about the campaign
Vermonters have a right to warmth and shelter, to a healthy environment and livable planet. We call for a drastic reduction in energy consumption, while building participatory and transparent community decision making processes to meet our energy needs. In meeting our energy needs we demand accountability to all Vermonters, as well as to those outside our borders who are impacted by our energy choices, energy extraction and related infrastructure.
Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) is in the planning and permitting stages of a major natural gas transmission pipeline expansion in Chittenden and Addison Counties. The proposed pipeline project will extend from Colchester to Vergennes and Middlebury, then under Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga, NY to serve the International Paper mill. There are longer term plans to build pipeline to Rutland and to connect to the US transmission lines in New York State.
Residents of Chittenden, Addison, and Rutland Counties have been organizing to Stop the Fracked Gas Pipeline. The town of Monkton quickly mobilized and pushed back on the original route selection, successfully getting the pipeline proposal rerouted away from Main Street and residential areas. Other towns followed suit, pressuring selectboards to take a stand against the pipeline.
Residents and climate justice organizers from throughout the state joined together to target Vermont Gas and the Public Service Board when VGS filed their permits and rallied at the March 21st and September 11th hearings of the Public Service Board.
Community members turned out in large numbers at all public comment meetings hosted by VGS and the Public Service Board, showing overwhelming opposition to the project. Residents from all impacted towns are organizing a unified strategy to fight this project, share resources and support each other. We're writing letters to the editors, submitting public comments, meeting with selectboards, pressuring other stakeholders and statewide organizations to oppose the project, creating educational materials, connecting with lawyers and more! Join us today!
Phase 1: Middlebury & Vergennes Extension
The plan calls for ~42 miles of 12 inch transmission pipeline & 3 gate stations where high pressure transmission lines connect to lower pressure distribution lines. Distribution pipelines would extend to Middlebury & Vergennes. Despite overwhelming statewide opposition, Vermont Gas was granted a Certificate of Public Good for Phase 1 of the pipeline in December of 2013. However, because of persistent community and statewide opposition, Vermont Gas was unable to begin construction until July of 2014 and at this point has only laid about five miles of pipe in the ground.
Phase 2: Under Lake Champlain
Update: Due to widespread grassroots pressure and resultant cost overruns, Vermont Gas was forced to cancel previous plans to extend the fracked gas pipeline under Lake Champlain to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, New York.
Corporate energy giants Transcanada & Enbridge
Transcanada owns all the transmission pipelines on the Canadian side of the border that bring natural gas from Alberta to Vermont. They are also the corporation constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Enbridge is a partial owner of GazMetro, which owns Vermont Gas Systems as well as Green Mountain Power. Enbridge also owns several pipelines in northeastern Canada that may be reversed to transport tar sands oil, potentially linking to the Portland Montreal Pipeline, which runs through the Northeast Kingdom. Exxon Mobil is a partial owner of the Portland Montreal Pipeline.
Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting mainly of methane. This fossil fuel is used largely for the production of electricity and heat, as well as fuel for vehicles and as an ingredient in many plastics and agricultural chemicals.
Although frequently greenwashed as a “greener” fuel, natural gas is still a fossil fuel with greenhouse gas emissions that may be as bad or worse than conventional oil or coal when extracted using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing. Vermont Gas Systems imports all of its natural gas from Alberta, Canada, where it is extracted using both conventional practices and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking," to the great detriment of First Nation communities in the region.
Fracking is an unconventional technique used to release natural gas or other sources for extraction from the earth by creating fractures from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. The energy from the injection of a high pressure hydraulic fracturing fluid (water, sand, and chemicals) creates new fractures in the rock and releases the gas. This controversial technique has a devastating impact in the communities where it is practiced. Leaks and spills lead to contamination of water supplies and gas fumes and smog from machinery pollute the air, contribute to asthma and lung disease, and devastate the local landscape. This practice is so nasty that in May of 2012 Vermont became the first state to ban fracking!
Why do we oppose this pipeline?
False Solution to Climate Crisis: Any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure locks us into decades more of fossil fuel consumption, in order for investors to make a return on their investment. Natural gas extraction is even worse for the climate than coal or oil.
Human Rights & Democracy:
The Public Service Board review process is not participatory; there is no meaningful way for people to affect their decision. VGS has not been transparent in their presentation of information to the public and has changed their story several times regarding route and details of the project's impacts.
Solidarity & Accountability: Residents of Addison County, who will be the most directly impacted by this infrastructure expansion, are organizing to stop this project from being built on their land. Residents where natural gas is extracted are organizing to stop fracking. Vermonters need to build accountable relationships and stand in solidarity with impacted communities!
There are many ways to get involved in the campaign to stop the fracked gas pipeline! We'd love to meet you & hear your ideas. Email us today to learn more.