FERC didn’t work today

FERC didn’t work today

Ferc-stopping-friendsOur friends from Beyond Xtreme Energy shut down the monthly meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today. This is part of an on-going series of actions to draw attention to the fact that FERC doesn’t work.

FERC, you’ll remember, is the federal agency that approves not gas drilling or fracking, but all the pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities and export terminals that make them profitable. FERC is the agency that green lighted Cove Point, even though it would put a massive industrial facility that could likely explode across a two lane road from homes and a daycare. FERC is the agency that is moving to approve a gas pipeline to plow through private land, historic landmarks and fragile ecosystems in Western mass. Most importantly, it’s the agency that has never ever said no to a Gas pipeline (about half of the proposals they’ve received are pending a permit, or were withdrawn at the request of polluters).

That’s why, last November, dozens of us rallied outside FERC for a solid week. Each morning groups would arrive before FERC employees in order to block the entrances and delay the functioning of the office. The point was to disrupt FERC’s business as usual and hold all the staff there, not just the commissioners, accountable for their role in permitting a new generation of gas and oil infrastructure that is literally killing the planet. Today, about 15 activists returned to FERC to attend the monthly commissioners meeting and deliver that same message to the appointed commissioners. Here’s the report from one of the organizers:

Kendall Hare spoke for about 5 minutes to FERC commissioners, appealing to their better angels, telling them they could be heroes. She told them they should heed the FERC mission statement, which is to provide SAFE, EFFICIENT, SUSTAINABLE energy for the country. FERC chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur thanked Kendall for her remarks — and said the commissioners were aware of BXE (Beyond Xtreme Energy). Others also spoke and were each told to be quiet or leave. Steve Norris and one of the others tried to raise a banner behind the commissioners but were stopped. Then FERC commissioners decided they just had to adjourn the meeting.

And here’s a longer excerpt from a report (behind a paywall) by Hannah Northey at E&E news:

Protestors stood and called on FERC commissioners — including the new Democratic member, Colette Honorable — to be the next “superhero” by promoting renewable energy and taking a stand on global warming.

“You have more power than any other government agency to make sure this system changes. You, the commissioners, can be heroes,” protester Kendall Hale of Asheville, N.C. told the stone-faced commissioners. “Being a rubber stamp and approving business as usual … is a coward’s journey. You could be the next Abraham Lincoln or George Washington.”

A member of Beyond Extreme Energy said in an email the group plans to continue protesting at upcoming FERC meetings.

LaFleur said after the meeting the agency has for months been discussing how to anticipate protests. Before a rally outside FERC headquarters last year, she said, notices of the event were “all over the Internet” with dates and times.

“To the extent that our meetings are attracting the volume and intensity of protests we’re getting, we’ll have to step back and think about how to deal with it,” LaFleur said.

Pipeline construction is drawing the bulk of opposition, LaFleur said, and protestors generally fit into two camps: those with regional concerns about the effect of specific projects and those fighting big-picture battles against fossil fuels and related infrastructure and drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing.

“It’s that latter part that we’re mostly seeing at our meetings, and obviously their thoughts are very sincere and compelling, and it’s an opportunity to express them,” she said.