Federal Judge Orders Vermont Service Board to Open Hearing on Vermont Gas Pipeline

A federal judge has ordered that Vermont Public Service Board open its hearing on a natural gas pipeline project to the public despite the board’s previous claim that protestors would disrupt the hearing.

Critics of Vermont Gas Systems went to court to defend their First Amendment rights after the state board forbid the public to be present at a scheduled hearing about a pipeline that would cross through a local community park.

The board wrote in an order last month reporting its intention to close the August 4 hearing about the Vermont Gas pipeline due to experiences of protestors interfering with hearings by raising their voices loudly to sing and not abiding by authorities who told them to lower their voices so as not to disrupt the hearing.

Those who oppose the line will now have the option to be at the hearing. Some have said they oppose the line as it could disrupt bird habitats, cause harm to sensitive wetlands, and violate terms of the park’s origin, such as its educational and recreational use.