Newsletter, March 19th: Events Calendar
Newsletter, March 6th: Program Calendar
Newsletter, February 24, 2013: 4 Mad Hot Pipeline Stories!
Newsletter, February 4, 2013: Reportback on Budget Hearing, Update on Lawsuit
Newsletter, Jan 30, 2013: This is IT.
Newsletter, Jan. 25, 2013:
Spectra Pipeline Having a Media Moment!
Newsletter, Dec. 19, 2012:
Report back on HRPT hearing and Year-End Celebration
Newsletter, Dec. 6, 2012:
Report back on CB2 meeting
Newsletter, Dec. 2, 2012:
It Ain’t Over.
Newsletter, Nov. 29, 2012:
Talk About Getting It From All Sides!
Newsletter, Nov. 5, 2012:
The Flood, The Fires, and Natural Gas
Newsletter, Oct. 22, 2012:
FERC denies Rehearing on Spectra
Newsletter, Aug. 28, 2012:
Albany Rally Report-Back
Newsletter, Jun. 24, 2012:
Brooklyn Pipeline Looms
Video: How Climate Change Could Affect Obama’s Second Term Agenda
Manik Roy discusses the Tar Sands, Carbon Tax, regulations for gas industry.
Spectra Construction Shut Down a Third Time
Oct. 26, 2012: The Village Voice and The Daily News reported that a lone activist spontaneously decided to chain himself to equipment at the Spectra pipeline construction site, shutting down work for approximately 2 hours. This action comes after the September 7th arrest of two activists who refused when police requested them to remove themselves from the path of a backhoe; and the September 12th arrest of 6 activists, who used hard and soft locks to shut down work. These arrestable actions are in addition to the almost non-stop campaign by Occupy the Pipeline, a citizen group which has led marches, rallies, and dozens of creative actions to protest the pipeline, including a skeleton march, a singing telegram delivered to the FERC offices (to the tune of “Yellow Submarine,” the group sang, “We all know you’re a rubber-stamp machine”), and a naked green Butoh action, covered by Naomi Wolf in The Guardian.
Video: September 12th, 6 Protestors arrested
Hudson River Park Trust Sued Over Pipeline
Sept. 5, 2012: As reported in The Daily News, Sane Energy Project was joined by 5 enviro and community groups in seeking an emergency restraining order to halt construction of the Spectra pipeline. Petitioners include Food and Water Watch, NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYH20, Village Independent Democrats, United for Action, and several residents of the West Village. The suit maintains that the HRPT violated the terms of its charter and several environmental regulations by granting an easement to Spectra Energy for the Gansevoort Peninsula. Construction on the peninsula continues as petitioners await a ruling on the case, due on Sept 18th.
Petitioners are represented by Jeff Zimmerman, a noted environmental rights lawyer and one of the few who have won a case against FERC; Richard Lippes, an environmental lawyer who frequently represents the Sierra Club; and Yetta Kurland, renown civil rights lawyer, activist, and West Village resident.
New Pipeline Groups Form
How urgent is the fight against pipelines? It may be demonstrated by the flurry of opposition groups coming together to fight pipelines all over New York State:
OWS has been organizing a near-constant presence at the Spectra site, as well as marches, rallies, teach-ins and leafletting. Stay in touch at Occupy the Pipeline or attend weekly meetings 7pm Wednesday nights at the Brecht Forum. Check in through twitter @SpeakOWS or simply put in the hashtag #SpectraShowdown.
Opponents to the Gateway pipeline have formed CARP (Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline). Check in with them on the web or Facebook. Upcoming actions are planned for Labor Day weekend.
Multiple fracktivist groups are fighting the Williams pipeline in upstate New York, and a new facebook group, Stop the Constitution Pipeline posts news, updates, and alerts.
Quinn Petitioned for Radon Hearing a Second Time
On July 30th, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, along with 16 Block Associations, multiple businesses, residents, and politicians, including Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, repeated their request to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to hold a public hearing examining the dangers posed by radon in Marcellus Shale gas, should it be delivered to NYC via projects such as the Spectra, Rockaway and other pipelines, as currently planned. Speaker Quinn had not responded to the original call for hearings, presented a month earlier. Read the full story and see the letter, list of original and additional signers (including Sane Energy Project) here.
Feds Fine Spectra more than $134,000
Posted on July 12, 2012
Natural Gas Watch reports that the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has cited Texas Eastern Transmission, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, for seven serious safety violations, including failure to monitor its pipeline for corrosion and failure to control for corrosion.
