Groups renew call to scrap entire Vermont Gas pipeline project in wake of Phase II cancellation

Cross-Posted from Rising Tide Vermont

FRT VT2or Immediate Release: February 10 2015

Contact:
Rebecca Foster, Just Power, 646-468-3511
Maeve McBride, 350Vermont, 802-999-2820
Keith Brunner, Rising Tide Vermont, 802-363-9615

Groups renew call to scrap entire Vermont Gas pipeline project in wake of Phase II cancellation

Today a coalition of organizations including Just Power, Rising Tide Vermont, 350Vermont and Toxics Action Center renewed calls to cancel all phases of the Vermont fracked gas pipeline, in the wake of an announcement that Vermont Gas will no longer proceed with Phase II.

The coalition is calling on the Vermont Public Service Board to revoke the Certificate of Public Good for Phase I in light of the near doubling of Phase I costs, the stark climate impacts of fracked gas, and impacts on landowners in the path of the pipeline. Yesterday, the PSB was given permission by the Vermont Supreme Court to undertake a review of the Phase I permit with no time or scope constraints. The groups are calling on the Board to execute a rigorous review of all aspects of the project given the change in the landscape since the initial filing.

Cornwall resident and impacted landowner Mary Martin said, “Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of conversations with neighbors and making our voices heard. While we’re relieved that Phase II is cancelled, we can’t stand idly by and watch our neighbors in Monkton and other towns who are fighting Phase I. Today we’re celebrating, but our fight is not over until the whole project is cancelled. If the costs are too high for IP, then they’re too high for the state of Vermont.”

“The house of fossil fuel cards is falling.” said Maeve McBride, coordinator of 350Vermont, “The cancellation of this pipeline is yet another example of a reckless, misguided fossil fuel project that succumbed to people power and practicalities. In the last few days, we’ve seen a tar sands export terminal near Quebec City cancelled and the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund has pledged to divest billions of dollars from coal and tar sands companies.”

Shaina Kasper, Vermont Community Organizer with Toxics Action Center, an environmental and public health non-profit, called the decision a huge step in the right direction. “We’ve known all along that this pipeline was a bad investment for Vermont’s energy future, and we’re glad Vermont Gas finally agrees,” Kasper said. “We hope the next step is to abandon the entire project so that we can invest in clean energy and a shift away from polluting fossil fuels.”

International Paper had always been the primary beneficiary of this pipeline expansion, and the primary customer of VGS. Now that IP has decided this is a poor investment and has withdrawn from the project, the groups are concerned Vermont ratepayers will be required to pay for the additional $30 million shortfall for Phase I.

Burlington resident and VGS ratepayer Devon Ayers joined the call to scrap Phase I, arguing that “I can’t afford to pay another dime on top of my family’s already sky high heating costs, especially for a fossil fuel project which threatens the world my son will grow up in.”

“Today’s announcement is a victory for grassroots organizing and our growing people’s movement in Vermont,” said Sara Mehalick, a volunteer organizer with Rising Tide Vermont. “From workers’ rights to migrant justice, and human rights to climate justice, today’s decision reaffirms that social movements have the power to change what’s politically possible.”

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

1] Total IP contribution ($135 million) – Phase 2 cost ($105) = IP’s Phase I contribution ($30 million). Based on most recent cost estimates from the VGS press release on Feb. 10th 2015: “Our updated cost estimate for Phase 2 is now $105 million…” said Jim Sinclair, Vermont Gas’ Vice President for System Expansion.  Under the agreement between Vermont Gas and IP, this would mean that IP’s total financial responsibility to Vermont Gas for Phase 2 as well as Phase 1 improvements would have risen from $99 million to $135 million.”

Rising Tide North America Rocked The House In 2014!

Wow. What a year.RisingTideSeaSept

 We took amazing action. Not only did we shake things up with direct action against the fossil fuel industries, but also worked with frontline communities most impacted by extraction in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.. Whether it’s blockading pipelines and oil trains or organizing training camps to educate the next generation of climate activist, we’ve truly been rocking the house to make a better world possible.

 Can you donate to Rising Tide North America to “rock the house” in 2015?

 Here’s just a taste of the things we did in 2014:

  • In the western region of the continent, our chapters in Seattle, Portland, British Columbia, Utah and elsewhere have led actions against fossil fuel infrastructure. Whether it’s been train blockades in Washington or Oregon, or  civil disobedience against the tar sands in Utah, Rising Tide has modeled a new level of resistance across the continent.

  • From Vermont to Cove Point, Maryland, Rising Tide groups and affiliates  have organized fierce disruptive campaigns to stop fracking infrastructure throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.  As the gas industry attempts to expand their pipelines and export terminals, we mobilize to stop them.

  • In New York City, in the wake of the massive People’s Climate March, Rising Tide activists, organizers and trainers joined with climate activists around the world to Flood Wall Street.  We successfully helped organize a massive occupation of New York’s financial district truly taking the fight to one of the root causes of climate change–Wall Street and it’s investments in oil, gas and coal!

  • And finally, beginning last March, our chapter in Mexico, Marea Creciente, launched La Caravana Climatica that traveled from Northern Mexico the United Nations climate talks in Lima, Peru this month. While traveling in Ecuador, they had their bus confiscated and are targeted by the authorities on trumped up charges.  Despite this government oppression, the group made it to Lima to denounce extraction and industry in Lima.

Can you help us bring more of the same in 2015?seattle

We’re an all-volunteer network of activists and have done a lot this year. Now we need your support to keep going in 2015.

Can you give $5, $10 or $50 to support us in 2015?

Thanks for all you do.

