Josh Fox Arrested At Seneca Lake Protest

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photo by Bob Nilsson, http://tinyurl.com/n2452aw

Award-winning documentarian Josh Fox was arrested today in New York in support of We Are Seneca Lake and their fight to stop a dangerous underground fracked gas storage facility.

In a statement, Fox connected the dots between Seneca Lake’s immediate problem—Crestwood Midstream and their harebrained scheme to store liquefied gas in depleted salt caverns adjacent to the lake—and the federal agency which gave Crestwood Midstream a green light to do it.

I’m also here to say the regulatory agency, which is FERC — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — which is just 5 people who are appointed by the president — is really acting like a subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry masquerading as a government agency. FERC has to be overhauled. FERC is a disaster. There is no public participation that has any meaning and it is very, very unclear how those decisions are being made.

Amen, Josh!

Taking a stand in support of groups like We Are Seneca Lake is implicitly a condemnation of FERC’s role in authorizing outrageous gas company behavior. Conversely, we are going to confront a root cause of Seneca Lake’s problems by taking action together in DC at FERC May 21-29 during Stop The #FERCus.

FERC is a rogue federal agency acting against the best interests of our country. Help stop them now!

(For more coverage of We Are Seneca Lake and Josh Fox’ arrest today, including the mini-documentary Fox made, check out http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/13/exclusive-anti-fracking-filmmaker-josh-fox-arrested-in-finger-lakes-protest.html?source=TDB&via=FB_Page)

Citizens Express Outrage at FERC by Raising Voices in Song

by Susan Rubin

(Yorktown, NY) May 11, 2015  Residents of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam interrupted a Federal Energy Regulatory DRN_FERCIMAGE2_V2-page-001Commission (FERC) public “scoping session” with a singalong at 6:45 p.m. tonight at the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center at 1974 Commerce Street in Yorktown Heights, NY. Sung to the tune of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, the protestors sang about FERC being “a rubber stamp machine.” A spokesperson explained that FERC deliberations are often deficient and incomplete, that public comments are ignored, and that virtually every fossil fuel project presented to the Commission has been approved.

FERC’s mission is to “regulate the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity,” but their funding comes from the fees they receive from the fossil fuel industry. An April 7 article in Greenwire stated, “employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory CommissionEmployees have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings.”http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060016380

The scoping session tonight in Yorktown was for the Atlantic Bridge project, the second of three proposals by Spectra Energy to transport massive quantities of fracked gas through New York, into New England and then on to Canada and beyond.

FERC approved the first of the three Spectra projects, the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project on March 3, 2015 and participants of the singalong object to FERC’s dismissal of many relevant issues that were raised throughout the public comment period. The most alarming situation is the siting of a new 42 inch diameter pipeline less than 150 feet from vital structures at the Indian Point nuclear power plant.  A pipeline safety expert and a nuclear expert believe that the premise for the approval of the project is based on unverified assumptions that are in direct conflict with sound engineering principals and common sense.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted the plant operator’s estimated three-minute timeframe for the gas valves to be closed, but that timeframe is not substantiated anywhere.

Peaceful protests across the country are increasing as citizens discover that FERC acts as a rubber stamp machine and is clearly more interested in the needs and profits of industry than in the needs of the American people. When all the legal routes are rejected, nonviolent direct action becomes the last option for people to defend their rights. With each passing month of these unjust undemocratic processes, more people are using their voices to express their deep concern for their communities and for their health, safety and their children’s future. FERC’s session tonight was an affront to citizens of the region who feel that the federal government is allowing corporate profit to prevail over public risk.

An Invitation To Student Divestment Groups and Leaders from Beyond Extreme Energy

Dear Student Allies,

These past few months have been outstanding for the divestment movement. Its been very humbling to see the growing success of fossil fuel divestment campaigns all across the country. This unity of students is a force so powerful that it is changing the way major institutions regard their portfolios and demanding that they use their prerogative to take a moral stand against anthropogenic climate change. I commend all of you for your tireless work to divest your schools from fossil fuels.

Just as many universities are being held accountable for their investments in dirty energy, there is another major institution that is being called out for an alarming hypocrisy. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency whose mission is to “regulate the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity.” However all of their funding comes from the fees they receive from the fossil fuel industry. Thus their bottom-line is to approve every proposed project for fossil fuel infrastructure p despite how severe the resulting health, safety and climate impacts are.

Watch this video to learn more and fill out this form to participate in a week of action to stop business-as-usual at FERC.

Our Mission:

BXE_Silent_EcoWatch Photo by Erik Mc Gregor erikrivas@hotmail.com

Beyond Extreme Energy is a non-profit organization that formed in 2014, which organized a mass blockade of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last November 3rd – 7th. They are committed to transforming FERC from a rubber-stamp agency for fossil fuel infrastructure into a leader in an urgently needed transition to renewable energy to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution.

FERC-impacted areas like Minisink, Myersville, Seneca Lake and Cove Point have been defended by frontline communities that have dutifully abided by FERC’s rules to stop construction of harmful natural gas infrastructure projects. Despite posing strong evidence of health, safety and environmental impacts, FERC has been unresponsive to community voices. When all the legal routes are rejected, nonviolent direct action becomes the last option for people to defend their rights. Acts of civil disobedience are springing up all over the country to shut down FERC-approved projects, which is a tactic we are replicating on FERC’s doorstep.

Our Invitation:

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We will return to FERC this May 21st – 29th to “Stop the FERCus” because we know that the commissioners of this agency are acting as rubber-stamping clowns for the fossil fuel industry. We will once again engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to shut down the building.

As inheritors of the future world, students have a critical voice in the fight against corporate power and climate change. Thus we are devoting a day of “Stop the FERCus” for student activists. We invite you to join us for Divestment Thursday on May 28th to show FERC that the next generation is demanding that they cease expansion of natural gas infrastructure.

To sign up, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you soon.

Sincerely,
Kelsey Erickson
Videographer, Beyond Extreme Energy
kke7@cornell.edu
978-618-9816

 Can’t make it to DC but still want to help? Here’s what you can do…

Stay Informed: “LIKE” our facebook page and “FOLLOW” our twitter account

Spread the word: Share this video and tell your friends to join us!

Donate: To support the organizers and housing/transportation needs of participants

 Questions? Contact Jimmy Betts (info@beyondextremeenergy.org) or Lee Stewart (actions@beyondextremeenergy.org)

The Truth About Dominion Resources

Every year around Earth Day, a new crop of corporate greenwashing tends to spring up with the flowers. In the Mid-Atlantic region and Virginia, in particular, one of the biggest culprits is Richmond-based Dominion Power. Hopefully you already know about BXE and We Are Cove Point’s work exposing Dominion through the Beyond Dominion Sentinel. Now there’s a new web resource we hope you’ll check out.

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Dominion is the largest electric utility in Virginia, the state’s #1 emitter of the heat-trapping pollution wrecking our climate, and the #1 corporate donor to state politicians. It’s also a well-documented member of the climate-denying American Legislative Exchange Council. Yet, every year around Earth Day, Dominion funds slick ads, community projects like tree-plantings, outdoor festivals and more to paint itself as a “green” and “sustainable” company.

This year, our friends at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network have launched an interactive new website that sets the record straight: domtruth.org. Click here to start the “tour” and then pass it on!

As you scroll through domtruth.org, you’ll find that Dominion is a poster child of sorts for the type of business model that is both wrecking our planet and corrupting our politics. The company has a monopoly on over 60 percent of Virginia’s electric market — a monopoly ostensibly regulated by the same lawmakers raking in Dominion’s campaign cash. Instead of embracing the future of an electric grid powered by rooftop solar panels on customers’ homes and wind turbines spinning off Virginia’s coast, Dominion is currently investing in a massive build-out of pipelines and power plants to carry and burn fracked natural gas. Dominion uses its political power to set the agenda in Richmond and rig the system against the solutions we need to solve the climate crisis.

Here’s the good news: Domtruth.org comes at a time when the cracks in Dominion’s corporate image are already starting to spread. Just like BP in the Gulf and colleges like Harvard and the University of Mary Washington, this Earth Day Dominion is facing an increasing public backlash over its fossil fuel investments.

You know there’s a serious image problem when sixth graders and senior citizens alike are standing up at county meetings to decry Dominion’s 550-mile pipeline for fracked gas; when riverkeepers are joining with history buffs to challenge Dominion’s massive proposed transmission lines over Jamestown; and when editorial writers across the state are hammering the company’s anti-consumer “power politics.”

You can help pull back the curtain on Dominion’s greenwashing, and build the movement for solutions, by checking out domtruth.org and then passing it on — especially to your friends and family in Virginia!

Stop The FERCus

Stop the FERCus
Stop the FERCus

Videographer Kelsey Erickson has uploaded a video to YouTube you need to see. If you’re lucky enough that your own community isn’t afflicted with fracking’s toxic and dangerous infrastructure—well heads, pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities, export terminals—then it may be difficult to understand the critical role the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plays in its construction.

Erickson’s video documents the testimonies of numerous weary, exasperated individuals from multiple communities who wish that they’d never had to become such experts on this rogue federal agency. But watch what happens when they and their allies come together on FERC’s doorstep.

Football With Coach Kafka

Imagine a football game. You’re the home team and you’re playing defense. It’s a tough game and not exactly fair. Why? Because the other team is FREAKING HUGE.

giantfootballplayer-x-wide-communityBut wait, there’s more. Bloodied and bruised, now imagine looking over the line of scrimmage at the opposing team and seeing something that just can’t be right. What are the refs doing in the middle of their huddle?

In the great American game of FERCball, this surreal and grossly unfair situation occurs just as often as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regularly convenes seminars around the country for the benefit of the industries it regulates. The purpose of the seminars is to help permit applicants successfully navigate the labyrinth of FERC procedures. It’s like the refs helping one side know which plays to call.

But FERC’s bend-over-backwards assistance to industry execs goes even further as Ann Nau of Myersville, MD discovered recently.

As if we don’t already know the disdain with which FERC looks onto impacted communities, they’ve been holding ‘pre-seminars’ in addition to the normal industry seminars.

(Myersville, by the way, has been fighting—and thus far, losing—a battle to keep a dangerous compressor station out of their town and away from their churches, stores, and elementary school.)

It’s easy to understand Ann’s frustration. Look how FERC describes these pre-seminars.

image[1]“Strategize for dealing with difficult behavior”? “Enhance your negotiation skills”? And these trainings are provided free of charge around the country, multiple times per year? It’s sadly obvious whose side these “referees” are on.

It’s also very predictable. Back in the locker room and out of sight of the public, these “referees” regularly exchange their striped jerseys for helmets and pads in order to take the field and actually play for the other team. Read—and be appalled by—an April 7, 2015 E&E report by Hannah Northey and Kevin Bogardus entitled Employees Negotiate For Industry Jobs Under Agency’s Eye.

Writing on the basis of research done under a Freedom Of Information Act request, Northey and Bogardus conclude in part,

Employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings…

Ethics records throughout 2014 show agency staff seeking employment with grid operators, law firms and utilities that the agency has jurisdiction over and often meets with as it sets new orders and rules.

The authors uncovered at least forty instances last year in which FERC employees entered job negotiations with the industries they regulate. What makes FERC’s employees so valuable? According to former FERC staffer Travis Fisher,

“It’s a certain level of expertise, the sweet spot is somewhere in that four-to-five-year mark,” he said. Fisher said he, like his former colleagues, gained a keen understanding of which draft orders would compel commissioners and what language would have to be scrapped or rewritten — valuable insight for utilities seeking to comply with the FERC regulation.

“Your job at FERC was to read those pleadings, from the utility side you’re writing those pleadings,” Fisher said. “Someone fresh out of FERC is extra valuable because of their knowledge of the politics of the organization.”

Of course, many FERC commissioners and upper level staff only put on referee jerseys after changing out of their industry uniforms and helmets in the first place. It probably goes without saying that no one thus far has written an extensively researched article about the revolving door between FERC and, say, the climate justice movement or the front line communities trying to protect their ground water, their children, and their lives.

So let’s sum up.

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It’s not supposed to be this way. It’s time to change the game.

Communities Demand An Accountable Government

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The Fight Against FERC: 
Communities Demand An Accountable Government

by Angela Vogel

FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. Since 1935 when it first became an independent regulatory agency it has done little to protect citizens from exploitation. Instead, the agency uses its vast powers to facilitate the expansion of dirty and deadly extraction for export to international markets. FERC ensures that toxic energy projects create greater profits for rich developers while leaving poisoned communities with the lie of so-called U.S. energy independence through fossil fuels.

Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), a frontline and activist network that came together in 2014 to begin fighting FERC’s facilitation of dirty energy projects, has put constant “unprecedented” pressure on this industry-funded agency leading FERC Chair Cheryl LaFleur to say, “We have a situation here.” BXE believes that direct action plays a crucial role in supporting frontline communities to take their battles to FERC’s doorstep and face them in person and in bringing attention to the life and death situation these communities have been fighting for years.

“Here in rural Pennsylvania, there are many families who are facing a horrible fate. FERC would like to approve massive natural gas pipelines that will destroy countless generations-old family farms and homes.  For many of these families the option to move elsewhere does not exist due to financial burdens or long-time connections to the land and community,” says Deirdre Lally, a volunteer with Shalefield Organizing Committee.

“Our numbers are small but powerful,” says Maria Kretschmann of anti-fracking group E.D.G.E. (Ending Dirty Gas Exploitation) whose family-owned organic farm is threatened by expanding fracking infrastructure. “Communities must join together because we have enemies with fat pockets, dozens of lawyers on hand and no moral compass. We fight not just for ourselves and our friends but for those who cannot defend themselves or come to D.C.”

