Charges against pipeline protesters reduced

GREAT BARRINGTON — The last of 24 pipeline protesters arrested in Sandisfield earlier this month — the majority of whom are from the Pioneer Valley — had their criminal charges reduced to civil infractions Thursday at the Southern Berkshire District Courthouse in Great Barrington.

Activists, all members of the Sugar Shack Alliance, say it was their goal to hinder tree-cutting in advance of construction of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. pipeline, which they oppose. The company is a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan.

The climate activists faced criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.

Vivienne Simon, of Northampton, was among those arraigned Thursday. She said the group plan to plead guilty and pay the civil fines, though they assert “it’s still just an open public forest and we all have the right to be there.”

Action will continue, she said, until Federal Energy Regulatory Control Commission holds the hearing they promised.

“FERC still hasn’t had the rehearing that the residents of Sandisfield were told they were going to get,” she said. “We’re not going to stop, because there’s no one else who’s going to do it.”

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com

Author: Going Green

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