December 2, 2012 by SCNCC
Approximately three hundred people rallied Saturday along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan, part of an ongoing campaign against Spectra Energy and a mega-pipeline the corporation is constructing that will run through several New York and New Jersey communities rocked by frankenstorm Sandy. The Spectra Pipeline will deliver gas sourced via the poisonous extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, which involves pumping millions of gallons of water, along with silica sand and toxins such as benzine into the ground in the process of fracturing shale rock and dredging out gas, has caused widespread environmental contamination and a public health crisis in Pennsylvania where Spectra’s product will originate. The pipeline will carry its fossil fuel through Staten Island, New York, Hoboken New Jersey and Manhattan’s West Village; areas still reeling from the effects of extreme whether caused by climate change.
Demonstrators Saturday carried pictures of loved ones they hope to protect from the ever increasing impact of anthropogenic climate change on the planet and from the Spectra Pipeline in particular. Three people, including two grandmothers, entered the construction site during the rally, bringing into double digits the number of people who have put their bodies on the line to halt construction of the project since its approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May.
The Spectra Pipeline is not the only fossil fuel snake winding its way into the area. Residents of Queens are bracing themselves for the Rockaway Lateral, approved by lawmakers on Capitol Hill and President Obama, less than a month after Sandy struck. While residents in the Rockaways struggle to rebuild after the storm inundated their homes with floodwaters, Transco corporation will be constructing a gas pipeline and storage depot in their crippled neighborhood, near Jamaica Bay, home to New York City’s sole wildlife preserve.
Since Sandy, the question of how we rebuild hangs over the region. Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have made overtures to sustainable building. But Cuomo’s flirtation with gas industry has raised the specter of fracking upstate, upon New York City’s Marcellus Shale watershed, while Mayor Bloomberg has used his powerful influence to help get both the Spectra and Rockaway Lateral pipelines off the ground. There is nothing about green about fracking, which has a carbon footprint greater than coal and oil.
Earlier this week, on a wall behind an Exxon Mobile gas station on the Lower East Side, activists projected a film documenting the destruction sowed by Sandy and the ways in which Occupy and communities in effected areas have banded together to help one another. Their grassroots recovery effort stands in stark contrast to the lackluster response from city, state and federal officials, who have been about as negligent in addressing the effects of climate change as they have in tackling its causes. The choice of screening location was particularly apt since, as environmental campaigner Bill McKibben puts it in the film, its time we start naming these climate disasters “for the people who are causing them.”
A worker training center in the Rockaways, that since Sandy has emerged as a relief hub, could offer a model for the kind of real, sustainable and just rebuilding New York and Jersey will need in the weeks, months and years ahead.
(Top photo credit: Owen Crowley)