Green Party seeks alliance against proposed expansion of Algonquin gas pipeline

May 4th, 2014 | By | Category: Top Story

The Green Party of Rhode Island is seeking to create a five-state alliance of Green parties (MA-RI-CT-NY-NJ) to STOP the proposed Algonquin Pipeline expansion. This $971 million project has moved into high gear, with a final application now on file at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. There’s been little public comment so far and the opposition, while growing, has been fragmented. Only the Green parties are positioned to quickly ramp up a coordinated, multi-state resistance.

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Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) is a grassroots organization with a mission to educate our fellow citizens and elected officials about the negative impacts associated with Spectra Energy Corporation’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project. SAPE opposes the AIM gas expansion project because it may exacerbate climate change, endanger our safety and quality of life, contaminate water, air and soil, cause harm to domestic animals and wildlife, and threaten farmland and property values.

For more on this story, visit: Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE).

Algonquin-gas-pipeline-spectra-energyIn Rhode Island, the project would make “improvements” to the Burrillville Compressor Station, a rural facility which dramatically increases the transmission pressure of highly explosive gas, and is located adjacent to a fragile state forest, between two streams that feed reservoirs and the Blackstone River / Narragansett Bay watershed. All of this, to get more Marcellus Shale fracking-gas, from Pennsylvania and points West, to Boston. Four even larger compressor upgrades are planned for Connecticut and New York. There is still time to stop this if the Green parties in the Northeast move quickly.

Green PartyFossilFreeRI, and 350.org activists oppose the project because of its implications for climate change. But many Northeast residents will also be concerned about environmental and human risk from explosions and fires, as well as air, water, and soil quality impacts—posing new threats at river, wetland, and street crossings, residential areas, bridges, and more. Representatives of the Green Party of Rhode Island will be meeting in the next few days with local climate activists, and it would be great to know that Greens in other states are on board.

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from Tony Affigne, Green Party of Rhode Island, affigne@rigreens.org

May 2, 2014

Leadership Summary: A Green Alliance to Stop Algonquin

The need for a Green Alliance. A proposed expansion of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline threatens New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and would accelerate fracking for Marcellus Shale gas. (See the project map in the appendices, below.) Local opposition groups have emerged, but only the state Green Parties of the five states involved are positioned to mount multi-state political resistance to the Algonquin proposal. There is still time to stop this project!

The Project’s status right now. We are about halfway through the federal review process—the only one that counts, apparently—and Federal authorities, with some input from state agencies and the public, will soon decide whether to approve the project. A successful political effort at this time could still derail Spectra’s plans, while even a campaign which is less than completely successful would build public awareness and resistance, to future fossil fuel projects. A five-state Green Party alliance (perhaps adding Pennsyvania and West Virginia in the near future), greatly improves the odds of stopping this dangerous, destructive project.

Green Party Participation and Action

State conventions and campaigns. Green Party conventions on May 3rd in New Jersey and Connecticut will hopefully agree to proposals to establish a Green Alliance to Stop Algonquin (or something like that). Alliance proposals will be made by the New Jersey Greens’ gubernatorial candidate Steve Welzer, and Connecticut Greens’ national committee delegate Tim McKee. The Green Party of New York State will then consider the idea on May 17, at the urging of that party’s gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins. In Massachusetts, former Green presidential candidate Jill Stein will encourage the Massachusetts Green Rainbow Party to sign on as soon as possible. Finally, Welzer and Hawkins have decided to make the Algonquin pipeline an issue in their gubernatorial campaigns, in two of our largest states: New Jersey and New York. It seems likely that Green candidates in other states, for local, state, and federal offices, will do the same. We already have some momentum!

Proposed resolution for state Green party meetings. So, to keep this Alliance rolling, I’m proposing that each of our state parties adopt a simple resolution, 1) condemning the pipeline proposal and 2) joining in establishment of the Alliance. For Rhode Island I’ll propose something which emphasizes three purposes for the Alliance:

1. To coordinate planning and joint action among Green parties of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
2. To publicly expose Algonquin’s threats to human safety, natural environments, local communities, and global climate.
3. To pressure state agencies (e.g. Department of Environmental Management) to hold public hearings, near the pipeline route.

Coalitions with grassroots groups. The Rhode Island party is joining our local Algonquin opposition which already includes five groups: Fighting Against Natural Gas, Stop the Algonquin Gas Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), Capitalism vs the Climate, Better Future Project, and Fossil Free Rhode Island. Similar linkups are likely in other places, wherever people learn about the pipeline and decide to get organized.

