Sunday, September 24, 2017
LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA–Virginia citizens against fracked gas pipelines send Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam nearly 300 “Hear Our Voice” postcards from Loudoun County. Kamie Bledsoe, environmental activist member of 350 Loudoun, started the post card campaign shortly after Tom Perriello lost the Democratic Primary. Tom Perriello came out against the new proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. But, Ralph Northam, despite taking the Hippocratic Oath in his training as a medical doctor, failed to oppose the pipelines and in an interview on a conservative radio station stated that governors cannot take a position against pipelines. Regrettably, Dr. Northam is mistaken. The governors of New York and Maryland have come out against fracked gas pipelines. In fact, Lieutenant Governor candidate Justin Fairfax and at least ¾ of candidates running for the VA House of Delegates have also come out against the pipelines. Dr. Northam’s position on pipelines is contrary to the National Democratic platform to promote renewable sources of energy.
Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is tasked with national permitting for the pipelines, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, under the direction of the governor, can deny water quality permits for the projects and prevent them from being built. This authority is stipulated in the Clean Water Act, was used by New York’s Gov. Cuomo to stop the Constitution Pipeline, and was recently upheld in court.
Ms. Bledsoe and colleagues easily collected postcards from various venues including public events, environmental events, and civic meetings. People from all walks of life and from all political parties signed postcards. They were motivated by many different factors including the abuse of Eminent Domain for private gain, pollution of drinking water sources, climate change impact from methane of pipeline infrastructure, tying up financial capital and resources for fossil fuel projects instead of renewable energy projects.
Natalie Pien signed a post card because “Unneeded fracked gas pipelines devastate our environment, exacerbate climate change, and harm human health. Dr. Northam must honor the Hippocratic Oath and oppose the new pipelines.”
The objective of this post card campaign is to elevate the importance of the pipelines issue to Virginia citizens across the Commonwealth. The ultimate goal is that Mr. Northam change his position to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Members of 350 Loudoun have been showing up at Northam’s campaign events in Northern Virginia trying to educate the public and the politicians on the pipelines, and trying to get Northam to change his stance. At a recent such event, activists dressed in Wizard of Oz costumes and called on Northam to find the heart, brain, and nerve to come out against the pipelines.
Quarter 2-3 Organizing Report
Beyond Extreme Energy
Beyond Extreme Energy’s Community Supported Organizer (CSO) Program currently contributes about $900 to our $5000 monthly operating budget. This budget funds Jimmy Betts and myself, BXE’s two organizers. Your much needed and appreciated sustaining donation plays a significant role in keeping us funded and fighting for a better world. It’s a great privilege to do this work, and I’d like to thank you for making it possible.
Every three or four months, I send out an organizing report about what I’ve been up to. This one is a little late and a little long. Please accept this as a report to peruse, but also as an invitation for conversation, critique, and involvement. I’d love to help plug you in if you’d like to get more involved in our work.
The people who make up BXE are some of the most remarkable people I know. Working with them is a privilege beyond measure. There is a lot of work that is not visible. I wanted to acknowledge this work and to express gratitude for everything everyone puts into BXE.
For me and much of BXE, April-August has been about escalating the FERC Vacancies Campaign. When Norman Bay resigned from FERC earlier in the year, thus rendering the commission unable to approve fossil fuel infrastructure, I don’t think many of us imagined that half a year would go by without the quorum being restored. The quorum was ultimately restored a few weeks ago and we are now busy getting ready to respond in a big way on September 20th.
In addition to working to help delay a restoration of FERC’s quorum, I’ve also gotten more involved in the effort to stop the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked pipelines proposed through my home state of Virginia. You can read more about this and other work below.
Please be in touch!
In the struggle,
FERC Vacancies Campaign
The FERC Vacancies Coalition resulted in the coming together of multiple groups across the country to build a campaign to stop or delay Trump’s nominations to FERC. Although the quorum at FERC was restored a few weeks ago, this only happened after months of delay and movement building. Through the campaign, BXE built a closer working relationship with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Berks Gas Truth, and Green America. Together with these groups and other partners, we helped coordinate call-in days, letter to the editor writing, district office visits, twitter storms, national lobby days, committee hearing disruptions, and a sit-in. This effort has given us several close contacts to work with in the Senate and has made the FERC fight more widely known.
When the quorum was restored, I was devastated. What was particularly disturbing was the fact that not a single senator raised a voice in opposition after the vote was scheduled. This should say something about how messed-up our political system is. It should also say something about what can only be seen as hypocrisy on the part of senators who claim to be climate champions but who do nothing when it really matters. The road ahead is long. Click here to read BXE’s official statement in response to the restoration of FERC’s quorum.
