By Melinda Tuhus for Beyond Extreme Energy. Protesters were removed from today’s monthly Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) meeting after speaking out against the commission’s controversial effort to force the construction of the Millennium Valley Lateral Pipeline, even without securing the required New York 401 Water Quality Certificate. The protest was led by Actor James Cromwell (L.A. Confidential, The Green Mile, Six Feet Under) and Pramilla Malick, chair of the New-York-based group “Protect Orange County.” Both were removed from the building. Green America, the nation’s leading green economy organization, and Seeding Sovereignty, an anti-fracking group, also participated in the action. The pipeline project would require the installation of approximately 7.8 miles of 16 inch lateral pipeline between Millennium’s mainline and the CPV Valley Energy Center in Orange County, New York. FERC’s controversial efforts to force legal authorization for the pipeline are especially dangerous because they could establish a very bad precedent.
By Drew Hudson and the Beyond Extreme Energy crew. 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.
By Melinda Tuhus for Beyond Extreme Energy. Faced with the growing scourge of pipeline expansion nationwide, 180 groups -- including Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Green America, the Center for Biological Diversity, and community-level organizations -- are calling for the full Senate to vote “no” on President Trump’s nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The coalition of organizations is opposing the nominations of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson because both nominees would increase FERC’s bias towards the fossil fuel industry and further marginalize communities that oppose pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure that damage people’s homes, livelihoods and communities. Natural gas pipelines and infrastructure represent a clear danger to communities nationwide, and in just the past two years, explosions at transmission pipelines have caused 12 deaths and 10 injuries, as well as extensive property damage. In addition, the construction process puts communities at risk. Recently, the Rover pipeline, under construction and approved by FERC, resulted in two million gallons of drilling fluids leaking into Ohio wetlands.
By Jimmy Betts for Beyond Extreme Energy. The week following Trump’s announcement that he will pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, three individuals representing a coalition of nearly 170 groups opposing Trump’s nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) disrupted a committee vote to advance the candidates. Three individuals were arrested during the committee vote. They stood up and spoke out about FERC’s abusive practices and disregard for the environment. Jess Rechtschaffer arrested at Senate hearing protesting FERC appointees June 6, 2017 by BXE. Jess Rechtschaffer arrested at Senate hearing protesting FERC appointees June 6, 2017 by BXE. The coalition, made up of local and national groups focused on various issues, is demanding that senators vote no on Trump’s nominations until the Senate holds investigations into FERC’s the abuses of power and law. The campaign has been building for more than five months and has included call-in’s, letter-writing drives, Twitter storms, lobby days, and civil resistance focused on educating senators and pressuring them to oppose the nominations.
By Steve Norris for Beyond Extreme Energy. Beyond Extreme Energy and the Alliance for the Protection of Our People and the Places We Live combined forces at Duke University in Durham North Carolina to challenge FERC's ongoing Rubber Stamp permitting of fracked gas infrastructure, and to let acting head FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur (above photo on far right) know that North Carolina demands the rejection of Dominion and Duke's permitting of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In contrast with the some in the audience who were upset with the protest, one person from Fayetteville whose home is located in the pipeline's blast zone commented: "Cheryl LaFleur apparently could not stand the heat, so like a child picked up her marbles and went home." Steve, Lee and Emma were briefly detained by Duke University police, who after some discussion, cited them for trespass. Their penalty is limited to being exiled from Duke University grounds forever.
By Beyond Extreme Energy for #RubberStampRebellion. On the first day of the #RubberStampRebellion, seven climate activists were arrested while forming a human blockade at the exit of the underground parking garage at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, DC. That night they camped out at the home of Commissioner Tony Clark. Today, more protests, lobbying and camping out at FERC Chair Norman Bey's Washington, DC home. “My grandchildren and all future grandchildren thank you,” Steve Norris, an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), called out as Homeland Security agents handcuffed the seven and led them away. “Thank you for standing up to this corrupt rubberstamp machine that is destroying communities and whose policies are destroying the planet.” Norris was one of the seven arrested blockading FERC.
