ROSELAND, NJ — Approximately 20 protestors gathered on Tuesday morning at the Roseland compressor station to participate in a civil disobedience action opposing a plan to expand the Eagle Rock Avenue facility. Renovations are currently underway to allow for double the current capacity of gas to travel through although the facility is being utilized by 5 percent of its current capacity.
Roseland police officers were already on site prior to the protestors’ march from the Essex County Environmental Center to the Williams Transco compressor site. Upon arrival at the gates, seven protestors walked onto the construction site linking arms in the main driveway to block construction equipment from moving onto the site. There were no instances of equipment being prevented from entering the site during the demonstration.
Ted Glick, President of 350NJ, and Karlos Edmonds, an organizer with Extinction Rebellion NJ, were peacefully arrested and taken to police headquarters on Harrison Avenue.
“I was charged with a minor, municipal charge, essentially a ticket, and will be going to municipal court at 5 p.m. on June 5,” said Glick. “I appreciated the professionalism shown by the Roseland police in their interactions with me.”
Other protestors sang songs, chanted and held up signs for motorists to see as their colleagues trespassed on the company’s grounds.
Concerns from the protestors included the fact that once the expansion is complete, the 60-year-old gas pipeline that currently runs through Roseland, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Little Falls, Montclair, Clifton, Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville, North Arlington, Lyndhurst, East Rutherford, Carlstadt, Ridgefield and North Bergen will be stressed due to the increased gas travelling through the heavily populated municipalities.
Protestors noted that the compressor station in Roseland previously had a leak that necessitated the evacuation of nearby Noecker Elementary School and this was while the compressor station was utilizing 5-percent capacity.
The activists are calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to stop construction while the project is subject to legal appeals, and to declare an emergency moratorium on all 12 fossil fuel expansion projects currently proposed or moving forward in New Jersey.
“We should be arresting massive corporations like Williams that continue exploiting our health, safety and future for their own profit,” said Food & Water Watch senior organizer Matt Smith. “By approving dirty and dangerous fossil fuel expansion projects like the Roseland compressor expansion, Governor Murphy is siding with Oklahoma oil companies over the people of New Jersey. We need a moratorium now.”
Carol Gay, president of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council, said she participated in Tuesday's "act of civil disobedience” because the project at the Roseland compressor station because “ is unnecessary and dangerous.”
“I am deeply concerned for the safety of the 16 communities and Montclair State University through which this 60-year-old pipeline passes,” said Gay. “Governor Murphy has the power and the authority to stop this, and he must do so if he truly means to reach the renewable energy goals he promised. We have a serious climate crisis and urgent action is needed before it is too late.”
Glick added that “hardly anyone in the area” is supporting the new compressor operation, and that it is being “unjustly imposed by the federal and state governments.”
“It is past time for Governor Murphy to do the right thing, stop construction and enact a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects in the state,” said Glick. “For Governor Murphy to support this is hypocritical given his often-stated belief in the need to move to renewable energy in New Jersey. For us, action is the best antidote to imposed wrong, and a necessity for positive change to happen…
“If construction continues, our growing movement will take nonviolent action again. We refuse to accept this abomination being imposed upon Roseland, East Hanover, the surrounding area and all the New Jersey towns the 60-year-old pipeline goes through.”
New Brunswick resident Karlos Edmonds, an organizer with the Extinction Rebellion NJ, said that if governments are not doing their job to protect “the people armed by their vigilance,” then those people “have to step in and do it for them.” She added that this gas compressor station—“like so many other harmful and dangerous fossil fuel projects” across the state—would lead the affected communities “on a path that has no future.”
“I am outraged that even though the Williams/Transco Gateway Expansion Project is under appeal by the town of Roseland and a coalition of several environmental groups, this company has been allowed by the Department of Environmental Protection to start construction,” said Bloomfield resident Jane Califf. “This project will push more gas through a 60-year old-pipeline that passes under Bloomfield where I live, 15 other towns and Montclair State University, threatening leaks, fires and explosions that put our health and safety in peril."
Sid Madison, a resident of Piscataway, said he risked arrest on Tuesday in order to “bring visibility to the continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in New Jersey, which is putting [the state] on a crash course with climate catastrophe.”
“The expansion of the Roseland compressor station is to ship more fracked gas to the region for other new polluting projects like the Meadowlands power plant – one of a dozen new fossil fuel projects that must be stopped,” said Madison. “I'm taking action today to call on Governor Murphy to stop all new fossil fuel projects by declaring a climate emergency moratorium."