This past Saturday, vocal ralliers—including young children—marched their way down from Peekskill’s Blue Mountain Reservation to a construction site by Albany Post Road, holding signs that read, “Shut down the pipeline” and, “Stop Spectra.” They were out in protest of the hotly contested expansion of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-approved endeavor widening the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission System pipeline across far-reaching areas of the Hudson Valley (including within yards of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan) in order to transport natural gas to larger swaths of the Northeast. By morning’s end, close to two dozen activists—who view AIM as tantamount to fracking and are concerned about a potentially catastrophic pipeline rupture near the plant—were arrested while attempting to block a Spectra truck from transporting construction materials.
“We’re very concerned that this potentially explosive pipe is right next to Indian Point,” confirmed Donna O’Malley, a member of advocacy group RESIST AIM, who organized the gathering. “New York bans fracking, but we’re getting fracking infrastructure here with no benefit at all to us.”
For some, this issue is so pertinent that they were willing to travel from out-of-state. Lee Stewart of Greenbelt, MD drove more than 250 miles to lend his support. “I’ve come to view all of these pipelines, compressor stations, and export facilities as one project that we should all be united in fighting,” he said. “I want to be here in solidarity with friends in New York who are fighting AIM and Spectra and FERC.” He also cited a recent Spectra-pipeline explosion in Pennsylvania as cause for concern.
There were no counter-protesters present, though supporters of natural gas as an energy source typically view it as a pragmatic “bridge-fuel” between coal and renewable energy. And for now, Spectra will continue to build in Westchester, despite calls from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer for the Project’s suspension. Undeterred, Hastings-on-Hudson resident Berenice Tompkins likely spoke for all those who came out to demonstrate, simply stating, “I absolutely think it can be stopped.”