Riverkeeper and Coalition Call for Immediate Halt to AIM Pipeline Because of Catastrophic Consequences for Indian Point
Westchester County, NY — Riverkeeper and a coalition of groups has filed a Motion for a Stay asking a federal court to stop the construction of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline project before high volumes of fracked natural gas begin flowing through the pipeline located in close proximity to the aging Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. The AIM project is just the first of three expansions planned for the Algonquin pipeline (AIM, Atlantic Bridge, and Access Northeast). Together they are intended to bring fracked gas from the Mid-Atlantic region to New England and to Liquified Natural Gas terminals in Canada for shipping overseas.
A lawsuit challenging the project’s approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Motion seeks to immediately stop the pipeline construction while the Court considers that appeal. The same Court reprimanded the regulatory agency in 2014 for approving a similar unlawful segmentation of a pipeline project. In that case, the construction was already finished by the time the Court reached its decision — a result the Motion hopes to prevent for the AIM project.
FERC’s approval of the high volume gas pipeline close to Indian Point accepted a faulty analysis done by the plant owner (Entergy) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In papers filed with the Court, noted nuclear safety and pipeline safety experts detail how the analysis greatly underestimated the blast radius of a pipeline explosion. Their chilling analysis shows that an explosion might engulf the entire Indian Point nuclear power plant site.
“If the AIM pipeline explodes, Indian Point will go with it,” said Jennifer McCave, Staff Attorney with Riverkeeper. “FERC has a legal responsibility to protect public safety by requiring an independent engineering analysis of the catastrophic safety risks of placing a pipeline next to a nuclear power plant.”
“Federal law requires a thorough look at the consequences to our community of the failure of a gas pipeline next to Indian Point,” said John L. Parker, Riverkeeper’s Director of Legal Programs. “In this case it simply was not done, and we intend to hold the project and the federal agency accountable for a failure that could have dramatic consequences for New York City and the Hudson Valley.”
The Motion filed by the coalition is also based on new evidence that the company approved by FERC to analyze the project’s impacts on the environment has a financial conflict of interest. With FERC’s approval, the company has been reviewing the three segments separately in order to downplay their environmental impacts even though Spectra marketed these segments as one project from the beginning. The reviewing company has a financial incentive to approve the pipeline because of ongoing business with Spectra as well as business from the next two phases of the project.
For years, many organizations and governmental officials have been demanding that FERC cease rubber-stamping pipeline projects without adequate environmental and safety analyses.
“The fact that FERC would approve an analysis by a contractor hired by Spectra to approve installing a 42-inch diameter high-pressure gas line next to a trouble-plagued nuclear power plant that’s at the intersection of two earthquake fault lines really speaks for itself,” said Nancy Vann, President of Safe Energy Rights Group. “There seems to be no limit to what FERC will do to add to the already extensive and unnecessary pipeline sprawl that increases its own funding. Twenty million people in the Greater NYC area would be at risk!”
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand from New York and Senators Markey and Warren from Massachusetts, Governor Cuomo of New York, Congressional Representatives from several states, New York State legislators, and local officials have all called on FERC to stop the AIM project until there has been an independent analysis of the risk to public safety and an investigation of the contractor’s conflict of interest. Yet, FERC has refused to do so.
“Today, we are demanding an immediate halt to construction of the Spectra AIM pipeline before fracked-gas starts flowing in November,” said Greta Zarro, Food & Water Watch New York Organizer. “Approval of this dangerous project was based on inadequate risk assessments; there is simply no way to safely build a high-pressure gas pipeline adjacent to a leaking nuclear power plant positioned on top of two earthquake fault lines.”
SEnRG organized the coalition of groups soon after FERC approved the AIM project. It now includes Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club Lower Hudson, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), the Reynolds Hills Community and other environmental and community activists.
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SEnRG President Nancy Vann at Philadelphia Climate March, July 24, 2016
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Coalition Organized by SEnRG Files Lawsuit Against Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
On March 28th, a coalition of groups from four states, including Riverkeeper, Inc., Food & Water Watch, Reynolds Hill, Inc., Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) and a dozen individuals filed a petition with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals asking the court to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) gas pipeline expansion project. On January 28, 2016, after a nine-month delay during which construction began, FERC denied eight separate rehearing requests from groups, individuals and municipalities, including the City of Boston and coalition members. Those who were denied a rehearing had sixty days to file a federal appeal, ending yesterday. The City of Boston and the Township of Dedham, Massachusetts have also filed Federal appeals in the case.
Following a tritium leak from Indian Point in February, New York’s Governor Cuomo asked FERC to stay construction on the project while an independent study of the health and safety impacts could be conducted. Last Friday, FERC denied his request too.
Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said “It’s disturbing that a federal regulator that’s duty-bound to protect the health and welfare of the public remains oblivious to the many potential dangers and pitfalls this project creates. It is even more disturbing that FERC continues to ignore the real risks involved with running a gas pipeline adjacent to the property of an aging, problematic nuclear plant, which poses a great risk to the region even without this project.”