This latest citation is the fourteenth time that PHMSA has cited Texas Eastern for pipeline safety violations since January 2006. Six of those 14 instances have included citations related to failure to control pipeline corrosion, and Texas Eastern has paid more than $4 million in fines in connection with those violations.
Full story here.
Despite these violations, Spectra maintains the NJ-NY Expansion line, which will run under Jersey City and into Manhattan’s West Village and be built by Texas Eastern, will be monitored daily.
Second Spectra Pipeline Rupture in One Week
Posted on June 30, 2012
Spectra ”safety is our first concern” Energy Corp. experienced a pipeline rupture in St. John, British Columbia just five days after a previous incident, according to theWashington Post. The June 28th rupture followed a June 23rd leak and flash fire at a nearby Spectra compressor station, which injured two workers. British Columbia has not had a very pleasant history with Spectra. According to Spectra Energy Watch, their Pine River natural gas processing plant was the number one polluter in 2009, and Spectra also took the number three position with the company’s Fort Nelson plant, releasing a reported 1 million tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
But is Spectra really any worse than any other pipeline builder? After all, Williams Transco, which seeks to build an equally large, high-pressure gas pipeline in theRockaways and south Brooklyn, experienced both a leak and a compressor station explosion within one month’s time just this past April. While Spectra ranks number 7 on the EPA’s list of top penalties assessed, and was responsible for the major Steckman Ridge blowout, Williams has been under a federal corrective order for 44 of the past 45 months, according to documents sourced by Natural Gas Watch. Quite the pair.
The truth is that America’s 2.5 million miles of pipelines are dangerous, inadequately regulated and maintained. As the New York Times reports, “the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is chronically short of inspectors and lacks the resources needed to hire more, leaving too much of the regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves.” Remapping Debate notes that just 7 percent of natural gas lines are subject to mandatory inspection under the 2002 safety rules (before 2002, pipelines were not subject to any mandatory safety inspections) and the approximately 88 auditors nationwide review industry-supplied reports and conduct some field inspections (roughly one per month per inspector based on the average annual total). No wonder the federal panel which investigated the San Bruno explosion deemed the accident “a failure of the entire system,” noting that the pipeline operator “exploited the lack of monitoring by regulators, who mistakenly placed ‘blind trust’ in the utility.”
When it comes to Spectra and Williams, we have to admit, trust is not something that comes to mind.
HRPT Approves Spectra Easement
A disgraceful display of influence over intelligence reigned at the June 18th HRPT board meeting. One observer who was present filed a report:
The Hudson River Park Trust Board of Directors heard a presentation by Spectra, Con Ed, and the Mayor’s office at their 11am Monday morning meeting. The large number of public comments against the proposal was duly noted. At the end of the presentation, the board voted against granting a 30-year license agreement to the Spectra Pipeline.
Chair Diana Taylor realized what had happened and admonished the board about how serious this project is and then a roll call vote was requested. Pam Frederick, one of the Borough President’s appointees, switched her “no” to a “yes” vote and the agreement was approved 8 to 2. (Taylor thanked Frederick.) The two who remained in opposition were the BP’s other appointee, Larry Goldberg, and one gubernatorial appointee, Paul Ullman.
When Goldberg brought up the issue of “natural gas worries” during the presentation, the Spectra reps responded that probably 10 percent of the gas delivered by the pipeline would be fracked, but that it would be hard to tell because the gas would be coming from different places. Then Chair Taylor said, “This is not the right forum for this issue,” thereby ending any discussion of fracking.
The rationale Cas Holloway presented for the pipeline was that “gas is cleaner” than No. 6 oil. This statement conflicts with statements made by a “Clean Heat” expert at a recent Green Homes NY presentation that “low-sulfur #2 oil creates less particulate matter than gas.” Another mayoral rep at the HRPT meeting said that peak gas demand exceeds utility pipeline capacity and that boiler conversions will increase the demand for gas–if 50% of bldgs converted, peak demand would increase 29%. (Of course, only 1% of buildings are required to stop using number 6 oil, and they are not required to switch to gas.) Contrasting with the Howarth Cornell University study, which shows that the GHG lifecycle footprint of gas is worse than coal or oil, he claimed that greenhouse gas lifecycle emissions were 20% better with gas than the alternatives of 6, 4, 2 oils.
