Early October 10, four water protectors crawled inside lengths of pipeline along the Hudson River to stop Spectra Energy from dragging its 42-inch diameter, high pressure, fracked-methane gas pipeline under the Hudson River alongside the aging and failing Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. Spectra Energy’s proposed AIM Pipeline would bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New England, despite a report from the Massachusetts Attorney General that shows no need for this gas.
In New York, if completed, the AIM Pipeline would carry gas through residential communities and within 105 feet of critical safety facilities at Indian Point, endangering 20 million people in its blast radius. The water protectors also took this action in solidarity with the Standing Rock Tribe water protectors, and their allies, standing up against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Enbridg, which recently announced that it will purchase Spectra energy, is also a $1.5 billion investor in Dakota Access.
The protectors have been inside the pipeline for more than seven hours. Two support people were also arrested on site and charged with criminal trespass; a third support person was arrested on public property merely on suspicion of illegal activity by association.
Rebecca Berlin, born and raised in Yorktown where the AIM pipeline would connect to the rest of Spectra’s planned pipeline buildout, was one of the protectors who crawled inside the pipe. “Pipelines carrying filthy fossil fuels are putting communities at risk all over the United States – from North Dakota to New York and elsewhere,” she said. “The AIM pipeline must be stopped. Spectra is endangering the community I’ve lived in my entire life. Spectra is putting our wetlands, our children and our lives in danger in order to make profit from selling Liquid Natural Gas, a finite resource and fossil fuel, overseas. We cannot continue to consume so much of earth’s natural resources at the expense of our communities’ well-being. I want to stop Spectra because my community’s health, safety, and wildlife is more important than profit.”
Today’s action is the latest in an ongoing effort to stop Spectra Energy from constructing their Algonquin Incremental Market Expansion project. On August 3rd, both New York Senators wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), calling for an immediate halt to construction of the pipeline; FERC denied the Senators’ request. On February 29, 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called for an immediate halt to construction while the state conducts an independent risk assessment, although this review was later revealed to be potentially compromised by gas lobbyists close to Cuomo. FERC also denied the Governor’s request. Without further support from elected officials, residents and advocates took matters into their own hands today to directly stop construction.
Mackenzie Wilkins said: “Spectra’s AIM Pipeline, like the Dakota Access Pipeline, and like all oil and gas lines, is a huge health and safety risk to the communities it passes through. If completed, the line would pass within 150 feet of schools, homes, and the Indian Point nuclear power plant and would lock us into decades more of fracking, water and air contamination, and climate destabilizing methane emissions. I am taking action to support communities along Spectra’s Pipeline that are fighting for a more just, sane, and sustainable world.”
Dave Publow said: “There is no reasonable argument for installing a gargantuan gas pipeline–in effect a perpetual pipe bomb–next to a decrepit nuclear power plant. Yet this is what Texas-based Spectra Energy and international Enbridge are doing, and neither of these companies have any connection to our community. Also, we have no functioning regulatory structure that places the safety of our community first. FERC is a rubber stamp machine long removed from accountability. The state permitting process is now based on legal trickery and insider deals. And since the system has failed us, we will have to do this ourselves.”
Janet Gonzalez, a Westchester County resident said: “I’m taking action against Spectra because our country is heading into an energy crisis. We imperil our future by depending on a depleting finite resource. Fracked gas, tar sands, and deep water drilling are the bottom of the resource pyramid. We must transition to a post carbon world with renewables. Otherwise, we risk cooking the planet.”
Judy Allen, one of two arrested support people, said: “Putting a 42” pipeline of fracked gas next to a nuclear plant a mile from the junction of two earthquake faults in the Hudson River is criminally insane.”
FERC has the legal authority to issue a stop work order, yet continues to ignore elected officials’ repeated calls to protect public safety. Two weeks ago, more than 180 organizations representing communities across America called on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into FERC’s extensive history of bias and abuse, a proposal that has already received positive feedback from Committee Democrats.
This is the zero hour for the pipeline – Spectra Energy wants to run gas through the pipeline by November 1, which means that it has to be stopped now. Residents and advocates are calling on Senator Charles Schumer to use his influence to stop the pipeline once and for all, and will soon be following today’s action with an action at his office.
More videos from water protectors inside the pipeline: