"Week of action" takes aim at RI pipeline expansion (and the PUC)

Grassroots groups from four states along the proposed route of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion, which cuts through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, have joined together to host a coordinated “Week of Respect and Resistance”, with actions from December 13 through December 19 in opposition to the project, the groups said in a joint press release.  The project includes the expansion of  a compressor station in Burrillville which organizers note is already “a major source of hazardous air pollutants”, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee.
The actions are planned in anticipation of the release of the final Environmental Impact Statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) due on or about December 19, 2014. The week of action will target local, state, and federal legislators and government agencies, all of whom have direct roles or influence in the approval of the project. These actions will build on the numerous rallies, vigils, meetings and call-in campaigns that have been happening across the states for the past several months, organizers said.
“We are calling this a Week of Respect and Resistance: respect, because it's important to honor the other struggles for justice that have come before us, and those that are taking place right now around the world. It's also time for Spectra and our elected officials to respect our power and respect our desire to see a world powered by community owned renewable energy,” FANG organizer Nick Katkevich explained.
Fossil Free Rhode Island, a grassroots group promoting divestment from fossil fuels, will kick off the week with an event on Saturday, December 13th, at the Alternative Food Co-op inWakefield, RI, to highlight the need to build a localized, worker-owned economy and rein in the power of multinational corporations that perpetuates fossil fuel dependence.
Fossil Free Rhode Island will follow up with a call-in campaign next week to ask elected officials and state agencies to intervene to stop the AIM project. 
Rhode Island groups will also be present at the meeting of the Public Utilities Commission next Tuesday, Dec. 16th, to protest the 23.6% electric rate hike proposed by National Grid, a corporation headquartered in London, Great Britain.  The meeting will be held at 10 am at 89 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick.
Visit this website for updates on the actions planned for Rhode Island:  http://peoplesclimate.org/rhodeisland/
Late last month, Fossil Free Rhode Island launched a campaign urging the Rhode Island Department of Health to block the expansion of the compressor station in Burrillville, citing elevated asthma rates in the surrounding area.  “We are outraged that Rhode Island’s political leaders — both Republicans and Democrats —are ignoring threats to our children’s health, and instead are siding with the fossil fuel industries,” said Tony Affigne, chair of the Green Party of Rhode Island, a signatory to the campaign. “This week will show the state’s leadership that people and the environment are more important than Spectra’s profit margin.”
Rhode Island Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club of Rhode Island, Occupy Providence, and the Voluntown Peace Trust have also signed on.  As Peter Nightingale, Professor of Physics at the University of Rhode Island, stated: “We need an immediate end to uncontrolled experiments that threaten public health in Rhode Island and the habitability of the planet.” 
Many elected officials in New York, including Congresswoman Nita Lowey, wrote to FERC requesting an independent risk assessment of a massive 42" new segment of pipeline that would run 105 feet from critical structures at the Indian Point nuclear facility.
Pipeline expert Rick Kuprewicz stated: "[I] cannot overstress the importance of performing a full and complete process hazard safety analysis, independently demonstrating, especially to the public, that there will be no interplay between a possible gas transmission pipeline rupture and the IPEC facilities to failsafe shutdown or cause a loss of radiation containment in such a sensitive and highly populated area of the country."   
“We are at a critical juncture. Expanding the Spectra Algonquin pipeline will lock us into a reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure for decades to come. Communities across the region are coming together to oppose this pipeline and call for clean energy alternatives, energy conservation and efficiency,” said Michelle Weiser, Community Organizer with Toxics Action Center. 
If approved, Spectra would begin construction as early as March 2015, and the project would be completed in November 2016. Another Spectra expansion, the Atlantic Bridge, is planned to follow right after the AIM Project with additional expanded segments of massive 42" diameter high-pressure pipeline and compressor station expansions, and a third project is also in the works.  
Organizers say that these expansions would be devastating to the entire northeast region and much of the gas would be shipped overseas to foreign markets. "If the governmental agencies fail us and approve this project, our nonviolent resistance will only escalate. This week will be a demonstration of our commitment to stop this pipeline at all cost," says Katkevich.
Groups involved with the action include: Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (NY); Sierra Club (CT); Greater Danbury MoveOn.org Council (CT); Capitalism v. The Climate (CT); Occupy Danbury (CT); Fighting Against Natural Gas (RI); Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion (RI); Fossil Free Rhode Island (RI); Green Party of Rhode Island (RI); Occupy Providence (RI); Toxics Action Center (MA & RI); Mothers Out Front; No New Fracked Gas Infrastructure in West Roxbury, Dedham, or New England (MA); Flood Boston (MA) and Better Future Project (MA).

Editorial note: Written from a press release.