Activists Call on Retiring FERC Commissioner to Heed her Better Angels

Live outside FERC

Posted by Beyond Extreme Energy #BXE on Thursday, July 18, 2019

Washington, DC – For the past 30 years FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has voted in favor of 398 out of 400 applications for mostly fracked gas interstate pipelines and related projects. Fracked gas is at least 95% methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is 100 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have 11 years left to avoid unstoppable climate catastrophe.

These facts are top of mind as FERC commissioners hold their next regular monthly meeting on July 18 – the last meeting for Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, who is stepping down after eight years. Over her tenure she has moved toward considering the climate impacts of these fracked gas projects and has occasionally voted against them. But as recently as April, she voted to approve not one, not two, but three huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, which would super-charge fracking around the country as well as global methane emissions.

Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) and their allies held a press event outside the building at 9:30 AM to call on LaFleur to use her final meeting to stand on the right side of history, to throw aside her convoluted rationales that allow her to both call for consideration of climate impacts and to still approve these projects that will be spewing climate-and community-wrecking emissions for the next 40 years – well past the time the U.S. and the world need to transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy.

BXE will also announced the next steps in our campaign to transform FERC into FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission, as part of future Green New Deal legislation. In support of our call for LaFleur to vote to block new fossil fuel projects and FERC to transform into an agency dedicated to a just transition away from all fossil fuels Statements were read from a variety of impacted communities:

“Twice FERC had all the information necessary to make the correct decision to deny the Jordan Cove Energy Project.” said Deb McGee 350Eugene Volunteer/Director. “The only thing that has changed is that Green House Gasses in our atmosphere have risen to 415ppm, causing more extreme weather, more fires, and making every reason to deny the permit even clearer and more profound. If we are to survive we must build no new fossil fuel infrastructure! Keep it in the Ground!”

“After years of extreme storms, polluted water supplies and devastating fires, FERC has fueled climate change and poisoned our planet,” said Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuel campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “If we want to stop climate change, FERC should commit to a policy of no more fossil fuel infrastructure and put an end to projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

“Three and one half years ago we learned that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cut our property in half with over 3,000 feet of 42 inch pipeline, coming within 600 feet of our home,” said Bill Limpert, who lives with his wife in a retirement home and property in Bath County, Virginia. “We have since learned that the 3M Scotchkote Fusion Bonded Epoxy 6233 coating used on the pipes for the ACP contains carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic properties. Manufacturer 3M states that this product degrades and chalks. FERC has said they are investigating this but that is not enough; they should issue a stop work order immediately for the ACP.”

“FERC continues to pillage our community in New York City and global climate health by approving more fracked gas infrastructure by facilitating rather than regulating,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project. “We are now facing yet another fracked gas pipeline, the Williams NESE pipeline, approved by FERC against the will of the community, and against our state law, and twice denied by our Department of Environmental Conservation, and without consensus of FERC commissioners, considering Commissioner Richard Glick’s dissent surrounding this pipeline’s approval. We understand that FERC won’t get paid unless they approve pipelines, and today, we are here to insist on a complete revision of an agency that is in charge of interstate energy infrastructure since the DNA of FERC is a captive agency controlled by the very industry its assigned to regulate. There is a national consensus from communities that we can never expect to see justice from FERC in its current form.”

“The State of Oregon and communities impacted by the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and pipeline are sending a strong message to FERC that they must consider the full climate impacts of a project before approval,” said Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director at Southern Oregon-based community group Rogue Climate. “By standing up against new fracked gas projects and ensuring FERC considers climate before permitting new projects, Commissioner LaFleur has an opportunity to leave a climate legacy at the agency.”

“Not only is the Jordan cove project a thirty five year commitment to fossil fuels hobbling the change to clean energy but after 14 years the project still is terrorizing landowners like us.” said Larry and Sylvia Mangan, North Bend Oregon, landowners along one of the routes of the pacific gas connector. “A Canadian corporation should not be allowed to use eminent domain against US citizens for private gain.”

Last Chance for FERC’s Cheryl LaFleur

We’ve told you a lot about FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And there’s a good reason: for the past 22 years the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has voted in favor of 522 applications for fracked gas pipelines and infrastructure. It has rejected only two.

Fracked gas is at least 90% methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is 100 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide over a ten-year period. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have 11 years left to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. 

