Beyond Extreme Energy Stands With Black Lives Matter


The portly man hustled out of the steely faced portal to glare at us. He was brandishing the flyer I handed him earlier.

“All lives matter,” he huffed, before turning on his heels and disappearing back through the glass doors.BXE BLM flier

I looked down and shook my head. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

A woman came around the corner of the same building. As many others in DC during early morning rush hour, she was in a hurry to get to work. I extended my arm and held out a flyer printed on cardstock paper.

“Good morning,” I said as she approached. “Can I offer you a flyer?”

It didn’t look like she was going to take it. We’d been flyering for a week, so she couldn’t be bothered. Only today was a special day, and we had a different flyer. It caught her eye, and she reconsidered. She took it from my hand and studied the back.

“Thanks for doing this,” she said with a smile, as she too disappeared into the cold, sterile entrance. My heart was racing at this point. For one, I was baffled by the stark difference between the two responses I just experienced. Mostly, however, I was exhausted from lack of food and nutrients. It was my seventh day going on water and salt alone, my only true sustenance being the community of 11 other fasters, as well as responses from people like the lady who smiled. Today was long in the making. I reflected on the meeting I attended with a fellow member of Beyond Extreme Energy a few months back, at the Potter’s House, a café, bookstore, and community space that has been in Adams Morgan since the 60’s. A group of folks from around the city gathered there in late July for the first meeting of the Black Lives Matter Spokescouncil, which I learned about on the Washington Peace Center website.

BXE handing BLM flier out at FERC
Jane Kendall hands out literature while fasting at FERC.

“This is an open meeting for all affinity groups, solidarity groups, established organizations, unions or religious communities who want to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement,” the website said, followed by an explanation of two proposed weeks of action to collectively address and confront white supremacy in DC.

Among the spokescouncil goals listed on the website were “support Black leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement”, “create democratic and cooperative space to coordinate Black Lives Matter events, actions, and strategy”, and “work together to create avenues for formerly inactive Black people and allies to become participants and leaders in the movement locally.”

The website also listed the goals of the first week of action.

1.) To call people in and provide spaces and opportunities for previously inactive people to get involved. 2.) To provide an initial project for the spokes council to coalesce around. 3.) To provide an opportunity to increase strategic cooperation between organizations doing the work in order to increase proactive nature of organizing and increase impact. The group I’m in, Beyond Extreme Energy, which focuses on climate change and fracking infrastructure, is working on a set of principles that incorporates anti-oppression work into the core of what we do. One responsibility added to those expected of organizers, for example, is to “help maintain Beyond Extreme Energy’s active role in the broader struggle for collective liberation to which the realization of our mission is inextricably tied.”

FERC faster, Jimmy Betts.
FERC faster, Jimmy Betts.

Working in a coalition under Black leadership in the struggle for Black Lives Matter is something the organization felt compelled to do. The spokes council provided a structure that would establish accountability to and leadership from Black Lives Matter DMV.

The first week of action outlined above was to take place during the first week of September, when we’d be in the midst our 18 day water-only fast for no new fossil fuel infrastructure permits at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the captive federal agency that rubber stamps fracked gas infrastructure projects all around the country. It was the steely building I referenced earlier, nestled behind Union Station.

Heeding the invitation from the Black Lives Matter Spokes Council, we dedicated one day of our fast to Black Lives Matter. In addition to attending other Black Lives Matter events around the city, we held a visibility event right there where we were, at FERC, by holding Black Lives Matter signs and passing out flyers that directed people both to Black Lives Matter organizing going on in DC, and to why Beyond Extreme Energy views our struggle for climate justice at FERC as something inextricably tied to the struggle for Black Lives Matter.

Here are the flyers we handed out.

“I had my questions about how our Beyond Extreme Energy-Black Lives Matter support day would go, but it seemed to go very well,” said Ted Glick of New Jersey, one of the 18-day fasters.

