FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 20, 2018
Contact: Michael Bagdes-Canning (724.431.8560); Ellen Barfield (410.908.7323)
Fossil Fuel Opponents “Welcome” McNamee to FERC
This morning, members of Beyond Extreme Energy and friends were at FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to “welcome” new commissioner Bernard McNamee to his first meeting. After a campaign against his Senate confirmation because of his close ties to – and adulation of – the fossil fuel industry, and his denigration of both clean energy and those advocating for it, he squeaked by in a 50-49 Senate vote along party lines – by far the most controversial nominee ever seated.
“Recuse yourself” is the call from legal experts, many members of Congress, climate activists and members of frontline communities fighting the projects FERC routinely approves.
D.C. resident Carole Lewis Anderson said she went to her first FERC meeting because, “I’ve been persuaded that FERC is one agency that does not seem to make the goals and desires of the people part of its agenda. They just don’t care and have a way of dealing with input that’s discouraging. Also, most of its work has to do with supporting the fossil fuel industries and I am adamantly opposed to further extraction of any fossil fuels anywhere on earth. I didn’t want to be disruptive, so I told them before the meeting officially started that they need to allow the public’s views to be heard, how wrong it is to have McNamee on the commission, and that he must recuse himself.”
Michael Bagdes-Canning interrupted the meeting to say, “I am from the shalefields of western Pennsylvania, and every time they act they destroy communities like mine. They need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
John Quarterman is the Sewannee Riverkeeper, fighting to protect a river that runs through Alabama, Georgia and Florida, which is also home to the fracked gas pipeline, the Sabal Trail, approved by FERC. He told the commissioners, “The Sabal Trail already leaked and they didn’t even detect it, much less stop it, for a day. FERC abdicated responsibility.”
The Electricity Law Institute at Harvard Law School has filed a legal challenge urging frequent recusals because of McNamee’s conflicts of interest. And last week 17 Democratic Senators sent him a letter saying, “We are concerned about positions you have taken, both while serving as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy and in the private sector. These positions and statements suggest a lack of independence and an inappropriate predisposition on a number of topics likely to be involved in proceedings that will come before you in your new role as a FERC Commissioner. We urge you to recuse yourself from any future FERC proceedings where your impartiality could be questioned. . .”
Maybe he’s listening.
BXE veteran Ellen Barfield noted, “McNamee said at least for today and a little while in the future he’s going to just listen and vote present.” Activists are also urging anyone who doesn’t think such an extreme partisan in favor of expanded burning of planet- and community-destroying fossils should be sitting as a FERC commissioner to call his office to express their opinion.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BXE Disruption at Senate hearing for FERC nominees includes a 25-year veteran of the agency
Sept. 7, 2017
Contact Melinda Tuhus, 203.623.2186
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jimmy Betts, info@BeyondExtremeEnergy.org, 515-708-2463
Three Arrested Attempting to Block Fast-Tracked FERC Commissioner Approvals
WASHINGTON, DC: The week following Trump’s announcement that he will pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, three individuals representing a coalition of nearly 170 groups opposing Trump’s nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) disrupted a committee vote to advance the candidates. Three individuals were arrested during the committee vote. They stood up and spoke out about FERC’s abusive practices and disregard for the environment.
The coalition, made up of local and national groups focused on various issues, is demanding that senators vote no on Trump’s nominations until the Senate holds investigations into FERC’s the abuses of power and law. The campaign has been building for more than five months and has included call-in’s, letter-writing drives, Twitter storms, lobby days, and civil resistance focused on educating senators and pressuring them to oppose the nominations. The coalition has extensive documentation of FERC’s abuses of power and law to back up their demands.
So far, the Senate has showed an unwillingness to protect the public from pollution, climate change, and eminent domain seizures of land that result from FERC’s mandate to rubber stamp fracked-gas infrastructure. Now that Trump is pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, the coalition says it’s even more unacceptable for senators to approve Trump’s nominations, one of whom, Mitch McConnell energy staffer Neil Chatterjee, is a climate denier.
This disruption followed a similar one the coalition carried out two weeks ago when the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources met to question Trump’s nominees. The coalition has vowed to continue the fight to Resist FERC and the world and abusive, exploitative world it represents and perpetuates.
“As a New York City resident I am outraged by FERC,” said Jess Rechtschaffer, who was arrested this morning. ”It is criminal that that FERC approves wholesale land grabs so that the fossil fuel industry can install pipelines via eminent domain in the vicinity of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. FERC has never seen a dirty energy project they didn’t like from the Dakotas to NY.”
