We told you earlier this week that the Energy Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee was holding a hearing on FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We delivered more than 3,000 comments from 198 methods supporters this morning telling the committee to ask tough questions about climate change, pipelines and more. Now, it’s time to hear from the Commissioners and Committee members. Check it out live right here at 10:30 am Eastern, and scroll down to share live updates on Facebook and Twitter with the community.
URGENT! The Energy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Commitee has scheduled a hearing on June 12 to compel all four commissioners at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to testify. While neither the public nor industry officials are invited to testify, this is a great chance to Crack FERC open by asking the Commissioners about “freedom Gas,” their disagreements over whether and how to evaluate the climate impacts of projects, and the massive buildout of new fracked gas pipelines, compressor stations, export terminals and more.
Can you help by Sending a comment to the Subcommittee? We’ll deliver all your comments and signatures to the Commitee before Wednesday’s hearing, and if you want – we can text or email you when the hearing starts so you can tune in live.
Here’s some background for those of you haven’t been fighting FERC for years:
FERC is a rubber stamp agency that has rejected only two applications out of more than 400 proposed natural gas pipelines/infrastructure projects in the last 30 years. We’ve been protesting FERC and their commissioners for years – and even climbed two stories up a ladder to drop a banner from FERC’s awning this spring to demand Congress change FERC into FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission, as part of a Green New Deal.
So, what’s the big deal? Well, to start with, Fracking contaminates water, poisons the air and land, leads to earthquakes and leaks methane, which is up to 80 times more damaging to our climate than carbon dioxide.
Now is the moment for Congress to act: According to new research, more than 700 new natural gas power plants, petrochemical plants & LNG export terminals have been proposed, planned or built to capitalize on skyrocketing fracked gas production. With just 12 years left to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and build a just transition as fast as we can. But if the frackers get their way, it’s game over for a stable climate. It’s them or us.
- Gas breaks the carbon budget;
- Coal-to-gas switching doesn’t cut it;
- Low-cost renewables can displace coal & gas;
- Gas isn’t essential for grid reliability;
- New gas infrastructure locks in emissions.
But despite the mounting evidence that Gas is a climate disaster, the Trump Administration’s has been issuing Executive Orders and EPA guidance that make it clear they intend to override state objections to new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Some FERC commissioners, especially Richard Glick, have been raising objections. And more than a year ago we pointed out that there were “cracks” developing between commissioners – namely that the Democrats wanted to do more to consider climate impacts and address them, and Republicans refused.
But in the last few weeks things got … weird. After FERC approved another gas export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico (the specific thing we were begging them NOT to do from their awning), Rick Perry and the Department of Energy put out a statement praising fracked gas as “molecules of Freedom.”
While that was so stupid it’s hilarious, it wasn’t satire. This is the actual policy of the United States Department of Energy. And the very next day Acting FERC Chair Neal Chatterjee tweeted his support and made a whole statement to the press about how he has always supported gas exports at any cost.
You could chalk it all up to another corrupt Trump nominee saying stupid and ridiculous things, but with FERC overseeing dozens of applications for new gas pipelines and export terminals, Chatterjee is singularly placed to implement Trump’s fossil fuel vision. And we should be really clear what that means: increasing gas exports means increased fracking and pipelines, which means more cancer, more earthquakes, more explosions, more eminent domain seizures enforced by armed federal officers. It means people die, and get hurt, and treaties get violated, and women disappear or are murdered. That’s what it means, that’s the consequence of this.
So yes “freedom gas” is a hilariously dumb idea, and yes it’s real. But mostly it is the policy of U.S. Department of Energy to hurt you, steal from you and/or kill you and call it freedom. And the chairman of FERC is now signed on to enact that policy.
Once again, Trump has nominated Barry Myers, a totally unqualified, wildly corrupt businessman accused of sexual harassment to lead a major climate change research agency.
This is actually Myers THIRD time being nominated. But while the idea hasn’t gotten any better, the Senate is rushing his nomination through without so much as a committee hearing – which might indicate they intend to install another Trump loyalist before anyone notices.
