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December 05, 2016
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The power is ours

This July, with two of five FERC commissioners dissenting, the commission approved Millennium Pipeline Company’s Minisink project, rejecting an alternative proposal to locate a smaller compressor station at a different, more rural, location that would not impact so many people in a residential community. On September 18 after Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety appealed for a rehearing, the commissioners agreed. Yet five days later, they nevertheless authorized construction to commence. On October 9, FERC specifically declined to halt construction. This is one of several injustices the protestors perceive—if a rehearing has been promised, shouldn’t construction be stopped or, at least, shouldn’t the rehearing be expedited? And why is this industrial project being sited in a residential neighborhood in the first place?

Stop Minisink Compressor Station (or StopMCS.org), as the opponents call their group on Facebook and their website, has continued to widen their call for more people to attend their protest rallies. They have won support from U.S. Representative Nan Hayworth and from U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for an expedited FERC rehearing.

This is people power at work. And although this may look like a David and Goliath fight, never underestimate the power of suasion from people who believe they may have everything to lose. After all, Gandhi, the man who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” persuaded enough of his countrymen to stand up to injustice and, together, they brought down the British Empire in India through peaceful protest and by owning the moral high ground. If the Minisink residents, who clearly feel they own the moral high ground, can enlist enough others to their cause, they may just win their fight.

This is what people power is about—people reclaiming the promised power of democracy—people standing up and saying, “The power is ours.” This brings us back to Tuesday’s election. Turnout among American voters is notoriously low. Perhaps more registered voters should look to the example of Minisink residents by celebrating people power and turning out to vote.