Built on Bribes: The Fracked Gas Power Plant at the Center of the Percoco Trial

Built on Bribes: The Fracked Gas Power Plant at the Center of the Percoco Trial

Last week, New Yorkers from Orange County fighting to stop the massive CPV fracked gas power plant had a tough decision to make.

Should they go to the court hearing that could decide the fate of the pipeline that will deliver fracked gas to the plant?

Or should they go to the corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Competitive Power Ventures, the company building the plant in Waywayanda, New York.

Millennium Tries to Silence Local Dad Over CPV Fracked Gas Power Plant Through SLAPP Suit

Millennium Tries to Silence Local Dad Over CPV Fracked Gas Power Plant Through SLAPP Suit

For over a year, through the cold and heat, the citizens of Orange County have held weekly pickets outside the construction site of a massive fracked gas power plant being built in their community.

The CPV fracked gas power plant will emit 700 tons of known carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors each year and will increase demand for fracking in neighboring Pennsylvania.

Scott Martens, a father of two young children from Middletown, saw folks protesting outside the construction site, stopped by and has been involved in the fight to stop CPV ever since. 

Accepting Sponsorship = Endorsement: How a Handful of Environmental Activists Pushed WNYC to Have a Fiscal Reckoning and Drop Williams Company and Pipelines as a Sponsor

Accepting Sponsorship = Endorsement: How a Handful of Environmental Activists Pushed WNYC to Have a Fiscal Reckoning and Drop Williams Company and Pipelines as a Sponsor

Accepting Sponsorship = Endorsement

“There is nothing we will advertise that does not align with our principles….We have actively rejected advertising and sponsorship in the past because when it doesn’t feel right, it’s just not right.” And then some minutes later came the statement that tipped me over the edge from public observer to enraged questioner - “As long as support falls under our criteria, we aim to be balanced and not demonstrate being skewed an a topic. 

Is Governor Cuomo a fracking hypocrite?

Is Governor Cuomo a fracking hypocrite?

Right now, as you read this, there’s an incredibly dangerous transition happening in the United States. And it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Well, it didn’t start with him at least.

In a disastrous move for the climate, instead of transitioning directly from coal-fired power plants as the main source of energy generation to 100% renewable energy, the United State is building a fracked gas ‘bridge’. This ‘bridge’ requires millions of fracked wells and building thousands of miles of pipelines and some 300+ fracked gas power plants.

NY Offshore Wind: 60 second Film to share + NYC Official Info Sessions + Sane Energy's beautiful graphic presentation on Wind: Who, what, where, when & why.

Sane Energy Project gathered allies in the WinWindNY coalition to make a 60-second Public Service Announcement about Offshore Wind for New York to help educate our communities that wind is here, and if we work together, we can make the renewable economy include our community values.

Click > HERE < to watch and share this fun video. 

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As mentioned in this weeks famous Sane Energy Project newsletter, join us on August 14th, 15th and 16th, as New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) hosts three New York City based open houses to show us their work process and answer questions about the offshore wind development off the coast of NYC

Rockaway Beach info HERE with a pre-rally and press conference to kickoff the three days of wind!OSW-InfoSessions-ROCK

Staten Island info HERE

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Coney Island info HERE

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Almost two years ago, all of us working together defeated the possibility of liquefied natural/fracked gas (Port Ambrose L.N.G.) off our New York City/Long Island shores in a spot slated for energy development. Sane Energy Project ran on a platform of WIND NOT LNG, and together, we WON! Now we are working hard to make sure that the renewable generation that is coming onto our grid is developed responsibility with ethics before profit. We know a way to assure this, is by working with a strong coalition of communities and organizations to work toward "Community Benefit Agreements" in any contract that is signed between New York State and the wind developer.

Here's the scoop on offshore wind for New York State scroll down to view or click > HERE < to view and download our presentation.

