OWS Protesters Plan Blockade of West Side Gas Pipeline Construction
MEATPACKING DISTRICT — As construction of a natural gas pipeline that will snake under the Meatpacking District advances, Occupy Wall Street protesters said they planned to physically block additional equipment from being set up there this week.
More than 100 demonstrators affiliated with OWS and environmental groups handed out fliers at the construction site Monday night to passing bikers and joggers and were already planning their next move to try to prevent Spectra Energy Corp. from installing a nearly 20-mile, $857 million pipeline that will start in Linden, N.J.
"We're going to be a presence here that's going to make it tedious and possibly impossible for [Spectra] to do what they're doing," said Peter Rugh, 28, a member of OWS's Environmental Solidarity Working Group.
Protesters were in talks about spending 24 hours a day near the project site to stop the "one-percent pipeline," Rugh said while a handful of police officers observed Monday's demonstration.
Construction of the pipeline — which Spectra said will meet a projected increase in demand for natural gas over the next 30 years — began this month and is slated to extend through December.
Clare Donohue of the environmental group the Sane Energy Project, which passed out pamphlets on safety concerns about the project, said the group wanted locals and people who use the Hudson River Park to know more about the Spectra plan.
"Hundreds and hundreds of people jog by here with no idea about what is happening here right now," she said.
The Sane Energy Project filed a petition earlier this year with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates interstate energy projects, asking the agency to reconsider its May approval of the pipeline.
A Spectra representative said the project will meet or exceed federal pipeline safety standards and policies of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
Construction through this fall could cause possible closures along the West Side Highway near Gansevoort Street, according to Spectra's website for the project, YesGasPipeline.org.
"Commuters should expect moderate traffic disruption during nighttime construction," the site said.
Use of the pipeline could begin as soon as November 2013, according to Spectra.