“FERC approves fossil fuel infrastructure; fossil fuels worsen climate change; the world loses and the fossil fuel industry profits. The Senate needs to overhaul FERC.” said Sid Madison from New Jersey, also arrested this morning for disrupting the vote to call attention to FERC practices.
“Climate leaders don’t support fracking or fracking infrastructure buildout, and true conservatives don’t support eminent domain for corporate gain,” said Ted Glick, an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and another who was arrested for disrupting the committee vote. “Senators should vote no on both of Trump’s FERC nominees, big supporters of 20th century energy sources in the 17th year of the 21st century. We need a Federal Renewable Energy Agency, not a fossil fuel industry-controlled FERC.”
Images & Video from this action (check for updated content throughout the day):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 25, 2017
FIVE PROTESTERS DISRUPT FERC COMMISSIONER HEARING
Four people arrested. Hearing interrupted for 20 minutes.
WASHINGTON, DC (May 25, 2017) – Once accustomed to operating in the shadows, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and its controversial role in permitting unnecessary fracked-gas infrastructure was thrown into the limelight on Thursday morning when five people disrupted the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominations to the commission, causing delay while speakers tried to proceed. After the hearing was called to order, and introductions occurred, protesters methodically, yet unpredictably, loudly exclaimed “FERC hurts families, Shut FERC down!” and “FERC hurts families, FERC hurt towns” and “The future is watching”. One protester said “I am compelled to interrupt this because I have seen the damage of climate change.” The protesters were ejected, four arrested and one detained. FERC has been debilitated since January when Commissioner Norman Bay resigned and left the commission without the quorum of three it needs to issue permits. Protesters also spoke out: “FERC is killing Pennsylvanians.”
The disrupters represent a coalition of more than 160 organizations that have pledged to fight Trump’s nominations to FERC. Their message is simple: Until Congress investigates the agency’s abuses of power and law, the Senate must not approve new FERC Commissioners. Until now, their opposition has come in the form of call-in’s, letter-writing campaigns, and lobby days focused on educating the Senators and pressuring Senators to vote against all of Trump’s FERC nominees. The coalition has extensive documentation of FERC’s abuses of power and law and has presented it to the Senators over the last few months. Thursday’s action marked an escalation in the campaign. In addition to delaying a restoration of FERC’s quorum for as long as possible, the action was meant to show the increasingly potent political consequences if the Senate allows FERC to continue hurting communities, the environment, and global climate.
“FERC is an arm of the oil and gas industries,” said Lee Stewart, an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and one of those arrested in the hearing room. “Their rubber-stamping of fracked gas permits disregards the harms such projects inflict on communities, towns, and the climate. Because of the great violence FERC inflicts on the world, it’s important to do everything possible to stop or delay them. Until FERC is replaced with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels and to an exploitation-free energy system based on localized, renewable energy, business as usual is unacceptable.”
Randy Fenstermacher of Cambridge, MA, said: “History will show that the oil crisis of the 1970’s led to the evolution of FERC in its current state, and pales in comparison to abrupt global climate change already underway. We need a new organization of the energy sector. To Congress, we say, ‘Don’t nominate, innovate.’ FERC is not positioned to transition to renewable, non-exploitative systems of localized energy generation.”
For immediate release: Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Groups Outraged by Trump’s FERC Appointments Demand the Senate Reject Them, Pledge Resistance
A coalition of around 160 local, state, regional and national organizations is calling upon the Senate to reject both nominations announced yesterday by President Donald Trump to be Commissioners of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“FERC has been abusing communities for decades, abusing their power and authority in ways that undermines the rights of both people and the states. While biased FERC Commissioners with industry ties is nothing new, Donald Trump’s picks, if confirmed by the Senate, would take us to a whole new and dangerous level of conflict and bias. Congress needs to be holding hearings into the abuses of power and law by FERC before they even consider confirming new Commissioners, let alone ones who are so blatantly biased and obvious shills for the industry,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and part of the national effort to secure congressional hearings and needed reforms.
Melinda Tuhus, an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy, which has been protesting regularly at FERC for almost three years, stated: “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a proven rubber stamp for fracked gas pipelines. In 30 years the FERC Commissioners have only rejected one pipeline project. People who have been victimized by FERC’s decisions or who are facing serious health and safety risks from proposed gas infrastructure projects don’t want to see a business-as-usual, or worse, FERC.”
Beyond Extreme Energy, a member of the coalition and a group that has gained attention by using nonviolent direct action to target FERC says there is no such thing as a good FERC commissioner. Until Congress takes steps to replace the agency with one dedicated to a just transition off of fossil fuels, the group says, the Senate should oppose all nominations. The group says it’s especially important to block appointments to FERC now because the agency is operating below quorum and any delays in the confirmation process is a delay to all of the harmful fracked gas infrastructure projects that are awaiting FERC’s rubber stamp.