Although the FERC Vacancies Campaign has been great, there are many things that can be improved. It was remarkable that nearly 200 groups signed on to the coalition. In reality, this amounted to not much more than a talking point to use with the media. We didn’t build relationships with most of the groups in the coalition, and it’s hard to say how much the various groups engaged with the campaign. A lot of my work consisted of sending out calls-to-action via email. How can we build more personal relationships with these groups? I think that is an important question going forward.
Another thing I think we have not done, which I believe is critical to do, is popular education and base building around the FERC fight. It was difficult to find people who were willing and able to participate in the disruptions of the Senate hearings on FERC nominees. FERC is destroying communities and the climate in a major way, yet it seems like the only people who understand this or who are engaged in the FERC fight are those who are most directly affected. These are the folks who are busy fighting infrastructure at home and who might have less capacity to engage in a more widely focused campaign.
FERC is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with our deadly and undemocratic energy system, built as it is to feed the market at the expense of people’s lives and livelihoods. How do we make the FERC fight more popular? How do we make it more accessible to people who are busy with other fights, or people who are not connected at all? How do we make our mission to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off of fossil fuels more of a mainstream demand? These are questions I hope we can explore.
If you have not yet heard about the September 20th mobilization at FERC, when they are holding their first public Commission Meeting after the restoration of the quorum, please click here! We’d love for you to join us. If you want to join the strategy session that will happen right after events on the 20th, please email me directly.
Fighting White Supremacy
When BXE wrote our principles and practices document, we decided to put fighting white supremacy front and center. We were meant to seriously explore what it meant for a majority white climate justice group to center this fight. Up to now, however, we have not seriously explored this in a way that has led to solid outcomes.
From the beginning, the Fighting White Supremacy Working Group has had low and/or periodic attendance. When we started building a national call series on the topic, we had to delay the project due to low attendance and energy. It has not been revived. Now, the working group meetings are used to share ideas, thoughts, concerns, and stories as they come up for us in our lives and work. Just this past week, we were joined by an organizer with the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee who talked to us about how tax resistance can be used as a tool to fight white supremacy.
Although having a forum to talk about these things is extremely valuable, it falls short of what the working group was intended to figure out. If centering the fight against white supremacy in the climate justice struggle amounts to sharing stories, something is lacking.
Why have things been slow going with this working group? In part, I think it has to do with capacity. BXE is a small group. We are all stretched thin. There are fossil fuel projects coming at us right and left.
It might also have to do with the structure of BXE itself. All of us are from different places. We have different frontline struggles we’re a part of. We meet via conference call. Sometimes, people say they are engaged in fighting white supremacy outside of BXE.
Given this reality, what can we do as a group to make fighting white supremacy central to who we are as BXE, regardless of the work we’re all doing separate from each other? These aren’t excuses, but observations about stumbling blocks I think we need to get over going forward.
I remain firm in thinking that unless we put fighting white supremacy at the center of our work, we will lose our communities and the climate. I don’t feel like BXE has found out how to do this as an organization. I hope to focus more of my attention on this going forward.
One idea is to create resistance reading groups in the BXE network that are explicitly about community building, political education, and revolution. Two books that I think would be particularly appropriate are Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, and Neal Shirley and Saralee Stafford’s Dixie Be Damned: 300 Years of Insurrection in the American South (online PDF here). If anyone is interested in exploring this idea, please be in touch.
I spend some of my time working with a group called 350 Loudoun, a climate action group based where I grew up in Loudoun County, Virginia. This group has been doing a lot of amazing work to fight the two major fracked gas pipelines proposed for the state (Dominion’s Atlantic Coast pipeline and EQT’s Mountain Valley pipeline), not to mention a proposed expansion of a Dominion fracked gas compressor station near Leesburg, the county seat. They are also a big part of a new climate coalition that has formed for the Northern Virginia region. This group just had their first in-person meeting a few days ago which I was happy to attend.
Recently, the pipeline fight has taken two forms in Northern Virginia. The first is organizing for the People’s Pipeline Protest being coordinated by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). The protest is aimed at pressuring Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to do a more stringent analysis of every pipeline stream crossing across the state. It consists of three days of action at all DEQ offices around Virginia. I have not been a part of planning this, but several folks in 350 Loudoun are playing key roles, particularly in organizing for the Woodbridge DEQ office in Northern Virginia. If you can make it out for this, please considering coming. Details can be found here.
The other front has been bird-dogging Democratic candidate for governor in the state, Ralph Northam. It has been a bumpy road. 350 Loudoun members have been a part of this effort as individuals, but have gotten a lot of push back by members of the Democratic Party in Loudoun County.
