by The Shorline Chapter, CT Green Party
The two-year, shoreline-based campaign to "Stop the Pipeline" concerns everyone in CT. It is not a typical "not in my backyard" struggle. As evidenced by the number and breadth of people who expressed opposition to the project at a recent public hearing, the installation of the pipeline could create problems for Connecticut, its residents, its ecology and its economy.
At the August 5th Public Hearing before the Army Corps of Engineers held at Branford High School, one of the organizers of the event, Kiki Kennedy of Branford, decribes the event in the following "Opinion" piece. Her description conjures up visions of the well-known Norman Rockwell painting of a town hall meeting.
"What a night! What a hearing! We could not have asked for more."
The phenomenal turnout of several hundred people-one news report placed the count at 700-coupled with scores of incisive testimonies provided a powerful portrait of community unity against the Islander East Pipeline.
I had been so worried that summer vacations and confusion about whether or not the pipeline was stopped would cut down attendance. When the rain started, I really became concerned.
Thankfully, my worry was for naught: more people came to that public hearing than ever before. And the strength and depth of the speakers was breathtaking: we have learned so much since Islander East's proposal more than two years ago.
Best of all, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) appeared extremely interested in our comments-a profound change from previous public hearings before other agencies....
And the speakers were incredible. All-except for a handful-unequivocally opposed the Islander East pipeline.
After Islander East's opening presentation, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro commanded the auditorium via video on a colossal screen. Her booming voice and imposing size set the tone for the night: our opposition to Islander East is gigantic!
DeLauro was followed by elected officials or their representatives from all over Connecticut: Senators Dodd and Lieberman, Congressman Christopher Shays, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, State Senators "Doc" Gunther and Richard Roy. Our own State Senator Bill Aniskovich provided especially eloquent oratory; State Reps Pat Widlitz and Peter Panaroni were stirring and strong; First Selectman Da Ros and Third Selectman Denhardt were great.
Perhaps the most impressive was the presence of CT Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Arthur Rocque....
Roque presumably journeyed to Branford to demonstrate his resolute opposition to Islander East: standing tall and strong before the USACE. Rocque confirmed his unyielding stance behind the DEP's recent denial to Islander East-for the second time- of a critically needed coastal consistency determination.
The speakers who followed were each impressive in the own ways. Scientists from Yale and Wesleyan offered concrete data about contaminated sediments and seismic risks. Environmental groups like Save the Sound, CT Audubon, and CT Fund for the Environment spoke forcefully. The Branford Land Trust and the CT Seafood Council stood firm. Individuals spoke about environmental, safety, and econimic concerns. In general, the evening's tone steered more toward substantive facts and less toward raw emotions...." (article re-printed courtesy of "The Sound/Shore Publishing" Newspaper).
The fight to stop the pipeline continues with a public hearing before the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA), on Tuesday, November 5, at the Omni Hotel in New Haven starting at 9:30 AM and continuing throughout the day. There will be scheduled intermissons at noon and later in the afternoon (around 4:30 PM) allowing for both afternoon and evening sessions.
This is the time for all Connecticut residents to weigh in on this issue by attending the hearing and learning the facts about alternative corridors and other issues surrounding the proposed pipeline.
We already have Iroquois installation and one cable lying across the bottom of the Sound. Another pipeline added to this could spell ecological and econmic disaster for our State. Come to the hearing, listen and speak out. If we can stop pipeline installation in CT's backyard, then, we all win!