Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper - (845) 901-1029
Bob Neid, Center for Sustainable Rural Communities - (518) 852-4021
April 6, 2015
STOP THE NORTHEAST ENERGY DIRECT PIPELINE
Rally and Press Conference
A coalition of local and national environmental groups including Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities held a press conference and rally today in Schoharie, New York to Stop the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline
They were joined by residents, landowners and community leaders from Schoharie County as well as activists from around the state in denouncing the proposed Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline, or NED, which if approved will run from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire and parallel the proposed route of the Constitution Pipeline through much of New York.
Much like the mounting opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which President Obama recently vetoed, opposition to the NED is rooted in the understanding that its construction will perpetuate our nation’s climate change-inducing fossil fuel dependence and put communities and ecosystems in the pipeline’s path at risk, with little benefit beyond increasing energy corporations’ profit margins. As President Obama noted when vetoing Keystone XL, the pipeline would not benefit the American people – especially those in the most affected communities – enough to justify its impact in accelerating climate change and encouraging more of the fossil fuel extraction practices that have proven so destructive throughout the country.
The same is true for the NED, which if allowed to move forward will pose a direct threat to hundreds of waterways and several important forest blocks, require the taking of private land through the assertion of eminent domain, and encourage more fracking in Pennsylvania as gas companies take advantage of the increased transport capacity to export fossil fuels abroad. And all of this while the evidence about the dangers of fracking to public health and the environment is mounting, and the need for an immediate transition to renewable energy is becoming increasingly clear.
As anti-fracking activist and filmmaker Josh Fox said, "It is official New York State policy that fracked gas is bad- bad for public health, bad for the environment, bad for everyone. Why then are they proposing to allow fracked gas to be transported across New York state? We should extend the same moral and legal protections to our fellow citizens in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and points west by stopping the ridiculously named "Constitution Pipeline" and asserting our right to a clean future without fossil fuels or the human right violations that their extraction causes."
Whether to facilitate the movement of fracked oil and gas or tar sands oil, the fossil fuel industry is doubling down in its efforts to develop new pipelines and related infrastructure in a bid to lock us into their outdated and self-interested energy practices. The Northeast is a key front in this effort, and the proposed NED is just one of numerous major pipeline and infrastructure projects being pushed in the region, along with Constitution, the Algonquian Market Improvement / Spectra pipeline, and several new gas compressor stations.
The NED is being proposed by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, whose infrastructure projects have an ugly track record of leaks and explosions. The NED’s path through New York would parallel that of the Constitution Pipeline, which was recently approved by the FERC despite growing public opposition to the project, and without any meaningful consideration of its potential environmental impacts or for the cumulative effects from building two pipelines in such close proximity to each other. Opponents of both projects recognize that they will carry many of the same risks as fracking itself does, including the harmful effects of air and water contamination. Acting-Health Commissioner Zucker cited those risks when justifying New York’s statewide ban against fracking, saying that he wouldn’t want his own children living near a fracking site.
Commenting on both the NED and the wider build-out of new oil and gas infrastructure in New York, Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper said, “It’s shameful that Kinder Morgan is proposing this pipeline in light of the cumulative impacts it will have on our communities and environment. The gas and oil industry has shown their willingness to walk all over New Yorkers, and the American people in general, in order to lock us into a fossil fuel future that ultimately will only benefit their pockets. It’s outrageous and unacceptable that the FERC continuously rubber stamps these projects, effectively aiding and abetting the fossil fuel industry and failing in its responsibility to safeguard our communities and natural resources. We don’t need new pipelines. We need a fossil fuel freeze, now.”
Roger Downs, Conservation Director of Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter, agreed, stating, “New York State has been inundated with gas pipeline infrastructure proposals that could collectively destroy local economies, ecosystems and the stability of the Earth’s climate. Yet, state and federal regulators have not once substantively looked at the cumulative impacts of these over-scaled projects and absurdly continue to review and approve each pipeline in isolation. It is unacceptable that New Yorkers are losing their private land rights, safe drinking water, and clean air to fracking profiteers – whose sole motivation is to cash in on the export market, at the expense of local and regional economies.”
Nicole Dillingham, Board President of Otsego 2000, also emphasized the egregiousness of the FERC’s failure to consider the cumulative impacts of the two pipelines, noting “We believe FREC is violating federal law by segmenting review of the Constitution and NED projects and the multiple additional projects now being proposed for the New York State. The cumulative impacts must be considered for these interdependent, connected and contemporaneous projects.”
Robert Nied, of the Center for Rural Sustainable Communities, commented on the social justice basis for opposing the construction of these new pipelines, and said, “Not only do the Constitution and NED pipelines represent an environmental and economic threat, they also represent a social justice threat. The proposed route of these pipelines will cut through rural communities with severely depressed economies, which have experienced catastrophic natural and man made disaster, including a fatal pipeline explosion. Many residents struggle to make a living or live below the poverty level. They do not have the means to defend themselves from an out-of-control oil and gas industry. Kinder-Morgan, Cabot Oil & Gas and Williams Companies have targeted a region they think they can exploit without opposition and without consequence. The rural residents in this region have organized in unprecedented numbers to prove them wrong.”
Today’s event was intended to raise awareness of and opposition to the NED project, and encourage concerned citizens to take action and get involved. It was sponsored by: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline (SNYFGP), Otsego 2000, Stop the Pipeline, Citizen Action of NY, Sierrra Club Atlantic Chapter, Sharon Springs Against Hydrofracking, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and Mohawk Valley Keeper. Speakers included representatives of environmental groups, Mohawk leaders, civil rights activists and musicians Peter and Bethany Yarrow, and residents and landowners along the pipeline route.