“Any senator who votes to approve Chatterjee, Powelson, or any other nominee to FERC is not fit for office,” says Lee Stewart, an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy. “Regardless of who is picked for the commission, FERC rubber stamps fracked gas infrastructure, enriches the oil and gas industries, and destroys communities and the climate. This is all during a time when the technology exists to facilitate a just transition off of fossil fuels.”
“We are not fooled into complacency by FERC when they say they are energy neutral and need to make sure the lights stay on”, he continues. “We know this really means their objective is to give big-moneyed market interests primacy over human health and well-being. In a world experiencing climate crisis, energy neutrality is a horrendous abdication of responsibility and an ugly form of violence. We need a just transition off of fossil fuels now. FERC can’t and won’t deliver on this, so it needs to be replaced. That’s why we’re rising up.”
This FERC vacancies coalition has already organized two call-in periods generating thousands of calls to Senate offices on this issue, as well as orchestrating Senate offices visits in which nearly a dozen groups met with Senate staff in district offices. A national lobby event in DC is planned for May 22-23, and other actions are in the works to protest the nominations, including actions that involve nonviolent civil disobedience.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
“Lynn Good, Stop Your Atlantic Coast Pipeline” Message To Be Delivered To Duke Energy CEO At Her Home
Activists Call For “Sweet Potatoes, Not Pipelines”
Charlotte, NC – Activists with Beyond Extreme Energy will stage an unusually sweet protest this afternoon outside the home of Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good when they will give away NC sweet potatoes and call upon the energy company executive to end plans to build the 550-mile fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They say the pipeline would hurt NC sweet potato farmers along its eastern NC route, permanently reducing soil fertility and imposing expensive restrictions limiting the weight of farm machinery which could be driven across the 36-inch, 1400 psi high pressure gas pipe.
Organizers of the peaceful vigil which will take place in a Charlotte residential neighborhood say protesters will also highlight the pipeline’s $5 billion cost which will be passed along to ratepayers in addition to health and safety concerns for families and communities which lie within the pipeline’s 1-mile blast radius. They also plan to address the outsized contribution of methane gas to NC’s growing problem of global warming, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events.
Greg Yost of Beyond Extreme Energy explained the unusual protest this way: “Earlier today Duke Energy held its annual shareholders meeting. For the first time, however, they held the meeting remotely (online) to shut out the voices of those who have been or will be harmed by Duke actions and policies. Duke fears criticism and hides from accountability, so that is why we had to come here. Our message to Lynn Good is, ‘our homes are just as important to us as yours is to you.’ ”
WHO: North Carolinians active with Beyond Extreme Energy (www.beyondextremeenergy.org)
WHAT: “Sweet Potatoes, Not Pipelines” vigil against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
WHEN: 5:00pm, Thursday, May 4, 2017
WHERE: 2327 Vernon Drive, Charlotte in front of the home of Duke Energy’s Lynn Good
Opponents of Dakota Access Pipeline Picket at TD Bank in D.C. Today in Solidarity Action with Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota
Contacts: Drew Hudson – 802-272-9763 and Lee Stewart – 703.999.2634
(Sept. 14, 2016)
What: the first D.C. action in solidarity with the opposition of the Standing Rock Sioux to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)that will focus on one of the pipeline’s primary funders.
Who: Members of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) and friends
When: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, 11 a.m.
Where: Gather at Lafayette Park in front of the White House; then visit TD Bank around the corner at 801 17th St NW, where participants will enter the bank to read and then deliver a letter to the bank manager asking him/her to pass on our demand that TD Securities cut off its line of credit to Energy Transfer Partners to build the pipeline.
Why: DAPL is a $3.8 billion pipeline; $2.5 of the $3.8 million is being loaned to Energy Transfer Partners, by big banks, including TD Securities, sister-corporation to TD bank. $1.1 billion of the $2.5 billion they’ve been loaned can only be tapped if progress is made on the pipeline.
“The federal government has paused the pipeline and its future is uncertain,” says BXE member Drew Hudson. “It would be prudent for TD’s customers, and for the planet, if they pulled the funding now and invested in clean energy instead.”
Media Contacts: Don Weightman, donald.weightman@gmail, 215.292.4110, Melinda Tuhus, firstname.lastname@example.org, 203.623.2186
Beyond Extreme Energy concludes its blockade of the DNC, a visit to Rep. Wasserman Schultz and its monthly protest at FERC
July 21, 2016 (Washington, DC) — Six members of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) concluded a lock-down in front of Democratic National Headquarters this afternoon. They sat in front of the doors for almost three hours with a banner declaring the group’s four demands of the Democratic Platform: No Fracking; Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); No New Leases for fossil fuel extraction anywhere, but especially in the Gulf of Mexico; and No More Eminent Domain for Private Polluter Gain.
