25 People Arrested At DC's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Protesting Gas Infrastructure Projects
Nearly 100 activists temporarily shut down the office of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning in a nonviolent direct action, protesting the agency's work approving permits related to natural gas projects and facilities.
— Paulina Leonovich (@Polly_evro) November 3, 2014
At three entrances to FERC, activists blocked entrances by linking arms or sitting down in front. At the main entrance, organizers had installed a model town, "Blockadia," with protesters representing the town's people and prevented employees from entering the building. "The object of the blockade art is to give FERC no other option but to destroy the town and families in order to get to work," Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy Project of New York said.
Climate activists blocking entrances to #FERC HQ #FERCblockade pic.twitter.com/CiUVA59qye — Paulina Leonovich (@Polly_evro) November 3, 2014
Metropolitan Police arrested 25 people for multiple charges, and the lawyers are searching through the charges, Drew Hudson, Executive Director of Environment Action, told Latin Post. He said the main charge was "incommoding," which is like disturbing the peace but means sitting down and not moving when told to by police.
— OVEC_WV (@OVEC_WV) November 3, 2014
More than 50 organizations had endorsed the action and its 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.
— CQEnergy (@CQEnergy) November 3, 2014
"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," Hudson told Latin Post.
"The things 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 won't approve."
Organizers want all future FERC permits to consider the rights of human beings and all life on Earth, fully assess the cumulative harm from infrastructure projects on public health, local economies and the climate.
#Climate protesters block FERC driveway as DHS agents arrest them. Three arrests so far. pic.twitter.com/W6BAUqDb56 — john zangas (@johnzangas) November 3, 2014
Some of the activists had marched 3,000 miles across the U.S. for today's action visiting communities affected by fracking.
Today's arrests are just at the beginning of a week of actions directed at FERC from different groups affected by its decisions.
"This is a huge issue with voters right now. The best example is what we've seen this year is probably in Colorado. There was an agreement to put a ballot initiative that wouldn't have banned fracking but would have required health disclosures and rules [around fracking.] But at the last moment the Democratic leadership in the state, led by Mark Udall, pulled the [ballot] initiative off and people were furious," Hudson told Latin Post.
"That made them [voters] think differently about Democrats who they thought supported the environment. I am sure people in Colorado are making their voting decisions about broad factors, but this is certainly a sleeper issue."
Following Rebecca Myles on Twitter.