Affected property owner and SEnRG president Nancy Vann remarked “We’ve been raising valid concerns about this project since 2013 – but when a captive agency like FERC is making the decisions and then reviewing its own conclusions it’s difficult to obtain a fair hearing. We are pleased to finally be able to take our issues to Federal court and are hopeful that they will get the consideration they deserve.”
Click here for more information!
Click here to see the coalition’s Federal court filing.
FERC Denies Rehearing Request for Spectra/AIM Pipeline – Activists Commit to Federal Litigation!
Opponents of a natural gas pipeline currently under construction in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts will appeal a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that has allowed the controversial Spectra/AIM project to continue over the objections of environmentalists, elected officials, and residents.
On January 28th, FERC rejected a ‘Rehearing Request’ from numerous pipeline opponents who say the project unnecessarily damages the environment and passes dangerously close to the Indian Point nuclear power facility on the Hudson River near New York City and an quarry with active blasting near Boston, Massachusetts.
FERC’s decision to deny the request for rehearing means that opposition groups and individuals can finally file an appeal in Federal court to stop the project. Those pipeline opponents include a four-state coalition of intervenors who have worked since 2013 to defeat the $1 billion project. A Federal court challenge is the only remaining legal means of halting the project, which has already inflicted considerable damage across the region. The appeal must be filled within 60 days of the FERC decision.
Click here for more information about the Rehearing Request.
Update on Montrose 9 Trial
On Wednesday, February 3rd, after an almost two hour delay, Judge Daniel McCarthy adjourned the Montrose 9 trial at the Town Court in Cortlandt, NY without a date set for continuation. The decision came as the defendants and their supporters waited while the judge, the DA, and attorneys for the defendants conferred in chambers regarding a procedural issue.
Cortlandt Town Council Member Seth Freach is one of the witnesses who plans to testify on the behalf of the defense and Judge McCarthy adjourned in order to consider steps that govern his own responsibilities when having an elected official testifying before him. He noted that these issues might possibly require a change of venue.
Anti-pipeline sentiment understandably runs deep among elected officials in local communities. As Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi put it in a recent article, the AIM Pipeline “really doesn’t benefit anybody in our community. It just devastates a lot of our land.” Prior to the Judge’s decision, the courtroom was filled with nearly 100 people who came to show their support for the Montrose 9.
Residents from nearby Croton had organized a faith vigil against the AIM pipeline prior to the 9:00am court time and, despite being kept waiting, supporters only left the courtroom after the Judge made his ruling. Many residents recognize that the Montrose 9 were justified in taking direct action to defend their homes and communities from the AIM pipeline and they demonstrated their commitment to standing with the Montrose 9 as the case moves forward. A decision on how to proceed is expected by March 18th. The trial, and use of the ‘necessity defense’ continue to draw national attention to Cortlandt and the fight to halt Spectra Energy’s AIM Pipeline through New York.
The ‘Montrose 9’ Plead Not Guilty
Go To Trial!
At The Press Conference Before Start of Trial:
Nuclear Expert Paul Blanch Explains the Risks:
SEnRG Vice President Courtney Williams Discusses the Trial on Portland Radio:
Click here to listen:
SEnRG goes to Albany!
SEnRG President Nancy Vann speaks about the AIM pipeline at Albany ‘State of the State’ Rally
A Short Video About All of the Wonderful Folks We Work With:
And special thanks to Erik McGregor for his fabulous video compilation.
If you liked the Algonquin tree clearing video (below), you’re sure to love this one:
By Susan Rubin & Andrea Garbarini 10-26-15
A Tree-Eating Monster on the Loose in Courtland (Please Watch and Share):
SEnRG is a non-profit organization.
Please consider making a donation to continue the fight to halt Spectra’s hazardous AIM pipeline project.
AIM Pipeline Project – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the approval certificate for the Algonquin AIM pipeline project, Spectra Energy’s dangerous, and ill-conceived pipeline expansion adjacent to both the Indian Point nuclear energy facility and a working quarry doing frequent blasting. Additionally, FERC’s review of the AIM project failed to adequately consider dangerous health and safety impacts faced locally by communities as the pipeline and its maintenance infrastructure courses through the region. On April 2, 2015, SEnRG along with several community groups from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts filed a rehearing motion to challenge FERC’s approval of the project.
Continuing the fight in Albany – Pipeline opponents including SEnRG have urged the state to begin a health study of people who live near current pipelines, and to gather air quality samples from areas where new pipelines are proposed, so that if projects are completed potential changes in air quality could be calculated.
Continuing the fight in Westchester – We held a die-in at the Westchester County Center to urge the Westchester Board of Health to protect residents from the air and water quality effects of fracked-gas infrastructure. We also went to Tarrytown recently to urge the NRC Chairman to demand an independent risk assessment of siting the pipeline so close to the Indian Point nuclear plant.
Click Here for a Youtube Video of the Albany Press Conference