These facts are very relevant as FERC commissioners hold their regular monthly meeting on July 18. This will be the last meeting for Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur who is stepping down after eight years of approving nearly every application.

That’s why I’m headed to Cheryl’s last chance meeting. Can you back us up?

LaFleur is not your typical commissioner. Over her tenure she has repeatedly argued in favor of considering climate impacts and has occasionally voted against projects. While we were disappointed when, as recently as May, she voted to approve not one, not two, but three liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals that would super-charge fracking and global methane emissions. And she did it while I was sitting on her roof asking her not to, that’s just plain rude.

In the meantime, those affected negatively by FERC’s decisions are speaking out – and you’ve been a. big part of that – speaking out against the Jordan Cove Export terminal in Oregon, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and related infrastructure in the southeast and the Williams Pipeline in New York.

That’s whey I wanted you to know that I’ll be at Cheryl LaFleur’s last FERC meeting in DC tomorrow, and will be delivering your comments and concerns alongside allies from Beyond Extreme Energy and other friends. We are calling on all FERC commissioners, but especially Cheryl LaFleur to vote NO on all dockets and to set a record of opposing fossil fuel projects because of their climate impacts that future commissioners can use.

Tomorrow we’ll post the press release, a video from outside the hearing, and other info you can use to keep fighting. Stay tuned!

Stop the Rate Hike, Stop Fracked Gas

Piedmont Natural Gas – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Duke Energy – is requesting a rate hike from the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The rate hike will increase prices and fund the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when we need a Green New Deal and a rapid transition to 100% clean energy.

To name just a few of the problems:

  1. The urgency of the climate crisis is ignored. Natural gas is not a “bridge fuel”, it’s a “climate killer”.
  2. This is the wrong time to be investing in any fossil fuel infrastructure. That goes triple for PNG’s Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Maxton (Robeson County, NC).
  3. The Duke-PNG energy monopoly prioritizes the wrong approach – expanding natural gas instead of renewables; Duke’s money has corrupted the State’s decision-makers;

Join us in Charlotte at 5pm on Wednesday July 10 for a rally and protest, followed by a formal hearing on the rate hike. But together we can counter Duke-PNG’s vision of a gas-fueled future.

The rally and protest starts at 5pm, the rate hike hearing starts at 7pm.

RSVP on Facebook: http://bit.ly/NoPNGRateHike_RSVP
Volunteer to help with planning, logistics and testimony: http://bit.ly/NoPNGRateHike_vol

Two more helpful items – our press advisory and a flier helping to explain the rate hike and who’s affected

24 hours to Grill FERC commissioners

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.

Another recent report provides five clear reasons gas is not a bridge fuel to a safe climate:

  1. Gas breaks the carbon budget;
  2. Coal-to-gas switching doesn’t cut it;
  3. Low-cost renewables can displace coal & gas;
  4. Gas isn’t essential for grid reliability;
  5. 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.

Sign here to make sure Congress asks FERC about these new reports, their record of approving climate-wrecking gas projects, and holds them accountable.

Dirty, Dishonest, Dominion Energy #DIVEST!

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 :

ItemCost
Food for Community supper$100
Bus Transit for Justice First$1000
Flyers, signs and materials$250
previously raised-$143
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.

Breaking: Trump tries to ram through KeystoneXL, Again

Trump just issued a presidential permit for construction of Keystone XL, again.

He’s trying to get around a recent court order by the Ninth circuit that preserved an injunction to stop TransCanada from building the pipeline, at a potential costs of billions of dollars.

If you’re ready to get in front of this pipeline and take action to protect our water, communities and climate we need you now – and we need you trained and ready to take action.

Join a training and get prepared to mobilize against the Keystone XL pipeline. Register for a Promise to Protect training near you.

Promise to Protect training tour

Trump has been trying to build the Keystone XL pipeline since his first day in office. You may remember that the order expediting Keystone was one of Trump’s first, signed four days after he took office. Today’s order actually had to supersede the last time he ‘ordered’ the pipeline to be built because the courts struck down that stupid and clumsy attempt.

But Trump’s incompetence is not a sufficient protection against this pipeline. Activists in North Carolina and Virginia have documented dozens of cases where companies keep on building the pipeline after the Courts order them to stop – especially if they know they’ve got the backing of Trump, FERC or federal agencies like the EPA.