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Sane Energy Project’s Statement on the Withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Climate Accord

18814119_10213441340730587_1391416744146361612_n-2 The team at Sane Energy Project was not shocked to receive the news of the withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Climate Accord. The behavior of the Trump administration follows a pattern in which  the fortunes of a few in power are valued more than the health, safety and long-term economic health of the rest of us.

Following the announcement, our nation responded: numbers of governors, mayors, academics, and businesses vowed to abide by the the Paris Climate Accord and stand with the almost  200 nations that signed onto it, committing   to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, foster adaptation and mitigate climate impacts. We are pleased Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio’s decision to adhere to the accord and to make New York State and New York City a powerful example and a beacon of hope for the rest of the country. Now is our time to hold them to this decision. Scroll down for five action steps.

For our part, Sane Energy Project vows to continue our  work at the state and local level, recognizing that our choices here resonate with those who are suffering the brunt of climate impacts around the world. We will push to correct the cognitive dissonance of policy makers who talk about lowering emissions while promoting the use of fossil and nuclear fuels. We will continue opposing the development of fracked gas and oil infrastructure, and we will push for a rapid conversion to equitable, renewable energy, especially offshore wind, through policy initiatives, education and direct action.

We will continue to fight for a place at the table for citizens to have a say in energy decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods. We will continue to build a world that values the health and  safety for all we share this small planet with.

Please join us by taking these five actions today:

  1. Time Sensitive: Urge Governor Cuomo to appoint a People’s Public Service Commissioner to prevent big utilities and corporations from trumping our people power. tinyurl.com/PeoplesPSCPPSC
  2. Time Sensitive: Call your senators to halt Trump’s FERC nominations. www.beyondextremeenergy.org
  3. FERCTWEETSPlanned Campaign: Call on  Governor Cuomo to power Albany’s Empire State Plaza, home to our state legislature, with renewable energy, not fracked gas. tinyurl.com/nogasinrevNoGasInREV1
  4. Planned Campaign: Join the People’s Offshore Wind Task Force to build a just transition to the renewable economy. Link HERESanevolunteerFB.png
  5. Planned Campaign: Share your story, and others’ stories, to demonstrate to elected officials the dangers of fracked gas infrastructure in NY, PA and soon to be added NJ. Contact kim@saneenergyproject.org for more info www.youareheremap.org Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 4.16.33 PM

The People United Will Never Be Defeated.

Love, Kim, Monica and the team at Sane Energy Project.

Community Shared Renewables Explained

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Written by guest blogger Gary Skulnik www.OurPower.Solar 

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As New York grapples with the future of *distributed energy, especially solar, the state is at a major crossroads that could decide whether it embraces a clean and equitable future, or if it sets the table for only the large players to sit. A recent solar conference in Brooklyn, solidified my thinking on which direction the state is choosing – letting the big guys run the show. The panel in the morning session on NY State project issues featured only big players. Not a single small player made it. The common theme among the panelists was how opaque and difficult the interconnection process, permitting, and property tax issues are for solar projects. Large companies, with the resources to deploy (person hours and money) can handle these complexities and road blocks. Small companies cannot.

The new “Value of Distributed Energy Resources” (VDER) pricing for solar has a lot of positive attributes, such as trying to direct projects where they are needed most, but does not address the disparity between large and small projects. Yes, from a climate change and grid perspective, the more solar the better and that means big projects, which are cheaper bring a lot of benefits. However, if we are to truly avoid disastrous climate change, create jobs, and produce a more equitable society, we need to have small projects peppered around the state. Think about it. Small projects on the local church, community center, or civic building do more than produce clean energy. They create a stronger sense of community, build a broader constituency for a clean environment, and help contribute to hard-hit towns across the state. Consumers will keep their energy dollars local, help create local jobs, and support the growth of small homegrown solar companies across the state. Finally, incentivizing small projects is the right thing to do. Climate change impacts everyone, but it hurts economically depressed communities even more. Everyone deserves to reap the benefits of climate change solutions.

