Cracks between the FERC commissioners

I’ve been fighting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for years now. Most of the time, they seem pretty monolithic: in all the years they’ve existed, they’ve only said no to two (2) pipeline applications. And they’ve always steadfastly refused to acknowledge the damage that fracked gas does to our climate.

That’s why, for the last four years or so, I’ve been working with Beyond Extreme Energy to resist FERC, tell the Senate not to confirm their commissioners, and generally shut down this rubber stamping agency. But now, for the first time I can remember, we are beginning to see cracks develop between the FERC commissioners:

Just a few days ago, the two (minority) Democratic commissioners, Richard Glick and Cheryl LaFleur, voted to void the  FERC permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. There have also been news reports that the two Democrats are demanding a more thorough review of climate impacts – including one time LaFleur took it upon herself to just “do the math” without her Republican colleagues’ permission.

Without question the unrelenting pressure of our movement has had much to do with this, and we need to keep it up. FERC is still accepting public comments on their pipeline review process. And on Monday June 25, we’re going to deliver a big, noisy message to FERC’s front door. Can you support us? You can join me and our BXE friends in DC to take action on Monday, OR you can just sign this petition and we’ll deliver your name along with thousands of others on Monday.


While there have been several dissents from the Democrats over the last nine months since a quorum was restored to FERC, they have not been enough to actually stop any pipeline or permit. And Republican Chairman Kevin McIntyre has made it plain he’s more interested in ‘streamlining’ the approval process than raising new questions or rejecting pipeline applications.

But while we’re not yet on pace to truly reform or “fix” FERC, I do think there’s reason to be optimistic in this moment. The recent comments from Glick and LaFleur show that our pressure has changed some minds already. And we know from past experience that when we show up in force to shut FERC down, commissioners often scurry for the exits, or even retire altogether. If we can force one more commissioner to change their position, or step down and replace them with someone who takes climate change seriously, we’ll have a majority. And THAT is worth fighting for.

PS – Monday’s action will be big, bold, beutifle and memorable. BXE has already laid out thousands of dollar to build art and props, provide food and housing for all of the participants (including me!) and many other logistics. If you can’t make it on Monday, but want to support the action or watch along online, I know they’d also appreciate a donation – anything helps, but a gift of $1.98, $19.80, or $198 is especially nice and let’s them know you’re with us. Thanks.

Show Governor Cooper why his father loved the land between the two creeks

When Governor Roy Cooper gave the green light to the Atlantic Coast pipeline he put his father’s home-town in the path of destruction. Gov. Cooper’s father, Roy A. Cooper, Jr., wrote of Nash County’s Elm Grove Community, “I thank God that I have been privileged to live between the creeks with family, close friends, and with nature at its finest.”

So this weekend, I’ll be joining our friends from NC APPPL again in North Carolina for a “Walk Between the Creeks”. Together, we’ll walk the distance between these two creeks that the Governor’s father loved, and we’ll hold a short ceremony at the mid point with prayer, a water ceremony, and testimony from Nash County residents directly impacted by the pipeline.

We’ve invited Governor Cooper,  his Secretary of Environmental Quality, and other officials  to join us. We hope that the visit and these simple, moral actions will remind the Governor what makes his family home and its waters worth protecting. But even if he doesn’t attend, we know you’ll help us share the story and bring the sacred water we gather to Raleigh on June 21st for an interfaith day of action on clean energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Together we will Stop The Pipeline.

IF YOU CAN JOIN US: The total distance is less than 2.5 miles and we will finish by 1pm whereupon we’ll return to the Dean School for lunch. Shuttles are available back to your car. Please bring a bag lunch and appropriate clothes and shoes for road walking. Also, please bring a small jar of water from a spring, creek, or river near your home for the water ceremony.

IF YOU CAN’T JOIN US: Tune in to watch online, I’ll be live-streaming the whole event starting at about 11am tomorrow. Also, if you can, please chip in a few dollars to support the event – we’ll donate all the proceeds to APPPL and the crew fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in North Carolina

Last chance to Sign on and #Fire Pruitt!

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s racist, corrupt, climate-denying EPA Administrator is on the ropes. But he’s not finished yet.

The latest press reports indicate that senior White House staff are practically begging Trump to #FirePruitt. This after even more scandals involving expensive trips abroad that were planned by lobbyists and donors. And a new investigative report that reveals a concerted effort by Pruitt’s staff to protect him from the press, and the public. It’s gotten so bad that Pruitt has basically stopped showing up at work, and refuses to see anyone but a tiny handful close advisors.

But even these reports, which would have ended the career of any EPA chief before, have not been enough for Trump to fire Pruitt. And Pruitt is digging ininstructing his staff to leak embarrassing stories about his rival, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in an attempt to change the narrative. And that means it’s up to Congress to fire him using the impeachment process.

Next week Pruitt is scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee. They could use the opportunity to demand answers and hold Pruitt accountable. But if last month’s House hearing is any indication, they won’t. We’re planning show up and deliver the more than 250,000 petition signatures we’ve gathered demanding Congress take action and fire Pruitt immediately. But I noticed you haven’t had a chance to sign the petition (with us) – Can you click here to sign on before Friday so we can deliver your name next week? 