“It felt so good to be expressing our solidarity,” added Ellen Barfield of Maryland, another faster.

“We got a couple of hostile comments from older white guys, like ‘what do you mean? There are white people being killed by blacks. Why aren’t you talking about that?’ The guy looked like he wanted to assault me, but didn’t,” said Steven Norris of North Carolina, also a faster. “And another guy yelled at Melinda who was not blocking him at all, ‘Get out of my way or I’ll hurt you.’ FERC employees have been ordered not to talk to us, so we got many of the usual blank stares at the doorway when we attempted to hand them fliers. Some people seemed moved that we are doing this fast day-after-day, and showing up with friendly faces.”

Faster Jerome Wagner of New Jersey also reflected on his experience. “For me, it felt a bit awkward but generally good to do the flyering that we did in front of FERC. For one thing, it underscored that I am only a beginner in appreciating deeper aspects of racism in America. On the other hand, I am able to connect the subjugation represented by slavery and other racist practices with the environmental damage that we confront. I had one Hispanic man respond ‘all lives matter.’ Sure – on a philosophical and ideal level. However, it is black people who have been killed recently by the aggressive police forces which protect the interests of white people – that is the practical and urgent situation that BLM confronts.”

There’s one comment I’ll probably take with me for a long time. A woman of color passed by and told me she didn’t like what we were doing. She said we were using Black Lives Matter to serve our own agenda.

What does it mean to organize in a way that reflects the inextricable connection between the struggle for climate justice and the broader struggle for collective liberation? It certainly means more than participating in days of solidarity, or even joining the Black Lives Matter Spokescouncil.

To go without eating has been painful, but out here on the sidewalk, fruitful relationships have been fostered. With racism still clinging to the hearts of white folks in Beyond Extreme Energy and across the climate justice movement in North America, to embrace in word and deed the centrality of collective liberation, especially the struggle for Black Lives Matter, will be painful also, but that pain too must be fruitful.

Hungering For Climate Justice

Fasters in front of FERC say they are tired but steady and strong.

by Elisabeth Hoffman, reposted from

All along, fasters with Beyond Extreme Energy have had two questions: How will this feel, and how will I pass the time? Of course, that’s in addition to the broader concern about how to ensure their actions help bring change.

jane kendall at ferc
Faster Jane Kendall takes her message to FERC.

From the day after Labor Day until Sept. 25 — 18 days — a dozen people are on a water-only fast on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, on First Street NE in Washington, just down the street from Union Station. Some have stayed overnight on the sidewalk as well, although most head for Lincoln Temple United Church of Christ to sleep.

Other people are fasting for a shorter time, at FERC or in their communities. They are calling on FERC to stop issuing permits for pipelines, compressor stations, storage and export facilities, the machinery of a fracked-gas-powered economy. They want to end the revolving door for employees between FERC and the industry it regulates. They have the support of more than 80 health professionals who have signed an open letter to FERC asking it to stop its “unethical experiment” on communities. They are fasting to show their “unwavering commitment,” as one faster’s sign says, to people and places in the way of fracking. And to a climate overheated by our insatiable appetites that require ever more fossil fuels to be extracted and burned.

The fast ends Sept. 25, the day Pope Francis speaks at the United Nations and the day after his address to Congress, when he is expected to call for climate, economic and environmental justice, topics from his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.  Because the “earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” — as the pope phrased it.

Beyond Extreme Energy activists have been at FERC before, blocking its entrances in nonviolent disobedience actions or speaking out at its meetings. They are always hauled out, sometimes to jail. They and affected residents have written letters, testified, lobbied. So far, FERC has not slowed the pace of permits. It has called BXE activists a “situation,” which it has handled with new rules intended to silence dissent and isolate FERC commissioners. FERC members are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate but have no oversight other than the courts.

