BXE was back at the FERC meeting today! More report and notes below but first – Nominations are due tomorrow for folks to participate in FERC’s Environmental Justice Advisory Panel. Several good and long standing friends of ours have asked to be nominated and to participate in the process. We’ve sent an email to FERC formally nominating these folks with their contact information.
BXE attended the monthly FERC meeting, and supported a press conference by our friends at Frontlines to FERC, which featured stories and testimony from residents and activists from Freeport Texas. Freeport, you may remember, is home to a massive, FERC-approved, LNG terminal that exploded in the summer of 2022. FERC and PHMSA have been in the process of re-opening the Freeport LNG facility this month, while ignoring ongoing community opposition and concerns about safety and pollution. If you missed it, you can watch their press conference on our Facebook page:
The FERC hearing itself was unusually fast – starting right on time at 10am and ending less than an hour later after a flurry of unanimous decisions. No news or updates were announced at this month’s meeting about GNT Express, which we emailed you about earlier in the week So keep those calls and emails coming!
Nor did the Commissioners speak directly to the Freeport LNG facility or community concerns at the meeting – although our friends from Texas met separately with FERC staff later in the day – so we’ll see if they learned anything new soon.
Finally, a last minute addition to the FERC meeting agenda of a couple MVP dockets alarmed and concerned a number of us! MVP fighters from the POWHR coalition were at the hearing, and met with FERC staff later in the day to confirm that no new permits or decisions were issued regarding the MVP. Instead, according to news reports and expert advice from friends, it appears that FERC simply stood by their existing permits, and rejected a legal appeal from the Sierra Club and other partners to reconsider last year’s permit extension.
So that’s the news from FERC and some actions you can take. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you at some Atlanta forest defense and Stop Cop City solidarity actions next week!
As a candidate for public office in 2022, I pledge to support legislation to replace the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with the Federal Renewable Energy Commission, whose job it will be to ensure just, safe and affordable green energy for all people in this country.
It is time to replace FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with FREC, a Federal Renewable Energy Commission. There is historic precedent for this. FERC was created in 1977 when Congress enacted legislation to replace the Federal Power Commission, created in 1935, with FERC. Over 40 years later, with a very different energy reality than 1977, it’s time for a new FREC to replace the old FERC.
We must create an independent energy agency which leads the critically needed shift away from all fossil fuels to jobs-creating, justice-based, renewable green energy from proven renewable technologies including, but not limited to, ecologically-sound solar, wind, small-scale hydro and geothermal. FREC would be about renewables first, ensuring that distributed energy resources and transmission of sustainably-generated electricity are provided to all, with priority to environmental justice communities long damaged by fossil fuel production. Neither war nor anything else can alter this as a top, immediate priority.
FERC cannot play this leadership role given its decades-long history as a captured agency by industry.
A new FREC must center genuine public participation in decision-making from affected communities, particularly low-income, Indigenous and people of color communities which have historically suffered from environmental pollution and governmental injustice.
A new FREC would not be funded by fees on industries applying for permits, a reality which has corrupted FERC decision-making, but by Congressional appropriations.
And a new FREC would prioritize making information and data easily accessible and shareable to the public, as well as simplify the process for informed public participation in decision-making about proposed new energy projects.
Today Beyond Extreme Energy and pals disrupted the monthly meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In total eight people disrupted the meeting, standing and shouting to commissioners until removed from the room by security.
To start the day BXE members picketed outside and joined a press conference put on by the LA Bucket Brigade about critical environmental justice fights in the gulf coast.
As the FERC meeting began BXE members that had been previously banned from FERC meetings were placed into an overflow room, but escaped when the police weren’t looking and joined the main meeting. Over the course of the meeting eight people disrupted the proceedings and were thrown out.
Bill Muth rose first looking at FERC Commissioner Richard Glick:
“A larger problem than a failed grid is a failed planet. My grandson is 8 years old, he will experience 36 times more heat waves than I did in his lifetime. Please deny the Mountain Valley Pipeline anymore time. 36 times more heatwaves. My grandchildren, your children and grandchildren. Please deny the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We’re headed towards a climate catastrophe!”
We demand that FERC deny the Mountain Valley Pipeline a four year extension for the construction of their useless, financially doomed, fracked gas pipeline in West Virginia/ Virginia.
