Standing alone in the Well of the Senate on Thursday night, just after 6pm and moments before the Senate adjourned for August recess, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski committed a deft coup d’etat on behalf of the oil and gas industry. The vote to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was anything but un-controversial, and was a serious breach of regular order.
Just hours earlier, seven activists were arrested in front of Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. They had refused to leave until the Minority Leader spoke out about the dangers of FERC nominees and an energy bill that would dramatically expand FERC’s powers. The activists, including several of Schumer’s constituents, had delivered a letter backed by more than 30,000 comments of support asking him to vote no on FERC nominees and no on the energy bill. Hours later, Schumer and every member of the Democratic Caucus, including 3 senators who had previously voted against the nominees in committee, stood silent as Murkowski rammed through the nominations on a voice vote with no other members present, no accountability, and no opportunity for citizens to call or contact their senators to voice concerns.
For years, we’ve worked to expose and fight FERC’s corruption, the harms it inflicts on communities and the climate, its ties to the gas industry, and its arcane procedures that shut out the public and empower corporations. Senators like Schumer, Cardin, Warner, Whitehouse, Sanders, Hirono and Merkley have sympathized and offered statements of support. On Thursday night, August 3rd, when it actually mattered, they stood aside and let violence be done on our communities. As we warned Senator Schumer, they must now expect our growing rebellion. We cannot forgive and will not forget this utter betrayal, and pledge outright resistance in every way we can peacefully muster it to stop FERC from meeting, rubber stamping permits and engaging in further communicide.
–Drew Hudson and the Beyond Extreme Energy crew