West Roxbury, Boston, MA – On Saturday, February 13, 2016 Unitarian Universalists from across Massachusetts gathered at Theodore Parker Church to organize against the construction of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.
Texas based Spectra Corporation is building a pipeline that will carry fracked gas into the West Roxbury, Boston, MA community. The pipeline has been met with strong local resistance.
While Unitarian Universalists have participated in previous protests, organizers are now reaching out to Unitarian Universalists congregations across the state to supersize their numbers.
Mobilizing 500+ Unitarian Universalists
The stated goal of this organizing effort is to mobilize 500+ Unitarian Universalists to join the local resistance fighting the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline and to block construction when Spectra returns in April.
If successful, this would be the one of the largest coordinated Unitarian Universalist social justice action in Massachusetts history.
Congregations interested in participating in this effort may contact Evan Seitz, UU Mass Action Climate Justice Organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Resist the Pipeline website, there are many local concerns and larger issues related to climate change driving opposition to Spectra building a pipeline carrying fracked gas into West Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts.
- This is a high pressure pipeline (750 psi) at risk for explosion. It will run within a hundred feet of an active blasting quarry, and through residential neighborhoods, and past several schools.
- Massachusetts does not face an energy crisis, and does not need new gas infrastructure. Residents will not get a monetary benefit from the additional natural gas supply. If anything, our utility rates will likely increase.
- The local permitting process was overridden by the abuse of the concept of “Eminent Domain”. This pipeline was not approved by the local permitting process, but by a travesty of democracy that used the power of a federal agency to override local concerns.The FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), which oversees and approves all gas pipeline projects, gave Spectra Energy permission to build this pipeline. FERC is a remote and unaccountable federal agency, with the authority to override all local legal processes. In the words of Robert Kennedy Jr., FERC is a “rogue agency, a captive agency, controlled by the big energy corporations.”
- Natural gas is mostly methane. Methane is 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. Methane is also a local health risk, because of the reality of leaks and groundwater contamination at the source where it is fracked. It is also, like any fossil fuel, turned into C02 when it is burned, adding to the overall unsustainable amount of carbon in the atmosphere already.
- The crisis of climate change requires us to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure–such as this gas pipeline. Instead we should invest in conservation, fixing leaks, and invest in renewable energy infrastructure. All new fossil fuel infrastructure will help bring the planet to a tipping point for climate change, after which it cannot be stopped. Climatologists and other scientists are now in total agreement that in order to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius, we must stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere immediately. (Methane, the main component of fracked gas, is turned into CO2 when it is burned, like all other fossil fuels.)
Dangers of Boston Region Gas Leaks
The Feb 13th gathering included a presentation on the hazards of Boston area methane leaks from existing natural gas infrastructure by Boston University Earth & Environment Professor Nathan Phillips.
Community leaders representing a range of local organizations shared briefings on their efforts to date. Organizations represented included Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, Resist the Pipeline, UU Mass Action and other local faith communities.
Unitarian Universalists are working to step up their game when it comes to climate justice.
At the Peoples Climate March Unitarian Universalists launched the Commit2Respond campaign, a growing coalition of Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience working for climate justice.
Individual congregations are taking bold action as well.
On Nov 8, 2015 the First Parish in Bedford, MA (Unitarian Universalist) passed a Resolution Declaring Our Right to a Livable Climate by majority vote.
The resolution clarifies the congregations position on the fossil fuel industry and the disruption that industry is causing to the climate. It states that “we have an inalienable right to a liveable climate, and that both the fossil fuel industry and the laws that support that industry are in violation of those rights.”
The resolution states the congregation intends to fight for and defend the right to a liveable climate through organizing and supporting those who engage in civil disobedience to block new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Below is the full text of the resolution, followed by a video calling for other Unitarian Universalists to join this fight.
A Resolution Declaring our Right to a Livable Climate
First Parish Bedford Unitarian Universalist Congregational Resolution (passed Nov. 8, 2015)
Whereas, we are a community of faith that values the inherent worth and dignity of all people and communities, and seek to create and defend a world in which all people may lead full and productive lives;
Whereas, at least 80% of declared fossil fuel reserves in the ground must remain in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, defined by the international community as warming over 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit);
Whereas, fossil fuel companies have stated publicly they intend to burn all their known reserves, thereby directly threatening the livability of Bedford and Massachusetts;
Whereas, fossil fuel companies continue to grow their businesses by building new infrastructure to extract and transport fossil fuels;
Whereas, fossil fuel companies are a keystone institution within an economic system that has resulted in rising inequality and which systematically ignores the needs of people of color, workers, and communities with the fewest resources;
Whereas, we know that a world without the burning of fossil fuels is technologically possible, and that a transition to this world is being blocked by the fossil fuel companies and the politicians influenced by them;
Whereas, we know that climate disruption caused by the burning of fossil fuels is causing forced migrations, food shortages, mass extinctions, and the disruption of indigenous peoples around the world:
Therefore, be it resolved, by the First Parish in Bedford, that the congregation:
Recognizes that we have an inherent right to a livable climate, and that right trumps laws legitimizing the continued extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
- Recognizes the continuation of extraction and burning of fossil fuels as immoral; therefore the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure is unconscionable.
- Supports those in our community who through organizing or non-violent civil disobedience seek to reject or dismantle the laws legitimizing this industry.
- Opposes any tariffs that may be imposed on Massachusetts ratepayers to fund new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the proposed Kinder Morgan and Spectra pipelines.
- Stands in solidarity with frontline communities in their efforts to oppose fossil fuel infrastructure.
- Empowers our ministers and elected officials to act in accordance to this resolution in conducting public affairs and speaking on behalf of this congregation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, if approved, the clerk of the Parish shall, within 30 days of the vote of the congregation, forward a copy of this resolution and the vote thereon to Gov. Charlie Baker, President of the Senate Stanley Rosenberg, State Representative Kenneth Gordon, State Senator Michael Barrett, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen Edward Markey, Congressman Seth Moulton, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and the chair and commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.