Wind and solar are now as cheap or cheaper than gas in most places, leading some analysts to suggest that the United States is about to hit “peak gas.” And in a few years, it will be cheaper to build new wind farms and solar arrays than to keep existing gas-fired power plants online, forcing utilities and ratepayers to eat the cost of new gas generators being built today. Researchers have shown that pipelines and drilling sites are leaking huge sums of unburned natural gas, which consists mostly of methane, an extremely potent heat-trapping substance. The leaks are so pernicious that, in the final accounting, natural gas may actually be as bad for the climate as coal.
Throughout the 20th century, coal supplied the bulk of America’s electricity. It was coal, by and large, that kept our lightbulbs, radios, laundry machines, dishwaters, TVs and computers humming along, and coal that provided miners up and down Appalachia with well-paid union jobs. Coal was central to the American economy. No other source of electricity came close.
That started to change around 20 years ago when new advances in drilling opened up vast reserves of cheap natural gas. Fracking allowed drillers to crack open hard, shale rock, and horizontal drilling allowed them to tap the hard-to-reach stores of gas buried underneath. Suddenly, gas was cheaper than coal, and power companies began replacing aging coal plants with new gas generators. In 2015, gas overtook coal as America’s primary source of electricity. Because gas-fired power plants produce around half as much carbon pollution as coal plants, not counting upstream emissions, the oil and gas industry touted gas as a “bridge fuel” that would allow the United States to cut pollution while scientists and engineers developed cleaner, cheaper sources of power.
That bridge, however, has shorter and rickety. Wind and solar are now as cheap or cheaper than gas in most places, leading some analysts to suggest that the United States is about to hit “peak gas.” And in a few years, it will be cheaper to build new wind farms and solar arrays than to keep existing gas-fired power plants online, forcing utilities and ratepayers to eat the cost of new gas generators being built today.
Governments are hastening the shift to renewables with tax breaks and clean-energy mandates, as calls to wean off gas grow louder amid revelations that the so-called “bridge fuel” may not be as clean as advertised. Researchers have shown that pipelines and drilling sites are leaking huge sums of unburned natural gas, which consists mostly of methane, an extremely potent heat-trapping substance. The leaks are so pernicious that, in the final accounting, natural gas may actually be as bad for the climate as coal.
That brings us to this month’s issue: the future of natural gas. We looked at how companies like Shell are betting big on plastics to make up for lost revenue as demand for gas wanes. We asked what landowners can do about aging gas pipelines buried in their backyards. We investigated how a power company in California, in attempt to go green, is sourcing methane from cow manure and what that means for the people who live near feedlots. And we looked at how a Pennsylvania gas utility is trying to stop Philadelphia from curbing the use of gas in buildings. We will publish articles, photos and videos on these topics in the coming weeks. It took more than a century for natural gas to unseat coal as America’s reigning power source. Renewables will dethrone gas in mere decades. The transition of power is already underway.
“Obsolescence is the very hallmark of progress.” — Henry Ford II
Originally published by Nexus Media.
- Renewables = 20.6% Of US Electricity In 2020
- 77–80% Of New US Power Capacity Came From Solar & Wind In 2020
- A Trip Down the Ohio River Shows the Future of the Oil and Gas Industry
- Natural Gas Provided False Promise, Deception — Severe Health Problems From “Natural” Gas
- The Growing Danger From Gas Pipelines
5 Reasons the US Should Cut its GHG Emissions in Half by 2030
Climate change already affects millions of Americans, from worsening asthma and other respiratory problems to spurring destructive and costly hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather. Disadvantaged and marginalized communities often bear the brunt of such devastating climate change impacts.
So it is heartening that U.S. President Joe Biden made tackling the climate crisis a core pillar of his campaign and now his presidency. From rejoining the Paris Agreement and activating agencies across the federal government to be part of the climate change solution, President Biden has once again pointed the United States in the right direction.
Another critical opportunity to show real leadership on climate change is just around the corner.
The Biden administration announced that before it convenes the Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day (April 22, 2021), it will unveil a new greenhouse gas emissions-reduction target, likely for 2030. This target will be the centerpiece of America’s new national climate commitment under the Paris Agreement (known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC).