Some of these demands were key points in Bernie Sanders campaign, but his representatives on the platform committee were outvoted by those picked by Hillary Clinton and by the Democratic Party Leadership, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.
The protesters made clear that the climate crisis must be approached as an emergency. For one thing, they said that fracking for natural gas releases much more methane than previously thought, which is 86 times more damaging to the climate than CO2 over the short term. Blockader Margaret Flowers of Baltimore said the TPP would Increase the production and export of fracked gas in the form of liquefied natural gas all over the world. BXE wants Democrats to refuse a vote on the TPP during the lame-duck Congress later this year.
BXE volunteers were threatened with arrest but declared victory and left after several staffers from the DNC came out to speak with them, including Ian Russell, deputy director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
After a half hour of conversation, Russell asked what message the protesters wanted him to take to Democratic leadership. “Tell them we are angry and willing to risk arrest, and we’ll keep doing it until the Democrats show some backbone” on these issues, said Steve Norris of Asheville, N.C.
Immediately preceding the lock-down at the DNC, about 30 members of BXE and Greenpeace visited the office of Rep. Wasserman Schultz, where they spoke to her Deputy Chief of Staff and her energy advisor, expressing the same demands. Anthony Rogers-Wright, policy and organizing director of Environmental Action, explained that the Gulf of Mexico is a sacrifice zone and that to allow oil and gas drilling to increase is environmental racism, because many of those most affected are people of color. Gulf residents themselves have called for an end to new drilling permits.
The day started with BXE’s regular appearance both outside and inside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s monthly meeting on Thursday morning. Two college students and two women activists from New Jersey spoke out in the meeting about the need to stop rubber stamping permits for fracked gas pipelines and other infrastructure, while a dozen people who have already been banned for speaking out at previous meetings handed out flyers while wearing big blue dots over their mouths, to indicate they’ve been prevented from attending or speaking at the meetings but are still speaking out.
For more information, text or call Lee Stewart at 703.999.2634 or Melinda Tuhus, 203.623.2186
(Washington, D.C./June 16, 2016): Ten climate activists with Beyond Extreme Energy met with an aide to Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) today to challenge the lawmaker’s suggestion during a committee hearing that the group is sympathetic to using violence to achieve its goals.
“We wanted to disabuse him of that idea,” Steve Norris of North Carolina told the aide, legislative director Bryn N. Stewart. “We are a completely nonviolent group.”
On Tuesday, the senator implied during an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing that BXE members would physically “hurt” members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and that the group’s vow to “hold them accountable” amounted to a threat of violence.
“We have no intention of hurting the commissioners or their families,” Norris said. “But FERC is not working for anyone but industry. And, because of FERC-permitted projects, violence is being done to families around the country every day. They are being violated, and their land is being torn apart. We try to make it clear to FERC that they have to change their ways. All this fracked-gas infrastructure, if completed, will condemn the Earth to climate chaos.”
Barrasso specifically condemned BXE’s latest tactic of going to commissioners’ homes, which he characterized as “very dangerous.” During the Rubber Stamp Rebellion actions in May, BXE served meals in front of commissioners’ homes and delivered a version of the eminent domain notices that FERC issues. Last night, on the eve of the FERC monthly meeting, BXE held a #PotlucksNotPipelines dinner on the sidewalk in front of Commissioner Norman Bay’s home.
Earlier in the day, two BXE activists spoke out briefly at the monthly FERC meeting before being ejected from the building. FERC doesn’t allow comments from the public at its public meetings.
Before being led away, Greg Yost said, “I’m a public school teacher from North Carolina. I’ve described the workings of the FERC to my students and they demand to know: Why is the FERC still approving fossil fuel infrastructure projects when the science of climate change has become so clear? They want to know why you are actively colluding with carbon-extraction industries to destroy their future.”
BXE member Cathy Strickler of Virginia told Bryn Stewart that the group is made up of “concerned people” from a range of ages, occupations and educational backgrounds. “We call on the senator to support our efforts and to thoughtfully consider the consequences of your extremely important position in the United States Senate.
“As an experienced orthopedic surgeon, you are used to fixing that which is broken,” she said. “Now we have an energy system that is broken and will require people to fix it who are also skilled, experienced and educated. … We call on you to understand that BXE is trying to heal the broken bones of our climate and our energy system.”