Here’s the short version – Trump nominated Barry Myers to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) because he’s the CEO of AccuWeather – a private forecasting company you might know from annoying pop up ads on your phone. But Myers isn’t a scientist, and while at AccuWeather he spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to dumb down NOAA research and stop them from giving away weather and climate data for free. Oh, and like Trump, Myers’ entire business is under investigation for a pervasive culture of sexual harassment that went all the way to the top.
NOAA is an important agency in the fight against climate change. They maintain a fleet of satellites, fly planes into hurricanes, and most important they share all the temperature and weather data they gather with scientists and the public for free. Their research and data has formed the backbone of big parts of our National Climate Assessments and global reports on the increasing pace and severity of climate change.
But Myers is no scientist. He’s the former head of AccuWeather, a for-profit weather prediction company that makes money selling forecasts to consumers on their phones, computers and TVs. As such, Myers spent years and millions of dollars on a quixotic and (thankfully) unsuccessful lobbying campaign to make Congress force NOAA to stop giving away climate and weather data for free.
Obviously, putting a guy who spent years trying to privatize and abolish a government agency in charge of that same agency is a terrible idea — though not a new one from Trump, see also David Bernhardt and Andrew Wheeler. That’s why the Senate blocked Myers’ nomination multiple times in the past.
Since then, Myers has sold his share of AccuWeather to his family, but even that looks shady: Not only is it reminiscent of Trump’s kids running his business (clearly still at his direction and to his personal benefit) while he’s in office, Myers sold his shares at a deep discount with the option to repurchase the stock later. It’s an obvious conflict of interest that he can personally benefit from his actions as head of NOAA, and it’s the sort of thing that would only happen in an Administration as famously corrupt as Trump’s.
And finally, it’s worth remembering that while Myers ran the company AccuWeather was home to sexual harassment “so severe and pervasive, that some female employees resigned,” according to a Department of Labor. Myers tried to make the issue go away by settling with survivors last year, admitting that AccuWeather subjected women to “sexual harassment and a hostile work environment” that the company did “not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct.”
The pattern is clear. Trump has nominated another corrupt, unqualified business man with a history of sexual harassment and hostile workplace investigations to lead an agency with an important mission for researching and stopping climate change. The Senate already failed to stop former oil and gas lobbyists from running the EPA and Department of interior. Let’s make sure they stop this one from running NOAA too.
Thanks again for signing our petition asking Congress to pass climate-disaster relief for Puerto Rico and all Americans. Good news – thanks to your voice and the voices of more than 70,000 others – Congress voted this week to concur with the Senate’s changes and send the $19 billion disaster relief bill to Donald Trump.
But 58 Republicans still voted against the disaster relief package, insisting to the end that it exclude aid for Puerto Rico and include funding for Trump’s racist border wall. Trump, meanwhile, is galavanting around England and on Monday seemed confused about whether the Senate had already passed the bill (they did, 2 weeks ago).
One more time before Trump gets home, can you share this petition and encourage your networks online to demand Trump support climate-disaster relief for ALL Americans including Puerto Rico?
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The House passage is a big victory because it’s the first time in months Congress has put aside partisan bickering to address the unprecedented climate disasters rocking America – from Puerto Rico still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, to the record-setting floods in the midwest that are still disrupting planting season.
But Trump didn’t just forget about which chamber had already voted on the bill – he also forgot that he’d spent months railing against disaster funding in racist, fact-free ways. As soon as he remembers or one of those 58 Republican Trump supporters reminds him, his signature is not guaranteed.
It’s also important to put this victory in context. We started this campaign with Daily Kos, 350 dot org, Power 4 Puerto Rico and other allies because Trump was singling Puerto Rico out to not get disaster funding. Congressional negotiators were successful in getting the total aid to Puerto Rico increased from $600 million to $900 million – that’s a 50% increase over the objections of the President and nearly a third of all Republicans in the House of Representatives.
But Puerto Rico, and a lot of American Communities, need a lot more help. Our coalition estimates that Puerto Rico needs closer to $1.5 billion in relief funding – almost twice what Congress approved this week. And with midwest flooding continuing to slow planting season in the midwest, it’s likely we’ll need more aid there too before the summer is over.