The first U.S. target under the 2015 Paris Agreement aimed to reduce annual climate pollution 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, a milestone toward the country’s long-term goal of reducing emissions 80% below 2005 levels by mid-century. Consistent with the latest science, President Biden signed an executive order on January 27, 2021 calling for the United States to achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, however he has not yet articulated a comprehensive near-term target.
Based on available research, our recommendation is that the United States should aim to cut emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. This target is both ambitious and attainable and offers major economic and social benefits for America.
Here are five reasons why the United States should cut its emissions in half by 2030:
1. A stronger U.S. emissions-reduction target is achievable and necessary.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it clear that unprecedented action is required to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels, the threshold scientists say is necessary for averting the worst impacts of climate change. Achieving that goal requires that global greenhouse gas emissions drop by half by 2030 and reach net-zero around mid-century. The United States bears a significant responsibility as the source of 13% of current global emissions and more cumulative emissions than any other country.
Preliminary estimates show that economy-wide emissions fell by 10.3% between 2019 and 2020, or 21% between 2005 and 2020. This technically means the United States met its commitment to reduce emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 under the Copenhagen Accord, and appears to put the country on track to meet its 2025 goal. However, appearances can be deceiving. This decline in 2020 was mostly driven by the COVID-19 lockdowns and economic recession; without a green recovery, emissions will likely rise again as the economy rebounds, putting the United States off-track for achieving its 2025 target.
To ensure emissions do not revert to pre-pandemic levels, the United States must respond to the COVID-19 crisis by investing in clean energy and deploying a whole-of-society approach to tackle the climate crisis. It must tap into the climate leadership of U.S. states, cities and business that proliferated after President Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement. Today, one in three Americans lives in a jurisdiction committed to 100% clean electricity. In 2017, only Hawaii and 33 cities had committed to 100% clean electricity; now, 13 states, Puerto Rico and 165 cities have 100% clean energy commitments.
The 2019 Accelerating America’s Pledge analysis found that the rapid expansion of ambitious actions taken by states and local actors could reduce emissions 37% below 2005 by 2030. An “All-in” strategy that pairs local climate action with aggressive federal engagement could reduce emissions by around 50% by 2030.
The America’s Pledge analysis laid out sector-specific pathways to achieve this level of emissions reductions. Over 60% of the estimated emissions reductions in the “All-in” scenario in 2030 were in the power sector, demonstrating the critical importance of aggressive clean electricity standards at the state and federal level over the next decade. Other sectors such as buildings and transportation, which together accounted for roughly 12% of estimated reductions, require rapid electrification and efficiency efforts for longer-term decarbonization. Finally, curbing non-CO2 emissions, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane, could largely be achieved through existing technology and abatement strategies. These sources account for roughly 17% of emissions reduction potential by the end of the decade.
This graph highlights emissions sectors assessed in the America’s Pledge analysis. Sources of emissions and sinks from Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) are excluded from these totals. Due to stock and flow constraints, sectors with smaller 2030 emissions reductions — such as buildings and transportation — ramp up reductions significantly after 2030.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a sector-by-sector assessment by America’s Pledge released last September gives us increased confidence that bottom-up action can achieve rapid emissions reductions.
2. A stronger emissions-reduction target would boost American businesses and support millions of jobs.
According to a recent WRI report on America’s New Climate Economy, the low-carbon transition is an immense opportunity for the U.S. economy. Even now, 41 U.S. states are growing their economies while also reducing their emissions.
In the short-term, clean energy and other green investments associated with a stronger climate commitment and economic recovery can create more jobs than fossil fuels. Currently, wind and solar energy generation provide double the number of jobs as fossil fuel production. Research shows that $1 million spent on renewable energy or energy efficiency in the United States generates more than twice as many jobs in the short- to medium-term as $1 million spent on fossil fuels. The mean hourly wages for clean energy jobs are higher than the national average by 8–19%. Many are available to workers without college degrees, though job security and access to benefits remain important concerns.