As the days pass, the fasters, ages 19 to 72, remain optimistic, sometimes tired, sometimes lightheaded and dizzy, particularly if they forget to get up slowly. Many say they feel weaker. Food comes only in dreams. One dreamed of a trolley of teacakes rolling by, another of eating a cookie in front of the others. One said he dreamed he had eaten a sandwich and woke up feeling shame and fearing the dream was real. One evening, Steve Norris, a retired history professor and, at 72, the oldest faster, took his son to dinner: “It was very interesting, because I was not tempted by the food. … It’s not that food doesn’t appeal to me. It does a lot. But there’s something about this mysterious journey being more important now than anything else.”

Clarke Herbert explains the fast to seniors in town for Elders Climate Action events, including lobbying and two flash mobs.

Faster Clarke Herbert, a former teacher, says one key benefit is that those fasting are getting outside their routine. “And that is what we are asking others to do” to solve our environmental and climate crisis. “We will have to move into a new world, to change from compulsive consumption. That makes fasting really beautiful,” he said.

In an email on Day 5, Norris of Asheville, NC, wrote that “the experience so far is one of both joy and sorrow: There is the great exuberance and learning that comes from working and fasting daily alongside people with rock-solid determination to challenge climate change and its attendant economic, social and racial injustices. And

Steve Norris rides the bicycle generator.

the exhilaration each time I see a stranger’s eyes light up and they say something like: ‘thank you for being so bold. Please keep it up.’ Then too there is the sadness of dealing daily with the reality that millions of people (the victims of Hurricane Katrina and emigrants from Syria, for example) are already dealing with the impacts of climate change, and that nothing in the short term is going to stop their uprooting and pain, and that ultimately my own grandchildren and great-grandchildren may be similarly impacted.”

Faster Lee Stewart posted on Facebook Saturday: “Today is day 5 of the 18 day water-only hunger strike at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — an agency that fuels community destruction and climate pollution. My energy and spirits ebb and flow. Sadness, joy. Fogginess, clarity. Breathlessness, stability. Can hardly walk, ready to stand strong. Much love to those who stand up to FERC all over the country. Much love to those who act for justice in the face of bleakness.”

Among the youngest fasters, at 23, Sean Glenn says she is feeling mostly “sleepy and grateful to be doing this with such amazing support.” After the fast, she heads to Rome, where she will join a 500-mile pilgrimage with former Filipino diplomat Yeb Saño, among others, to the Paris climate talks.

With no need to shop, cook or wash dishes or be much of anywhere but FERC, how do fasters fill the time?

  • They offer a glossy card with information about the fast to passersby, often FERC employees. Some accept it, others walk by stony-faced. A few offer words of support. On Day 1, someone driving into the FERC parking lot accepted a flier and said FERC employees had been instructed not to talk to the fasters.
    Charlie Strickler passes out information about the fast to passersby at FERC.

  • They take a turn on the bicycle generator, which is used to power phones and laptops during the day. No passersby have taken them up on offers to try out the bike.
  • They put dots on a United States map to show the locations of communities fighting fossil-fuel projects.
  • They use fabric paints or markers to design fast T-shirts.
    combo photo
    Charles Chandler, aka boxturtle, worked for days on his T-shirt.

  • They design and will be making quilt squares showing the harm to communities from FERC-approved projects. During the summer, faster Jimmy Betts traveled across the country with the United States of Fracking banner, which was made for an earlier BXE action at FERC. He talked to people fighting fracking and other fossil-fueled projects and now is connecting them with the fasters. Each faster will call one or more of the contacts and design a quilt square based on the conversation. BXE is also spreading the directions for the quilt squares through social media.
  • They read. Some read Pope Francis’ encyclical, which was part of the inspiration and timing for the fast. Or newspapers. Or Rivera Sun’s new novel, The Billionaire Buddha, a story of love, connection, healing and awakening. “Imagine that one generation could change the course of all the generations of humanity yet to come. Imagine that the human story does not end in the chapter of today,” Rivera writes in the novel. The fasters can imagine that. Day 1 of the fast happened to coincide with International Literacy Day, which was celebrated with a read-in.
    readin at ferc
    International Literacy Day did not go uncelebrated in front of FERC.