Maggie Henry, a farmer from western Pennsylvania, told the aide that “fracking has destroyed my family’s organic farm.” The farmhouse that had been in the family for 100 years is 30 feet from a fracked-gas pipeline, and the foundation and drywall have cracks from earthquakes. (Fracking has been shown to cause earthquakes.) In tears, she said she would not be able to raise her grandchildren there.
The aide countered that his family has a ranch in Wyoming that is near oil drilling, coal mining and a coal power plant. He said his family has remained healthy, with some relatives living to be 100 years old. He said he was concerned about the loss of coal mining jobs.
Coincidentally, a day earlier, the national Coming Clean coalition released a report saying that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) “are present in air surrounding gas well head equipment and in the bodies of people living and working nearby” a fracking site in Pavillion, WY. VOCs are linked to numerous health problems, including some cancers and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. (Article here.)
The oil, gas and mining industries have donated $674,172 over the past five years to Barrasso’s Senate campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In addition, the senator was among many Republicans and some Democrats who criticized President Obama’s nomination in 2013 of Ron Binz as FERC chairman. Barrasso labeled as “troubling and far outside the mainstream” Binz’s comments that the use of natural gas could be a “dead end” by 2035 because of the need to reduce carbon emissions, according to Reuters. Binz eventually withdrew his name from consideration, saying that his positions had been mischaracterized.
June 15, 2016
For more information, text or call Lee Stewart at 703.999.2634 or Melinda Tuhus, 203.623.2186
Beyond Extreme Energy Responds to Sen. Barrasso’s Attack
(Washington, D.C./June 15, 2016): Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, this week attacked Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), a climate action group that opposes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s rubber stamping of virtually every application that comes before it for interstate fracked-gas pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities and liquefied fracked-gas export terminals.
During a committee hearing on Tuesday about oil and gas pipelines, the senator suggested that BXE members would “hurt” FERC commissioners and that the group’s vow to “hold them accountable” was a threat of violence.
These fear-mongering remarks were aimed at BXE’s Rubber Stamp Rebellion action during four evenings in May, when activists visited the homes of the FERC commissioners. BXE activists held banners along the sidewalk and passed out fliers to the neighbors that explained why we take non-violent direct action – and sometimes risk arrest – in order to stop the violation of private property rights, the increase in health problems, and the accelerating of greenhouse gas emissions from leaks and intentional releases of methane from FERC-approved projects. ( Shale gas is mostly methane, which is 86 times more powerful in heating the planet than CO2 over 20 years.)
We were quiet and cordial and got overwhelmingly positive or neutral responses from the neighbors. Before leaving the D.C. homes of FERC Chairman Norman Bay and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, we tacked to their front doors our version of the eminent domain letter that thousands of homeowners in the paths of fracked-gas infrastructure projects have received, telling them that, with FERC’s approval, a pipeline company would soon arrive to mow down their trees, dig up their yard, take away access to huge swaths of their land, threaten their health and safety, and disrupt or ruin their lives.
At the hearing, Senator Barrasso asked N. Jonathan Peress, air policy director at the Environmental Defense Fund, if he condemned BXE’s home visits, which Barrasso considered “highly questionable,” “extremely troubling” and “very dangerous.” When Peress tried to answer, Barrasso cut him off, demanding, “Yes or no?” When Peress said that his personal view was that such tactics were “highly unfortunate,” Barrasso shot back, “Then why hasn’t the environmental community stood up to denounce these tactics? Is it waiting until a public official, a FERC confirmed individual or his family or her family – until they get hurt?”
These McCarthyite tactics are uncalled for and a pose a threat to constitutionally protected free speech.
BXE has a strict policy of nonviolence. Nobody was getting hurt on our account, unlike families across the country who have suffered respiratory illnesses; noise, air and water pollution; depression, and loss of property values from the build-out of fracked gas infrastructure. In addition, we’re all hurt by the unsustainable increases in global warming gases that will put our nation’s climate targets out of reach and make our planet increasingly inhospitable for all life.
The oil and gas industry has dropped almost half a million dollars ($433,966) over the past five years into the campaign chest of Senator Barrasso, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, to ensure he will represent their interests. Representatives of the mining industry have contributed another quarter million ($240,206). (Wyoming is by far the leading coal-producing state.) Regular people don’t have big bucks to sway his votes, but regular people are standing up and fighting back, and BXE stands with them.
For more information contact Melinda Tuhus, 203.623.2186
Public Excluded from FERC meeting, while industry reps are “invited guests”
FERC commissioners closed their regularly scheduled May 19 meeting to the public due to “security concerns,” with just 16 hours’ notice. They then held their meeting with members of the press and “invited guests,” some of whom were representatives of the fossil fuel industry FERC is supposed to regulate.
