On May 12, Con Edison began working on the extension of the Spectra pipeline into the West Village in New York City. The construction came much to the chagrin of the community members whose homes will be affected. Why? In essence, the Spectra pipeline and the controversial drilling method used with it threatens the well-being of New Yorkers by contaminating the drinking water, establishing the possibility of an explosion in the West Village. The proposed pipeline, three feet in diameter, is similar to the pipeline that leaked and caused a giant explosion in San Bruno, Calif., destroying homes and nearing the San Francisco International Airport. Spectra Energy has already been cited for repeated violations in its pipeline operations and procedures.
Of course, there is also the radon problem. Personally, I already compromise too much of my youth and health by living in New York City. Considering the amount of second hand smoke I consume on a daily basis walking around the city, I was not enthused when I heard that the second biggest cause of lung cancer, radon, would now be a part of my daily routine.
The Spectra Pipeline is the most recent example that corporations are people, and that United States democratic system does not always resemble a democracy. Indeed, the proposal for the pipeline was passed even after overwhelming disapproval from the community, with 5,000 public comments filed against it. However, New York’s future is not as bleak as Spectra Energy’s safety record. Fortunately, there are other ways to take these matters into your own hands, and stop the pipeline’s construction before it is finished. Here is what you can do to help:
1. Share stories, learn the facts.
Of course, New Yorkers are not the first to be struck by the fracking plague. Indeed, there are tons of stories to be shared by home owners and neighborhood residents around the world that have lived near a pipeline using hydraulic fracturing. It is those personal stories that truly help educate the general public about what fracking really is. Sharing these stories that have taken form in documentaries, newspaper articles, and blogs surrounding the issue is as simple as clicking the “share” button on facebook. Or, you can share your own story. Reaching out to your social networks by sharing stories and information can help New Yorkers reach a greater level of understanding about the issue. Luckily, fracking is not a new issue. There are tons of videos, radio interviews, documentaries, articles, and scientific studies that have gathered heart wrenching stories of fracking victims for you. For instance, this video, which has already become an internet sensation, packs all the most useful information about the Spectra pipeline in two short minutes, making it the easiest story yet to effectively spread the word. Share the link on your Facebook or Twitter page now!
2. Engage every community you have.
The number one concern for would-be activists is if their individual efforts actually make a difference. Of course, my first response is to scream, “I SWEAR, ANYTHING HELPS,” from donating to signing a local petition. But perhaps the better answer for the discouraged citizen is this: when it comes to community oriented issues, engage every community you have! You can approach this issue not just as an individual, but as an organization, a business, a church, a school club, a neighborhood, etc. Joining forces with others who share your concern can not only help the cause, but can also help raise the volume level on your individual voice. You can raise awareness by organizing a screening of Gasland for your neighbors or school club. At work, you can hang an anti-fracking poster in your cubicle or next to the sugar and milk for customers to see. You can reserve an hour at your church or community center to host a write-a-letter-to-your-elected-official extravaganza! To learn more about how you can change the future of the West Village from an individual standpoint and beyond, go here.
3. Advocate for alternative solutions.
Say so long to the long outdated argument, “this is simply the best possible solution.” This rebuttal is long gone, since there have been several research projects conducted by experts around the world who have found better alternatives than fracking. For instance, Stanford released their report outlining a path to state-wide renewable energy conversion in New York, which would replace the need for natural gas solutions. In fact, I can not help but think that one reason why the anti-fracking movement is so popular is because there are so. many. other. solutions!
4. Take a day out of your schedule to protest.
While it is important to engage social media, and “like” all the anti-fracking groups on facebook you can find, or tag #occupythepipeline in a Twitter post, what remains crucial even with the amount of connection online is physical bodies organizing together to actually interfere with the daily lives of those who are neglecting their voices. The physical presence of bodies provides photographic evidence of community disapproval for the press, and is usually organized around an event or a space that directly interacts with those responsible for the construction. This is more than a number on a webpage. I know I cannot comprehend what thousands of angry New Yorkers look like when I see an outrageous number of “likes” on the screen. It is only when I see the number of bodies either in a photograph, video, or on the sidewalk that I really understand what thousands of people look like. Protesting in person is direct action, and a direct reminder that this is not what the community wants. Of course, the best way to connect with the actions happening every week is to join a fracking organization’s weekly newsletter, or simply check out their “events” section, like this one. A few Google searches, and you will realize there are events happening every day, even this week.
Write to your friends, write to Governor Cuomo, write to Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials, or write to the companies behind the Spectra Pipeline. This can be as simple as filling out some information into an email that is already formatted by the several organizations dedicated to the cause. On the other hand, you can get more creative by sending a letter to Chase, Citibank, or Wells Fargo, expressing your concern as a customer for their involvement in the Spectra pipeline construction.
6. Respond to this article.
Respond to this article and spread your ideas on how to change the future of the Spectra Pipeline! Trust me, your voice can be heard.