The point is, in a climate changed world, it’s never been more important to demand that Congress and the President take urgent action to help Americans hit by climate-fueled storms, fires and other disasters.
This week’s vote in Congress is a good step, and a clear indication of teh work we still have to do. First, let’s make sure Trump doesn’t screw this up this progress for Puerto Rico and other communities. Then we need to keep fighting for the changes we need that will protect us all from the next climate disaster.
Just a reminder, the 2019 hurricane season started this week. Thanks for signing, please share this message to engage your networks online and spread the word. And stay tuned for more actions you can take soon.
It’s an important step toward getting the billions of dollars in disaster aid that we desperately need to respond to the last two years of climate fueled super storms. Ironically, the vote happened minutes after a tornado warning sounded in the US Capitol itself, and hours after tornadoes killed at least three people in Missouri – a dark reminder that climate change is powering stronger storms all over the U.S.
But while the vote was nearly unanimous: 85 to 8 in the Senate, Trump’s support is still not guaranteed. That’s because the bill gives $19.1 billion to help communities ravaged by climate chaos – from the floods in Nebraska to wildfires in California – including $900 million for Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricane Maria.
Trump has been objecting for months to the money for Puerto Rico, and had also demanded money for his racist border wall. And all that was before he flew off the handle this week in a meeting over infrastructure and said he’d block everything until the House stops investigating his crimes and misdemeanors.
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico a year ago, more than 3,000 Americans lost their lives. Now, as Puerto Rican communities try to rebuild, Trump has continued to lie and spout racist tirades while denying Puerto Ricans access to critical federal recovery funds. Congress has taken the first step, after months of partisan gridlock, to provide Puerto Ricans with aid including funds for expanded infrastructure rebuilding efforts and food assistance programs.
Now the ball is in Trump’s court. It would be the height of grotesque racism for the president to veto the whole aid package because some U.S. citizens “deserve” help after a natural disaster more than others. And any denial or attempt to line-item veto Puerto Rico’s funds will make all our communities vulnerable the next time a disaster strikes. For decades, Congress has acted across party lines to provide disaster relief to ALL U.S. communities without prejudice or partisan bias. With another hurricane season starting earlier than ever due to climate change, it is essential that this bill to support Puerto Rican communities and prepare for future storms pass now.
Ok, you’ve heard the hype: The Green New Deal is going to ban hamburgers (it doesn’t); the Green New Deal will force vegan soylant green on the unwilling masses (nope); The Green New Deal doesn’t care about farmers — actually, on that last one, it could do a better job helping farmers, but not because it’s an evil socialist plot. The Green New Deal RESOLUTION is just a little vague on the whole food and agriculture thing, and that’s a problem because we can’t solve the climate crisis without changing our food and agriculture system.
A few weeks ago, we were proud to join more than 300 other groups in sending a letter to Congress demanding that they take on food and agriculture as part of a Green New Deal. But the House committees where this could be considered have been busy with disaster relief, or worse, wasting time on big bailouts to corporate agriculture as part of the 2019 farm bill.
Farming and food is the biggest overall employer in the United States, employing some 23.5 million people. If you have a brother, sister, mother, daughter, father, son, friend or neighbor, odds are that one of them works in food and farming.
Partly because of its size, food and agriculture are also one of our biggest contributors to climate change. Meanwhile, the agricultural industry that we all depend upon — as well as the farmers, fishers, farmworkers, food-chain workers, and communities that make up our entire agricultural economy — are harmed by the impacts of weather-related disasters and disruptions as the effects of climate change come to pass.
For the Green New Deal to be truly effective, the workers who grow, cook and care for our food — from the immigrant picking vegetables in the field, to the truck driver who transports them, to the chef or line-cook who prepares your meal, and everyone in between — needs to be part of the solution.
