The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is due to release its Final Impact Statement on the Algonquin Incremental Market pipeline expansion.
The pipeline carries natural gas under pressure from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania to the markets and ports of New England. AIM would expand segments of Spectra Energy’s current pipeline through Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties and add and enlarge monitoring and compressing stations,
Opponents of the project are staging a week’s worth of protests from New York to Rhode Island.
AIM is just the first project proposed by Spectra—the company has already unveiled a second project that would cover the same territory, inserting larger-diameter pipe in other locations. Spectra says that as the projects are separate, the environmental impacts do not have to be considered together.
Grassroots groups from four states along the proposed route for Spectra’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion, which cuts through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, have joined together to host a coordinated “Week of Respect and Resistance”, with actions from December 13 – December 19 in opposition to the project.
The actions are planned in anticipation of the release of the final Environmental Impact Statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee due on or about December 19, 2014. The week of action will target local, state and federal legislators and government agencies – all of whom have direct roles or influence in the approval of the project. These actions will build on the numerous rallies, vigils, meetings and call-in campaigns that have been happening across the states for the past several months.
“We are calling this a Week of Respect and Resistance: respect, because it’s important to honor the other struggles for justice that have come before us and those that are taking place right now around the world. It’s also time for Spectra and our elected officials to respect our power and respect our desire to see a world powered by community owned renewable energy. Resistance means that if this project is approved by FERC, our resistance will only escalate,” FANG organizer Nick Katkevich explains.
Susan Van Dolsen of SAPE in NY said, “Individual groups have been organizing tirelessly in our respective areas by talking to legislators and state agencies, and we are now coming together to emphasize that this is one pipeline project, four states, one loud collective voice saying ‘Stop the Spectra Algonquin pipeline expansion!’”
The New York and Connecticut action will be outside of Danbury Green Shopping Center, 113 Mill Plain Road, Danbury, CT 06811 (near Trader Joe’s) on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 11:30 a.m.
Suzannah Glidden of SAPE said, “Children, the elderly and those with pulmonary and cardiovascular conditions living near compressor stations are at very high risk. Blowdowns when maintenance takes place create dangerous health exacerbations. Metering and regulating stations also release toxic emissions.”
Many elected officials in New York, including Congresswoman Nita Lowey, wrote to FERC requesting an independent risk assessment of the massive 42” new segment of pipeline that would run 105 feet from critical structures at the Indian Point nuclear facility.
A nationally renowned pipeline expert, Rick Kuprewicz of AccuFacts, in a report commissioned by the Town of Cortlandt stated, “Accufacts cannot overstress the importance of performing a full and complete process hazard safety analysis, independently demonstrating, especially to the public, that there will be no interplay between a possible gas transmission pipeline rupture and the IPEC facilities to failsafe shutdown or cause a loss of radiation containment in such a sensitive and highly populated area of the country.”
As a result of citizen advocacy, Congressman Stephen Lynch and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wrote a letter to FERC Chairperson Cheryl LaFleur expressing concern about the new pipeline lateral that passes through West Roxbury near an active quarry.
Recently, Fossil Free RI launched a campaign urging the Rhode Island Department of Health to block the expansion of the compressor station in Burrillville, citing elevated asthma rates in the surrounding area. The Green Party of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Clean Water Action, Occupy Providence, the the Voluntown Peace Trust have already signed on, and other organizations are in the process of doing so.
“We are at a critical juncture. Expanding the Spectra Algonquin pipeline will lock us into a reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure for decades to come. Communities across the region are coming together to oppose this pipeline and call for clean energy alternatives, energy conservation and efficiencies,” says Michelle Weiser, Community Organizer with Toxics Action Center.
If approved, Spectra would begin construction as early as March 2015 and the project would be completed in November 2016. Another Spectra expansion, the Atlantic Bridge, is planned to follow right after the AIM project with additional expanded segments of massive 42” diameter high-pressure pipeline segments and compressor station expansions, and a third project is also in the works.
These expansions would be devastating to the entire northeast region and much of the gas would be shipped overseas to foreign markets. “Even if the governmental agencies fail us and approve this project, our nonviolent resistance will only escalate. This week will be a demonstration of our commitment to stop this pipeline at all costs,” says Katkevich.
Groups involved with the action include: Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (NY); Sierra Club (CT); Greater Danbury MoveOn.org Council (CT); Capitalism v. The Climate (CT); Occupy Danbury (CT); Fighting Against Natural Gas (RI); Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion (RI); Fossil Free Rhode Island (RI); Green Party of Rhode Island (RI); Occupy Providence (RI); Toxics Action Center (MA & RI); Mothers Out Front; No New Fracked Gas Infrastructure in West Roxbury, Dedham, or the Northeast (MA); Flood Boston (MA) and Better Future Project (MA).