Our plan, along with a huge coalition of like-minded groups, is to deliver these signatures to dozens of Congressional offices Pruitt is walking out of his hearing on Capitol Hill. If we time it right, it should feel like he’s walking out of a congressional Grilling and into a firestorm of protest.

Over the next few days we’ll have more updates on how to RSVP for a local delivery event in your congressional district, as well as tools to invite more friends, schedule a formal meeting with your member of Congress’ staff and more. But for now, the most important thing you can do is make sure your name is included, along with 250,000 others on this petition demanding Congress Fire Scott Pruitt now.

A week of actions to walk the talk on climate

This is the long version of our report back on the Walk the Talk action in Albany, and the #FirePruitt actions in DC – if you prefer shorter versions of these reports and updates, subscribe to our email list on the home page. We start in Albany, so click here if you want to skip ahead to the Pruitt news, click here. And to cut to the chase – we’re looking to raise another $500-$1,000 to cover the costs of this. The funds will be used to support travel and logistics and legal support for more than 55 people (all of whom need to return to Albany next week for a court date. Click here to chip in if you can.

Cuomo Walk the Talk

The week got off to an AMAZING start on Sunday with the Cuomo Walk The Talk Action Camp. about 100 of us gathered in Athens, a few miles south of Albany, for an all day planning meeting, art build and action walk through. It was an intersectional crowd with first time action takers in their late teens and twenties, and experienced grandparents who’d planned or participated in hundreds of direct actions before. Our friend Eric took amazing photos so you can see how it looked.

With our plans made, our art painted I shot everyone a quick email asking for donations and cued it to send the next day while I was at the action. It’s a good thing I did because Monday was BUSY!

We were just one of more than 100 organizations that endorsed the Cuomo Walk the Talk action, and every group brought something to the action. One of the biggest was busses: more than 1500 people came on 19 buses from Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Rochester, Elmira, Caroline, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, Oneonta, Binghamton, Westchester, the Hudson Valley, and Ithaca. Together we formed a massive crowd, too big for the sidewalks we were permitted to hold and pressed in close to  hear Karenna Gore, Tim DeChristopher (Fresh from their necessity defense win in Massachusetts last month) speak alongside frontline community leaders from Sheridan Hollow. Sheridan Hollow is a frontline EJ community in Albany that is home to a power plant that used to burn trash. Now, Cuomo wants to convert it to a fracked gas powerplant, deepening the city and the region’s reliance on fossil fuels.

From the opening rally, we marched just under a mile to the Statehouse lead by beautiful art, two brass bands, and a whole lot of energy for our 3 demands — ending all fracking infrastructure, moving to 100% renewable energy, and making polluters pay, where we heard some more from young leaders like Lee of Sane Energy and Patrick of New York Communities for change. They fired up the crowd (tired from walking the last few blocks up a steep hill) and then lead people inside to rally in the only public space big enough to hold our crowd. More great photos from Eric here.

But it was at that moment that our “red team” split off from the main rally. Instead of going to the staircase, we headed directly for the Governor’s office. In the “war room”, decorated with murals of New York’s conquests in war, we sang and unfurled a giant sun-shaped banner that exactly covered the state seal on the floor. Then we marched for the Governor’s office, but the State police literally shut the door in our faces: locking the glass door from the main stairwell to the “hall of Governors” that leads to Cuomo’s ceremonial action. The message from Cuomo was clear: when it comes to demands that he Walk the Talk on climate, he doesn’t want to hear it.

But we weren’t taking no-answer for an answer. So 55 people including friends from BXE, Sane Energy, NYCC, and Food and Water Watch, sat down and refused to leave until Cuomo met our demands: ending all fracking infrastructure, moving to 100% renewable energy, and making polluters pay.

I was especially moved by the action that Kim and the team from Sane Energy had devised: Each of the 55 arrestees sat down on the floor, and one by one read a short statement on why they were there, which they’d also written on piece of red ribbon. Many people talked about the need to protect their children and grandchildren; some young people talked about the uncertain future their generation faces; and more than one person paid homage to David Buckel, a civil rights lawyer and environmentalist who set himself on fire to protest fossil fuel use, after leaving a suicide note nearby. After each person read their statement, they tied themselves to their neighbor with the ribbon – so that they were literally bound together by their stories.

It was a powerful action, and we were delighted to be able to support it by supporting several of the BXE arrestees and live-streaming the action on facebook where thousands of people watched along. Here’s a short video 350.org made of the action:

And here’s the Livesteam of the whole 3 hour long action.

The next day, I jumped in a car with a few of the BXE folks who’d been arrested and drove back to the DC-Baltimore area. But all 55 of the arrestees have to return to Albany next week for a court date. We’re raising money to send to Sane Energy, who coordinated the action and is making sure that everyone gets to their court date and stays free. If you can, please chip in to support this action and the ongoing support costs.

The hearing that should have Fired Pruitt

We were back in DC because Scott Pruitt was scheduled to testify before a congressional subcommittee. More than 225,000 Americans have signed on to demand Pruitt be fired after a wave of scandals – including many 198 methods members – and we wanted to make sure he felt the heat.

