Fossil Fuel Resistance

Is Vermont Gas Greenwashing?

Fracking is unacceptable– we know the harm it causes– to us and our planet. Yet Vermont Gas advertises their mission as “cleaner choices today for a brighter future tomorrow” as claim that couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’re here to cut through that greenwashed nonsense!

FRACKING DOES NOT DESERVE A PLATFORM:

As part of our ongoing protests of Vermont Gas wherever they show up and wherever they peddle fracked gas, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve already had a major win: Vermont Gas Systems voluntarily removed their exhibit from Renewable Energy Vermont’s big annual conference– over fears of attracting protests from folks like us!

 

 

THE LATEST GREENWASHING EFFORT: “Renewable Natural Gas”

The fracking industry’s latest attempt to greenwash their product is so-called “renewable natural gas” (RNG)– methane and CO2 captured from manure and landfills. Vermont Gas advertises this product as a way that customers can “contribute in an innovative way to addressing climate change” and “be part of the movement.” These advertisements leave out a critical fact: 

99% of their product is still fracked. Just shy of 1% of their product they distribute is coming from so-called “renewable” sources– namely a landfill in Quebec.By FY2022, Vermont Gas’ goal is to have just 720 (1.4%) of their customers signed up for RNG. THIS IS NOT A CLIMATE SOLUTION– but they’re still advertising it as one!

 

A POORLY BUILT PIPELINE: The Safety and Construction Investigation

Phase I (a 2 year-old, 45 mile section) of Vermont Gas’ pipeline extension is currently under investigation for at least nine categories of alleged safety and construction violations– everything from missing documentation, to missing components of the infrastructure itself. Our allies at Protect Geprags Park are stalwartly defending our land and water from this fracked gas monster.

Photos of pipeline construction in 2017, which lead to the current investigation. None of the safety issues would have been discovered unless activists had brought their photos and research to the Public Utility Commission. (Map from SevenDays VT)

Big news!

In Feb, 2021, the Vermont PUC sided with the people: Vermont Gas’ 41-mile fracked gas pipeline was NOT built according to permits, and penalties are forthcoming!  Click here for more details.

Read more about the history of the pipeline investigation HERE

BRISTOL, VT: FRACKED GAS LINES CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

 At the request of Vermont Gas, the Bristol Selectboard RESCINDED THEIR PERMIT to build natural gas distribution lines to the town!

Led by local group of stalwart climate activists in Bristol, our movement won a grassroots campaign against Vermont Gas’ fracked gas distribution lines– which would have linked their town to the larger ANGP pipeline that’s currently under investigation.

The reasons they cited:

-Pending litigation: 37 plaintiffs (all concerned residents of Bristol) filed a complaint against Vermont Gas and their town’s Selectboard,

-Bills we’re pushing for at the State House to ban the construction of any new large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure in the state! 

Bristol is an example of what communities can do to ensure we keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. Check out this video from Bristol activist Sally Burrell!

BUILDING ON PAST SUCCESS:

Bristol was just  the most recent in a series of successful campaigns to prevent the pipeline from moving any further– Phase II (pink on the map below), which would have been constructed under Lake Champlain and connected to Ticonderoga, NY, was CANCELLED largely thanks to protest.

Phase III (yellow) was supposed to extend roughly 35 miles further south to Rutland, then potentially interconnect to some of the infrastructure that sprawls from the Marcellus Shale formation  in surrounding states. Due to public outcry– including a mass protest at Geprags Park during Phase I construction, Phase III construction (which was expected to be gassed up by 2020) has never started!

Water protectors block construction at Geprags Park– October 2016 (Photo from Burlington Free Press)

National Pipelines and #StopLine3

You can find a map of all the pipeline projects here. We have supported and mobilized for national pipeline protests, such as Keystone XL and Standing Rock, in the past and in spring 2021 supported Vermonters to go to Minnesota to #stopLine3.

