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New gas pipelines are snaking their way into Massachusetts, despite the strong commitments that both the state and Boston have made to reversing climate change. This is partly the challenge of Boston's economic success: the influx of businesses and people leads to the need for more infrastructure, and neither the city nor the developers are offering enough green alternatives.

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Hence the hearing today at Boston's Public Improvement Commission on one small but important link in the climate-destruction chain: National Grid's proposed Back Bay/South End extension. The commission put it last on a list of 15 items about curb repair, awnings, etc. During their questioning of National Grid representatives, commissioners focused on minutiae concerning locations and coordination with other public bodies (not to say those aren't important). But the climate activists kicked up a strong presence during the discussion period, taking it into lunchtime.

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Held at Boston City Hall (a notably ugly building, particularly inside), and hampered by a poor sound system, the hearing drew an overflow crowd and a long line of public speakers, nearly all opposing the pipeline. Some business groups, however, approve of the pipeline, reflecting their narrow financial interests. In the end, the commission voted to delay action on pipeline approval.

The region urgently need deep and far-reaching research into energy source, greener buildings, better public transportation, and adaptation to rising seas--and to its credit, the Boston City Council is realizing this.

Just two weeks ago, the city council passed a resolution calling for more green energy (Community Choice Energy or CCE). And yesterday the Boston City Council unanimously approved a resolution asking the Public Improvement Commission to hold back from approving the Back Bay pipeline. The public needs to keep up the pressure--but we also need alternatives. How can we expect Michigan or India to avoid building fossil fuel infrastructure if the putatively progressive state of Massachusetts can't?

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