goes directly into the air at concentrations thousands of times higher than it was ever taken out by a growing tree. That soot immediately creates an insulating blanket. 3) Trees are harvested, cut up, and transported by heavy diesel equipment spewing heavy soot.

By the same logic that trees are carbon neutral, so is oil.

Posted by: Michael Whitman | Mar 03, 2021 16:23

Anyone who was against this for environmental reasons is short sighted.

Homes in the mid coast are heated mainly with oil, which is much worse for the environment, or electric which comes from gas turbines (moot point), or wood which is carbon neutral (good), or propane delivered by gas guzzling trucks.

Just like stifling the Combined cycle Gas Turbine proposal behind city hall that could have produced clean steam as a byproduct right across the street from the industrial park. Clean steam is needed in plastics manufacturing and pharmaceuticals just to name a couple potential high paying industries that could have been interested.

Also, if gas comes to Rockland then FMC/Marine Colloids/whatever it's called now could stop having two tankers of oil brought in per day for the boilers and maybe not teeter on the brink of profitability and start being a little more secure of a good paying job.

It hurts to see a city with potential squander it.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Mar 03, 2021 07:40

A big sigh of relief goes out from the lynch mob.  The evil doers have been driven out of town.  Now we can give that wind turbine another spin, turn that solar panel toward the light and let's try that toaster once more to see if it will work this time.

Posted by: Joseph Steinberger | Mar 02, 2021 13:13

OK guys, now's the chance to map out that strategy, not for contesting the now dead gas project, but for making Rockland energy independent by 2025!.

Posted by: Judy Lindahl | Mar 02, 2021 12:38

Stunning. Thanks, Steve, for excellent reporting on this issue.

Posted by: T A Schwab | Mar 02, 2021 12:36

That was fast.  But what about Dragon burning tires and carpet? They just keep paying the fines for going over their limits on all these deadly chemicals. 

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