Opponents of FERC’s role in permitting gas projects that worsen the climate crisis prepare for Pope’s visit to DC
By Melinda Tuhus
(September 8, 2015) WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Tuesday morning, a dozen people begin an 18-day water-only fast in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to raise awareness of the agency’s contribution to worsening climate change and to harming the health and well-being of frontline communities where these projects are built.
The fasters, ranging in age from 19 to 72, are demanding that FERC issue “No New Permits” for industry projects such as interstate pipelines, compressor stations and LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminals until the agency prioritizes solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy. These projects release methane pollution, a potent greenhouse gas that is worsening the impacts of climate change.
Fasters, organized by Beyond Extreme Energy, will hold vigil in front of FERC, 888 First St. NE, Washington, D.C., weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. They will be joined by others fasting for shorter periods at FERC or in their own communities.
They will end their fast on Friday, September 25, the day after Pope Francis speaks to Congress, where he is expected to address the issue of climate change and its disparate impact on the world’s poor.
Excerpts from fasters’ statements (https://beyondextremeenergy.org/testimony-of-the-fasters/):
Francis Eatherington of Roseburg, OR: “I will be fasting to help FERC understand the devastation caused by permitting projects like the Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal and pipeline in my home state of Oregon. In September FERC will be releasing their final environmental study which will likely claim there is no harm from exporting fracked natural gas from Oregon to Asia. FERC will allow Veresen, a foreign corporation, to take land from over 300 Oregonians, including my land, with eminent domain to build a 230-mile pipeline across our state’s pristine forests and farmland, ending at Coos Bay on the Pacific coast.”
Ted Glick of Bloomfield, NJ: “Fasts and hunger strikes are usually undertaken when things are serious, when those with the power to right a wrong have consistently refused to do so despite repeated protests. That is our situation with FERC, an agency that has a revolving-door relationship with the gas and fossil fuel industry. It has proven itself over the last year to be a corrupt and complicit agency. I will be fasting to appeal to FERC employees, to members of Congress, to court judges and to the American people to take action to stop FERC’s rubber stamping of fracked gas infrastructure proposals.”
Jane Johnson of Amherst, MA: “I will be fasting on September 24th, which would have been my brother’s 70th birthday. He died April 1st on his bicycle in Canberra, Australia, before he had finished his novel about Climate Change, The Green Bag. Here in Amherst, MA, I’m working with Quakers, other faith groups, and Raging Grannies to fight the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.”
Lee Stewart, Washington, DC: “This fast isn’t about death or suffering. Instead, it’s about commitment. Unwavering commitment to the truth that ALL fossil fuel permits at FERC must stop now! Unwavering commitment to the extraordinary individuals all around the country who are standing up to defend the people and places they love from what FERC does. Unwavering commitment to each other in a world torn asunder by the divisive god of economic growth. Unwavering commitment to interconnectedness, the realities of collective liberation, and the truth that we win it all together, or we win nothing at all.”
Beyond Extreme Energy is an activist network of organizations and individuals that came together in 2014 to raise public awareness of the disastrous impacts of fracking, fracking infrastructure, proposed gas exports and other extreme energy extraction practices; to take direct action to stop them; and to promote an energy present and future of renewables and efficiency.