BXE is partnering with community-focused groups to echo the frontline fights in D.C. and to present a fully-rounded strategy against the industry-funded, rubber stamping behemoth FERC.  This battle must continue escalating to reflect the severe implications of what is at stake, and what is, quite literally, coming down the pipe.  The coalition has outlined a nine-point short-term plan for reforming FERC that is posted to their website (http://tinyurl.com/masznzn). However, long-term goals may look a little different. According to Faith Meckley of the frontline group We Are Seneca Lake, “The system is no longer made for the people but for the benefit of the companies. We need to make it really clear that we can no longer be ignored, and it’s time for a new system to be built.”

While it is of the utmost importance that frontline communities, separated by both geography and often culture, come together with support from the broader environmental movement, it’s equally important that the issue of global warming and impending climate chaos not get lost. Since Cornell first released findings in 2011 that high quantities of methane released from fracking makes it more dangerous than coal, the scientific community has found more and more evidence to back this up leaving many to wonder how the industry ever sold us the snake-oil promise of a ‘natural’ bridge-fuel and how we will reach the carbon emission goals necessary for ongoing life on the planet if fracked gas extraction continues to expand with the help of agencies like FERC.

“We are all downstream and downwind,” says Lally, “and we must continue to support each other in this struggle, because eventually we will win, but only if we do it together.”

Join BXE for a week of actions actions at FERC

May 21-29!

https://beyondextremeenergy.org/sign-up-for-mass-action-at-ferc-in-may/

Contact info@beyondextremeenergy.org

for details on housing, workshops, & more!

 

FERC Is A Rubber Stamp Machine

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Anyone remember the Blue Meanies from the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine movie?

Trust me–they were very mean. And although the film neglected to mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that in addition to hating music, they rubber stamped fracking infrastructure projects whenever they had the opportunity.

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New lyrics by NYC’s Occupy The Pipeline. Inspired editing by Bill Huston. And let’s not forget a shout out to John, Paul, George, and Ringo!

One Hell Of An Editorial

GIF edition!

Sometimes you read something so good, you just have to high five the internet a little bit.

5sThe Recorder, the “newspaper of record serving scenic Bath and Highland counties, and the Allegheny Highlands of Virginia”, published a stellar editorial on March 26th that deserves to be read by far more than the paper’s 5,000 subscribers.

In “Aww, FERC Is Frustrated,” the editors respond to FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur’s infamous and telling comment, “We have a situation here.” If the commissioners are perplexed by the recent groundswell of opposition to fracking and its associated infrastructure, The Record, at least, is not.

“Why the “unprecedented” outcry, Ms. LaFleur? Because of the industry’s failure to adequately protect us, and your agency’s failure to do the same.”

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“We see little evidence of a sturdy, unblemished record of oversight or protection. What we do see is the gas industry has much more control over FERC, state agencies, and lawmakers who make up the rules than it should.”

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“You are not representing our interests, Ms. LaFleur. You are representing industries that have full and powerful resources to mostly glide through your processes with ease.”

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“Until your agency can balance its mission to help the energy sector with its mission to minimize risk, Ms. LaFleur, your in-box will remain flooded for the foreseeable future. Get used to it”

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We here at Beyond Extreme Energy could not agree more.

Read “Aww, FERC Is Frustrated” at https://recorder.our-hometown.com/news/2015-03-26/Opinions_%28and%29___Commentary/Aww_FERC_is_frustrated_002.html.

Maryland Governor Hogan Celebrates TOWN-breaking At Cove Point

Hogan town-breaking ceremony

Tracey Eno of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community had this to say about Dominion Resources’ groundbreaking ceremony today for its LNG export plant at Cove Point.

“The residents of Lusby are NOT celebrating Dominion’s ‘TOWN-breaking Ceremony’ today. It’s no surprise that this event was kept a secret until the last minute and is closed to the public ‘due to security concerns,’ according to Dominion PR spokesperson, Karl Neddenien. If Dominion is worried about security, they should think twice about building a dangerous liquefaction train next to the 20,483 residents of Lusby. We worry about security every day and the risk of vapor clouds and explosions of propane and LNG, with potential for grave catastrophe. The 2006 Maryland Department of Natural Resources study shows that 360 families are at risk of a flash fire right now.

“We look forward to meeting with Governor Hogan to tell him the truth. We can only assume he hasn’t studied the details of the project. We recommend he Google ‘Images Skikda Algeria 2004’ as a primer.”

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