Wednesday, February 6th, construction workers in San Francisco hit a gas main. Their accident set off an explosion that set fire to four buildings, sent people running for their lives and left thousands without power during a cold snap.
As I watched black smoke rise from an office window downtown, I only had one thought: my kids are over there!
The explosion occurred less than a mile from my home. It occurred even closer to the homes of many of my kids’ friends. There’s a park with a tree my son loves to climb nearby. My family loves getting weekend dim sum at Hong Kong Lounge II, a restaurant engulfed by flames.
Today, the dangers posed by natural gas literally hit close to home.
For too long the fossil fuel industry has perpetuated a myth that natural gas is safe, sustainable and necessary. In reality, it is dangerous for people and the planet. The explosion today in San Francisco is minimal compared to the deathly explosions that occurred in San Bruno, California and in the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
Potentially dangerous natural gas leaks occur at the wellhead and all points during the distribution process. Calling on utilities to identify, report and fix leaks is not only important to safety, but also to the environment. Natural gas is methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. If we phase-out natural gas and promote truly clean energy, we can keep our families safer and our planet healthier.
I am so thankful for the efforts of Mothers Out Front volunteers, who are tirelessly working to shift the narrative surrounding natural gas and halt extraction and distribution. It’s an uphill battle, but one that is gaining momentum with more support from allies and state and local officials. We are getting utilities to fix gas leaks, delaying pipeline projects, fighting gas infrastructure and promoting renewable energy alternatives.
I hope to never again experience the panic I felt looking out the window today. Everyone is entitled to safe and healthy lives for themselves and their children.
Mother Out Front Robyn Purchia
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