New York Governor Should Halt the Millennium Valley Lateral Pipeline

by Duane Nichols on January 1, 2018

Bald Eagles must be protected in the USA

Governor Cuomo: Halt pipeline work to protect bald eagle nests

Commentary by Clara Soaring Hawk and Betty Lyons, Albany Times Union, December 29, 2017

It seems Gov. Andrew Cuomo has chosen action over words when it comes to protecting New Yorkers from the depredations of fossil fuel addiction, most recently calling for divesting state pension funds from fossil fuel corporations.

And he has shown courage, and a respect for science, that is sorely missing from environmental oversight in the Trump administration, in his 2014 decision to impose a moratorium (that is often incorrectly portrayed as a ban) on hydrofracking wells in the Marcellus shale, which would have threatened our water supply and the sanctity of Mother Earth.

As Indigenous women, we know there is still much more Cuomo must do, and he must do it quickly.

As we urged the governor in a letter sent on the winter solstice, Cuomo should go beyond his call for divestment and protect the nesting area of the majestic bald eagles by asking the state Department of Environmental Conservation to halt construction of the Millennium Valley Lateral Pipeline.

The pipeline, under construction in Orange County, would carry natural gas extracted from underground shale fracking wells in Pennsylvania. That pipeline is the last stretch needed to operationalize the massive 580-megawatt Competitive Power Ventures methane plant nearing completion in Wawayanda in Orange County. The state claims this is a “bridge” between the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which Cuomo has called for, and a future powered by renewable fuels that do not hurt our Mother Earth the way fossil fuels do.

What Cuomo ought to see is that the era of renewables is already upon us. We need creativity, vision and commitment to avoid an interim step with fracked methane gas that poses severe threats to people, wildlife and the land.

As Indigenous women whose people have lived here since time immemorial, it is our responsibility to speak for those who do not have a voice. The letter to Cuomo discussed the impact of heavy construction just 80 feet from a nesting pair of federally protected bald eagles in Orange County. This is where Chief Soaring Hawk was raised. We must speak for these eagles.

The federal government overruled New York state’s previous moves to stop construction of the Wawayanda methane plant on a federally designated wetlands. This cleared the permits for a project that will require 100-150 fracking wells a year to make it commercially viable. Cuomo needs to fight back against the Trump administration.

We have watched in horror as the Trump administration has reversed decades of environmental protections to support and even subsidize already-lucrative extractive industries including coal, oil and fracking. It went so far as to include in the recently passed tax bill a provision to open up the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the highest bidder, which is certain to visit untold devastation on the sacred land of our Indigenous relatives of the Gwich’in Nation, whose lifeways and identity is tied to the land and the porcupine caribou.

With the governor’s commitment to close Indian Point exacerbating an upsurge in New York’s role in the transport, storage and export of fossil fuel infrastructure, the welcome move to divest state resources from investments in those fossil fuel companies could prove to be a symbolic gesture, ignoring a far more imminent threat.

As with banning fracking, we know Cuomo has the ability to take the high road and do what is right for the residents of New York. We reiterate to Cuomo: Your decisions must be inclusive of all life, not just those who can vote for you.

More Information

Chief Clara Soaring Hawk is Deer Clan Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation. Betty Lyons is president of the American Indian Law Alliance and a citizen of the Onondaga Nation, Snip Clan.

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Bill McKibben January 4, 2018 at 12:45 am’s Bill McKibben on New York Governor Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State Address

From on January 3, 2018

Press Release: For Immediate Release

New York, NY – In his 2018 State of the State Address today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his commitment to work with State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to divest the State’s pension funds from fossil fuels and reinvest in solutions such as renewable energy. This comes just weeks after Governor Cuomo and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer pledged to divest New York’s pension funds from coal, oil and gas.

In response, Bill McKibben, co-founder, offered the following statement:

“The thorough-going divestment Andrew Cuomo promised today is precisely what we need state and local leaders to do in the age of Trump: go above and beyond, with actions that not only protect the physical and financial futures of their own domains but also offer true global leadership in the climate fight.”

At a combined $390 billion, the New York City and State divestment commitments are one of the first U.S. pension systems to commit to dropping coal, oil, and gas, and the largest full divestment commitment in the world.

The #DivestNY coalition and New York communities will continue to work to hold elected officials at all levels accountable for bold and swift climate action, such as divestment from fossil fuels, reinvestment in 100% renewable energy, and building the Fossil Free world that works for all New Yorkers.


350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.



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