Day 3: FERC decides to close its ‘open’ meeting as #RubberStampRebellion continues

dinner party

On Day 3 of the #RubberStampRebellion, during a free-to-the-community dinner party in front of FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s apartment building, we received startling news: FERC has decided that its monthly open meeting planned for tomorrow will instead be open-with-air-quotes. “Open.” In other words, closed. Turned into a tv show. We can watch the livestream.

In a notice linked in a Twitter post, FERC said:

“Upon the affirmative votes of Chairman Norman C. Bay and Commissioners Cheryl A. LaFleur, Tony Clark, and Colette D. Honorable, the status of the Commission’s May 19, 2016 public meeting is open to the public via webcast only.”

“It’s an outrage,” said Steve Norris, a Beyond Extreme Energy activist from Asheville, NC. “We live in a democracy. We have an open meeting. And then they cancel it. Of course, it has never really been open, but now we can’t even be in the room with them.” People traveled from as far as Nebraska to attend the meeting, he said. “And they pulled the rug out from under them. What kind of democracy is that? It shows what we are up against.”

The #RubberStampRebellion rally outside FERC will go on as scheduled Thursday, starting at 8 a.m, with speakers Jane Kleeb from Bold Nebraska, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, singer Luci Murphy, and Mike Tidwell executive director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“We are considering other options consistent with our commitment to non-violence and our commitment to getting FERC to prioritize a rapid shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy to protect the lives and health of current and future generations,” said Melinda Tuhus of BXE media.

For 18 months, BXE has attended each of FERC’s monthly meetings, calling attention to FERC’s rubber-stamping ways on behalf of the oil and fracked-gas industry. Each month, a few people have spoken out, been ushered quickly from the room – and barred from meetings. Forever. FERC has called these interruptions “a situation.” Many of those trying to speak to commissioners have traveled from communities fighting fracked-gas projects under FERC’s purview and feeling decidedly unheard.

During the #RubberStampRebellion, BXE has continued to call on FERC to stop granting permits that expand fracked-gas infrastructure and, instead, to prioritize wind, solar and other clean and renewable energy sources. The health of communities and the planet depends on making energy generation and distribution locally sourced, democratically controlled, and greenhouse gas-free.

Earlier the day, the #RubberStampRebellion participated in a #FlushTheTPP protest decrying the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (US ITC) report about that corporate power-grabbing agreement.  The ITC’s Economic Impact Report applauds the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and actively fails to mention the significant economic impacts of the climate crisis, which the TPP will worsen.  TPP Resisters have issued People’s Economic Statement.

cathy tpp

steve norris tpp
Photos by Eleanor Goldfield of Art Killing Apathy

On the morning of Day 3, the #RubberStampRebellion delivered an order of eminent domain for a pipeline at the home of FERC Chairman Norman Bay. Just like the many similar orders resulting from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permits for fracked-gas pipelines, compressors, export plants or storage facilities.

To ensure the profits of Spectra or Williams or Dominion or Duke or Kinder Morgan and the rest of the industry, FERC always decides that the pipeline must come through, a community must move aside, fossil fuels must flow and burn, the trees must fall, the children must fall sick, the climate must fall apart, the air must fill with pollution, the land must be disturbed, the water must be spoiled, the woodland critters must scatter, the fracking must continue. In fact, FERC routinely says that the effects from fracking are outside its scope or unforeseeable.

While FERC insulates itself from dissent and expands the fracking industry’s reach with each permit, outrage and resistance grows. Beyond Extreme Energy is one of countless groups and communities pushing back against FERC’s rubber-stamp machine. The #RubberStampRebellion goes on.

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