In answering questions from board member Paul Ullman, Project Director Ed Gonzalez and Christian di Palermo from Spectra discussed safety issues. Ullman asked and ascertained that no relative risk assessment had been done with respect to the park. He asked specifically if Spectra had considered an explosion; they responded that pipelines are safe and that there’s “enhanced safety here.” Holloway said that the FDNY and police will have plan in case of an accident; Ullman wanted to know about planning PRE-explosion. Gonzalez repeated the usual litany of the thickness of the pipe wall, the amount of pressure, monitoring and maintenance.
The public was not allowed to speak during the meeting. No one presented any reasons to oppose the pipeline. No one mentioned that at least 2/3 of all U.S. gas is fracked, that there is no hospital in the area, or that Homeland Security considers cyber attacks to be a real threat to pipelines. No one objected that the vote had to be taken twice to achieve the desired result. No one objected to the close relationship between the Chair of the board, Diana Taylor, and the Mayor (the latter being the main supporter of this pipeline and the former being his girlfriend).
Albert Amateau of The Villager was the only press there.
Two Spirited Community Meetings
Two meetings downtown bring out the best of community activism: On Tuesday, May 29th, with only a couple of days notice, more than 100 people jammed an emergency meeting called by Sane Energy Project, to discuss FERC’s early approval of the Spectra pipeline. Attorney Jeff Zimmerman presented details about radon and the danger to citizens in all 5 boroughs, and took audience questions. One gentleman exclaimed in disbelief, “How could this happen?” Another couple described how their board was conned into believing that Con Ed would be able to supply them with special unfracked gas (a claim with no anchor in reality, as there is no way to separate gas once it’s mixed in the pipelines, and 80-90% of gas, if not more, is now fracked).
Nearly $3,000 was raised to kickstart the legal war chest–
Thanks to all who participated and gave so generously!
(Much more is needed; click here for info on how to donate.)
On Thursday, May 31st, citizens packed St. Paul’s Church for a hearing on proposed changes to the Hudson River Park Act, which may bring residential or stadium development to the park, and extend or eliminate limits on easements within the park. Though a “greeter” at the door told participants “this is not about the pipeline,” attendees disagreed, using their comment time to call out the Trust for betraying the community with their intention to grant Spectra’s easement (see related story, below). OWS brought their pre-hearing rally inside, dropping banners from the balcony and offering entertaining testimony. One 99%-er expressed the thought that anyone who would consider granting the easement might have a medical condition, and presented the panel with packet of Gas-X, suggesting they eliminate their “bad gas pipeline.”
HRPT Passes the Buck (and takes $2.78 million of them)
The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) has released a summary of comments on the proposal to grant Spectra Energy an easement to build its pipeline on the Gansevoort Peninsula, with their responses. Parroting every facile argument made in other sham EIS reviews, the HRPT notes that it “relies upon the review and analysis undertaken in the course of the FERC environmental process as well as that considered by NYSDEC in the course of its consideration of hydro-fracking in considering such comments.”
Their eagerness to grant the easement is clear, despite the overwhelming opposition: 37 oral comments from the public hearing of March 26th, all in opposition; 862 written comments, with 850 in opposition; a resolution from Community Board 2 in opposition; an opposition vote from the HRPT Advisory Council; and forwarded copies of the nearly 5,000 opposition comments filed with FERC and City Council last October. Clearly, more weight was given to the 12 supportive letters filed by the Mayor’s office, Con Edison, the Public Service Commission, the NYC League of Conservation Voters, and the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), whose membership includes Blackrock, Bloomberg LP, Con Edison, and Spectra Energy. As it so aptly says on their website, “For decades, the ABNY name has carried a great deal of weight throughout New York City and New York State. With the support of ABNY, we have helped hundreds of members to move their agendas forward.”
FERC has approved the Spectra pipeline
As expected, based on fEIS statements that the project would have “limited impact,” FERC not only approved the pipeline but apparently bowed to pressure from the Mayor’s office, the Public Service Commission and Con Edison to expedite approval.
Excerpts from the 68-page order can be read here.
Dale Hardman, President of No Gas Pipeline (NGP), responded to the news by saying, “We expected that FERC would rule in favor of Spectra Energy from the start . . . and commented on our site and many times in public . . . that the process was rigged, unreasonable, partially funded by the gas industry and FERC, a swinging door of oil and gas bureaucrats.”
Sane Energy Project will be joining with NGP and other enviro and community groups to initiate a petition for rehearing, the first step in the legal process for those who take issue with FERC’s ruling. Please sign up for our emails to keep up with what’s next. Thanks as always for your advocacy and support.
A Rush to Change the Hudson River Park Act?