Category: Pipelines

No new pipelines!

In order to slow down climate disruption, we must transition from greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels to non-polluting, renewable energy such as solar and wind.   We need to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure. Leave it in the ground!

Climate Action Now has a No New Pipelines subgroup that meets once a month. We are a member of the Sugarshack Alliance, which brings together several local anti-pipeline groups.

Sugarshack Alliance is currently involved in the struggle to stop the Connecticut Expansion Pipeline in Otis State Forest.  Click here to see a compilation of media coverage.

To contact Climate Action Now, please email us at  climateactionnowmass@gmail.com

For extensive information about regional  pipelines please go to nofrackedgasinmass.org.

Columnist Marty Nathan: Citizens must stand against environmental assaults

Published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette

By MARTY NATHAN
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
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On Saturday, June 24, 98-year-old Frances Crowe sat in her wheelchair as it was rolled into the path of construction of Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion Pipeline in the Otis State Forest in Sandisfield. There she stayed, with eight others, temporarily blocking work, until she was rolled away and arrested with the others on a trespassing charge.

Frances had joined the Sugar Shack Alliance, a grassroots group of folks originally motivated to stop the North East Direct Pipeline that Kinder Morgan had proposed to carry gas from fracking operations from New York to Dracut for shipping overseas. For the last year the Alliance has turned its attention to preventing the building of the 3.8-mile pipeline loop also owned by Kinder Morgan and affiliate Tennessee Gas Pipeline. It is being routed onto 17 acres of Otis State Forest land that contains biologically important wetlands and sacred Native American sites. This project is a flagrant violation of Article 47 of the Massachusetts Constitution prohibiting such development on preserved land, but was nonetheless permitted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Frances’ arrest was by no means the first in the campaign, nor will it be the last. The struggle in Sandisfield is stirred, as with almost all environmental fights these days, by three powerful stimuli:

Opposition to local pollution and despoliation of precious air and waterways. Old trees are being felled and the pipeline almost certainly will leak methane and fellow-traveler toxic chemicals into the air and the previously protected lakes and streams nearby.
Climate justice. Building the pipeline violates rights to their traditional religious sites by the Narragansett Tribe. Moreover, it wrecks the state’s compact with all its citizens to protect, not to destroy, our common resources.
Resistance to the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure enabling more carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas burning and more methane blow-off from leaks. Over twenty years, methane is eighty times as potent as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas in warming our planet.
The need to say No to burning and emitting fossil fuels just became more urgent. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last week led scores of world leaders and scientists in a declaration published in the prestigious journal Nature that humanity has but three years, to 2020, to begin to decrease global emissions or face the catastrophic consequences of uncontrollable global warming.

Sandisfield, therefore, is part of the epic struggle of our times to save our planet from the devastation that is already claiming coral reefs destroyed by bleaching, agricultural fields in the West devastated first by drought and now by floods, and coastal communities in Haiti and Eastern North Carolina wiped out by hurricanes. The Sugar Shack Alliance is spurred on by the always-relevant maxim, “Think globally and act locally.” They are blockading a path to the ruin of the biosphere.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the opposition… As the New York Times reported, Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt is one of the few effective members in the Trump Cabinet. Effective, that is, at destroying the agency he was appointed to lead. In mapping his agenda, he has consulted not his own EPA scientists — some of the best in the world — but rather fossil fuel industry lobbyists: the board of the industry lobbying group American Petroleum Institute (with whom he met at Trump Tower), representatives from American Chemical Council and the Republican Attorneys General Association (which he formerly headed). The attorney generals group has taken $4.2 million from fossil-fuel related companies like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries since 2013, and has filed fourteen lawsuits against the EPA.

Pruitt is their man and they are getting what they pay for. Environmental experts are amazed at what he has achieved in the corporate thrall. He relieved chemical companies of the unbearable burden of preventing explosions and spills at their plants. He reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that the EPA’s own scientists have said is linked to damage of children’s nervous systems. Despite saying that he is taking the lead in cleaning up toxic sites, he supports a 25 percent budget cut in the Superfund program, which always has been vastly under-resourced.