BXE held its previously scheduled rally from 8-10 a.m., calling on FERC to issue No New Permits and to transition to an agency promoting non-polluting renewable energy and efficiency. After the rally, three members of BXE tried to get into the building that houses FERC, but were turned away by security guards.
They were told that only government employees and invited guests could get into the meeting.
“It’s our understanding,” said BXE member Melinda Tuhus, “that the invited guests from industry were allowed into the meeting and only the public was kept out; that we could’ve pre-registered for the meeting, but of course one would’ve had to know that the meeting was going to be closed to do that, and that fact wasn’t announced until the night before.”
From the FERC webcast, for example, the CEO of So Cal Gas, the director of So Cal Edison and others made a presentation about “preparations for LA basin gas-electric reliability and market impacts.”
BXE held a meeting in front of FERC that was open to the public, where activists spoke about the harms they have suffered from fracked gas infrastructure approved by FERC and climate leaders added their support to BXE’s efforts to stop FERC from issuing new permits.
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the HipHop Caucus criticized President Obama, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for claiming to be climate heroes while backing fracking and fracked gas. “They are not climate leaders,” he said, “until they realize we must transition to 100% renewable energy.” After listing several fossil fuel projects that have been defeated through public opposition, Yearwood pointed toward the FERC offices and said, “The folks inside are losing. We are winning — for the next generation.”
Mary Wildfire drove from West Virginia hoping to speak out at the FERC meeting. She told the crowd outside that coal, oil and gas all have climate change in common. “The impacts are already severe. The issue is how are we going to prevent catastrophic climate change.” FERC is “permitting well into the twenty-teens because we don’t want to bother changing our habits.”
Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, which played a critical role in defeating the Keystone XL pipeline, said she is now working with people in other states to fight fossil fuel projects. She said that she and others recently planted sacred corn seeds along the paths of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline through several mid-Atlantic states. “The seeds of resistance are growing everywhere,” she said.
At 6:15 p.m. on May 18, FERC announced that its May 19 regularly scheduled commission meeting would be closed to the public:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
NOTICE OF CHANGE IN MEETING
(May 18, 2016)
Upon the affirmative votes of Chairman Norman C. Bay and Commissioners Cheryl A. LaFleur, Tony Clark, and Colette D. Honorable, the status of the Commission’s May 19, 2016 public meeting is open to the public via webcast only. A free webcast of this event is available through www.ferc.gov. Anyone may view this event via the internet by navigating to www.ferc.gov’s Calendar of Events and locating this event in the Calendar. This event will contain a link to the webcast.
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
BXE will hold our rally on May 19 as planned outside of FERC starting at 8 a.m. Thursday. In addition to speakers from communities fighting fracking infrastructure and leaders of several groups who support our efforts, we will have an open mic for people who were planning to go into the FERC “public” meeting turned TV show. BXE members will also report on successful experiences we’ve had in D.C. in this first week of the #RubberStampRebellion.
May 17, 2016
Beyond Extreme Energy’s #RubberStampRebellion heads to FERC Commission Chair Norman Bay’s House
Washington, D.C. — May 17, 2016 — Today marks the second day of BXE’s Rubber Stamp Rebellion targeting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its approvals of fossil fuel projects. Activists are spending the morning on Capitol Hill seeking support from senators in states with pending projects before FERC; the afternoon visiting offices of some of the companies seeking to build those projects; and, from 6 p.m. into tomorrow morning, holding a vigil outside the home of FERC chairman Norman Bay in the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
Starting around 10 a.m., the group will be visiting Florida Sen. Ben Nelson asking him to oppose several projects moving through the FERC approval process: the Sabal Trail gas pipeline project; New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand asking them to speak out against the Spectra AIM pipeline and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse — who has a reputation as a climate hawk but who has not responded to his constituents’ demands that he oppose a multitude of gas projects in the state, including a gas liquefaction facility near Providence.
Peter Nightingale, a member of Fossil Free Rhode Island and a professor of physics at the University of Rhode Island, says, “‘In addition to asking Sen. Whitehouse to oppose the liquefaction facility, we want to explain to him that his support for natural gas as a bridge fuel is misguided. Natural gas is worse than coal and oil for global warming.”
In the afternoon the Rebellion moves to the D.C. headquarters of some of the corporations that have benefited and hope to benefit from FERC’s almost unanimous project approvals.
At 6 p.m., another gathering will converge on the home of FERC Commissioner Norman Bay, 1631-1/2 19th St. NW, to hold him accountable for expediting fossil fuel projects that wreck communities and the planet. Methane (so-called “natural” gas is 96 percent methane) contributes 86 times more global warming gases to the atmosphere, per molecule, than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after release. Several prominent climate scientists say that if we don’t drastically reduce methane releases immediately, there’s no way to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. Bay’s visitors will spend the night outside his home and hope to converse with him in the morning.
