SANDISFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The quest to expand New England’s natural gas infrastructure has made the Otis State Forest the center of environmental protests. They call themselves the Sugar Shack Alliance, and on Tuesday, 18 members were arrested.
“Go home,” said pipeline activist Will Elwell to Kinder Morgan. 18 environmental activists blockaded the Kinder Morgan work area access roads and were arrested for trespassing. A non-violent show of resistance to what they believe is Kinder Morgan’s unlawful and amoral expansion of a natural gas pipeline through nearly 4 miles of the Otis State Forest.
“A caravan of about 12 construction vehicles came down the road and thought they were going to drive up access road three and didn’t drive up access road three so we got some very good feedback this morning that at the very least we were slowing things down,” said Sugar Shack pipeline activist Bob Barba.
Kind Morgan sent 22News this statement:
Tennessee Gas respects the rights of individuals to engage in peaceful and lawful protests. It is our desire that protest activity be peaceful and lawful and that work areas are not disturbed or damaged.
At the center of the protests is Article 97 of the Massachusetts constitution, which activists proudly display at their outpost deep in the desolate woods. Activist Cathy Kristofferson told 22News, “The commonwealth’s constitution guarantees clean air and water and the ability to protect land, and the natural gas act just comes in and clobbers it. We don’t feel that that is right.”
Kinder Morgan said they’ve received all state and federal approval to continue full construction. They just finished installing and erosion control device and now they are beginning tree clearing.
Protesters said Kinder Morgan plans to drain a million gallons of water from Lower Spectacle Pond to pressure test the pipeline for leaks. Kinder Morgan said they’re putting new pipeline adjacent to existing pipeline to minimize how many trees are cut down.
Kinder Morgan hopes to have the pipeline built by November.
Below is a list of all the people arrested in Sandisfield, according to State Police:
- John K. Cohen, 79, of Northampton
- Ronald R. Coler, 61, of Ashfield
- Joan L. Levy, 64, of Pelham
- Rema Loeb, 84, of Plainfield
- Micky McKinley, 72, of Montague
- Asaph Murfin, 74, of Leverett
- Harriet Nestel, 78, of Athol
- James Perkins, 78, of Leverett
- Amy Pulley, 61, of Cummington
- Diane Sibley, 68, of Ashfield
- Vivienne L. Simon, 66, of Northampton
- Stephen J. Stoia, 69, of Northfield
- Susan L. Triolo, 67, of Sunderland
- Benjamin James Vanarnam, 30, of Easthampton
- Lydia Vernon-Jones, 68, of Amherst
- Russell Vernon-Jones, 70, of Amherst
- Martin H. Urbel, 74, of Northampton
- Kevin A. Young, 32, of Northampton