Maine Students Sit-In Solidarity With DAPL & Protest Maine Pipeline
Above Photo: From Facebook.com
Student Sit-in at Maine Public Utilities Commission in Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux and to Resist Pipeline Expansion in Maine
HALLOWELL, MAINE—On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, Maine Students for Climate Justice (MSCJ)–with support from climate leaders around the state–launched a sit-in in the office of the Maine Public Utilities Commission to protest their support of fracked gas infrastructure projects and externalization of the costs of those projects to everyday Mainers.
The PUC recently approved a plan to use ratepayer money to expand a pipeline owned by Spectra Energy. Spectra was bought last week by Enbridge, which has a $1.5 Billion stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Over twenty participants, led by students and their allies, call for a rapid transition to renewable energy and an end to the use of pipelines. The sit-in is also part of a national day of action in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux. Beginning at 3:30pm, the sit-in is expected to last 96 minutes, which represents one minute for each dollar that the PUC wants Mainers to pay per year for fracked gas infrastructure. The time also symbolizes roughly one hour for each billion of the $1.5 Billion stake Enbridge has in the Dakota Access Pipeline project, as well as for the $1.5 billion that the Maine PUC proposed charging Maine ratepayers for the expansion of fracked gas infrastructure.
In July 2016, the Maine PUC approved a plan that would force Maine ratepayers to fund fracked gas pipeline expansion. Despite the fact that three reports and the PUC’s own staff concluded that Mainers should not fund new pipeline infrastructure, the PUC’s Commissioners decided to invest up to $75 million per year of Maine ratepayer dollars to expand upon a private pipeline. In mid-August, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against electricity customers subsidizing the cost of private natural gas infrastructure. Despite the barrier this created for Spectra Energy Corp., they vowed “to stick with the natural gas pipeline expansion.”
“The Maine government should not abuse its power and thrust the cost of unnecessary dangerous fracked gas infrastructure onto its people,” said Alyssa Thompson, a Senior at Monmouth Academy. “If the Maine government is willing to mobilize billions of our dollars to line the pockets of pipeline companies, why can’t we mobilize funds to transition to a green economy that works for Maine people?“
As of September 7, energy delivery company Enbridge Inc. is planning a $28 billion dollar amalgamation with Spectra Energy. This makes Enbridge the “largest energy infrastructure in North America.” Enbridge is also an investor in the Dakota Access Pipeline, having announced their $1.5 billion stake in the project. All eyes are on Standing Rock Sioux as they continue their battle against the violent attacks committed toward their people and land. It is unjust for Maine’s government to subsidize a company that profits from the degradation of native land.
“We join the Standing Rock Sioux in their battle to protect their homes,” said Matthew Kennedy, a Junior at College of the Atlantic. “Our governments–from North Dakota to Maine–should not allow corporations to threaten homes, water, and land.”
“The Maine Public Utilities Commission has placed our state on the frontlines of the fossil fuel industry,” said Ryan Park, a Senior at Unity College. “Climate change already threatens Maine’s people, industries and ecosystems. It is irresponsible to invest in infrastructure that will only deepen the problem. It is time to develop solutions that can address Maine’s demand for energy while ensuring a just transition to renewable energy.”
Maine Students for Climate Justice is a youth-led group dedicated to building a climate justice movement across Maine.