by Susan Rubin
(Yorktown, NY) May 11, 2015 Residents of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam interrupted a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) public “scoping session” with a singalong at 6:45 p.m. tonight at the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center at 1974 Commerce Street in Yorktown Heights, NY. Sung to the tune of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, the protestors sang about FERC being “a rubber stamp machine.” A spokesperson explained that FERC deliberations are often deficient and incomplete, that public comments are ignored, and that virtually every fossil fuel project presented to the Commission has been approved.
FERC’s mission is to “regulate the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity,” but their funding comes from the fees they receive from the fossil fuel industry. An April 7 article in Greenwire stated, “employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory CommissionEmployees have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings.”http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060016380
The scoping session tonight in Yorktown was for the Atlantic Bridge project, the second of three proposals by Spectra Energy to transport massive quantities of fracked gas through New York, into New England and then on to Canada and beyond.
FERC approved the first of the three Spectra projects, the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project on March 3, 2015 and participants of the singalong object to FERC’s dismissal of many relevant issues that were raised throughout the public comment period. The most alarming situation is the siting of a new 42 inch diameter pipeline less than 150 feet from vital structures at the Indian Point nuclear power plant. A pipeline safety expert and a nuclear expert believe that the premise for the approval of the project is based on unverified assumptions that are in direct conflict with sound engineering principals and common sense. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted the plant operator’s estimated three-minute timeframe for the gas valves to be closed, but that timeframe is not substantiated anywhere.
Peaceful protests across the country are increasing as citizens discover that FERC acts as a rubber stamp machine and is clearly more interested in the needs and profits of industry than in the needs of the American people. When all the legal routes are rejected, nonviolent direct action becomes the last option for people to defend their rights. With each passing month of these unjust undemocratic processes, more people are using their voices to express their deep concern for their communities and for their health, safety and their children’s future. FERC’s session tonight was an affront to citizens of the region who feel that the federal government is allowing corporate profit to prevail over public risk.