Algonquin: A fast but dangerous way to sell billions of dollars of fracked gas, to markets in New England and beyond

Frack it there, pump it through here, sell it wherever. Spectra Energy Partners, owners of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline, propose to significantly increase their existing pipeline capacity, to move 34 million cubic feet of explosive gas every day, by installing new or expanded compressor stations, enlarging 40 miles of pipe, and upgrading other facilities along the pipeline’s 220+ mile route. The “Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM)” project will spend more than $971 million dollars, between Mahwah, New Jersey and Boston, Massachusetts, carrying gas from the hydrofracturing wells of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to markets at and beyond the Atlantic coastline. Spectra hopes to begin construction in 2015 and finish in 2016. Here’s their public relations department’s breathless description of this wonderful project:

http://www.spectraenergy.com/Operations/New-Projects-and-Our-Process/New-Projects-in-US/Algonquin-Incremental-Market-AIM-Project/

Federal Review 2013-present. How to Learn More

Quick timetable for environmental review. Is it too quick? Algonquin’s environmental review is underway. After Spectra held a handful of low-profile public “open houses” in August and September of 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hosted four “scoping meetings,” with minimum public notice, over three days in September and October. One meeting apiece took place in New York and Massachusetts, with two in Connecticut. NOTE: No meeting about this project, hosted either by Spectra or FERC, has ever been held in Rhode Island.

On February 28, 2014 Spectra filed its formal application with FERC; on March 24, FERC posted public notice of receiving the application, and that day opened a brief period in which formal, legal intervenor status could be requested by interested parties—so long as they did so before an April 8 deadline! General public comments, however, may still be filed with the Secretary of the Commission.

The March 24 FERC notice is here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/03/24/2014-06344/algonquin-gas-transmission-llc-notice-of-application

Access to all previous documents. To view company submissions, agency orders, and comments already submitted, you’ll need to use docket numbers for the final application (CP14-96) and the preliminary filing (PF13-16). The only way to access all documents filed for the federal review, including state agency and public comments to date, is to visit the FERC eLibrary’s advanced search page here—and enter both numbers:

http://elibrary.ferc.gov/IDMWS/search/fercadvsearch.asp

The review process in brief. For a brief summary of the formal review process, please see the attached FERC “Notice of Intent,” which includes an overview of the proposal, a description of FERC’s environmental impact review, and an outline of the overall permitting process. In the appendices at the bottom of this report, I’ve attached a graphic illustration of the review process—where you’ll see that we are currently between “FERC receives formal applicaton from Algonquin” and “FERC issues Preliminary Draft EIS to cooperating agencies for review.” The next and final public input period will soon begin.

Public Opposition and Organized Resistance

We are not alone opposing Algonquin. Already, a grassroots group called “Stop Algonquin Pipeline Expansion 2016″ has grown up, and with activities focused in the New York State section of the project, has begun to build opposition. See their website at http://www.sape2016.org

In Rhode Island, a local climate change affiliate of 350.org — FossilFreeRI — as well as the Rhode Island Sierra Club have begun educating members, and have joined a loose coalition with several other groups, to plan petitioning and protests. A conference call on May 5 will coordinate plans for a demonstration in Greenwich, Connecticut on May 28-29, at the meeting of the Democratic Governors Association. The Rhode Island Greens will participate. It’s likely that similar alliances will emerge, and actions take place, across the Algonquin region.

Conclusion: High Stakes Resistance to Fossil Fuel, as Only Greens Can Do It

The stakes are very high. If Spectra Energy is allowed to expand the capacity of its Algonquin pipeline, it will threaten public safety and health, increase the risk of air, water, and ground pollution, release more methane into the atmosphere, and worsen global warming. On the other hand, if we successfully block the pipeline, we can prevent the worst of those from happening, enjoy a victory in the struggle against fossil fuel, and do our part to relieve pressure on Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where drilling for gas, destined for Alqonquin is destroying communities and ancient environments. We must stop this if we can.”

For more on this story, visit: Green Party – Proposed expansion of Algonquin gas pipeline.

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One Comment to “Green Party seeks alliance against proposed expansion of Algonquin gas pipeline”

  1. Beth ward says:

    A better choice would be clean energy.

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