  • They get interviewed by alternative media. CNN, just steps from FERC, hasn’t even poked its head out the door to ask what’s going on.
  • Every few days, one of two nurse volunteers checks their blood pressure and pulse.
    Thomas Parker, who is 19 and the youngest faster, gets his blood pressure checked.
  • They know the sun’s cycle, which beats down on the sidewalk in front of FERC from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., before slipping behind the building. During the first three days, the fierce sun and humidity had them crossing the street to the shade for meetings and respite. In the sun, they mostly sit on camping or beach chairs under rain umbrellas. They apply sunblock.
  • One day, some fasters joined Elders Climate Action for a flash mob at Union Station and in the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building. In the evenings, some attend #BlackLivesMatter and environmental justice meetings in DC, because all these struggles are intertwined in a system built on inequality and sacrificed communities.
  • On Day 1, Doug Hendren, the Musical Scalpel, entertained the group with his guitar-playing and anti-fracking and social justice songs — “The Ballad of Pope Francis” and “Fracking’s Just a Bad Dream,” for starters.
    Faster Charlie Strickler holds song lyrics for musician Doug Hendren, a retired orthopedic surgeon.

  • They hold morning and afternoon meetings to check in with each other and plan activities, including the Sept. 25 action to end the fast. That day, starting at noon, the program will include music, speakers, a procession and an attempt to deliver five copies of the pope’s encyclical to the FERC commissioners. BXE is inviting passersby who have seen the fasters daily, as well as people who have rallied in DC during the pope’s remarks to Congress the day before, to join in the ceremony to break the fast and deliver the encyclical.
  • They nap.
  • And they fill and refill and refill again their water bottles from jugs of spring water that faster Debbie Wagner brings from her home. Periodically, they add a bit of salt or potassium. And they hunger for climate justice.
    Faster Sean Glenn seeks shade across from the FERC office.

12 People Fasting for 18 Days Demanding FERC Issue #NoNewPermits

by Ted Glick and reposted from

Twelve members of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), ages 19 to 72—from California, Virginia, DC, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Nebraska, Michigan and North Carolina—are in the beginning days of a planned 18-day, water-only “Fast for No New Permits” for fossil fuel infrastructure in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a virtual rubber-stamp agency for the fracked gas industry.

Each weekday until Sept. 25 we will be on the sidewalk in front of FERC from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., leafleting FERC employees—over a thousand of them—as they arrive for or leave from work. We’re also passing out leaflets to thousands of others who work or live in the area who walk by.

Day three of the No New Permits BXE fast opposing fossil fuel infrastructure. Photo Credit: Beyond Extreme Energy
Day three of the No New Permits BXE fast opposing fossil fuel infrastructure. Photo Credit: Beyond Extreme Energy

It’s not a very aesthetic area, mostly high-rise office buildings and condominiums. There are some colorful begonias around the FERC building and about 15 young trees growing across the street just three blocks north of Union Station. Also across the street is a 30-foot high stone wall on top of which the red line trains of the DC Metro subway system come by loudly every 10 minutes or so, interrupting any and all street conversations.

For the 12 of us, joined by supporters and people fasting for shorter periods of time, this will be our “home” until Sep. 25, the day after Pope Francis speaks to a joint session of Congress. For some who have slept and will be sleeping here overnight, it’s a 24-hour “home.”

The first two days have actually been pretty brutal because of the high humidity and temperatures in the low- to mid-90’s. The heat index where we are could well have been more than 100 degrees because of all the concrete around us.

Every morning and late afternoon we check in with each other to see how we are doing and to finalize plans for the day. This morning one of the older fasters reported that he had almost fainted when he stood up too quickly; as I’ve learned from past fasts, it’s essential during an action like this to move deliberately and consciously, very aware of how your body is dealing with the lack of food.