With leadership from Friends of the Earth, we created a carnival atmosphere outside the Rayburn congressional office building. FOE passed out fliers at every entrance, so there was no chance that any member of Congress or their staff could ignore our message that it’s time to #FirePruitt. And a team from several organizations waved signs, danced in a giant Pruitt head and generally had a good time making Scott Pruitt look ridiculous.

Pruitt however, did not look amused as he jogged past our protest. So it was a good thing Lukas from FOE recognized him and shouted a question about his corrupt, climate denying tenure as Trump’s EPA administrator.

The reception inside was not much better: as members of Congress sharply questioned Pruitt on how he broke the law to spend more than $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office, more than $143,000 on first class flights (often back to his home state of Oklahoma), more than $3 million on a massive security detail he didn’t need and gave more than $100,000 in raises to his friends, in direct defiance of White House guidance.

But Republicans went easy on Pruitt. Infamous climate denier Joe Barton of Texas told Pruitt he was “not the first victim of Washington politics.” And it was at that moment that the real action happened:

As Pruitt tried to explain away his sweetheart deal to rent a fossil fuel lobbyists’ condo for $50 a night I was part of a team of activists who raised signs that read “Mr. Corruption.” For a moment, you couldn’t even hear Pruitt’s answer over the sound of the press corps’ shutters furiously clicking away. I was I was lucky to get a seat right behind Pruitt, so my sign was clearly visible on the Cspan live stream carried live on several networks.

Friends of the Earth Fire Pruitt Rally

Pruitt stammered on for a moment, until Chairman of the committee told everyone that if they held up signs or displayed any t-shirts with writing on them, they would be arrested.

Drew asks Dems to walk the talk by firing Pruitt

I didn’t want to get arrested, but a minute later another Republican was praising Pruitt for rolling back clean car standards and inspections on refineries, and I couldn’t take it. I put on my oversized “Impeach Pruitt” shirt over my suit, stood, and slowly shuffled out of the hearing. Lucky for me, the Capitol police decided not to press the issue further – and while they banned me from the rest of the hearing, I was not arrested.

Although i was thrown out, Pruitt stayed on Capitol Hill for a second hearing, where he continued twisting the truth and defending the Trump Administration’s racist, climate denying policies. While I stood outside in the hallway with Erich Picah and staff from Friends of the Earth,  several staffers for Democratic members of Congress thanked us for speaking out – and today, the papers are full of pictures from our action inside and outside the hearing room.

But it’s also become clear from Republicans’ weak questions and the tone of coverage on Fox News that Pruitt isn’t going to resign and Trump is less likely to fire him today than before the hearing. That doesn’t mean we’re giving up – it means it’s up to Congress to fire him, just as our petition asks.

I’ll be heading back to DC in 2 weeks to participate in another FOE-lead rally at the EPA, and we’ll have more surprises for Pruitt and team. Again, if you can, please chip in to support our travel and logistical costs (Drew helped recruit, transport and house several people for the action at the hearing, and will plan to do so again in May.)

What’s it all about?

Both actions this week had a similar theme: Confronted with a Trump administration that denies climate science and does the bidding of the Fossil Fuel industry, we need local leaders and Congressional Climate Hawks to take bold action on climate change.

But too often we get climate peacocks like Cuomo: politicians who talk a good game about how they care about climate change and support renewable energy, but also “frack us in the back” to quote Lee Z from Sane Energy at the Albany action. It’s the same story in Congress, where more than 140 lawmakers from BOTH parties have called on Pruitt to resign, but not one of them, yet, has introduced binding legislation to remove him or called for his impeachment.

That’s why we use digital tools to support direct action campaigns. By raising the stakes – with a sit in outside Cuomo’s office and standing up in an impeachment t-shirt at Pruitt’s hearing – we demand more than talk from our leaders, and we show that we’re not going to be placated with happy talk about solar power or “believing in climate change.” And by broadcasting these actions online, and providing ways for you to sign on in support with internet petitions, call in actions, and more – we expand the reach of those actions and share the stories that inspire us with a much larger audience.

Just like at the Albany action, where activists were literally and figuratively tied together by their stories, 198 methods uses digital tools to tie our direct actions for the climate together with a bigger, more powerful community. 

If you value that connection, or want Drew to keep traveling to more actions (maybe in your town next time!) to deliver support, risk what others cannot, and bring you back recordings, live streams and online actions you can take in solidarity – please chip in to support our work.

Earth Week should be about real climate leadership

walk the talk on climateYesterday was Earth Day, and I’m sure you’re getting a million emails asking for money to “Save the Planet” and “stop the pipeline.” There are a lot of awesome groups out there doing great work, and I hope you support a few of them.

This email is a little different. It’s longer, for one thing, but that’s not what matters. What makes 198 methods different (we hope) is our approach. We use digital tools to support direct action campaigns that can really shift the paradigm on climate – moments when by upping the ante just a little bit, we think we can turn the tables on the whole fossil fuel industry.

There are two important examples this week that we’re supporting. Can you chip in to support us while we do? Here’s what we’re doing, because actions speak louder than words:

First, in Albany: We’re supporting the Cuomo Walk the Talk action. Even if you’re not from new York, it’s worth paying attention to – because it’s the latest in a series of campaigns including the occupation of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office a few weeks ago, and the Brown’s Last chance campaign we’re supporting. All three (and lots of other great work) are aimed at getting Democrats who claim to be climate leaders to really step up. They also all have a common demand: 100% renewable energy, a ban on all fossil fuel infrastructure (especially fracked gas pipelines), and making polluters pay for wrecking our climate.