He has taken a wrecking ball to programs to control greenhouse gas emissions. He was a leading proponent of abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement and will create the legal path to exit it. He has filed to undo or weaken the Clean Power Plan which would limit emissions from coal-fired power plants. He has delayed a rule requiring oil and gas companies to control methane emissions at wells, and eliminated a requirement that they even report on how much is leaking.

This is what the folks of Sugar Shack are up against. A lopsided struggle? It could be seen that way. But increasingly everyday Americans are seeing that the conflict has at its heart our very lives and future. It will take commitment and organization to channel that awakening and fight for a conservation and renewable energy agenda instead of further investment in polluting fossil fuels. To sit on the sidelines grants victory to those, like Pruitt, with the power.

Choose your side and join the fray.

Dr. Marty Nathan lives in Northampton and is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW.
http://www.gazettenet.com/Citizens-must-unite-to-fight-environmental-degradation-11113538

Frances Crowe, pictured here during an anti-war rally, shows the way for citizens who want to stand up against assaults on the environment, says columnist Marty Nathan.

 

Support Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscape Protection

Here is the link where you can donate

https://www.youcaring.com/aprojectofcreativethoughtandaction-853729

The Story

Please note: the image is an example of a ceremonial stone feature, but this particular feature in the image is not in Sandisfield.

Native American Tribes along the east coast of North America used stones as part of their religious and cultural ceremonies, and some of them are now being destroyed for gas pipeline projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is supposed to ensure these ceremonial stone landscapes are studied before it licenses projects, but doesn’t. Instead, FERC regularly violates the National Historic Preservation Act by delaying the review of these features until it is too late to avoid them. When the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO) learned that one third of the 73 identified ceremonial stones in Sandisfield, Massachusetts would be taken apart, it decided to challenge FERC’s order. NITHPO now needs your help to bring the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Climate Action Now is supporting NITHPO’s efforts, and the focus of its campaign is to raise funds for legal expenses, such as an attorney and court fees. Please share this page with your network to help us raise awareness and funds.

What are Ceremonial Stone Landscapes?

A Ceremonial Stone Landscape is an area in which stones and other features have been consciously positioned by Native Americans for variety of reasons, such as marking astronomical cycles, deaths, or other significant events. Tribes have different beliefs about the meaning of these stone features, and interact with them in a culturally appropriate manner.

Doug Harris, the Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Indians, believes that some of these stones are physical manifestations of prayers to Mother Earth, calling for balance and harmony in places where traumatic events took place. In essence, they are living prayers in stone, and should not be altered. According to Mr. Harris, when the stones are disassembled and reassembled, “Then what you have is an artistic replica of something that was spiritual. Once you remove the stones, the spiritual content is broken.”

For the past fifteen years, NITHPO has been working with other tribes and federal agencies to promote the significance of Ceremonial Stone Landscapes, and has been leading efforts to preserve them. For example, NITHPO advocated for the protection of stone features in Turners Falls from the impacts of an airport expansion project, and as a result, the site and a twenty-mile radius was determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in December 2008. More recently, NITHPO has been working with FERC to preserve ceremonial stone landscapes that are located in or near the proposed routes of interstate gas pipelines. These efforts join a centuries-long line of positive actions to defend the prayers in stone.

The Connecticut Expansion Pipeline Project in Sandisfield, MA

The Connecticut Expansion Project is an $87 million pipeline proposed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan. The project includes three “loops” of new pipeline that will be constructed next to an existing pipeline, with approximately one mile in New York, four miles in Massachusetts, and eight miles in Connecticut. The loop in Sandisfield, Massachusetts goes through a portion of Otis State Forest, which was taken by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company through eminent domain, even though the forest is protected under the State’s constitution.

Native Americans have occupied the Sandisfield area for thousands of years. After the Europeans arrived, Native people lived alongside colonists, and also married them in order to preserve the sacred landscapes. The stones remained, untouched, until now. In 2016 the pipeline route was surveyed by a team representing four federally recognized Tribes – the Narragansett, the Wampanoag of Gayhead-Aquinnah, the Pequot, and the Mohegan – and 73 ceremonial stone features were identified in Sandisfield. However, FERC had already approved the route and the pipeline company had already taken the land through eminent domain, so FERC decided that it was too late to avoid one-third of them. At that point NITHPO realized that the process required under the National Historic Preservation Act was not working as intended, and retained Anne Marie Garti, who led the successful fight to stop the Constitution Pipeline, as counsel.