We demand that FERC be dismantled and replaced with the Federal Renewable Energy Commission which would focus fully on decarbonization, transition to renewable energy, environmental justice, and community controlled energy.
In January of 2021 Biden appointed longtime Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioner Richard Glick to be the chair of FERC. FERC is the agency responsible for permitting all interstate energy projects, but has always been a rubber stamping agency for the fossil fuel industry. Since joining FERC Glick had been a stalwart critic of FERC’s lack of attention to greenhouse gas emissions and the kafkaesque process by which FERC makes decisions.
With Glick as chair and Democratic control over FERC, there was a great hope for major internal reform. FERC seemed destined to play an outsized role within the Biden administration’s climate agenda. A loose agenda in the early stages of 2021 outlined a focus on: updating transmission systems, the creation of the Office of Public Participation, environmental justice analysis, and cumulative greenhouse gas assessments within the energy project approval process.
Is it possible for FERC to be reformed from within? Beyond Extreme Energy has taken a long hard look at the first year of ‘progressive FERC’ and written a FERC 2021 Year in Review. We get into was promised, what has and hasn’t been delivered, and the limitations of ‘tinkering under the hood’ in the face of the climate crisis.
Check out the FERC 2021 Year in Review and a presentation version here:
From May 24th-June 6th we will be traveling along the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We seek to amplify the voices of frontline Appalachian communities and others in their fight for environmental justice and renewable energy. We will be working to challenge the environmental damages being done by all fossil fuels, and to cancel the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the MVP Southgate extension, whose construction has already devastated parts of WV, VA and NC.
All along the pipeline route we will inspect damages to water, air, animals, and the Earth, and the people who depend on them; and we will every morning have ceremonies honoring the heroes in our states who have died during these fights to protect our Appalachia.
Communities affected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline and other destructive/extractive industries are invited to participate in the event in whatever way is best or most advantageous to them. For example, they can join our walk or have the walk come to them.
We plan to use the two-week journey on foot and by vehicle to support frontline communities first and foremost by listening. As appropriate, walkers may be called upon to support local campaigns for economic, racial and climate justice by amplifying their voices in various media, standing alongside them at rallies and protests, participating in and hosting workshops, and honoring the heroes of the struggle who are no longer with us.
Walk organizers consist of dedicated environmental justice workers from West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and beyond, and members of seasoned organizations such as 7 Directions of Service, POWHR, Beyond Extreme Energy, Th!rd Act, NC Alliance to Protect the People and the Places We Live, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and others.
At a moment of profound crisis in Ukraine, and of profound turning in our global movement for peace and clean energy, we call on all US elected and appointed officials to use all nonviolent means to stop war, restore peace, and build a safe and sustainable future for all people.
Other voices in our country are calling to increase our use and export of fossil fuels to Europe. We do not agree.
We believe that instead what is needed at this moment is a massive shift in spending priorities by the United States government, and the Biden administration in particular: We must stop paying for war, weapons and fossil fuels. And we must simultaneously increase investment in renewable energy, sustainable heating and transportation, and diplomatic, non-violent efforts to bring those technologies to scale all over the world
Beyond Extreme Energy is a US-based activist collective that came together in 2014 to protest a gas liquefaction and export terminal in Maryland. Since then, we have continued to advocate that the governments of the United States and other nations must adopt clear, immediate and binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions and on the extraction and combustion of oil, coal and gas.
We support calls to:
● Use the Defense Production Act to rapidly, and radically, expand US production and worldwide distribution of clean fuel sources and heating technology like solar panels, heat pumps and wind turbines.
● Enact specific changes in US policy to restrict the use and expansion of fossil fuels – including reinstating a ban on crude oil exports, banning exports of LNG, and halting the massive buildout of new fossil fuel infrastructure in this country – including pipelines, compressor stations, liquefaction facilities, export terminals and more.
● Shift the bloated US $768 billion military budget to spending on clean energy, sustainability, economic and racial justice and the protection and expansion of democracy.
We see in this moment a crisis, and also an opportunity to vastly expand our nation’s commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy. We also see the connection between the movement for de-militarism, de-carbonization, and democratization. We join the peoples of Ukraine, Russia and every nation in calling for an end to both war and global heating.
We welcome all to join us in nonviolent struggle. We look forward to a future of peace, freedom, and justice through clean renewable energy for all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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