Natural gas pipelines seen as flood pollution mitigator? Not likely

Cannisters of all kinds fetched up to a bridge along the Stevens Brook in Berlin during July 9-10 flooding. Page photo

by Guy Page

Vermonters hoping buried natural gas pipelines might be seen as a flood damage mitigation strategy were not encouraged by comments made by Gov. Phil Scott Wednesday, August 30 at his weekly press conference.

“From a flood damage mitigation perspective, would it make sense to lay buried natural gas pipelines from Rte. 7 up the Lamoille and Winooski river basins to reduce pollution and loss of services caused by propane and kerosene tank damage?,” VDC asked.

The July flood washed many (state officials don’t have an exact number) above-ground fuel tanks into the state’s flood plains. Kerosene heaters in damaged mobile homes overturned, spewing heating fuel into floodwaters.

While conceding that burying utilities sometimes makes sense, “it’s also very expensive,” Scott said.

And, time-consuming.

‘We saw how long it took to extend the line down to Addison County,” Scott said. The original Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project was projected to cut heating costs by about 50% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 25%. Due in part to pushback from renewable power supporters fearing a long pipeline would commit central Vermont to natural gas for generations, the pipeline was scaled back to the Middlebury area. Still, it took five years to approve and build.

Scott correctly stated that (in Vermont, at least) building a new natural gas pipeline is “a longterm approach.”

Scott also alluded to Vermont’s policy preference for electricity over carbon-fuels, citing the commitment to electrical grid upgrades.

Vermont’s current regulatory and legislative environment discourages natural pipeline expansion. Apart from the regulatory opposition, state statute requires Vermont to sharply reduce carbon emission output. Recent climate legislation would replace home fossil-fuel heat with electric heat pumps and modern wood-chip burning furnaces.

It’s not that Scott is afraid of thinking big. When asked how the State of Vermont can limit future flood damage, he said the state needs to “create more capacity to store water” – in other words, find some plan to divert floodwaters away from the low-lying urban areas along the Winooski and Lamoille Rivers and ‘store’ it elsewhere. He didn’t offer specifics and said it will take a hydrologist and other experts to come up with a solution.

Categories: Energy

6 replies »

  1. Being originally from Northeastern NJ, and having lived in several other states that run along the Eastern US pipeline highway, I find it moronic that these other states STILL do not have natural gas heating and stoves via gas pipeline. I found this to be quite backwards for an advanced country. A real eye-opener.

  2. Keep the flood water in downtown Montpelier the legs can swim to the golden dome

  3. And just how reliable was the electric grid during the flood and every other storm

  4. It wasn’t kerosene heaters in mobile homes. We have furnaces like a stick built home. It was the actual tank that was washed away and emptied its contents into the water.
    Oddly enough, there was a state program in place to prevent this. The state requires that all external tanks be placed on a concrete slab and secured if you live in a flood plain. My concrete pad survived, my tank did not. It was tied down with what I can only describe as a coated cable the size of a dog tie-out. Two quarter inch cables were no match for a half full tank and rushing water.

    Flood plains ARE the answer to flood mitigation. Repeatedly rebuilding on land that should not have residential occupancy is an exercise in futility. Keeping flood plains empty of development would be a strong start to mitigation of damages.

  5. Considering the eco-terrorists are now activated, setting the world ablaze and disrupting traffic on public roads (Shout out to the awesome Nevada Rangers who mowed them over!) don’t be surprised by unexplained explosions and fires starting anywhere at anytime. They are compensated arsonists, they are criminal vandals and their Masters are deceivers and thieves. What did really happen in Maui? An event many are comparing to 9/11 – we’ll likely never know.

  6. Melissa Casey, ha, ha. I hadn’t heard about the incident in Nevada, I looked it up. Thanks for the tip. You know I learned as a young child not to play in the road. Apparently those protesters didn’t and they sounded just like young children who hadn’t yet learned to obey the word NO, only to petulantly utter it. Spoiled brats!