11 June 14
Pipeline opponents, PSB intervenors denounce Vermont Gas attempt to bypass permitting process
Today a coalition of landowners and environmental groups opposed to the fracked gas pipeline joined intervenors in the Phase I Act 248 process in calling on the Public Service Board (PSB) to reject an attempt by Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) to circumvent the state-mandated pipeline permitting process.
VGS is seeking to waive a condition set out in the PSB’s December 13, 2013 Certificate of Public Good (CPG) ruling requiring the company to obtain all relevant permits before beginning construction or site preparation for Phase I of the fracked gas pipeline.  VGS has yet to receive a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers and is seeking to begin construction and site preparation before the permit is issued.
“This is just one more example of Vermont Gas seeking an end-run around the public process,” said Jane Palmer, a Monkton resident and intervenor in the Phase I process. “A Board order is a Board order -- In light of the fact that VGS has been treating homeowners so poorly the Board should reject this proposal. If the PSB lets Vermont Gas get away with this, what other restrictions will Vermont Gas attempt to whittle away? What kind of protection will landowners have from the CPG if VGS can just ask for changes when they want them? This act makes us feel even more vulnerable than we were before...if that is possible.”
Cornwall resident Mary Martin is an impacted landowner and intervenor in Phase II of the fracked gas pipeline. She said: “If the PSB accepts the creation of this loophole, it will set yet another undemocratic precedent for Phase II intervenors and landowners, who are already engaged in a David vs. Goliath fight against these multinational corporations and their PR firms. This would further tip the scales towards Gaz Metro and away from the community members who actually live here and have put our lives on hold to defend our rights in this process.”
On Monday, dozens of pipeline opponents dressed in hazardous waste suits held a demonstration outside of the PSB’s Montpelier offices, criticizing the Board for ignoring requests by Monkton residents to test soil along parts of the pipeline route for contamination. 
“On Monday we spoke directly with a representative of the Public Service Board and demanded they suspend construction on the fracked gas pipeline until adequate soil testing has been done along the 21 miles of pipeline in the VELCO right of way,” said Maren Vasatka, a resident of Monkton whose land is threatened by the pipeline. “Rather than suspending the CPG until they could assure us our water won’t be poisoned by construction, the Board is now entertaining a request by Vermont Gas to fast-track the process. We expect the Board will reject this loophole and respond immediately to the urgent requests put forth by Monkton landowners over the past few weeks.”
Lesley Wright & Jim Ellefson for Keep Leicester Safe said:
“One of the growing concerns we hear in our town regarding the proposed VGS pipeline is that people feel “rushed” and “un-listened to.” It has been especially troubling to local landowners that a private corporation might be allowed to exert eminent domain over long-time residents for commercial purposes. In light of this, we strongly encourage the Public Service Board to set an example of fairness by requiring VGS to obtain all permits, including a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers, before any site preparation is undertaken.”
Barbara Wilson, a Shoreham resident with Vermont Citizens for the Public Good, said:
"Vermont should be commended for the state’s environmental laws and permitting requirements which are intended to protect the health and welfare of those living in Vermont. However, as of late, our state government is more interested in advancing the wealth and interests of large corporations than protecting its residents. Here is yet one more example. Based on the state-mandated permitting process, bypassing the US Army Corps of Engineers permit shouldn't even be a consideration."
Tomorrow, dozens of Vermont residents are expected to offer public testimony at the second PSB public hearing for Phase II of the fracked gas pipeline. The hearing will be held at 7pm at Middlebury Union High School.