Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

The veil is thinning,
A little more every day,
Tonight the Saints will come,
And Drive the Demons away.

Happy Halloween!

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#Caturday




Tommy Tweets

Tommy Tweets a lot
Or at least he Thnks he does,
He loves his Kindle

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Voting 2015


***This happened last year...meg


School Revote

I did not receive an absentee ballot for the recent revote of the school vote. Apparently none were sent? Or did you receive one and mine was omitted? I prefer to vote at home. I signed the paper for absentee ballots. The Secretary of state said it is up to me to enforce the election rules. It is up to me to ask the town clerk to explain, go to court if need be. No, my body cannot take any more of that. My vote was not counted. If you like that policy, carry on. Just don't presume to know all the reasons I do not want to vote out in public. I thought that is what absentee ballots were all about.
update 5.19.15 follow up post to front porch forum
Several issues back I inquired if others in Monkton did not receive absentee ballots for the town school budget re-vote. I got no response. I do not interpret that as apathy or a conspiracy against me, although I am sorely tempted to take the easy way out. It is stuck in my craw, the assistant town clerk (why did we need an assistant?) said we talked it over and it was too late to send the absentee ballots out. Now I will reiterate I do not have the energy to fight this town over not being able to vote on a budget that affects the taxation on our property. I will submit to the reader that if you tolerate this, it is a slippery slope. Oh, and fair warning: when you fill out the form from the Secretary of State of Vermont for absentee voting for the year, and send it to the Town clerk or assistant, don't expect that you will receive the ballots as requested. Then when you don't, guess "they" decided there wasn't enough time. My vote was never counted.




Monday, October 24, 2016

#Fracking Fighters

From the Addison independent ...

