Extinction Rebellion DC shuts down Washington Gas "Project Pipes" site

Video-"Octopus" or "Star" blockade shutting down Project Pipes site 34 seconds

On the 26th of October Extinction Rebellion DC locked down at a Washington Gas "Project Pipes" construction site, shutting it down until they could be extracted.

Note that what would have been a second day's disruption of the North American Gas Forum on Oct 25 was scrubbed in favor of supporting Gaza solidarity protests.

Washington Gas is attempting to replace all of their rusting, rotting network of gas pipes in DC, at a projected $4.5 billion cost. The project started in 2014 and has been underway since.

Extinction Rebellion DC wants to stop the spending on Project Pipes, use the leaks as a reason to shut Washington Gas down entirely, and instead see the city fund a wholesale replacement of then-useless gas stoves and heaters with electric. This would require heat pumps and induction stoves to be more efficient than gas as a heat source, but as a technology is proven.

CCAN is also opposing the project, calling out it's estimated $27,000 per household cost.

It is unknown to this author whether repairing all leaks that are known or could be found (to fix the distribution pipes until gas suppliers are shut down), would be cheaper or more expensive than replacing all of Washington Gas's pipes. It is known some of them are in truly awful condition.

Some have said a subsidized transition to electric would cost less than the $4.5 billion project and be a more reliable long term investment. Again, it is unknown to this author if the math works. Certainly Washington Gas won't fund it, probably would have to be a city project as it involved the underlying infrastructure of the entire city.

Project Pipes is funded by Washington Gas jacking up the price of residential gas, meaning DC residents (renders included) are effectively forced to invest in a project that could be made useless by a climate-forced transition off of gas in just a few years. Investors might not be interested in this project, so DC's ratepayers are forced to act as investors instead.

Wealthy condo owners can counter this forced bad investment by cancelling gas service and switching to induction stoves and heat pumps. Less well off homeowners may not be able to afford the up-front costs, and renters though don't even get this option at all. The rich can afford the all at once cost, the poor cannot and are forced to act as investors in a project of unknown long term viability.

Washington Gas (or more accurately their ratepayers) is in the situation of someone owning a gasoline powered car as gasoline is phased out. If that car has a fuel leak, the leak must be fixed before the car can be used, but this risks investing in a soon to be useless asset. Now consider the scenario if just one shop has a monopoly on repairs or parts and jacks up the price.

The wealthy could tell them to buzz off, buy an electric car, and scrap the leaky gas-burner, Those who do not qualify for car loans cannot and would have to pay for repairs.

Photo by XRDC

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