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Friday, August 26, 2016
Three singers arrested as Spectra Pipeline faces opposition
Chorus of singers stand by the waters of the Hudson as workers begin pulling AIM pipeline under the river in Verplanck, NY – Early this morning as Spectra Energy prepared to drag its 42-inch diameter, high pressure, fracked-methane gas pipeline under the Hudson River adjacent to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, a chorus of more than 30 singers came down 11th Street and sang to the drilling site, three of whom were arrested while blocking the entrance to the site. 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 Nuclear Power Plant. Concerned residents have pointed out that Spectra Energy has already damaged water mains in Cortlandt. On August 11th, Spectra Energy’s blasting damaged water infrastructure and left Cortlandt residents without water during a 90-degree day. “If we can’t trust Spectra Energy with a water main,” asked Peekskill resident Courtney Williams, “Why are we trusting them with the Hudson River?”
Lack of water isn’t the only water problem Spectra is causing. In Blue Mountain Reservation and other locations across Westchester County, Spectra’s trenches have filled with water. As the pipeline cuts across sensitive wetlands the route looks more like a canal than a pipeline - standing water fills the trenches and Spectra seems not to care, operating equipment submerged. Residents have reached out to the Westchester County Health Department to report the standing water, which can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos.
Spectra Energy's planned expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline has faced a series of setbacks in recent weeks, including: the revelation that the Natural Resources Group (NRG) the company hired by FERC to conduct the environmental assessment of AIM, had a financial relationship with Spectra; the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's overturning a ratepayer "pipeline tax" to pay for construction of the pipeline; and theuncertain future of a planned power plant that is supposed to use gas from the pipeline. Just this week, two major backers of Spectra’s overall expansion plan – Eversource and National Grid – withdrew their 20-year purchasing agreements, in what many are calling a major setback for Spectra Energy’s plans to expand its Algonquin Pipeline network.
Today’s chorus is the latest development in an ongoing effort to stop Spectra Energy from constructing their massive Algonquin Incremental Market Expansion project. On August 3rd, both New York Senators wrote to FERC, calling for an immediate halt to construction of the pipeline; FERC has so far ignored the Senators’ request. Earlier, 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. FERC has the legal authority to issue a stop work order, yet continues to ignore elected officials' calls for protection of public safety. Residents and advocates are calling on Senator Schumer to use his influence to stop the pipeline once and for all, and will be following today’s action with an interfaith vigil at his house in Brooklyn on Monday evening.
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