Why are we putting ourselves through this?

One reason is the upcoming Sept. 22 – Sept. 27 visit of Pope Francis to the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. BXE is very supportive of his repeated calls for action on climate, environmental and social justice. Some of us have been reading the Pope’s historic encyclical, “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home,” on the FERC sidewalk. We see our fast and a series of other activities in DC leading up to and after the Pope’s speech before Congress on Sept. 24 as part of the process of forging a stronger and deeper climate justice movement, one capable of meeting the urgent challenges of this do-or-die decade.

We are fasting because the movement which we are representing has tried every other means available to get FERC to stop being a rubber-stamp agency for fracked gas infrastructure (pipelines, compressor stations, storage and export terminals). Fasts and hunger strikes are usually undertaken when the oppressors have refused to be moved and more serious tactics must be utilized.

We are calling upon FERC to put renewables first. It must break its alliance with the fossil fuel industry and issue “No New Permits” for fossil fuel infrastructure until it has prioritized wind, solar and renewable energy.

What do we hope to accomplish? We hope our message will reach FERC employees, as well as the general public and Pope Francis. We are openly calling for whistleblowers. We want to strengthen the movement fighting FERC’s corrupt ways and the overall movement for climate justice and positive social change.

BXE during this fast is also working to make connections between issues. Struggles for justice are related. For example, we support the Black Lives Matter movement and on one of the days of our fast we will be doing public education in front of FERC about the importance of their efforts.

How can you be supportive of this Fast for No New Permits?

1. Join us at our fast in Washington, DC or where you live, for anywhere from one day to a couple of weeks. More information, including on how to sign up can be found here.

2. Come to DC for the actions happening Sept. 22 – Sept. 25. The big one is the morning of Sept. 24 on the national mall, between 3rd and 7th Street and near the U.S. Capitol. There will be speakers and music before and after the Pope’s 9:30 a.m. address to Congress; the Pope’s speech will be broadcast to everyone on the mall and his office has announced that he will come out to address the crowd after he speaks inside.

On Sept. 25 at Noon in front of FERC, we will end our fast. Plans are still developing, but we intend to make an effort to deliver five copies of the Pope’s encyclical to the five FERC commissioners. We will walk in a serious procession around the FERC building. We will hear from fasters about what this 18 days without food has meant to them.

3. Participate in the “No New Permits Solidarity Fasting Quilt” project. We are putting together a quilt with stories of local struggles against FERC or for justice, as well as drawings and words from people who are fasting about why they are doing so. Squares will be 12 inches on each side, with an additional inch on each side for when they are all put together to make a beautiful mosaic of our movement. Any color fabric can be used. They should be sent no later than Sept. 16 to CCAN, 6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 720, Takoma Park, Maryland. 20912, Att: Quilt project.

4. And finally, you can call FERC at 1-888-715-9918 to demand that they stop being a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry, prioritize renewables and issue no new permits for fossil fuel infrastructure until these changes are made.

Let’s rise up now in defense of and in care of our common home!

Ted Glick is the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at and he can be followed on twitter at

Personal update from Steve Norris: Fasting At FERC

Steve photo 1_20_15Fasting this week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has reminded me repeatedly of the some words from one of my favorite poems by Wislawa Symborska (Polish poet who won Nobel Prize).

It’s called ” A Few Words on Soul”:

“Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it (soul).
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.”

Today, Saturday,  we are in the fifth day of our 18 day water-only fast. At present the whole thing is a mystery.  It’s one big leap of faith into a void that many have warned me not to enter – faith that doing this, depriving myself of food for a time, will teach me and others important lessons I need to know, and perhaps get the attention of FERC and other powers that be in a way our year-long protests, arrests, disruptive actions inside FERC, letters, and meetings have not done.

