BXE Hails FERC’s Rejection of Jordan Cove LNG Terminal and Pipeline, Calls for More

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“We won this round,” said Francis Eatherington, who was roughly escorted from a FERC meeting last September. 
(Washington, D.C.)​ March 16, 2016  –​ Beyond Extreme Energy celebrates FERC’s rejection on March 11 of the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline in Oregon. Officially,  FERC cited as its reason the applicants’ lack of market demand for the gas, but we know that grassroots concerns and activism are always dismissed by the powers that be. We know that opponents of both the terminal and the pipeline fought hard against the taking of private property by eminent domain for someone else’s private profit, and also opposed the destruction of wildlife habitat and the release of climate-warming methane that this project would have caused.

Two of these opponents flew across the country last September to join BXE’s 18-day fast in front of FERC headquarters. Francis Eatherington, a retired conservation director for  Cascadia Wildlands and a landowner in the path of the now-cancelled pipeline, wrote to BXE as soon as the decision was released. “We are stunned! We had prepared for the day when it was approved … but we didn’t have any press releases prepared for this. I want to thank everyone in BXE who helped me ​get around in D.C. last September and complain to FERC. We did it! We won this round.”

​Eatherington was roughly escorted from the September 2015 FERC commissioners’ meeting  when she tried to raise her concerns about the project, after having submitted comments and testified at many local hearings, where her concerns were ignored.​

Jacob Lebel, a student at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Ore., ​and a plaintiff in Our Children’s Trust lawsuit that specifically targeted the Jordan Cove LNG project as incompatible with youths’ right to ​inherit a stable planet not destroyed by climate change, wrote, “Great news indeed. Hope this brings hope and courage to all the other communities fighting these projects around the U.S. and the world. Stay strong!”

BXE will continue to oppose what has been until this decision a decades-long, uninterrupted string of approvals for gas ​pipelines and related infrastructure by FERC.

​We also continue to oppose the ongoing construction of Dominion Resources’ LNG export facility in the middle of the southern Maryland town of Lusby. And we support the lawsuit filed against FERC on March 2 by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, charging the agency with corruption and favoritism ​toward  the natural gas industry, which funds its operations.

​”​We hope this decision is the beginning of a change of heart and policy by FERC commissioners​,” said BXE membe​r​ ​Ted Glick​, “but we’re not holding our breath. The rebellion against FERC is one aimed at radically transforming how energy is produced, transported and consumed in this country. The health of communities and the planet depends on making energy generation and distribution locally sourced, democratically controlled, and greenhouse gas-free.​”​

 

For comment, contact Francis Eatherington, 541.643.1309 (francis@eatherington.org)          ​or Ted Glick (BXE), 973.460.1458 (indpol@igc.org)

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A Hollow Victory for Williams Partners

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Armed federal marshals oversee clearing of Holleran family maple trees for the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline. Photo By Tom Jefferson. More of Tom’s photos here.

 

By Ted Glick (reprinted from Future Hope)

 

The Constitution Pipeline Company, aka Williams Partners, came in force onto the Holleran family land in New Milford, Pa., yesterday. Federal marshals armed with assault rifles accompanied workers armed with chain saws across the open field up to where the woods began. Talk about overkill. Talk about exposing the ugly truth of how things really work in the gas industry.

Supporters of the Hollerans had painted “freedom flags” in red, white and blue onto about 14 trees right at the edge of the field. As the workers did their dirty work, they seemed to avoid cutting any of them at first. Finally, after an hour or so of cutting other trees farther in, they came back and cut most of the freedom trees.

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Activists painted U.S. flags on some of the doomed maple trees at the Holleran farm in northeastern Pennsylvania. Photo by Angela Vogel. 

These should-be-unconstitutional acts of the Constitution Pipeline Co. were sanctioned by a federal judge who said in court on Feb. 19 that if people had problems with their land being taken by eminent domain for private profit, their recourse was to petition Congress. Hah!

The Holleran family and the scores of supporters rallying behind them had a much better understanding of how our very flawed democracy is supposed to work. In the best traditions of this country — Shays’ Rebellion, abolitionists, suffragists, labor organizers, civil rights and gay rights movements — they took grassroots-based direct action to hold off the Williams gang, doing so for 31 days, garnering widespread media coverage in the Scranton/Binghamton area and far beyond. Without question, their stand inspired many other landowners who are facing the same abuse of eminent domain for corporate gain.

