Solidarity Rallies at all eight of Senator Chuck Schumer’s Offices as New Yorkers from Across the State Call for a Halt to Spectra’s AIM pipeline
New York City – Today at 9:00 AM, New Yorkers rallied to demand action from Senator Charles Schumer to stop the construction of a high pressure, fracked-gas pipeline that poses a major threat to more than 20 million people. Two hundred and fifty people gathered and heard from health professionals, indigenous leaders and residents of the Hudson Valley where the pipeline is being built. Fifteen people were arrested after refusing to leave unless Senator Schumer took action. Allied organizations held solidarity actions at Senator Schumer’s offices in Peekskill, Rochester, Binghamton, Albany, Long Island, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Washington DC. Groups in Massachusetts, where the pipeline is also being built, gathered to pressure Senators Markey and Warren.
Several groups read a statement from Courtney Williams, a Peekskill resident whose home and children’s school is in the blast radius of the pipeline. “Senator Schumer, I speak on behalf of the HUNDREDS of people at every one of your offices in New York and the millions threatened by this pipeline: You must stop making excuses for your inaction. Spectra’s AIM Pipeline is a man-made and entirely avoidable disaster in the making and YOU have the power to stop it!” Leigha Eyster, a born-and-raised resident of Yorktown Heights where another section of the pipeline is being built, was present at the rally as well: “I’m here to take a stand against the AIM Pipeline project. It’s a great risk to my community and to New York City as well. We’re here because we need Senator Schumer to act. We need him to go to FERC Commissioner Norman Bay, we need him to go to President Obama, and we need to see action, not just words.”
Spectra Energy’s AIM project is a 42” gas pipeline that is only 105 feet from Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant’s safety infrastructure and 400 feet from an elementary school. The 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. Pipelines are prone to accidents; according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there were roughly six pipeline incidents every week in the United States in 2015, and the number of pipeline incidents is increasing with newer pipelines. Spectra’s AIM Pipeline poses a serious threat to public health and safety, not only to those who live in the immediate area, but to all New Yorkers. As Peekskill resident Nancy Vann said, “There is simply no safe way to put this pipeline into operation next to Indian Point.”
Furthermore, this project locks us into more fossil fuel use at a time when we must move toward renewable energy for the sake of our climate. Senator Schumer has filed his opposition to this project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but FERC still has not halted construction. Resist Spectra and allies from across the state are demanding that Senator Schumer go to President Obama, go to FERC Chairperson Norman Bay, and ask his colleagues in the Senate to oppose this project. They are also demanding that Schumer meet with Senators in other states and conduct a press conference demanding that FERC issue a “stop work” order NOW.
Peekskill is not the only part of the state that is being overrun by fracked gas infrastructure. Rallies in other parts of the state called on the Senator to be a voice for those who have been shut out of the process, and for communities where gas projects are being built against the communities’ wishes. “The Spectra Pipeline Project must be stopped if our children are to inherit a planet with clean water, clean air, and a livable climate,” said Renee Scholz from Mothers Out Front in Rochester. “I live in Rochester and recognize that this is an emergency not only for the 20 million people within the evacuation zone, but also for our state, country and planet. Senator Schumer is in a position to demand FERC issue a stop work order permit so this project is halted immediately, and I beg him to do so, now, before it is too late.”
In Binghampton, Lisa Marshall from Mothers Out Front spoke at a solidarity rally. “As a scientist and as a mom, I have no choice but to get on my knees and beg Senator Schumer to stop this project.” Diane Folk from Corning, NY, agreed: “As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I have to take a stand to improve the environment of our nation.”
In Buffalo, 35 people gathered at Senator Schumer’s Buffalo office, where David Reilly Ph.D Professor at Niagara University spoke. “We—the people—need to learn from Standing Rock. We need to reject the impulse to push our risks to another neighborhood, to another location. We need to say NO to the idea that these fossil fuels should ever leave the ground. We need to be unified in our message—from the Spectra opposition to the Northern Access Pipeline to the Dakota Pipeline—that we refuse to give in to the pressure from fossil fuel industries.”
In Peekskill, 40 people gathered, sang and rallied outside Schumer’s Peekskill office, where Erik Lindberg of Peekskill spoke. “Senator Schumer has never held a press conference on this issue that threatens millions of his constituents. This is a man who has held press conferences and introduced legislation on everything from dish detergent pods to powdered caffeine to robo calls interrupting family dinner. Yet, he has never had a press conference on the risks of the AIM pipeline.”
“We fought Kinder Morgan’s pipeline that was slated to cross Rensselaer and Albany counties – and we won. Now we are supporting other New York communities that are fighting pipelines. Our climate demands that we take action. Senator Schumer, we need to you to take immediate action to stop the Spectra AIM Pipeline,” said Ruth Foster, member of Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline, a group from the Capital Region that held a rally in Albany.
Andra Leimanis spoke in Syracuse: “We ask that Senator Schumer step up his opposition to the Spectra AIM Pipeline before it’s too late. It’s time to GO BIG: call President Obama, hold press conferences alongside others in congress who have constituents endangered by FERC’s reckless pipeline approvals. Building more pipelines when we need to be rapidly reducing the amount of carbon and methane released into the atmosphere is dangerous. Building a pipeline next to an aging nuclear facility is insanity.”
Concerned New Yorkers gathered at Schumer’s Long Island office in Melville as well. “Schumer has spoken out against this pipeline and has written a letter to FERC but we need more action. We need him to actually stop this. He keeps telling us that he’s done what he can but that’s not acceptable. He needs to do more. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.” Kevin O’Keeffe, Long Island resident involved in stopping the Port Ambrose LNG facility in 2015.
Finally, allies in Massachusetts rallied at the offices of Senator Warren and Senator Markey. “We here in Central Mass opposing the Northeast Access project know it’s time to join together across pipeline projects to say no to these projects that hurt local communities and us all while making money for the fossil fuel industry” said Michelle Wenderlich, local organizer for Food & Water Watch.
The people have spoken. The time is NOW for Senator Chuck Schumer to lead on this issue to protect all New Yorkers.