- Carbon reduction, sequestration and climate resilience via a rapid, just transition that empowers farmers and ranchers to adopt ecologically regenerative, organic and agroecological practices;
- Fair prices for farmers, ranchers and fishers, anti-trust measures that help reverse food sector consolidation, and healthy working conditions with family-sustaining living wages for workers;
- Diversified, resilient local and regional food economies anchored by family farmers, ranchers and fishers that ensure healthy, sustainable food for all, combat consolidation in the food and farming sector and reverse the rapid loss of farmers and deterioration of farmland;
- Avoid “false solutions” and agribusiness-sponsored proposals that do nothing to address the systemic causes of our climate crisis and delay progress.
Making fundamental changes to our food and farming system is urgent and central to reducing the impacts of climate change , and is crucial to ensuring food and agricultural justice for the most vulnerable for current and future generations. Sign now to support a Green New Deal that respects the role food and agriculture play in addressing our climate crisis. Science shows that we have no time to lose.
Since the start of this year, I’ve been telling you about the exciting Green New Deal proposed by NY Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’ve also been straight with you (and members of Congress) about what I see as one of the resolution’s main failings: that it doesn’t explicitly rule out pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure in it’s vision.
Now the two ideas have come together right in the backyard of Rep Ocasio-Cortez, and we have a chance to do something about it.
Will you sign here to Demand our New York elected leaders oppose the William’s pipeline as part of a fossil-fuel-free Green New Deal? We can’t make the big changes that are necessary until we commit to stopping projects like this that will take us in the wrong direction.
For those of you who haven’t heard: the Williams Pipeline company wants to build a 23 mile long, 26-inch wide pipeline under the lower bay south of Manhattan, and deliver fracked gas from Pennsylvania into Brooklyn, Long Island and other parts of the city. It’s a dangerous, unnecessary plan that will lock New Yorkers into another 20-50 years of dirty fossil fuels, just at the moment scientists tell us we have 12 years to radically transform our energy economy as part of a Green New Deal.
So you’d think that Representatives like Ocasio-Cortez would be lining up to oppose this project, right? Not so fast. The Green New Deal resolution paints a vibrant picture of the future, but it’s silent on the issues of fossil fuels and pipelines. And until a few days ago, not one of our federal elected officials had spoken out against the Williams pipeline.
A few days ago, Congressman Jerry Nadler became the first federal elected official to say he’d oppose the Williams Pipeline as part of a Green New Deal – yay! Nadler, whose district includes neighborhoods hard hit by Superstorm Sandy like Red Hook and Sunset Park, told us “At this point we shouldn’t be building pipelines, because we shouldn’t prolong our use of fossil fuels.”
But when local organizers asked AOC to do the same thing, her staff said she needed to see more tweets first. Really? How many tweets, exactly, does the author of the Green New Deal resolution need to see before she opposes a pipeline in her own back yard?
This isn’t a minor issue to New York fracked gas companies: On Monday fossil fuel giant National Grid presented a plan to build the Williams fracked gas pipeline as part of a plan they said is supposed to cut emissions 80% by 2050. They’re trying to write their dirty pipeline into our vision for a clean and healthy New York!
But New Yorkers know fracked gas pipelines are a non-starter, and we’re proud to partner with the Stop the Williams Pipeline coalition on this petition – including 350 Brooklyn, Food and Water Watch New York, New York Communities for Change, the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, Sane Energy Project, Surfrider Foundation New York, and more than 200 cosponsors. Together these groups have done the research to show that we don’t need the Williams Pipeline, and to discredit the green washing efforts and scare tactics. Even today, our partners in New York are hosting an event on sustainable solutions to heating New York buildings called “Heat Pumps not Pipelines”
We had a busy 2 days of action targeting dirty, dishonest, Dominion Energy at their shareholder meeting in Columbia SC this week.
Check out the reportback video on all our actions, or scroll down to read an account of the more than 5 hours of meetings, speeches and actions. Once you see all the stuff we did, I hope you’ll be inspired to chip in $1.98 or more to support us. We’re still about $500 short of our goal for covering costs of all these events.
