Commentary

Jessica Rubin: Resisting the Vermont Gas pipeline

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Jessica Rubin, of Burlington, who is a naturalist, ecological educator, mentor, wilderness guide and Earth restorationist. She is an active member of the Burlington node of 350Vt.org.

During Earth’s sixth mass extinction, the U.S. government plans to expand fossil fuel infrastructure despite evidence that combustion facilitates climate change. At a time when organizations founded to protect the environment from industry, such as the EPA, are threatened by media blockouts, we in Vermont can resist destructive patterns and instead support resiliency through listening, creatively collaborating and realigning.

We have a long way to go to repair damage on this land from First Nation genocide, slowed abolishment of slavery, eugenics, to today’s current racist statutes for state sovereignty. While we work on this critical remediation, we also must actively resist the continued ecological community exploitation. Now here is an opportunity to be leaders in resisting fossil fuel dependency while stretching into regeneration.

Vermont Gas’ effort to inject a pipeline opposes Vermont’s energy plan to be 90 percent renewable by 2050, violates safety protocols, skirts ecological regulations, and sets dangerous precedent.

Instead of being a fossil fuel corridor, we can be a solution generating corridor, protecting habitat for those kin who need it to live, while in curbing our comfort zones we can demonstrate ancient and modern ways to harmoniously participate in Earth’s life support cycles.

 

Horizontal drilling allows Vermont Gas to avoid a wetland permit, penetrate fragile habitat for threatened species such as the golden winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) and pale leaf sunflower (Helianthus strumosus L.), put valve stations in standing water, and lay pipes under transmission wires whose electrical interference facilitate deterioration.

How does this help us decrease and adjust to smaller scale energy use? Who will support our offspring in the ecological damage abyss?

Besides continuing our game-over fossil fuel addiction there is lack of accountability. Even when data has been collected and violations diligently identified with corresponding documentation, there is no agency effectively curbing the fossil fuel industry.

This gas will not heat your home but serve large users such as Middlebury hospital until linking with a national pipeline grid. Completion and operation of this pipeline sets precedent for easy approval and construction of phase 3 from Middlebury to Rutland, allowing Gaz Metro, which own Vermont Gas, to use it as a conduit for its Canadian customers. Instead of being a fossil fuel corridor, we can be a solution generating corridor, protecting habitat for those kin who need it to live, while in curbing our comfort zones we can demonstrate ancient and modern ways to harmoniously participate in Earth’s life support cycles.

Let’s stop this fossil fuel infrastructure expansion madness now! Calling all who: participated in the Women’s March who resist fascist oligarchy, want to prevent habitat loss, can risk comfort for life beyond us, to join us in the Week of Action, Feb. 4-11. Plan an action with friends at Geprags Park or anywhere relevant. And join groups already planning actions. To plug in and for help with coordination logistics, contact [email protected].

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  • Rachel Smolker

    Thank you Jessica for giving voice to the voiceless with regards to the pipeline. As a resident of Hinesburg, I am very much aware of what will be destroyed if Vermont Gas either has problems drilling that cause “inadvertent returns” of drilling slurry in the Geprags Park wetland, or if once the pipeline is installed via HDD, they later need to repair, replace, or otherwise access their pipe – (or god forbid if there is an explosion) in which case they have reserved the right to trench right through pristine, biodiverse wetlands, including habitats for very rare golden winged warblers. What are we willing to sacrifice in order to allow Gaz Metro/VGS to profit from piping fracked gas through our communities? When do we stand up and say NO MORE!

  • Latest Week of Action Updates:

    Wednesday Feb 8
    – 12 noon, press conference with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility in support of creating a State/Public Bank Commission Bill in Montpelier; Vermont State House 115 State St

    – 3:30-5:30pm @ Vermont Gas: Stop The Drills! Meet Systems HQ on Swift Street in S. Burlington (meet at Farrell Park next to VGS)

    Thursday Feb 9
    – 9-1 Black Lives Matter press conference & Black Lives Matter Weekend Kickoff @ Vermont @ the Statehouse 115 State St in Montpelier

    Friday; Feb
    -10am UVM in collaboration with Champlain College: Boycott fossil fuel industry corporations and banks to support your local communities, teacher unions, and students.

    Saturday, Feb. 11
    – 8:30 am TD Bank out of DAPL; Out of Vermont in Burlington Rally & Water Ceremony. Meet at the Burlington Waterfront.

    for more info on the week of action: tinyurl.com/weekofactionvt