Astronomy Picture of the Day

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Gaz Update

I was fighting the tide of emails from our stop the pipeline group.
Another explosion, another protest, another scientific citation,
The evils of #Fracking, the robbers of property, prosperity and peace,
Even rare sunflowers at risk.
Here are a few pertinent articles with friends' notes, comments.
In reverse chronological order.
Best wishes in the Good Fight.
Meg
Am I reading this correctly? Is Gaz Metro saying they can serve their customer's needs better w/out a pipeline? 


... Energy Ltd. (TCE) power plant could be supplied natural gas by pipeline at a cost similar to that of building an LNG storage and regasification site.

Finally, renewables over gas pipelines......shocking concept!


The decision pulls the plug on plans to construct more natural gas pipelines in the state while boosting the use of renewable energy throughout the ...



In the Williston Observer:
http://www.willistonobserver.com/hinesburg-pipeline-protest-stirs-ire-against-state-agency/


Click link: Williston Observer letter

Friends,
We hope you'll join us at the 4th Annual 350VT Statewide Meeting on Sunday Nov. 13th. Come for part of the day or the whole day. We're excited to announce that Vanessa Gray, from Aamjiwnaang Sarnia Against Pipelines, and Jay O'Hara, from Climate Disobedience Center, will both be speaking.

This year we're focusing on solutions, and our workshops are geared toward learning about a whole host of great grassroots solutions from electric bikes to soil restoration and from green building to true community solar. We'll also have all the usual updates, campaign briefings, awards and recognitions, and a great meal.

To recap:
When: Sunday Nov. 13th from 2-8pm (come for part or all)
Where: Capital City Grange, Montpelier, 6612 VT-12
What: 350VT Annual Gathering 
2:00pm Workshops
4:00pm Statewide meeting
6:00pm Dinner & Awards
7:00pm Vanessa Gray, Jay O'Hara, & other special guests
Who: you!

RSVP by 11/4 HERE.
Please carpool as you are able. Find our ride board HERE.
Want to volunteer and help out? Awesome, please contactkeri@350vt.org
Our best,
Maeve, Keri, Brittany, Austin and the 350VT team

p.s. We are also looking for items for a raffle auction - gift certificates, movie tickets, herbal tinctures. Have you got something you'd be willing to offer? Please contact keri@350vt.org


Letter to editor by local Fracking Fighter


Department?

Posted on October 27, 2016 |  
By Mary Martin



I am writing as a member of “Just Power.” Just power does not mean just as in simply power. It stands for just as in justice — to be treated fairly and equally with a meaningful involvement. Almost four years ago, I believed in justice. I was told the Public Service Board (PSB) would hear us and then decide if they should grant a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) for Vermont Gas based on existing criteria…such as need, reliability and economic benefit.
I naively believed what I was told. Gov. Shumlin told me he had no influence over the outcome. It would be determined by a quasi-judicial board. The hearings would be fair. He must have been kidding. I was thrilled because I knew the true “need” did not exist. We were transitioning away from fossil fuels. Our state was headed toward a green, renewable future. This project would be inconsistent with our goals.
Nobody would support a pipeline of fracked gas in this day and age. Need, check, got that one covered. One down and two to go. Reliability is only as good as the provider of this nasty gas. We have seen time and time again how Vermont Gas has botched the project, permits, land acquisitions and budgeting. This is not a reliable or even monetarily viable business. Two down and one to go. 
Economic benefit and this is the real motivator. No benefit exists for the 50,000 customers in Franklin and Chittenden Counties or the 2,000 small customers in Addison County. I used the calculator on the Vermont Gas website and according to their own website my savings would be $0. Yep, $0. According to the Vermont Gas calculator, I would end up spending $150 more for the heating season. The cost to suck on this pipe is $55,000 for each new customer.
Thank you to Vermont Gas current customers in Franklin and Chittenden counties for paying this for us. New customers will pay the costs of hookup and conversion to your existing furnace (if it can be converted) and disposing of your fuel tank (mandatory).
So if by economic benefit, you are referring to Vermont Gas and not the public, it makes sense. No, the PSB is charged with meeting the economic benefit for the public not a privately held company.  Three strikes and it’s out! The only thing we needed was to have the PSB listen to the facts.
Enter the Public Service Department (PSD). PSD’s mission, as stated on their website, is to serve all citizens of Vermont through public advocacy, programs and other actions that meet the public’s need for the least cost, environmentally sound, efficient, reliable, secure, sustainable and safe energy systems for the long and short term.
The PSD should be renamed the Utility Service Department. The department has not once looked out for the public they are supposed to represent. They have sat like bobble-head dolls, agreeing with everything Vermont Gas has said. Never once did they listen to the public. We are asking for environmental justice now. Please consider how the financial and physical risks are distributed.
Ratepayers are footing the bill and Vermont Gas is raking in the money. Think about who benefits versus who pays. How evenly are the benefits distributed and how evenly is the risk distributed? People are tired of trying to do things the right way. I am tired of fighting in a rigged system. We need justice now!
Come join us and stand against this pipeline on Oct. 20. We will meet at Geprag’s Community Park, Hinesburg at 8:30 a.m. More details and signup athttp://tiny.cc/Oct20Vermont.
Mary Martin
Cornwall

Marchildon Survey

From Comrade Rachel
Greetings all, Let’s keep up the pressure and STOP THE PIPELINE!  Please take action now and then SHARE THIS with all your friends and contacts!

