The next chapter of the fight against Keystone XL is here. Get prepared to stand up to Trump’s pipeline by joining the Promise to Protect training tour in Boston on May 11th. Register here. To join a contingent from Vermont, register here as well. (Register at both links if you want to join the VT contingent!)
Vermont Gas Pipeline and Fossil Fuel Resistance
350VT and our allies have been resisting the fossil fuel infrastructure since 2010. At the end of 2013, Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) was granted all of its permits to construct the Addison Natural Gas Project (ANGP– a 43-mile fracked gas pipeline) which would deliver natural gas via the TransCanada Mainline from First Nations territory in Alberta. From there, public outcry turned into grassroots action!
PROTECTING THE LAND AND WATER
With the help of our allies, such as Protect Geprags Park, we delayed the construction of many parts of this project, and even prevented “Phase II,” which would have meant the construction of gas lines under Lake Champlain! In 2016, 200+ activists peacefully marched onto a construction site at Geprags Park in Hinesburg, VT– the last 2,000 feet that VGS had to build before they could gas up the project. 6 were arrested, and we stopped construction temporarily– but after many protests, vigils, and even a Supreme Court battle, the pipeline was completed and gassed up in April of 2017.
A view from the construction site at Geprags Park during a protest 10/20/2016. Over 200 people marched onto the construction site.
In 2016, photographic evidence collected by an activist was brought before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the regulatory body that oversees pipelines in the state. The photos showed the then unfinished pipeline not nearly as deep as it should have been, and sitting in pools of water. This launched an investigation into the construction of the entire pipeline. Activists, after sifting through thousands of documents, have alleged at least 9 categories of safety, construction, and wetlands violations. The latest violation, which relates directly to deadly pipeline explosions in Massachusetts in Sept. of 2018, may lead the PUC to SHUT THE PIPELINE DOWN. We expect the investigation to start in earnest this February, and results should be available in October!
A photo of construction of the ANGP in New Haven, VT, where the pipeline is not buried deep enough. Photographic evidence, coupled with research from Protect Geprags volunteers lead the Public Utility Commission to order third-party investigation. Over 300 people signed a petition to thank the PUC for their diligence.
VOTING RIGHTS VIOLATED IN BRISTOL
In Bristol, VT, a struggle for the right to vote is underway. 37 plaintiffs, all residents of the small town, filed a complaint because Vermont Gas and their town’s Select Board allegedly violated state statutes, which grant residents of Vermont towns the right to petition for a vote before the town conveys the land to a company like VGS. Ignoring these rules, a petition, and public outcry over plans to construct fracked gas distribution lines, the company and the town signed an agreement. However, thanks to the power of the complaint (and the people behind it), Vermont Gas has halted its efforts to get the rest of the permits required to build the lines!
Vermont Gas’ plans for distribution lines in Bristol, VT.
ADVOCATING FOR A FOSSIL FREE FUTURE AT THE STATE HOUSE
This January Representative Mary Sullivan reintroduced a bill that would put a ban on any new fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont. She had the support of 31 co-sponsors! 350VT and the Citizen Advocates working group worked diligently to educate their representatives, and will continue to work with our elected officials on important climate and justice-related legislation. Keep an eye out for bill H.51! Senator Alison Clarkson also introduced a companion bill to the Senate, H.66— learn more about that HERE.
We’re also working on another bill, introduced by Mari Cordes of Addison County, which would prevent companies from using eminent domain to condemn people’s land to construct fossil fuel infrastructure. Landowners along Vermont Gas’ new pipeline were threatened with it, and were forced to allow unsafe and unwanted infrastructure on their property. Keep an eye out for H.175!
350VT also supports Rep. Brian Cina’s bill, H.126, which calls for a study of a “Zero Waste Economy.” Rep. Cina tells us:
“This bill, if passed, would allow for the development a plan for Vermont to transition to a zero–waste economy, providing recommendations, guidelines, and a timeline regarding transition to a 90 percent zero–waste, circular economy by 2050 in the state. The plan will address the reduction and elimination of waste in every sector of the economy, including manufacturing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, food, housing, and even human potential. The transition will address existing statutory goals to reduce carbon emissions, to clean up our waterways, and to implement universal recycling.”
If you are interested in any of these efforts, please contact our Extreme Energy Field Organizer, Julie, at firstname.lastname@example.org!
You can find a map of all the pipeline projects here. We have supported and mobilized for national pipeline protests in the past and are gearing up to take action this spring against the passing of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Despite overwhelming public opposition, state authorities in Nebraska – backed by Trump and the fossil fuel industry – just gave TransCanada a permit to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – but it’s not the route they wanted.
We’ve promised to protect and commit to traveling to the pipeline route to engage in peaceful, creative resistance to Keystone XL when the call is put out by frontline communities to help stop this Black Snake. You can learn more and sign up by clicking the button below!