It should be noted that it took Williams Partners 11 days to get it together to come to the Holleran family land after claiming in federal court Feb. 19 that they were facing an emergency situation and the judge had to act quickly.

Indications are that part of the reason for their slowness, maybe the main part, was the support of the chainsaw workers imported from around the country — Louisiana, Oregon, Washington — for the stand being taken by the Hollerans. Two weeks ago, I went with local people to a bar where conversations had been going on for a couple of weeks with the workers after work. I talked to one of them from Oregon. He told me that if the same thing the Hollerans were experiencing happened to him and his family, those eminent domain-ing them would be met with shotguns.

I asked him where the crew of workers stood on what the Hollerans were doing. He said, “its about 50-50.” So I was elated to hear, about four days ago, that the workers were now united 100 percent against going on to the Holleran land. We knew that didn’t necessarily mean that they would put down their chainsaws and remain in their trucks and cars if they were told to walk across that Holleran field. We knew the threat of being fired for doing so was no small thing. But we were still gratified and hoping for the best.

As it turned out, yesterday the company brought other chainsaw workers, at least in part. And despite the presence of dozens of us with our cameras and signs and our call-outs when the chainsaws were silent, standing 150 feet away from the land taken by eminent domain where Williams wants to build its pipeline, about half of the trees were cut down. It’s expected they will return today to try to finish up.

There was a lot of media presence yesterday. TV news crews from Scranton and Binghamton. A Time Warner cameraman. NPR from Philadelphia. Megan Holleran doing radio interviews via cell phone. And more.

So the fracked gas industry won one yesterday, and the Hollerans and the people lost. But the fight to prevent the Constitution pipeline from being built and to prevent the construction of new fracking or other fossil fuel infrastructure was strengthened by this battle. Many more people in the area now know the truth about the kind of company Williams is. They know that there is a small army of people willing to support those landowners willing to fight for their land and their rights. And that army is growing, all over the country.

Round 1 victory in North Carolina

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By Steve Norris
Did you ever think protest was ineffective? In Asheville, even the threat of a small protest by a few people has derailed an important event that mammoth Duke Energy was planning in the coming week. We still have much work to do to stop Duke’s implementation of Obama’s Clean Power plan. But in Round One, we who have just begun to create the fledgling NC Power Forward declare victory.
Here’s the scoop.
Duke Energy is the largest utility in the United States with assets of over $100 billion. It is the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases. It emits 1.84 percent of all GHG’s in the US. It is the 12th largest emitter of toxic water pollution. Although it is good at providing reliable electricity, it is a dangerous monster juggernaut corporation.

In North Carolina, it has rigged our political system. Our governor, Pat McCrory worked for Duke for 28 years. Ed Finley, who leads the NC Utilities Commission, did legal work for Duke before being appointed to the commission. Duke is a “regulated” monopoly, which means it is guaranteed a profit on all its operations, including construction of new facilities. It also means that in NC third parties can sell electricity to no one other than Duke. Some in Asheville would like the city to become its own municipal utility and sell power. (Boulder, Colorado, has done this). But in NC, that is illegal. This past January North Carolina, under pressure from ALEC and the Koch Brothers, among others, put an end to tax credits on home solar installations, which some in the power industry fear will challenge the utilities’ monopolies..

Even though it refuses to and probably cannot provide documentation proving need, Duke has recently proposed what it calls an Energy Modernization Plan, which centers on building a 752 MW gas fired power plant in Asheville. It has also proposed building a total of about 11,000 MW of new gas fired power in the rest of the state. Of course, whether this power is needed or not is of no concern to Duke. It is guaranteed a 10 percent profit on construction. And of course, Duke is not concerned that the price of gas, now very low, may increase 10 times in the next 10 years. It is guaranteed a 10 percent profit on operations. The higher the price of gas goes, the more money Duke makes. (And of course, the more the people of NC will be impoverished).

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RECENT PROTESTS

Many people think it is futile to take on a monster corporation. But this being Asheville,  and with the train wreck that is climate change coming at us so unremittingly, challenge it we must. A couple of weeks ago, about 200 people showed up in Asheville for a Public Utilities Commission hearing about Duke’s proposal for a new 752 MW gas-fired power plant. Only one person spoke in favor of Duke’s proposal.  About 60 others spoke against it. Some of us staged a protest for two hours at the hearing, standing prominently with t-shirts that read “NO GAS.”