TIME TO PERSONALLY DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PIPELINE SAFETY! 
The Vermont Department of Public Service (aka Department of Pipeline Service) first reported failures on behalf of VGS construction standards back in June 2016 but they still have not ensured those problems have been addressed.  Instead they allowed VGS to continue construction, now for over 4 months!  PLEASE take a moment to register your concern, personally, with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration and make sure they know that we CARE about our safety! 
For background and details, read the press release, with link to the letter and all substantiating documentation that we delivered to Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration last week, here: http://www.protectgeprags.org/vermont_citizens_alarmed
Commissioner Recchia and VGS are trying to paint our safety concerns as just another attempt to stop the pipeline. https://vtdigger.org/2016/10/18/vermont-gas-pipeline-opponents-file-safety-complaint-federal-agency/ Recchia is accusing us of distorting the truth when he knows full well that not all of the violations have been fixed. His own department just supported yet another extension and now wants to resolve the case behind closed doors with a minimal fine equal to the penalty for 1.5 days of continuing violations -- for violations that have existed since June 2016!  Moreover, they are once again trying to say that it's just a handful of fringe opponents of the pipeline raising these safety concerns -- the same way they like to pretend that only a handful of people oppose the fracked-gas pipeline in Vermont. 
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT to Join 350VT, Central Vermont Climate Action, Just Power, Protect Geprags Park, Rutland Area Climate Coalition, Toxics Action, Upper Valley Affinity Group, and Vermonters for a Clean Environment by personally calling on the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to intervene in pipeline safety in Vermont. It takes just 30 seconds via the link above. 
Tell PHMSA that we're not willing to accept lax oversight or dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.

From Alex:

Hi all,
I wanted to send a note of gratitude out to all those who came to the action in Hinesburg yesterday, and especially those who held roles in planning, organizing, and implementing it. Thank you. That was great. I've now been a part of organizing a few of these big coalition actions, and this time there were more people stepping up to the plate to make it successful than I've seen before. I think this is a strong testament to this campaign's ability to bring increasing numbers of people into collective action, and to developing the skills and relationships needed for more effective resistance in the future. Lots of love to you all.
Also, we didn't *quite* do the action we planned for, and that's OK, because it went great anyway. 200+ people took direct action together and stopped work on the "death-oriented" project. (For reference, see Rev. Wilson's great quote in the Digger story:http://vtdigger.org/2016/10/20/six-gas-pipeline-protesters-arrested-hinesburg/)
That's 200+ people who were willing to use their bodies to stop the violence of fossil fuels, and because of our power in numbers, the overwhelming majority of that crowd will face no consequences. At least 50 of us showed up yesterday willing to get arrested, and there were many more on the fence. It's important that we don't let this moment, this mass willingness to do what's right, drift away.
Our friends in Hinesburg are still depending on us to help them Protect Geprags Park. If Brian's right, and we have the potential to turn the Phase 1 fight into a Seabrook moment (that is, make Phase 1 such a costly battle that VGS never pursues Phase 3, nor brings Phase 2 back from the dead), then we need to keep giving this fight all we've got until it's actually over.
Folks, if you came out yesterday willing to risk arrest, or if you couldn't yesterday but have been willing at other points in the last four years, please don't let your enthusiasm or urgency fade. That Seabrook strategy depends on all of us continuing to take action against the completion of the pipe until we absolutely can't anymore. If you're willing to stand in defense of the park (and the planet), and willing to increase the odds of the "Seabrook strategy" succeeding, please be in touch.
Solidarity forever,
Alex
PS- I know there are important folks who were there yesterday but may not be on any of these Google Groups. Feel free to forward this message!
-- 

From Lisa:
A good story. in Digger today. Reporter even points out the workers’ cars were NOT blocked or “restrained” by protectors.

  don't know who this person is, but they got some facts wrong. However, not about my passion for the park!

Hope all are well and had as great a day as I did!


Nancy


P.S We were a lot more than 100!
Neighbor's testimony from the Vermont Digger


-- 
Another opinion from Burlington free press:
From Burlington free press


From Melanie:

If there one thing I've learned it's that whenever a VGS representatives says, "We've got a great story to tell" they mean it. It's just a story or one might say, a fairy tale! AARP is working hard to get a truly independent ratepayer and/or public advocate to represent the public in matters before the Public Service Board. Here is an article on what they're doing:


In it, Beth Parent says that VGS has a great story to tell about rates and then goes through the companies standard claims. The fact is that the rates that DPS and VGS use to calculate savings customers, who sign up in Middlebury and Vergennes, are inaccurate. Addison County prices are much lower than elsewhere in the state. My Mom just bought oil, which we use when our wood furnace cuts out, for $1.75 per gallon. At that rate, we would have lost over $200 for a 529 gallon fill up if we had switched to natural gas. As most people know, my Mom is moving away from the pipeline, and she would not have been offered gas even with the transmission line running 300 feet from her bedroom door if she had stayed. But, the fact is that people could use the savings they're getting now from lower oil prices to invest in heat pumps and weatherizing. We have friends, who aren't opposed to the pipeline, who did that even before prices dropped and report a 50% savings on their heating bills taking into account what they paid for electricity for the heat pumps and the mild winter and without solar panels.