By Democratic Governors in multiple states like this, there’s a real chance to raise the bar on what it means to be a “climate hawk”. And that’s absolutely essential in this moment. With climate chaos intensifying all around us – Climate disasters cost $307 billion in 2017, more than the entire Republican tax scam and more than $4000/US family of four – It’s no longer enough to “support” renewables or “believe in climate change.” Real leaders in 2018 need to be taking bold actions to stop taking carbon out of the ground, stop transporting it to locations it can be burned, and start a massive and wholistic overhaul of our energy economy.

Tomorrow’s Cuomo Walk the Talk action could be the biggest milestone yet. It promises to be the biggest climate march in Albany’s history. And it lands at a really powerful moment when Cuomo is facing a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, who has a much more progressive platform on climate and clean energy, and has already rejected all donations from the fossil fuel industry. I’ve spent all day at the action camp planning a direct action component to this peaceful, powerful march and rally, and it’s going to be amazing.

Even better – if it works, Cuomo could be convinced to take one of the strongest stands on climate action in America, while he’s governor of one of the biggest states in America, and while he’s considering running for President of the United States Of America in 2020 (or as soon as we impeach Trump, read on). There are Two ways you can support this action:

  1. Follow the Hashtag #CuomoWalkthetalk starting at ~12pm Eastern tomorrow, April 22
  2. Check out the Facebook page for updates as well, Drew will post and share several live updates from the March, rally and the Direct Action.
  3. Chip in to support our work – after we cover the cost of the action (like our travel and food costs) we’ll donate all of it to the legal defense fund and local frontline groups in New York.

Cuomo walk the talk

That’s the most urgent news, but maybe not the biggest news this week.

Pruitt to testify April 26. More than 200,000 of us have already signed on to a petition demanding Scott Pruitt be fired for his corrupt, disastrous leadership of the EPA. Now there’s a new report out from the Government Accountability Office that Pruitt’s $43,000 booth actually broke the law. It’s just the latest in a series of scandals that could finally sink his leadership of the EPA, and deny Trump a key surrogate that he was grooming to help him end Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

This Thursday, Pruitt is scheduled to testify to a House Committee about that, and all his other scandals. I’ll be there along with Friends from Beyond Extreme Energy, Friends of the Earth and dozens of other partners. But it wont just be a standard DC rally:

We’re using Pruitt’s presence on the Hill to turn up the heat on Congressional Democrats, in particular – especially ones who claim to care about climate change and the EPA. For too long, these climate peacocks have sent letters expressing their “concern” or “demanding answers” from Pruitt about his outrageous spending, and even more-outrageous attacks on our environment and public health. But even as they’ve called him out and trumpeted their ‘resistance’ to Trump’s agenda, many of those same elected members of Congress have voted to confirm Trump’s cabinet — from Pruitt in 2017 to new climate-denying NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine last week. Not to mention the FERC commissioners who were confirmed on the same day as our action asking Democrats to lead on this issue last year.

Instead of more letters expressing concern, climate leaders in Congress should demand Pruitt be fired right now – and move to impeach him if Trump won’t do it. It’s the same basic process as impeaching a President to Impeach a member of his cabinet – and now that the GAO confirms Pruitt has committed a crime, it’s great practice as well!

That’s why later this week i’ll be in DC to support partners and allies taking action to Demand Congress do more than talk – that they actually take action by impeaching Pruitt.

I’ll send another update later this week with a wrap up on the Albany action and more ways to support the #FirePruitt day of action. For now, if you want to support our work:

  1. follow the #FirePruitt hashtag on social media
  2. Sign and share the petition, if you haven’t already.
  3. And chip in to support all our work.

You see the pattern: We need elected officials to do more than Talk: We need bold action to block Trumps nominees, ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, make polluters pay and move immediately towards a just transition to 100% Renewable energy. And this week, that’s what we’re all about.

Tell Cuomo to Walk the Talk on Climate

In a time of record-shattering hurricanes, with Congress bought and sold by the fossil fuel industry, and FERC continuing to act as a rubber stamp for the gas industry —  many of us are looking to states and cities to fight climate change. But real leadership is hard to find. Take New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: he talks a good game on climate action – but we need more than words.

In the words of Bonnie Tyler, we need a hero: an elected leaders who’s fast, strong, and fresh from the fight against fossil fuels. Specifically, we need Governors like Cuomo who commit to the following 3 demands:

  • Stop all fracking infrastructure projects.
  • Move to 100% renewable energy.
  • Make corporate polluters pay.

That’s why on April 23rd, we’re teaming up with allies from across New York in Albany to tell Governor Cuomo to walk the talk on climate. There has never been a climate march this big at the Capitol in Albany, and free buses are available from across the region. All we’re missing is you! RSVP now to join us in Albany on April 23rd.


