Frontline Community Support Fund

BXE is excited to announce that thanks to a generous donor we are re-launching our Frontline Community Support Fund!

The Frontline Fund offers small grants (up to $1,000) to help community groups take action against fossil fuel infrastructure and environmental destruction. Because of the nature of our fund, it is easiest to ask for specific items or equipment that you’ll need for an action rather than cash.

In general, we hope to fund actions that strengthen you or your group’s engagement with the entities you are opposing. The BXE Frontline Fund is primarily focused on fighting against fossil fuel infrastructure, environmental racism, and the social impacts of the energy industry such as man camps.

That means we’re more likely to support ongoing encampments, blockades, civil disobedience, non-violent direct action, or training for an action. We’re less likely to fund a conference, a legal review, or general operating expenses like staff and rent. We do not reject any application out of hand – tell us what you need and how we can help.

Click here to learn more and to apply.

Be sure to check out our list of other frontline resources, including training manuals and strategy guides! 

You can donate directly to the Frontline Community Support Fund here: https://org.salsalabs.com/o/676/c/4330/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=16213

Return of the Rocking Chair Rebels!

Last week the 15 elders arrested blockading Chase Bank in Wilmington, DE returned to put Chase on trial, march to Biden’s house and deliver letters demanding he halt all fossil fuel development and declare a climate emergency. Here is a detailed report from BXE’s own Melinda Tuhus!


Just back from the trial-that-wasn’t in Wilmington, Delaware. We found out late Monday that our trial scheduled for Wednesday was moved to November 12. But almost all of us who were arrested there in late June outside the Chase Bank credit card headquarters for partially blocking the street in our rocking chairs came to Wilmington anyway, because we had things to do.

Around the original date of the trial we had planned a 6-mile walk from the bank to Pres. Biden’s house to deliver a box of letters and drawings from children asking him to protect their future, plus a rally at the end, plus a People’s Climate Tribunal the next day.

There were so many highlights (and a few lowlights) it’s hard to mention them all, but here are a few:

One of the best things about the march was that Karen and John, the local members of our group, had organized youth at several high schools to join us as we passed by on the route specifically designed to include them, so at every stop our little band grew larger and more enthusiastic. It was thrilling. 

Individuals joined along the way, too, who either knew about it beforehand or who just saw us and wanted to be part of our action, which called on President Biden to stop fossil fuel construction through executive action (to the extent possible) and to declare a Climate Emergency. One demand was that he cancel the cross-border permit from Canada to the U.S. for Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline across indigenous treaty lands in Minnesota – the same permit he canceled for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Tar sands is the dirtiest energy on the planet.

Throughout the day, our indefatigable Maury Johnson drove through the streets pulling a trailer festooned with signs, greatly expanding our visibility.

When we arrived at the rally site, young people at the front paid rapt attention to the speakers, who included Zulene Mayfield, who has been fighting the biggest trash incinerator in the country in her low-income, majority African American town outside Philadelphia for 30 years. She emphasized that “We are one,” not in a kumbaya kind of way, but in a realistic and practical way we must act on if we hope to save ourselves from the worst ravages of air pollution and climate chaos. Charito Calvachi-Mateyko, co-chair of the Delaware Civil Rights Commission, emphasized the terrible conditions in which many Latino workers in the U.S., especially farmworkers, must toil in an increasingly hot and polluted world.

Then four high school students spoke, the first one starting with the fact that in a year or two they will all be voters, and they will vote out any politician who doesn’t take the climate crisis seriously, and act on it. 

You can hear all the speeches here (1/2/3)

A Secret Service agent came to the start of the walk to talk to us, so we were on their radar. As we expected, the Secret Service outside Biden’s house declined to accept our beautiful box full of letters and drawings, so we will try to mail it to him. The young people who attempted the delivery spoke movingly of how the march, rally, and thwarted attempt had affected them.

Next day we held our People’s Climate Tribunal in front of the courthouse, “indicting” Chase Bank for being the largest funder, by far, of fossil fuel development. I took testimony on Zoom from climate scientist Tony Ingraffea, in which he explained that he started his career working for the oil and gas industry, then did a 180 when the use of horizontal gas fracking became widespread and produced leaks and venting that made it worse for the climate than coal. He publicly tied the climate crisis to funding by the big banks. You can watch the 10-minute video here. 

