On third day of protests this week, demonstrations expose FERC operations as a circus, occupation of FERC continues
Over 50 people arrived at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission headquarters this morning for the third day of protests this week, organized by Beyond Extreme Energy.
Today, protesters used circus-themed artwork to help make the point that FERC’s rubberstamping process is a joke. The artwork included a hand-crafted carousel with pictures of the faces of the five FERC commissioners; Norman Bay, Cheryl LaFleur, Phillip Moeller, Tony Clark and Colette Honorable. This idea is encompassed in one of the hashtags of the week: #FERCus.
FERC approves nearly every permit that comes before it for interstate gas pipelines, compressor stations, gas storage facilities and liquefied natural gas export terminals. All this infrastructure facilitates the huge increase in fracked gas production, which creates serious health and safety issues for the families and communities that are in its path.
Residents of communities affected by FERC approved projects in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and as far away as Iowa, California and Maine have joined the protests.
Mark Laity-Snyder of Franklin County, Virginia is a part of a group called Preserve Franklin, which is resisting the Mountain Valley Pipeline awaiting a decision from FERC. Laity-Snyder said he is concerned about the fact that commissioners and employees at FERC have connections to the gas industry.
“Most of the commissioners and employees either were in the oil and gas industry prior to working at FERC or will be moving on, or have moved on, to oil and gas positions,” Laity-Snyder said. “It’s like a fox guarding the hen house. How are we to be sure that our concerns are heard if they’re listening to the oil and gas companies?
Vicki Wheaton and Arlene Hueholt of Nelson County, Virginia are working with their community to resist Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Wheaton said she is concerned that gas infrastructure build-out in her county and elsewhere will increase risk to American lives by offering more terrorism targets.
“Between the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, that’s 852 miles of a 42 inch pipe buried three feet under the ground.” Wheaton said. “To me it’s such a huge national security issue.”
Last night about 15 members of BXE continued a constant occupation on the sidewalk outside of FERC, called the #FERCcupy, for a second night. Those who have come to protest this week are taking turns with the occupation to maintain a constant presence and visibility. The purpose of the #FERCcupy is to show resolve and determination in exposing and changing the approval process within FERC that damages so many communities. The occupation is also meant represent those who are being displaced because of the damage these projects have had on their homes – a symbolic “refugee camp.” One such example is Maggie Henry of Pennsylvania. Recently, Henry was forced to abandon the organic farm that her family has owned for over 100 years due to the negative impact that FERC-approved hydraulic fracturing has had on the surrounding area.
Thursday’s protests were conducted in solidarity with the divestment movement, which calls on institutions to remove their investments from the fossil fuel industry. After the days protests finished, participants convened at Union Station to help Divest D.C. pass out information to the public.
Protests will continue tommorrow, and the #FERCcupy is expected to continue tonight and through tomorrow.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Stop the FERCus!” – Activists and Frontline Community Members from Across the Nation Begin a Week of Action in DC to Shut Down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
Beyond Extreme Energy action targeted Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to protest fracked gas and Liquefied Natural Gas Import/Export
1st Street, Washington DC | May 26, 2015 – Led by frontline community members from New York State, Maryland, Western Pennsylvania and many more, protestors held a rally and shut down a major traffic hub in downtown Washington, DC to protest the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Organizers said they were there to protest the agency that is directly responsible for permitting and approving numerous fracked gas pipelines, compressor stations and import/export LNG facilities from coast to coast. Roughly 100 protestors assembled and blocked the entrances to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission using giant images of the families impacted by FERC approved projects, and set up a 18 ft. tall tripod in the middle of North Capitol Street around the corner from the FERC headquarters, which stayed up (with an activist suspended inside) for over an hour, blocking traffic and holding an impromptu teach-in about fracking’s impacts in the middle of the avenue. This disruption provided time, space, and a platform from which the stories of five of our front-line community family members were able to be delivered; Tracey Eno from Maryland, Hattie Nestel from Massachusetts/New Hampshire; Heidi Cochran from Virginia, Maggie Henry from Pennsylvania, and Faith Meckley from New York State. These resistance leaders and community safety, health, and rights defenders represent various phases of fracked gas industry exploitation and systematic #communicide: fracking wells, transmission infrastructure (pipelines/compressor stations), storage facilities, and export terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Police blocked off the area but there were no arrests.
Tracey Eno, a resident of Cove Point, Maryland, spoke out against the Dominion LNG project that has been proposed for her town, and welcomed the increasing groundswell of support for communities like hers. “Actions like this can create the space to make change, including changing FERC’s mind and changing their direction to stop construction at cove point. Dominion does not have the consent of the people.” Although she recognized that there was still work to be done. “We still need a safety study because there are people in danger.”