Also, the experience so far is one or both joy and sorrow: There is the great exuberation and learning that comes from working and fasting daily alongside people with rock-solid determination to challenge climate change and its attendant economic, social and racial injustices. And the exhileration each time I see a stranger’s eyes light up and they say something like :”thank you for being so bold. Please keep it up.” Then too there is the sadness of  dealing daily with the reality that millions of people (the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and emigrants from Syria, for example) are already dealing with the impacts of climate change, and that nothing in the short term is going to stop their uprooting and pain, and that ultimately my own granchildren and great grandchildren may be similarly impacted.

Because I’m sure of nothing, and unable yet to discern the meaning of this, I can only share vignettes of my experiences while being part of this community of courageous fasters who are not eating any food, who live for 10-11 hours per day on the sidewalk in front of FERC, who try in a friendly manner to engage both FERC employees (there are 1500) and passersby (there are many) in conversation, which we do with signs, banners, handouts, friendly greetings and just being present.

So here’s some things that have moved me:
  • As I was unloading my truck at 7 am this morning, a woman I had never seen before walked up to me and said “thanks so much for your work here. It is so important. How long will you be here? And is there anything I can do to help.” Many passersby, after reading our banner and the white boards explaining our presence, have done similar things
  • A 71 year old FERC employee approached me, starting the conversation with :”They’ve told us not to talk with you, but I’m going to anyway.” We talked for about 30 minutes about energy policy, fossil fuels and alternative energy. He understands the science of climate change, but feels that alternative energy is not reliable enough, and therefore we have to risk overheating the planet to obtain reliability.
  • Unlike him, many FERC employees will not even give us eye contact even when we say “hello, how are you doing?” This morning we experimented a little with opening doors for them. We are hoping that our 3 week simple and friendly presence here will degrade some of their resistance to us. Who knows?
  • Yesterday I walked up to a guy I had seen before but not talked to. “How are you?” I asked. “I’m not supposed to talk with you,” he replied. “So do you work at FERC.” “Yeah” “What do you do?” “I work at FERC”. “So you can’t tell me where.” “No”. “So what do you think about our fast.” “I’m not supposed to talk to you.” “Why’s that?” “Dunno.”  My conversation with him continued like this for maybe 20 minutes. This could be great material for a comedy routine. Anyone want to put it together?
  • Flash mobs. We did two in support of a group of about 150 Grandparents from Elders Climate Action. At 8:30 Thursday morning in the mammoth Rotunda of Union Station 200 of us sang and danced to the Climate Change Anthem (“We’ve got to Wake Up, We’ve got to wise up, We’ve got to open our eyes and do it now, now now, etc.”). Then again at noon in the cafeteria of the Longworth House of Representatives Office Building as Congressmen and staff sat around eating. We dispersed after two minutes of this just as 10 capitol police descended on the lunchroom wondering what had happened and how we had so quickly melted into the crowds.
  • We have several visitors every day, friends and activists who live in the area, passersby who want to talk more, people who have heard about what we are doing and want to know more, a couple of musicians who sing for us. Their visits are warm and energizing. The outpouring of support is phenomenal. Several people have asked me what can they do for me, which is deeply moving. My first response is “bring me some food.” But I have to then add that I’m joking. My needs are pretty minimal right now, only a gallon of water and some electrolytes every day.
  • One of the greatest joys and challenges is getting to know the other fasters who are a diverse group of people.  a 19year old from California who’s just beginning to explore activism, a 26 year old woman from Connecticut who after this fast will go to Rome and then walk 900 miles to Paris for the next UN Climate Conference in December; a couple of 60 year old nomads who spend their lives walking the roads and mountains of the US; a couple of older “professional” activists who have been working for social justice forever; a 30 year old social media guru who has visited more front line communities fighting fossil fuels than anyone I know; and so on. Mostly we work well together, though like any small group that is this dependent on one another and has important decisions to make which affect everyone collectively and personally, we have to struggle to arrive at consensus sometimes, or at least near consensus.