To its credit, NY state leaders see this problem and are working to address it, but they need to do more and do it faster. They need to come up with a carve-out for small projects that would get greater incentives and help with regulatory red tape. This would make our state’s new community shared solar program a win-win for everybody, the way it’s supposed to be.

Addendum by Sane Energy Project:

*Power generation at the point of consumption. Generating power on-site, rather than centrally, like a big power plant, eliminates the cost, complexity, interdependencies, and inefficiencies associated with transmission and distribution. Decentralized energy is generated or stored by a variety of small, grid-connected devices referred to as distributed energy resources (DER)

To TAKE ACTION on promoting community-shared renewables in New York State, join our statewide alliance in calling on Governor Cuomo to appoint People’s Commissioners to the Public Service Commission who will protect New Yorkers and the Environment.

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Welcome!

Welcome to Sane Energy Project! We are a New York based organization working toward a sane energy future that includes shutting down fossil fuel infrastructure and building a just transition toward renewable energy. Please explore our website tabs above for more in-depth information about us, our work, resources and action steps – and scroll down for recent blog posts!

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Proposed Compressor Station in Eldred (Town of Highland) NY, meets strong local resistance

By now, it's an old story: A pipeline company says they *just* want to build a simple gas pipeline. Then later they want to add a compressor station. Just one they say. Then there's a proposal for a power plant. And another compressor. Then a larger pipeline. This story has played out across Pennsylvania and New York State, with the result being broken dreams, devalued property values, assaults on human and animal health, and the destruction of eco-systems, wildlife preserves, and farming communities, turning them into industrial zones. The Eldred compressor is a new project that Millennium expected to roll over a rural upstate community, but that community organized in record time, and is saying, "Not so fast." SCRAM (Sullivan Country Residents Against Millennium) has quickly geared up for a big fight, hosting local forums and warning locals of the toxic effects of compressors.

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THE BAD NEWS:

Millennium Pipeline Co. has purchased 80 acres from the Eldred Preserve (Town of Highland) in western Sullivan County, for a new proposed compressor station. This site was a hunting club that leased to drillers early on, but the town passed an ordinance that prevented drilling (and then the statewide ban happened). Now, the local ordinance – and local community resistance – will be tested by this interstate pipeline, and the usual FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) steamroller.

This compressor is connected not just to the Millennium pipeline but to the CPV Valley power plant, the Valley Lateral pipeline (which would connect Millennium and CPV) and the Hancock compressor, where they plan to add a second compressor, plus additional work at Ramapo. Together, these changes are part of the Eastern System Upgrade, a new name for an illegally segmented project that began with the Minisink compressor.

If Eldred is built, that would make four compressors within 60 miles, which far exceeds the industry standard, and is indicative of future plans (not yet public) to expand their system further. They could be planning to loop the line (add a second parallel pipeline in same right-of-way) or connect additional future pipelines, and almost certainly will want to add later compressor stations or power plants (as is typical of recent trends).

Based on their stated in-service date of Fall 2018, they were clearly hoping to ram this through what they expected to be a sleepy rural area. However – true to the area's history as the incubator of the early anti-fracking movement – that has not been the case.

THE GOOD NEWS:

• It may be rural and underpopulated in the region but there is an already activated anti-fracking community, plus a nascent farm-to-table community, with the popular Callicoon Farmer’s market, a growing weekender population, and chefs opening new restaurants.

• Millennium can’t get building permits unless FERC overrules the local ordinance (which of course they will, but that is expected to bring a lawsuit). It will become a legal test of local ordinances that could shine the light of public attention on the project.

• In order for the Valley Lateral pipeline to get going, Millennium needs to clear trees by the end of March (or hold until Fall). State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already issued a letter to FERC, objecting to the tree cutting.

• Scandal surrounds the CPV project: the CEO is under indictment and they are already bogged down in lawsuits. Millennium and CPV are suing the state Department of Environmental Conservation, saying they are taking too much time with 401 Water Quality permit for the Valley Lateral pipe.

