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New York’s Fracking Battles Heat Up

Patrick Robbins Jan 27

When we heard in December that Governor Andrew Cuomo would prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing, many activists breathed a sigh of relief — it looked like a frack-free New York was becoming a reality. Unfortunately, New York is already being fracked, if you understand “fracking” to mean the full life cycle from drilling to transportation to consumption. Right now, there are many ongoing infrastructure campaigns that could use your support:

PORT AMBROSE

Liberty Natural Gas LLC (a shell corporation made up of anonymous Cayman Islands investors) is pushing a plan to build a liquified natural gas port called Port Ambrose in the New York Harbor. This project would bring dangerous, super-sized liquified natural gas tankers into the harbor at a rate of roughly one per week over the course of a year. In addition to the security risks associated with a highly volatile fuel and the danger to marine ecosystems, this project will create financial incentives for more fracking all over the Northeast. It is also being proposed in an area that is under consideration for building offshore wind power, which we desperately need.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Learn more at saneenergyproject.org, call Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390 and tell him to veto Port Ambrose, and rally other representatives via the information found here: bit.ly/1JqIh8G.

CONSTITUTION PIPELINE

This 30-inch, high-pressure gas pipeline has been conditionally approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania through Schoharie County, New York, located in the Catskill Mountains. This project would damage property values and involve clear-cutting in the delicate wetland and farmland ecosystems in its path. Many community members are vocally opposing the project. Williams, the company responsible, has engaged in scare tactics such as telling homeowners along the pipeline route that they will gain access to their land through eminent domain, which would be illegal.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can send comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation and get involved at stopthepipeline.org and ruralcommunities.org.

ALGONQUIN PIPELINE EXTENSION: Spectra Energy is proposing to construct a 42-inch diameter high-pressure natural gas within a half-mile of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. Spectra has an terrible safety record and many residents are concerned about the risk that this pipeline poses in such close proximity to the plant.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Learn more about the issue and how to submit a written comment by February 27 at http://sape2016.org/

SENECA LAKE

Right now, New York is witnessing a sustained nonviolent direct action campaign in response to a Texas-based company’s proposed plan to store methane and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in decades-old depleted salt caverns that were never designed to store this material. The Department of Environmental Conservation is still considering proposals to store LPG, and residents of Watkins Glen and the area surrounding Seneca Lake have continuously blockaded the entrance to facilities to bring attention to this issue. At stake is the drinking water supply of 100,000 people and the health of the local wine-growing industry that is flourishing in the Finger Lakes region.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Sign the petitions and write to Governor Cuomo using the materials found at gasfreeseneca.com and support the Seneca Lake Defenders at wearesenecalake.com.

DOMINION NEW MARKET PROJECT

Dominion’s proposed New Market Project consists of the construction of compressor stations and infrastructure upgrades along its 50-year-old natural gas pipeline, which cuts a long diagonal path through nine counties across the middle of the state. In addition to the dangers posed by the new compressor stations, such as degraded air quality and explosion risks, this project will add pressure and velocity to an aging system that was never meant to handle it. Communities located near the project are waiting for an environmental assessment to come out, although many are continuing to fight for a full Environmental Impact Statement that would provide a more detailed analysis of the potential consequences of Dominion’s plan.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Contact one of these three groups: Mohawk Valleykeeper (mohawkvalleykeeper@gmail.com), Concerned Citizens of New York (ConcernedCNY@gmail.com) and Madison County Neighbors for Environmental Preservation (madcopreservation@aol.com).

All of these campaigns are worth supporting on their own merit — in each case, the local community is taking bold steps to protect their land and health. But supporting these campaigns makes sense from a broader perspective as well. It allows us to identify common targets that affect struggles across the state, such as the industry-dominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It helps us understand larger trends within the natural gas industry, like the shift toward exporting fracked gas. And it builds a movement that speaks to people’s lived experiences, one that is truly led by the grassroots — in other words ,it builds the movement we really need to take on the climate crisis as a whole.

Patrick Robbins is the communications coordinator for Sane Energy Project, which can be found online at saneenergyproject.org.

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