April 5, 2016
Groups Rally to Save NYS from FERC
Ask Governor Cuomo to Protect NYS Water by Denying Required Water Quality Certificate for Constitution Pipeline
Albany, NY—Groups from across New York State – and beyond – rallied at the State Capitol today against the bias of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for fracked gas infrastructure projects. They asked Governor Cuomo to use the State’s authority under the Clean Water Act to stand up to FERC by denying the 401 water quality certificate for the Constitution Pipeline.
The rally was organized by Stop the Pipeline (STP), and garnered the support of sixty participating organizations. The event was divided into three segments, with speeches book-ending a march around the Capitol and down to the headquarters of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). People whose land has been taken by eminent domain led the march, followed by “the spirit of the Susquehanna,” symbolizing the water that nourishes all life. Other groups came to expose the injustices they are suffering from the fossil fuel industry.
“The Constitution Pipeline is at the epicenter of New York’s climate fight and emblematic of how federal regulators bully states into violating clean water laws with destructive projects that are not in the public interest,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “Hundreds of New Yorkers converged on Albany to urge Governor Cuomo to not only deny Constitutions 401 water quality certificate, but also set the tone for the rest of the nation that federal overreach on key energy projects will no longer be tolerated.”
“FERC routinely violates property rights, constitutional due process, and federal laws like the Clean Water Act,” said Anne Marie Garti, a founding member of STP and an attorney volunteering with the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic (PELC), which represents it. “Just like we asked landowners to “just say no” to the pipeline company as a way to preserve their property rights, now we are asking our Governor to “just say no” to preserve the state’s right to protect its water.”
“FERC is a rogue agency that is captured by the very industry it is supposed to regulate,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, and a partner at PELC. “We need to reclaim our democracy from corporations that routinely pollute our water, and are now taking people’s land for their profit. Governor Cuomo can continue his environmental leadership by denying this 401 water quality certificate.”
"FERC has become the henchmen of the pipeline companies,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “It uses legal loopholes and violations of law to strip states and communities of their legal rights to review, challenge, and even deny pipeline projects. We need Governor Cuomo to stand as our champion by saying "no" to the Constitution pipeline and "no" to FERC"
“I implore Governor Cuomo to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers by saying no to dangerous fracked gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch. “He should start by denying a water quality certificate for the Constitution Pipeline. This project would cross hundreds of streams and put New York’s most essential resource - its clean drinking water - at risk. Governor Cuomo should listen to the hundreds of New Yorkers who are here today, and the many more that they speak for, and reject antiquated fossil fuel infrastructure like the Constitution Pipeline.”
“The fates of the Constitution and Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipelines are tied together in a delicate balance, and cutting the cord to one can take down the other,” said Rosemary Wessel, co-founder of No Fracked Gas in Mass. “Denial of Constitution pipeline's 401 water quality certificate would not only stop Constitution, but also set a precedent for those of us fighting NED.”
“Today a huge crowd of New Yorkers who love their communities and the land they call home encircled the Capitol as a powerful demonstration and symbol of hope,” said Wes Gillingham, Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper. “They demonstrate to remind our government that it is here to serve the people, and they hope that our Governor and the DEC will lead a transition away from pipelines and fossil fuels to an economy based on respect for people and the planet.”
A spirited march down to the DEC was lead by Kim Fraczek, Co-Director of the Sane Energy Project. She said, “We march today from the Capitol to the DEC with deep distress over what the gas industry is able to do to the residents of NY, but we are transformed by the power of being together from every corner of NY, seeing our numbers, hearing our collective wisdom that will shine on Governor Cuomo and Basil Seggos to make the decision to deny the gas industry the power to destroy our lives.”
Other speakers included Karenna Gore, Director of the Center of Earth Ethics at Columbia University; Kanerahtiio Jock, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear Clan; William Roche, a property owner whose land and dreams have been taken by eminent domain; Doug Couchon, We Are Seneca Lake; Jim Cutler, Sugar Shack Alliance and Hilltown Community Rights; and representatives of many other groups.
Communities affected by infrastructure projects are becoming ubiquitous, and the harms they are suffering wide-ranging.
The participating organizations include: 350 Mass Berkshires • Berks Gas Truth • Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) • Beyond Extreme Energy • CaPOW (Compressor and Pipeline Opposition Windsor) • Catskill Citizens For Safe Energy • Catskill Mountainkeeper • C-Care (Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy) • CEEC (Citizens Energy and Economics Council of Delaware County) • Chenango- CDOG • Citizen Action-NY • Climate Mama • Complete It Cuomo • Compressor Free Franklin • Concerned Burlington Neighbors • Concerned Citizens of McDonough • Concerned Citizens of Otego • Concerned Residents of Oxford • Damascus Citizens for Sustainability • DAG (Delaware Action Group) • Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society • Delaware Riverkeeper Network • Earthworks • Food & Water Watch • Frack Action • Friends of Sustainable Sidney • Grassroots Environmental Education •Indigena • MRAD (Maryland Residents Against Drilling) • Mass-PLAN (Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network) • Middlefield Neighbors • Milford Doers • Millers River Watershed Council • Minisink Matters • Mohawk Valley Keeper • No Fracked Gas in Mass • North Quabbin Pipeline Action • Otsego 2000 • Otsego Neighbors • Peacemakers of Schoharie County • Pennsylvanians Against Fracking • People for a Healthy Environment • People, Not Pipelines • Protect Orange County • Residents of Crumhorn Mountain • Sane Energy Project • Stop Algonquin Pipeline Expansion • Sharon Springs Against Hydrofracking • Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter • Stop New York Frack Gas Pipeline • Solutions Grassroots • Stop Minisink Compressor Station • Stop NED (Northeast Energy Direct) • Stop the Pipeline (STP) • Sugar Shack Alliance • Sustainable Otsego • Toxics Action Center • Waterfall Unity Alliance • We Are Seneca Lake
Contact: Danielle Filson, 646-335-0443, firstname.lastname@example.org Anne Marie Garti, Stop the Pipeline (718) 601-9618
Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper (845) 901-1029 Roger Downs, Sierra Club (518) 944-0992