Here’s a quick budget for your information :
|Food for Community supper||$100|
|Bus Transit for Justice First||$1000|
|Flyers, signs and materials||$250|
|Donations from other partner groups||-$500|
|TOTAL left to raise:||$707|
Monday Night – Community forum and supper
Monday night about 50 of us gathered at the historic Zion baptist Church in Columbia (where Dr King once spoke) for a community supper and teach in. We had reports and stories from all over Virginia, South Carolin, North Carolina and beyond about Dominion’s dirty, dishonest past, as well as a briefing on our plans for the shareholder meeting.
Here’s some video clips of the speakers from that night
Mary Cerulli from Mothers Out Front talked about our global power as a movement working with more than $2 trillion in assets to #Divest from fossil fuels and pipelines.
Greg Yost from NC APPPL talked about the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and how the Carolinas (North and South) are connecting to stop this fracked gas pipeline.
Freeda Cathcart, Indivisible VA talked about the importance of coalitions and working together to make change:
And Finally, Rev Leo Woodberry, from the Justice First tour and New Alpha community development corporation brought it all together in a keynote address that had everyone on their feet marching in one big wave of solidarity by the end.
At the end of Rev Woodberry’s keynote, we had a community supper downstairs, where we heard some more about Justice First’s recent trip to Africa helping communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone set up solar power, and from Chief Pete of the Pee Dee Tribe who talked about struggles with environmental justice during and after the flooding from Hurricane Florence, as well as their concerns about the Atlantic Coast pipeline and harvesting of souther forests for biofuel.
Tuesday – the main event!
On Tuesday we gathered outside the Shareholder meeting and 8 shareholders were admitted in with proxies to address the meeting. The rest of us handed out about fliers And held banners outside so everyone knew our demands. At the end of the Shareholder meeting we held a press conference touching on Dominion activity inside and outside the shareholder meeting.
It’s been a busy few weeks with Drew and the 198 methods crew running around DC, North Carolina and other locations to support direct action campaigns that challenge fossil fuels and climate chaos.
In particular, this spring, we’ve been working on getting the biggest banks, regulators and corporations behind the build out of fossil fuel expansion to change their plans and invest in a fossil-free Green New Deal instead.
Check out this video where Drew explains a bit about how and why we’ve been doing all these banner drops, climbing actions, and other protests.
Then, click here to support our work this Spring as we head into our final shareholder protest, this time targeting Dominion Energy – the company behind the Atlantic Coast pipeline, Cove Point gas export terminal, and much more.
Here’s a quick synopsis for those who like to read their news:
- Two weeks ago Drew and friends from Beyond Extreme Energy climbed on top 25-30 feet to perch on top of FERC’s entryway and drop a banner asking them to stop approving fossil fuels and transform into a new agency dedicated to clean energy as part of a Green New Deal.
- Last week we took the fight to the Charlotte, NC where Bank of America shareholder meeting. BofA is one of the biggest financiers of fossil fuels globally, and also invests heavily in the Atlantic Coast pipeline – which directly hurt people and communities in North Carolina. We dropped another banner to make the risky investment clear, and this one was a lot bigger.
- Finally, we’re headed next week to the shareholder meeting of Dominion Energy – the company behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Cove Point gas export terminal, and much more. Drew and the 198 methods crew have been protesting Dominion for years, and helped organize an action a few months ago opposing their bid to buy SC utility company SCANA – a transparent ploy to eventually extend the ACP to gas export terminals at Elba Island Georgia. They think they’ve won, and are coming to Drew’s home-town to celebrate – so he’s planning a surprise for them when they arrive.
All of this – the travel, materials for banners, food and housing for activists we work with – is supported by donations from 198 methods supporters like you. We take no money from corporations or foundations, so we need your help to keep up this level of activity.
If you appreciate our work as part of a global movement to shut down fossil fuels, Divest from dirty energy, and build a cleaner future together under the framework of a Green new Deal, please chip in now.
This morning, I got up early, climbed a ladder 35 feet up, and perched on top of the front door of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a banner that reads “FERC NO, Federal Renewable Energy Commission YES!”
It’s not a 100% safe, or legal way to make a point. But I thought it was important enough, and that this is a critical moment in which to make this point.
