SEPTEMBER FAST AT FERC FOR NO NEW PERMITS
Beyond Extreme Energy has decided to organize a long-term, water-only “Fast for No New Permits” this September in front of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We are undertaking this action in support of the call in Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Laudato Si,” for action on the climate crisis commensurate with its seriousness. As he says in the encyclical: “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
The fast would begin on September 8, the day after Labor Day, and go until the end of September, until after Pope Francis has ended his six-day trip to the United States.
Serious fasts have been undertaken by social movements for many decades. Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Dave Dellinger and Bobby Sands are the most well-known practitioners of this way of taking action against injustice.
Fasting—also described as hunger striking—is usually undertaken after less drastic and more traditional forms of action, such as leafletting, petitioning, meetings, vigils and demonstrations, have failed to move the person or institution being targeted. Fasting is a way to dramatize the urgency of the demands of the movement and to draw attention to the intransigence of those being called upon to change.
FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has proven itself to be intransigent. For years local citizens groups and other groups, including but certainly not limited to Beyond Extreme Energy, have utilized FERC’s procedures to try to prevent the dramatic expansion of gas pipelines, compressor stations, storage terminals and export terminals. We have signed up to be official “intervenors” in proposed gas infrastructure expansion proposals. We have submitted well-reasoned comments to the FERC website. Large numbers of people have signed petitions and submitted them on specific projects, in some cases in the hundreds of thousands. We have mobilized hundreds of people many times and in many places to FERC-organized local public meetings. Over 100,000 people signed a petition calling upon FERC to change in the winter of 2014. We have met three times with the Chair of FERC to present our demands. Over 100 people have been arrested in nonviolent actions in front of FERC’s DC headquarters. Twice in the last year Beyond Extreme Energy has organized week-long, nonviolent blockades of the entrances to FERC, disrupting FERC’s operations and reaching out to FERC employees urging them to speak up about FERC’s corruption by the gas industry. For eight straight months we have attended the monthly meetings of the five FERC Commissioners to raise our concerns, often leading to our being physically removed from the meetings and, now, to our being banned from them. But the permits to expand fracked gas infrastructure just keep coming. FERC continues to be a rubber stamp for the US fracked gas industry and their plans to expand their operations worldwide.
Fracking is a threat to people and the planet. The process of hydraulic fracturing of shale rock often contaminates nearby water, air and land and leads to earthquakes. It generates significant methane emissions which, as a greenhouse gas at least 85 times more powerful than CO2 over the first 20 years after it is emitted, dangerously accelerates the heating up of the earth. And gas infrastructure is a threat to the health and safety of those living or working close to it.
FERC must stop rubber-stamping gas industry permit applications and change the way it operates. FERC must prioritize the emergence of wind, solar and other renewables above fossil fuels. We say: No New Permits!
For some of us who have for the last year been focused on FERC, this fast has a deeply personal, spiritual dimension. It was best articulated by Cesar Chavez in his life and death fight to create the United Farm Workers in California in the late sixties: “This fast is first and foremost personal. It is something that I feel compelled to do. It is directed at myself. It is a fast for the purification of my own body, mind and soul. The fast is also the heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all of us, for myself, and for all those who work beside me in the farmworkers’ movement. It is a fervent prayer that together we will confront and resist, with all our strength, the scourge of poisons that threatens our people, our land and our food.” -Cesar Chavez
Specifics of the Fast
We are undertaking this fast in September to show our support for the call of Pope Francis for urgent action to move away from coal, oil and gas and to a renewables- and energy-efficiency-based economy, one which respects and protects our natural environment and the people. The Pope will be coming to Washington, D.C. on September 23-24 and to New York and Philadelphia after that. He will be speaking before Congress on September 24th and the United Nations on September 25th.
Our plan is to occupy the sidewalk in front of the FERC building during the daytime hours, with signs, banners and leaflets for FERC employees and others walking by. We will be supporting actions being planned in DC during this time, such as the Moral March for Climate Justice (http://moralactiononclimate.org), Grandparents Climate Action Day (www.eldersclimateaction.org) and others.
We welcome the participation of all who want to join us in this action. That could mean taking part in the fast in DC for the entire time, for just a day or for several days. For others it could mean fasting where you live and work for a day, several days or longer. We would welcome solidarity fasts in frontline communities fighting gas infrastructure expansion or anywhere else, at offices of relevant public officials or members of Congress, offices of energy companies, or at fracking, pipeline, compressor station, storage terminal or LNG export sites.
Let Us Hear From You
If you are interested in taking part in this action in some way, or in considering it, please go to http://beyondextremeenergy.org to find out more and to sign up.
In the words of Pope Francis: “It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn. . .
“The Earth Charter asked us to leave behind a period of self-destruction and make a new start, but we have not as yet developed a universal awareness needed to achieve this. Here, I would echo that courageous challenge: ‘As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.’”Get Directions via Google Maps