MIDDLEBURY — Two people shut down construction at a Vermont Gas pipeline worksite today by locking themselves to an excavator, citing growing concerns about public exclusion in the permitting process.
Alex Prolman, of Burlington, and Jason Kaye, of Middlebury, have both been involved in efforts to stop the pipeline for several years. They say they have attended countless hearings, provided testimony and exhausted all legal routes to block the project.
“After three and a half years of participating earnestly in every opportunity afforded to me to stop this project in the regulatory processes of the state of Vermont, it has become clear that the state regulatory apparatus is designed to not incorporate true community involvement,” Kaye said.
Kaye, the chairperson of the Middlebury Energy Committee and long-time opponent of Vermont Gas’ expansion project, appeared before the Middlebury Selectboard at their June 14, 2016 meeting to explain his decision to take direct action to stop completion of the Vermont Gas pipeline project.
“There are no more legal avenues available that have a reasonable expectation of halting this project,” Kaye said to the Middlebury Selectboard. “Therefore, I am compelled by my conscience to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience as a means to sway Vermont Gas to abandon their project.”
Prolman, an organizer with Rising Tide Vermont, and a Vermont Gas customer, said, “Projects like this pipeline are going to keep getting rubber stamped until communities and social movements are strong enough to implement the change we need,” he said. “Under capitalism, the state’s duty is to further the interests of corporations. We can defeat this pipeline and transform our economic system, but not without mass organizing and action.”