By ALEXANDER VASILEV
A group of approximately 50 people, including Ramapo college students and faculty as well as local community members gathered together on a chilly March morning to protest against the Tennessee Gas Pipeline going through the Ramapo Valley County Reservation.
The protest was held on March 5, 10 p.m. at the parking lot of Ramapo Reservation. Some of the Ramapo faculty members that attended the event were Patricia Keeton, Marta Bautis, and Harriet Shugarman. Environmental studies students and members of 1STEP (Students Together for Environmental Progress), a sustainability group on campus, also attended the event.
After the protest of the parking lot, students marched along Ramapo Valley Road, chanting and holding posters to promote awareness of the issue and help stop the fracking.
“We need to start acting like a global village,” said Harriet Shugarman, an adjunct professor at Ramapo College and executive director of Climate Mama. She said that people should start acting “before we poison our water, before we poison our air, before it is too late.”
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline L.L.C. is a part of Kinder Morgan Inc., one of the leading energy transportation companies in the United States. According to Kinder Morgan’s official website, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline “13,900-mile pipeline that transports natural gas from Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico and south Texas to the northeast section of the United States, including New York City and Boston.”
The most current initiative of the company is called the Northeast Upgrade Project and it aims to “enhance Tennessee’s existing 300 Line and associated facilities to provide for additional natural gas transportation,” according to Kinder Morgan’s website.
The project will involve the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking.” Fracking is the uses liquid under pressure to create cracks in the rocks and enhance the extraction of natural gas from the ground.
Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lenape Nation was one of the speakers at the protest on March 5 . He provided information that the company responsible for the fracking, also intends to construct 12 buildings in the Ramapo County Park in order to support the process.
Matthew Smith from the Food and Water Watch in New Jersey was one of the main organizers of the protest. He said that “there’s a lot of danger involved,” with the process of building the pipeline in the Ramapo Reservation. Smith added that air and water pollution can occur as a “direct result of the fracking.”
According to the speakers at the protest the construction of the pipeline is not going to benefit the New Jersey community. They said that the companies involved in the project are looking the sell the natural gas overseas.
“It’s not providing us with energy independence,” said Harriet Shugarman.
According to Shugarman, “Ramapo students have the unique opportunity to witness the fossil fuel industry in their back yard.” She says that since Ramapo College has been a leader in using energy in a responsible and sustainable way, its students have the responsibility to “connect the dots” and impact the bigger community.