This training tour is intended to prepare thousands of us to take mass action to stop Keystone XL, and every other fossil fuel project that comes our way. And we need to be ready for a lot. The US is now the biggest oil and gas producer in the world – and trump and his team are rushing through dozens of new pipelines, refineries and export terminals.

More than 20,000 of us have already signed up through the Promise to Protect website and committed to take peaceful action along the pipeline route. Now we need you to join a training so we can be prepared to resist.

The training covers more than just logistics and theory. Taking place along the pipeline route and in nine cities, these are indigenous led briefings to prepare you to be good relatives and understand the vulnerabilities and opportunities of this and other pipeline projects

At the training, you’ll learn about nonviolent direct action and support roles, protocols for mobilizing in Lakota territory, and how to apply these lessons to local campaigns, which we’ll need in order to create a nationwide wave of resistance against fossil fuel development in our communities.

Sign-up for the Promise to Protect Training Tour this spring to get ready now for future action against Keystone XL.

Small things can change everything in 2019

UPDATE – The Trump shutdown will last at least until January, with Republicans having given up any pretense of governing in 2018. And that makes our plans for 2019 even more timely and important. We’ve done great stuff together this year – firing Zinke and Pruitt, speaking out against the offshore drilling plan, occupying Gov Cooper’s office, FERC’s front door, and various Senate and House offices too. We need   more donations to underwrite our plans. Click here to help.

Today is the first official, business day of Trump’s Government shutdown. And part of me says, “So what”?

We’ve spent a lot of the last 2 years shutting down parts of Trump’s illegal, climate-denying government anyway – getting Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke fired, for example. Or sitting in at FERC, at the EPA, even at Trump’s inauguration to make sure things are shut down in order to open up a conversation about climate action.

But with 12 years to solve the climate crisis, the truth is we need a functional, non-fossil-fascist, US federal government to be part of the solution. So, like a lot of things, this is one of those times where the crisis at hand is also bad for the climate.

It’s also one of those crisi-tunity moments. For in the shutdown the Democrats, about to be newly ascendant in Congress, have finally rallied together as a block. And not just in opposition to Trump’s useless, racist, border wall. Just a few weeks ago every Democrat in the Senate finally voted together to oppose a Trump’s climate denying FERC nominee. That’s raising expectations and hopes that they will stand together and block Trump’s nominees to run the Department of Justice (with far-reaching consequences for the rule of law, environmental and otherwise) and replace Zinke at Interior – among other things. It’s not all awesome, of course. The same month Democrats hung together to oppose Trump on Climate Denial, House leaders opted for a decidedly Milk-toast and polluter-friendly version of the Select committee on Climate Change. Sunrise and the young people who fought so hard on that aren’t done yet (not by a longshot) and we’ll be back in 2019. But still, climate cowardice remains the default position of too many politicians.

A little more than two years ago I started 198 methods to answer a question: Can you use (and update) Gene Sharp’s famous methodology for fighting fascism to fight climate change? I didn’t want to research it or write a book, I wanted to do it and figure out how to do it more.

Two years later, we’ve done a lot of good together. In addition to the federal work linked above, we’ve also supported a bunch of lobby days, sit ins and actions in New York, North Carolina (remember that time in Gov Cooper’s office?), South Carolina and lots more. And we’re not nearly done yet – I’ve got some big ideas and hot plans for 2019. But I need your help. All our ideas revolve around a simple idea: A small group of people, using small interventions – creative direct action tactics backed by cutting edge tech tools and best practices – can actually stop the climate crisis. How small? I’m looking for about 60 people to invest $1.98 a week.

Here’s how

I’ve already got a schedule of actions lined up for January and February. I can’t tell you all the details (yet) because we’re planning some actions where people will risk arrest again. But I can tell you the basic themes are