Dr. Walter Tsou, with Physicians for Social Responsibility, spoke movingly of the public health impacts of burning fossil fuels. Others highlighted the local impacts of stronger storms and some remarkable successes for climate legislation in Delaware.

And one of the young people who spoke at the rally the day before spoke again, just before hustling to class for a test. Jack Thompson is 16 years old and full of righteous fury he directed at Chase Bank. “I would like to start,” he said, “by talking about how it feels to be a young person watching the people in positions of power completely betray your interests…You have the nerve to sit in your office down the street and talk down to me and my generation about how we’re too young to understand the economic factors that result in you refusing to stop funding fossil fuel projects and companies. I am sick of it. We are sick of it. You are single-handedly killing a generation…[If you don’t change] My generation will never forgive you.”

One low-light was that we tried to deliver a letter to Delaware’s senior senator, Tom Carper, calling for Congress – and him specifically – to take emergency action on the climate crisis. Through the security guard at the door, Carper’s office declined to accept the letter. Despite my lack of faith in most elected officials, I was still shocked that an elected official would so brazenly ignore a letter from his own constituents. Further on, Sen. Coon’s office accepted the letter.

The two days strengthened the bonds we have for each other even more, and built new bonds with dozens of young people, and we are looking forward to returning to Wilmington on November 12 – which, as our chief organizer Steve Norris noted, is the last day of the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow. So we have a new slogan: If you can’t go to Glasgow, come to Wilmington!

Our two days on the climate fighting trail were bittersweet, as they included announcements of both the final cancellation of the PennEast fracked gas pipeline and the completion of Line 3 and its start-up on October 1, sending 650,000 barrels of bitumen (diluted tar sands oil) a day from northern Alberta to Lake Superior. Oh, and the announcement that 23 species have been removed from the Endangered Species List not because they have recovered, but because they are extinct. The struggle continues.

-Melinda Tuhus, BXE

15 Elders Were Arrested Blockading Chase Bank

Announcing the Walk for Our Grandchildren Documentary!

We’re proud to announce the release of a short documentary detailing the Walk! We hope you check it out and share it with your networks! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr5YwR15Og4

In June of 2021 a group of grandparents and elders embarked on an eight day 180 mile march from Scranton, PA to Wilmington, DE. 

Driven by the question ‘What kind of ancestors will we be?’ these elders took bold action and risked arrest in the fight against climate change and for a renewable energy future!

Along the way the elders met with front line activists struggling against pipelines, incinerator plants, and environmental racism. The Walk concluded with a non-violent direct action in which 15 grandparents in rocking chairs blockaded the doors of a major Chase Bank corporate headquarters in Wilmington!
    Chase Bank is the number one funder of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S. They are invested to the tune of $268 billion– $71 billion more than their closest competitor. We demand their complete divestment from fossil fuel!

Beyond Extreme Energy has had a busy year:

  • The FERC Into FREC Summit gathered together 50 activists to craft an in-depth vision for the Federal Renewable Energy Commission.
  • We released the 30 Legislative Points for a Federal Renewable Energy Commission
  • Members were arrested in the fight against Line 3 (MN) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (WV/VA).
  • We played a key role in organizing the 2021 Walk for Our Grandchildren.
  • We have just reestablished the Frontline Community Support Fund
  • And we made critical gains in garnering legislative support for dismantling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and building the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC)

We’re not slowing down, we’re doubling down!

We need your support to keep fighting against climate chaos, fossil fuels, and FERC! Please make a one time or recurring donation here: https://tinyurl.com/8f443da6

The Walk for Our Grandchildren 2021

More details at the Walk for Our Grandchildren 2021 website: https://2021walk.wixsite.com/4ourgrandchildren

In 2013, a multi-generational group of climate activists walked from Camp David, Maryland to Washington, DC. Their goal: to tell President Obama and other policy makers that we must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground.

