Citizens opposed to the proposed Spectra Energy pipeline packed the auditorium at P.S. 41 for the October 20th FERC hearing in the West Village. Marchers, led by a coalition from Occupy Wall Street, United for Action, and Sane Energy Project, were joined by actor Mark Ruffalo, who addressed the marchers before they left Zucotti Park. Watch the video here: Mark Ruffalo’s Call to Action | Tar Sands Action The heavy police presence proved unnecessary, as marchers filed in peacefully to take part in the hearing. 156 people signed up to testify; approximately 80 were able to speak before the meeting adjourned at 10pm. Many held banners and placards opposing the pipeline and fracking. By a show of hands, no one was in favor of the project.
Comments covered the gamut of concerns, from Spectra's spotty safety record, to the threat of radon, the lack of pipeline oversight, and the lack of trust in the FERC process. The connection to the risks of fracking received heavy play. Mr. Ruffalo appealed to the panel's humanity, urging them to look beyond their job descriptions. ruffalo 1020 - YouTube
Representatives of many environmental groups testified, including David Braun of United for Action who told the panel, "We are not going away." Jennifer Davis, superintendent of a West Village building, and member of Sane Energy Project, said she took the welfare of the tenants in her building seriously.
Several members of Occupy Wall Street began their comments with "Mic Check," echoed by the crowd. Thunderous applause and the silent OWS version of agreement interspersed the comments throughout the night. Activists in hazmat suits silently roamed the aisles. One of them, Gabrielle Engh, concluded her testimony by wordlessly staring down the panel through a gas mask.
The only public official present was a representative from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office, Policy Analyst Stephen Corson. When Mr. Corson read Mr. Stringer's statement that, "I can not support this project as it is currently planned," the crowd erupted with shouts of approval. A copy of the compete statement may be found here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/41163777/stringer%20FERC%20comments.pdf
A concurrent Community Board meeting passed a resolution failing to support the pipeline, stating, "independent analysis needs to take place first to confirm the claims that the Project is necessary," and listing a dozen specific objections. A draft of the resolution can be found here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/41163777/Spectra-October%202011%20final.pdf
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