The Legal Challenge

On April 9, 2017, NITHPO moved for party status in the FERC permitting process and opposed the start of construction a few days later. On May 10, 2017, NITHPO requested a rehearing of FERC’s order that authorized construction. FERC must issue a final order on the request for rehearing before NITHPO can petition a Court of Appeals to review the validity of FERC’s order. There is no set time for this to occur, as FERC is currently without a quorum and cannot issue orders until more Commissioners are seated. If the Senate confirms President Trump’s two nominees in July, and they sign a final order in August, then the soonest NITHPO could file a petition for review is late summer or early fall.

The goals of this appellate review are to clarify and enforce federal law, namely the National Historic Preservation Act, FERC’s consultation requirements, and FERC’s fiduciary duty to Tribal Nations. While NITHPO cannot reveal its legal strategy to others, its motion to intervene and request for rehearing explain the legal issues in detail. (Links are provided below.) The U.S. Court of Appeals will issue an order that will be binding on FERC after reading the parties’ briefs and questioning their counsel in oral arguments. If NITHPO prevails on some or all of its claims, then FERC will have to comply with the court’s holdings in future pipeline projects.

NITHPO’s legal papers are available online.

NITHPO’s Motion to Intervene:
https://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170410-5037

NITHPO’s Request for one-day extension:
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170410-5040

NITHPO’s Answer in Opposition to the Requests for a Notice to Proceed with Construction
http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170412-5079

NITHPO’s Request for Rehearing
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170510-5019

The ongoing threat from pipelines & FERC

Gas and oil pipelines are being proposed and built across the United States. Strict enforcement of the National Historic Preservation Act is needed to ensure the protection of our historic and cultural resources, including those that are significant to Native American Tribes.

Climate Action Now is a grassroots community group. Creative Thought and Action is their fiscal sponsor and is a 501c3 organization, which means any donations made to this campaign are tax deductible.

Urgent request: Seeking help for legal efforts to protect Otis State Forest

Photo: Ben Hillman, Berkshire Eagle

Dear Friends,

Climate Action Now (CAN) has a long-standing commitment to challenge the construction of any new and existing fossil fuel infrastructure in our region.  As part of that commitment we have been deeply involved, along with other groups and organizations in Western Mass, in efforts to protect Otis State Forest, in Sandisfield, Mass. CAN opposes construction of the Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion Pipeline, which will involve the felling of thousands of trees, endangerment of protected bird species and wetlands, and destruction of sacred Native American ceremonial stone landscape features, in this pristine forest in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts. At present, Kinder Morgan is awaiting a  “Notice to Proceed” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission so that they can begin tree felling in Otis State Forest. Tree felling could begin soon.

Seventy-three sacred ceremonial stone landscape features have been identified along the proposed pipeline route. There is currently an effort to explore legal avenues to protect these sacred ceremonial stone landscapes from being destroyed by the pipeline project.

We are writing to you to ask for financial support to help pay for the initial costs of this effort.   If you are able to contribute to this undertaking, please make your check payable to “Creative Thought and Action”, the fiscal sponsor for Climate Action Now. Please put CSL in the “for” line and mail it to our treasurer:

Rene Theberge

250 Shutesbury Road

Amherst, MA 01002

If money is raised in excess of the attorney’s fees needed in this endeavor, we will redirect any excess funds from your donation to help cover the legal costs incurred in the ongoing legal challenge to the 401 Water Quality Certificate for the Connecticut Expansion Project, another avenue we are pursuing at this time. Thank you for your kind attention to this urgent and time sensitive request.

Susan Theberge from Climate Action Now

Showdown at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

By Marty Nathan

An issue of worldwide concern is at stake in the drylands of North Dakota, where those opposing climate charge are supporting Native Americans from all over the country who fear for the loss of their water and sacred grounds and demand the respect for their treaty rights.