Now, in 2021, elders and youth are walking once again to demand climate action from President Biden, who has promised bold actions to address climate change. However, his current proposals are still inadequate to address the climate emergency.

By walking in the summer of 2021, we want to remind the Biden administration and others that our love for our families and their futures requires a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the unhealthy, unsafe extraction and burning of fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power.

​If YOU care about climate justice and the future of our children and grandchildren, there are many ways that you can get involved. Join us along the many routes of our walk, from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Wilmington, Delaware, from June 20-28. If you are able to join us, please contact earthsun2@gmail.com while we are working on our event registration forms. If you cannot join us on our walk, we hope that you can spread the word about our event and consider donating: https://bit.ly/3vFSn5a

The FERC Into FREC Summit: the Grid and the Green New Deal (April 10th, 1-5 PM EDT)

Register Here!

There are big changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) now that Richard Glick has been named chair. Forty three years after Congress ordered FERC to create the Office of Public Participation, efforts are being made to fund and create the OPP at FERC. FERC is giving new attention to environmental justice and climate movement criticism, holding listening sessions and conferences seeking insight into how FERC can chart a new course. 

Since 2014 Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) has been a staunch opponent of FERC as a rubber stamping agency for the fossil fuel industry. We welcome these changes at FERC, but believe that FERC cannot be fully reformed from within. The changes made under one progressive chair cannot undo the decades of FERC corruption and structural facilitation of climate change. What can be achieved under Glick can be undone by subsequent chairs. Therefore we have long campaigned for the creation of the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC). 

In 1977 FERC was created by Congress due to “growing doubts about the effectiveness” of FERC’s 1920s predecessor the FPC. The time has come to likewise dismantle FERC, and to replace it with an institution with a clear climate mandate rooted in the issues of the 21st century. 

At this moment, those within FERC are seeking counsel as to what must change. Parallel to this Congressional support for the creation of FREC has grown based on our Legislative Case for a Federal Renewable Energy Commission. Forces from below, from above, and from within are looking at what a new FERC requires. At this critical juncture we are inviting frontline organizers, activist groups, and legislators to the FERC Into FREC Summit! The Summit will be held via Zoom on April 10th from 1-5PM EDT.

The goal of this summit is to deepen our vision for how a Federal Renewable Energy Commission would function. We have many critiques of FERC, and many dreams of a green future. But what are the policies and mechanisms that make it a reality?

To get us there we will examine BXE’s current visions of FREC, proposals from Congress, and what frontline groups envision. We will split off into breakout groups to tackle issue by issue the workings of a new sort of energy regulatory commission. One rooted in environmental justice, community control, and decarbonization.

To attend- please register here: https://forms.gle/mtpiB3o2obiYTnU29

To have the most in depth conversations possible- we ask that attendees familiarize themselves with BXE’s Legislative Case for a Federal Renewable Energy Commission. 

See you there!

FERC Meeting Call In 2/18

This Thursday will be the first meeting chaired by FERC Commissioner Richard Glick. Glick has been an outspoken opponent of rubber stamping fossil fuel infrastructure and FERC’s failure to account for cumulative greenhouse gas emissions.
BXE is glad that Glick was named chair of FERC last month by President Biden. We still believe that FERC cannot be reformed from within, and must be fully replaced by a Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC) focused on sunsetting fossil fuels and fully transitioning to renewable energy. We’re cautiously optimistic about Glick’s plans for environmental justice, a funded office for public participation, and other major changes at FERC. But we are not so naive as to believe what can be done in the course of one administration cannot be undone by subsequent administrations. The global crisis of climate change requires the creation of a new agency with a mandate rooted in the issues of the 21st century.
On Thursday we will be emailing, calling, or tweeting at FERC to congratulate Glick as he gavels in his first commissioners’ meeting. At the same time, we will be urging him and the other commissioners to stand up to the fossil fuel industry consistently and repeatedly, stop being a rubber stamp for them. We’re keeping our eye on FERC, and will keep the pressure on!
You can join us in this effort by sending a message to the five commissioners or live-tweet at them during the meeting with us.  You can find sample messages and tweets here.