Then last Saturday, Feb. 20,  25 of us , including an Asheville City councilor, rallied at Asheville City Hall at 9 a.m. From there, we started a 10-mile walk that ended six hours later at Lake Julian in Skyland, the site of Duke’s existing coal-fired power plant and the proposed site of its new 752 MW facility. After that, on Monday, nine of us from different parts of the state descended on a NC Public Utilities Commission meeting in Raleigh where Duke’s proposals were being considered. A 16-year-old led off our protest by interrupting the commissioners’ staff in mid-sentence, taking over the meeting. Anna Farlessyost forcefully argued that her generation’s future will likely be endangered if the Utilities Commission permits Duke’s new facility. After police forced her out of that meeting, the rest of  us repeatedly disrupted the hearing over the next three hours. Here’s a short video of Anna’s interruption and the police response:
ROUND ONE VICTORY

And then, an even more interesting thing happened. Word leaked out on Tuesday that Duke’s NC President David Fountain was hosting a public meeting with Asheville’s leaders and officials to talk about and celebrate Duke’s plans and role in the local community.   Thinking this might be a very good time to act again, some of us from NC Power Forward registered with Duke to get tickets. But within a day we were informed that  “This is an invitation-only meeting and we can’t accommodate any additional guests at this time.” (We scouted the room where the event was to take place and there  was space for at least 500 people).  So immediately we began to organize what would likely have been a small picket and protest outside the event.

And then, almost immediately, VICTORY! Even before we had been able to schedule a meeting to discuss plan our protest, Duke canceled its celebration. For some reason, Duke assumed someone might disrupt the party and scuttled the event.

A $100 billion corporation, which to some extent runs the state of North Carolina, which  gets away with being the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country, cancels a meeting because a few people talk about protesting a speech by its president? This shows that we have more power than we know, and that Duke, in spite of all its enormous wealth and control over state officials, is terrified that we may bring this company down.

So let’s do it. If we can stop Duke’s party, we can stop its “Energy Modernization Plan.”

Anti-fracking groups deliver valentine message to FERC commissioners

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Kelsey Erickson from Carlisle, MA, sent this valentine to one of the commissioners.

Feb. 17, 2016 — In a carefully coordinated, rolling cross-country action, Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) and SWRL (Stop the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline) delivered humorous but sharply pointed Valentine’s cards to the homes – and DC residences –  of the four commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), reminding them that “pipelines, LNG and fracking are no ‘Love Story’ for frontline communities.” The valentine was hand-delivered today to the homes of Cheryl LaFleur in Wellesley, MA; and Colette Honorable in Little Rock, AR. It will soon be delivered to Chairman Norman Bay in Albuquerque, NM; and Tony Clark in Bismarck, ND.

“The valentine speaks for itself,” said BXE member Don Weightman. “FERC has hardly ever met a fracked gas pipeline project it didn’t approve. And, as the impacts of the climate crisis occur ever more frequently with ever more devastation, the commissioners are resisting calls from the Environmental Protection Agency to take climate change into account when determining which projects to green-light, even though methane is 86 times worse for the climate than CO2.”

“Fracked ‘natural’ gas, which is mostly methane, is not a bridge to a clean energy future, as politicians and fossil fuel CEOs like to claim,” said BXE member Jimmy Betts. “Leaks – huge ones like at Porter Ranch near Los Angeles, and smaller ones all over the country – are devastating to local communities’ health and well-being, not to mention the very real threat of deadly explosions. We need clean energy now!”

As the City of Boston prepares to challenge FERC’s final approval of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline in federal court, SWRL delivered the valentine to former FERC Chair and current Commissioner Cheryl LeFleur at her home in Wellesley Wednesday evening, decrying that project as unsafe and unnecessary.

Members of BXE also delivered the valentines (and flowers) to the commissioners at their D.C. area residences, and many others sent in their own creations to ask them to love the people and the planet and approve #NoNewPermits.

 

Charges dropped for #ExxonLies sit-in

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Trespassing charges have been dropped against BXE’s Greg Yost, left, and Steve Norris, right, for their sit-in that temporarily closed an Exxon gas station in Asheville, NC,  in November 2015. Shina Maphet, center, had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served. They were drawing attention to news that Exxon knew about climate change for decades but created doubt about the science to protect the company’s business model. Article and video about the protest here. Articles about #ExxonKnew here, here and here.

