This public hearing was intense and emotional, and the speeches were incredibly powerful. Over 500 community members attended and many spoke before the public service board. Many of the speeches voiced strong opposition to this pipeline.
Yes, fracking was banned in Vermont in 2012; and, yes, there is a fracked gas pipeline being proposed in Vermont right now. This pipeline would carry fracking gas from Alberta, Canada through Vermont to New York.
Fracking is the drilling process used to collect “natural gas.” It involves injecting huge quantities of water, sand and hundreds of undisclosed chemicals into the ground at high pressure through a pipeline in order to fracture shale rock. This fractured shale rock releases the gas locked thousands of feet below the surface.
“Rising Tide Vermont organizes and takes direct action to confront the root causes of climate change and facilitates a just transition to resilient and equitable land-based communities.” Rising Tide is committed to stopping this pipeline. Rising Tide asks: Shouldn’t we better define the “public good” before we confiscate Vermont citizens’ property to hand over to a multi-national corporation?
“TransCanada owns all the transmission pipelines on the Canadian side of the border bringing 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 and 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 North East Kingdom. Exxon Mobil is a partial owner of the Portland Montreal Pipeline,” reads a statement from Rising Tide Vermont.
There are two phases proposed for this pipeline:
Phase 1: The Middlebury and Vergennes Extension. This plan calls for 43 miles of 12 inch transmission pipeline and three gate stations where high-pressure transmission lines connect to lower-pressure distribution lines.
Phase 2: Under Lake Champlain. Vermont Gas is hoping to apply for permits for the second phase in November 2013 and is currently performing test sites. (International Paper in Ticonderoga, NY has agreed to pay for Vermont Gas to build this natural gas pipeline underneath Lake Champlain).
The pipeline route would begin south of Middlebury and head under Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga. International Paper, a paper and packaging business located in Ticonderoga, NY, has agreed to pay for the construction of 17 additional miles of pipeline that would head towards Rutland. The second phase would use a technique called horizontal drilling to lay pipe 20 to 30 feet under the bottom of Lake Champlain (threatening the drinking water of everyone in the area, the life of animals, farming land and the health and beauty of the Green Mountain State).
Rising Tide Vermont and Vermont residents are committed to making sure that this pipeline does not happen.
Vermont Citizens for Public Good warns, “Vermont Gas executives have said they are prepared to use eminent domain to gain access for land for the project if it receives a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board. Vermont Gas has failed to keep residents fully informed on its plans.”
On Sept. 6, 2013, Middlebury student & Rising Tide Vermont organizer Anna Shireman-Grabowski came to GMC to educate students about the Vermont Gas Pipeline.
“Rising Tide Vermont stands in solidarity with these communities (who are being threatened by this pipeline) and is organizing with residents in Addison County to build mass public opposition and resistance to stop the pipeline by any means possible,” said Shireman-Grabowski.
For a better understanding of hydraulic fracking and the natural gas industry, the Activism Floor and Activism Club will be hosting a movie screening in October followed by an information session on the VT Gas Pipeline mid-October. Keep an eye out for flyers! October is when we will find out if this pipeline was approved or not. I would recommend the documentaries GasLand and GasLand 2 by Josh Fox to learn more about fracking and the natural gas industry.
By Krista Shugart