Fearing More Protests, FERC Makes “Sit Down and Shut Up” Rule

By Darius Dixon, Politico

SO, THERE IS A RULE FOR ‘SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET’: FERC leaders have apparently had more than enough of the anti-fracking protests that have disrupted their meetings — and in very FERC-ian fashion, they’ve approved a new rule on it.

Order No. 806 clarifies that for the public, the right to observe meetings “does not include disruptive behavior.” The rule notes that “unscheduled statements” are forbidden ex parte communications and “will not be included in the record or considered by the Commission.”

It doesn’t impose any real penalties on disruptive individuals, though, so protestors will still simply be escorted out of the room.

The protests have come from opponents of expanding natural gas use who have increasingly targeted FERC because of its role in approving gas infrastructure and export facilities, much to the chagrin of the agency’s commissioners, who view broader climate change as outside their bailiwick. The protests have also irked industry officials who say that if they made similar outbursts, it would count as an unlawful ex parte communication with the commissioners.

The most recent provocation came during a technical conference FERC hosted on Feb. 19, when about a half-dozen protestors were booted out after they began chanting “Gas is dirty, wind and solar now.”

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