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Spectra Construction Disrupted by Anti-Fracking Lockdown in Chaplin

By Renee Hamel - Capitalism vs the Climate, November 16, 2015

Web editor's note: The following article details the exploits of one or more IWW members.

Chaplin, CT: Early in the morning, Bernardo McLaughlin of Capitalism vs. the Climate (CvC) obstructed the start of the work for Spectra Energy, locking himself to equipment at a compressor station that Spectra is expanding as part of a massive expansion of fracked gas pipeline infrastructure.

“I placed my body here because we’re out of options. The political class has decided they can survive climate catastrophe and written the rest of us off as acceptable losses. Nobody is coming to save us. Our only hope is organized grassroots power and direct action,” said McLaughlin. Protesters explained that the nonviolent blockade took place as part of Flood the System, a national mobilization for climate justice called by Rising Tide North America.

Spectra’s billion-dollar “AIM Project” creates an incentive for increased fracking, a dangerous method of extracting methane gas from shale fields. Spectra plans to build part of the pipeline, which carries highly-flammable gas, just one hundred feet from New York state’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, running the risk of catastrophic injury to tens of thousands of people. The engineer Paul Blanch has said that a disaster at this part of the pipeline could cause the release of more radioactive materials than were released in Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Federal Regulatory Commission has said that the Chaplin area construction would directly impact Mansfield Hallow State Park, twelve streams, two wetlands and habitat for state-protected species.

So far, activists have been arrested 66 times in the campaign against Spectra’s pipeline expansion. The actions have had an impact. Last week, dozens willing to risk arrest in West Roxbury, Massachusetts arrived at a vacant construction site. Spectra had abruptly decided to pause construction in West Roxbury until the spring. Meanwhile, Spectra has been seeking $30,000 in damages from three protesters who nonviolently blocked construction in Burrillville, Rhode Island in September. Activists see Spectra’s extreme response as a scare tactic to deter future demonstrations and as an acknowledgement that the ongoing blockades and lockdowns are effectively disrupting the company’s construction plans.

Earlier this month, the climate justice movement won a partial though major victory by stopping the northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Protesters in Chaplin said that although they welcomed President Obama’s rejection of the northern part of the Keystone XL pipeline, the fight against dirty energy infrastructure has barely begun. During this morning’s blockade against Spectra, CvC members and supporters stood outside the site holding a banner with a “To-Do” list:

  • 1) Stop Keystone XL ✔
  • 2) Stop Spectra
  • 3) End Capitalism

“After several years of blockades, arrests, and protests against the Keystone XL, Obama finally announced that he would not allow construction of the pipeline’s northern segment. While this was a victory for the climate justice movement, the fight is very far from over,” said Gabby Rodriguez of Capitalism vs. the Climate.

Capitalism vs. the Climate is a horizontally-organized, Connecticut-based group that takes direct action against the root causes of the climate crisis. Capitalism vs. the Climate invites people to join their Anti-Capitalist Contingent at the climate movement’s upcoming November 21 March for 100% Renewable Energy at 12 pm at the State Capitol.

Update: Bernardo was arrested after disrupting work for nearly 3 hours. Please help Bernardo pay his legal fees and support resistance to Spectra by donating at this link set up by our friends at FANG:

And please share this meme on Facebook with the hashtag #StopSpectra:

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