On Saturday July 13, climate justice activists from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) held a protest outside Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s home in Wellesley Massachusetts. FERC is the independent government agency responsible for regulating any project that crosses state lines, including all major natural gas and oil pipelines. The activists from BXE dropped a banner that read, “You can’t be neutral on a burning planet” and demanded that LaFleur vote “no” on all new fossil fuel infrastructure at the next FERC meeting in Washington D.C.
Climate activists have long pointed out that although FERC is supposedly a neutral agency it has only rejected 2 out of 400 projects seeking permits in the last 30 years.
BXE activist Sam Delaney complained that “FERC has no system for evaluating the impact of new fossil fuel infrastructure’s greenhouse gas emissions or cumulative effects of climate change on communities. This is unacceptable conduct for a government agency tasked with protecting communities and regulating the energy industry. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a report that indicates we have less than 11 years to prevent catastrophic climate change. We cannot lock our national grid into decades more of fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil. We must take steps to move to 100% renewables as quickly as possible.”
LaFleur has been identified as the critical ‘swing vote’ on issues of natural gas within FERC, a position she has lamented in recent articles. LaFleur has taken steps to include greenhouse gas emissions data in the FERC process, but has been reluctant to vote against projects based on this data. She stated in April to industry news source, UtilityDive, that “Despite my considerable and even growing concerns about the commission’s current approach to analyzing climate impacts in these cases, I’m trying to supplement that analysis myself and decide case-by-case so I don’t become paralyzed into dissenting in every case because I don’t like the way the commission is doing it.”
A recent DC court ruling has demonstrated that FERC should be gathering data on greenhouse gas emissions and regulating based on climate impact, which leaves LaFleur in the position of having to take next steps in voting based on climate analysis. LaFleur’s term at FERC ends in August.
To those engaged in anti-pipeline battles and climate justice movements, this is her last chance to do the right thing.
You can help this week by calling into LaFleur’s office, tweeting at her, and sending emails demanding she take a stand against climate chaos and fossil fuel expansion! We have put together a resource bundle of images, material, and scripts to help you spread the word and put the pressure on LaFleur. A five minute call or quick Facebook post goes a long way if we all join together! Be sure to email us and tell us how your calls went!
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org