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Spectra Pipeline Protesters Appear In Cortlandt Court; More Actions Planned

Several opponents of the Spectra gas pipeline project occupied one of the energy company's pipes earlier this month. The protesters, who have been charged with trespassing, appeared in Cortlandt Town Court on Monday.
Several opponents of the Spectra gas pipeline project occupied one of the energy company's pipes earlier this month. The protesters, who have been charged with trespassing, appeared in Cortlandt Town Court on Monday. Photo Credit: Resist Spectra/Facebook

CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- Several protesters who temporarily blocked Spectra’s AIM project by occupying one of the energy company’s pipes have appeared in Cortlandt Town Court.

According to Courtney Williams of Resist Spectra, four of the six who were arrested earlier this month on criminal trespassing charges were arraigned on Monday. The district attorney had not prepared the paperwork for the other two, and so they will be arraigned at a later date, Williams said.

There was a seventh person arrested, on suspicion of trespassing, on Oct. 10, Williams said, but she was not actually part of the protest.

According to Resist Spectra, the six protesters arrested were JK Canepa, Judy Allen, Janet Gonzalez, Dave Publow, Mackenzie Wilkins, and Rebecca Berlin.

Wilkins, Berlin, Gonzalez and Publow were actually inside the pipe and they were the ones processed in court Monday, Williams said. They stayed inside the pipe for about 16 hours.

Motions in the case will be filed on Monday, Nov. 14.

The protesters are being represented by David N. Dorfman, a law professor at Pace University.

He is the head of the Barbara Salken Criminal Justice Clinic, which represents indigent defendants charged with misdemeanor crimes in the Bronx.

The pipeline project will carry natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region to points north and runs under the Hudson River and through Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties.

Activists, local residents, politicians and environmentalists have appealed to the federal government to halt the project, at least until independent health and safety studies have been done.

Of special concern is the pipeline’s proximity to Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power facility in the village of Buchanan.

The clock is ticking down to November, when, Williams said Monday, Spectra hopes to turn the gas on.

Pipeline opponents feel that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.) who is reputed to be the most powerful Democrat in Congress, needs to do more than just send letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking that the project be suspended.

Protesters plan to hold “actions” in front of all of Schumer’s offices in New York state on Wednesday, Oct. 26, Williams said.

“It’s a crisis,” she added.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has joined Schumer in expressing concern about the project, which would replace the existing 26-inch pipeline with a 42-inch one.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Oct. 18, a group known as Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) will host a tour for health and disaster preparedness professions at the site of the project near Indian Point, said spokeswoman Shannon Gearhart.

Leading the tour will be Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Earth Institute at Columbia University and Paul Blanch, a nuclear power expert.

It starts at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of 11th Street and Highland Avenue in Verplanck and proceeds to Broadway heading toward Bleakley Avenue.

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