Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Climate Activists Confront Energy Regulators in a One-Two (Non-Violent) Punch​ to Crack FERC Open

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Washington DC - Members of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) held an action outside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters in Washington DC on June 25, 2018, as dozens of BXE members and allies rallied around two of their fellow activists who perched on platforms on bamboo "gas drilling rigs"​ and laying an inflatable pipeline on the street blocking the entrance to the driveway to FERC's employee parking lot from 7am to early afternoon, successfully preventing them from accessing the workplace. Activists are demanding a halt to the permitting and building of all new fossil fuel pipelines and other infrastructure. There were no arrests. 

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They passed out hundreds of flyers to FERC employees and passersby, highlighting the cracks beginning to show up at FERC -- brought about by intense opposition from communities most directly affected by fracked gas pipelines and related projects; a growing number of court rulings against pipeline companies; four years of protests led by BXE at FERC, often involving arrests for non-violent direct action; and splits among the five FERC commissioners themselves, especially since Richard Glick came on board last year and he and Cheryl LaFleur have on several occasions dissented from the three-member Republican majority on decisions approving permits for pipelines.

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At a noon rally in the street in front of FERC on Monday, Kim Fraczek, director of Sane Energy in New York State, gave an example of how the agency has for decades favored industry in making its decisions. "We are out here today because FERC approved a high-pressure 42-inch gas pipeline 100 feet away from the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant. On Friday, June 22, an independent risk assessment ordered by Gov. Cuomo was released by the NY Department of Public Service that finds that FERC was aware that the Spectra Algonquin pipeline involved unacceptable risks when it approved it in March 2015. It shows that the pipeline is indeed a serious danger to 25 million people in the New York City metro area." 

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Our communities and our planet are in desperate need of a halt to the permitting and building of all new fossil fuel pipelines and other infrastructure. Communities in the way of proposed new pipelines, compressor stations, storage and export facilities face toxic industrialization, eminent domain abuse, air, land and water pollution, and threats to health and safety. And our disrupted climate can only heal when jobs-creating renewable energy and energy efficiency have displaced fossil fuels, and people power has displaced corporate power.

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Steve Norris, from Asheville, N.C., said, "The current policies of the U.S. government with regard to gas; the present regulatory system at FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission]; and the current leadership of the Department of Energy are heading us in the wrong direction. DOE Secretary Rick Perry has his head stuck in the ground, drinks oil for breakfast and gas for dinner."

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For decades FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has supported the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries. It has rubber stamped virtually all gas pipeline permit applications. They have confronted us and the rest of the country with a rigid, unified and punitive refusal to listen to grassroots concerns about communicide and climate change. This has led to a massive build-out of fracked gas infrastructure in many parts of the country, with all of the disruption and danger that come with it.

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Recently, though, things are changing. Despite the Trump Administration’s full-throttle efforts to keep fossil fuel empires going, many cracks in their foundations have been appearing:

**Industry leaders are openly upset about the grassroots actions that have affected their plans.
**State and federal courts are beginning to delay or challenge FERC permits, efforts to subvert state powers over air and water quality, eminent domain abuse and actual pipeline construction.
**Fracked gas prices are so low that some companies have gone bankrupt, while costs are increasing. Trump’s steel tariffs are hurting the pipeline industry.
**A broad range of groups are working together to get banks to stop financing extreme energy.
**Wind, solar and renewable storage technologies continue to grow, as low prices make them much more attractive, and this is happening worldwide.
**2017 was the first year ever that both coal and gas declined in the electric power sector.
**Several states have stopped the construction of new gas-fired power plants, and resistance against them nationally is a big worry to the gas industry.

There are even cracks appearing at FERC: Commissioners voting unanimously to reject Rick Perry’s push to further subsidize coal and nukes; voting, because of a court decision, to end a substantial tax break for pipeline companies; new Democratic commissioner Richard Glick issuing several strong dissents on pipeline permit applications; and there have been other dissents too. These can greatly help court challenges.

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We intend to devise actions which can further open up the cracks in FERC's leadership and structure. In the past BXE has had success in getting the attention of FERC employees, press and others with nonviolent blockades, fasting, die-ins, days of silence, sidewalk feasts of pancakes and sweet potatoes, music, prayer and bird-dogging. We are also considering other locations where we could take action.

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#Activism #ActOnClimate #Art #ArtBuild #BeyondExtremeEnergy #BXE #CivilDisobedience #ClimateChange #ClimateCrisis #climatejustice #CommunitiesFightBack #CrackFERCOpen #DefendPeoplePower #EnergyDemocracy #energyefficiency #EnergyIndependence #FederalEnergyRegulatoryCommission #FERC #FERCblockade #FERCdoesntwork #FERCshadybusiness #Fracking #infrackstructure #KeepItIntheGround #MakePollutersPay #Methane #NewYork #OffFossilFuels #PoorPeoplesCampaign #RenewableEnergy #SaneEnergyProject #SaneSolutions #StopGasExports #WashingtonDC #YOUAREHERE 

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

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