Twitter:

  • @FERC
  • @RichGlickFERC
  • @FERChatterjee
  • @ClementsFERC

Telephone: 

  • BXE’s FERC Hotline: (866) 455-3498
  • Commissioner Christie: 202-502-8110
  • Commissioner Chatterjee: 202-502-6477
  • Commissioner Danly: 202-502-8338
  • Commissioner Clements: 202-573-2699

E-mail:

Sample Messaging:

‘We’re excited for big changes at FERC under Chairman Glick. However, we remain skeptical that FERC can be reformed in ways that truly meet the challenges of the climate crisis. We’re keeping our eyes on FERC, especially with new promises of environmental and climate justice.’

‘I’m calling to congratulate Richard Glick on his new position as Chair of FERC. I’m excited that he is looking to make big changes at FERC regarding cumulative greenhouse gas emissions, environmental justice, and renewable energy. We hope he continues to take a stand against fossil fuels as we seek to build long term solutions like the creation of a Federal Renewable Energy Commission.”


Sample Tweets Based on FERC’s current Agenda: 


Where is the tolling order for #FrackedGas infrastructure certificates @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee @FERC? 

The transportation of #FrackedGas and the sale thereof in interstate and foreign commerce is contrary to the public interest @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee @FERC

Public convenience and necessity means community and ecosystem and planetary factors have equal priority with other NGA goals @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee @FERC

The @FERC #FrackedGas project approval process has been captured by industry @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee

In 2021 @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee  @FERC are hearing about a Colonial offer to extend in-transit storage privileges for TransMontaigne’s Collins facility in 2016 #FREC has more important things to do.

The Quality Bank’s valuation of #Resid continues to be just and reasonable.  Our valuation of #Resid?Less than zero. 

#KeepItInTheGround (-0) @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee @FERC                              

We are in a #ClimateCrisis, we need a moratorium on all #FrackedGas expansion so we can #BuildBackBetter @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee @FERC

“The compressor is a threat to our neighborhood and should never have been placed in such a densely populated [area] in the vicinity of a fertilizer plant”- C Vallee.

Continue expanding #LNG export facilities like #Freeport?No! We are in a #ClimateCrisis @RichGlickFERC @ClementsFERC @FERChatterjee @FERC

We need a moratorium on all #FrackedGas expansion so we can #BuildBackBetter

More Background:

Richard Glick has done more than this in his three-plus years as a FERC Commissioner. He has openly opposed and written strong dissents, primarily but not only on climate grounds, to majority decisions approving new gas pipelines, LNG terminals and compressor stations. Those dissents likely helped lead the DC Court of Appeals to strike down last year, FERC’s “Kafkaesque” (their words) decades-long abuse of eminent domain to the extreme detriment of landowners around the country faced with planned fossil fuel infrastructure on their land.

We hope for and will continue to work for the best possible results from a FERC chaired by Richard Glick and, later this year, with a Democratic majority of commissioners. But we are acutely aware of FERC’s long, rubber-stamp history and its continuing ties to the fossil fuel industry. 

Accordingly, we will continue to advance our FERC Into FREC campaign. We call for and are working toward Congressional legislation that mandates that this new Federal Renewable Energy Commission have as its primary mission to lead the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, battery storage and energy efficiency. Commissioners of FREC must be champions of renewable energy and free of conflicts of interest. They must be serious about environmental justice, transparency and active promotion of community-based involvement in decision-making as a new electrical grid is built based on jobs-creating renewables with storage. And much more.

Why do we need a new FREC if Richard Glick is chair and will soon lead a Democratic majority of commissioners? One reason is that if a Republican wins the Presidency in 2024, we can expect FERC, under Republican control, to experience the same efforts to advance fossil fuels that we’ve seen under Trump. And we remember 20-plus years of FERC doing its rubber-stamping thing for the fossil fuel industry under both Republicans and Democrats.  Without FREC legislation any positive actions by FERC will be hampered, litigated against, and not complied with by the fossil fuel industry.

So as we congratulate Richard Glick on Thursday, we will let him and the other commissioners know that we are watching and we will keep pressing in every way we can for the creation of the kind of 21st century, federal energy regulatory body we desperately need.