Governor Cuomo says he’s a “leader” on climate change; that it is “gross negligence” not to address climate change; and that he’s taken “decisive action.” But for all his talk, only 3% of New York’s electricity comes from wind and solar and fracked gas pipelines and power plants are being built across the state. We’ve stood many times before with allies at the Sane Energy Project, We Are Seneca Lake, STOP AIM, and other New York Groups. Now, those groups are asking us to stand with them as they take action in Albany

So, this Earth Day, it’s time for Governor Cuomo to walk his talk by:

  1. Stop all fracked gas infrastructure, including pipelines, power plants, and compressor stations. They poison local communities, and further shackle New York to decades more of dirty fossil fuels. If it’s dangerous to frack in New York, then it’s just as bad to import fracked gas from neighboring states.
  2. Move rapidly to 100% renewable energy, with a just transition that creates thousands of good, union jobs, and ensures resources are prioritized to those communities most vulnerable to climate change, especially low-income and communities of color. If Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey can commit to 100%, then so should Cuomo.
  3. Make corporate polluters pay for the pollution they dump into our atmosphere, which damages our health and destabilizes our climate. Then use the money to fund an equitable transition to 100% renewables.

We have the power to make all three of these things happen in New York, but it’s going to take absolutely all of us. RSVP today to join us in Albany for what will be the biggest climate march in our capital ever by our growing movement.

The event will start with an energetic, family friendly march to the Capitol and then pack the building with our collective power. I’ll also be working with some friends to participate in a civil disobedience action. More details on the day of the march will be available soon — RSVP at the link above to get all the details.

Brave climate leadership isn’t going to come from Washington. It’s going to come from us, if we step up and make our Governor work for the people and the climate. See you on April 23rd in Albany!

Back to FERC with new demands

After almost a year without a quorum, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is back to it’s rubber-stamping ways with four new Trump appointees (three of them Republicans).

Since getting their quorum back, FERC has approved new pipelines, and considered several plans to subsidize coal, gas and nuclear over renewable energy. Thankfully, the rejected a ham-handed attempt by Secretary of (oops) Energy Rick Perry to charge ratepayers billions to subsidize the dirtiest energy in our electric grid. But, despite some groups already declaring victory, FERC’s rejection of Sec. Perry’s plan was not a repudiation of the concept.

And now, there’s a new threat: More than three months ago, FERC’s chairman said he wanted to re-examine the process by which FERC considers and (almost always) approves pipelines. Since then, FERC has been silent on how this review will work, and how the public can participate. But we got a clue to their thinking on March 15 when a three member majority — Chairman McIntyre and Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, all Republicans appointed by Trump — Signaled their intention to crack down on the number of people and groups allowed to formally intervene in pipeline applications. In fact, they specifically called out our allies at the Delaware River Keeper Network and warned them that “going forward…we will be less lenient in the grant of late interventions.” Commissioners LaFleur and Glick, both Democrats, dissented and expressed “serious concerns … particularly as it would apply to landowners and community organizations that lack sufficient resources to keep up with every docket.” But, as we warned Congress last year, their votes are not enough to matter.

Put simply, the three brand new Republicans at FERC, every one of them appointed by Trump, could be about to radically reduce public participation as part of a plan to ram through new fracked gas pipelines. Fortunately, our friends at BXE, Delaware River Keeper Network, and others are headed to FERC this week with a pre-emptive list of demands. They’ll be meeting with one of those Democratic FERC commissioners, and we hope the can hatch a plan together that will delay or disrupt this pipeline review.

Stop FERCSign here and we’ll deliver your comments in person on April 5 to one of the FERC commissioners.

FERC’s pipeline review protocols were last updated in a 1999 Pipeline Policy Statement  — well before the fracking boom. And while we don’t trust FERC to listen to the public or experts on climate, pollution, land rights, and other issues, the pipeline review gives us an opportunity to define what a functioning Federal Energy Regulator could look like.

With that in mind, our friends have put together a multi-point plan calling on FERC to hold no less than six public hearings in affected communities across the nation, as well as engaging in a robust and truly public comment period (not their usual sham). This week, allies will meet face to face with one of the FERC commissioners to deliver the list of demands, AND your comments. But you only have until Wednesday to sign on so we have time to deliver your name and comment! Click here to sign on to the list of demands below. Or click here to read the whole, longer letter with more footnotes and references.

Minimal reforms to the FERC process must include:

Dear FERC Commissioners

As a federal agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a duty to respect the law and respect the people of the United States of America. As citizens and residents who have experienced and witnessed the FERC decision making process and been impacted by its biased outcomes, we find FERC wanting in these obligations.

FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre announced on December 21, 2017 that FERC would be reviewing both its 1999 Pipeline Policy Statement and its policies on certification of natural gas pipelines. And yet, over three months later, we have no idea how, when or even if this review is actually proceeding and to what degree, if any, the public will be given the opportunity to be involved.

Given that we are unaware of when or how the public can and should give input into this review process, we are taking the liberty of ensuring our voices are heard by volunteering our demands with regards to this review process and the reforms that must come out of it.

