September 25th At FERC

By Ted Glick

It’s the morning of the twelfth day that I haven’t been eating. The only things I’ve been putting into my body are lots of water, salt, potassium and a multi-vitamin.

How do I feel? Weak, very weak, as do most of the others—about 15 as I write—who are also fasting and intend to do so until September 25th, the day after the people’s pope speaks to Congress. 11 of the 15 are also, like me, on the twelfth day of water-only.

We’re physically weak mainly because of the water-only diet but also because we’ve been conducting this hunger strike on the sidewalk in the hot sun in front of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, from 7 am to 6 pm every work day. We’ve been leafletting and talking to FERC employees, including, several days ago, Norman Bay, the chairperson. We’ve been leafletting and talking to passers-by and people who come to visit, as have Tim DeChristoper, Medea Benjamin, “No Impact Man” Colin Beavan, local high school students, and more.

We’ve been using white boards to make signs that we change as the days go by. We’ve been putting up quotes from Pope Francis and Gandhi. Every morning part of our routine is to change the number of the days that we’ve been fasting on the signs that say, “Day ___ of 18-Day Hunger Strike for No New Permits for Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.”

We’ve also been traveling around DC. We’ve gone to important local demonstrations, several times to the site of a sister fast being conducted by the Franciscan Action Network, and meetings.

All of these activities are taking a physical toll, adding to the impact of not eating.

Spiritually, however, we’re a very strong group. Every day we gather together outside of FERC in the morning and the afternoon to meet and go over everything that has happened or is happening that day. We always begin by going around our sacred circle with each faster reporting on how they are doing. Sometimes individual fasters have reported problems, some pretty serious, as far as how they are doing. So far we have been able to help everyone in those situations to get over them and continue on, sometimes aided by local nurses who have volunteered their services for free.

At the end of each meeting, we join hands for a minute or more of silent breathing together and communal strengthening, and it always works.

Two-thirds of the way through this ordeal, we’re seeing the end of it. We’re starting to talk about how to come off the fast in a way that doesn’t do damage to your digestive system. I shared yesterday my nine-day plan—one day of transitioning back for every two days of fasting– for how to do so based on my past fasting experiences.

The fast will end this coming Friday, September 25th, at 12 noon in front of FERC, the day after Pope Francis speaks before Congress. We will end it by breaking and sharing bread together—a very small piece for each of us—and with the many hundreds or more people we hope will join us. We are inviting people who do so who can to bring a healthy loaf of bread to share so that, together, we will break bread together there on First St. NE, affirming life and community and our determination to keep at it until we have won.

We need people to join us on the 25th not so much to support us but to make a strong statement to FERC, and all those who will learn of our action, about the need for FERC to heed our demand: No New Permits for Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.

Some of the fasters got into the monthly meeting of the FERC Commissioners a few days ago, the meetings BXE has been attending and speaking out at for a year. One of them stayed throughout it, and he reported on how the Commissioners were talking about how electrical power companies need to be making plans to switch to gas as their fuel source going forward. Much of that would be fracked gas. This is consistent with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan projections and the very serious economic problems being experienced by the coal industry.

The Commissioners did not talk about the need for power companies to get serious about switching to wind or solar energy as their power source, even though 1) they are price-competitive with coal and gas, 2) they are actually clean and non-polluting, no water contamination, no poisoning of the air and land, and 3) they don’t leak methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than CO2 over a 20 year period.

It has become very clear that a, if not the, central battle to prevent worldwide climate catastrophe is the battle over whether natural gas, increasingly fracked gas, or renewables is going to become the primary electrical power source in the next decade. FERC Commissioners are going all-in on an expansion of fracking infrastructure and exporting the stuff around the world.

This decision must not go unchallenged, and it is not. There is a growing and connecting national movement, centered along the east coast right now, that is taking on FERC, in DC and in the scores and scores, maybe hundreds, of local communities where people are organizing to fight new fracking infrastructure. Many more need to join this fight, and now.

Let’s make September 25th at FERC in DC, following upon the big Climate Justice rally September 24th on the mall as the Pope speaks to Congress, the next major manifestation of our determination to prevent FERC from continuing to poison local communities and our threatened climate. In the words of Pope Francis, “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”

Wake up FERC!

Ted Glick is the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and others information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.