Hinesburg, Vt. – Over two hundred people rallied, and six people were arrested, at Geprags Community Park in Hinesburg to take a stand against the Fracked Gas Pipeline project, demonstrating that Vermont’s movement for climate justice is getting bigger and bolder. Geprags Community Park, a public park on which Vermont Gas has seized an easement using eminent domain, is the last remaining construction site of Phase I of the Vermont Gas pipeline project.
“We are resolute in our effort to prevent the construction of the Vermont Gas pipeline across Geprags Park, a public park deeded to the people of Hinesburg,” says Rachel Smolker, a Hinesburg resident and organizer with Protect Geprags Park. “Our little park is just one of many frontlines holding back the fossil fuel industry, which is intent on taking people’s land, making us sick and causing climate change. We cannot stand by and allow them to continue here in Hinesburg, or anywhere.”
Mary Martin of Cornwall, who fought for years to successfully defeat Phase II of the pipeline project, was in attendance at the rally. “Phase II is no longer a threat to our health and safety but Phase I still is. Climate change doesn’t differentiate between these fossil fuel projects, and neither do I in my resistance to them.”
After the rally in Geprags Community Park, the crowd traveled across the street to an active pipeline construction site and proceeded to obstruct construction. Six people were arrested while blocking Vermont Gas work trucks. “Vermonters have been working for four years to stop all phases of this pipeline project, and we’re not done yet,” said Tokar. “In this time of increasing climate chaos, it’s completely irresponsible to be building any new fossil fuel infrastructure here or anywhere.”
Following the six arrests, the crowd travelled en masse to Vermont Gas Systems office in South Burlington, where the rally was continued on the front lawn. “We took action today because Vermont Gas and state regulators have colluded from the beginning to increase VGS profits on the backs of working Vermonters and the future of our planet,” said Will Bennington of Rising Tide Vermont. “We refuse to let this injustice go unchallenged.”
“The pipeline has exposed the unjust nature of the Public Service Board and how little say the people of our state have against corporate utilities,” said Rebecca Dalgin, a resident of Montpelier and organizer with Central Vermont Climate Action. “The pipeline has become a galvanizing force for Vermonters from all over the state who are working toward climate justice.”
“And we are just getting started,” says Dalgin. “I believe folks from all over the state will continue to work together far beyond this pipeline fight to create a future with a stable climate and justice for all of us.”