Yesterday we had a hearing before Justice Rakower of the New York Supreme Court for New York County in the suit against the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT). We had an enormous show of support from our community. More than twice the number of people showed up for the seats available (apologies to all who had to be turned away, and gratitude for making the effort to attend).
A full report on the proceedings will be forthcoming shortly, but it went very well, especially considering the firepower from the other side: Four lawyers representing the HRPT, Spectra and Con Ed presented oral arguments to Justice Rakower, while an additional team of 6 more lawyers observed. This against our lead lawyer, Jeff Zimmerman, and local counsel, Jonathan Geballe; our third consulting attorney, Richard Lippes, the third member of our legal team, had a another hearing in a different city. In our opinion, even with 10 to 2, our side rocked it.
To answer the immediate question most people have asked: There was no ruling at the hearing. From a procedural standpoint, the matter before the court was a motion by the Trust and the pipeline company, Texas Eastern Transmission, to dismiss our case. While the judge could decide this motion at any time, in may be weeks or even months before a decision is made. It is also possible the Judge may want additional information from the parties, and might even hold another hearing. And once a decision happens, that's unlikely to be the end of it. If the ruling is in our favor, Spectra and HRPT can be expected to appeal. At this moment, based on what we witnessed, we are optimistic.
A Special Night.
The day's show of support continued into our year-end celebration and screening. Following the film, "Living Downstream," a full house stayed for a lengthy discussion. When it's almost 11 o'clock on a school night, and you've got a roomful of people still milling about talking animatedly about the environment, you know you've got a highly-engaged community!
Friends and allies were a big and joyful presence last night, with toasts given by the leaders of all the groups who have been in this fight with us, and recalling the two years we've worked in solidarity. If you missed it, watch this terrific video recapping of all the action from the past year. Since the beginning, Sane Energy Project (SEP) has been about building alliances. SEP originally formed as a coalition from several different groups. These alliances have grown stronger and expanded. Not only are 5 other groups involved as co-petitioners in our lawsuit, but Occupy has been a vital force in this fight. OWS was the force that turned out a march of 300 people, led by Mark Ruffalo, to last October's FERC hearing; Occupy the Pipeline was an on-the-street presence every day that Spectra was in construction mode; and now alliances are building with Occupy Sandy, in a joint effort to fight climate change and keep another dangerous pipeline out of already-devastated Rockaway.
Thanks again to all our allies and supporters: Every single person who shows up at rallies, writes an email, calls an official; every organization that amplifies each others voices; and every venue that supports us, especially the Brecht Forum and La Nacional, who so generously host our events.
And then there's tomorrow.
These alliances are crucial. These friendships are deep. With your help, we're going to keep growing, and we're going to win this fight against fracking and pipelines. So many people last night said, "I wish I'd brought my friend to see this." Bring your friends! Please. Next time and next time and the next. More than anything else, we want and need your personal commitment, your presence, your voice. And there's lots of ways to help, no matter what your time allows:
Yesterday's hearing was just one step in what will be an ongoing battle. In order to support the tireless lawyers who've worked overtime for our cause (at much-reduced rates), we need your help. Please support the fight by becoming a member or making a donation.
Our court case is just getting under way, and it's not the only legal battle. Sierra Club and FWW will be going into federal court against FERC next year, with support from Sane Energy Project. That lawsuit will be another crucial aspect in the fight against Spectra.
If you are a member of Sierra Club, you can increase your impact on Spectra by voting in the current election: Sierra Club's NYC group has five seats open on the 9-person executive committee (ex-comm). But out of 10,000 members, only a few hundred vote, so every vote counts heavily. If you are a Sierra Club member, for the good of the fight against Spectra, we urge you to cast your vote. The deadline is the end of the year, so don't delay. Email us if you want more info about the candidates that Sane Energy Project endorses: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have an ongoing campaign to make electeds aware of our concerns, and specific action alerts on our website and via these newsletters. As our "INSPIRATION" film series launch proved, the way out of the despair and overwhelm is through action. Please join us and this wonderful community, we will change the world, there's no doubt.