Opinion: Protestors acted appropriately at Vt. Gas CEO’s home

When people get frustrated and feel they are not being heard they may use tactics that not everyone supports. But that should not distract us from the meaning of last Friday evening’s action in Hinesburg to oppose the fracked gas pipeline.
Action was taken at the doorstep of Don Gilbert CEO of Vermont Gas, the company that is trying to use ratepayers’ money and people’s land to build a pipeline for its profit. Perhaps the CEO was frightened (although I don’t believe he could have been). Property owners along the proposed pipeline route are frightened. They are afraid of losing their land by eminent domain to an unprecedented fossil fuel build out.
Gilbert was offered popcorn for his troubles. Landowners are being offered peanuts for theirs.
When the protestors were asked to leave on Friday, they did so. When we landowners asked Vermont Gas/Gaz Métro not to come onto our private property they did anyway, violating an official no-trespass order. When Gilbert called the police, they came. When we called the police, they said they don’t interfere in a “civil issue.”
The so-called “incompetence” of the action pales in comparison to the incompetence of Vermont Gas/Gaz Métro. Vermont Gas/Gaz Métro raised the cost of Phase I of the pipeline by 40 percent and Phase II by 50 percent. The cost of this massive ineptitude they expect to pass onto everyday ratepayers so that they can protect the wealthy shareholders.
Gilbert’s house received a film bomb, “Gaslands,” a documentary about fracking, to demonstrate that as the pipeline expansion is conceived it will increase the use of fracking and fracked gas. Meanwhile, our homes are expected to host high-pressure transmission lines that routinely explode like real bombs. (Look at the data if you don’t believe it.)
The people who see the devastating climate change impact of the project, the abuse of landowners along the route, and the fundamental inequity of the process in making decisions about this project choose different ways to express their passions. But we have common cause in protecting our future from this damaging and divisive intrusion on our communities.
Mary Martin

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