Comedian Bill Cosby to Support Grassroots Movement Against Massachusetts Fracked Gas Pipeline
Comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille will not be present at the Massachusetts State House on July 30, 2014, but will be lending their enthusiastic voices supporting protesters delivering petitions against the proposed Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP). The 250-mile long Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline would transport natural gas produced by fracking from the western part of the state to a distribution center in the Boston suburbs. It has prompted a massive protest movement uniting landowners, local politicians, farmers, environmentalists and conservationists. Lawmakers from 22 local municipalities have passed resolutions against the project. Kinder Morgan is set to submit an application for approval of the project to federal regulators in September. Although Bill and Camille Cosby are unable to attend the final day of the rally, their daughter Erin Cosby will be representing the Cosbys on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday.
Bruce Winn, President of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Rosemary Wessel, Founder of the No Fracked Gas In Mass, Katy Eiseman, director of MassPlan, the statewide coalition against the pipeline and an impacted landowner and rally/march organizer will meet with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Wednesday afternoon.
The grassroots response is exactly the outcome the Cosbys feel is the best chance to circumvent the wide scale potential for environmental, economic, public safety and public health damage the project could likely cause. The event in Boston on Wednesday marks the end of the "Rolling Rally" that began on July 6 in Richmond, MA, southwest of Pittsfield, MA, at the New York border. Participants in the march walked across each community and passed along a symbolic piece of pipe to the next group of marchers from the next town at the city limits.
"We honor your collaborative determination and strength to oppose the Kinder-Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline's plan to penetrate our region with its toxicities," said the Cosbys in a recently released statement about the protest movement. "(The project) has political allies; such as, all six New England governors. That is astounding. Those entities are clear examples of disrespect for humans, flora and fauna. Thank you for challenging its egregious, exploitive strategies to encroach this magnificent area."
As longtime residents and dedicated environmental activists, the Cosbys have purchased land holdings in Western Massachusetts over the decades for preservation rather than investment, donating hundreds of acres in the pristine countryside to the Franklin Land Trust for conservation. The couple first heard of the project when they were among the many landowners receiving letters asking for permission by the pipeline company to survey their property. More than half of the landowners have rejected the company's request.
Camille Cosby's views on the project were first published in her article printed in a local newspaper last March. Writing in the Shelburne Falls and West County Independent, Ms. Cosby decried the encroachment of the pipeline listing a host of concerns, not the least the rush to embrace a technology that "has destroyed wetlands, flora, fauna, clean air, drinking water and created an accumulation of toxic waste." Ms. Cosby cited what has happened in New Jersey, Delaware, Texas and several other states "that have experienced perverse human and environmental consequences from gas pipelines."
Many critics including the Cosbys have criticized the rush to move forward on the fracked gas pipeline and more dependency on natural gas while not considering the greater benefits and gains from options of expanding renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency. Much of the proposed pipeline and supporting infrastructure (such as 5-10 acre sites for exhaust spewing compressor stations placed every forty to sixty miles) would damage sensitive ecosystems, wildlife preserves, state parks and farmlands for generations to come. TGP could use eminent domain laws to run through hundreds of private lands, depressing values and making it difficult for homeowners to sell their properties, obtain mortgages or purchase affordable insurance. A good portion of the gas delivered in the pipeline will be marketed for export sales with little if any benefit to the affected communities. The estimated $6 billion cost of the pipeline would be subsidized by Massachusetts taxpayers.
The Cosbys and the many thousands who are against the pipeline hope that the pressure to put the public good before the financial interests of energy company shareholders will return power to the people.
Links of interest: