South Burlington – Today a delegation of landowners, ratepayers and members of Rising Tide Vermont confronted Vermont Gas CEO Don Rendall outside of their offices, celebrating the defeat of Phase II and demanding the gas company stop building Phase I of the fracked gas pipeline. Avery Pittman, a volunteer with Rising Tide Vermont, said “We beat Phase II through concerted organizing and we’ll beat Phase I in the same way. We’re not easing up.”
Mary Martin, a Cornwall landowner on the recently cancelled Phase II route, delivered a broken shovel to Rendall, stating, “When you’re down in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. Your dirty fossil fuel plans have united us in opposition. Phase I didn’t make financial sense before and makes even less sense now.”
International Paper was previously slated to contribute between 25 and 30 million dollars toward Phase I, and the entire 135 million dollar cost of Phase II, but has now pulled out of funding the pipeline’s construction entirely.
Devon Ayers, a single mother and ratepayer from Burlington, informed Rendall that ratepayers refused to pay more on their heating bills in order to build the pipeline. “I pay over $150/month just to keep my home at 60 degrees during the winter. There’s no way I’m going to pay more every month, especially for this pipeline which is driving climate change.”
The groups are calling on the Board to execute a rigorous review of all aspects of the project given the change in the landscape since the initial filing. Monday, the PSB was given permission by the Vermont Supreme Court to undertake a review of the Phase I permit with no time or scope constraints. The coalition is calling on the Vermont Public Service Board to revoke the Certificate of Public Good for Phase I in light of the near doubling of Phase I costs, the stark climate impacts of fracked gas, and impacts on landowners in the path of the pipeline.
Fracking or high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the practice of injecting millions of gallons of water alongside chemicals to break up shale formations containing oil or gas. Vermont became the first state to ban the practice in 2012. “It is unethical for us to ban the practice and safeguard our drinking water while profiting off of the poisoning of First Nations water in traditional Lubicon Cree territory” said Pittman.