CORTLANDT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Protesters on Friday temporarily stopped work on a controversial gas pipeline through Westchester County – by placing themselves in danger.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the Algonquin pipeline standoff ended with the intervention of county police. Friday marked the second day of protesters creeping close to the heavy tree-cutting equipment in the woods in Cortlandt.
“I think we’re here to stop this desecration of the land,” said retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard.
Police moved the protesters back.
“I’m not here to have a conversation,” an officer said to the protesters. “I’m here to get everybody out of here.”
Pipeline work was shut down for a while on Thursday, while one protester put herself in harm’s way. Nancy Vann owns the property, but the company took an easement through eminent domain and Vann does not like it.
“There are two ways of keeping me safe,” Vann said. “Either they can make me move, or they can stop cutting down the trees until we can go to court.”
The ambitious natural gas pipeline project goes under the Hudson River all the way to Lambertville, New Jersey on one end. At the other end, it runs all the way to the Atlantic Coast in Massachusetts.
The project has the approval of federal regulators, but critics said it moving too far too fast and needs a court review.
“We are doing everything we can to keep every bit of fossil fuel back in the ground,” said Susan Ruben of Chappaqua. “No one in Westchester County is getting any of this gas. Nobody in the Northeast is getting any of this gas. This is going to be exported for profit.”
The pipeline, it turns out, also runs very close to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The project has been fast-tracked on a path environmentalists said seems impervious to court challenges.
With the protesters at a safe distance late in the day, the tree-clearing work resumed.
“I see that they’re getting their way,” said John Grant of Cortlandt.
The builders, Spectra Energy, said they expect to be delivering natural gas to the international market late next year through the pipeline.
Westchester County police said they made no arrests, and moved the protesters out of safety concerns.