Northeast Anti-Fracking Coalition Derails Gas Forum

BOSTON, MA – Activists from Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington DC, and Maine disrupted the twentieth annual LDC Gas Forum two days in a row in protest of the Algonquin Incremental Market Expansion, the Cove Point LNG Export Terminal, the Vermont Gas Pipeline, and to demand the cancellation of all new gas infrastructure projects. One woman was arrested. Protesters are increasingly united across state lines, and across projects, and showing that they are not going to settle for causing a ruckus in only their own backyards. The annual Forum, attended by nearly 600 people, is designed to bring together large energy corporations with local gas distributors.

On Monday morning Jay Gustaferro of Gloucester interrupted the conference’s opening ceremony and took over the mic. Gustaferro addressed hundreds of gas industry professionals, urging them to take issues such as climate change and water contamination seriously. “I wanted to call out some of the myths that they are hoping to spin at this conference, and call out their hypocrisy and criminality.”

Following Gustaferro’s interruption, three more protesters disrupted the conference one at a time, calling for an end to construction of new fracked gas infrastructure and for local utility companies to shun large gas corporations such as Dominion and Spectra who are pushing for expanded infrastructure. All four were escorted from the room by security.

After the opening ceremonies, still more protesters disrupted a networking session by showering the conference area with leaflets outlining the groups’ demands, and with chants and calls for an end to the “harm they’re inflicting on communities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.” Disruptions also occurred outside of the Boston Marriott Copley Place where their conference was being held, and at off site recreational facilities booked by conference attendees.

On Tuesday protesters swarmed a conference session that featured a speaker from Dominion Cove Point. They carried a banner that read “Fracked Gas Kills”, leaflets outlining demands, and quotes from people living in front lines communities who are most impacted by the gas industry.  Heather Doyle of Maryland read testimony from directly impacted community members.  Doyle was ultimately arrested and released

“This industry values profit over people, getting rich off of human sickness and destruction of our homes and of the land. Know that we won’t go down without a fight. Our power in protecting our lives is a force that can not be overcome with talk of markets and money,” said Doyle.

As Doyle was being carried out, a new wave of protesters flooded into the first four floors of the hotel with flags and banners, while chanting, blowing whistles, and using musical instruments to delay the conference. Ultimately at least twenty police officers came to the scene to clear the protesters from the hotel. They regrouped, buoyed by yet another group of people, and continued protesting on the sidewalk outside. The conference was unable to conduct business for several hours each day due to the protests.

Dominion Cove Point (DCP) is building a fracked-gas export facility in a densely populated area in Calvert County, Maryland, posing an extreme threat to residents who fear an accident could occur like the explosion of a Williams gas pipeline in Pennsylvania last week.  Williams, like Dominion, is hoping to build oversized pipelines, which are themselves increasingly under fire, to feed the export facility.  DCP faces extreme opposition from the local community and all over the shalefields where fracking would increase if the increasingly tenuous project is ever completed.  DCP continues to face litigation and protests.

After several delays, in Massachusetts Spectra Energy broke ground this week on their controversial “AIM” Expansion project in Dedham. Residents have raised the alarm over the pipeline’s proximity to an active quarry, among other concerns, and have mounted a relentless and ongoing campaign against it.

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