Source: Montpelier Times Argus
RUTLAND — On the heels of a Public Service Board decision not to re-open the case approving a natural gas pipeline, activist groups have announced an Oct. 27 protest on the State House lawn.
Rising Tide Vermont, 350 Vermont and two other groups are organizing the event, according to a statement, and the Rutland Area Climate Coalition will help train a group to send up to Montpelier.
Activists are protesting a Vermont Gas Systems natural gas pipeline under construction between Colchester and Middlebury.
The state’s regulatory board considered reopening the case after a $35 million price increase was announced in July, but decided Friday the project remains in the general good of Vermont.
“Many of us are frustrated with the process,” said Maeve McBride of 350 Vermont.
She said the vast majority of attendees to public meetings leading up to the pipeline’s construction opposed the project.
“Apparently, that did not have much sway,” McBride said.
Keith Brunner, an organizer for Rising Tide, said the event is called “Time’s Up, Rise up” — a call for Vermonters to call out state regulators, and a statement to PSB members that they have run out of time to reverse the pipeline project’s approval.
Brunner said the group had decided to organize an event after the People’s Climate March in New York City last month, when, he said, 2,000 Vermonters gathered outside the United Nations headquarters to raise awareness of climate change.
“We’re showing that there’s a lot of support for not having this pipeline and for weatherizing homes, and renewables, and other things that we really need,” he said. “There’s a litany of things that we should be doing to address climate change, and building a massive fossil fuel project is a step in the wrong direction.”
Rod Munroe of the Rutland Area Climate Coalition said Rising Tide will train a group in Rutland to be part of the sit-in and rally.
“We’re building off the momentum of the march,” Munroe said. “Legally, we’ve come to the end of certain things. They might say we’re the vocal minority, but we think we represent a lot of people.”
He said the Rutland group’s main protest is against Gov. Peter Shumlin.
“He’s kind of like the main person we’re focusing on because of his tendency to kind of flip on these issues,” Munroe said. “We’re worried that he’s going to get us hooked on fossil fuels.”
Will Bennington, an organizer for Rising Tide, said, “The really basic thing we want Shumlin to do as the governor is stop supporting the pipeline — particularly stop promoting it as a solution to climate change.”
He said the state should provide more public advocacy in PSB proceedings. “While he might not have the actual legal out that he might be looking for, he does have a moral responsibility,” Bennington said.
“It’s actually working exactly how it’s designed to work, which is to ... basically use Vermont as an energy corridor,” Bennington said of the state’s regulatory process. “It’s just really clear that the Public Service Board needs to change to serve the public.”