Our bird-dogging activities have been pretty standard. When Northam has speaking events in Northern Virginia, several of us show up with “no pipelines” signs to hold up as people arrive. This week, we’re doing our most significant bird-dogging event to date. We’ll be dressing up like characters in the Wizard of Oz and calling on Northam and other political figures to find the heart, brain, and nerve to oppose the pipelines.
These actions have ruffled the feathers of the Democratic Party in the state, causing what I hope amounts to productive tension. I have personally received emails and Facebook messages from Democrats telling me to stop pressuring Northam to oppose the pipelines, and have had people come up to me at events to confront me on that. This is the case for other pipeline fighters in Loudoun as well. I think it’s a tragic situation that some Democrats are more willing to push voters than they are to push their candidate. That Northam can’t comes out against the pipelines shows that he is willing to risk the election for his loyalty to the pipeline companies.
The BXEEkly is BXE’s weekly newsletter. I send it out every Sunday night to about 520 subscribers. It has gained 20 subscribers since March.
Please send me anything and everything you’d like me to include in the BXEEkly–news stories, pictures, poems, art, actions, events, action steps…. The BXEEkly is meant as a forum to share with each other in a media world dominated by corporations that often exclude or hide our resistance.
Please ask your friends and family to subscribe here.
Click on the dates below to view issues of the BXEEkly from the second and third quarters of 2017.
Life Outside BXE
Although most of my time is spent on BXE, I have been trying to learn practical hands-on skills that could be useful in a community setting as the climate and our society as a whole destabilizes. Although it’s not funny at all, I sometimes joke that hope is the newest form of denial. To look at the science, and to see how that corresponds with our current political situation, is to recognize that climate chaos is not only inevitable, but already underway. My heart breaks for Texas, Louisana, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, places that have seen great suffering over the last number of days due to extreme weather.
I believe we are in for cascading collapse over the course of the rest of our lives and beyond, regardless of what we do now. That’s why I think we should be doing all we can to fight for a just transition while also learning the skills and building the communities we’ll need to survive, support one another, and resist in unstable times.
Right now, I’m learning blacksmithing. I’m also learning to fiddle as a way to relax and step away from organizing for a few moments every day.
Once every month, BXE hosts a special two-hour conference call to grapple more deeply with issues, concerns, and relationships both inside and outside of BXE. A BXEer recently proposed that one of our upcoming two-hour calls be dedicated to talking about how we’re each preparing for climate destabilization in our own communities. Please keep your eyes out for this call, and please join us when it happens!
JOIN FOR A RALLY & DAY OF ACTION
September 20, 2017
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First St, NE, Washington, DC 20426
Afternoon lobbying on the hill to begin around 11:30, starting with a lunch time gathering in the Lower Senate park next to the Russell Senate Office Building, the corner of D St. and Delaware Ave NE.
8:30am: Gather and Rally from 8:30 until 9:30 am
10:00am: Attendees encouraged to attend FERC’s open public meeting which begins at 10 am
11:00 am (or thereabouts): At 11 am folks will be invited to grab a bag lunch and join together to drop in on Congressional offices to deliver the Stop Trump’s Dirty Energy Agenda sign on letters.
11:30am: Over lunch at the park outside the Senate office buildings we will talk about the message and how to effectively drop in and drop off materials.
12:30pm: Head into congressional buildings to drop materials and ask for drop in meetings
2:45 pm: Reconvene in the park outside Senate building to share your experience of the day
3:30 pm: Head home feeling good that you have been part of delivering a powerful message of opposition to FERC, Trump’s Dirty Energy Agenda, and advocating for reform and change. OR, head over to St. Stephen’s Church for dinner at 6pm and the Beyond Extreme Energy Strategy Meeting.
Those who cannot rally or go into the FERC meeting but just want to lobby in the afternoon are welcome to simply meet us at the park at 11:30
People are also encouraged to set up meetings with their own House members and/or Senators. Contact Bridget at firstname.lastname@example.org for materials that can be left with those you meet with.
How to Participate!
Organizations can endorse our action here.
And can sign on to the letter to be delivered to congress here.
Individuals can sign up to attend the rally, other actions, and housing here.
And individuals can sign on to the letter to be delivered to congress here.
Keep up to date at the Facebook event page.
There is low-cost housing at First Trinity Lutheran Church (309 E St. NW, Washington, DC) about a 10 minute walk from FERC the night of September 19th. You will be asked to pay $27 for this, the cost to us, though no one will be turned away who needs housing. Mattresses on the floor are available. When we leave First Trinity on the morning of the 20th, people will be able to store their gear in a storage van for safe keeping during the day.