http://www.addisonindependent.com/201610safety-vgs-pipeline-questioned








Safety of VGS pipeline questioned

Posted on October 20, 2016 |  
By Mike Polhamus VTDigger.org



VERMONT — Opponents of a 41-mile natural gas pipeline into Addison County have filed a complaint with a federal agency, alleging that Vermont’s Department of Public Service overlooked repeated safety violations during the pipe’s construction.
Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia said the accusations are entirely unfounded.
“This is a hail-Mary, last-ditch effort to scuttle this project,” Recchia said.
“One thing I am sure of is this pipeline has been constructed safely, and professionally, and it meets all the standards that need to be met in terms of safety for the public,” Recchia said. “Anyone who says something to the contrary is distorting the truth in order to achieve their objective, and that’s really unfortunate.”
A handful of organizations representing thousands of Vermonters submitted a letter Monday describing a pattern of lax enforcement by the state to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The letter accused Department of Public Service officials of failing to halt work on the project in spite of repeated safety violations.
Recchia says the letter actually shows Department of Public Service officials were doing their jobs and responding appropriately to ensure that the pipeline is properly built.
The letter states, as evidence of the department’s poor oversight, that the officials found 183 violations during 2015 by company the responsible for the pipeline, Vermont Gas Systems. It took administrative action on 13 of those violations.
Nearly all of those violations actually involved propane, not the natural gas that the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline will contain, and only six of those involved Vermont Gas Systems in any way, Recchia said.
One of the letter’s signatories, Geoffrey Gardner, of Bradford, said he’s hoping that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will take control of the project’s oversight from the Vermont Department of Public Service.
“What we’re looking for is for the PMHSA to actually take over all the inspection duties and any legal actions necessary against DPS or VGS,” Gardner said. “The state obviously isn’t doing what they should do, and we’re asking the feds to step into their place.”
Recchia says his agency has discovered problems with the pipeline, but they’ve been corrected, and Vermonters have been at no time in any danger from the pipeline.
“I’ve been absolutely focused on safety, and on ensuring that staff have the resources they need” to monitor the pipeline’s construction almost daily, Recchia said. “I’m very proud of the work they’ve done, and Vermonters should know that this pipeline has been constructed with absolute safety in mind.”
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration audits Vermont’s Department of Public Service every year, for procedures concerning pipeline safety, Recchia said. Recchia said he welcomes any further inquiry the agency may want to conduct as a result of the letter.
“I have no doubt we’ve done exactly what we’re supposed to do,” he said.
Vermont Gas representatives said the complaint, which asks the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for an emergency intervention, represents an 11th-hour effort to stop a project that’s already on the verge of completion.
Only 2,200 feet of the 41-mile pipeline remains to be built, said Vermont Gas Systems spokeswoman Beth Parent. That section traverses Hinesburg’s Geprags Park, where Vermont Gas is currently attempting to secure an easement through eminent domain. Another group of pipeline opponents have appealed the Public Service Board’s order granting Vermont Gas a right-of-way through the parcel, and they plan to take the case to the Vermont Supreme Court if the Public Service Board again rules against them.
Vermont Gas built the pipeline under the guidance of a team of 20 private inspectors and two state inspectors, who monitored the structure’s construction daily, Parent said.
“Regardless of what … opponents claim, it’s been safely constructed, meeting all applicable federal and state safety standards,” Parent said.
The letter isn’t likely to substantially affect the project, Parent said, although that appears to be its aim.
“These folks have one purpose, and that’s to stop this project,” Parent said.
Gardner, one of the pipeline opponents, says a pattern of poor worksmanship extends back to the pipeline’s outset when contractors damaged pipe sections while burying them beneath Interstate 89. Problems have continued, Gardner said, including a recent incident in which Department of Public Service officials notified Vermont Gas that the company had probably violated safety regulations by failing to prevent nearby power lines from magnetically inducing small amounts of current in unburied pipeline sections.
These and other incidents should have led the Department of Public Service to shut down the project already, Gardner said.
Gardner also said what the pipeline is meant to carry — a slightly adulterated form of methane — harms the atmosphere.
“It’s promoted as a clean alternative to coal and oil, and there is very little clean about it,” Gardner said.
The science journal Nature published a report this month that claims methane emissions from fracking and from coal and oil recovery are actually as much as 60 percent greater than previously estimated. Methane is thought to act upon the atmosphere much as does carbon dioxide, with somewhere on the order of 20 to 60 times the severity. Although methane burns much cleaner than most fossil fuels, recovering it from the earth is believed to release enough of the chemical to put natural gas on par with coal, in terms of its contribution to global climate change.
Gardner also said Vermont Gas is attempting to unfairly seize control over the Geprags Park plot of land.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has received the letter, and will review it both within the agency and with the Vermont Department of Public Service, said PHMSA Public Affairs Specialist Susan Hand.
“I have no doubt we’ve done exactly what we’re supposed to do,” he said.
Vermont Gas representatives said the complaint, which asks the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for an emergency intervention, represents an 11th-hour effort to stop a project that’s already on the verge of completion.
Only 2,200 feet of the 41-mile pipeline remains to be built, said Vermont Gas Systems spokeswoman Beth Parent. That section traverses Hinesburg’s Geprags Park, where Vermont Gas is currently attempting to secure an easement through eminent domain. Another group of pipeline opponents have appealed the Public Service Board’s order granting Vermont Gas a right-of-way through the parcel, and they plan to take the case to the Vermont Supreme Court if the Public Service Board again rules against them.
Vermont Gas built the pipeline under the guidance of a team of 20 private inspectors and two state inspectors, who monitored the structure’s construction daily, Parent said.
“Regardless of what … opponents claim, it’s been safely constructed, meeting all applicable federal and state safety standards,” Parent said.
The letter isn’t likely to substantially affect the project, Parent said, although that appears to be its aim.
“These folks have one purpose, and that’s to stop this project,” Parent said.
Gardner, one of the pipeline opponents, says a pattern of poor worksmanship extends back to the pipeline’s outset when contractors damaged pipe sections while burying them beneath Interstate 89. Problems have continued, Gardner said, including a recent incident in which Department of Public Service officials notified Vermont Gas that the company had probably violated safety regulations by failing to prevent nearby power lines from magnetically inducing small amounts of current in unburied pipeline sections.
These and other incidents should have led the Department of Public Service to shut down the project already, Gardner said.
Gardner also said what the pipeline is meant to carry — a slightly adulterated form of methane — harms the atmosphere.
“It’s promoted as a clean alternative to coal and oil, and there is very little clean about it,” Gardner said.
The science journal Nature published a report this month that claims methane emissions from fracking and from coal and oil recovery are actually as much as 60 percent greater than previously estimated. Methane is thought to act upon the atmosphere much as does carbon dioxide, with somewhere on the order of 20 to 60 times the severity. Although methane burns much cleaner than most fossil fuels, recovering it from the earth is believed to release enough of the chemical to put natural gas on par with coal, in terms of its contribution to global climate change.
Gardner also said Vermont Gas is attempting to unfairly seize control over the Geprags Park plot of land.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has received the letter, and will review it both within the agency and with the Vermont Department of Public Service, said PHMSA Public Affairs Specialist Susan Hand.

