BXE Seeks Attention of FERC on Fossil Fuel Issues

by Duane Nichols on March 21, 2016

Fossil Fuels Issues Need National Attention

Activist Group Plans ‘Rebellion Against FERC’ For Fossil Fuel Work

From an Article by Sean Sullivan, S & P Global News, March 19, 2016

Above Photo: A crowd gathered in the cold near Wall Street on Friday to call for New York’s divestment from fossil fuels.

When it comes to stopping the permitting of natural gas pipelines and LNG terminals, some groups feel driven to drastic action. “The rebellion against FERC is one aimed at radically transforming how energy is produced, transported and used in this country,” Beyond Extreme Energy organizer Lee Stewart said.

Many groups that oppose fossil fuels in the U.S. to protect the environment and communities conduct their fight under rules laid down by FERC and federal law, challenging gas infrastructure in the commission’s review process for energy projects and afterward in federal court. But Beyond Extreme Energy and allied groups have said the rules do not work for opposition groups.

Turning to other methods, they have shouted at FERC meetings and organized a February campaign that delivered anti-gas messages to the homes of FERC commissioners. And they plan to increase such activities. Beyond Extreme Energy sees no penalty for breaking the rules if it is done without violence.

“The only negative consequence of disrupting business as usual at FERC is if we fail,” Stewart said in a March 11 email. “Business as usual at FERC is leading to the destruction of communities and the climate.”

Stewart does not regret posting commissioner’s addresses on the Web in the February campaign, called the FERC Valentine Project. “As one of our supporters said in response to criticism of BXE for peacefully delivering flowers and Valentines to the commissioners’ homes: ‘It would seem it’s all right for the corporations to show up at your house, cut your trees, dig up your yard and pollute the planet, but it would be a shame to annoy the commissioners,’” Stewart said.

“The urgency of the climate crisis and the need to protect front-line communities’ health and well-being means that nonviolent direct action is an essential component of Beyond Extreme Energy’s work,” he said.

FERC has stayed silent on the Valentine Project, but in response to earlier protests, Chairman Norman Bay increased security at meetings and, with other commission officials, encouraged stakeholders to use public comment opportunities in the permitting process rather than take direct action. And FERC continues to operate across all its missions, including granting certificates to gas projects.

From the point of view of Beyond Extreme Energy, however, the protests and the Valentines are having an effect at FERC. Stewart said commissioners are being asked to respond to issues raised by pipeline opponents. He pointed to a February interview with Bloomberg Markets in which Bay was asked about people disrupting commission meetings.

“His response was less than satisfying — he reasserted the legality of FERC’s actions — but just the fact he was asked these kinds of questions, and is being asked more regularly, shows our movement is gaining ground and will soon start to see more tangible results,” Stewart said.

‘Transcend what is politically feasible’

Some observers, including former FERC Commissioner Marc Spitzer, have said groups like Beyond Extreme Energy are making a mistake when they aim their protests at FERC. The commission is required by the Natural Gas Act to permit energy infrastructure that can demonstrate a need and that can meet environmental and safety standards. Instead, he said, the groups could try to make changes in Congress that turn the country away from fossil fuels. But Congress is as unresponsive as FERC, Stewart said.

“Change in the United States comes when massive movements rise up to challenge business as usual,” Stewart said. “Because Congress is unresponsive to the people, it would be wrong to limit ourselves to those things which are politically feasible. We must transcend what is politically feasible and instead do what is necessary. Our lives and livelihoods are threatened by the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction and use. It’s absolutely necessary that fossil fuels, including fracked gas, be kept in the ground, both from a climate perspective and an environmental justice perspective.

“It is also absolutely necessary that FERC stop issuing permits for fracked gas infrastructure,” he said. “The exact mechanisms that will make this happen are less important than building a movement with enough power to make the demand impossible to ignore.”


Beyond Extreme Energy supports other groups such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network that are challenging FERC in Congress and the courts, Stewart said. Stewart’s group wants to build alliances with other groups and “collaborative, strategic action-planning.”

