ANTICIPATING PERMITTING ANNOUNCEMENT, PIPELINE OPPONENTS DISRUPT VERMONT GAS CONSTRUCTION
ESSEX, Vermont – September 17th, 2015 – Opponents of the Fracked Gas Pipeline have disrupted construction alongside Route 289 in Essex, with one person locking herself to equipment used by the new pipeline contractor Michel’s.
Vermont Gas has continued construction of the pipeline following a new contract with Michel’s, the highly controversial builder of the Keystone XL, despite regulatory uncertainty as the Public Service Board deliberates whether it will reopen and possibly revoke permits for the pipeline. The public Service Board is expected to make a decision as soon as this week.
“With drought and wild fires raging close to my family’s home in California, as well as flooding, hurricanes, and even threats to maple syrup production in my current home of Vermont, it is clear we need to be fighting the causes of climate disruption now” says Molly Stuart of Burlington, who locked herself to an excavator. “We can’t afford to be locked into any new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
The new contract with Michel’s follows a suit against Vermont Gas from their former contractor, Over & Under Piping, based in central New York State. The company, which terminated its contract with Vermont Gas earlier this year after completing only 5.6 miles of the 42-mile long project, is suing for $11.2 million related to costs associated with a five-month delay in the start of construction. 
“As a ratepayer to Vermont Gas, I cannot afford the price hikes that will likely offset the company’s $67 million cost over-run, let alone the environmental costs brought by the biggest expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the state,” added Stuart.
With a banner reading, “This Pipeline Ends with US,” protestors are taking things into their own hands because the regulatory board is dragging its feet and does not represent the people. 
“We’ve seen the Board repeatedly ignore concerns of landowners, ratepayers, and the public, and have little faith that they’ll do anything less than protect Vermont Gas’ ability to make profit at the expense of the climate,” says Jane Palmer of Monkton, whose land lies on the proposed route of the pipeline. Palmer added that several groups opposing the pipeline are mobilizing hundreds of community members to take action this fall, should the Board allow Vermont Gas to continue with the project as planned.
“If the Board is unwilling to shut down this dangerous, expensive, and undemocratic project, there are hundreds of Vermonters – working amilies paying gas bils, farmers fighting to protect their land – who are ready to do so,” said Jane Palmer.
Investments in efficiency and weatherization will save consumers the most over the long term. Infrastructure for meeting our fuel needs must be developed in a transparent, participatory and accountable process, and their benefits must be equitable.
Rising Tide Vermont
Rising Tide Vermont organizes and takes direct action to confront the root causes of climate change and to facilitate a just transition to resilient and equitable land-based communities. Risingtidevermont.org