For Immediate Release
Neighbors Unite to Halt Construction on Spectra Energy's AIM Pipeline
Twenty One Peaceful Demonstrators Arrested for Stopping Construction on Spectra Energy’s Dangerous Methane Gas Pipeline
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.
"We are stopping the Spectra AIM 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, local Peekskill resident who rallied today against the pipeline. “Our community’s interests must take priority over the financial gain of fossil fuel companies. Peekskill is an environmental justice city, and nowhere has Spectra or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission properly addressed the environmental impacts of the pipeline."
This action comes after years of residents and grassroots groups actively engaging in the regulatory process, only to be ignored by FERC. The City of Boston and several grassroots groups have filed a lawsuit in Federal Court challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of the project. In February, Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote to FERC asking for an immediate halt to construction while New York State conducted an independent risk assessment of siting the massive, high-pressure pipeline next to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. FERC denied the Governor’s request, and claimed that a risk assessment by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) showed that the plant was safe. That risk assessment was the topic of a line of questioning by Congresswoman Nita Lowey at a congressional subcommittee meeting where she presented evidence that the assessment was faulty. There is now an internal investigation happening at the NRC regarding the approval. Despite the legal challenges and concerns of numerous high-ranking elected officials, construction has continued on the pipeline for months. Just yesterday, May 20th, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called for an immediate halt to construction. Spectra’s Director of Stakeholder Outreach, Marylee Hanley, responded that “Algonquin Gas Transmission resumed construction on the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project in April and will continue with its construction.”
The AIM pipeline poses risks at the local, state, and global levels. At the local level, it poses a serious risk to public health from air pollution, and because of its proximity to Indian Point nuclear plant, a rupture could trigger a nuclear accident. Just three weeks ago, a 24.5-foot section of Spectra’s “Texas Eastern” 30-inch gas pipeline exploded in Salem Township, PA, blowing open a 12-foot-deep, 1500-square-foot hole; it scorched 40 acres and critically injured a nearby resident. At the global level, the AIM Pipeline will also worsen climate change as it will involve transporting and releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Furthermore, the pipeline is unnecessary – while Spectra Energy claims that the project will solve a supply shortage in New England, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey found through a study conducted by her office that Massachusetts could meet all of its reliability needs through increased efficiency and demand response technology.
Now that Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Senator Charles Schumer, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have all called for an immediate halt to construction activities the pressure is on FERC to respond to the will of the people and their elected officials. On Monday, concerned New Yorkers will gather at Schumer’s Manhattan office and call on him to build broad Senate opposition, especially from Senators representing other states along the pipeline route, and to continue to pressure FERC to halt construction of the dangerous AIM Pipeline.