Thousands of people have gathered at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, bedding in recreational vehicles, tipis, tents, yurts and vans. The flags of different native American bands wave in the wind as residents of all ages and many ethnicities share food, outhouses, campfires, information, and work. They have come for a single purpose: stopping the building of the enormous underground Dakota Access Pipeline that will carry fracked crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to Illinois and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. If this Dakota Access Pipeline is finished, 500,000 barrels of oil a day will pour through it to New Orleans for refining and shipping.

Native Americans are fighting the oil pipeline, saying it would pollute the Missouri River and destroy sacred lands.

Paki Wieland, my friend for more than two decades, called me from Standing Rock. She is a retired social worker and former nun, a woman deeply devoted to peace and the rights of the poor. She has used her retirement to engage in all the social change that work had previously forestalled.

The encampment of Native Americans is led by the local Standing Rock Sioux and calls itself the Water Protectors. Its leaders put out an international call for help to stop the Pipeline which will run under the Missouri River just upstream from their water source. Any leak in the pipeline would destroy that precious resource and make their community unlivable. Such an accident could contaminate both the Ogalala aquifer underlying all land between the Missouri and the Rockies as well as the Mississippi River that the Missouri enjoins some miles south.

Horseback riders make their way through an encampment near North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.

Further, the pipeline is being constructed through traditional Sioux burial grounds. On Labor Day construction crews invaded that sacred site. The Water Protectors’ attempt to stop the destruction met a heavy-handed response by local sheriffs and corporate private security who sicced vicious dog on peaceful protesters.

Paki had responded to the Water Protectors’ call, packing a few belongings into a friend’s RV and driving the 27 hours to Standing Rock. There she witnessed a profoundly moving display of unity among folks who have not acted together for decades, if ever.

For the first time in 140 years the seven bands of the Sioux Nation had come together physically and politically to oppose the pipeline. Navajo traditional runners made the trek on foot all the way from Arizona and a group of young people, ReZpect Our Water, ran to Washington. DC, to deliver a petition to President Obama.

The circle has widened beyond indigenous peoples. Five hundred religious leaders incensed by the inexorable violation of Native American treaties stood together in early November to protest the ongoing colonization that the DAPL represents. Non-native environmental activists have joined tribal members lashing themselves to the construction machinery. Money for the encampment has poured in from around the country.

Why the focus here? What is pulling these disparate groups together?

1. The call of justice and the rights of Native Americans to their land, communities and livelihoods is a major propelling force.

2. The destruction of precious aquifer and surface water, at a premium in the west, would be an irretrievable loss throughout the region.

3. Pipeline owner Energy Transport Partners has used corrupt insider tactics to gain access to the land, and federal oversight has been lacking. ETP has never performed an environmental impact assessment, has never negotiated with the Standing Rock Tribe and has continued with construction despite a joint recommendation from the Department of Justice, Department of the Army and Department of the Interior to halt.

4. The purpose of the DAPL, like its now defunct sister, the Keystone XL is to release to the world more fossil fuels to burn. The US is drilling too much oil and natural gas for domestic consumption, and prices are too low for fossil fuel companies to profit. They must reduce production and transport costs and send the excess oil to overseas markets. Yet the emissions from burning the DAPL oil pose a true threat to an atmosphere that already has absorbed enough carbon dioxide to raise world temperatures more than 1.5 degrees Centigrade.

We have the capacity to substitute the oil drilled in North Dakota with conservation measures and renewable energy. And for the sake of the Standing Rock Sioux and our own children’s future, we must.

There will be a standout in support of the Standing Rock Sioux on Nov. 29 in Springfield.

It will be a tough fight since Donald Trump himself is invested in Energy Transport Partners and its CEO donated to his campaign.

If you would like to support the Standing Rock Sioux, visit the website http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/donate.

Marty Nathan MD is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center, lives in Northampton, and is on the steering committees of Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and Climate Action NOW.

Published in MassLive: http://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/11/showdown_at_standing_rock_siou.html

 

On Spectacle Pond: Resisting the Pipeline

pondCohello A Celebration of Solidarity with Berkshire Friends and Neighbors Fighting the Connecticut Expansion Pipeline proposed by Kinder-Morgan to run through the Protected Otis State Forest

Saturday, July 16, 2016 Join us for one or both events!