 

 

Inspiring Fossil Fuel Resistance in Northeast Pennsylvania

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By Ted Glick

Very possibly as early as tomorrow, chain-saw-armed tree cutters hired by Williams Partners, a powerful pipeline-building corporation for the gas and oil industry, will try to cut down sugar maple trees on the property of Maryann Zeffer, Cathy and Megan Holleran and their family. For 65 years they have lived on this land, and for the last ten or so they have been producing delicious, pure, Pennsylvania maple syrup from those trees.

This destruction won’t happen without a big fight. Nine days ago as I write, after FERC gave approval to Williams’ request to start tree cutting in Pennsylvania even though Williams does not have all of the necessary approvals to build their Pennsylvania-to-New York Constitution pipeline, an encampment was set up on the Zeffer/Holleran land. Every day since, people have been there.

The press has been there, too. TV stations in Binghamton, N.Y., and Scranton, Pa., have done stories on this epic David vs. Goliath battle, though this one is more like strong women Davidas vs. Goliath.

I spent a very cold but inspiring day yesterday with Maryann, Cathy and Megan and about 30 other people there for some part of the day, including fracktivist heroine Vera Scoggins, who I had never met before. One of the rewarding things about a life of for-the-people activism and organizing is the wonderful people you are always meeting and getting to know.

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Maryann Zeffer, niece Megan Holleran and sister Cathy Holleran on Day 8 of action to protect their land from Williams’ chainsaws.

Yesterday it looked like Williams’ tree cutters might not be getting to the Zeffer/Holleran land for a while. They had started just the day before, a number of miles away. However, just today, another crew started cutting a little more than a mile away, and the locals sent out an alert calling upon as many people as possible to show up today if possible but tomorrow for sure. They expect the confrontation to take place within 48 hours at most.

People who can get to the site should do so right away. You don’t need to be prepared to risk arrest to do so; the more people there to watch and observe and take pictures and spread the word the better.

You do need a car. Here’s the information you need, from the “Stop the Constitution Pipeline in Pa” site on Facebook:
The Holleran property is located at 2131 Three Lakes Road, New Milford, PA, but use these coordinates to find where people are gathered to stop the tree cutting: 41.8272387, -75.7585062

You can contact the following two people:

Megan Holleran 570-709-3268

Alex Lotorto (after 5 p.m.) 570-269-9589

The courageous stand of these women and their family needs to be emulated and supported throughout the country, wherever the fracking industry is trying to build new pipelines and infrastructure. Their fight is literally our fight; as Rev. Yearwood often says, this is our “lunch counter moment.” Just as young black people and older black people stood up against the racists in the Deep South in the early 60’s, galvanizing a process of social change in this country that continues to have impacts today, so must we take up this fight right now on behalf of the people and the planet.

Yesterday, in a very spontaneous moment, Cathy, Megan and Maryann began singing the John Lennon song, Power to the People. The feeling to do so came out of the power I’m sure they were feeling as a result of what their refusal to bend to the will of Williams Partners has already brought them—new friends, solidarity, community, hope. Power to the people, indeed, not the frackers, polluters and corporatists who think they will rule over us forever. We cannot let them, and the time is right now to make that very clear.

More information on Ted Glick can be found at http://tedglick.com.

Homework

by Greg Yost

Reposted from The Teacher’s Edition, the staff/faculty newspaper of Madison Early College High School in Mars Hill, NC.

BXE’er Greg Yost is a math teacher at MECHS and wrote the following to explain his recent arrest at an Asheville, NC Exxon station to his students.

(For easier reading, click the icon in the lower right corner below to view full screen on the Scribd website.)

Fracktivists With Divestment Message Perform Sky-High Rappel In Bank of America Stadium

Daring banner drop protests Bank of America’s investment in fracked gas export terminal at Cove Point, Maryland

by Anne Meador, reposted from www.dcmediagroup.us

Photo @CarPanthersNews/Twiiter

As many as 74,000 football fans at a Carolina Panthers game witnessed two people rappel from the upper deck in the pouring rain. They suspended themselves in front of the press box and unfurled a banner from the railing above which read, “BoA: Dump Dominion, WeAreCovePoint.org.” The stunt was broadcast live on Monday Night Football, which had an audience of 12 million last week.

