New Yorkers Deliver Over 51,000 Petitions to Governor Cuomo to Reject Water Quality Certificate for Atlantic Bridge Pipeline and to Stop Spectra’s Fracked Gas Pipeline
MANHATTAN, NY – Today, crowds of New Yorkers rallied outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office with an important message: reject the 401 Water Quality Certificate for Spectra Energy’s high-pressure, high-volume, fracked-gas Atlantic Bridge pipeline. Dressed in blue to symbolize water, they delivered over 51,000 petitions to the Governor, highlighting the pipeline’s threat to communities, the climate, health, wetlands, and the drinking water of millions of people in New York City and Westchester areas and beyond. Impacted community members along the pipeline route voiced their concerns about the project’s serious public health and safety threat to those who live in the immediate area, and to all New Yorkers.
The Atlantic Bridge pipeline, which runs from Yorktown to Somers, crosses dozens of waterways and wetlands in the Hudson River and New York City watershed. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) already issued its approval of the project. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not yet ruled on its 401 water quality certificate.
Atlantic Bridge is the second portion of Spectra Energy’s illegally segmented Algonquin pipeline expansion, which carries fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey; Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester counties in New York; Connecticut; and Massachusetts. Spectra separated the project into three parts – Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM), Atlantic Bridge, and Access Northeast – to avoid a full evaluation of the cumulative health and environmental impacts.
Spectra completed the expansion of the AIM Pipeline, the first segment, in January. Its proximity to the aging and failing Indian Point nuclear power plant endangers more than 20 million people in the plant’s impact zone.
“You would think that a 42″ diameter fracked gas pipeline being built right near a nuclear power plant would be front-page news around the country. But somehow it escaped the national attention that it deserves,” said Garrison resident and Resist Spectra coordinator Rob May, who lives near the pipeline route. “When I started talking to residents in Verplanck who are directly affected by the pipeline, I heard how angry and frustrated they were. They complained about the loud noises and bright floodlights and the blanket of soot and grime that continually covered their homes and cars from construction work, the traffic jams caused by Spectra’s road work, and accidental water main breaks that caused residents to go without water on hot summer days, as well as streets that were improperly repaired after they had been dug up to install the pipeline. None of the residents benefited from the pipeline expansion. None of the gas was intended for their use, and all of the construction workers came from out-of-state.”
Croton-on-Hudson resident Lael Morgan voiced concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the region: “Spectra’s illegally segmented pipeline, ultimately intended to export Marcellus Shale fracked gas abroad, has no value or purpose for the residents of Yorktown, Westchester County, or New York State. Conversely, these local residents will suffer the destruction of local waterways and wetlands, and be at great risk of toxic gas leakage as well as the well-documented threat of pipeline explosions. Westchester County supervisor Rob Astorino sold out his constituents by granting Spectra illegal access to Blue Mountain, the county’s largest park reservation, after taking a $41,000 personal campaign donation from the company.”
In addition to the pipeline, the Atlantic Bridge project also expands fracked gas capacity at the Stony Point compressor station in Yorktown Heights. After visiting the site, Yorktown Heights resident Leigha Eyster said: “The smell of gas in the air was strong, and there was a constant loud screeching sound. I felt violated. How did my community allow this? This is my home. What about the people who live right next to it? Their homes are now polluted by the off-gas and noise. What about the wildlife in this area? They will be forced to flee the mind-numbing frequencies and nauseating smell of gas. We will be forced to do the same if we let this construction continue.”
In February 2016, Governor Cuomo directed four state agencies – the Department of Health, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the Department of Public Service – to conduct an independent risk assessment of the Algonquin pipeline’s impact to the health and safety of nearby communities. Over a year later, no assessment has been released.
Nancy Vann, President of the Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG) and Peekskill resident, expressed frustration about the federal government’s approval of the project without the risk assessment: “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ignored Governor Cuomo’s request for an independent risk assessment of the Algonquin pipeline expansion. New York needs to exercise its authority to assure us that this project will not put our environment in jeopardy for the profits of a Texas pipeline company. The DEC was one of the agencies that requested the study and must wait until all of its questions are answered before issuing permits for the Atlantic Bridge construction.”
Peekskill resident and Resist Spectra coordinator, Tina Volz-Bongar, said: “I’m depending on Governor Cuomo and the DEC to step up as protectors, to deny the Water Quality Certificate for Atlantic Bridge and instead present the findings of the health and safety study the state has been working on for a year. They’ve spent $250,000 of our tax dollars on this study. Doesn’t the construction of this new segment of pipeline potentially impact New York City drinking water? I’ve been to all the public meetings for Atlantic Bridge and never heard this addressed. The company has purposely built this pipeline in pieces so they wouldn’t need to present what the whole environmental and safety impact would be to our community.”
In his 2017 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo said New York “must double down by investing in the fight against dirty fossil fuels and fracked gas from neighboring states,” yet his administration continues to issue permits for dangerous, polluting fossil fuel infrastructure across the state. Governor Cuomo has an obligation to fulfill his commitment by denying the 401 Water Quality Certificate for Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge project and shutting down the Algonquin pipeline expansion.
Rally sponsored by Resist Spectra, Sane Energy Project, Bronx Climate Justice North, Catskill Mountainkeeper, 350 NYC, and Food & Water Watch.
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