 KICK OFF RALLY
Great Barrington: 12 pm – 1 pm
 Gazebo behind Great Barrington Town Hall

RALLY at Lower Spectacle Pond
 2pm-4pm
Cold Spring Road
Sandisfield, Mass

Music, speakers, kayak & canoe flotilla!

Sponsored by Sugar Shack Alliance

Co-sponsors include: Climate Action Now, Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT); Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposed to the Pipeline (STOP); Western Mass AFSC; Massachusetts Sierra Club; the Enviro Show; Stop NED; Mothers Out Front; Collective Copies

For more info contact Kathy Daly 413-586-4435 mailto:inothatcat@gmail.com

Can you lend a hand? Helpers are needed at Great Barrington (12-1pm) and Otis State Forest (2-4pm). Sign up by sending a message here (please indicate which location you will be attending and let us know by 5 PM on Wednesday, July 13th). 

Photo by Geoffrey Coelho… thank you!

We Stopped Kinder Morgan; On June 28th We Stand with West Roxbury to Stop Spectra

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Photo credit: Resist the West Roxbury Pipeline

Houston-based Spectra Energy is building a pipeline carrying fracked gas in West Roxbury, a densely populated residential area in Boston.This high-pressure pipeline would run within a hundred feet of an active blasting quarry, through residential neighborhoods, and past several schools. Opposition to the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (WRLP) has been fierce and falls into two categories: Local Concerns and Climate Change.  Beginning on June 19th, pipeline fighters from across New England will join together for multiple, all-day, mass actions that will completely shut this project down.

This Tuesday, June 14th, Marla Marcum from Resist the Pipeline is coming to Northampton to help build for the June 28th Western Mass Day of Action to shut down the Spectra Pipeline in West Roxbury.  She will tell the story of the powerful community of resistance that has come together, and talk about how we can offer support. Marla will provide context and details about the June 28th Action in West Roxbury to help us to prepare for the day. Everyone is welcome to join us to learn more about the growing movement to resist the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. RSVPs appreciated to sugarshackalliance@gmail.com

Resist the Pipeline’s Marla Marcum
Tuesday, June 14th at 7 PM
Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence
220 Main Street, Northampton, Mass
Accessible and on a bus line
On Tuesday, June 28th Western Mass will play an important role in the Stop Spectra Day of Mass Day of Action. Everyone is encouraged to join in this action. We ask you to RSVP to sugarshackalliance@gmail.com so we can plan carpooling, housing and estimate how many of us from Western Mass will be there.
 Western Mass Day of Action in West Roxbury to Stop Spectra
Tuesday, June 28th  (begins at 8 AM)
West Roxbury construction siteExact location to be announced
Everyone is strongly encouraged to join the day of action whether or not you plan to engage in non-violent civil disobedience. If you will be doing civil disobedience and you have not been through a Sugar Shack NVDA training please sign up for the next training on June 25th.  See details at the bottom of this newsletter.

No Need for N.E.D, No Need for Any

By Dineen O’Rourke

10410128_10209202165555291_1763709875589873723_n

Taking Steps to a Renewable Future, a four-day walk along the route of the pipeline this March, planned by the Sugar Shack Alliance and Climate Action Now. Exactly a month after we completed the walk, Kinder Morgan announced the suspension of the pipeline. Photo Courtesy of Aly Johnson-Kurts.

Throughout the bitter months of winter in 2014, veiled representatives of the billion-dollar energy company Kinder Morgan knocked on the doors of residents in the small hill-towns of Massachusetts. Their company emblems were covered and their smiles were wide. “Do we have permission to survey your property? We’re collecting data for a regional environmental study.” Clipboards and cameras in hand, they were shown to the backyards of dozens of properties, quietly collecting and recording information. It was weeks later when homeowners learned what they had actually granted permission for, when Kinder Morgan-marked letters were received in mailboxes across the state outlining the plan to build a fracked gas pipeline in those very backyards. Naturally, this didn’t favor well in the birthplace of Shay’s Rebellion; a movement quickly spread like wildfire, with resolutions and ordinances banning the project in over seventy towns, tens of thousands of petition signatures, legal cases, multiple marches across the state, and opposition declared by dozens of public officials.