Activists Disrupt Senate Hearing of Trump’s Corrupt, Climate-Denying FERC Nominee

For Immediate Release:

Washington DC – At this Morning’s hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee three activists from Beyond Extreme Energy were arrested while speaking in opposition to Bernard McNamee, who is Trump’s latest Republican nominee to be a Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

This action put the exclamation point on the more than 25,000 signatures and letters gathered to oppose McNamee’s nomination.

McNamee is a long-time fossil fuel insider and climate denier. He has worked as a lawyer for energy companies, was the energy spokesperson for the conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (funded by Exxon-Mobil and Chevron), and an energy advisor for Senator Ted Cruz, who introduced him at today’s hearing.

Last summer McNamee was instrumental in drafting policy with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to have ratepayers bail out ailing nuclear and coal plants owned by political allies of Donald Trump. When this radical plan was unanimously rejected 5-0 by FERC, McNamee was again part of crafting a plan to use the War Powers Act to force the same subsidy through. That radical plan raised the concern of many members of the ENR Committee, but Politico reports that it was seen as a key “litmus test” for Mcnamee’s nomination to FERC.

BXE and other activists contend that by putting McNamee in a position of power at FERC Trump is seeking to take direct political control of what is supposed to be an independent government agency, all while forcing American ratepayers to buy power from uneconomical power plants that would raise costs on U.S. consumers by billions of dollars per year. Preliminary estimates range from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity projection of about $4 billion per year, to The Brattle Group’s estimate of between $9.7 billion and $17.2 billion per year.

A BXE activist stood up during the hearing, interrupting McNamee as he gave his personal introduction to say “Members of the committee, I have to object to this nominee. I ask you to think about conflict of interest and what a terrible example this nominee is with all his connections to fossil fuel industries.” As he was removed from the hearing room he continued: “Think about all the victims of eminent domain, and the refugees and those killed by the fires and hurricanes. Vote NO ON MCNAMEE.”

Two additional BXE members stood and held a banner reading “Vote No On McNamee!”
All three were taken out of the hearing room and arrested, but have since been released after paying a small fine.

The ENR Committee is to vote soon after Thanksgiving on McNamee and the other nominees to other government agencies. Senator Murkowski (AK) has stated that the decision will go before the full Senate in December.

Activists have been speaking out in opposition to McNamee for weeks — in addition to the tens of thousands of signatures, activists collected letters from citizens and endorsements from more than 100 organizations, and compiled an impressive list of detailed questions and concerns about the nominee. Shortly before Halloween, these same three activists who were arrested today (and others) visited the offices of most members of the ENR Committee dressed as “Super Villians for FERC,” in an action that added a little humor to the question of why they oppose this nomination (video).

Essay from a Fourth Grade Michigan Student: “The Pipelines Should Not Be Built”

Just as climate change is the overwhelming challenge of our future, so too are our children the hope and promise of our future.  After attending the Climate Reality Training last October, I showed my fourth grade students a slide show on climate change.  I told them that they were not powerless to make a difference so when we heard about the Rover Pipeline leaking, they wanted to do something.  I directed them to do some research and then write opinion papers to send to newspapers and decision makers.  Here is one of those papers written by one of my students.

–Michele Wilkins Bailey, Ann Arbor, MI


There is a big argument going on in Michigan. The Rover and Nexus Pipelines are natural gas pipelines that use natural gas from sources in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It is still being debated whether they should continue to be built in Michigan, or stopped. My opinion is that the pipelines should NOT be built. The process used to harvest natural gas, fracking, uses priceless freshwater and contaminates groundwater with bad toxins, as well as hurting the wildlife. During fracking, companies do not need to show the chemicals they use, which is another big danger. The pipelines will increase pollution and climate change.

One reason the pipelines should not be built is that fresh water is being used and contaminated. During fracking, companies use about 70 gallons of water a minute to get natural gas (Slagter, Ann Arbor News, 10/13/17), infecting the water with toxins. Toxins and chemicals also can spill out into drinkable freshwater sources such as the Huron River, where many of us get our water from. The reason the Rover Pipeline was stopped is because it leaked into wetlands near Dexter, Michigan, potentially causing horrible diseases from the poisonous chemicals. Wildlife such as plants and animals in the areas where water is polluted may die. The pipelines are a threat to our water.

