Pipeline Opposition and Who’s Behind It

Fractivist Lies - Tom Shepstone Reports Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


Pipeline opposition has taken on a life of its own as fractivists unable to prevail over the science of hydraulic fracturing have pivoted toward this cause.

Everywhere we turn today, fractivists are fighting pipelines. It makes sense from their perspective given their lack of success in proving hydraulic fracturing is a threat and their need to reach beyond their own radical ranks to attract NIMBY types to their cause; which is nothing less than destruction of the oil and gas industry. Attacking pipelines allows them to ride in on white horses to save the day on behalf of upset or worried neighbors of a new pipeline and gives them cover to launch their own attacks on fracking by claiming the new pipelines will deliver “fracked gas” and support an evil industry. The beauty of pipeline opposition its ability to simultaneously appeal to NIMBYs and radicals. That’s why it has attracted so many of both. It’s an unholy alliance.

We have the perfect example of pipeline opposition and who is typically behind it in a group called Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), which is focused on halting upgrades to the Algonquin Gas Transmission System that runs from New Jersey to New England, delivering critical natural gas to a region of the Northeast separately needing additional supplies. SAPE is largely focused on Westchester County, New York where the median home value is $501,100 and half the homes are heated with natural gas. It has a slick website offering opponents every conceivable resource they need to fight the pipeline that delivers gas to the area and beyond. It is NIMBY focused and, therefore, uses every conceivable scare tactic to suggest why the pipeline is a huge danger.

Pipeline Opposition

Tree clearing machine at work on the Algonquin Pipeline

That much is to be expected, of course, but what’s interesting in this case is the extent to which SAPE hides who it is. There is no “About” page, no address, no officers, no one at all identified with the organization. It just exists, which allows it the luxury of advocating all sorts of tactics that can be used to stop the project, including a “Pledge of Resistance” offering the following (emphasis added):

Spectra Energy’s plan to build the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion represents an attack on our community. Spectra has proposed a 42 inch, high pressure shale gas pipeline that would run within 100 feet of Indian Point nuclear facilities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has continually ignored the calls of citizens and elected officials for independent health and safety assessments of the massive Algonquin Pipeline Expansion – giving Spectra Energy notice to proceed with construction, while blocking attempts by citizens to reverse their decision

As the FERC will not make our health and safety a priority, we pledge to protect the beautiful waterways in the place that we call home. We pledge to protect our strong communities. We pledge to protect the land. We pledge to stand together in opposition to the proposed Algonquin Pipeline Expansion Project, that would increase demand for fracking in the shalefields of Pennsylvania as well as impact the land, the water, and the air in our communities for generations to come.

We pledge that we will join others in our communities, and engage in acts of civil disobedience to protect the land, water, and land by directly stopping this proposed pipeline expansion project. We make this pledge for all who are living today, as well as for all future generations.

Note how these folks deliberately reverse roles, identifying Spectra Energy, which has followed the law, as the attacker when, of course, it’s precisely the opposite. Likewise, FERC, by not joining their cause, is portrayed as the blocker, when, in fact, that is the precise purpose of SAPE. Notice, too, the revealing of the real purpose of opposition; resistance to shale gas development. Then, there is the appeal to martyrdom in the holy crusade against oil and gas. All one needs for sainthood among the true believers is to pledge acts of civil disobedience, the response to which, of course, will not be acceptance of the penalties as evidence of commitment but, rather, cries of oppression.

These are the tactics of radicals. Who are they? Well, we know one of them is a fellow named Frank Brodhead, who is associated with a group called Concerned Families of Westchester, which is a typical nest of radicals opposed to Israel, fracking and whatever the latest fad in injustice among these folks might be. He is also associated with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which holds “Defending the environment from governmental and corporate depredation and taking radical emergency steps to address climate change” as one of its missions.

Brodhead sent out an e-mail Monday regarding the Algonquin Pipeline. It included the following appeal (emphasis added):

Shortly after 6:00 this morning, opponents of the Algonquin/Spectra pipeline in northern Westchester blocked the construction project’s “wareyard” in Courtland, which is where the workers park and where the construction equipment is stored.

The blockaders prevented workers in their cars from entering the wareyard.  Here is a picture of our team with a banner blocking one road, and here is a picture of another group of protesters stopping traffic on the other road.

As a traffic jam blocked the main road passing the wareyard, State Police demanded that the blockaders get out of the driveways, which they politely refused to do.  After a short time, arrests began; and of the nine blockaders arrested, three were from Hastings/CFOW – Linda Snider, Andy Ryan, and Susan Rutman.  Also arrested was Rev. George Packard, seen in this picture with Linda Snider.

All those arrested were charged with “disorderly conduct,” and were quickly released on their own recognizance.  (Here is a picture of the triumphant team.) Their court hearing is set for November 20th.  The arrests were made peacefully.

Today’s blockade is the first wave of the use of nonviolent direct action to stop the construction of the Spectra pipeline in Westchester, other means having so far been blocked by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  Protesters in other communities – from here to Boston – are also using nonviolent direct action to stop construction.

To follow what’s happening, go to the Facebook page of “Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Construction” (SAPE) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/sape2016/.  Pictures from today’s blockade are posted on Twitter – https://twitter.com/SaneEnergy and https://twitter.com/SAPE2016.

Please share this information with friends, post it/some pictures on your Facebook page, amd call Governor Cuomo’s office (again!) to ask that he take action to stop the pipeline – (518-474-8390).

And if you can, please join in the upcoming nonviolent direct actions to stop the pipeline.  You don’t need to get arrested to join the protest (as the pictures linked above show), but you must participate in the Direct Action Training.  To join up and/or to learn more, sign “The Pledge to Resist,”…

One wonders who is doing the “direct action training” and who is paying for it. The usual suspects, no doubt. We get some strong clues from the Catskill Mountainkeeper, a SAPE ally in the battle against the Algonquin with access to boatloads of Park and Rockefeller cash, but that’s a story we’ve covered many times already.

We also know from various other stories and the SAPE Facebook page that Susan Van Dolsen is one of the co-founders and principal players in SAPE. She describes herself as an “Independent Political Organization Professional” on LinkedIn, whatever that means. As we noted here, Van Dolsen is the apparent leader of Westchester 4 Change, who lives near Rye, New York, home of the super-wealthy, and who prides herself on also being a Patriotic Millionaire who wants to raise taxes. Here she is speaking on the subject of the Algonquin:

Van Dolsen obviously hate fossil fuels and fracking but she lives in a $2 million hot water heated (according to real estate sites) home in the Town of Harrison (next door to Rye), a community where 60% of the homes are heated by natural gas and another 30% with oil. Think she might use the product she hates? She also Tweets that she hates the system, by which one presumes she means capitalism:

pipeline opposition

Her distate for the system, though, seems to stop at the front door to her home because her husband Ed Van Dolsen is the epitome of the successful corporate executive.

Such is the nature of the pipeline opposition; a combination of radicals and NIMBYs with some old-fashioned feel-good, alleviate the guilt, let the world know I resent my wealth activism on the part of a rich woman from Westchester. That’s the only part of the system that’s broken. It’s a wonder any pipeline gets built.

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