The oil and gas pipelines that have become flashpoints for protests around the country don’t build themselves, of course. As we recently documented with the Dakota Access pipeline, major Wall Street financial institutions are the money behind these dirty energy projects. So what happens when activists fighting pipelines decide to confront the corporate interests looking to profit from climate destruction?
We found out this week at a hotel in Times Square, the site of the Financing US Power Conference. That’s where the vice president of Ares Management was appearing on an afternoon panel discussion. While the Los Angeles-based firm is not a household name, Ares is the main financial backer of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines, a mammoth 170-mile shale oil pipeline from Albany, New York to a port in Linden, New Jersey. A second pipeline would send refined oil products back up to New York.
This is an idea so monumentally awful that legions of towns along the pipeline route in both states have voiced strong opposition. The grassroots coalition that has led the fight against Pilgrim deserves the credit for mobilizing communities that want to protect clean water and delicate ecosystems.
The Times Square action — led by New York Communities for Change, 350.org Brooklyn, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, and Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter — was designed to bring the message directly to a representative of the company responsible. After assembling outside, a few dozen activists marched into the hotel, chanting “Ares, Ares, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!” They made their way into the room where the panel was being held, much to the shock and dismay of the panelists and attendees. The protestors held the floor for several minutes, where they decried the project’s impacts on climate change and communities, and made their determination to stop the project extremely clear to a roomful of people anxious about protecting their investments.
The Pilgrim Pipelines project is destined to fail, for a number of reasons. As the company begin the process of seeking approval from various state regulatory agencies, the firm is now on notice that they will be facing determined citizen opposition at every step of the way – and that it’d be financially prudent for them to walk away from this doomed proposal.