Solidarity,

Rising Tide North America

Build The Climate Justice Movement In 2015

There is good news for the climate. And there is bad news for the climate. 15321845232_dabd18f6cd_o

The good news is that movements for climate justice and action are growing. From the Pacific Northwest to the eastern plateau of Utah to Vermont and the streets of New York, we’ve mobilized against the fossil fuel industry, the big money behind it and the politicians that love it. We’ve blocked oil trains in Seattle and Oregon. We joined in actions against the first U.S. tar sands mine in Utah. We’ve launched powerful and effective campaigns against fracking from Vermont to Maryland.

In late September, we joined Flood Wall Street to occupy New York City’s financial district with 3,000 people. And we’ve been critical in supporting current organizing in St. Louis, British Columbia and Mexico around Ferguson, Burnaby Mountain and the United Nations Climate talks in Lima, Peru. Furthermore, seeking to connect the dots between climate change and social justice, we have built a network throughout North America that has not only fought on the frontlines of climate change, racial injustice and capitalism.

Rising Tide North America has been central to building these movements.

Can you make a donation to support Rising Tide North America?

Unfortunately, the bad news is that our movements are not growing fast enough. And we need more to happen sooner rather than later.

The most recent round of climate talks in Lima, Peru resulted in a draft agreement that removed all hard targets for cuts in carbon emissions. Government leaders have once again delayed goals on emissions cuts until the next round of talks in Paris in 2015. In North America, oil companies, coal companies and gas companies are constantly creating new extraction project. For every pipeline or coal mine shutdown, the industry moves to open more. The reality is that carbon must remain in the ground and only social movements are pushing back against fossil fuels.

Now, we MUST go bigger and bolder to make resistance and disruption more widespread. And we need you to help us do it.

We need you to donate and help us make these movements bigger and bolder. Whether its $5, $50 or $500, we’ll take whatever you can give. We’re a small all-volunteer network of activists and our primary base of support is you.

Please donate and help us fight for climate justice in 2015

Thanks for all you do.

For the Earth and the people on it,

Rising Tide North America

Resistance and Solidarity at COP20, Lima

cambiosistemico

An answer to the climate crisis is emerging right now from Lima, Peru, but it’s not COP20.

At COP 20, political elites haggled over a draft UN climate deal that they hope to ratify next year in Paris. It’s a bad deal. It is narrowly focused on unenforceable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those reductions won’t even begin till after 2020 and won’t keep temperature rises below two degrees celsius. At the same time, rich countries, and the corporate lobbyists behind them, worked for a deal that won’t stop them from expanding the extractive industries cooking the planet. And it does nothing to help poor nations adapt to climate change and sustainably lift their people out of poverty.

But outside COP20, a real response to the crisis is emerging: solidarity and resistance.

Thousands of people, representing indigenous communities and their allies from all over Latin America and the world came together for the Cumbre De Los Pueblos, (People’s Summit).

The People’s Summit was an unprecedented moment, particularly for bringing together so many communities from the Amazon and Andean Highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Many of these communities are actively resisting extractive projects like gold mining, petroleum extraction, and logging. These communities are connecting their struggles to protect their water from extraction, forests from expropriation and communities from state violence around a framework of justicia climática (climate justice). They are addressing the need to confront neoliberal capital, the system that finances and drives the climate crisis.

Nilda Rojas

The People’s summit hasn’t just created a space for solidarity. Its also created a space for resistance. The communities present are demanding autonomy, so when the news broke that Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, might speak at the event, many were furious. Nilda Rojas, an Indigenous woman of Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qullasuyu explained that a summit with government officials is not a peoples summit. Her community faces state violence that Evo Morales is responsible for. His presence would undercut the autonomy and potential of the summit and communities fighting for their land and water.

People rallied against government inclusion. On Monday, activists with the Ecuadoran group YASunidos used drums and banners to disrupted a speach by the mayor of Lima. After the disruption, Caravana Climática used its radio equipment to broadcast and amplify voices from dozens of indigenous communities saying they were unhappy with government inclusion. The dissent spread, and in the end Evo Morales did not speak.

Conga No Va

On Tuesday, hundreds from  the region of Cajamarca, Peru arrived in Lima. They immediately took the streets with a giant, river like banner. The people of Cajamarca are fighting the expansion of one of the largest open pit gold mines on the planet, Minas Conga, owned by the U.S. based Newmont Mining Corporation. The energy intensive mine threatens the water supply of Cajamarca, and state repression of protests has lead to the murder of at least five community members.

On Wednesday, up to 20,000 people took the streets in Lima to march in defense of Mother Earth. Nowhere in this march of 20,000 indigenous people, ecologists, feminists, anti-capitalists, could you get away from beautiful banners, and contagious protest songs for land and water and against neoliberal imperialism.

policestop2

Demonstrators also confronted the World Climate Summit, a meeting of representatives from Multinational corporations. Even though the Police had used tear gas to disperse the initial march, many reconvened in a park closer to the Hilton where the corporate summit was gathering. We marched straight to the Hilton but were stopped one block from the target by a dense police line. In sight of the summit, we held a rally, standing in solidarity with those killed by state violence and denouncing the multi-nationals poisoning our land, water and climate.

semillas

If there is one lesson from the week, that is never doubt that you are alone in the fight for climate justice. We are a truly global, and growing, movement.

As we learn to work together, we are creating a real answer to the climate crisis, one based on communities protecting their land, water and forests from the industries destroying the planet. We are coming together to keep fossil fuels in the ground, ensure forests belong to the communities that live there and demanding water be protected as a common good.

The political elites at COP20 won’t end the climate crisis. We will.

Update, December 14: Edited to reflect that the COP20 released a draft climate accord in the early morning of Sunday, December 14.