The #RubberStampRebellion got off to an energetic start on Monday, as BXEers sang, chanted, and channeled sounds of fracking-related destruction through a sound system, like chain saws cutting down trees that FERC gives companies permission to destroy through the use of eminent domain for private gain.
In the afternoon, seven climate activists were arrested for blocking the driveway leading to the underground parking garage at FERC. They were charged with unlawful entry and have a court date June 9.
In the evening, six activists visited the Ashburn, VA., home of FERC commissioner Tony Clark.
Although the activists didn’t bring toxic and climate-wrecking air and water pollutants that FERC permits, they taped posters in a park across from the Clark townhouse that included a photo and notified neighbors:
Tony Clark, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Rubber stamps fracked gas projects for the oil and gas industries; Complicit in the deaths of 100 million people which the World Health Organization says may die by 2030 due to climate change.
They also posted on his front door a notice of eminent domain, similar to the orders used to seize land for pipelines for transporting fracked gas. In March, BXE had a #PancakesNotPipelines action at FERC to protest maple trees razed under an eminent domain seizure for the proposed Constitution pipeline in Pennsylvania and New York, even though all state permits had not been granted. With Josh Fox and Tim DeChristopher acting as pancake chefs, landowner Megan Holleran served up the last drops of syrup from her trees at the event. A week after the Holleran family’s maple trees we cut down, New York said it would not issue permits needed for the pipeline. Read about that action here.
Among those visiting the Clark residence for the #RubberStampRebellion was Wes Eastridge from Marshall, Va., who said: “We’re fighting against the continued development and reliance on methane–because it’s totally unnecessary. FERC allows companies to destroy people’s property with eminent domain and that methane is obtained by an extremely destructive process known as fracking.”
BXE will be visiting all four FERC commissioners at their homes this week.
May 15, 2016
Rubber Stamp Rebellion Targets FERC and the Corporations It Serves.
No New Permits! Keep fossil fuels in the ground!
(Washington, D.C.) – May 13, 2016 – Starting Monday, May 16, Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) will spend the week carrying out creative, non-violent actions throughout the Washington, D.C., area. We’ll be targeting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the fossil fuel industry whose projects that rogue agency approves.
We’ll be at the headquarters of FERC, 888 First St. NE, Washington, D.C., where the agency rubber stamps approvals for interstate fracked gas pipelines, export terminals and other infrastructure that is destroying local communities and super-charging the climate crisis. (Fracked gas is methane, and leaked methane traps 86 times as much heat per molecule as carbon dioxide.)
We’ll be visiting the four FERC commissioners at their homes to hold them accountable for their decisions, which are made far from the communities affected and with no consideration of the harm from climate change.
In solidarity with frontline communities, we’ll also visit the D.C. headquarters of some of the pipeline and gas companies, whose profit-driven arrogance overrides property rights and even a state constitution, as well as the Congressional offices of some elected officials who don’t support their constituents’ needs to stop the fracked gas build-out.
And, people in 21 frontline communities are holding their own events and have decided to link them to the Rubber Stamp Rebellion in order escalate our collective opposition.
Listen to these voices from the frontlines:
Megan Holleran, New Milford, PA: “The FERC allowed Williams and Cabot to clear over three acres of forest on my family’s property without our permission, for the construction of the Constitution Pipeline, which, due to lack of permits, is now unlikely to be built. Irreparable harm was caused to our home and business, prematurely, for absolutely no reason, and that is entirely the FERC’s fault. I think it’s about time that someone holds the FERC accountable for the decisions it makes. BXE is doing something innovative in forcing the awareness that regulatory agencies are just as responsible and culpable as the corporations for the existence of the current fossil fuel infrastructure and for the future of the industry.”
Hattie Nestel, Athol, MA: “Through an extraordinary uprising of grassroots opposition, support from many elected officials and honest, comprehensive news coverage, we stopped Kinder Morgan’s N.E.D. (Northeast Energy Direct) pipeline. But FERC recently approved Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion Project, which would tear through our constitutionally protected open space in Otis State Forest. In May, a superior court judge in western Mass. sided with the company, ruling that FERC approval is proof that it has determined the project ‘advances the public interest.’ So our fight continues.”
April 3, 2016
The Law Backs Pipeline Companies Against Property Owners and Non-Violent Protesters; Sets Bond at $200,000
Pennsylvania is Ground Zero for fracking and also for opposition to the many proposed gas pipelines that myriad companies are hoping to build to move even more gas out of the state.
