Twenty-one non-violent demonstrators were arrested in Peekskill, New York on Saturday in the latest attempt to stop construction of a controversial high-pressure methane gas pipeline planned to run through residential communities and near the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant.
"Coming off the largest global mobilization against fossil fuels in history, there has never been a better moment to come together to reject the AIM pipeline."
The Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline is being constructed by Spectra, a company that was on Friday the subject of a damning DeSmog Blog exposé unveiling deep ties between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) head Cheryl LaFleur and Spectra executives.
"We are stopping the [...] pipeline construction today, to make everyone aware of our environmental and safety concerns about this project, and to show that our voices and opinions matter,” said Tina Volz-Bongar, a local Peekskill resident who took part in the peaceful demonstration, in a statement from the rally's organizers.
Organizers described the protest on Saturday as a communal, peaceful event:
Today, hundreds of people stood together to protect the community from the harmful impacts of Spectra’s AIM Pipeline, which if completed will carry high-pressure methane gas through residential communities and within 105 feet of critical Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant safety structures. Neighbors, elected officials including Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina and Councilwoman Kathy Talbot, families, environmental advocates, and concerned New Yorkers marched from Blue Mountain Reservation to a metering and regulating station where Spectra Energy is currently drilling under Route 9; they peacefully shut down construction activities by standing together and preventing Spectra vehicles from entering or leaving the site. Police arrested 21 people.
Prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben praised the activists on Twitter:
21 brave New Yorkers arrested today in fight against Spectra AIM pipeline. Everyday there's resistance somewhere! https://t.co/ketrHbyFPH— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) May 22, 2016
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In New York, the pipeline is not only being fought by the communities along the pipeline's route. The state's Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand, both oppose the pipeline expansion, which will traverse the agriculturally rich Hudson Valley region. FERC has thus far been deaf to their appeals for pipeline construction to be halted.
"Our community’s interests must take priority over the financial gain of fossil fuel companies," Volz-Bongar argued. "Peekskill is an environmental justice city, and nowhere has Spectra or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission properly addressed the environmental impacts of the pipeline."
Coordinated protests in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, also took place Saturday, and ended with "over a dozen arrests" according to organizers. Organizers of the Peekskill protest expressed solidarity with the West Roxbury demonstrators, who were largely mothers and children.
A portion of same Spectra pipeline network is being constructed in the densely populated neighborhood on the outskirts of Boston.
Public intellectual and author Naomi Klein voiced her approval for Saturday's action on social media: "Coming off the largest global mobilization against fossil fuels in history, there has never been a better moment to come together to reject the AIM pipeline—a project that has united New Yorkers and people across the Northeast not only in defense of their communities, but also around their vision for a just, renewable future."
Klein also urged New Yorkers to "take the fight to Senator Schumer's office" on Monday, when another demonstration is planned at the senator's headquarters in Manhattan to urge the Democrat to stand up to the FERC and shut down the unpopular pipeline.