By John Schwartz for the NY Times. The demonstration was part of a wave of actions across the nation that combines traditional not-in-my-backyard protests against fossil-fuel projects with an overarching concern about climate change. Bound together through social media, networks of far-flung activists are opposing virtually all new oil, gas and coal infrastructure projects. The protests are having some impact. The engineering consultants Black and Veatch recently published a report that said the most significant barrier to building new pipeline capacity was “delay from opposition groups.” Activists regularly protest at the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, but there have also been sizable protests in places like St. Paul and across the Northeast.
By Beyond Extreme Energy. Residents impacted by fracked gas infrastructure from across Pennsylvania came together today to shut down the final meeting of Governor Wolf’s Infrastructure Task Force. Exactly one year after members of frontline communities from across the state disrupted Governor Wolf’s inauguration to demand an end to fracking, Pennsylvanians again convened in Harrisburg to demand a stop to the buildout of fracked gas infrastructure. “My friends and neighbors in Butler County have already been harmed by the reckless practices of the gas industry and the enablers in Pennsylvania’s government. This rubber stamping farce has done nothing but increase the likelihood that the destruction will continue,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning.
By Jack Balkwill for Dissident Voice. There have been many victories and we need to celebrate them. Among the victories was stopping the northern portion of the KXL pipeline, various new laws in 24 states to prevent police violence and an increase inprosecutions of police who commit violence, and the increase in wages across the country and winning the critically important battle for net neutrality. These were people-powered victories that showed when we act together we have the power to defeat corporate interests. Another ongoing series of victories is seeing local people, who have not been involved in activism, working along with experienced, often young, energy activists, taking on big energy companies in an aggressive way. This is a victory.
By Melinda Tuhus for BXE - On the day the Pope arrived in Washington, DC, Beyond Extreme Energy entered the 15th day of their water-only fast, outside of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters, 888 1st St. NE, D.C. The fast, which began on September 8th, is calling on FERC to issue no new permits for oil and gas infrastructure. The fast is growing as two women travelled across the country to join Beyond Extreme Energy’s 18-day fast at FERC). Their communities have been directly harmed by the permits FERC has issued or has pending regarding fracked gas The call for No New Permits is in line with Pope Francis's call in his recent encyclical for the world's leaders to immediately address the already devastating impacts of climate change – fueled by the burning of fossil fuels – especially on the poor who have contributed the least to the problem.
By Kelsey Erickson for Popular Resistance, Three people have been occupying and fasting at Oak Flat in protest of the land exchange bill that Senator McCain attached to a must-pass military appropriations bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill essentially gave Oak Flat away to one of the largest copper mining corporations in the world, Resolution Copper. This absurdity of this land exchange is not only evident in the fact that Oak Flat is part of federally protected Tonto National Forest, but also in the fact that it denies rights of the Apache Nation to practice cultural traditions at this sacred site. Though the land exchange bill was passed, the Apache-Stronghold is determined to keep the mining megacorporation off their sacred land. They plan to occupy the Oak Flat campground indefinitely to ensure it's protection.
By Lee Stewart for Popular Resistance - Beyond Extreme Energy focuses on climate change and fracking infrastructure is working on a set of principles that incorporates anti-oppression work into the core of what we do. One responsibility added to those expected of organizers, for example, is to “help maintain Beyond Extreme Energy’s active role in the broader struggle for collective liberation to which the realization of our mission is inextricably tied.” Working in a coalition under Black leadership in the struggle for Black Lives Matter is something the organization felt compelled to do. Heeding the invitation from the Black Lives Matter Spokes Council, we dedicated one day of our fast to Black Lives Matter.
By Steve Norris for Popular Resistance, Today, Sunday, we are in the sixth day of our 18 day water-only fast. At present the whole thing is a mystery. It's one big leap of faith into a void that many have warned me not to enter - faith that doing this, depriving myself of food for a time, will teach me and others important lessons I need to know, and perhaps get the attention of FERC and other powers that be in a way our year-long protests, arrests, disruptive actions inside FERC, letters, and meetings have not done. Also, the experience so far is one or both joy and sorrow: There is the great exuberation and learning that comes from working and fasting daily alongside people with rock-solid determination to challenge climate change and its attendant economic, social and racial injustices. And the exhileration each time I see a stranger's eyes light up and they say something like :"thank you for being so bold. Please keep it up." Then too there is the sadness of dealing daily with the reality that millions of people (the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and emigrants from Syria, for example) are already dealing with the impacts of climate change...