Last Saturday, hundreds of people gathered on Hudson Street to protest the Spectra Pipeline construction slated to bring natural gas to the West Village. The project, which is already under construction, has drawn ire from activists and environmentalists who argue that it’s unsafe and will bring fracked gas into Manhattan.
“Occupy the Pipeline,” a group of residents and activists, spent the day marching with signs, chanting slogans, and causing a general ruckus akin to the one they instigated in September, during which six people were arrested for trespassing into the construction site. In an attempt to “shame” Spectra, an energy conglomerate that has been cited on numerous occasions for safety violations and explosions caused by lax regulations, marchers were carrying pictures of their loved ones, whom they claimed they were trying to protect through the protest.
The $1.2 billion pipeline, which will ferry gas that has been extracted through the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has drawn criticism for fears that it will dirty New York’s water, cause explosions, and emit dangerous Radon gas. But at this point, with construction well underway, it seems unlikely that a protest, even one as passionate as Saturday’s will influence the energy company’s plans.
While activists in the West Village fight against a gas giant’s heavy hand, other energy issues are gaining national momentum. Yesterday, three activists from Tar Sands Blockade chained themselves inside the Keystone XL pipe to stop construction. The provocative project, which would ferry crude oil from to the Gulf Coast from Alberta’s tar sands—bringing with it risks of polluted water, public health risks, and ecological damage.
“The broader climate movement is absolutely looking at this administration’s Keystone XL decision as a really significant decision to signal that dirty fuels are not acceptable in the U.S.,” Danielle Droitsch, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Christian Science Monitor.
President Obama is now facing pressure to either deny or confirm the Keystone pipeline, a $7 billion project proposed by oil giant TransCanada. While he has postponed the decision, it’s likely that both environmentalists and big oil stakeholders will push hard for a decision in early 2013.