Vermont Gas Announces More Cost Overruns and Delays on Pipeline

More Evidence Fracked Gas Pipeline is Bad Deal for Public

For immediate release

Contact information:
Shaina Kasper, Toxics Action Center, 802-223-4099
Rebecca Foster, Just Power,  (802) 425-4628
Barrie Bailey, Hands Across the Valley, (802) 352-4231

Joint Press Statement in Response to Vermont Gas Announcement of More Cost Overruns and Delays

Groups Say More Evidence that Fracked Gas Pipeline is Bad Deal for Public

Montpelier, VT --
This morning, Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) announced a second significant cost increase in Phase 1 of their proposed gas pipeline up to $154 million from the original $86 million. As a result, they are asking state to put the regulatory process on hold for Phase 2 of the pipeline.

“We’ve said all along that building this fracked gas pipeline is not in the best interest of the public in Vermont,” said Shaina Kasper, community organizer with Toxics Action Center in Vermont. “Today’s announcement validates local residents who have been working hard for a cleaner and safer energy future, and we urge the Public Service Board to take action and stop the project once and for all.”

The pipeline would get most of its gas from fracking, a process banned in Vermont in 2012. The VGS press conference comes just a day after New York followed Vermont’s footsteps in banning fracking in the state, citing health concerns. The New York health department published a report on Wednesday admitting that fracking is not safe, causing water contamination, methane leaks, and many other unintended toxic chemical releases.

“Building new fracked gas infrastructure would be a long-term commitment to continue to consume this toxic and dangerous fossil fuel,” said Barrie Bailey, leader of Hands Across the Valley, a community group fighting the pipeline.  “If the risks of fracking weren’t enough to convince the Public Service Board to rule against the pipeline, today’s announcement about added costs should tip them over the edge.”

The first phase of the fracked gas pipeline, from Colchester to Middlebury, already had a price hike of $86 million to $121 million, 40 percent. However, after reviewing the permission it granted for this pipeline expansion in 2013, the Public Service Board ruled in October that Vermont Gas could continue construction despite the cost increase. The secondary price hike to $154 million should have significant consequences for the feasibility of the project.

The second phase of the fracked gas pipeline, which would go under Lake Champlain, would provide a vast majority of its product not to Vermonters but to a single, private, out-of-state customer, International Paper.

“It is time to cut our losses on this project,” said Rebecca Foster, a leader of Just Power, a community group fighting the pipeline. “The proposed pipeline has left a trail of frustration and anger among ratepayers, landowners, and many thousands of Vermonters who want to build a healthy, fossil fuel-free future. Having VGS call the delay themselves is a sure sign even they know it is not a good idea anymore.”