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Veterans Shut Down Offices of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

First Posted: Nov 06, 2014 08:20 PM EST
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Thirty-five military veterans and activists held a silent vigil and "die in" to obstruct the entrances of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday morning.

It is the fourth morning environmental activists conducted civil disobedience during a week of action protesting the work of the agency that fast tracks permits for natural gas compressors and processing facilities associated with the oil and gas industry.

Thursday's action was led by Veterans For Peace (VP) and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), and coincided with the United Nations Day of Observance on War and the Environment.

"The Pentagon is the single biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the entire world," said Ellen Barfield, army veteran, and member of VFP and NCNR, in a statement. "So protesting climate change and extreme energy recovery at drilling sites and so-called regulatory agencies is not enough. War, even just training for it, is, of course, massively destructive and wasteful. War is bad for the environment."

Barfield added, "[Fracked] gas ... is being used as an economic weapon by the Obama administration, threatening Russian gas exports to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines. As is so often the case with tensions between the U.S. and other countries, the Ukrainian crisis has roots in resources and market competition."

We contacted FERC for comment on the actions this week. The agency's spokeswoman Mary O'Driscroll said they had no comment.

More than 50 organizations endorsed the actions and the demands. Protesters said they've had enough of FERC rubber-stamping fracking infrastructure projects across in their communities including pipeline, gas storage under lakes, compressor stations and fracked gas exports facilities.

They have specific demands of FERC which include withdrawing the permit for fracked gas export facility at Cove Point, Maryland, as well as recent gas permits at Myersville, Minisink, and New York's Seneca Lake. Plus they are calling for a stop to all fracked gas export facilities and other fracked gas infrastructure. Many of these facilities are being planned in rural suburbs and picturesque areas not the typical industrial areas.

"This is one of the interesting things about the Fracking boom and the untold story of Fracking in America. I think the main one is the well sites in places like Pennsylvania brought to us by the documentary 'Gasland.' But FERC's job is to approve all the other stuff whether a pipeline, compressor station, or export facility that gets the gas essentially from the well to where it will be sold for heat or power or whatever the end use is," Drew Hudson, executive director of Environment Action, told Latin Post.

Hudson added, "The things [that] are going through almost everyone's backyard we think of as environmental sacrifices. There is a fight going on over a fracking pipeline in Western area of Vermont, near Burlington, not a typical industrial development site, but a scenic place. But they have to move the gas to where the market is so they are pushing these things through. FERC has developed this reputation of never saying no and have yet to meet a project that they won't approve."

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