Addy Indy News Digest

The latest in Addison County news, every Monday and Thursday.
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***My response: Since this project has begun, there have been many concerns of the people in our rural neighborhood who will live with the consequences of this pipeline. We have a right to point out safety concerns. Pipeline-OSHA is the ideal group to consult with. This is not eleventh hour. Our pipeline opposition group has been in opposition the whole time. We share with people all over the world. All fracking is local. Our love for this land eternal and guides our actions and words.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Mandela


Mandela of Life

Circuitous Path,
We travel the road of life,
Giving, taking, one.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Healing Art

Healing Art

The waiting room at the therapist's office had  2 chairs and a wall picture. The picture was a painting labelled, Cave Paintings.
I sat there waiting, glancing at the horses, wondering how long I would be here. The woman came out, invitee me into her office and we began.
Her direction...
Get some paper, larger the better.
Start drawing.

Early on, I would draw something and she would help me look at it, what it meant.

Later, the Zentangle came to me.
I'm stuck on lesson 5.

No rules,
Let it flow,
You may be surprised how liberating that can feel.
No judgement,
No wrong way,
Start today.




Monday, October 17, 2016

**>>>Breaking<<<** Vermont Pipeline Fight continues...

Share and enjoy!!!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 17th 2016

Vermont citizens, alarmed by the state Department of Public Service’s lax oversight on pipeline construction and safety, call on federal authorities to step in.

A coalition of Vermont groups, including 350 Vermont, Protect Geprags Park, Central Vermont Climate Action, Just Power, Vermonters for a Clean Environment,  Upper Valley Affinity Group, Rutland Climate Coalition and Toxics Action Center has requested that the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) take over Vermont intrastate pipeline monitoring and enforcement, initiate an investigation into whether VT DPS has failed to correct potential non-compliance with minimum construction standards on already installed pipeline segments, and reject the Vermont Department of Public Service’s (VT DPS) pending certification under 49 USC 60105. To maintain state jurisdiction over pipeline safety, including the construction of new facilities, Vermont DPS must certify annually that its pipeline safety program meets minimum federal standards. The groups say that when it comes to new pipeline construction, Vermont DPS is not measuring up, and the public is being put at risk.

Citing allegations detailed in a pending Notice of Probable Violation, as well as information from documents released by the Department of Public Service in response to records requests, and from their own direct observations, the group concludes that Vermont regulators have consistently failed to follow up on safety violations.[i] This lax oversight, they say, puts families and communities along the Vermont Gas pipeline route at risk from leaks and explosions that could occur as a result of the failure to enforce compliance with standards for safe construction. They are requesting that PHMSA intervene to ensure their safety.

States have the option to assert exclusive jurisdiction over intrastate pipelines and take over intrastate pipeline safety regulation as long as they uphold at least the same standards that the federal government would require. But, the group says, that is clearly not happening in Vermont.

The group points out that even when DPS identifies serious problems, they do not act in a timely manner.  For example, the current allegations against VGS include very serious safety and construction violations. Those problems appear in inspector reports dating all the way back to June 7th 2016.  The NOPV was not filed until August 8th.  Then DPS provided VGS with, so far, three extensions on their timeline for response. The third extension allows VGS until November 9th to respond, with, in total 5 months of ongoing construction. (a preliminary safety response from VGS was filed on September 14, 2016, and the company and the state claim to be “collaborating” to resolve the allegations.[ii]   Rather than take immediate steps to notify the public of potential immediate dangers, and halt construction until apparent failures of compliance were addressed, DPS has instead allowed construction to continue with no assurance whatsoever that these very serious violations have ever been addressed, or that standards for safe construction more generally have been met.

The allegations against VGS relate to failure to take mandatory steps to ensure electrical safety during construction under high voltage transmission wires. Construction in proximity to high voltage transmission wires can cause induced voltage, which may result in serious risk of electrocution on contact with the steel pipes. This puts workers as well as property owners or anyone who happens to come in contact with pipeline as it is “strung out”, at risk.  Induced voltage is also a well-known risk factor for pipeline leaks and explosions resulting from damage that causes corrosion over time.

VGS is charged with failure to have comprehensive written specifications as required by both the Certificate of Public Good, and Federal regulations, and also failure to provide a mandatory onsite “responsible person” with technical expertise to oversee construction in proximity to transmission wires.

This is not the first time VT DPS has allowed non-compliant construction to continue. In 2015, VT DPS allowed Vermont Gas to continue construction of the first segment of the Addison Natural Gas Project, from Colchester to Williston, without approved welding or quality assurance plans in place. According to VT DPS construction inspector reports, already troubled horizontal directional drilling continued without those plans in place for weeks on end.