• Without these compressors / compressor upgrades and the Valley Lateral pipeline, the massively polluting CPV power plant (currently under construction) would be starved for gas. This is a project with far-reaching impact; if it can be stopped, it could prevent a host of other future compressors, power plants, pipelines.

WHAT'S NEXT?

The local activists are waiting to hear if the project will be ok'd for the less stringent EA (Environmental Assessment) or the more thorough EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). Once that decision is issued, there'll be hearings, forums and actions. We'll be sure to update our subscribers whenever there is additional news. (Subscribe at the link on upper right-hand side of this website.)

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What's going on with the Spectra Pipeline and the NY Offshore Wind Farm?

climateblog It sorta seemed like the last few months of 2016 at Sane Energy Project were a whirlwind of fighting the bad stuff (Spectra's "AIM" Pipeline among the plethora of other interconnected battles) and pushing to bring on the good stuff (Offshore Wind Power to New York's electrical grid and Energy Democracy). So much action and energy happened, news changed almost daily that it was hard to give a comprehensive update.

But here we are, just past December 21st, the day marked as the "beginning of light", the bright days will start getting longer, we are in a place to rest, rejuvenate, seek clarity and give a comprehensive update. 

First, The Spectra Pipeline, and scroll down for the NY Offshore Wind update and action steps!

First, The Spectra Pipeline. What's the story? 

We have had many friends and allies call, email and text us "What is going on?! Has Spectra turned the gas on?"

Here's the skinny: Not as of December 23rd 2016, almost two months behind schedule, but they are getting ready to ask the corrupt FERC to give them the green-light. However, there is more to it. If they do turn the gas on, say, next week, we have to remember this is only ONE small part of a GIANT pipeline EXPANSION project that they have illegally segmented into three false projects. Our work is just beginning to stop Spectra Energy's abuse of our democracy, health and safety. We started a petition to Governor Cuomo to prevent Spectra from getting the Water Quality Certificates for their 2nd segment.

Sign it, Share it! tinyurl.com/CuomoStopSpectraPipeline

  • A quick recap:

The Spectra AIM (Algonquin Incremental Market -- yes, it's shameful they

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continue to use the name Algonquin insulting our indigenous friends) is a massive fracked gas transmission system expansion from the shale fields of the Marcellus in PA and OH to transport gas up and out of the U.S. via Canada. They claim that it is for domestic use, but except for few heavy polluting gas-fired power plants they are building in order to pass the cost of building the pipelines onto the rate-payers (that's you and me!), the gas is intended for export where European markets will pay 6-10 times more for our fracked gas. Even the entire state of Massachusetts has called out Spectra for 1. Not needing the gas when Spectra claims it's for New England (read white paper report HERE by their Attorney General) and 2. Saying NO to their scam to try and pass the costs of building the pipeline onto the local rate-payers (read MA Supreme Court decision HERE)

  • How do we know this is their plan, and why is it important to knowing what's going on presently?

Plain and simple, they tell us directly while playing their day-to-day public relations as if they are separate projects. Clearly, we know they have zero respect for the public, but to also underestimate our intelligence to comprehend a two-headed monster in our communities? AIM, Atlantic Bridge and Access Northeast are three parts to one pipeline expansion that names exactly their goal: To get the gas out of the Maritimes in Canada. And that doesn’t bode well with other capitalists based in Canada looking to sell to the US market. Even the industry reports tell us that Spectra's plan to reverse the flow of their existing pipeline that they are expanding under the guise of this triple-threat that will export out of the USA is getting a furious reception from Respol, a large Spanish oil company with Canadian projects on the same pipeline route.

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We must not allow Spectra Energy to dupe the public into thinking this is three separate projects. This is all one pipeline disguised as three projects to avoid addressing Cumulative Impact studies and statements. See HERE a video from local resident, Nancy Vann, standing on a street in Yorktown, NY explaining how Spectra claims AIM and Atlantic Bridge are two separate projects.

