For Immediate Release: Trees Protest Pipeline Expansion
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Location: Blue Mountain Reservation, Washington Street and Montrose Station Road entrance, Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567 (Follow trail to the left for approximately 100 feet.)
Media Contact: SAPE, Susan Van Dolsen, (914) 525-8886, http://sape2016.org
“A grove of trees in Westchester County’s Blue Mountain Reservation in the Town of Cortlandt is staging a protest in an effort to save their fellow trees from being cut down along the 1½ mile Spectra Energy AIM pipeline route through the reservation. These trees also represent thousands of other trees to be felled along the entire pipeline route from Ramapo, NJ to Boston, MA. Public parks are everyone’s back yard, yet Spectra Energy Partners, a private corporation, was granted permission to cut down over 1,000 trees to install their 42” diameter, high-volume, high-pressure gas pipeline in the park. Blue Mountain, a 1600-acre county preserve, is a vital haven for wildlife which provides countless benefits to residents of the county. Westchester County, in providing the license to Spectra for its construction in Blue Mountain Reservation, may have illegally circumvented New York State law.
This morning, hundreds of trees near the pipeline donned orange “Do Not Cut” tape in revolt. As Spectra expands its right-of-way to 125 feet, many of these trees may be felled and the surrounding environment will be degraded. Destruction of public parkland, along with the threat posed by the same pipeline’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear facility in Buchanan, NY, has caused residents and elected officials to call for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review its decision to permit the project. Although the federal Natural Gas Act requires the agency to issue a decision on appeals within 30 days, FERC can extend the deadline indefinitely by issuing what is called a “tolling order,” as it has in this situation. In some recent cases throughout the country, FERC issued its decision after the pipes were already in the ground with the gas flowing.
The approval process for the Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market project has been fraught with unresolved concerns and irregularities. Authorities have called Spectra’s Environmental Impact Statement woefully incomplete and misleading. Nuclear safety expert, Paul Blanch, through a Freedom of Information Request, obtained documents indicating that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided erroneous and incomplete information to FERC, which subsequently approved the pipeline expansion plan. FERC, according to its website, “has no jurisdiction over pipeline safety or security, but actively works with other agencies with safety and security responsibilities”; however, there has never been a thorough, independent risk assessment of this high-pressure, high-volume gas pipeline 105 feet from vital structures at the nuclear facility. The new pipeline crosses the Indian Point property for 2,159 feet.
The grassroots group, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), learned about the trees’ protest from an anonymous source.”
Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) is a grassroots organization with a mission to educate our fellow citizens and elected officials about the negative impacts associated with Spectra Energy Corporation’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project. SAPE opposes the AIM gas expansion project because it may exacerbate climate change, endanger our safety and quality of life, contaminate water, air and soil, cause harm to domestic animals and wildlife, and threaten farmland and property values.
Rob Buchanan adds: “The destruction of the natural environment due to the Spectra pipeline project has begun here in Westchester County NY. The pipeline and its 125 ft right of way will cut through a county park, Blue Mountain Reservation. There are many potential ceremonial stone landscapes within the park (see http://rockpiles.blogspot.com/search?q=buchanan+blue+mountain ).
Fortunately most sites are not close enough to the pipeline route to be effected but there is at least one site that might be endangered. Please be aware of new pipeline and pipeline expansion projects in your area. Recently the New England tribes and USET (as I remember) developed a protocol to examine any ceremonial stone landscapes threatened by pipeline expansion projects. Also, please support your local community activists who are opposing the pipeline expansion project…"
Twelve tribal representatives have been trained to identify and document ceremonial stone features as a part of an emergency avoidance plan for proposed gas pipeline projects in the Northeast. Reprinted below is the news release regarding this project.
Charlestown, RI, September 24, 2015: Under the auspices of the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) of the Narragansett, Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot and Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), individuals from the four sponsoring Tribes as well as members of the Mohawk, Shinnecock, and Passamaquoddy Tribes completed a week-long training in ceremonial stone landscape (CSL) identification at the Narragansett Indian Longhouse in Charlestown, RI, and were certified by the THPOs as CSL Field Specialists. The training was conducted on an emergency basis in response to proposed gas line development projects in the Northeast.
In October of 2002, the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) declared in Resolution #2003:022: “[F]or thousands of years before the immigration of Europeans, the medicine people of the United South and Eastern Tribal [USET] ancestors used [ceremonial stone] landscapes to sustain the people’s reliance on Mother Earth and the spirit energies of balance and harmony”.
In December of 2008, the National Register of Historic Places acknowledged ceremonial stone landscapes as culturally significant to federally recognized Tribes in the Northeast, pursuant to the tenants of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which states: “The agency official shall ensure that consultation in the section 106 process provides the Indian Tribe . . . a reasonable opportunity to identify its concerns about historic properties, advise on the identification and evaluation of historic properties, including those of traditional religious and cultural importance, articulate its views on the undertaking’s effects on such properties, and participate in the resolution of adverse effects.” – National Historic Preservation Act, 36 CFR 800.2(c)(2)(ii)(A)
By law, Section 106 of the NHPA mandates that before construction, religious and cultural properties of traditional religious and cultural importance to federally recognized Tribes that attach cultural and historical significance to the project areas should be identified and documented in consultation with the affected Tribes. The Tribes, the federal agency, and the project proponents, then work together to devise a plan to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the impacts to the resources. This work must begin as soon as feasible in order for project proponents to receive the necessary permitting for construction from the lead federal agency (in this case, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – FERC). The work cannot proceed without additional trained Tribal representation, thus training Tribal representatives was urgent.
The training at the Narragansett Longhouse was authorized by Narragansett Medicine Man/THPO John Brown, and occurred under the guidance of the THPOs and their landscape mapping partner Ceremonial Landscapes Research LLC (CLR), an entity created in collaboration with the Tribes to assist in mapping and documenting CSLs using traditional Tribal knowledge. The Tribal representatives will work with a mapping team from CLR.
According to Doug Harris, Deputy THPO of the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO): “Through this training, the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) hope to increase private landowner, federal agency, and project proponent awareness and stewardship of ceremonial stone landscapes that are sacred to our people, and to protect these places from unknowing destruction by development.”
Federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, the FCC, the FAA, the National Forest Service and the Army at Fort Drum, NY have acknowledged the significance of ceremonial stone landscapes, and have encouraged their protection. One hoped-for outcome of this project is to extend that acknowledgement and spirit of stewardship to all regulatory agencies and commissions. These ceremonial places have been identified in territories of past Tribal use from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and with the cooperation of local towns and landholders they should be protected wherever they are.
The training was initially funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with additional donations requested from Kinder Morgan, and Spectra Energy. Ceremonial Landscapes Research, LLC, provided curriculum development and training personnel.
Doug Harris, Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer
Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO).
(401) 474-5907 or (508) 922-7673
Tribal Contacts for this Release:
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe
Narragansett Indian Tribe
Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)