We all know that VGS will have to build in the cost of the pipeline into rates next year. The construction delays have actually helped the company and DPS mask the upward rate pressure by including only a portion of costs in the current rate case. Unless natural gas prices drop to nearly nothing VGS's rates will have to go up. 

It's shocking that DPS is doing nothing to stop VGS from making up "great stories" about its rates and claiming that its rates will stay at their currently low rates. The company knows full well that no matter what happens to the cost of natural gas, the amount VGS charges customers for its infrastructure will have to go through the roof when the full price of the ANGP expansion is piled onto its rate base. Vermonters deserve truth in advertising and accurate price signals. The only way to get this is through an independent ratepayer advocate, who actually works to enforce consumer protections and hold utilities accountable! Please comment on this story and support AARP's efforts to overcome the status quo of DPS complacency! 


Incidentally, I'm not kidding when I say you should be skeptical whenever VGS says it has a great story:

Last spring in Middlebury, VGS said that it had a great story to tell about fugitive emissions. The representative said that VGS "had no leaks on the book." When pressed, representatives admitted that the company does have leaks, but they pledged to fix all leaks no matter how serious immediately upon discovering them. That doesn't mean that they have no leaks or even that they discover all of the leaks. It just means that the fix leaks when found. 

Here's what VGS's leak record according to the data looks like:


Here's the letter in the Brattleboro Reformer.

On 10/18/16 10:33 AM, Jason Kaye wrote:
Great letter in the Brattleboro Reformer from organizers in Brattleboro in support of Thursday's action at Geprags Park.

Are you coming to build Vermont's climate movement?

Jason

From the Digger:


From Rachel:
Greetings everyone!  

A few updates from Hinesburg and beyond — setting the stage for upcoming October 20 events.

The PSB has still not made any final order regarding Hinesburg residents’ motion to reconsider their decision on eminent domain and Geprags Park.  Therefore there is still no construction (horizontal directional drilling) at Geprags.  

We have filed the Supreme Court appeal meanwhile.  Jim Dumont who represented us through the PSB hearings, has (wisely) determined that it would be better for us to be represented by a different attorney, and we are really REALLY pleased that Rob Woolmington, one of the top appellate lawyers in the state, has agreed to handle the appeal. (Note: this means we need to ramp up fundraising even more).  

While the eminent domain case winds its way to the Supreme Court, CLF also awaits an answer from the Public Service Board regarding its motion to require VGS to amend its petition for a certificate of public good. That could force VGS to demonstrate why the project still makes any sense. It’s a long shot, but we should lose hope that one of these legal challenges will ultimately stop the pipeline from coming into operation!

Also, some are aware but others may not be: several organizations have signed onto a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. They’re the folks responsible for pipeline safety. Vermont DPS has delegated authority from PHMSA in return for certifying that the State is upholding minimum pipeline safety standards. We all learned a few weeks ago that DPS had issued a “notice of probably violation” to VGS alleging some pretty serious violations of construction safety standards, but DPS has since supported VGS getting three extensions of time to respond fully, allowed VGS to continue construction without proving the problems have been fixed, and asked for a minimal fine. It’s not surprising that DPS is also saying that the matter can be settled out of the public’s view and without a hearing before the PSB.

A letter, signed so far by several groups, has been sent to PHMSA requesting that they step in and verify whether pipeline safety rules are being properly enforced in the State. We’re also making it possible for individuals to contact PHMSA in support of the letter through an online tool on Toxic Action Center’s website (stay tuned for the link!). We have created a photo gallery of construction here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/145694641@N05/with/30114808551/ or send your photos to this email address: protectgeprags@yahoo.com (either way, be sure to note date taken and location). If you live near the pipeline route and are concerned about pipeline safety we hope you’ll join this initiative! Finally, we will be working to educate the public about pipeline safety issues and how to report pipeline safety concerns, and that will start with a press release and article about the dangers associated with collocating pipelines and overhead electric transmission wires on Monday!


So this is the context for our action on October 20 - Supreme Court challenge on Geprags/public land eminent domain, the pending CLF amendment motion that could still force VGS to reargue its project application, AND a call for an emergency review of the State’s (DPS’s) oversight and enforcement of federal pipeline safety regulations. 

The fight isn't over.

--------
Me again,
That's all I can handle.
Some dates are past,
The messages the same.
Stop the #Fracking Pipeline from Alberta to points south.
Meg

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