Climate defenders take to the rivers to protest the AIM pipeline and the LNG export terminal at Cove Point
Verplanck, NY, and Annapolis, MD – Saturday afternoon, as Spectra Energy prepared to drag its 42-inch diameter, high pressure, fracked-methane gas pipeline under the Hudson River adjacent to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, activists boated out on the Hudson to the pipeline site to protest the pipeline project. Spectra Energy’s proposed Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline would bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New England, despite a report from the Massachusetts Attorney General that shows no need for this gas. In New York, if completed, the AIM pipeline would carry gas through residential communities and within 105 feet of critical safety facilities at Indian Point nuclear power plant. Kayakers in New York went ashore on property purchased by the town in an unsuccessful effort to stop the pipeline from being built.
Meanwhile, kayaktivists with We Are Cove Point took to the water in the center of historic Annapolis, Maryland, to demand Governor Larry Hogan order a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) to determine the full scope of how the fracked gas export terminal Dominion is building at Cove Point, in Southern Maryland, would impact nearby residents. Around a dozen people in kayaks chanted and held signs that read, “Hogan: Cove Point needs a QRA!” and “NoDAPL <3 from Cove Point.” Both messages were received with enthusiasm by the crowds gathered on the Annapolis City Dock. The kayaktivists were joined by a sailboat that also displayed banners saying, “We Are Cove Point,” and, “No Dominion LNG.” More than 20,000 people live within five miles of the facility, with homes as close as across the street, but there still hasn’t been a thorough safety study to evaluate all that could go wrong.
Andrew Courtney of New York described the activities in that state as follows: “We hit the water today in solidarity with our indigenous sisters and brothers who gave us the Two Row Wampum Hudson long paddle two years ago and whose name for this river was ‘A river that flows two ways.’ We stand with our activist kayakers in Seattle and most recently on the Missouri River in collaboration with the Standing Rock protectors actions in North Dakota.”
Iemanja Brown, a New Yorker who also paddled in the flotilla, added: “I’m kayaking to raise awareness about the risks that the AIM pipeline project poses to the Hudson River. This is a really important ecosystem for wildlife and human communities, for fish migration and fresh water. We need to advocate for its health and shut down profit-seeking destructive projects that will endanger us all!”
Back in Maryland, Annapolis resident Phil Ateto emphasized that “Governor Hogan needs to order a QRA because the safety of the people around any industrial facility should be prioritized — especially on this scale. What Dominion is building at Cove Point wouldn’t just affect people immediately around it. It affects people along the entire fracking and pipeline process.”
The export terminal Dominion is building at Cove Point is planned to be the centerpiece of the infrastructure build-out the gas industry is pursuing across the mid-Atlantic. Selling this gas abroad nets far greater profits than domestic sales, leading the industry to pursue a network of pipelines and other infrastructure that would increase the volume and speed at which gas can be brought to Cove Point. These projects are being met with heavy resistance from impacted residents and others who are concerned about health and safety threats from industrial accidents, hazardous air emissions, pollution of water tables and corporate abuse of the democratic process. High resolution photos of the Cove Point action can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wearecovepoint.
Saturday’s action was the latest development in an ongoing effort to stop Spectra Energy from constructing their massive AIM pipeline expansion project. On August 3rd, both New York Senators wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), calling for an immediate halt to construction of the pipeline; FERC has so far ignored the Senators’ request. Earlier, on February 29, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called for an immediate halt to construction while the state conducts an independent risk assessment. Residents and advocates are calling on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to use their influence to stop the pipeline once and for all, and are calling on Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand to attend the next FERC meeting on September 22nd in Washington, DC.
Both FERC and Governor Hogan have the legal authority to issue a stop work order and conduct a risk assessment of these harmful projects, yet they continue to ignore repeated calls for protection of public safety. Resist AIM and We Are Cove Point will continue to build pressure and community support until the public is no longer at risk from these threats.