Now, after a dedicated two-year-long grassroots movement, Kinder Morgan suspended the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline on April 26, 2016 and then officially withdrew their application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on May 23. Our grassroots movement defeated one of the largest energy companies in the country.

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Photo courtesy of No Fracked Gas in Mass

This following research was originally conducted and written in December of 2015, when Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas had just significantly changed the proposed path of the pipeline, brining the eastern section of the route into New Hampshire. Publishing this research now is a way to portray a capsule in time of a successful social movement and reflect on the strategies that brought on a major victory in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. What did our movement do particularly well? Where could we have improved? The threat and consequences of this pipeline are shared with all the other proposed fracked gas projects in our region. Fighting one helps us fight others; we must not back down because we’ve won just one battle. Reflecting on this recent victory can help strengthen our understanding of this industry and inform us on how to defeat Spectra Energy’s AIM Pipeline, the West Roxbury Lateral, the compressor stations in Burrillville, Rhode Island and North Weymouth, and inspire us to continue organizing for a just and sustainable world.

In this light, I hope you will join us in escalating this summer against Spectra and acting in solidarity with our neighbors in Eastern Massachusetts. On Tuesday, June 28th, the Sugar Shack Alliance will be bringing a contingent of Kinder Morgan pipeline fighters to risk arrest in West Roxbury. Then from July 14-18, we will march along the route of the proposed Spectra Access Northeast route, back to West Roxbury, and end at the Boston Statehouse to send the message: Stop the Pipelines or the People Will! 
Continue reading

Pipeline Action Alert: Tell the Governor and Your State Rep:  No Pipeline Tax!

canPhoneThe Mass House of Representatives will soon release the  Omnibus Energy Bill. The fossil fuel industry is working overtime to ensure that this bill includes a PIPELINE TAX, effectively forcing the public to finance unnecessary and dangerous gas pipeline expansion projects. This tax has the potential to help bring the Kinder Morgan fracked gas pipeline back to life.

We stand firmly against any bill that taxes the people of Massachusetts to pay for fossil fuel pipeline subsidies; the climate crisis we face requires intensive efforts at increasing energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy. We are asking everyone to take the actions below and to spread the word. 

Go here to send a letter to your state representative telling them that an energy bill containing a pipeline tax is completely unacceptable; if a pipeline tax is included we want a NO VOTE on the bill. We are hearing from people in the State House that legislators need this reminder now; events will move swiftly once the draft of the bill is released and it will be harder to make our voices heard.

A number of our reps have submitted a letter against the pipeline tax; when you call, you can thank your rep if they signed the letter, but let them know that no matter what, you want them to vote against a pipeline tax! Please ask your rep to sign (if they have not already) an excellent letter about energy priorities being circulated by Rep. Ehrlich’s office. Please go here to read the letter and to see if they have signed on. Please call (617.725.4005) and write to the Governor with the same message.

May 3 At the Statehouse: Keep It in the Ground!

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Massachusetts Statehouse, May 5 (photo: Richard Widmer)

On May 3, several hundred climate activists from around the Commonwealth gathered at the Statehouse to show legislators strong support for policies that preserve a livable planet. The event opened with an inspiring rally, where activists heard of current struggles to stop pipeline projects still underway and what it will take to put the final nail in the NED coffin. Even though Northeast Energy Direct is suspended, three proposals in the eastern part of the state are moving ahead despite strong opposition: Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market; Spectra Atlantic Bridge; and Access Northeast, proposed by Spectra, National Grid, and Eversource. In Berkshire County, Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion would cut through an area including the Otis State Forest, despite violation of the MA constitution’s Article 97.

 

Speakers included community activists describing on-the-ground organizing efforts, as well as statewide leaders explaining strategies to build a unified movement. Although it was raining, spirits were with kept high with singing led by Rev. Fred Small and free pizza for all, along with the thought-provoking presentations.

