Our heartfelt sympathies go out to anyone who has been impacted or injured because of yesterday's explosion in the East Village. The accident was tragic, devastating–and entirely predictable. The unfortunate truth is that gas infrastructure is not safe. In 2014, there were at least eighteen separate accidents in the United States involving gas pipelines, including the explosion in East Harlem that killed eight people and injured dozens more.
For years, New York City has been intensifying its reliance on gas and encouraging the buildout of gas infrastructure. Because of this trend, we have repeatedly argued that another gas accident in New York City was only a matter of time. We are enormously saddened to see these predictions proven true.
"Natural" gas is often sold to the public as "clean," a "safe alternative" to coal or oil. But gas is a fossil fuel like any other. It leaks, it explodes, and it has a devastating impact on our climate. Methane, which is the chief component of "natural" gas, has 86 times the impact of carbon dioxide on our climate over a 20-year scale. In the short term, this gas puts us at risk for terrible tragedies such as the East Village explosion, while in the long term it sets us on a course for an unstable climate and planetary disaster.
We can't stand this any longer. We have to move to a socially just and fully renewable energy system. While our hearts are heavy, today has only strengthened our resolve:
- Replacing old gas infrastructure with new gas infrastructure is not the answer. The answer is replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
- At the local level, we must support ongoing attempts to move the city onto renewable energy while continuing to push for climate action plans that are ambitious, timely and contain specific steps to get to the 100% renewable future we want and need.
- At the State level, we must call for further funding for wind energy and a veto on projects like Port Ambrose that will lock us into further exploitation of shale gas.
- At the Federal level, we must disband the sham regulatory agency known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and institute a system of oversight that is truly accountable to the people.
Again, we express our sadness for those affected by this accident and stand in solidarity with all communities that have been put in harm's way by the fossil fuel industry. It doesn't have to be this way. We pledge to continue to work with New York City to make sure tragedies like today become a thing of the past.
–Sane Energy Project