There’s much more of course I could share, but I think this is enough for now. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, and when you find light shining on mystery, please let me know what that means. And when you can’t find the light, revel in the uncertainty, and teach me how to do the same.

Love, Steve

News From Fossil Free Rhode Island: The Fast For People, Peace, and Planet



From: Fossil Free Rhode Island

Fast For People, Peace, and Planet

Kingston, RI—September 8, 2015

Climate chaos is here and on the rise.  And the most vulnerable among us, who have contributed least to the problem–Indigenous people, people of color, the poor and the Global South–are suffering the worst impacts.

Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), a grassroots advocacy group that’s fighting fossil fuel expansion, is organizing a fast to call on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)–the federal agency that’s charged with issuing permits for interstate pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, etc.–to stop approving new fossil fuel projects and promote renewable energy and conservation instead.  Members of the group will be fasting outside FERC’s headquarters in Washington, DC, from Sept. 8th till Sept. 25th.  “FERC operates according to statutes that have been put in place by fossil fuel industry insiders; it has a pattern of rubber-stamping fracking-related infrastructure and other fossil fuel projects, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act as well as ancient, venerated legal principles,” said Peter Nightingale, a physics professor at the University of Rhode Island and a founding member of the divestment advocacy group Fossil Free Rhode Island.

Members of Beyond Extreme Energy will be fasting on water only from September 8th until the 25th, the day of Pope Francis’ address to the UN General Assembly and the day after his address to Congress.  BXE is inviting others to join them by fasting for one or more days during this interval, around-the-clock or sunrise-to-sunset, at whatever level is meaningful to them–water-only, juice-only, etc.  A number of groups across the nation have endorsed the fast—see this link.  Fossil Free Rhode Island will be organizing and participating in a series of local events in support of the No-New-Permits fast.

“I am fasting to call attention to the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are already dying every year—often from hunger and disease—as a result of climate change, as well as the growing number of Americans whose health, communities, or livelihoods have been destroyed by fracking, mountaintop removal mining, coal-fired power plants, etc.,” said Lisa Petrie, who is hoping to fast from sunrise to sunset for three days.  To learn why others are fasting, read their testimony here.

On September 12, 2015, at 9am, The Raging Grannies of Greater Westerly will be hosting a vigil on the traffic island across from the downtown Westerly Post Office on High Street; Fossil Free Rhode Island is a co-sponsor.  We’ll also be participating in the Peace Fest on Saturday, September 19 in Providence; see this Facebook Event for the details.

The focal event for the fast in Rhode Island will be a family-friendly demonstration at the State House in Providence on September 22 at 3 pm to call on our government to implement policies in line with its duty to present and future generations.  Non-fasters are welcome to join us.  People are especially encouraged to bring their children as a concrete reminder of what we are trying to protect.

Fossil Free Rhode island will also be participating in the URI International Day of Peace on the Quad on September 24 at 10AM.

The  Fast For People, Peace, and Planet is a call for universal peace, social and racial justice, and ambitious action to stop climate change.  Guiding principles are:

  • Natural Law: If humanity continues to ignore the laws of nature, life on earth will suffer the consequences—Mother Nature does not negotiate.

  • Intergenerational Justice: the present generation must preserve the gifts of Mother Earth for future generations.

  • Public Trust Doctrine: It shall be the duty of government to “provide for the conservation of the air, land, water, plant, animal, mineral and other natural resources of the state.” [*]

 Anyone interested in joining the fast is encouraged to register here.

[*] Constitution of the State of Rhode Island & Providence Plantations, ART. 1, Section 17.


Judge Faults FERC, Acquits Beyond Extreme Energy Activist

2015-05-15 16.10.50

A member of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) who was arrested inside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission building in May and charged with illegal entry was declared not guilty last week (Aug. 20) in a bench trial before Judge John F. McCabe Jr. in D.C. Superior Court.

