"This project is a fiasco," said demonstrator Jane Palmer of Monkton. "It's not for Vermont or Vermonters; it's for a big corporation that's looking to make money."
With 11 miles of pipeline already laid from Colchester to Williston, this year, it's 30 more miles to Middlebury to go for the utility, which has the approval of top state regulators.
"Our work is moving forward," Vermont Gas spokeswoman Beth Parent said, noting the protests Monday did not entirely halt progress because crews could focus their energies elsewhere. "There is definitely a need for this project. This is a good project for Addison County and the state of Vermont."
Parent insisted the pipeline will extend a fresh choice to thousands of customers in the Middlebury area, who are eager to ditch propane or oil for heating their homes and businesses.
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But for years, environmentalists with Rising Tide Vermont have blasted the $154-million project as too expensive, too harsh on the landscape, and too stuck in the past, for continuing the use of fossil fuels.
"Folks have their opinions of what the project is, and they need to be heard," Williston Police Chief Todd Shepard told necn. "But on the same token, work does have to continue, and the workers have the rights to be here to do their project. They should be entitled to also continue their job."
Williston Police said five protestors were arrested and released with citations to appear in court at a later date to face charges of trespassing and resisting arrest.
The protestors receiving citations, according to Williston Police, were Barbara Alsop, 64, of Huntington, Karen Bixler, 74, of Bethel, Christopher Schroth, 29, of Plainfield, Geoffrey Gardner, 73 of Fairlee, and Sophia Wilansky, 21 of the Bronx, New York.
Parent said Vermont Gas is maintaining a laser focus on safety for its workers, contractors, and for any protestors who may show up at work sites. Parent said Vermont Gas has, where possible, agreed to set up safe protest zones for demonstrators to voice their opposition to the construction.