  1. It is time that FERC Implement a Pipeline Review Process that Prioritizes the Public Interest Over the Goals of the Pipeline Industry. This Means Giving Proper Priority (i.e. Highest Priority) to People, the Environment, Protection Against Climate Changing Emissions and Protection of Future Generations in Both the FERC Review and Decision-making.
  2. Review and Reform of FERC’s Pipeline Review Process Must Begin with a Series of No Less than Six Public Hearings Held in Affected Communities, and 90 Days for Written Comment, So FERC Can Learn How the Current Process Is Failing and the Public Interest Reforms that Are Needed.
  3. FERC Must Mandate a Legitimate Demonstration of “Need” for a Proposed Pipeline/Infrastructure Project that is Verified by Unbiased Experts, Is Not Comprised of Contracts to Supply Gas to the Pipeline Company Itself or Any of Its Business Counterparts, and Is Not/Cannot be Supplied by Renewable or Existing Energy Sources.
  4. There Must Be a Prohibition on FERC Issuing (a) Certificates of Public Convenience or Necessity, (b) Notices to Proceed with Any Aspect of Construction, Including Tree Felling, and/or (c) Approval for Exercise of Eminent Domain, Until Such Time as an Infrastructure Project Has Secured All State, Federal and/or Regional Permits, Dockets and/or Approvals. This Includes a Prohibition on Conditional FERC Certificates.
  5. FERC Must End Its Strategic Practice of Failing to Affirmatively Grant or Deny Rehearing Requests, But Instead Issue Responses that Provide FERC More Time for Consideration (i.e. a Tolling Order), and as a Result Prevent Pipeline Challengers from Bringing a Legal Challenge in the Courts while FERC Grants the Pipeline Company the Power of Eminent Domain and Approval for Construction.
  6. FERC Must Prohibit the Practice of Hiring Third-Party Consultants to Assist in the FERC Review Process who Have Any Business Contracts (Past, Present or Future) with a Pipeline Company Seeking FERC Approval, and Must Prohibit FERC Commissioners or FERC Staff from Working on or Deciding upon Any Pipeline or Infrastructure Project in which They or a Family Member Have a Direct or Indirect Financial or Employment Interest.
  7. FERC Must End the Practice of Using Segmentation, Allowing Pipeline Companies to Break Up Projects into Smaller Segments in Order to Undermine a Full and Accurate Review of Community and Environmental Impacts.
  8. FERC Must Commit to a Full and Fair Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, Including Full and Fair Evaluation of Climate Change Impacts; Induced Fracking/Drilling Operations; Costs of Construction, Operation and Maintenance (not Just Benefits); Health and Safety Impacts; the Full Array of Community, Business and Environmental Impacts that Will Result; and that All Inaccurate, Missing, False or Misleading Data and/or Information Identified by FERC and/or Public Commenters Are Fully, Completely and Accurately Addressed.
  9. FERC Must End the Practice of Allowing Pipeline Companies to Secure a 14% Rate of Return on Equity on All New Pipeline Projects In Order to Ensure the Public Does Not Bear the Burden of Flawed Projects and to Ensure that FERC Does not Incentivize Inappropriate and/or Unwarranted Pipeline/Infrastructure Construction.

In conclusion, if FERC is serious about wanting a full, fair, and properly informed decision-making process for fracked gas pipelines, compressors, LNG export, storage and related infrastructure projects, it will commit to the process and substantive asks laid out in this letter.

Together, we can take action to disrupt or delay FERC’s pipeline review process. And if we succeed, we can create some space for communities on the frontlines fighting frackged gas pipelines to demand changes and a stop to construction. But only if we act fast, and together with our allies.

Sign here and we’ll deliver your comments in person on April 5 to one of the FERC commissioners. We’ll also keep you updated about our plans for a massive mobilization at FERC later this spring, and more ways you can get involved and support us!

PS – got a pipeline fighting group or local organization that wants to endorse the letter? You can sign on as an organization (instead of an individual) here.

Gas Pipeline image from National Parks Conservation Association

Not Guilty by necessity in West Roxbury

Earlier today (March 27) 13 defendants went into the west Roxbury District courthouse to answer charges related to their arrests protesting the West Roxbury (Mass) Lateral Pipeline.

We expected to have charges against them reduced to civil infractions — the equivalent of a parking ticket. While finding no grounds to deny that motion from the prosecution, the judge chose to let each defendant testify on the necessity of their actions. The defendants collectively presented a powerful and comprehensive argument for why they had a necessity to engage in civil disobedience to stop the imminent local and global harms of this fracked gas pipeline. Following their testimony, the judge acquitted ALL the defendants by reason of necessity.

While defendants were still denied a jury trial and the possibility of a full necessity defense, this was the first time (that we know of to date) that defendants were acquitted based on climate necessity. Since then the defendants have had a celebratory lunch together, and met to talk about next steps and future struggles.

We’ll have audio from the courtroom as soon as it’s available (in a few days), but in the meantime Climate Disobedience Center would love your help sharing this news:

  1. Join us tomorrow at 7pm for a live online discussion! Invite your friends and family to join us and learn more.
  2. Share this Facebook live video of all the defendants and their legal team on the steps of the courthouse just after the verdict.
  3. Or share this Twitter video about the same.

You can also read more about this campaign, the defendants and the necessity defense at the Climate Disobedience site here – they’re awesome.

photo by @Peter_Bowden

Sign now: Climate on trial in West Roxbury

In the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Spectra Energy was building a fracked-gas pipeline off of their existing AIM pipeline. Beginning in October of 2015, Resist The Pipeline began a campaign of climate disobedience, getting in the way of active pipeline construction.

