Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a largely unregulated drilling process that injects millions of gallons of water, sand, and undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into horizontal wells to crack open shale rock and release natural gas. Fracking has accelerated rapidly in recent years, but it poses a significant threat to groundwater and our environment.
While fracking does not take place in Connecticut, new fracked gas pipelines and power plants have been proposed. Fracked gas plays a significant role in our climate crisis, and its use is a step backwards for efforts to cut carbon emissions or invest in clean energy.
In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed the Pipeline Tax to fund a new fracked gas pipeline proposed to run across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Under the Pipeline Tax, Connecticut homeowners, ratepayers, and small businesses would be forced to pick up the tab for the big energy companies at a total cost of over $6.6 billion.
According to a 2020 report by the Acadia Center, "over the next decade, gas will play a much smaller role in electricity generation in New England and as a result existing gas-fired plants will be underused, and new plants, as well as new supply infrastructure like pipelines, will be unnecessary." This pipeline would do nothing to encourage Connecticut to transition to clean energy, and it would make everyday citizens pay for a pipeline that a 2017 study by Synapse Energy Economics found was ultimately unnecessary. The study found New England's use of natural gas would fall by 41% of 2015 levels by the year 2030 thanks to clean energy requirements, emissions caps, and energy efficiency targets.
Since 2017, a coalition of lawmakers have introduced legislation to repeal the Pipeline Tax. Most recently in 2019, this effort was spearheaded by Reps. Christopher Rosario and Peter Tercyak. Though the bill failed to advance, attempts were made to incorporate the language into Connecticut's Green Economy Bill (HB 5002) or attach it as an amendment to other energy legislation. Unfortunately, these efforts failed and the Pipeline Tax remains on the books.