By John Zangas and Anne Meador
About 30 activists from as far away as New Mexico rallied today in the first of a series of protests at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC, they say, harms thousands of people through the pipelines and gas infrastructure projects it approves.
Carrying signs and banners, they picketed FERC headquarters. Dozens of heavily armed Federal Protective Service officers erected barricades and were stationed at the doors and a carport entryway.
“We’re here at FERC because they systematically destroy communities basically by making their local community rights null and void,” said Jimmy Betts of Beyond Extreme Energy, the coalition group which organized the protest. He called FERC’s actions “communicide.”
Activists held a “sit-in” and “die-in” on the sidewalk in front of the agency building while holding placards with the names of the communities affected by pipelines, compressor stations and LNG export terminals.
Sam Koplinka-Loehr of Clear Air Council said that hundreds of communities could be impacted in eastern Pennsylvania by 12 new proposed gas pipelines.
“We’re here to tell FERC to stop the FERCus, to stop this crazy madness which affects thousands of people throughout the United States right now,” he said.
There were no arrests. More demonstrators are coming to Washington over the holiday weekend for training in civil disobedience, and an array of actions are planned for May 26-29 at FERC and other locations.