By Alex Guillén, Politico
FERC has moved up its monthly May meeting at the recommendation of federal law enforcement in order to avoid planned large-scale protests. The commissioner’s regularly scheduled monthly public meeting had been slated to take place on May 21, but because of plans for protest actions involving potentially hundreds of people, FERC has moved up the meeting to next Thursday, May 14. The decision was made after a recommendation from the Federal Protective Service “to better ensure the safety of its staff and the public during the protests planned for May 21 at FERC headquarters,” FERC spokesman Craig Cano wrote in an email.
About the protests: An umbrella group called Beyond Extreme Energy that charges FERC is a “rubber stamp” for the energy industry has long planned a weeklong series of protests and other events to coincide with FERC’s May meeting. Those events begin on May 21 and last until May 29, and could include nonviolent arrests. FERC has increasingly found itself the target of climate protestors and others opposed to expanding natural gas use and exports, and has taken steps to limit disruptions at its public meetings. The commissioners argue that they have a specific, limited role granted by Congress to review proposed projects that means FERC is not an environmental regulator.
‘Dishonest and deceitful,’ protestors say: Lee Stewart of BXE slammed FERC’s change-of-date, saying that FERC’s statement about protecting staff is “dishonest and deceitful, and demonstrates unambiguously that they are more interested in the needs and profits of industry than in the needs of the American people,” he said in a statement. “Instead of changing its meeting dates to try to avoid protests, FERC should have the courage and integrity to end its subservience to industry, and start being concerned with the health and safety of people being victimized by fracking and gas infrastructure expansion, not make up false charges and insinuations.” He did not say whether the protest events would be rescheduled, but promised that protestors would continue to show up at FERC’s public meetings.
Statement from Ted Glick of Chesapeake Climate Action Network:
Many of you may be aware of the recent FERCian decision to move their monthly meeting up one week to May 14th in order to avoid the peaceful mobilization of the People’s Justice — the simple beauty here is that we did not even need to conduct a direct action on the 21st to disrupt the Commission’s non-public “public” meeting. This is a fear-based response aided by our collective media & social media action and on-going direct escalations with all of our current FERC-fightin’ family guiding the way.
Their safety concerns are unmerited and our clear non-violence policies from the beginning phases of our action campaign are resolute. Do not let the #FERCus spin justifications and direct attention away from the fact that they serve the industrial destroyers of our future through extreme energy exploitation. It’s time to bring these types of deceptive publicity practices as well as the rigged FERC-process itself to light in bolder, more captivating ways.
FERC is altering its long-established meeting procedures to try to avoid having to deal with people who are angry about FERC’s rubber-stamping ways. These are people whose communities have been ignored by FERC’s decision makers, whose ways of life are endangered or who are justifiably deeply concerned about climate change. These people have shown up and will continue to show up at FERC meetings.
FERC is fully aware that Beyond Extreme Energy has been, is and always will be nonviolent in its tactics. Their claim that they needed to change their May 21 meeting date ‘to better ensure the safety of its staff and the public during the protests planned for May 21’ is dishonest and deceitful, and demonstrates unambiguously that they are more interested in the needs and profits of industry than in the needs of the American people. Instead of changing its meeting dates to try to avoid protests, FERC should have the courage and integrity to end its subservience to industry, and start being concerned with the health and safety of people being victimized by fracking and gas infrastructure expansion, not make up false charges and insinuations.