Federal regulations clearly state that pipelines that are not built in accordance with federal minimum standards cannot be operated. This, the group says, means that DPS has allowed the first 11 miles to go into service even though a portion of it was clearly built without necessary approved plans and specifications. “We’re calling on all parties involved to cease the operation and recovery of costs for the first 11 miles of the ANGP. VGS’s safety lapses during construction and the decision to allow operation of a potentially unsafe pipeline segment means that ratepayers are paying for substandard construction that puts the public in danger. This is patently wrong” says Geoffrey Gardiner, of the Upper Valley Affinity Group.

The Addison Natural Gas Project was approved on the grounds that it would exceed federal and industry pipeline safety standards. The group says that VGS’s construction doesn’t even come close.  Mary Martin of Rutland Climate Coalition pointed out that: “We have to draw the line when it comes to public safety. Improper welds and corrosion are a leading cause of pipeline leaks and explosions – like the one in San Bruno, California that killed 8 people. In that case, the National Transportation Safety Board referred to the company (PG&E) having “exploited weaknesses in a lax system of oversight…and regulators that place a blind trust in the companies that they were charged with overseeing, to the detriment of public safety.”[iii]

Cynthia Hendel, from Protect Geprags Park added, “How can anyone living near the pipeline trust that it is safe, when instead of halting construction until plans and specifications have been fully reviewed to comply with federal standards, DPS is allowing construction to continue? DPS knows well the scope of mismanagement that has occurred across this project, including gross mismanagement of costs as well as environmental violations, and now the jeopardizing of our safety with substandard construction, as we are told that construction is 'going well.'”

Vermont does not have a citizen suit provision to allow people who live, work or travel within the “incineration zone” of the pipeline (the area within one thousand foot radius around the pipeline subject to total destruction in an explosion) to file suit against state agencies for not properly regulating a pipeline for property damage, injuries or fatalities. The group states that the only option to protect citizens from accidents is good regulation during construction and operation of facilities, and that just isn’t happening under DPS jurisdiction. “this is why we are requesting that PHMSA needs to step in immediately, halt construction and review Vermont Department of Public Service’s role.

Contacts:
Lisa Barrett, Protect Geprags (802) 434-2744
Melanie Peyser, Just Power (646) 207-5937
Rachel Smolker, Protect Geprags – (802) 735-7794
Geoffrey Gardner, (802) 222-3460



NOTES:

1)The letter submitted to PHMSA, as well as supporting documents are available here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bw0uKc2rfP1fZUEzYk04cXdiaDA

2) Vermont citizens have filed numerous concerns with PHMSA and have photographically documented many of their own observations of construction quality and safety violations. Photographs can be observed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/145694641@N05/with/30114808551/ The group is considering the establishment of a Citizens Pipeline Safety Committee, which will continue to monitor developments and look into other issues, including whether VGS’s staff and contractors have minimum credentials and have received proper training in accordance with the CPG and federal standards.

3) Induced voltage and interference from high voltage transmission lines is recognized as a leading cause of pipeline corrosion and failure.  Vermont is hosting over 10 miles of “colocated” pipeline, which means adherence to regulations for safe construction are of paramount importance.  More information on the risks of colocation is available here: http://www.ingaa.org/File.aspx?id=24732

[1] Last year, Vermont regulators found 183 probable violations, but only 13 were corrected, and there were no follow up compliance actions. That’s not counting the probable violations that were left over from the previous year. In other states, the number of violations and corrective measures are approximately equal, or close.

(endnotes)


[i] Last year, Vermont regulators found 183 probable violations, but only 13 were corrected, and there were no follow up compliance actions. That’s not counting the probable violations that were left over from the previous year. In other states, the number of violations and corrective measures are approximately equal, or close.

[ii] VGS preliminary response indicates many very serious concerns remain, both explicit and implicit.

[iii] Nat’l Transp. Safety Bd., NTSB/PAR-11/01, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture and Fire, San Bruno, California, Sept. 9, 2010, at p. 135 (2011), available at: http://ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/PAR1101.aspx

Rachel Smolker, Ph.D.
Biofuelwatch (codirector)
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker
twitter: @rsmolker

Campaign to Stop GE Trees: http://stopgetrees.org
Global Forest Coalition:http://globalforestcoalition.org
Geoengineering Monitor: http://www.geoengineeringmonitor.org

"One does not sell the land people walk on."
~ Crazy Horse





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