The campaign grew, and eventually 198 people (Serendipity much?) were arrested over the course of a year. Starting March 27, 12 of those defendants, including our friend and Climate Disobedience Center co-founder Tim DeChristopher and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics of at Union Theological Seminary Karenna Gore (daughter of Al) are going to trial.

The activists are committed to mounting a climate necessity defense, arguing that they had no reasonable alternative to putting themselves in the path of the pipeline’s construction. If the jury is allowed to decide whether the defendants’ actions were necessary in order to prevent a greater harm, we’ll have a legal precedent that communities across the country can use in their own resistance to pipelines and other infrastructure.

But mounting a necessity defense isn’t easy, and these activists need our help. I’ll be traveling to Boston later this month to support them at trial, and YOU can help support by signing on at this page. If you do, Climate Disobedience will send you updates and information about the trial.

Activists like Tim and Karenna stood up in front of construction equipment and laid themselves down in the path of destruction. Now, they will stand up for us all in court.

They will tell the jury why their actions were not only justified, but also necessary: the community and their elected leaders fought this pipeline through the regulatory process for years – striking out in appeals with agencies we know well like FERC. But when the system is broken, it takes a sustained campaign of resistance like this to stop destruction. These activists hoped not only to protect their community in West Roxbury, but to spark our collective moral imagination and empower communities to build resistance against pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure everywhere.

This will be the first climate necessity case in the United States in two years, and climate champions and experts, including Bill McKibben and Dr. James Hansen, are planning to testify to make the case that we are in an emergency, and emergency measures – even if they break existing law – are justified in order to prevent a greater harm.

We expect the trial to last up to four days, and we hope you will join us in the courtroom for one or more of those days. Click here to sign on in support of the West Roxbury Climate trial

PS. – To support the trial with expert witnesses, social media and more, Climate Disobedience needs to raise $7,500. We’re almost there, but could use a few more donations before March 27 when the trial starts. You can chip in and support them here (and tell them 198 methods sent ya!)

PPS. – The West Roxbury 12 are Tim DeChristopher, Callista Womick, Dave Publow, Karenna Gore, Nora Collins, Diane Martin, Nathan Phillips, Brown Pulliam, Mike Bucci, Warren Senders, Patricia Martin, and Cathy Hoffman. If you’re able to attend the trial in West Roxbury for a day RSVP here, and share about the trial on Facebook.

 

Last week before comments go BOEM!

I recorded a short video to explain what we’ve been doing for the last 50+ days as part of the comment on the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) comment period on the Trump administration’s proposal to open more than 90% of US Coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling. I wanted to explain what we’ve been doing for two reasons: the first is that there’s still time to submit a comment to BOEM (before March 9, 2018), and we’ve got a new way for you to do it that ensures you comment gets heard when you submit it through this super cool new action portal we set up with friends. The second reason is that this is a really great example of the kind of work 198 methods does, how we’re different from other environmental groups, and why it matters.

A quick recap

Early this year, Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Interior Secretary, announced a new plan that would open more than 90% of US coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. It’s a really really bad plan, since offshore oil drilling always leads to more spills and accidents.And if anything, Trump’s other actions to roll back protections for the environment and worker safety will make accidents even MORE likely. Plus, there’s simply no way to manage the decline of fossil fuels and create the 100% renewable powered economy we need to stop climate change if we open up millions of new acres to offshore drilling. Which is why the Obama administration just banned all drilling off the Atlantic and pacific coasts 2 years ago after a HUGE public comment period in which more than 3 million people, dozens of governors, hundreds of mayors and just about everyone who lives along the coast clearly said #NoDrilling. Loads more footnotes and references in this pst from early in the comment period. As usual for this White House, the rollout was chaotic and ham-handed, and the whole thing may not even be legal because Zinke tried to exempt just the state of Florida as an explicit political favor to Governor Rick Scott who wants to run for US Senate. More on that later.

Our plan in action

BOEM is required by law to hold a 60 day public comment period on any new offshore drilling plan like this. But it was clear from the rollout, and from Zinke & Trump’s past actions, that they weren’t going to be talked out of drilling just because a majority of Americans oppose it. Which brings us to the first part of our plan: We didn’t just want you to comment online – though more than 14,000 of you did, and that’s awesome – we wanted to deliver the comments through direct action speak outs at the hearings, and that’s just what we did. Drew got up on a chair and shouted down the Columbia SC BOEM hearing, earning him a mention in the Washington Post. We did a similar action a few weeks later in Raleigh NC with friends from NC APPPL, who we’ve been working with to fight the pipeline. And once it got going, we weren’t alone: There were public disruptions and refusals to play along with BOEM’s process at hearings in Washington DC, New Jersey, and lots of other places. One of my favorite’s was the action in Rhode Island where our friend and frequent ally Tim DeChristopher, succeeded in turning the whole hearing on its head with citizen after citizen getting on a literal soap-box to speak out about offshore drilling and (eventually) dragging the BOEM staff into a debate on the issues.

