Ellen Barfield Reports On “Hump Day” At The Fast For No New Permits

DSC_1900by Ellen Barfield

I’m the Beyond Extreme Energy faster at the Federal Energy “Regulatory” Commission who is NOT taking water only, but juice, because I have to buzz back and forth to Baltimore every night to look after my elderly husband, and also dash to various meetings of other orgs I work with. But on the 9th day, over the HUMP!! of our fast I too am feeling muzzy-headed, spacing out on other responsibilities, dealing with tiredness. But the strong solidarity of our little group, and the kind support from all kinds of folks all over the place, is such a bond, and the gathering energy for the Pope’s visit and all the activities in support of the environment and against climate crisis is so inspiring, that I have no doubt this is what I need to be doing.

The FERC employees are getting to know us and smiling and even some of them talking though they’ve been told not to. BXE folks around the country are fasting during daylight Ramadan-style, or for a day or several, or a few days a week. Frontline community members who resist fracking projects damaging their towns and threatening their families are sharing their stories with us and helping us create quilt squares for a visual representation of the BXE network.  We 12 fasters at FERC check-in twice a day for calendar updates and to see how we’re doing physically and spiritually, and to plan all the documents and events we have coming up. We hold hands in a circle at the end of each meeting, and the strength is amazing.

We advocate FERC shifting from facilitating extreme fossil fuel extraction to green renewables, and the workers  there keeping their jobs and helping move the nation toward zero emissions. The idea of economic conversion, changing existing damaging jobs to good life-affirming jobs with government support for re-training and transition, is something I’ve understood and discussed ever since my first activist work seeking to change the nuclear weapons complex. An editorial cartoon I inspired back then shows a woman burying a bomb which grows up to be a windmill. Fracking towers should also become windmills, and workers in the fracking industry, and the government regulators at the Federal GREEN Energy Regulatory Commission, can do jobs they feel proud of helping us shift our economy and infrastructure. And new jobs installing wind and solar arrays and retrofitting existing buildings for efficiency will build the new economy.

When the Pope speaks to Congress next week, and so many citizens listen and endorse his message, we BXE fasters will be adding our energy to many other faith and environmental leaders and tens of thousands of citizens to push the government beyond its resistance to going green. We have no illusions green change is around the corner, but the Pope’s visit is a terrific opportunity to rally and increase the pressure for that change.

For more information on BXE and the fast, and to support BXE, go to https://beyondextremeenergy.org/september-fast-at-ferc-for-no-new-permits/

Peace, Ellen Barfield