Earlier this month, the Transcontinental Fuel Pipe Line Firm introduced its intention to construct the South’s largest gasoline pipeline in additional than a decade. The Southeast Supply Enhancement project, as the corporate calls it, would run from Virginia down via the Carolinas and Georgia earlier than swinging west to Alabama, proper via the guts of the American South.

This was not astonishing information to anybody whose gentle invoice comes from a Southern utility.

A renewable power revolution is unfolding throughout the globe faster than anyone dared to hope, however Southern officers, lots of whom minimize their political tooth on coal, have been cussedly proof against it. No one loves a fossil-fuel growth mission greater than a red-state politician loves a fossil-fuel growth mission.

In the identical manner that “clear coal” is a ridiculous rebranding of the dirtiest energy source we have, “pure” gasoline is a misnomer utilized by politicians and trade officers desperate to obscure its true id. The Union of Involved Scientists as a substitute uses “methane,” “fossil gas” and “gas” as interchangeable phrases for this greenhouse gasoline which, in its first 20 years of reaching the environment, has greater than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. “Though CO2 has a longer-lasting impact, methane units the tempo for warming within the close to time period,” according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

The issue with gasoline will not be merely that it’s a fossil gas or that gasoline pipelines routinely leak and can explode. And it’s not merely that gasoline is a human health and environmental nightmare. Maybe essentially the most damaging downside with gasoline pipelines is that they enable the development of recent gas-fired energy crops that can be in service for many years. Simply because the planet hurtles towards an irreversible climate tipping point, these crops will lock the South into reliance on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

You’d assume such information would give state officers pause earlier than allowing the extension of gasoline pipelines via communities whose security they’re charged with defending. However this actuality has no impression in any respect in states managed by a Republican supermajority.

Let’s take the Tennessee Common Meeting as a living proof. As in other red states, our legislature has taken misinformation rebranding to new ranges, legally defining methane as “clear power.” It has handed pre-emptive laws that forestalls native governments from rejecting a pipeline or even regulating its safety. In Tennessee, anybody who disrupts the development of a pipeline has committed a Class C felony.

“The gas-fired fever dream gripping the South is totally at odds with the necessity to decarbonize how we get our power,” said the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Greg Buppert. “Pure gasoline — methane — isn’t some local weather elixir. It’s simply one other soiled fossil gas that pollutes communities and heats up the planet.”

The so-called Southeast Provide Enhancement pipeline received’t attain Tennessee, however that doesn’t imply we’re protected from the risks and destructions of pipeline and methane-plant building. As WPLN’s atmosphere reporter Caroline Eggers reported in December, the Tennessee Valley Authority — which offers electrical energy to most of Tennessee and elements of six different Southern states — has constructed or authorized eight new gasoline crops just in the last three years. The T.V.A. is constructing out more new methane-power infrastructure than some other utility in the USA and has locked most of the local utility companies it serves into 20-year contracts.

We don’t have time for political obfuscation. We don’t have time for our utilities’ cussed reliance on fossil fuels, regardless of their risks. We actually don’t have time for state officers to disregard their constituents’ selections relating to power sources in their very own communities. We don’t have time, and everybody, together with red-state residents, is aware of that.

Should you don’t imagine me, watch what occurs every time the T.V.A. declares the route of a brand new gasoline pipeline or the development of a brand new gasoline energy plant.

Final summer time, right here in Tennessee, each the Cheatham County Fee and the Ashland Metropolis Council voted to reject the T.V.A.’s proposed gasoline energy plant and 12 miles of pipeline in Cheatham County. “Each citizen I’ve spoken to and each elected official I’ve spoken to is against this,” Gerald Greer, the vice mayor of Ashland Metropolis, told WZTV in Nashville.

“Constituents we assist don’t want this facility in Cheatham County due to noise air pollution, doable contamination of consuming water, results on wildlife, the checklist goes on and on,” mentioned the Fourth District commissioner, Invoice Powers. “We’re going to strive, tooth and nail, to battle this one hundred pc.”

Final week, representatives from the T.V.A. have been back in Cheatham County to listen to residents’ issues at a public assembly. Primed by Preserve Cheatham County, a brand new advocacy group with an active Facebook group, in addition to by long-established local-community Fb teams that may disseminate data shortly, the bipartisan, standing-room-only crowd was greater than merely involved. Significantly extra. Stomps and whistles and cheers broke out when two residents unfurled a large drop material painted with the phrases “Not Welcome” and held it up earlier than T.V.A. representatives.

Cheatham County is a largely bucolic a part of Center Tennessee, with small cities and farms that return for generations. Politically, it’s a very crimson a part of the state. However additionally it is the positioning of a 20,000-acre state wildlife administration space, and the brand new neighborhoods popping up across the interstates have gotten what quantities to suburbs of Nashville.

The coalition opposing the T.V.A.’s plans is motivated by a number of issues, not all of them environmental. “We’ve been capable of come collectively no matter why we’re combating,” Stephanie Henry, one of many founding members of Protect Cheatham County, informed me. “There are such a lot of viewpoints, however we’re all capable of come collectively and make a united stand.”

Ms. Henry understands the lengthy odds her group is combating. “Legally we’ve received nothing,” she mentioned. “It’s an uphill battle, and our possibilities could also be slim, but when we don’t strive, then our chances are high none.”

Given the extraordinary indifference with which Republicans within the Tennessee Common Meeting routinely regard their very own voters and the way in which the T.V.A. has doubled down on fossil fuels, the residents of Cheatham County — like so many different communities fighting methane expansion in our region — are engaged in nothing lower than a David-and-Goliath battle.

As at all times in such battles, the percentages are closely stacked in favor of the enormous. But it surely’s price remembering how that historical story really ends.

Margaret Renkl, a contributing Opinion author, is the creator of the books “The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year,” “Graceland, at Last” and “Late Migrations.”




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