FERC meeting disrupted over Cove Point, again

FERC meeting disrupted over Cove Point, again

More than a dozen of our allies from Cove Point Maryland and other frontline communities disrupted the monthly Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners’ meeting on Thursday. They were there to deliver more than 20,000 messages from Environmental Action members and other allies calling on FERC to shut down the construction of a massive fracked gas export terminal at Cove Point — at least until they consider legal appeals and challenges to the project.

Our allies in Maryland are desperate to stop their homes, community and our collective environment from being destroyed by this project. They’ve done all the ‘right’ things: appealed to FERC’s own rules, asked the courts to intercede, ANYTHING to get the project stopped or put on hold. FERC promised to listen, and is required to consider an appeal. But while they dither, Dominion just keeps building and building. And Thursday was no exception:

Just seconds after the meeting was gaveled in, one of our allies from Maryland approached the commissioners to deliver your signatures and read a short prepared statement. Security guards immediately grabbed her and hustled her out of the building. As you can see, other allies from Beyond Extreme Energy demanded to be heard, but security removed those protesters from the room as well, some of them forcibly.

Rather than even listen to the concerns of the people whose homes and lives their permits destroy, Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur gaveled out the meeting and the five commissioners left the room. While they were out, security was instructed to remove even those protestors who had sat silently, holding a sign or wearing a shirt that challenged FERC policy.

“It’s kind of overwhelming what’s going on and what FERC is allowing the natural gas industry to do,” Steven Norris, one of the leaders of Beyond Extreme Energy told POLITICO before FERC’s meeting began. “We’re trying to get FERC to start thinking about climate change and the impacts on communities.”

Thursday was LaFleur’s final hearing as FERC Chair, and a new commissioner named Norman Bay will take over next month. I wish we could report that things are likely to improve, but Bay will take over at the same time as a new FERC rule goes into effect that says the public can observe the agency’s public meetings, but is forbidden from speaking or waving signs. This outrageous gag rule is intended to allow no one to even speak to FERC except for the frackers and the polluters. You’ll essentially need to demonstrate corporate sponsorship before being allowed to even talk about the impacts of a fracked gas pipeline, compressor station or export terminal.

But even this latest absurd action will not stop us from challenging FERC to clean up its act, and do its job. This May, Beyond Extreme Energy is going back to FERC for another whole week of action. And this time, we’re bringing not just dozens but hundreds of people to protest and show the world that FERC doesn’t work — in fact it’s a circus for polluters and frackers. You can learn more about the actions in May, and sign up to join us or get updates, on their website here.