Day 2: Dinner in front of FERC Chairman Norman Bay’s house

On the evening of Day 2, the #RubberStampRebellion dined al fresco — on the sidewalk in front of FERC Chairman Norman Bay’s house near Dupont Circle. Attire advice for the 25 or so in attendance: Rain gear. On the menu from Seeds of Peace: spicy tacos with beans, rice and cabbage and an apple dessert cake.

Activists enjoy dinner in front of Norman Bay’s home.

Visiting the commissioner at his home is a step not lightly taken. The chairman has expressed disdain and impatience regarding Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) activists’ repeated interruptions at monthly meetings of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These speakers are promptly ushered out. He and other commissioners don’t attend hearings in communities in the way of fracked-gas pipelines, storage facilities, liquefaction and export facilities, and compressor stations, instead sending staff. His agency advises industry about a “successful” strategy that “greatly increases the chances that a project will proceed in a timely, efficient and credible manner.” And FERC disregards the countless carefully submitted objections to the fracked-gas industry’s plans for communities.

The commissioners are not listening. They are instead determined to expand fracked-gas infrastructure (while denying any role in fracking), tethering the economy to yet another climate-disrupting fossil fuel for decades to come.

So, as part of BXE’s #RubberStampRebellion actions this week, activists are spending one night on the sidewalk in front of the house of each of the four commissioners. On the first night, activists posted a notice of eminent domain on the front door of Commissioner Tony Clark’s house. They also taped wanted-style posters in the park across the street, letting neighbors know about his job as serial community- and climate-wrecker.

Tonight, Norman Bay’s neighbors were learning the same about him. Posters wheat-pasted on street lights include a photo with the message:

Chairman Norman Bay, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Rubber stamps fracked gas projects for the oil and gas industries, Complicit in the deaths of 100 million people which the World Health Organization says may die by 2030 due to climate change.

They also brought giant yellow cardboard rubber-stamps with images of families harmed by FERC’s decisions, and a banner announcing: #RubberStampRebellion Your neighbor Norman Bay and FERC Destroy communities and the climate

Kendall Hale from Asheville, NC, said many passersby accepted the #RubberStampRebellion pamphlets. She said one friendly neighbor revealed that Bay had told neighbors he was leaving town and warned that people were coming to harass them and knock on their doors. “We aren’t disrupting anyone. We are very polite. It’s FERC that’s disrupting communities,” Hale said.

Another neighbor took a pamphlet and said “great cause. Keep doing what you’re doing,” said BXE activist Melinda Tuhus from New Haven, CT.

“Chairman Norman Bay rubber stamps fracked gas infrastructure projects despite knowing that each permit issued is another nail in the coffin,” said BXE activist Lee Stewart of Greenbelt, MD. “The World Health Organization says 100 million people could die by 2030 as a result of climate change. The commissioners at FERC know the horrific consequences of burning fossil fuels, yet they continue to work on behalf of the industry by approving permit after permit. They are willfully complicit in these deaths. The story of their unwillingness to break the mold and do what needs to be done is the story of our unwillingness to break the mold and do what needs to be done. It’s time to break free.”

As night fell, a lighted sign declared: NO GAS. CLEAN ENERGY NOW!

During the day, #RubberStampRebellion activists went to Capitol Hill on behalf of local communities who are fighting FERC projects. They visited offices of Florida Sen. Ben Nelson, asking him to oppose several projects moving through the FERC approval process, including Spectra’s Sabal Trail pipeline; New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, asking them to speak out against the Spectra AIM pipeline; and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, calling on him to oppose a fracked-gas liquefaction facility proposed at Fields Point in South Providence.

Peter Nightingale, a member of Fossil Free Rhode Island and a professor of physics at the University of Rhode Island, described a “respectful conversation” with Senator Whitehouse’s staff. He invited the senator to FERC’s monthly meeting on Thursday, asked him to use his influence to stop the LNG facility in Providence from being built, and continued an ongoing discussion about the dangers of methane for the climate. “He ignores that methane is worse for the climate than coal and oil,” Nightingale said. “We offered him a free lesson about the physics of that.”

The #RubberStampRebellion continues through the week – and beyond.

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