Why we did it and why it works

All of which brings me back to why I wanted 198 to work on offshore drilling plan in the first place, and how your actions with us really make a difference: First – It’s about an important concept in Gene Sharp’s writings and teachings called ‘withholding consent’. When we fight climate change, we’re fighting a really BIG system. It involves money and power at a lot of different levels. Fundamentally, it’s also an autocratic system – meaning it’s accountable to a ruling elite, not to the people or the planet. At 198 methods, we’re convinced that fighting climate change requires a specifically anti-authoritarian approach. Like what we did at the BOEM hearings: by standing up speaking out in ways that BOEM didn’t condone (and threatened to throw us out or shut down the hearings over) we put the staff of this administrative agency in a bind. We’re asking them to consciously choose NOT to do their jobs, if that’s what it takes, in order to stop the greater harms of offshore drilling. We’re demonstrating, in a really physical, in-your-face way, that there will be a reckoning — we know most of the people are commenting in opposition to offshore drilling. We know that the consequences of this offshore drilling plan will threaten us all through climate chaos, oil spills and more. And we’re asking them to pick a side: with us or with the polluters. Second – It’s about inspiring people who are already part of the process to realize they have more power than just typing a comment into a laptop — including our allies in groups like the Sierra Club and Oceana that did not support our efforts to stand up and disrupt the hearings in advance. I noted after the SC hearing that I saw a lot of groups advocating a sort of NIMBY (Not In My backyard) strategy. Basically, they were trying to convince BOEM to give them the same exemption Zinke gave Florida (which, again, may not hold up in court). They did this either through explicit argument, like by siting the value of their coastal tourism economies, for example; Or through an implicitly political argument, like by having lots of Republicans or state-wide officials testify that they are opposed to drilling, which helps make the argument that Trump & Co. will lose support in the mid-term elections if they push forward with the plan. But I think that’s the wrong approach for two reasons: one, as outlined below, it fails to move the media narrative and focusses attention on our weakest and least reliable partners. More importantly, it uses a NIMBY argument when what we need is a NIABY argument – Not in ANYBODY’s Back Yard. We don’t just want to ban offshore drilling in South Carolina, or California, or in places that have Republican Governor’s, or in places with coastal tourism: We want to ban offshore drilling – ALL of it – because it’s way to dangerous for our communities and our planet. Third – It’s about inspiring everyone who’s not part of the process yet. Two years ago, more than 3 million people and hundreds of academics, researchers, churches, and all kinds of organizations commented in opposition to offshore drilling (all of it). Obama responded by banning drilling off the Atlantic and mainland US Pacific coasts, but allowed it to continue in the “sacrifice zones” of the Gulf of Mexico and much of Alaska. That was basically what the conventional wisdom in the media expected, and so it was ‘enough’ to turn out lots and lots of comments so that Obama would feel empowered to do that. But there is no conventional wisdom for what Trump is doing. He’s already given away more land to fossil fuels, and more brazenly, than anyone imagined a few years ago. And, dazzled by the sheer, crazy, deluge of horribleness, the main stream media (like that Washington post story) default to covering this as a ‘normal’ political story where there are people for drilling, and people against it, and BOEM is a sort of neutral mediator. To stop Trump and team’s plan we need to be bigger, more powerful, and reach more people. That means working outside of the conventional wisdom of what works in the media and political wisdom. We can’t wait for Trump to come to his senses, or be satisfied with incremental NIIMBY victories any longer. Honestly, it will probably mean more of us lining up on roads and paddling our kayaks in front of drilling rigs to stop them. That’s movement building work – not lobbying and media work. And to inspire people, a LOT of people to rise up against big authoritarian power of the petro-state as represented by this offshore drilling plan, we need to inspire people. And that, fundamentally, is why we do digitally supported direct actions JUST LIKE THIS! Look, there are enough of us, in America, to stop offshore drilling, reverse climate change and build the 100% renewable fossil free world we need. What’s more, we’ll all have more jobs, more money, more political power and more control over our daily lives when we do.  What’s holding us back is the raw political power (fueled by money, fear, and a lot of other things) of the fossil fuel industry and their allies in power – like the Trump administration. but to mobilize those people, we need to show them that resistance is possible, that it works, that it feels good (if I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution) and most importantly that they have the power.

So, what next?

Glad you asked. First of all, if you liked our actions and the ideas in this post, please chip in to support us. If everybody who sent in a public comment with us gave $1.98, we’d have more than enough money to fund our entire operation for 6 months. Of Course, not everyone can donate, so if you’re in a position to give a little, please consider a weekly donation of $1.98, or a gift of $19.80 to support our ongoing work. Second – it’s not too late to submit your comment, and even if you already sent one in with us, or with another group, hang on and consider this new tool as well. Working with our friends at Daily Kos and Action Network, we’ve set up a new comment form that delivers your comments directly to the BOEM staff in charge of this docket. I’ll still deliver all the 14,000+ signatures you sent in through the in-person deliveries, and I’ll submit them as evidence before the March 9 deadline. But by also submitting a comment through this new form, you’ll essentially get two comments — and that can be really helpful for when our friends in the legal community go to court to challenge this rule. Being able to cite the fact that there were a LOT of comments, and also to pull out individual voices of opposition from the public record, will be really helpful. So, if you haven’t commented, please do so now. And if you already have, comment again!