Protesters vow to block pipeline on Friday
ADDISON COUNTY — Opponents of the Vermont Gas pipeline that is being laid from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes said on Thursday that they will block construction of the pipeline on Friday morning.
The activist group Rising Tide Vermont sent out a press release saying that Friday’s action will take place along the pipeline route in Addison County but did not give specifics.
The release said that this planned act of civil disobedience will be a continuation of a four-year effort to prevent completion of the project. Since 2014, nearly 100 people have been arrested while trying to stop the project, Rising Tide said.
“This is the time to take action,” Rising Tide organizer Alex Prolman said in the release. “If enough people who care for the planet get off the sidelines and put their bodies in the way, we can bankrupt the company, stop the pipeline, and force the state to put people over profit. Nothing’s going to change until that point.”
Vermont Gas officials have said they hope to finish the 41-mile pipeline by the end of the year. But the company has been beset by setbacks. It found that it needed a permit for its route through some wetlands, it was called out for destroying some endangered harsh sunflowers, and the estimated price tag went up to $165 million (of which only $134 million will be charged to ratepayers).
Opponents of the pipeline have said state regulators should not have granted permits for the pipeline because, among other reasons, it invests money into fossil-fuel infrastructure that could otherwise be invested into infrastructure for renewable energy, which would counter climate change.
Among their actions, opponents have sat in trees along the pipeline route to stop construction, chained themselves to the pipeline, and stopped public hearings by singing so loud that the business of the meeting could not be conducted.
This last strategy prompted the Public Service Board to bar the public from an Aug. 4 public hearing on the pipeline.