In the medium-term, a low-carbon economy will create more than enough jobs to replace those lost in fossil fuel industries. According to a recent analysis, widespread electrification of the economy, which is essential for reducing emissions, will require public investments of about $300 billion per year for 10 years. This could support up to 25 million good-paying jobs over the next 15 years and 5 million sustained jobs by mid-century. Meanwhile, the average household could see up to $2,000 in annual savings on energy costs and better health outcomes. However, executing a just transition for fossil fuel workers must be a deliberate process. There are a number of steps the United States can take, including through economic development programs, innovative financing programs, and the rehabilitation of abandoned mines and orphaned wells.
Most importantly, in the long-term, rapidly reducing emissions will help stave off the economic consequences of unchecked climate change. Without new policies, the annual economic damages from climate change could reach 1-3% of U.S. GDP by the end of the century, with extreme heat, sea level rise and crop yield declines hitting the South and parts of the Midwest the hardest. In the worst-case scenario, the damages could reach 3.7-10% .
3. An ambitious emissions-reduction target would support economic recovery from COVID-19.
The types of investments that support an ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction target would also support economic recovery after COVID-19. The 2009 recovery efforts revealed two important lessons: 1) major investments in clean energy launched the domestic industry and supported 900,000 jobs; and 2) this investment could have been greener. Only 12% of U.S. spending during the 2009 recovery went to green measures, even though much of the green spending created more jobs than other types of investments. For example, public transit projects resulted in 70% more job-hours than similar spending on highways. We must learn from history and make win-win investments that create good jobs, jolt the economy to life, reduce climate pollution and improve public health.
WRI’s COVID-19 Recovery Expert Note series includes several recommendations to generate a large number of jobs through targeted investments in electric buses, public transit, energy-efficient buildings, grid infrastructure, and conservation and restoration of natural and working lands. These near-term investments would put communities back to work; reduce pollution in our air and water; and serve as a down payment on the energy transition necessary to cut emissions in half over the next decade.
4. A 50% emissions-reduction target would serve as a north star for greater domestic climate action.
President Biden campaigned on the most ambitious climate platform of any presidential candidate in history. It included achieving net-zero emissions from electricity by 2035 and the full economy by 2050 — a step further than the 80% reduction target in the current U.S. Mid-Century Strategy. He promised near-term goals to reduce emissions from vehicles, buildings and industry. Now as president, his early “climate blitz” and emerging Build Back Better Economic Recovery Plan will make progress along a number of climate action priorities.
In addition, the federal government and private sector have made progress that signals the United States can mobilize toward an ambitious 2030 reduction goal. For example:
- In December 2020, Congress passed major energy legislation that will phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), super-pollutants used in refrigeration and air conditioning, as well as expand investments in wind, solar, the electricity grid, energy storage, weatherization of low-income housing, and energy efficiency upgrades of schools and federal buildings.
- The U.S. electric vehicle market doubled since 2017. Earlier this year, General Motors announced it will only sell zero-emission vehicles by 2035, a significant move that could prompt other automakers to accelerate their transition to electric vehicles.
- In 2019, the United States consumed more renewable energy than coal for the first time ever, and in 2020, U.S. wind energy capacity increased by 17 gigawatts, 85% more than the previous year. This is in part due to the rapid decline in costs for wind and solar power.
- In 2020, building renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar officially became more cost-effective than building a new coal power plant.
An ambitious 2030 goal would anchor and guide the Biden administration’s and Congress’s approach to push further on cleaner forms of energy, zero-emission cars and buildings, healthier forests and improved agricultural practices. For example, it could help drive 100% zero-emission electricity and light-duty vehicle sales, as well as development of all the related grid and charging infrastructure to support them. It could spur strong energy standards for appliances and emissions-performance standards for heavy-emitting industries like cement, steel and plastic. It could also mean innovation in carbon dioxide removal and green hydrogen to create the clean energy technology and careers of the future.
5. An ambitious U.S. climate goal would inspire the international community to take bolder climate action.
As the world’s second-largest emitter — responsible for 13% of global emissions — the United States must use its position of leadership to encourage greater ambition and faster action by peer nations. A strong emissions-reduction commitment ahead of the Leaders’ Climate Summit can help build momentum for enhanced targets from countries around the world.