In acquitting Laura Gubisch, a resident of the District, Judge McCabe chastised the government for how it handled the situation of people wanting to access the main room where commissioners meet, which in the past has been the site of verbal disruptions by members of BXE opposed to FERC’s approval of virtually every gas infrastructure project that comes before it, including interstate pipelines, compressor stations and LNG facilities.

As people filed through security, security personnel put blue dots on the identity cards of those FERC believed would be disruptive – peremptorily excluding many individuals who had never been inside the building before.

The higher than normal turnout of visitors was due to the fact that FERC moved up by a week its standard monthly commissioners’ meeting with the express purpose of preventing BXE members from attending its meeting. BXE put out an emergency call to get people – who come from the District, Virginia, Maryland, and throughout the northeast corridor — to attend.
The judge said the government could have handled the situation better, and that people should be given an opportunity to observe without disruption. If they are disruptive security could ask them to leave. But there was no evidence that Gubisch had gone to a place where she was told she couldn’t go, or that she refused to leave.

After the judge’s ruling, her attorney, Mark Goldstone, said, “All citizens should be given an opportunity under the First Amendment to observe their government at a public hearing.  They should not be preemptively deemed to be disruptive and shunted off to an overflow room to watch a public hearing on a TV screen. Laura Gubisch and other climate change activists were able to illustrate the anti-democratic response by FERC, which supports their charge that that agency is a captive of the oil and gas industry and is tone deaf in considering the views of citizens deeply concerned by the hazards of hydraulic fracking on the air and water in communities across the United States.”

Gubisch released the following statement: “The urgency of the terrible devastation created by our human actions require every citizen to take corresponding actions of integrity; everyone must step outside their comfort zone to salvage Mother Earth. The problem is not just FERC but a raft of undemocratic and destructive practices like fracking, eminent domain, government overreach to quell dissent, illegal surveillance and abuse – all are unnecessary and can be ended now. The good news is that we have clean ways to operate in this world, abundant sources of energy are all around us and each person has the capacity and responsibility to turn in this direction.”

Gubisch said she plans to file a civil suit against FERC.

Students Construct Banner For Upcoming BXE Action

from left: Madison Early College students Evan Cannon, Patrick Alvey, Travis Davis, Anna Hamlin, Tucker McKinney, and Will Thomas (not pictured)

The Fast For No New Permits begins September 8th in Washington DC and communities around the nation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the target of the Fast. FERC is the federal agency charged with oversight and permitting of energy infrastructure such as pipelines for fracked gas, compressor stations, and liquefied gas export terminals. In conjunction with Pope Francis’ climate-focused visit to the United States and the United Nations, fasters will demand that FERC stop issuing permits for costly, dirty, and outdated fossil fuel infrastructure in favor of cleaner, climate-friendly options like wind and solar.

Six sophomores from Madison Early College High School in Mars Hill, NC devoted part of a recent Saturday to making a banner for those fasting in DC to use at the FERC building each day in talking to FERC employees. The students were surprised and impressed to learn that many of the fasters have committed themselves to eighteen days of water-only fasting in order to underscore their message that fossil fuels must now be left in the ground if the world’s nations are to meet crucial—and non-negotiable—climate goals.

The students aren’t rookies, however, when it comes to taking action on climate. Last spring they assisted the We Are Cove Point campaign by constructing two twenty feet banners to help marchers in the residential community of Cove Point, MD try to stop Dominion Cove Point’s construction of a LNG export terminal there.

And they’re not finished yet. The students say when the next opportunity presents itself, they’ll again be ready to put their artistic skill to use in the fight for climate justice and their futures.

For more information about how you can also join the Fast For No New Permits either in Washington DC or in your local community, click here or inquire at

Support the movement to #StopSpectra!

1507615_205546302976696_1618522776_nTogether we can #StopSpectra and the expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure in the Northeast.




FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas) is a collective of folks who are fighting the fracked-gas industry at multiple points of destruction while also supporting other movements for justice. You can read about and support the good work they’re doing to stop the Spectra pipeline on their Indiegogo page:

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