Let me explain:
The Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FERC) is the agency in DC responsible for regulation of our interconnected electricity grids, as well as review, permitting and (almost always) approval of natural gas infrastructure in the United States. It’s already a powerful agency that oversees billions of dollars in infrastructure and is empowered to act on matters that can affect your monthly utility bill, and even seize your house or land and evict you through a process called eminent domain. Allies of the fossil fuel industry in DC have fought for years to expand those powers – so that FERC would oversee oil pipelines too, and would have stronger and more expedited powers to force through fossil fuel infrastructure.
For years we’ve battled against FERC and those who want to expand its powers – We’ve fought FERC orders to expedite fracking and new pipelines and LNG terminals. And we’ve been arrested and protested at multiple Senate hearings on FERC and opposed legislation to expand its powers.
But all along we’ve maintained it doesn’t have to be this way. FERC has a clear set of responsibilities that could be really helpful in fighting climate change – they could direct utilities to price renewable electricity more favorably than fossil fuels. They could also stop approving every new fossil fuel project that is proposed to them – especially big new fracked gas pipelines and export terminals, which will lock us into dangerous methane – a climate pollutant 86x more powerful than CO2 – for 30 years or more.
Hence – FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission. Our vision is that as part of a Green New Deal, Congress would re-make FERC into an agency that prioritizes the climate crisis and acts to implement the renewable energy future we wall want.
It was even starting to work – In the last 12-24 months we’ve seen cracks between the FERC commissioners, with the two Democrats dissenting on many votes and deadlocking – effectively blocking – approval of new pipelines and gas export terminals. When asked why they are saying no, Democrats at FERC say they hear from the courts, the public, and from scientists that they need to do a better job measuring and addressing the impacts these projects have on climate change.
And then, last week, Donald Trump poured gasoline and methane all over that raging fire of a debate:
In a series of Executive Orders, Trump made plain he intends to use the Department of Energy (which oversees FERC), EPA and other federal agencies as a cudgel to ram through new oil and gas pipelines. Taken together with a series of state-level laws that ban protest at pipeline construction sites, Trump’s fossil-nationalism says this:
- Fossil fuel companies should be paid more than any other energy sector. If ratepayers disagree, or the market simply moves in a different direction since the fuel for renewable energy is free, the Government will subsidize fossil fuel companies and force you to pay more money for dirtier energy.
- If fossil fuel companies want to build a pipeline through your town, put a compressor station on your front yard, or an export terminal where you fish, they can do so. Their wish is your command and they can take your land, your tribe’s land, or your town/state’s land to do it. If you think that’s unfair, you don’t want a pipeline in your front yard or sacred places, even if you take the time to convince your city council, tribal council, governor, mayor or other elected officials to join you in opposing the project, they will all be overruled. What’s yours, what’s sacred, what belongs to all of us in common – none of it matters. The fossil fuel industry gets what it wants, and you -as a ratepayer and a taxpayer – will pay them for it whether you like it or not.
- If you’re a shareholder, an investor, or a capitalist of any kind that believe climate change is a real, urgent threat – companies are ordered by the FEC to ignore you, and your right to talk about climate chaos, fossil fuels and investment strategy that does not burn the planet down is blocked. If you try and speak out anyway, your status as a licensed investor can be challenged and you can be removed from public exchanges. Fossil fuels are the only way to make money, and any dissent will be punished.
- Oh and if you resist, if you lay down in front of the machinery of destruction and put your body on the line to stop this madness – you will be arrested, probably by heavily armed federal agents, and put in jail. In an increasing number of states, simply praying for peace in the path of a pipeline could get you locked up for a decade or longer.
Which is why I’m up here. We have a clear plan for how FERC can stop being part of the problem, and transform into FREC – a part of the solution. Trump and Co. are clearly not going to help implement that vision, but Congress might – and you can help! Here’s how:
- Check out the livestream and photos from our partners in action at BXE above
- If you’re interested in supporting our work, click here to chip in – we have more actions planned this spring at Shareholder meetings and corporate gatherings!
- Call Chuck Schumer at and Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965 to urge them to support legislation to replace FERC with FREC.