Today’s actions were planned by Beyond Extreme Energy, a nationwide coalition of front-line communities — and their allies — who are fighting proposed and existing fracked gas pipelines, wells, compressor stations, LNG and storage facilities. These actions mark the beginning of a week of action against FERC. Organizers said that fracked gas is dirty, dangerous and a climate killer — despite the assurances of FERC and other government agencies. FERC is supposed to regulate the gas industry, yet it constantly approves dangerous fracked gas projects like interstate pipelines, compressor stations and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects – ignoring the communities who are hurt by these projects’ devastating health, economic, environmental and climate impacts. Tuesday’s protest featured people from towns impacted by Liquefied Natural Gas projects, such as Tracey Eno from Cove Point, Maryland. LNG is the easiest format to ship fracked gas internationally or domestically, and U.S. applications for LNG permits have been steadily rising over the last few years. Organizers plan to return tomorrow and shut FERC down again.
“From Maryland to New York to Oregon, there’s a mad rush going on right now to build LNG facilities across the country. Companies are afraid of the rise of renewable energy and know that the era of fracked gas is going to end,” said Patrick Robbins from Sane Energy Project, a New York City-based group that has been active in the fight against the Port Ambrose LNG facility in Long Island. “Fortunately communities all over the country are rising up in resistance.”
Earlier this month, FERC rescheduled their public meeting saying that they needed to take extra “safety precautions” to protect themselves from communities that speak out against and barred dozens of affected citizens from even entering the “public” meeting, regardless of whether they had protested at FERC before or had pending dockets and cases to be considered. Protest organizers say this is further proof that FERC is a rogue agency that doesn’t regulate anything
“They’re paid by the fracking industry, never say no to a project, and frequently ignore their own rules. FERC is clearly trying to silence us and has labeled anyone who speaks out for people, the planet or the climate as a security threat. FERC isn’t a regulator, they’re a joke! So today, the joke is on them,” said Drew Hudson of Environmental Action.
Groups participating in this week of action include Marcellus Outreach Butler, Environmental Action, Sane Energy Project, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Stop the Minisink Compressor Station, 350 Loudoun, Flood Boston, No Fracked Gas in Mass, Rising Tide North America, Stop the Frack Attack, Southern Oregon Pipeline Awareness, Stop the Penn East Pipeline, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, Bakken Pipeline Resistance, Friends of Nelson, and more.
“I couldn’t sit this one out,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning from Butler, Pennsylvania. “I’m here for my children and grandchildren. They deserve clean air and water instead of a future built on fracking.”
Twitter: @BXEACTION & hashtags #FERCus #Communicide
& additionally for Tuesday: #NoLNGExports and Wednesday: #WitnessWednesday
Tuesday’s “Stop the FERCus!” mobilization gathered communities that are part of a continental resistance movement opposing all liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects like ones proposed in Lusby, MD, Coos Bay, OR, Rio Grande Valley, TX, Port Ambrose, NY, Squamish, BC, and many more.
This week builds on Beyond Extreme Energy’s previous actions to shut down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; see below for photos from today’s actions. Photo credits to John Zangas of DC Media Group.
May 22, 2015
Press Release: BXE Continues Direct Actions Against Federal Energy Agencies
In the second action of the day, having been followed by police during the morning, at 9 AM protesters from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) entered the lobby of the Interior Department, at 1849 C St. NW., Washington DC and staged a sit-in.They are protesting the decision of the Interior Department and the White House to permit oil drilling in the Arctic. Their chants – “Hey, Obama, we don’t want no Arctic drama!” and “No Arctic drilling!” – echoed throughout the main building of the Interior Department.
The BXE protesters, many of whom had traveled hundreds of miles from throughout the Northeast to raise their concerns abot the extreme menergy policies of the Government – stayed in the lobby until forced to leave by
, Continuing their protest, they picketed outside the Interior Department building.
BXE’s non-violent direct action protests will continue today. These protests are a continuation of nine days of protests that BXE is conducting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and elsewhere in the District to protest the Obama Administration extreme energy strategy, which includes fracking, Arctic drilling and offshore deep drilling.
Contacts: text Donald Weightman (cell) 215 292-4110
May 21, 2015
To schedule an interview, text Donald Weightman (Beyond Extreme Energy) 215-292-4110
PRESS RELEASE: Press Release – Citizens’ Coalition Begins Nine Days of Demonstrations at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC, May 21. Today dozens of chanting and picketing citizens and grass-roots groups converged on Washington D.C., coming from across the Mid-Atlantic states, and as far away as Massachusetts and Ohio, and braving the rain to have a die-in on the sidewalk outside the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Their die-in demonstration was opening round of “Stop the FERCus”, nine days of non-violent protests and civil disobedience brought by coalitions of citizen groups and their allies from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE). The Stop the Fercus demonstrations challenge the toxic results of the industry-friendly natural gas policy, where FERC rubber-stamps every fracked gas pipeline and processing project coming before the agency for pre-construction approval.
Michael Bagdes-Canning left Butler Pennsylvania in the middle of the night and drove for five hours to join the protest. He said:
Today’s Stop the FERCus demonstration is the latest in a string of BXE-FERC battles – leading to more than fifty arrests – going back to July 2014, continuing with five days of street demonstrations last November, and monthly disruptions of FERC Commissioners Meetings ever since. In the latest of these protests, just last Thursday, three BXE activists were arrested, and nearly thirty peaceful concerned citizens, whom the agency – falsely – labeled as “known disruptors”, were evicted from FERC’s headquarters building.
In a prepared statement BXE spokesman Donald Weightman said: