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!)
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.”
Things are always jumping at Sane Energy Project, but this past Fall season has been particularly active, with the successful campaign against Port Ambrose in full gear, the Resist AIM campaign taking off, plus so many events, rallies and forums! Here are some highlights:
We Won Port Ambrose!
We celebrated the Port Ambrose veto with all the allies who helped defeat the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas project. It was a sweet win after an intense two-year battle that included getting the NY City Council to pass a resolution against it, innumerable hearings, community meetings, rallies, press conferences, email and postcard campaigns– plus lots of work behind the scenes to win over electeds throughout Long Island and the rest of the state. This concerted, coalition effort was rewarded when Governor Cuomo vetoed the Port on November 12th, and then in December, the Long Beach City Council presented advocates with a proclamation on behalf of the local community. Such wins are so rare and treasured that Naomi Klein invited Co-Director Patrick Robbins to write an article about the experience on her blog,
[facebook url="https://www.facebook.com/saneenergyproject/videos/1064931996874137/" /]
The campaign leading up to the defeat ran hot and heavy from Labor Day on, rallying massive turnouts–from hearings on Long Island to street performances in front of a Broadway show where Governor Cuomo held a fundraiser.
Resist AIM Launched
Sane Energy Project has supported the efforts of local organizers to lead a campaign of Creative Peaceful Resistance (CPR) against the construction of the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline, since its approval by FERC over the objections of the public, and the start of tree cutting. These efforts have involved hosting frontline residents at forums throughout Westchester and NYC; promoting their pledge to resist, facilitating art builds, media outreach, and organizing support teams for blockades. Co-Director, Kim Fraczek, was arrested with local advocates at the first blockade on November 9th. Because of Sane's alliances, there were even corresponding blockades using inflatables on the same day in Westchester and at the Paris COP 21 talks!
We REVed it Up!
The statewide REV (Reforming the Energy Vision) has been a big focus for us this Fall: "Make REV R.E.A.L (Renewable, Equitable, Accountable and Local)" started with a banner for a joint Sierra Club/Sane rally, then became the clarion call for the Energy Democracy Alliance, of which Sane is a member (logo, below, courtesy of Sane's artistic powerhouse, Kim Fraczek). There was a packed house at the REV hearing at NYU on October 27th, calling on the Public Service Commission to stop supporting fracked gas and coal infrastructure and replace these polluters with offshore wind and solar.
And there were so many other events!
We led off our new bi-weekly Sane Energy volunteer meetings with trainings for the Port Ambrose and REV hearings; we supported the Blued Trees art project; we presented the YOU ARE HERE map at Seneca Lake, we screened THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING and connected the global climate crisis to local fights with environmental justice speakers; and our Climate Rider, Lorna rode nearly 400 miles to stop climate change, and we threw her a big fun party!
(There was so much more that we can't fit in here, and that's why we encourage you to keep up with us daily on Facebook, where all the late-breaking news and events across the state are posted!) We so look forward to doing more great advocacy with you in 2016! If you would like to support the work we do, please click here!
This morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed Port Ambrose, the contested marine project that has threatened a prime offshore wind lease area with a proposal to install a liquefied natural gas facility off the shore of New York and Long Island.
Advocates from Sane Energy Project and All Our Energy celebrated the announcement.
Sane Energy Project attended the announcement, where Governor Cuomo thanked local officials and "the advocates," whom he said have fought "for years." Among his objections to the project, he cited super storms, risks to fishing industries, and security concerns. "We know that NY is at the top of terrorist targets." The governor also noted the conflict between the LNG port and the wind farm, saying, "There was no thought given to how the two projects could coexist."
Long Island's stellar beaches also figured large in his decision: "I came over by helicopter from the north, and these beaches are one of the great treasures of the state of New York–an international gem– when you see that strip of sand, there's nothing like it."
The Governor closed by saying, "It was not worth the risk and we're going to veto Port Ambrose," to loud and sustained applause.
Assembly Member Todd Kaminsky, who has been a tireless leader against this project, thanked the governor for, "Understanding that renewable energy is not something we want to get in the way of."
The Assemblyman then presented Cuomo with one of the famous "Polar Bear" sweatshirts, explaining, "We have a tradition in our town every Super Bowl Saturday, where we run into the ocean, and if you're going to protect Long Island, then you, Governor, are also a Long Beach Polar Bear!"
As a member of the wide coalition that has fought this project for the past two years, Sane Energy Project applauds the governor's action, and wishes to thank the hundreds of advocates and dozens of elected officials who opposed this project and brought their considerable influence to bear.
One cannot underestimate the importance of two local resolutions, one in the City of Long Beach, spearheaded by Council President, Anthony Eramo, and the New York City Council Resolution, sponsored by then-Chair of the Environmental Committee, Donovan Richards, as well as the State Legislative sign-on letter, organized by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and co-signed by more than 50 colleagues. The leadership of multiple bi-partisan County, Town, State representatives, and even federal Congresswoman, Kathleen Rice, hosted numerous community forums, press conferences and events in Long Island and the Rockaways, and have been a powerful force leading to this decision.
And the people power of everyone who signed postcards and petitions, called their councilperson, attended rallies, testified at hearings, held hands on the beach, painted banners, printed tee shirts, and told their friends about this insane project, is what impresses us the most. Thank you for everything you did to stop this project; you are the real leaders here.
The solidarity developed between NYC, Long Island and upstate because of this fight will lend momentum to the push for offshore wind, the kind of energy project we really want for this location. As a sample of that solidarity, here's a quick video diary of some of what happened between the January 2015 hearing and last week's hearings:
Combined with recent statements by both the director of BOEM (The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) and NY State Energy Czar, Richard Kauffman, this death knell for Port Ambrose opens the real possibility to develop the long-awaited project previously known as the "Rockaway Wind Farm" and now called the "Long Island - New York City Offshore Wind Project," a partnership of Con Ed, LIPA and NYPA.
The postcards we had printed to ask for the Governor's veto will now be used to THANK him; please pick up a handful at any of our upcoming events.
The Governor's announcement was widely picked up by media:
When we learned that our pal, Lorna Mason, was planning to do the nearly 400-mile cycle from Bar Harbor to Boston, we were mighty impressed. After all, that's like biking from Manhattan to Montauk – 4 times! When she then said she planned to do it to benefit Sane Energy Project, we were floored. It's a privilege to be honored by such an amazing and fierce climate warrior.