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My Peekskill — # 17 – Wherein the City and I Stand Shoulder to Shoulder Against Spectra

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My testimony at last night’s Common Council meeting got an unexpectedly positive and enthusiastic response. And, between you and me, the positive feedback felt pretty darn good.

Four of my pipeline opposition colleagues also gave testimony.(1) Some Peekskill homeowners received notices from Spectra about Spectra’s plan to explode some explosives near people’s homes. It looks as if they must receive a Blasting Permit from the City. And it’s possible that Federal law allows us to withhold our consent.(2) Is it a way to stop the pipeline? If the blasting is done, how will the City or homeowners demonstrate and be compensated for any damage?

I thanked the Council for its previous unanimous vote objecting to the pipeline, and the Intervener filing in the Federal Energy Regulatory Process.(3) I told them that as a citizen of the City and County, I resented that Federal law has so disenfranchised me and all of us. It’s un-American and anti-democratic.

“if they were building a bowling alley, a paint factory, or a slaughterhouse they’d fall under all kinds of City jurisdiction.”

I then read a summary of the resolution I want the council to pass. I read it out, just as bold as brass, and when I was done the room erupted, I believe the term is, in applause. I didn’t expect that. And then, to my amazement, Mayor Catalina nearly got the rules suspended so my resolution could be voted on and passed right that very second. Cooler heads prevailed, but still. I handed out my little ¼ page summaries to lots of people in the room. It was a good moment for me. And I was on TV!

I’ll be sending the text of the full resolution to our elected officials, and hopefully it will be on the agenda for next week’s meeting.

Summary of Resolution

Because:

  • Peekskill already said no,
  • FERC has not responded to our concerns,
  • Methane pipelines leak and explode
  • AIM pipeline could catastrophically explode near Indian Point,
  • Methane is not safe, clean or healthy,
  • Pipeline construction is a drag,
  • and Opposition is patriotic and appropriate.

We resolve to:

  • Provide encouragement and assistance to legal and peaceful anti-pipeline activities,
  • Demand state and federal reversal of pipeline approvals and revocation of methane industry privilege,
  • Call on our Senators and Congresspeople to initiate Hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Call on other municipalities to enact similar resolutions.

NOTES:

(1) The stalwart and heart-led Vincent Brophy was there, as well as the knowledgeable and dedicated Tina Bongar. Nancy Vann was there – she brought her legal training and her history as the woman who sat down and told Spectra they shall not pass. And so was Erik Lindberg – he and his wife Courtney Williams are close enough to have received a blasting letter, and their kids go to school 450 feet from the planned pipeline right-of-way – they’ve been fighting this since the beginning.

(2) The methane industry has been lobbying for and receiving extremely privileged legislative and regulatory treatment for a very long time. The Natural Gas Act of 1930 forbids most possible ways to legally challenge methane infrastructure projects. There’s no argument against an eminent domain petition for a FERC approved project, for example. And the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which contains the “Halliburton loophole” championed by Darth Cheney, exempts methane and other fossil fuel enterprises from fundamental laws that apply to everyone else in the country. The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, and the “Superfund” liability legislation. As I said in my testimony, “if they were building a bowling alley, a paint factory, or a slaughterhouse they’d fall under all kinds of City jurisdiction.”

(3) The process that resulted in approval of the pipeline process, and, months after the 30-day deadline, a denial of the Request for Rehearing, handed down just days ago.

The Common Council

The Common Council

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