FERC Commissioner Finds Irony in Protest

The Grim Reaper points out the dangers posed by the Cove Point terminal outside Bank of America on Pennsylvania Ave.
The Grim Reaper points out the dangers posed by the Cove Point terminal outside Bank of America on Pennsylvania Ave.

By Anne Meador and John Zangas

An official at a government agency responsible for permitting gas infrastructure took a potshot at protesters who were disrupting a public meeting on January 21. As Commissioner Tony Clark announced that he was leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when his term expires, he sniped at what he seemed to think was the demonstrators’ ingratitude for a primary service FERC performs: greasing the wheels for gas companies to build pipelines, storage facilities and compressor stations to fuel the electrical grid.

“I find it rather ironic,” he said, “that just 24 hours before a very major winter storm on the East Coast, we have people protesting the very infrastructure that will keep them alive over the next 72 hours.” Continue reading FERC Commissioner Finds Irony in Protest

Solidarity with COP21 Protests Brings Hundreds to White House

23379918706_21817b4d36_zBy John Zangas

Washington, DC – Several hundred people allied with environmental organizations rallied at the White House on Sunday, November 30 to show their solidarity with protests happening at the start of a major summit on climate change in Paris.

More than 500 activists called on President Obama to end carbon emissions and implement programs now to transition to renewable energy sources.

Parisians responded to a government ban on planned climate protests by setting 20,000 pairs of shoes in streets near the Place de la République.

Several thousand protesters defied the “State of Emergency” ban nonetheless, congregating at the square. Police tear-gassed protesters and arrested hundreds. One video shows police clubbing youth seated quietly on the sidewalk.

Hundreds of thousands took part in similar actions in step with COP21 protests in Paris. As climate awareness spreads, more are joining efforts to engage governments to end fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources. Continue reading Solidarity with COP21 Protests Brings Hundreds to White House

Charges Against Cove Point Activist Won’t Proceed

Carling Sothoron climbed the arm of a crane on February 3, 2015
Carling Sothoron climbed the arm of a crane on February 3, 2015

By Anne Meador

Charges against an anti-fracking activist will no longer proceed after the prosecutor placed the case on an inactive docket at a hearing in Maryland District Court for Calvert County on November 23.

The outcome of Monday’s hearing is the latest development in the fall-out ensuing from a protest against a fracked gas export terminal almost ten months ago.

Defendant Carling Sothoron, a Baltimore educator, climbed up the steel arm of a crane on a Dominion Cove Point construction site last February to drop a banner that read, “Dominion get out. Don’t frack Maryland. No gas exports. Save Cove Point.”

The stunt was an effort to draw attention to the facility’s potential to bring fracking and thousands of miles of pipelines to Maryland, she said in an interview with Between the Lines. She was also concerned with exaggerated benefits and negative consequences to the local community.

Sothoron was convicted of trespassing last April and given a suspended sentence of 40 days and three years’ probation. She declined to comment after the hearing today. Continue reading Charges Against Cove Point Activist Won’t Proceed

Long Battle Fought for Keystone XL Rejection

By John Zangas

22809782906_62a3a2862e_zEnvironmentalists celebrated a major victory over Big Oil on Friday night at the White House after President Obama officially announced he would not approve the Northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,700-mile TransCanada project triggered a seven-year battle joined by scores of environmental groups who worked to defeat it.

Obama’s announcement on November 6 came four years to the day after 350.org, Sierra Club and many other organizations held a major protest against the pipeline at the White House.

The victory marks the first time people power of a grassroots movement leveraged political power to defeat a major fossil fuel project. It is likely to embolden green groups to step up efforts to convert energy policies to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Had the Keystone XL pipeline been built, it would have resulted in a daily capacity of 860,000 gallons of Alberta tar sands bitumen being transported to Gulf Coast refineries.

Continue reading Long Battle Fought for Keystone XL Rejection

Protesters Rappel from Rafters of Stadium During Panthers Game

By Anne Meador

As many as 74,000 NFL fans at last night’s Colts v. Panthers game in Charlotte, North Carolina, witnessed two people rappel from the upper deck of Bank of America Stadium in the pouring rain.

The “fracktivists” — who were later arrested — suspended themselves in front of the press box and unfurled a banner from the railing above which read, “BoA: Dump Dominion, WeAreCovePoint.org.”

The stunt was broadcast live on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which had an audience of more than 12 million the previous week.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 10.23.59 PMCarried out during one of the biggest match-ups of the season between the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts, the banner drop was designed to shame stadium sponsor Bank of America for its financial backing of a gas liquefaction project on the Chesapeake Bay. Continue reading Protesters Rappel from Rafters of Stadium During Panthers Game

Hunger Strikers Lay It All on the Line to Stop Gas Pipeline Permits

By Anne Meador and John Zangas

21145973918_4a222b51bd_zVibrations from the fiddler’s bow ricochet off the hot concrete canyon walls of First Street near Union Station. About a dozen people lounge on sleeping bags and lawn chairs on the sidewalk under a blue awning, sipping salt water. They toss a few bucks into a pot for a wager on who has lost the most weight since their public fast began five days ago. Fifteen pounds dropped since Labor Day wins the prize.

It’s come to this. Eighteen days of virtual starvation to draw a line under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s intransigence, its refusal to do much of anything to address controversy, protest, and mass mobilization against the stream of permits it issues to greenlight gas. In other words, rubberstamp approval for the infrastructure projects it takes to transport fracked gas from the shale fields.

The hunger strikers, organized under the name Beyond Extreme Energy, have already attended public hearings; made comments on the FERC dockets; organized petitions; disrupted Commission meetings; protested outside of FERC headquarters for two full weeks with banners, props and art displays; and blockaded its doors, resulting in more than 100 arrests. Continue reading Hunger Strikers Lay It All on the Line to Stop Gas Pipeline Permits

Climate Expert James Hansen: “We’ve Got An Emergency”

Dr. James Hansen/Photo by Anne Meador
Dr. James Hansen/Photo by Anne Meador

By Anne Meador and John Zangas

The repercussions of climate disruption are still not being acknowledged fully, warned climatologist Dr. James Hansen, addressing an audience of Baby Boomer and Greatest Generation climate activists on September 9.

“We’ve now got an emergency,” he told about 150 “elder activists” at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC, who were participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day.

Hansen–formerly NASA’s head climate scientist, now Adjunct Professor at Columbia University–is probably best known for bringing definitive evidence of global warming to Congress in testimony in 1988. In July of this year, he released a report with sixteen co-authors studying glacier melt in Greenland and Antarctica. Unlike previous models, the new report takes into account some feedback loops which may be hastening the loss of ice sheet mass far faster than anticipated.

Time is running out to transition to renewable energy, Hansen said, yet the most “relevant” people in power aren’t aware of the situation’s gravity. “Even people who go around saying, ‘We have a planet in peril,’ don’t get it. Until we’re aware of our future, we can’t deal with it.” Continue reading Climate Expert James Hansen: “We’ve Got An Emergency”