by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — “I was arrested this morning,” said Crystal Zevon, of West Barnet, as she stood the morning of October 26 near the State House surrounded by news reporters. Her grey hair blowing in the breeze and clutching a shiny dark pink cane, Zevon explained to reporter Jack Thurston of New England Cable News that she had prepared for an incident of this kind.
“I woke up this morning and said, ‘I’m going to do whatever extraordinary means it takes’ …” to draw attention to the environmental detriments of the upcoming pipeline project underway by Vermont Gas slated for Addison County. “When our governor is meeting behind our backs with corporate interests despite (environmental) costs, we have to do something drastic. We have to say, ‘I can’t stand by this’.”
Zevon said she and two other people were arrested, placed in handcuffs and brought over to the Montpelier Police Department earlier in the day. She said she recalls there were two or three officers who were “very respectful.” Zevon has a brace on her arm and walks with a cane. She said the officers handcuffed her gently and charged with disorderly conduct. She is scheduled to appear in Barre Criminal Court on December 3.
Zevon was part of a group that numbered into the hundreds Saturday, October 24, with some people staying overnight in tents set up in the middle of State Street in front of the State House. Police diverted traffic away from the one block area throughout the weekend. By Monday morning around 9:45 a.m., all but about 25 protestors remained, including Zevon.
Zevon said she is not only bothered by the harm caused by “fracking” this project will entail, but also by the taking of land by eminent domain, which will be necessary in order for the project to be completed. According to an October 21 press release from Vermont Gas, “Vermont Gas filed nine eminent domain petitions with the Vermont Public Service Board. Vermont Gas will continue negotiating or mediating with landowners who are willing to seek alternatives to the eminent domain process. The right-of-way needed includes access for surveying, construction, and burial and maintenance of the underground pipeline and associated facilities.”
The project has been in the works for at least three years, according to the State of Vermont Public Service Board website, which satates, “On December 20, 2012, Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. filed a petition with the Public Service Board for approval to construct approximately 43 miles of new gas transmission pipeline along a specified route from Colchester to Middlebury. Vermont Gas Systems filed significant amendments to its petition on February 28, 2013, reflecting certain changes in the proposed route of the pipeline. Also included in the proposal are distribution mainlines that would connect the new transmission pipeline with locations in Vergennes and Middlebury, along with new pressure regulation stations in Williston and New Haven. (For details of the specific routes and facilities, please see the amended petition.) Vermont Gas Systems must obtain a “Certificate of Public Good” from the Public Service Board for the project in order to go forward. The case in which the Board will consider the company’s petition is Docket 7970.”
The company has already made forays into the northern counties of Franklin and Chittenden.