  • Why should we stay engaged? How can we win?

We cannot allow our organizing against Spectra to be fractured either. So, let's refrain from thinking that we lost because we may have lost the AIM fight (and it is still not live as of today, and there is still a pending lawsuit to reverse the FERC approval of the AIM portion of the pipeline led by the City of Boston that has not been heard in court yet). We may have lost a battle, but here are the great things we have accomplished in the past five years in the bigger war with Spectra Energy:

  • Recognized cradle to grave infrastructure as the problem in the fight on fracking when Spectra came to NYC
  • Identified FERC as a common target
  • Learned how to strategize and organize with our regional allies fighting Dominion, Millennium/CPV, Northern Access, Sunoco Logistics and HEAPS of other groups who contributed information to the You Are Here map
  • Noted the next leg of expansion after NYC was AIM, supported and shared info with new local resistance  groups like FANG, SAPE, ResistSpectra, Resist the West Roxbury Lateral, Earth Guardians...
  • Carry on the work with educating about Methane and Climate Change links (see recent scientific Methane press conference with leading NY experts HERE from our friends at People, Not Pipelines and Other Voices, Other Choices)
 The movement is growing, getting smarter, becoming trusted friends and are ready to take on the manifestation of a new regime in 2017. So we have to remember, when this entity wishes to build walls and separate us, we must work counter to it. We know they have 2 things: Money and Violence. and we have SO much more! We have a growing community, we have build sophisticated communication networks, alliances, support systems, we answer to each other when we call for HELP across the region… and we will refine and just get better with time to build the system we know is possible and serves all life on this small planet called Earth.

Second What’s Up With The Wind Farms?

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We say wind farmS because, yes, New York has more than one wind farm in the works, and it’s important we understand what the deal is with them because they are both in different stages of development with different developers, and here’s the skinny: 
  • One wind farm is out in Eastern Long Island near the Hamptons 90MW Info HERE

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  • The other wind farm is off the coast of the Rockaways/LongBeach 750MW  (that's right! exactly where Port Ambrose LNG Port was proposed, and we beat!) Info HERE

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 ACTION STEPS TO WINWINDNY!

winwindtaglinesFirst, We ROCKED the house at the last Long Island Power Authority public meeting on December 20th, where we stood with many members of labor and the environment to send a CLEAR and direct message to Governor Cuomo that WE WANT WIND!

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We will be back on January 25th 2017 to support and hopefully pop the champagne when LIPA approves this Eastern Long Island project. We need renewables, and we need them NOW! JOIN US! Details to come.

Sane Energy Project, as usual, promises a vibrant FUN campaign to do two things:

  1. Make sure Governor Cuomo makes a FIRM commitment to developing 5000MW of Offshore Wind Power for the State of New York making sure we are a vibrant, local industry hub for the lead int he renewable economy!
  2. We don't want just megawatts in the water! NO! We want to do this right! And that is where our activism comes in. Sane Energy Project knows we have vibrant and growing support from labor and wildlife advocates, and our work is to make sure this renewable generation leads a transition of JUSTICE and benefits rate-payers, particularly low-income rate-payers who typically are burdened with high energy bills and dirty generation planted in their biospheres.

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We know that Statoil won the lease last week to develop wind power in the Rockaway location. We originally were suspecting that a NYSERDA/DeepwaterWind partnership was going to secure the lease, but the bidding process went on for nearly TWO days, with Statoil securing the are for $45million. Sigh, capitalism. 

So, this doesn't change our work, except we knew that we knew the players with NYSERDA and Deepwater. Deepwater just completed the USA's first Offshore Wind Pilot Project in Rhode Island using local, union labor and completely stopped construction during whale migration. They honor the community values we ask for. So we just have to build the base (just like we did to stop fracking in NY, stop Port Ambrose, Stop Constitution, Stop Shell's Water Withdrawal in Painted Post... pssst, we have got the POWER!) and make sure Statoil comes to our table and honors our community values.