Carried out during one of the biggest match-ups of the season between the Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts, the banner drop was designed to shame stadium sponsor Bank of America for its financial backing of a gas liquefaction project on the Chesapeake Bay.

Dominion Cove Point, now under construction, is poised to become one of the first LNG terminals in the United States to export natural gas. It is so far the only terminal geographically situated to export gas produced by the expanding hydraulic fracking industry of the Marcellus Shale.

VIDEO of rappellers and banner drop

A press release by organization We Are Cove Point identifies the rapellers as Rica Madrid and John Nicolson. “Bank of America is financing the Cove Point LNG plant, and the surrounding community in Southern Maryland is forced to bear the human cost,” Nicolson is quoted in the press release. “This is unacceptable.”

Photo: We Are Cove Point/Flickr

Cove Point LNG’s parent company, Dominion Resources, has been trying to raise the necessary $3.8 billion to get the terminal up and running. Bank of America is one of Dominion’s major backers. It owns shares worth more than $623 million, loaned Dominion $380 million in 2013 alone, and bought $275 million in bonds largely dedicated to capitalizing the Cove Point LNG venture.

Although the natural gas and LNG markets are weathering tough times, Dominion Cove Point could still be a gold mine because of the contractual agreement with its two customers. No matter how much gas they ship, GAIL Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation must pay the same toll to Dominion.

But that gold mine sits on a powderkeg of 14.6 bcf of LNG, 410,000 gallons of propane and two 87-megawatt combustion turbines squeezed into the existing 130-acre site. Nearly 2,500 residents live within one mile of the terminal and could bear the brunt of a potential massive industrial catastrophe in their neighborhood.

A local Assistant Fire Chief, Mickey Shymansky, even resigned in protest because he believes emergency responders would be unable to handle an LNG conflagration. “This place is sounding the alarms on so many different levels,” Shymansky said in an interview. “They’re allowing themselves to build the perfect storm.”

Photo: We Are Cove Point

The high level of emissions produced by the plant is also a concern. Dominion Cove Point will become the fourth largest polluter in Maryland, producing 20.4 tons of toxic and cancer-causing pollutants each year. Environmentalists point out that the lifecycle emissions of LNG export, from fracking well to the ultimate destination in Asia or Europe, are worse than coal. Recent studies have shown that emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, exceed previous estimates.

This isn’t the first daring maneuver designed to draw attention to Dominion. Last February, two activists climbed the arm of a crane and dropped a banner at a construction site; they were subsequently convicted of trespassing.

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This Game Is Rigged

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 3.44.14 PMby Anne Meador of DCMediaGroup

FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller attended his last public meeting yesterday before he quits the agency at the end of the month. The White House has not yet nominated a replacement.

Moeller may have given us a little insight into just what kind of person presides over electrical utility markets and interstate gas infrastructure permits. If they’re anything like Moeller, they’re not just bureaucrats–they’re GEEKS.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 3.48.39 PMLast March, Commissioner Moeller thrilled his Twitter followers while indulging in an ultra-geek fantasy: He photoshopped himself into a promotional poster for the hit TV show “Game of Thrones,” altering it into an invitation to a FERC technical conference.

Moeller sits on the “Iron Throne,” wearing leather jacket, gloves and boots and clutching a sword. His bespectacled face replaces brooding actor Sean Bean in the original.

Like any geek, Moeller gets in as many references as possible in his Tweet, as well as a self-deprecating pun about his receding hair line!

@PMoellerFERC In honor of @ErnestMoniz, hair is some encouragement to attend FERC’s Eastern regional tech conf on 111d.

 

(Ernest Moniz is the Secretary Energy and well-known for his thick hair cut in a bob. The long hair in the photo surpasses Moeller’s own.)

The text of the photo reads:

GAME OF REGULATIONS
WINTER IS HERE AND SO IS THE EPA’S RULE.
YOU CAN SEND A RAVEN.

BUT THE HOUSE OF MOELLER ENCOURAGES YOU TO ATTEND FERC’S TECHNICAL CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS THIS MATTER.

“Game of Regulations” sounds like a pretty accurate way to describe FERC’s rigged process, but we never expected a Commissioner to admit it.

Maybe Moeller should think twice before he leaves FERC. He may never rule from an Iron Throne like that again.

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