This will be particularly critical in the run-up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November. Strong commitments from China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, India, South Africa and other major emitters will be especially important. Ambitious action from the United States can help persuade them to step up their emissions-reduction targets to be commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge. A strong U.S. target is also critical for demonstrating credibility, as others like the European Union and UK have already adopted ambitious emissions-reduction targets for 2030 that would go even further than a 50% cut by the United States.
Strong action on emissions should be complemented by the United States delivering on and increasing its financial support to other nations to achieve their climate goals — particularly for developing countries to pursue clean energy, reduce deforestation, and build resilience to climate impacts. Coupled with an ambitious emissions-reduction commitment, finance can help drive further global ambition in the negotiations at COP26.
That means at a minimum fulfilling the outstanding $2 billion pledged in 2014 to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), as Biden has promised to do. The United States should also match the commitments other developed countries made to double their pledges to the GCF, as well as contribute to the Adaptation Fund and Global Environment Facility.
The US Should Not Waste This Second Chance
The United States is officially the only country in the world to join the Paris Agreement twice. A second chance to participate in the greatest collective climate effort in history should also mean double the commitment and twice the ambition.
A more ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction goal reinforces all levels of domestic action on pollution and clean energy. It charts a new course for the U.S. economy that can pull it out of the pandemic-induced recession in ways that make it cleaner and more equitable than before. And it signals that the country that led in the energy of the past will be the leader in the clean energy of the future.
New Documents Reveal Oil Industry Knew of Climate Risks Decades Earlier Than Suspected; Suggest Coordinated Efforts to Foster Skepticism
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2016
New Documents Reveal Oil Industry Knew of Climate Risks Decades Earlier Than Suspected;
Suggest Coordinated Efforts to Foster Skepticism
Washington, DC – Hundreds of documents uncovered by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) push back the record of oil industry knowledge on climate change by decades.
The research demonstrates that the oil industry was explicitly warned of climate risks in the 1960s. Significantly, much of this research was carried out as part of a broader industry effort—dating from the 1940s—to use industry-funded research to spur public skepticism of pollution science and environmental regulations.
“We began with three simple, related questions,” says Carroll Muffett, President of CIEL. “What did they know? When did they know it? And what did they do about it? What we found is that they knew a great deal, and they knew it much earlier and with greater certainty than anyone has recognized or that the industry has admitted.”
In 1968, a report commissioned by the oil industry detailed rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and warned of potentially catastrophic climate risks. It warned of melting ice caps, rising sea levels, impacts to fisheries and agriculture, and potentially serious degradation of the environment on a worldwide scale.
According to Muffett, ”CIEL’s findings add to the growing body of evidence that the oil industry worked to actively undermine public confidence in climate science and in the need for climate action even as its own knowledge of climate risks was growing.”
Through industry histories and other documents, CIEL traced the genesis of the industry’s collective climate research to a meeting of oil and gas industry executives in Los Angeles in late 1946. Faced with growing public concern about air pollution, the industry embarked on what would become a well-funded, carefully coordinated, multi-decade enterprise of funding scientific research into air pollution issues. Through its aptly-named Smoke and Fumes Committee, the industry not only funded research, but used it to promote public skepticism of environmental science and environmental regulations the industry considered hasty, costly, and potentially unnecessary.
In the decades that followed, the Smoke and Fumes Committee funded massive levels of research into an array of air pollution issues, often conducted by institutes fostered and governed by the oil companies themselves. By the mid-1950s at the very latest, climate change was one of those issues.
The documents also show how Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil) scientists actively engaged on climate science in the company’s name beginning in the 1950s, even as they actively funded and published research into alternate theories of global warming.
“These documents are the tip of an evidentiary iceberg that demands further investigation,” says Muffett. “Oil companies had an early opportunity to acknowledge climate science and climate risks, and to enable consumers to make informed choices. They chose a different path. The public deserves to know why.”
To view the research and document excerpts visit: www.SmokeAndFumes.org
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) uses the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy in the global public interest, including through legal counsel, policy research, analysis, education, training and capacity building.
What others are saying about our findings:
“This stunning investigation by Carroll Muffett and CIEL has pulled back the curtain of Big Oil’s plausible deniability on climate change, and the naked history is pretty ugly. Turns out they all knew about the dangers of smog and the threats of global warming several generations ago. The oil industry reaction to these challenges was to seek control of the science and policy narrative, funding counter science and suppressing public scrutiny and concern about air pollution caused by the use of their products.”