Housing is available on the night of the 20th as well, starting at 6pm at St. Stephen’s Church (1525 Newton St NW).
Please bring everything you’d need to be comfortable sleeping, including toiletries. Showers are available at both locations but please bring your own towel and soap.
Be sure to fill out this form to reserve a spot: http://bit.ly/2vFtSGs.
Driving and parking in DC can be a logistical challenge. Folks are encouraged to arrive in DC using public transportation. Otherwise, although it’s possible to find street parking, it’s usually not long term and can be expensive. We’d encourage you to research parking options, including parking garages, ahead of time.
Food will be available at First Trinity Church at 6pm on September 19th and again for breakfast the next morning. There will be bag lunches distributed to people in front of FERC before we walk over the Capitol Hill. Dinner will be available for folks who attend the BXE Strategy meeting the night of the 20th at 6pm at St. Stephen’s Church.
What to Bring
- sleeping gear and toiletries, a towel, and soap
- rain gear and appropriate outdoor clothing
- dress clothes (optional). When lobbying, some choose to wear casual clothes, and some choose to dress up.
- government-issued photo id (needed for entering the FERC Commission Meeting)
We will make art for the event at Trinity Lutheran Church (309 E St. NW, Washington, DC) from 4pm to 6pm on September 19th. Please join us! Dinner will happen after the art build and housing is available at the church that night.
Beyond Extreme Energy is organizing a strategy meeting on the evening of the 20th from 7-9 pm and the morning of the 21st from 9 am -1 pm.
The meeting will take place at St. Stephen’s Church (1525 Newton St NW) in DC. We’ll be sleeping at St. Stephen’s on the night of the 20th and having meals together. Come for all or parts of the meeting. Doors will open at 6pm on the 20th. We’ll have dinner prepared by Seeds of Peace at that time. Don’t let past, present, or future participation in BXE activities prevent you from coming. All are welcome!
The strategy meeting will include three sections.
1.) Evaluation of what we’ve done
2.) Long term visioning
3.) Creation of a one year plan
RSVP to ACTIONS@BeyondExtremeEnergy.org if you plan to attend all or parts of this meeting.
Supporters of this Day of Action
OVEC-Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Safe Energy Rights Group, Inc.
Coalition for Responsible Siting of LNG Facilities
Center for Health, Environment & Justice
The Enviro Show
No Fracked Gas in Mass
Lancaster Against Pipelines
Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG)
Berks Gas Truth
Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy
ECHO Action NH: #FossilFree603
PAUSE- People of Albany United for Safe Energy
Center for Biological Diversity
Alliance To Protect Our People And The Places We Live
Food & Water Watch
Toxics Action Center
Berkshire Environmental Action Team
The Shalom Center
North Jersey Pipeline Walkers
Resist the Pipeline
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air
Northern NJ Chapter, National Organization for Women
The Essene Church of Peace
Global Coalition for Peace
Gas Free Seneca
Seneca Lake Guardian, A Waterkeeper Affiliate
Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (SACRED)
Christians For The Mountains
Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community
Athens County (Ohio) Fracking Action Network
STOP (Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipeline)
Frack Free Genesee
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
NJ State Industrial Union Council
350 Central Mass
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Green Education and Legal Fund
Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
Pay it Forward Global Foundation
Greenbrier river association
New Hampshire Pipeline Awareness
New progressive Alliance
AMP Creeks Council
Lebanon Pipeline Awareness
Norfolk Catholic Worker
New Mexico Story Power
NH Pipeline Resistance
Bucks County Environmental Action
Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness
Mason Pipeline Committee
LAWPA (Local Authority Western PA)
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
Grassroots Environmental Education
Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion
100grannies for a Livable Future
LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Comittee of Concern)
Coalition to Protect New York
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Green Party of Santa Clara County
Organic Consumers Association
The Shalom Center
People Demanding Action
Rachel Carson Council
Sierra Club New York city Group
Earth Echoes….Stories for a small planet
Protect Our Water Heritage Rights – POWHR
Interreligious Eco-Justice Network
Amistad Catholic Worker
Hip Hop Caucus
Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness
Oil Change International
Three activists with Beyond Extreme Energy disrupted today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the nominations of the final two members to join Trump’s FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Committee). One was a 25-year veteran of the agency.
When Chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski asked the nominees – Richard Glick and Kevin McIntyre – to stand, Andrew Hinz also stood and shouted, “Have a conscience! FERC is destroying the atmosphere!” In a prepared statement, he wrote, “Because I spent 25 years working at FERC, I am compelled to speak out. It is abundantly clear now that natural gas is not a safe bridge fuel. We must divert any proposed investment in fossil fuel infrastructure not required for safety to a rapid transition to sustainable energy. FERC is broken and in dire need of a reset. It must take into account solid, overwhelming evidence of climate impacts and, instead of permitting fossil fuel expansion projects, it must support and aggressively promote incorporation of sustainable energy into our grid. Until FERC is reset, we are witnessing an undemocratic, non-representative process that is merely an extension of the fossil fuel industry and is destroying our atmosphere and poisoning our water. My message to our legislators: find your conscience before it is too late – while there is still time to keep our planet habitable.”
Ted Glick, who was arrested at a similar hearing for Trump’s first two nominees to FERC, stood and repeatedly asked Congress to investigate FERC. The agency’s abuses of law and power have been exhaustively documented by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which hosted a speak-out at the National Press Club last year.
Glick, a New Jersey-based activist, met earlier this year with Richard Glick (no relation), whose expertise is in renewable energy. Ted Glick said, “Based on my meeting with him and what I know about him, he will have no impact at FERC. He will be run over by Trump’s three appointees, and probably [Obama appointee] Cheryl LaFleur, too. FERC is a corrupt agency and it’s a waste of a good man.”
Clarke Herbert, a retired school teacher from Alexandria, Virginia, disrupted the meeting and focused on the disruption to the lives of thousands of people due to construction of fracked gas infrastructure. In a statement, he wrote, “FERC’s process for approving pipelines violates our constitutional protections of private property. The 5thamendment not only protects us from self-incrimination [‘Taking the Fifth’], it also states, ‘No person shall be deprived of property without due process of law nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.’ In this country FERC allows the legal seizure of private property from landowners because the government determines there is a public need without allowing landowners to question that need or examine the studies the government relies upon. At one time pipelines were useful to carry gas to remote areas of the country to keep Grandma warm in the wintertime. Today, with deregulation, pipelines are a platform for commodity trading and the export of gas to foreign countries.”
The three men were escorted out of the hearing room and arrested.
Beyond Extreme Energy has been using creative, non-violent actions to target FERC since 2014. BXE is a leader of the FERC Vacancies Campaign, which fought for six months to get Congress to investigate FERC before approving nominees who would restore the agency’s quorum. The Senate approved Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson in August, restoring the quorum. The agency’s first meeting since February is set for Sept. 20.
Once every two weeks, Beyond Extreme Energy hosts a conference call on fighting white supremacy. We invite a speaker from inside or outside our network to share an experience or story about their involvement with the fight against white supremacy.
On Tuesday, September 12th at 7pm ET, we’ll be joined by Rabbi Mordechai Liebling who will talk about his experience at the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He will also talk about his understanding of the white supremacists and the challenges of developing non-violent direct action tactics in these situations.
After Rabbi Liebling’s talk, we will hold a discussion. All are welcome!
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling is the Director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philly. He serves on the steering committee of Green Justice Philly, a city-wide coalition of environmental, community and labor organizations. He has been involved in anti-racist work for several decades.
Date: Tuesday, September 12th. 2017
Time: 7pm ET-8pm ET
We need a big showing at FERC’s September meeting! We’ll have a rally before the meeting begins and then we’ll be inside the meeting, in overflow rooms, outside chanting, and some of us will even go to Capitol Hill to lobby. We’ll be chanting, disrupting, showing solidarity, and lobbying.
FERC is set to reconvene on September 20th with Trump’s Senate-approved commissioners Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee eager to use their newly minted rubber stamps.
All of this is happening as the Senate and House are moving bills that would expand FERC’s authority. One of the House bills actually strips the president of the border crossing authority used to stop Keystone XL and gives it to FERC. But the worst of the bills is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, S. 1460. It expands FERC’s authority by requiring other permitting agencies to “give deference” to FERC and it limits FERC’s review of LNG facilities to 45 days.
Haven’t they been reading the headlines? The same problems we’ve been telling them about for more than a year are starting to get some notice.
Rushed approvals, refusal to consider climate impacts, approvals with insufficient information. And Congress wants to expand FERC’s authority?
No way! Unacceptable!
Will you help us send that message to FERC and Congress on September 20th?
Here’s how YOU can help!
Organizations – please endorse our action here
Individuals – sign up to attend the rally and the other actions on the 20th here
Everyone – share the Facebook event here
RALLY, 8:30 a.m. at FERC, 888 First St NE, Washington, DC 20426
Program TBA – Stay Tuned!
FERC Meeting,10 a.m.
Lobbying on the Hill, meetings being scheduled – Be sure to indicate that you’re interested in lobbying on the sign-up form.