ClimateMama is pleased to stand strong with representatives of citizens’ groups from numerous states who attended the April 18th public monthly meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C. The action demonstrates our unified opposition to the agency’s process and track record of rubber-stamping natural gas infrastructure projects. In a silent and peaceful show of protest, individuals wore t-shirts bearing their FERC docket numbers (which are assigned by the agency to each infrastructure project proposal), in an effort to give FERC Commissioners and staff a ‘human face’ to the growing and increasingly diverse populations of citizens concerned, threatened, and impacted by the proposals they approve.
As a lesser-known federal agency, FERC has remained relatively unchallenged by the public at large for decades, even largely unknown to most, since its inception in the 1970s. However, FERC is increasingly in the public eye as natural gas plans have escalated and given many communities grave cause for concern. While FERC does not approve hydro-fracking projects, the agency does approve the infrastructure that supports it- such as pipelines, compressor stations, and LNG terminals. Moreover, the agency does so at an astonishingly high rate: it is estimated that over 90% of all plans that come before the FERC Commissioners are approved. Communities across the country have begun to question what due process exists in these often long, contentious battles which drain resident’s resources.
Most of the groups attending the April 18th event have been fighting proposals that come before FERC, for years. However this is the first organized collaborative action involving multiple groups fighting pipeline infrastructure directly challenging FERC’s oversight. Stop the Minisink Compressor Station, Stop the (Constitution) Pipeline, The Sane Energy Project, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, (NY), New Jersey Pipeline Walkers, ClimateMama, Stop the Tennessee Pipeline (PA), and Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community (MD) are all part of the “We The People Matter” campaign. Additionally, the New Jersey and the Delaware Chapters of the Sierra Club and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network supported the action.
“One of the big problems with FERC’s decisions is that construction can proceed while their decision is being challenged, said Anne Marie Garti, a resident of East Meredith, NY, who has been fighting the Constitution Pipeline. “Since it can take so long to get into court, and since it’s so hard to get an injunction, the whole thing can quickly become meaningless because a court isn’t likely to stop something that’s half done.”
Additionally, many impacted communities feel they have no real voice or agency in the process. The groups attending will be indicating to their elected officials the need for public advocates to serve in defending and creating resources for communities and citizens confronted with energy companies and the FERC process.
As more and more negative health impacts of the natural gas industry emerge and as the evidence grows about the serious climate impacts from the process of extracting, producing and transporting fossil fuels, we need to be slowing things down, rather then “rubber stamping” approval of projects. The emperor is wearing no clothes and we need to open our eyes and see this. Fossil fuels: natural gas, coal, oil are not our future. We are demanding investment and infrastructure that supports clean, renewable energy and a livable future for our children and us.
THINGS YOU CAN DO FROM HOME TO SUPPORT THESE COMMUNITIES AND HELP TO CHANGE THE WAY FERC OPERATES:
1. Let FERC and the Federal Government know that you stand with these impacted communities who are no longer sitting silently or helplessly by as dangerous infrastructure projects are being built in and through their communities. FERC public meetings are available via live webcast, AND are also archived for 3 months.
Link for watching live webcasts.
2. Jon Wellinghoff is the Chairman of FERC, please give his office a call at 202 502 6580 and let him know that rubber stamping infrastructure projects is NOT OK.
3. Call or e-mail your congressperson and senator and tell them you want them to look into FERC’s approval process and that more needs to be done to review each application. Let them know this is a concern of yours!