Are you IN?

See you at the next Sane Energy Project All Star Meeting, January 10th at 72 Greene St. @ Patagonia SoHo 2nd Floor Environmental Co-Working Space! And let's get to work!

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IT'S ON! Biggest AIM Mobilization to date. Two days of action against Spectra's pipeline: May 21st and 23rd

With the NED and Constitution pipes no longer absorbing the energy of advocates, Spectra's AIM pipeline now becomes the big focus, and the need for action is URGENT: construction is already underway for this high-pressure, large-diameter pipe sited within 105 feet of critical Indian Point facilities. Like those other pipes, this one crosses multiple states and uses the same tired excuses of supplying fuel to New England, despite the fact that New England doesn't need or want the pipe. Now is the time to stop this pipeline for good. Click HERE for more info! PCSTP

Constitution and NED Pipelines Halted!

KNOCK US OVER WITH A FEATHER–TWO PIPELINES DOWN! Amazing news on Earth Day that the DEC denied the Water Quality Permit for the Constitution pipeline. Following close on the heels of Kinder-Morgan pulling the plug on their NED pipeline, it's clear that the power of public opinion, and the work of thousands of Northeast activists, is having direct impact on our energy future across the region. Catch all the details on both defeats HERE–rejoice, take a bow–and then let's redirect all that activism towards the projects that remain. (But seriously, what joyful change is being made!)

Stephen Gerhart's Letter

Mr. Gerhart wrote the following letter to Pennsylvania governor, Tom Wolf, the day before tree-cutting crews came onto his property, against his will, to make a path for the Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline. His wife, Ellen, was put in handcuffs the next day when she attempted to alert crews that they were endangering their daughter Elise, who was 40 feet in the air, in a tree sit in the path of the pipeline. The letter was posted to Facebook here. The legal fund is here. The story of what happened the day after this letter was written is here.

March 28, 2016
Dear Sir,
I am 85 years old, living in PA since 1957. I came to the USA after the Soviet Union crushed our Revolution in Hungary in the fall of 1956. I was fighting on the streets of Budapest after they came in with fresh Asian divisions. After two months of resisting I had to escape when the Soviets re-established the Hungarian Communist government. They began to arrest people who were known to be opposing them. Many people were taken to Siberia and never seen again.
As a child, I grew up under the Nazi system. My small country lies in the center of Europe. Germans made us into their satellite. In the summer of 1944, I witnessed the collection and deportation of Jews, and I watched as they stuffed them into cattle cars in a nearby station. I believe I even saw the infamous Eichmann on the streets of Budapest. My father died in 1945, in the defense of Budapest. Twenty-five thousand other Hungarians also died in the war. The Soviet Union “liberated” us from the Nazis. When Russians began to fight for Budapest, they raped my mother in front of me. I was 13 years old at the time.
The Soviets installed the Hungarian Communists as the government. In 1948, I was an apprentice in a one-man engraving and jewelry shop. My boss worked very hard to establish his small business. One day two Hungarian secret police, dressed like the Gestapo from years before, came in their long leather coats to the shop. They said to my boss, “This shop is now nationalized; you have to leave.” In a few minutes, my boss was gone. The “police” told me to take an inventory of the tools in the shop and they told me I would have a job in the nationalized jewelry and engraving system. By that time all major businesses, banks, and mines, were taken over by the communists. This is the way it was. As a result , I have seen the arbitrary decisions made by both the Nazis and the Communists. In 1956 we Hungarians rebelled against the Soviet Union and the Hungarian Communists.
I wanted you to know all this, because now, the Sunoco Logistics company, wants to take over part of our land. We have a pond, streams, and wetlands, “in the way” of the proposed pipeline. Ducks, geese, herons, kingfishers, turtles, frogs, and fish have all found homes there. Our century old trees are homes for countless birds and mammals, including the endangered Indiana brown bat. Our forest is teeming with other wildlife, deer, bear, foxes, snakes, turkeys, grouse, that make their homes there. We have tried to live up to our promise made when we signed on to the Forest Stewardship (Clean and Green) program when we purchased our property in 1982.
We are living, breathing Pennsylvanians who have tried to preserve this land. Sunoco is a billions of dollar, faceless entity, based in Texas. The products that they want to transport through our land are not needed in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the United States. The rich executives of Sunoco have decided that they can make a lot more profit by selling the Natural Gas Liquids overseas. It is unjust to give them the right of eminent domain so that they can trample on the rights of the people of Pennsylvania. My wife of 40 years and my youngest daughter are distraught over your decision, as am I. Please reconsider your decision and side with the people of Huntingdon County who elected you and pay your salary.
Stephen Gerhart