“It’s about building collective power,” Stewart said.

The FERC Valentine Project was an example of this kind of collaboration, the activist said. Beyond Extreme Energy worked on the campaign with groups in New England, where Spectra Energy Corp and Kinder Morgan Inc. are developing pipeline projects. Many more campaigns will come, he said. Beyond Extreme Energy and other groups are planning one called the Rubber Stamp Rebellion from May 16 to May 20.

“Not only will we confront FERC commissioners in Washington, D.C., but we will also challenge the industry it works for in multiple locations around the country,” Stewart said.

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Building a Movement to Address the Fossil Fuel Issues

“The exact mechanisms that will make this happen are less important than building a movement with enough power to make the demand impossible to ignore.”
–– Beyond Extreme Energy organizer Lee Stewart

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Sunrise News March 26, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Decision on Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Lancaster County delayed until as late as January 2017

From an Article by Ad Crable, Lancaster PA Online, March 23, 2016

A decision on the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project through Lancaster County in Pennsylvania has been delayed and may not happen until January of 2017.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision — on whether to allow the project or not — isn’t expected until between October 21, 2016 and January 19, 2017 the agency says.

That’s later than the project’s builder, Williams Partners, had hoped for the $3 billion, 198-mile project. The pipeline will transport gas fracked in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to markets along the Atlantic Coast and abroad.

In Lancaster County, where the project has faced bitter opposition in some areas, the pipeline would cross 36.5 miles in a 50-foot-wide swath. It passes through mostly farms and forest land.

County residents and groups have submitted more than 1,000 letters to the commission. So far, some 60 changes have been made to the pipeline’s route since it was announced in 2014.

Despite the delay, Williams officials on Tuesday reasserted their intent to pursue the project. They also are not deterred by the recent downturn in Marcellus Shale gas production. The company’s shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange was down about 67 percent Tuesday, from its one-year high of $59.44 last May.

“We are very much committed to the project,” said Chris Stockton, spokesman for Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams, which owns and operates the largest pipeline networks in the country.

“Projects like the Atlantic Sunrise are not developed based on short-term commodity prices, but instead take the long-term, bigger-picture view of the changing supply dynamic in the U.S.”

Stockton said the delay in a decision “reflects that FERC is conducting a very thorough analysis of the project.” He said binding agreements with nine companies that had committed to using the proposed pipeline are still intact.

As for the considerable decrease in rigs working the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania because of cheap prices for gas, Stockton said efficiencies in the industry mean the Marcellus play is still the largest in the country, even with fewer rigs.

“The biggest problem is the region doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure to connect Pennsylvania gas production with other consuming markets,” Stockton observed. That’s what the Atlantic Sunrise project is meant to correct, he said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it would release its Environmental Impact Statement on the Atlantic Sunrise project on October 21.

The commission said major issues posed by the pipeline that surfaced and will be addressed in the document include potential impacts on forested areas, groundwater and threatened species; socio-economic impacts; land use and recreational impacts; air quality; safety; potential cumulative impacts; and potential alternative routes.

The commission has said it would hold public meetings in certain communities after the release of the Environmental Impact Statement and before it issues a ruling.

Malinda Clatterbuck, a Martic Township resident and co-founder of the Martic Save Our Unspoiled Land grassroots citizens group that formed to oppose the gas pipeline, said the delay was an encouraging development.

Clatterbuck said the delay possibly indicates that issues raised by opponents “require research and investigation.” According to her, the delay may also be a sign of recognition that the county is a unique space “for prime agriculture that needs to be preserved and protected” and for “the strong cultural heritage of our farmers and the Amish communities that flourish here.”

With the county already having some of the “poorest air quality in the state,” Clatterbuck said, “it would not benefit from any more trees being felled for any reason.”

“We will keep writing letters and calling attention to our opposition to the line — the greatest being the clear exploitation of the land and our community rights, pushing private gain over the original and true definition of eminent domain — that is, for the good of the people,” she said.

Source: http://lancasteronline.com/content/tncms/live/


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