When companies frack for gas, it is not required that they show the chemicals they use. If people get sick from leaks, doctors may not know what patients are sick from, because they do not know what chemicals are causing the effects. Toxic and forbidden substances should not be used without our knowing. This is a big danger for the community. Different chemicals are used in different companies and released in different water sources. Some common substances have been found: Acids, proppants (they open cracks in stone), clay stabilizers (preventing clay and soil from blocking cracks), and many others are some examples.

Another reason the pipelines should be stopped is they will cause more pollution and climate change. Fracking puts dangerous chemicals into the water and natural gas puts carbon dioxide into the air. Installing the pipelines will require cutting down more trees, which will result in less intake of carbon dioxide, also increasing climate change. Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and water power are much greener options and are never-ending, so they do the exact opposite of polluting.

The Rover Pipeline Safety Commitment is: “Safety is our main goal. We want to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to communities.” I do not think they would be doing this project if they were completely committed to safety. In just the past two years, twelve people have died and ten have been injured from exploding pipelines (“Green America Magazine”, 2017). Along with contaminated water and pollution, the outcome of this project is neither safe nor healthy.

By now, I’m sure you have come over to the green side. Obviously, everyone wants clean water, truthful information about their drinking water, and a non-polluted Earth. Now, it’s time to take action. Do your part. Put up posters. You can even do what I did-write an argument and send it to the authorities. The Rover and Nexus Pipelines must be stopped!

Clara Paulson
4th Grade Student
Ann Arbor, MI

FERC Disrupted!

by Molly Dunton, Earthworks

On Thursday, January 18th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held it’s monthly meeting at its sleek office building in Northeast DC. As FERC staff, industry reps, and members of the press filed in, the mood in the room was noticeably jubilant. Hushed conversations took place between first time attendees, who wondered out loud how these meetings work, while veteran staff debated who would win the weekend’s football games. At the top of the hour, a silence fell over the room as the Commissioners took their seats at a large round table. The livestream kicked on as the FERC Secretary opened the meeting by reading an excerpt from the Sunshine Act*:

“Members of the public are invited to observe, which includes attending, listening, and taking notes, but does not include participating in the meeting or addressing the Commission.”

Secretary Bose finished her attempt to outlaw public participation in the meeting, banged her gavel, and hurried on to the agenda, which included proposals to approve several permits and certificates for infrastructure projects our nation does not need. It was then, after being told that I was allowed to witness but not engage with matters directly harming people and places I care about, that I decided to stand up and actively participate in this public meeting.

My name is Molly Dunton and I live and work in DC, not far from FERC headquarters. I have the pleasure of working for the national environmental non-profit Earthworks, and I have the privilege of working with residents around the country that have been negatively impacted by extreme energy development. In other words, my job involves supporting communities that have been forsaken by FERC in the name of corporate profits. I may not live in a frontline or fenceline community, but I carry the voices of my partners on the the front lines with me into my work. My home is not currently threatened by one of FERC’s reckless project approvals, but when might it be? Regardless of how much or how little physical stake any of us has in a given project on FERC’s docket, this fight is personal.

FERC’s continued assault on American communities is not only unsustainable and financially unviable, its unjust. What’s worse, barring the public from participating in the proceedings that decide our collective fate has created a culture of invincibility at FERC. When the opportunity arose to attend the January FERC meeting with our partner Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), I jumped at the chance to disrupt these opaque proceedings and challenge that notion of invincibility. That morning, I was a bit intimidated about entering a federal building knowing I would not be leaving on my own accord, but whatever apprehension I felt was quickly replaced by confidence and strength instilled in me by those that had gone before and others who showed up to support us.