That opposition has struck a nerve among the powers that be, and they must be feeling threatened by the non-violent protesters who have come to stand with property owners trying to protect their land from the highly improper if not illegal use of eminent domain, and from the chainsaws and the earth-moving machines.
First, protected by security guards wielding automatic rifles, tree cutters with the Williams Company came to New Milford in northeast Pennsylvania on March 1 to destroy the maple grove the Holleran/Zeffer family maintained for their maple syrup business. They were clearing the route for the Constitution Pipeline, even though the company doesn’t have all the permits it needs to begin building it.
Then, on March 29 and 30, three people were arrested opposing a similar situation in central Pennsylvania – this time, the villain is Sunoco Logistics Partners, which is building the Mariner East pipeline. One arrestee was the homeowner, Ellen Gerhart, and two were supporters. All were charged with indirect contempt of court and disorderly conduct, either for warning crews to stay in the right of way or for allegedly stepping in the right of way themselves. Gerhart was released on $5,000 bail. For one of the supporters bail was set at $100,000; she posted bond and was released. The other supporter was held for two days on $200,000 bail before being released without posting bond. This, for non-violent action resulting in illegitimate charges that are both misdemeanors.
This overkill response by pipeline companies and law enforcement backed by some within the judicial system is an attempt to intimidate the growing number of people who are putting their bodies on the line to save pristine areas, protect property rights, and try to head off runaway climate chaos, since the methane that constitutes fracked gas – far from being a “bridge to a clean energy future” — is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas over the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere.
Beyond Extreme Energy supports these actions and stands with families trying to stop the destruction of the places they hold dear. Pipeline companies get permits approved by FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and then ride roughshod over local communities and even state constitutional protections. That’s why we say to FERC: No New Permits!
Press Advisory: For more information, text or call Melinda Tuhus, 203.623.2186 (Ted Glick is secondary contact: 973.460.1458.)
Sept. 21, 2015
Hunger Strike grows at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission demanding No New Permits.
Beyond Extreme Energy will hold press conference Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 10:30 a.m. on 15th day of their water-only fast, leading up to Pope’s visit. Outside FERC headquarters, 888 1st St. NE, D.C.
Two women have travelled across the country to join Beyond Extreme Energy’s 18-day fast at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Their communities have been directly harmed by the permits FERC has issued or has pending regarding fracked gas infrastructure. A dozen members of BXE began their fast September 8 calling on FERC to stop issuing new permits. This is in line with Pope Francis’s call in his recent encyclical for the world’s leaders to immediately address the already devastating impacts of climate change – fueled by the burning of fossil fuels – especially on the poor who have contributed the least to the problem.
Pramilla Malick is the mother of four and a resident of Minisink, New York, where Millenium Pipeline, owned by parent company NiSource, built a compressor station. She says that FERC approved it over the concerns of residents about methane and other toxic emissions, and the risk of catastrophic explosion.
“FERC enables the egregious excesses of a predatory industry that destroys communities such as mine, where many of my neighbors have been forced to flee because of this FERC permit. Our stories, however, of being fracked-by-FERC forewarn of even deeper looming crises; a climate crisis, democracy crisis, and human crisis all in one. We need bold action by multitudes to change course, so that my children, your children, and all our children are not robbed of their right to a future.”
Francis Eatherington flew to Washington, D.C. from Oregon to join the fast.
“I am here to help FERC understand that the Jordan Cove LNG Export Project on the Oregon coast and the 230-mile long Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline are reckless investments,” she says, “violating the laws of nature — the former being sited in an earthquake zone, the latter through forests prone to frequent forest fires. In fact, a forest fire is currently raging over part of the proposed route. It would also violate private property rights, as FERC is getting ready to issue a foreign company (Veresen, from Canada) the right to condemn the land of over 300 Oregonians to build the pipeline. And I’m one of those landowners. FERC will force me to host infrastructure that will lock us into using global warming fuels for at least the next 30 years.”
One of the long-term fasters will also speak. BXE will end the fast at noon on Friday, September 25, with a ceremony that will include music, brief statements, and a procession to honor the Planet and the People featuring BXE’s colorful and moving 50-foot anti-fracking banner, “The United States of Fracking,” around the FERC headquarters block. Five clergy members representing different faiths will present copies of the Pope’s encyclical to the five FERC commissioners.
Beyond Extreme Energy is an activist network of organizations and individuals that came together in 2014 to raise public awareness of the disastrous impacts of fracking, fracking infrastructure, proposed gas exports and other extreme energy extraction practices; to take direct action to stop them; and to promote an energy present and future of renewables and efficiency.