 

After the rally, activists entered the Statehouse with two missions. First, to witness the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee hearing called to address the impact of natural gas pipelines. The Commonwealth committed to reducing global warming emissions in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), and this hearing focused on the question, “how will new pipelines and increased reliance on natural gas impact our ability to meet these mandates?” Second, to meet with Valley legislators and their staffs regarding climate change legislation. Mass Power Forward, a grassroots network of 150 organizations, led the lobbying by developing and distributing a position paper advocating six policies to guide Omnibus Energy Bill currently being considered by the House: Oppose New Gas Infrastructure; Support Offshore Wind; Support Solar; Double the Renewable Portfolio Standard Rate of Increase; Improve Siting Requirements for New Transmission Projects; and Support Communities with Retiring Power Plants. Activists also lobbied on behalf of Divestment, Fair Carbon Pricing, and Green Bank legislation.

 

The hearing was quite a remarkable event. Activists filled the room to overflowing, with many sitting on the floor and lining the walls. The flow of presentations was designed to provide a rigorous review and critique of the “business as usual” strategy proposed by Gov. Baker. This became apparent with the first two questions directed to the opening speaker, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. First, Sen. Pacheco asked why Massachusetts was not taking the progressive regulatory path taken by its sister state New York, where the Public Utilities Commission takes policies protecting the states environment (analogous to the Commonwealth’s Article 97) fully into account in their pipeline decisions. Sen. Pacheco also questioned why the MA Department of Public Utilities doesn’t consider the Commonwealth’s GWSA goals in its decision-making. Second, Sen. Eldridge asked politely but insistently about the full-cycle impacts of natural gas on global warming emissions. The review and critique continued to unfold over the next three hours with detailed testimony by Attorney General Maura Healy’s staff; a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy who now advises Northeast Energy Solutions; the Conservation Law Foundation; and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Backed by solid research and impeccable logic, the presenters hammered home the conclusion that the Commonwealth and its citizens will be far better off making a rapid transition to renewables without significant dependence on natural gas. For example, Rebecca Tepper, energy division chief with the office of Attorney General, provided details regarding the feasibility of increasing efficiency through conservation programs and dealing with winter peaks through investment in modern clean power generation.

 

And the Senate panel signaled its skepticism about efforts to increase electric utility rates to charge for pipeline construction when Sen. Pacheco described the meeting as “an oversight hearing so the ratepayers aren’t taken to the cleaners.” Throughout the hearing, all the panelists – Senators Pacheco, Eldridge, Barrett, and Downing – skillfully questioned presenters to bring out the most critical points favoring renewables while pointing to the problems inherent in a strategy that relies on fossil fuel dependence.

 

More details on the hearing can be found in this article published on Mass Live:

http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/05/baker_administration_pushes_na.html

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Massachusetts Senate Committe on Global Warming and Climate Change (photo: Richard Widmer)

Stopping A Pipeline: The Power of the Grassroots

Protesters walk in rain

By Susan Theberge,  Editor of CAN newsletter

Neighbors, students, farmers, conservationists, children, elders, affected land owners, small business owners, politicians, artists, faith leaders, musicians, lawyers, climate activists, builders, poets, climate justice organizers and hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals came together united around one common goal: The Kinder Morgan NED fracked gas pipeline will never be built! From day one our community in Western Mass knew something that Kinder Morgan could not see: our long and storied history of successful resistance to injustice and exploitation by corporate outsiders.

United by a love of the land and a passion for a livable future and in powerful collaboration with others across the state and region, people organized on every front: legal, political, educational, and regulatory; at the local, state and federal level; through direct actions including walking the proposed pathway, organizing rallies, overflowing the halls of numerous hearings, building a Thoreau Cabin in the pathway of the pipeline, ongoing vigils and active preparation for massive non-violent civil disobedience with the support of a brilliant legal team.

While remaining mindful of new twists and turns, we know that for now one toxic and completely unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure project has been blocked. While celebrating our success, we need to continue to focus our energies on the bigger picture: the need to stop the many other proposed fossil fuel projects that remain. This includes our fight to protect public lands threatened by the CT Expansion pipeline in Sandisfield, to block the Spectra pipeline in the eastern part of Massachusetts, and to stand together with those in New York who are resisting the Constitution Pipeline.

Preventing climate catastrophe binds us together as never before in human history. It is only by working together on a global scale that we will prevent the extinction of life on earth. This, the call of our times, contains a paradoxical gift: to prevent climate catastrophe we must find new ways of occupying planet earth that are grounded in equity, justice, respect and love.

photo credit: Rene Theberge

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