Quantcast

A (Pipe)line Even Chevron Won’t Cross

Energy

Food & Water Watch

By Scott Edwards

It was one of those infrequent eye-openers that went largely unnoticed. On March 13, 2012 Chevron submitted an emergency motion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, raising “serious environmental concerns” with a planned natural gas pipeline that is charted to run across land belonging to Chevron’s subsidiary, Texaco. The 16 mile long pipeline, proposed by Spectra Energy, is slated to bring fracked gas from New Jersey, across Texaco’s property in Bayonne, under the Hudson River and into the West Village in Manhattan. Now it seems that one of the dirtiest industries on Earth is siding with environmentalists who have been raising concerns for months about the adverse impacts of the Spectra pipeline.

Chevron is a company that has engaged in some of the most horrific environmental and human rights crimes across the planet. In Ecuador they poisoned Amazonian rainforest communities with hundreds of unlined oil pits and billions of gallons of poisonous sludge poured into local water sources. In Nigeria, Chevron has been linked to the deaths of indigenous activists who were against irresponsible oil production in the countryside. And just last week in Brazil, Chevron executives had their passports confiscated by a judge so they couldn’t flee the country after Brazilian prosecutors laid criminal charges arising from an oil spill. This is a company that sees the environment merely as a convenient place to dump its wastes, where every pristine land mass is a landfill in waiting and every waterway an opportunity to dilute their toxics. If Chevron has environmental concerns about a project, then you know that truly unmitigated devastation of biblical proportions is imminent. The end may truly be near. 

Chevron’s issue with the Spectra project is related to the release of benzene, a known human carcinogen, into the surrounding waterways and communities should the pipeline be built as planned. Of course, Chevron doesn’t really care about the ecological impacts of the Spectra pipeline—they’re concerned with their own liability for the additional releases of benzene from the highly polluted parcel of land they own that the pipeline would bring. Predictably, they’re not looking out for the environment, they’re looking out for their pocketbook. It just happens to be one of those very rare moments when corporate greed and community health happen to overlap. 

Nevertheless, Chevron’s concerns add to a long list of environmental and public health problems cited by environmental groups and community members who have been opposing the Spectra pipeline since its inception. The pipeline will cut through some of the most heavily industrialized and densely populated areas of New Jersey and New York—areas that already bear a disproportionate share of environmental burdens. The impact from construction activities alone will expose members of these communities to increased levels of health-damaging particulate matter in an area that is chronically in Non-Attainment for the Clean Air Act’s ambient air quality standards for PM2.5. Construction of the pipeline will also potentially impact numerous freshwater wetlands and other waterbodies and the species they support, in addition to disturbing already contaminated areas and thereby raising the potential for further exposing these communities to harmful contamination. Moreover, the operation of the pipeline in the midst of vulnerable communities increases the risk of exposure to hazardous air pollutants.

FERC, the federal agency that licenses and approves the Spectra pipeline, has been ignoring numerous concerns raised by the local and environmental communities. Just three days after Chevron filed its emergency request to halt the pipeline, FERC issued the final Environmental Impact Statement greenlighting the project. Given the agency’s willingness to kowtow to the big energy industries, one can only assume that Chevron’s request and FERC’s approval must have crossed in the mail. Whatever the case, this may be the only time in life I ever root for Chevron.

The Spectra pipeline is an accident waiting to happen in one of the most heavily populated regions of the country. In addition, it’s being proposed to help facilitate the devastating practice of gas fracking in the Marcellus shale region. The environmental impacts of the project are undeniable. If you don’t believe the environmentalists, just ask Chevron.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less