The CPR Report March, 2016

elise GUPDATE: Just days before the end of the month, tree-cutting crews, accompanied by the local Sheriff,  moved in on the Gerhart property in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Sunoco Logistics had taken the property by eminent domain for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which will carry natural gas liquids (i.e., propane, butane, ethane) from the frack fields in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area.

The Gerharts are stewards in a forestry program, and had committed never to develop their property, and to keep it as a forever-wild preserve. The family had not agreed to the eminent domain settlement and Sunoco proceeded with the tree clearing despite lacking necessary water-crossing and erosion permits, and while its claims to eminent domain are under challenge in Pennsylvania courts.
On March 29th, 29-year-old Elise Gerhart created a tree sit in the path of the pipeline, and vowed to stay there until the tree-cutting season ended on March 31st. While a local news crew was mid-interview with Ellen Gerhart, Elise's mother, trees were cut dangerously close to the one Elise was in, and then dropped onto supporting guy wires. Ellen ran towards crews to warn them and was removed in handcuffs (video here). Two other advocates, who did not cross into the work area, were arrested and jailed for two days, and originally burdened with $100,000 bail (later dropped).
One of the most moving parts of this story is a letter, written by Stephen Gerhart to the Pennsylvania Governor, which was posted to Facebook. Mr. Gerhart, a survivor of both the Nazi and Soviet regimes in Hungary, is no stranger to unjust systems. His letter is reprinted here.
Energy Justice Network is fiscally sponsoring a fund for supplies, legal expenses, and costs associated with challenging and monitoring Sunoco’s project.
Photo above: Reid Frazier for The Allegheny Front

Thursday, March 24th rounded out a great run of creative peaceful resistance (CPR), with simultaneous actions in Washington, DC and New Orleans, topping off a week that started with a ResistAIM visit to a FERC Commissioners meeting, continued with a blockade at a Spectra pigging station in Westchester, a rally for offshore wind on Long Island, and Bill McKibben being arrested at Seneca Lake, an event covered by the New York Times.  (Click here for more on those stories.)

ecowatchPancakes not Pipelines: FERC commissioners declined a pancake breakfast (using syrup from the Holleran Farm, whose maple trees were cut for the Constitution pipeline) served up by Tim DeChristopher, working a solar-powered cooktop in front of FERC offices. The action included Megan Holleran, Josh Fox, Bethany Yarrow, Karena Gore, Gabriel Shapiro, Don Wightman, Ron Coler and Jane Kendall, arrested at the ResistAIM blockade just 2 days earlier. Photo at left by EcoWatch. 
EcoWatch quoted DeChristopher as saying that FERC had “cut down life-giving maple trees to make room for a death-dealing pipeline.” The agency has been “able to get away with this shameful behavior by operating in the shadows,” he continued. “We’re here today to invite FERC employees into the open, to engage in a human way with the people whose lives are impacted by FERC’s decisions.” But commissioners turned down the yummy breakfast and chance to chat.
Beyond Extreme Energy will continue actions at FERC during the Rubber Stamp Rebellion from May 15 to May 22. The week of action will take place right after the May 4 – 16 #BreakFree days of action that 350.org is organizing.