-Kert Davies, Director, Climate Investigations Center
“It’s astonishing to learn that almost fifty years ago the American Petroleum Institute and its member companies sought and received scientific advice that continued carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels posed potentially catastrophic risks to the global climate. While acknowledging scientific uncertainties of that time, the 1968 Stanford Research Institute report to API made clear that there was ‘no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe’ and that companies should ‘work toward systems in which carbon dioxide emissions would be brought under control.’ Fossil fuel companies bear particular responsibility for climate damages—damages that could and should have been averted had they acted to reduce the risks of their products.”
-Peter Frumhoff, Director of Science and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
“CIEL is to be applauded for its efforts in making these documents publicly available. Just as was the case with the release through litigation of tobacco industry documents, these documents will shed light on the actions and inactions of a powerful and influential industry.”
-Sharon Y. Eubanks, Counsel, Bordas & Bordas, former lead counsel for the Justice Department in federal tobacco litigation
“It’s increasingly clear that the fossil fuel industry knew a lot more about the causes of climate change—and its effects—much earlier than anyone else. It pains me to think how much better shape the planet and vulnerable communities could be in if the fossil fuel industry had taken positive action based on this knowledge instead of trying to profit from it. I’m grateful to InsideClimate News and CIEL for investigating this deception to make sure the fossil fuel industry is held accountable.”
Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
“The ongoing revelations about the depth of oil industry research into—and obfuscation of—the greatest crisis humans have ever faced are hard to read; thanks to them, we wasted vital time. Their publication even at this late date is vital to taking real action.”
–Bill McKibben, Founder 350.org
The Growing Danger From Gas Pipelines
A decade ago, Congress set out to make pipelines safer, but today there are more accidents on pipelines that carry gas to homes.
PublishedSeptember 24, 2020
A decade ago, Congress set out to make pipelines safer, but today there are more accidents on pipelines that carry gas to homes.
By Jeremy Deaton
Pipelines exploded with the force of bombs, setting homes ablaze in Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts. Columbia Gas, the local gas utility, had allowed too much pressure to build up in its aging cast-iron pipes until finally, they erupted in a series of blasts that injured more than 20 people and killed one, Leonol Rondon, an 18-year-old who had just passed his driving test. He had pulled up to a friend’s driveway to share the good news when an explosion under the house toppled the chimney, which crushed him in the driver’s seat.
“It looked like a war zone,” said Walter Mena, a Merrimack Valley resident. “I come from El Salvador, where we were at war in the 1980s. It reminded me of that.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1308772503565852674&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fcleantechnica.com%2F2020%2F09%2F24%2Fthe-growing-danger-from-gas-pipelines%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=550px
The disaster struck in September of 2018. For weeks after, homeowners living near the blasts were relegated to hotels or camping trailers paid for by Columbia Gas. Others, including Mena, were able to stay in their homes, but without gas. Mena had to boil a pot of water on an electric stove every time he wanted to bathe. Even today, some locals are still recovering from the explosions, anxious at the smell of gas or the gurgle of a water heater.
The Merrimack Valley disaster is remarkable, not just for its scale, but its timing. It came near the end of a decade in which officials set out to make natural gas pipelines safer. But incidents like the one in Merrimack Valley have actually grown more numerous since 2010, according to data from pipeline regulators. While the number of accidents on transmission lines — those that carry gas from region to region — has declined, the number of accidents on distribution lines — those that carry gas to residential neighborhoods — has crept upwards. The trend was outlined in a recent report from the Pipeline Safety Trust, a pipeline watchdog group.
“We haven’t made big advances in making us safer from pipeline accidents,” said Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, which was created by order of a federal judge after a 1999 pipeline explosion killed two 10-year-olds in Bellingham, Washington.
Over the last decade, firms have built new pipelines while continuing to make use of older ones. This added infrastructure creates more opportunities for accidents, and aging pipes are at greater risk of failure. At the same time, pipeline operators, regulators and lawmakers have failed to apply lessons from past mistakes, Caram said.
