NEW YORK, NY, Feb. 9, 2015 – Monday morning a coalition of concerned citizens from across the Northeast and Appalachia protested Dominion Resources’ analyst meeting held at the Waldorf Astoria. Dominion, one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, was promoting expansion projects of its subsidiary Dominion Midstream and its $3.8 billion Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal at Cove Point, MD.
The boisterous group, some dressed as Darth Vader and Stormtroopers, paraded in front of the Waldorf to the tune of the Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme song) carrying signs reading ‘Dominion: Death Star’ and ‘Dominion is Bankrupt’ and handing cards to people as they entered and left the building. Inside the Waldorf Astoria, two waves of groups attempted to penetrate the extensive security outside and inside the meeting room. The first wave of five chanted outside the meeting room. The second and larger wave began with a march through the hotel led by Darth Vader. A small group was able to reach the meeting room through a back entrance but was immediately met by a swarm of security guards. Both waves chanted “Dominion hurts families, Dominion hurts towns, shut Dominion down, shut Dominion down.”
According to the group of protesters, the new LNG export terminal would be ‘comparable to building a Death Star’ as it would encourage more dangerous and toxic fracking. “The sole purpose of exporting natural gas,” says Pennsylvania resident Angela Vogel, “is increasing corporate profits by exploiting U.S. tax-payer funded subsidies. They are taking advantage of higher gas prices abroad while poisoning us here at home.”
Cove Point is a densely populated residential area with nearly seven thousand residents within a two mile evacuation zone. Stockpiles of toxic, potentially explosive chemicals including propane, ethane, acid-gases, and cancer-causing benzene could trigger a “flash fire” less than three miles from Exelon Nuclear Power Plant at Calvert Cliffs.
Catastrophes aside, daily life near an operational gas refinery and power station has health implications. More than 20 tons of cancerous and other disease-causing pollutants will be emitted every year, and Dominion has purchased “emission reduction credits” to be able to pollute over legal limits. Safety and health hazards, combined with around the clock noise and increased traffic will further decrease property values which are already depressed. By Dominion’s own admission, the behemoth export terminal will only create 75 permanent jobs at the most.
Dominion’s own CEO, Thomas F. Farrell, has been caught criticizing natural gas expansion when, during a speech delivered at University of Virginia in 2010, he said:
‘If we pour all of our efforts into building natural gas-fired power stations over the next 30 years, you’re going to regret it. Your children are going to regret it….I don’t think we ought to be building everything with natural gas…If we shut down every single coal plant in the United States today and replaced it overnight with natural gas, in 2050 you would have just as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.’
Dominion also has a number of pipeline expansion projects in the works that will further degrade air quality in affected areas. While many New Yorkers are celebrating Gov. Cuomo’s recent ban on fracking, fracked gas from Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania will still be poisoning the state through the New Market Project. This project will use a 50-year-old pipeline that was never intended to handle the pressure and velocity of shale gas and which cuts a path through nine counties across the middle of the state. New and expanded compressor stations as well as the use of the obsolete pipeline were given the green light by FERC (Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission) without the requirement of an Environmental Impact Study.
“The New Market Project will put even more New Yorkers in danger,” says Dr. Susan Rubin of Chappaqua, NY, “Pipelines carry a huge risk of leaks, fire and explosions. Compressor stations add significant pollutants and carcinogens into the air. Gas projects accelerate climate change, putting our children’s future at risk. All over New York, health professionals and concerned parents are waking up and becoming active, taking a stand against the gas industry. They understand that companies like Dominion care only about profits and care nothing about our health or well-being.”
“Dominion’s potential investors have been put on notice,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance. “They saw and heard our message that it’s time to end the fossil fuel era.” “The perfect storm is brewing,” added Kevin Zeese, also of Popular Resistance. “Oil and gas prices are falling and resistance is rising. From coast to coast and across the political spectrum, families and communities are taking bold actions to protect their well-being and their chance of a livable future.”
Some of the groups that supported the Northeast and Appalachia residents on Monday included We Are Cove Point, Sane Energy Project, EDGE (Encouraging the Development of a Green Economy), Beyond Extreme Energy and Popular Resistance.