BXE has been disrupting FERC meetings on a regular basis for years, and has perfected an almost formulaic approach: 1) know your message, 2) keep it short and sweet, and 3) disrupt early in the proceedings before Commissioners have a chance to rush through their docket and conclude. As mentioned earlier, as soon as I was told by the FERC Secretary that I and other members of the public would never be given the chance to speak or ask questions during these meetings, I knew it was my chance to stand up, reclaim that space, and speak my truth to their purported power. My statement, yelled above the chaos that erupted in the room, was as follows:

“FERC recently announced it would review its process for pipelines. We the people have drafted for your consideration an 8 point plan for a pipeline review process where the wellbeing of people and the environment actually matter.”

At this point, I attempted to hand our plan to the Commissioners. Needless to say, they did not accept. As I was escorted out of the room by security, I could still actively participate in the non-participatory meeting, so I continued with increased urgency in my voice:

“Protect our resources! Protect our women! Protect our children! Stop being a rubber stamp for industry!”

(Photo Credit: Phil Ateto)

The past year has been difficult for our movement to say the least. Beyond FERC, our leaders are increasingly out of touch with the on the ground reality of their policies. The FERC meeting on January 18th provided me with something I had been desperately seeking: a chance to look those leaders unwaveringly in the eye and try to hold them accountable. Being able to scream at corrupt FERC Commissioners and staff, and call them out for servicing the fossil fuel industry over the American people, was cathartic. Knowing that my actions had contributed to challenging FERC’s paradigm, even in some small way, was uplifting and empowering, feelings that have been hard to come by as of late.

My disruption was brief, maybe 30 seconds, and the Commission resumed the meeting almost immediately. But a few minutes later, my co-conspirator and from West Virginia stood up to take her turn. And next month, there will be more allies signing up to participate in FERC’s regular meeting. So long as FERC continues to approve projects that put profits before people, and continue to ignore the voices of those it truly works for, we the people will continue standing up and speaking out.

*The Government in the Sunshine Act was passed by Congress in 1976 with the goal of creating more transparency within government agencies and federal commissions. The full text of the section that pertains to meeting transparency can be found below.

  • 375.203   Open meetings.

(a) General rule. Except as provided in §375.206, meetings of the Commission will be open meetings.

(b) Public participation in open meetings. (1) Members of the public are invited to listen and observe at open meetings.

(i) “Observe” does not include participation or disruptive conduct, and persons engaging in such conduct will be removed from the meeting.

(ii) The right of the public to observe open meetings does not alter those rules which relate to the filing of motions, pleadings, or other documents. Unless such pleadings conform to the other procedural requirements, pleadings based upon comments or discussions at open meetings, as a general rule, will not become part of the official record, will receive no consideration, and no further action by the Commission will be taken thereon.

(2) To the extent their use does not interfere with the conduct of open meetings, electronic audio and visual recording equipment may be used by a seated observer at an open meeting.

(c) Physical arrangements. The Secretary shall be responsible for seeing that ample space, sufficient visibility, and adequate acoustics are provided for public observation of open meetings.

[45 FR 21217, Apr. 1, 1980, as amended at 80 FR 13225, Mar. 13, 2015]

 

BXE’s Response to FERC’s Upcoming Review of Pipeline Permitting Process

Response of Beyond Extreme Energy to the statement of the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the agency will review its approval process for interstate gas pipelines. 

If FERC were an agency which truly put the public interest first, the announced plan to review their process for approving pipelines would be a welcome development. But facts don’t lie: over the past 30 years FERC has granted permits for all but two proposed interstate gas pipelines. It is a rubber stamp agency, and it has been this through both Democratic and Republican administrations.

This announced plan comes on the heels of FERC’s efforts in New York to override the rights of states to make decisions on air and water permits for proposed pipelines. It comes as FERC considers Rick Perry’s order that they change regulatory rules and increase costs to consumers so that coal and nuclear power are given special privileges in the supposedly fuel source neutral, FERC-regulated market.

The “need” as far as new gas pipelines is to stop building them and get serious about the urgently-needed shift to renewables. But all signs indicate FERC is going from bad to worse. Instead of moving forward into the 21st century world of wind, solar and other renewables, the Trump-appointed FERC leaders want things to go backwards to the fossil fuel-dominated 20th century. We don’t trust them.

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