Fracked Gas Protesters Lock Themselves in West Roxbury Pipeline Trench

Photo of Bobby Wengronowitz (front), Shea Riester (middle), Martin Hamilton (back) in trench

Trevor Culhane

Photo of Bobby Wengronowitz (front), Shea Riester (middle), Martin Hamilton (back) in trench

Six people locked themselves together at 9:50 a.m. Saturday to block two construction sites of Spectra Energy’s West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (WRL), which would bring fracked gas into Boston. Bound at the waist and ankles using chains and superglue, they aim to stop the project from endangering the community and disrupting the climate.

While the pipeline goes through West Roxbury, not JP, the fight against has attracted many JP residents. They are demanding that Spectra Energy keep fracked gas in the ground and stop forcing the project through a community that overwhelmingly opposes the pipeline.

Trevor Culhane said, “This pipeline would irresponsibly lock us into decades of climate pollution and community disruption. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to a just and renewable economy without fracked-gas.”

This action was a significant escalation in the ongoing effort by the group Resist the Pipeline, and follows months of rallies, protests, arrests, and vigils at the construction site. Residents of West Roxbury oppose this project, as do Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston City Councillor Michelle Wu, and Congressman Stephen Lynch.

“Climate change upholds systems of oppression like white supremacy by allowing the consequences of its destructive practices to fall on the shoulders of low-income communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color,” explained Abbie Goldberg. “In the wake of so much violence and pain, I want to recognize the interconnection of these struggles and fight climate change not only for my own future, but for the possibility of a more just world for everyone.”

Photo of Martin Hamilton, one of the protestors, being arrested

Trevor Culhane

Photo of Martin Hamilton, one of the protestors, being arrested.

Two weeks ago, 23 people, including Karenna Gore, were arrested for blocking construction of the pipeline. In total, 144 others have been arrested in West Roxbury, and over 200 people regionally, in civil disobedience actions to stop this Spectra Energy project.

Bobby Wengronowitz, who will become a father in just a few weeks, took action “because cool heads and discussion have gotten us nowhere. I feel a responsibility to do whatever it takes to assure a livable future in this beautiful world for my child and for all those who have done nothing to contribute to the climate crisis.”

Jamie Garuti said, “We chose to take nonviolent direct action because despite widespread opposition and the incredible dangers of fracked gas, conventional channels have not been enough to stop this project.”

The city of Boston is currently in a lawsuit with Spectra to stop the gas pipeline, but the legal decision is not expected to happen before the projected completion date. The peaceful protesters vowed to continue to fight Spectra and all those perpetuating violence through climate change.

Photo of hands after being superglued together with the tattoo #StopSpectra on the left palm

Trevor Culhane

Photo of hands after being superglued together with the tattoo #StopSpectra on the left palm

  • Stephen Humphries

    I laughed when I read the comments from these protestors, complaining that fracking is disrupting the climate. The dramatic shift to natural has done more to reduce the levels of C02 – a greenhouse gas – in the atmosphere than any climate change treaty. Would the protestors prefer that we stop fracking and return to the old belching smoke pollution of yesteryear?

    I get that they would prefer that the world only use solar and wind power. Wouldn’t we all? (Nuclear power, too, should be considered.) But wind turbines and solar not only require and inordinate amount of land (and both kill a gruesome number of birds) but are also unable to fully sustain our energy needs. Solar power can’t be generated at night and therefore would rely on daytime reserves. Worse, wind power relies on that most unpredictable and variable of elements – wind. Which is why the world’s wind-power intensive country, Denmark, hasn’t been able to close a single fossil-fuel power plant. In fact, it requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to make up for wind’s unpredictability. Both solar and wind are so phenomenonally expensive that both industries have required massive government subsidies. If you’re using solar power and your bill is cheap, it’s only because your neighbor is paying for it with his taxes. Even if we could somehow shift the entire nation over to solar and wind tomorrow, the costs would be staggering to the economy – and neither power sources could meet our energy needs.

    There may come a time when innovation and technology find a better alternative to fossil fuels – and fracking is certainly one such technological improvement. As a means to inexpensively reduce climate changing gases in the atmosphere, you’d think the protestors would be fracking thankful.

    • sarah buermann

      And yet, we use so much more power than we need. We never hear “conservation”. We don’t see listings re: how frugal new buildings are re: energy use as a matter of course. We don’t see birth to death statements of energy costs for objects or processes. I think we shd. be on a strict energy diet, and pay pollution taxes etc. etc. as we are going to pay dearly for the effects climate change on the natural world. A culture ruining its back due to the tech. hunch whilst peering into screens will learn painfully the full costs of this ignorance.

    • Stephen Humphries

      Forgot to add, Charles R. Frank, Jr. of the (liberal think tank) The Brookings Institution published a study two years ago titled “The Net Benefits of Low and No-Carbon Electricity Technologies” (http://on.wsj.com/246Fex1).

      He looked at the relative returns of various energy investments in the context of reducing CO2. His conclusion? The best answer is natural gas, with nothing else even close. Solar and Wind can’t even justify their expense, at least from the standpoint of reducing CO2. To quote the report:

      ————————–

      [A]ssuming reductions in carbon emissions are valued at $50 per metric ton and the price of natural gas is $16 per million Btu or less–nuclear, hydro, and natural gas combined cycle have far more net benefits than either wind or solar. This is the case because solar and wind facilities suffer from a very high capacity cost per megawatt, very low capacity factors and low reliability, which result in low avoided emissions and low avoided energy cost per dollar invested.
      —————————–

      More about this study (in educated layman’s terms), here: http://bit.ly/2ajB6Im

  • Hugo_JP

    Justice would have been to leave the protesters sitting there for 3-4 days letting the workers get a short mid-summer break.

  • Trans Global Girl

    Even ignoring climate change, it’s quite clear that fracking, oil drilling and coal mining have poisoned our land, water and air. Saying poison is the way to go because it’s cheap is moronic.

    • Stephen Humphries

      How, exactly, does fracking poison water or air? The shale reserves are thousands of feet below water aquifers.

      Here’s a quick primer on the science of fracking by science correspondent of Reason magazine who debunks claims that fracking poisons water or pollutes air:

      http://reason.com/archives/2013/07/05/the-top-5-lies-about-fracking

      • Sherrard

        Watch the movies Gasland and Gasland 2 to see how the water and land is poisoned by fracking. Also, haven’t you read about the huge increase in earthquake activity where fracking waste water( there is a finite amount of water for our planet, by the way, none should be poisoned for any reason especially profit) is forced back into the ground. Please read and look more widely