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New Orleans Superdome Lease Sale: The March 24th sale of federal offshore oil and gas leases was disrupted by hundreds of Gulf Coast residents and environmentalists. The irony of hosting the sale in the Superdome, once a notoriously inadequate shelter during Hurricane Katrina, seemed lost on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Federal reps seemed caught off guard by the action and suggested the time for the public to have commented on the sale would have been at earlier hearings. But even those who'd participated in the hearings felt the spectacle of the action was important, as were the large numbers opposing the sale. Cherri Foytlin, a Gulf Coast activist, urged BOEM reps to “go back to the President and tell him that this is just the beginning. Our numbers are swelling.” Activist Hilton Kelley, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in the African-American neighborhood of Port Arthur said, “The people who live on the Gulf Coast have suffered enough because of BP.
BOEM is also the agency that approves offshore wind farms.
Photos  below by Pia Ward for FANG

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Bangladesh Coal March: Earlier in the month, thousands took part in a massive 4-day march in subtropical heat to protest the construction of coal-fired power plants dangerously close to the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Understory reports: The Bangladeshi and Indian governments—whose joint venture company is building the Rampal coal plant—are teaming up with industry to abuse the human rights of the people who live near, and depend on, the Sundarbans, in order to build infrastructure that locks in climate change and would devastate  a precious ecosystem. 
Photo by Mowdud Rahman
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The New York Times Awakens to the Infrastructure Movement

NYT 3-20-16
In the five years we've been fighting pipelines, a question frequently asked by newcomers who've just learned about the infrastructure invasion is an outraged, "Why isn't the New York Times covering this?!" A good percentage of the population revers this paper as the arbiter of important issues, and reaching that audience is considered a kind of golden ring. It can be argued that the early anti-fracking movement got a huge boost from the groundbreaking series Ian Urbina wrote for the Times. Now, at long last, because of the work you all have been doing, The Gray Lady has caught on in a big way to the scope and power of the anti-infrastructure movement. We celebrate this important milestone.
First the Times published this post, detailing how the AIM pipeline increases concerns about Indian Point, complete with Governor Cuomo's announcement of an independent safety investigation, and his call for FERC to halt construction on the project. Then, on March 19th, this story portrayed the united movement that infrastructure battles around the country have become, observing, "Bound together through social media, networks of far-flung activists are opposing virtually all new oil, gas and coal infrastructure projects." 
Reporter John Schwartz catalogued infrastructure fights in Portland, Seneca Lake, and at FERC offices, quoting one advocate who said, “When we pick up the ball and run with it here in North Carolina, we’re well aware of what’s going on in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island,” adding, “The fight we’re doing here, it bears on what happens elsewhere—we’re all in this together."

The reporter also noted the connection the movement has made to climate change, and the push for green energy. Our own Patrick Robbins, whose press release about AIM piqued interest in the bigger picture, was also quoted: “It’s not a bridge to renewable energy—it’s a competitor."

Bill McKibben, whose recent arrest with We Are Seneca Lake advocates was highlighted in the story, called the blockade “a good scene,” noting that it was hardly an isolated action: “There’s 15 places like this around the world today,” McKibben said. “There will be 15 more tomorrow, and the day after that.”

ResistAIM campaign covered by Grist

Ben Adler has posted an article in Grist detailing the rise of blockades against Spectra's AIM pipeline in the Northeast. Despite Spectra's spokesperson's rote statements about "clean, reliable, domestic natural gas," Adler notes that "new pipelines are actually less safe than older ones. Pipelines built in the 2010s have been failing at about three times the rate of those built from the 1950s to the 2000s." Sane Energy Co-Director, Kim Fraczek, who was arrested as one of the Montrose 9, says, “New York state has outlawed fracking because of health and safety issues; we need to consider that the infrastructure is just as damaging to our health and safety as much as the drilling is.” WSN rev