Line 3 is what Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company who owns a large part of Vermont Gas, calls a replacement, but that is a lie — it is a massive expansion that includes 337 miles of new larger pipes, half in a new corridor. The disastrous pipeline proposes to drill under 22 rivers in Minnesota alone, as well as crossing over 200 bodies of water and would trample on long-standing treaty rights. To quote Winona LaDuke, co-founder of Honor The Earth: “Our ancestors made agreements to take care of this water and land forever together, and now is our time to do that.”

Click here to watch the report-back from Brattleboro-area residents who made the trip to stand in solidarity with indigenous activists and water protectors. They shared reflections, photos, songs, and offered ways to take solidarity action, either from afar or by joining the frontlines!

350Vermonters at the headwaters of the Mississippi at the Treaty People Gathering to Stop Line 3


Take Action:

No Coal No Gas

350Vermont is part of the No Coal No Gas campaign that formed in 2019 as a regional coalition of affinity groups, partner organizations, and individual humans. Together, we are a direct action campaign dedicated to ending the burning of fossil fuels in New England.

Our goal is to shut down the Merrimack Generating Station in Bow, NH, which is the last coal-fired power plant in New England that doesn’t already have a shutdown date.

It is morally unacceptable to burn coal in New England. Together we will do what must be done to avert climate catastrophe and build the world that we need.

Climate change and air pollution from the continued burning of fossil fuels affect everyone – but the first and worst impacts are born by people in the Global South, poor folks, Black and Indigenous communities and People of Color. This magnifies existing inequities, and the people least responsible for the climate crisis are the most at risk. Climate change is a justice issue that demands our immediate action.

Click here for more information and stay tuned for our next mobilization, Oct 1-3, 2021.

Emma Shapiro-Weiss raises her shovel in front of the Merrimack Generating Station, September 2019.

 

FOSSIL FUEL RESISTANCE AT THE STATE HOUSE: Working to Ban New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

In April of 2019, we showed up at the State House in a BIG way: over 300 people participated in our five-day Next Steps Climate Solutions Walk. It was a 65-mile trek along Vermont Gas’ pipeline, and then on to Montpelier. We dropped banners on the interstate leading to the capital before arriving at the State House to call for legislation to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont. Our culminating action brought over 350 activists to the State House where we flooded the first floor with our sing-in, interrupting legislative business. A youth delegation brought our demands directly to legislative leaders.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, people walking and outdoor

Find out more about our past legislative efforts HERE.

e pushed for the passage of several bills, including H.51, a bill that would put a ban on any new large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont! Senator Alison Clarkson also introduced a companion bill to the Senate, H.66. Two weeks later, we were granted a public hearing on the bills that would ban new infrastructure like pipelines; there was so much support for this legislation that we had to cram into an overflow room– there were more people that wanted to speak in favor of banning pipelines than there was time to hear them all!

TAKING ACTION AGAINST FOSSIL FUEL LOBBYISTS:

During the Week of Action that followed the Global Climate Strikes, we took on MMR, a lobbying firm here in Vermont. During a press event, we demanded that the firm drop many of their reprehensible clients, which include Vermont Gas, whose pipeline is currently under investigation, ExxonMobil, which has spent $33 million on promoting climate denial, CoreCivic, the private prison company operating border detainment centers, Johnson & Johnson, recently found guilty of “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns” contributing to the opioid crisis, Walmart, where many employees earn below the poverty line, and more.

None of these issues can be seen in isolation– MMR  lobbying against fossil fuel divestment, against carbon pricing, and against a ban on fossil fuel infrastructure. MMR has a hand in worsening the climate crisis, and the climate crisis is forcing people to relocate. Migration is going to be necessary for survival, and yet MMR also lobbies for Core Civic, the private prison company making millions off of detention centers.

As the press event concluded, Bread and Puppet Theater presented a puppet show, featuring a gigantic puppet of the Vermont Gas pipeline depicted as a monsterous, many-legged pig.

The event was followed by a march to MMR’s office on Court St,  where we left a banner. The banner read, “MMR stop lobbying for: Vermont Gas, ExxonMobil, CoreCivic, Johnson & Johnson”, and several more companies, and it was signed by the attendees of the event.