The Spectra Showdown in NYC

By Rainforest Action Network

Spectra ProtestThe “Spectra Showdown” is a chain of demonstrations against the Spectra Pipeline in New York. Day and night, activists have been keeping vigil, awaiting shipments of equipment to arrive at the construction site in Lower Manhattan at the Hudson River. Guest blogger Shannon E. Ayala reports from the scene:

Activists are regularly attendant, from break of day to late in the evening, at Houston-based Spectra Energy’s construction site in Lower Manhattan, anticipating a shipment of materials for the NJ-NY Expansion Project. Though the shipments are expected by barge as well, some sort of nonviolent “showdown” is anticipated alongside the (wild) West Side Highway.

The interstate pipeline, approved in May by the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), is an expansion of pre-existing pipelines from Connecticut and Texas, the latter picking up fracked Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030, which favors natural gas in its energy section, mentions that no gas pipeline has been built into NYC’s borders in decades. The same administration funded the “Hazen and Sawyer Report,” which inspired the Mayor to tell the DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission) to not rush regulations that allow fracking in NYC’s watershed.

The project was officially filed with FERC shortly after the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in California, which killed eight people and destroyed a section of suburbia. The NJ-NY Project is a similar pipeline in size and pressure with the difference being that the latter has remote control valves and is built in a more OSHA-conscious time period. Nevertheless, the line was immediately unpopular in Jersey City where it would run throughout the most densely populated county in the US. Jersey City’s Mayor, major developer Le Frac, and a host of other locals, including those behind, opposed the line, some just saying it should be rerouted under the Hudson.

As a response to the opposition, Spectra launched, which claims 5200 direct and indirect jobs will be created. Sane Energy Project, formed to resist Spectra in NYC, co-organized ReNew New York, which has held large teach-ins on the economic possibilities of renewable energy as an economic alternative.

Particularly since early 2011 and more so since Occupy, New Yorkers have dominated the discussion, in opposition, more recently citing the debated consequences of radon being piped from the radioactive Marcellus Shale and Spectra’s track record of violations. The pipeline meets Con Edison in the now-posh Meatpacking District, home of the symbolic Hi Line Park and soon-to-be Chelsea Museum, where a vault for the pipeline will be stored.

Now that the public hearings and comments, overwhelmingly in opposition, have hit the wall of FERC, direct action groups have blown up the issue in Meatpacking, and have prepared to face Spectra in its tracks.

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