A group of environmental activists gathered in Yorktown’s Willow Park Saturday to bring awareness to the mass destruction in the park and surrounding neighborhood caused by the installation of a 42-inch pipeline.
Healing and Protecting Our Land Together: A Call to Prayer, a local group of environmental activists, held an interfaith vigil at the park on Curry Street where roughly 25 attendees began their statewide “Walk the Talk” campaign calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop the build out of fracked-gas infrastructure.
“We want him to walk the talk,” said Croton-on-Hudson resident Paola DalleCarbonare, founder of Healing and Protecting. “He talks nice, but his actions are not up to his speeches. If he wants to be an environmentalist, he needs to step up.”
After Cuomo declared New York must “double down by investing in the fight against dirty fossil fuel and fracked gas from neighboring states,” in his State of the State address, his administration approved a water permit that allowed for the second expansion of the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline putting parts of Westchester under the control of Spectra Energy.
Sister Bette Ann Jaster, a Dominican Sister of Hope, led the vigil requesting attendees to breathe in the air and to appreciate the sky, trees and ground below them. She then led the group in rendition of “We Are All One Planet,” and several poems praying for climate justice.
“We gather here at Willow Park where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved an illegal segmented pipeline of fracked gas to go through another neighborhood taking down trees, compromising wetlands, destroying habitats, disrupting lives of families all for financial gain of the few, while putting the lives of millions at risk; poisoning water, air, soil and lives,” Jaster said during the rainy vigil. “It has been scientifically proven that fossil fuels are seriously harming our planet home. This is not someone else’s home, it’s ours and we are here to say no.”
With the Atlantic Bridge Pipeline project in Yorktown underway, Spectra Energy, which owns the pipeline, has caused devastation throughout the community. Age-old trees have been sliced down in several residential backyards, Legacy Field, near Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin elementary schools, and Willow Park.
“My husband is terribly upset by all the trees being taken down. There are a lot of children that play here,” said 28-year resident Patricia Canini. “Our son used that playground and the fields. It’s horrible.”
The purpose of the project is to replace the existing 26-inch pipe, which was installed in 1954, with a 42-inch pipe, which is meant to increase the demand for natural gas.
Attendees feared the health and safety risks the construction and expansion project would cause, stating that children will be playing on fracked gas.
Jaster added that AIM has already ruined the air, soil and water in Buchanan, Verplanck and Peekskill, running below the Hudson River, through Blue Mountain Reservation and within 105 feet of Indian Point.
County resident Elaine Weir expressed her concern with the pipeline located next to Indian Point, contending that it’s a serious threat to Westchester and the New York City water supply.
“I can’t believe that our representatives would allow a pressurized natural gas pipeline so near a nuclear power plant that has radioactive material and waste that is not going to go away for many, many thousands of years,” Weir said. “It’s unbelievable that anybody would allow this to happen.”
A presentation on the dangers of the pipeline is scheduled to take place on Monday, December 4 at 7 p.m. at Somers Intermediate School.