  1. Pressure Dems even more to stand together and act on climate change. It’s clear that it works and it’s clear they only respond to pressure (polite meetings, getting them re-elected, scientific analysis all may be essential, but have not produced meaningful action.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Back to Congress right after they’re sworn in to pressure them to act on the Green New Deal, stop taking fossil fuel money, and continue to investigate and shut down Trump’s fossil-fascist regime in the Administration. We’ll also be working with Sunrise, 350 and other partners on a series of distributed actions (eg, where you live, no matter where you live) in February and into the spring. And, it’s almost time to bring back our debate watch parties and start talking about the 2020 election. Don’t worry, it’s not quite time, yet.
  2. Keep getting in the way. Several major projects have been delayed, blocked in the courts or canceled because people stood up and got in the way. A recent Court order that stopped the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even quoted the Lorax (long-time handbook of all direct action forest campaigners).
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Well it depends a little on how soon some of these projects are re-started. But I think it’s safe to say you can look for us in the trees and on the rivers of Virginia and North Carolina soon. The Cracks at FERC we helped open up are also deepening, so look for more action on that agency, and potentially a new Trump-nominee to fight in early 2019. We’ll also be back in South Carolina where a Dominion is still trying to buy, bully and cajole its way in.
  3. Keep after the money, but don’t wait for investors to save us. All those delays have also added up to big divestments – At the COP talks in Poland this year they announced a new grand-total just under $8 trillion. That’s good news, but it’s also worth pointing out that big banks and Wall Street Investors are still betting heavily on the climate crisis — investing billions in pipelines, new drilling, new mines and more around the world. Dominion stock had a great day on Wall Street (a rare thing this December) the same day we were thrown out of a hearing shouting about how they were stealing money from South Carolina rate payers – Wall Street didn’t fail to notice, it liked the idea of a fossil fueled monopoly conquering one of the poorest states in America.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Keep the pressure on the pipelines, their enablers, and keep naming and shaming the financiers. One of the reasons I’m keen to connect more communications tools to our network next year (see below) is to help people take simple steps that connect the dots – this bank, funds that pipeline, so close your account, which takes money away from the bank, and then take action to slow or stop the pipeline, which creates a feedback loop. Pipelines get harder and more expensive to build, little by little. We can make it as easy as an ap on your phone (almost): tap, swipe, divest, take action, win.
  4. Keep taking action, keep writing and posting and helping others act. The most fundamental thing I can offer you is to keep writing, taking action, and inviting you to take action with us in 2019 and expand into some new formats. This year, we added a lot of video and live video to our actions and reports. Close to 1 million people watched our actions online that way (wow!) and some 60,000 of you took action with us this year.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? More Blog posts. Most of them much shorter than this (I promise!) and focussed on a specific action you can take to help stop the climate crisis. It also means I’d like to spend some time updating our tech tools, and expanding them so it’s easier to connect you to the stuff we do in real time. Next time we’re live streaming from a lockdown, or updating you on our protest outside a bank, I want to be able to connect you right to the action so you can call the Bank Manager, tell local media to cover climate cowards right, or protect the people on the frontlines risking it all.

I’ve also got a good idea what it will cost us to stay in operation. We need a few simple tools to stay in contact with you, and to dramatically expand our power in 2019 — adding that ability to connect you directly (and only if you opt-in, of course) to direct actions through your telephone, to congress via text message, and more. Here’s what it costs for us to have access to all the tools we need for those tools for email, events, fundraising, calls and texts:

item cost
IRS registration C3 $275.00
Corporate filing fees $159.00
Google tools $23.88
Action network for emails, events, petitions and more. $3,870.00
Toll-free calls @ $.03/minute $3,000.00
SMS messages @ $.016/text $1,600.00
TOTAL $8,927.88

That’s it. The whole operating budget of this project for a year is less than $10,000. And actually, we already have about $3,000 committed from current donors and recurring contributions. Which is why what I’m really looking for is about 60 people to donate $5,000. And the simplest, most efficient way to do it is to chip in $1.98/week. 60 people, donating at that level gets us what we need, though you’re of course free to donate in any amount and in any format you want.

You’ll notice that this doesn’t include direct costs for specific actions – travel to an event, housing and feeding folks who take action, paying bail or legal costs if necessary, etc. We prefer to raise those as we need them, so that your support pays only for what the action requires, and you know that every dollar you donate goes right to the material costs. If we need a pizza, we ask you to help pay for it. Rather than asking you to support a massive endowment or general fund that you can’t see or control the results of.

You might also notice that there’s no money for an office, salaries, or for what other groups call “overhead”. I think that’s a good thing, and part of what makes us different than other climate action groups. Lots of people talk about being nimble, small, and focussed on funding action. We do it. And we keep our whole budget and operation transparent so you can see what’s happening and opt in (or out) anytime you want.

