Pipeline Blockade in Westchester

By Frank Brodhead, Hastings
November 9, 2015
Shortly after 6 am on Monday morning, opponents of the Algonquin/Spectra pipeline in northern Westchester blocked the construction project’s “wareyard” in Montrose, which is where the workers park and where the construction equipment is stored. The blockaders prevented cars from entering the wareyard.  As a traffic jam blocked the main road passing the wareyard, State Police demanded that the blockaders get out of the driveways, which they politely refused to do.  After a short time, arrests began; and nine blockaders were arrested. All those arrested were charged with “disorderly conduct,” and were quickly released on their own recognizance.  Their court hearing is set for November 20th.  The arrests were made peacefully.

The blockade came after more than two years of community-based protest against the planned construction of a massive, high-pressure pipeline to carry fracked gas across the Hudson River – only 105 feet from the Indian Point nuclear plant – and proceed through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and then on to Nova Scotia for export.
Massive tree-cutters, trucks, and bulldozers have begun clearing a path through northern Westchester, the first step in building the pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued all the permits necessary for the Texas-based Spectra Corporation to begin construction, the pipeline company has been granted “eminent domain” to take home-owners’ land, and the roar of the tree-cutter is now heard in Peekskill, Courtlandt, and other communities in the pipeline’s path.
Today’s blockaders maintain that this pipeline is a very bad idea.  Gas pipelines have accidents – 6,000 last year – and an accident at Indian Point could be a world-class catastrophe, endangering the 20 million people within 50 miles of the plant.  Also, at a time when the world needs to stop burning fossil fuels, expanding the gas pipeline network is another obstacle to stopping global warming.  Finally, the additional gas is intended for export and greater profits – it is not needed by customers in New York or New England.
Opposition to the pipeline is very strong.  Residents of Peekskill, Courtlandt, Buchanan, Yorktown, Somers, and other communities along the pipeline’s path have spoken out.  Community organizations, scientific experts, local government officials, county legislators, and even our Members of Congress have written letters to FERC in opposition to the pipeline. 
Yet this opposition has not been effective because the decision-making is in the hands of unelected regulatory agencies – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  These agencies have been “captured” by the industries they are supposed to regulate, rubber-stamping anything the industries want to do.  In fact, the agencies’ approval of the pipeline is based on falsified information.
Today’s blockade is the first wave of the use of nonviolent direct action to stop the construction of the Spectra pipeline in Westchester, other means having so far been blocked by the FERC.  Protesters in other communities – from here to Boston – are also using nonviolent direct action to stop construction near them.  To learn more about what’s happening with the Algonquin pipeline and the opposition to it, the group “Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion” (SAPE) has an excellent website at www.sape2016.org.


Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Environmental and Food Justice

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