Source: Pipeline Safety Trust
2010 was supposed to mark a turning point in the regulation of pipelines, as lawmakers sought to improve pipeline safety after several major disasters. That summer, ruptured oil pipelines emptied thousands of barrels of murky goo into Red Butte Creek in Utah, Yellowstone River in Montana and Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Then, in September, a gas pipeline in San Bruno, California exploded. The blast destroyed dozens of homes and left a crater the size of a tennis court. It also killed eight people, among them Jacqueline Greig, an advocate for utility customers, and her 13-year-old daughter, Janessa, who was student body president at St. Cecilia School.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1308757113787887618&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fcleantechnica.com%2F2020%2F09%2F24%2Fthe-growing-danger-from-gas-pipelines%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=550px
The National Transportation Safety Board investigated these failures and made a series of recommendations, like pressure tests for older gas pipelines and automatic shutoff valves on pipelines running through populated areas. In 2011, Congress wrote a number of these recommendations into law. But, while the “Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011” required new rules on pipelines, it left in place legal hurdles that would make it nearly impossible for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to enact those rules.
“The intention of all those recommendations and mandates was to make sure that an incident like San Bruno would never happen again. I don’t think that’s the case,” Caram said. “It’s not PHMSA’s fault. It’s their authority. They have not been able to implement these changes.”
The challenge, Caram said, is that PHMSA is limited in its ability to regulate existing pipelines, meaning older pipelines, which carry a higher risk of failure, aren’t covered by new regulations.
PHMSA is also required to undertake a stringent cost-benefit analysis on every proposed rule. Should regulators determine that the cost of compliance exceeds the value of protecting nature or saving a human life, the rule is effectively dead — even if the public disagrees, say, with the value the agency places on human life, Caram said. While some rules eventually pass this test, the process is time-intensive and only one step in a very long road.
In 2011, Congress directed PHMSA to mandate automatic shutoff valves. In 2013, Jeffrey Wiese, then head of PHMSA, complained of how agonizingly long it took to craft new pipeline regulations, telling compliance officers, “Getting any change through regulation, which used to be a viable tool, is no longer viable.” It wasn’t until February 2020 that PHMSA finally proposed a new rule requiring automatic shutoff valves. Natural gas trade groups were quick to argue that the measure would prove too costly as written.
“PHMSA has been very slow to address those recommendations and these mandates,” Caram said. “Here we are 10 years later, and they have not even gotten to all of them, and the ones they have gotten to, the industry has fought tooth and nail.”
Congress is currently considering several bills that would reauthorize the pipeline safety program, including one bill championed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) that is named for Leonol Rondon, the sole death in the Merrimack Valley disaster. But none of these bills deals with the grandfather clause, which limits regulations on existing pipelines, and only one would eliminate the cost-benefit requirement. That bill is unlikely to survive in its current form, Caram said.
Faced with the persistent dangers of natural gas, and the federal government’s glacial pace in tackling those dangers, some Americans are taking matters into their own hands — going all-electric.
Last year, Jackson Wilkinson lost his father to a gas explosion at his home in Warrington, Pennsylvania. Wilkinson said his father, Mike, was tough, an Army veteran and onetime amateur boxer who had helmed a company that made airplane refueling trucks. His father was also a skilled mechanic and rigidly disciplined about safety — the kind of dad who would never forget to turn off a propane BBQ. He was, by any measure, an unlikely victim of a gas accident.
Wilkinson said that his dad was mowing the lawn when his basement door exploded outward, killing the 73-year-old. The fire inspectors did not officially determine the exact cause of the explosion, but they said it was most likely an issue with the gas infrastructure inside his home.
Shaken by his father’s death, Wilkinson has been retrofitting his house in Newton, Massachusetts, replacing his water heater and furnace with an electric heat pump powered by rooftop solar panels. He is aiming to replace his dryer and stove next. Wilkinson’s mother, who has been living in a temporary home since the accident, is now moving to a newly built townhouse where the heat, hot water, dryer and stove will be all-electric. Wilkinson said that while his father might have been skeptical of electric appliances when he was alive, he would probably feel different today.
“I think my dad would say, ‘Why do you want pipes of this stuff running through your house? Look at what it did to me,’” he said. “He never wanted to make the same mistake twice.”