So, if you like the sound of all that. If you’ve taken action with us this year, and you’re ready for more. Or if you’re just like me – and you’ve got $1.98 and you want to fight the Fossil-fascists with it. Please click here to chip in $1.98 a week or whatever you can afford. Thanks.

 

 

Make McNamee’s First Day The Worst Day

Today is the first commissioners meeting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for Bernard McNamee — Trump’s climate denying, coal loving nominee who squeaked by in the closest confirmation vote EVER for a Trump nominee. Our friends from BXE are headed into the hearing room to “welcome” Mr McNamee — and you can back them up by making a quick call!

Make a direct call to Bernard McNamee’s new office at FERC. The number is  202-502-8510

Not sure what to say? Here’ a few suggestions:

  • I’m calling to welcome Mr. McNamee to FERC, and ask that he immediately resign in disgrace. Don’t worry, lots of Trump appointees have already done this (Flynn, Pruitt, Ryan Zinke just resigned last weekend!)
  • I was one of the tens of thousands of people who called and wrote to the Senate opposing Mr McNamee’s nomination because of his close ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his outrageous statements on climate change and environmental groups.
  • Now that McNamee is at FERC, he must recuse himself from any case involving the oil, coal, or gas industries, or any conversation involving climate change and its impacts on US Citizens. His past comments and work at the Department of Energy, as well as in the private sector, show him to be unfairly biased.
  • I’d like to thank Mr McNamee for making it so much easier to sue FERC. Thanks to his reckless disregard for climate science, clean energy, alternatives to fossil fuels, grid resilience and basic common sense, we have a much better chance of prevailing against FERC in court. Still,I wish he’d just resign so we didn’t have to go through the trouble and expense of suing you every single time.

You get the idea.
You’ll remember that McNamee was Trump’s climate-denying nominee to FERC who was specifically chosen because he denies cliamte change and has written policies to bail out the coal industry.  But he only came under fire in the  Senate Energy Committee when we found video of a speech he he gave calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuelsIn that speech, he also falsely claimed that renewable energy “screws up” the grid and and described any legal opposition to pipelines and cliamte change as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.”​

That lead to the unprecedented scenario where every single Senate Democrat voted against McNamee’s confirmation — a feat that has never happened before, not even on the nominations of Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, both of whom have resigned in disgrace since. McNamee’s bias is so blatant that 17 Democratic Senators and Harvard Law School have told  him to recuse himself from anything where his impartiality should be questioned.

So, while McNamee taking a seat on FERC is bad, it’s also full of conflict, protest and clear conflict of interest – And we can use that. Our friends from BXE will be in the room where it happens today to tell McNamee to his face (they’ll have a report later today on how it went) in the meantime – you can make sure McNamee knows you’re watching by calling his office and making his first day on the job his worst day ever.

Make a direct call to McNamee’s new office at 202-502-8510

What happened with Dominion Power in South Carolina

On Friday, December 14, the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC-PSC) held a hearing to approve Dominion Power’s proposal to buy our largest utility, SCE&G and its parent company SCANA. As we wrote just before, it was a bad deal for the people of South Carolina, and for the environment and climate we all share.

The SC-PSC and Dominion thought South Carolina was whipped. After years of fighting the VC Summer plant, paying the highest electricity bills in the country, and living with corporate polluters — they  didn’t imagine anyone would show up to oppose them as they stole a little more, wrecked a few more communities, and continued to ignore the climate crisis.

We proved them wrongwe showed up with a team of half-a-dozen activists from South Carolina and North Carolina and took the hearing by storm. We stood up and shouted until they had to adjourn. When a PSC commissioner came out and asked us to be quiet — because he said he was undecided, and wanted to vote on a plan to add solar power to Dominion’s offer — we shouted louder until the threw us out of  the building into the rain and threatened to arrest us. That commissioner, by the way, went back inside, lost every vote to add solar or accountability to the deal, and then voted for the Dominion merger anyway.

And it’s a good thing we did too. Because while the SC-PSC was too cowardly to stop Dominion’s takeover, now people know there’s a resistance afoot. Our protest was on the front page of the newspaper the next day, and mentioned in story after story that covered the Dominion deal.

If you’re feeling this activism and story – if you want to support more direct action projects that target Dominion and energy regulators in Virginia and the Carolinas – click here to chip in and support us.

By trying to silence us, throwing us out of the hearing, ignoring our evidence and demands for justice, they’ve united not only South Carolinians, but North Carolinians and Virginians in opposition. Dominion is already facing blow back in court over their Atlantic Coast Pipeline (the judge actually quoted the Lorax in smacking down the pipeline). And Virginia regulators are beginning to question why Dominion needs to charge ratepayers so much, if they’re making so much profit.

A resistance is building all across the SouthEast – to Dominion and all the oppressors. The same day we spoke out in South Carolina, Cherri Foytlin of the L’eau est La Vie camp had a tense exchange with South Carolina Regulators in Louisiana — so tense one of them knocked over a table backing away from her righteous anger. As the song says, they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.

People in the South are rising up. So far, the corporate polluters and pipeline builders have been able to buy, cheat and steal enough power to keep us bottled up. But the day is coming when that may not work anymore.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the video where Elaine interviews some friends as we were arriving at the meeting. You can also get a good look at the dishonest Dominion lawyers, PSC commissioners and other various villains who did us wrong:

After that we headed into the hearing room and it was show time. Skip to about 11 minutes into this video (unless you want to listen to the SC-PSC congratulate itself on working hard to steal money from some of the poorest ratepayers in America with the help of one of the richest companies in the Southeast) to see the protest action, which made it onto the front page of the local paper the next day and was mentioned in numerous articles about the merger that evening and over the weekend.

And finally, check out this video of us talking in the hall with SC PSC commissioner Tom Ervin. This part might be the most crazy-making since Ervin tries to convince us he’s on our side, AND that we’re the problem (not him) at the same time. He also (dishonestly) claims he hasn’t made up his mind just a few minutes before he let us get thrown out in the rain, then went back in the hearing room and voted for the deal. Profiles in courage you are NOT Mr Ervin.

 

Dominion go home

This Friday the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC-PSC) will meet to review, and are expected to approve, Dominion Power’s proposal to buy our local utility SCE&G.

Let’s be really clear, this is a bad deal for our people, and the planet. If the deal is approved, ratepayers will get a small discount (less than $22/month). In exchange, we have to keep paying for the VC Summer nuclear debacle for decades. And the Dominion has already let slip that they plan to expand the Atlantic Coast Pipeline into South Carolina and build a new generation of fracked-gas power plants that will poison our air and climate.

The SC-PSC and Dominion think South Carolina is whipped. After years of fighting the VC Summer plant, paying the highest electricity bills in the country, and living with corporate polluters — they don’t think we’ve got any fight left. They’ve got another thing coming. And this Friday, I’m going to tell them so, with your help.

I’m assembling a crack team of activists and experts from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. We’re going to the hearing Friday to set Dominion and the SC-PSC straight, and speak a little truth to their corporate-power-plan. If you’re in or near Columbia, please join us at 1pm on Friday the 14th.

If you’re impacted by Dominion – as a ratepayer or constituent in Virginia, A North Carolinian battling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or a however you know them – Add your name and a comment about why Dominion is bad. We’ll try and read as many of the comments as we can at Friday’s hearing so the Press and public hear your story

Dominion initially offered SC ratepayers a $1,000 refund check, if they were allowed to buy SCE&G, but we would still have had to pay another $2.3 billion over 20 years. That scam was a little obvious ($1,000 back in exchange for $2.3 billion?!). So Dominion changed the deal. Their latest offer is to cut rates by about $22 a month, but it will still require us to pay more than $1,600 each for the reactors before the debt is paid.*

That’s a raw deal for ratepayers. But the deal is even worse for the planet and our climate. If allowed to buy the utility, Dominion is almost certain to expand their Atlantic Coast pipeline – a community and climate-wrecking disaster that is already $1.5 billion over budget and month’s behind schedule – into South Carolina. We’re a state blessed with tremendous potential for solar, wind and offshore renewable energy. Locking in a Dominion-owned fossil fuel projects for decades is like asking many South Carolinians to sign our own death certificate, and then pay for it in monthly installments.

The SC-PSC process has never been very accessible to the public. The last time the public was allowed to comment was in October, before the current deal was even known. Without our consent, the SC-PSC now proposes to force ratepayers to pay billions of dollars to a hostile, out-of-state corporation to wreck our climate, communities and common home.

If you’re as outraged as I am about it lend us your name and your story and we’ll read as many of them as we can at Friday’s hearing.