FERC’s Unprecedented Action Shows Their Weakness

How do you know when a campaign you are waging is having an impact? When the target of your campaign cancels a regularly scheduled meeting because you are openly organizing to bring a large number of people to it to call them out for their outrageous behavior.

This is what happened three days ago when FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, canceled its May monthly public meeting because of Beyond Extreme Energy’s plan to be there in large numbers. They moved it up to May 14, assuming that our movement wouldn’t be able to get it together to turn out on such short notice. So now, we are mobilizing for the kind of turnout on that day, and the kind of turnout May 21-29, that will ratchet up even more the pressure on FERC to change its fracking-enabling ways.

What was the reason FERC gave for this unprecedented action on their part? As reported in a story by Alex Guillen of Politico, “’At the recommendation of the Federal Protective Service, the Commission moved its regular monthly meeting to May 14 to better ensure the safety of its staff and the public during the protests planned for May 21 at FERC headquarters,’ FERC spokesman Craig Cano wrote in an email.”

Is BXE violent, or not clear on its position on that question? No. We have been taking action at FERC for 10 months, and no FERC staff, no members of the public, no FERC security, no Federal Protective Services police, no other police, nobody has been injured, with one exception: a small number of BXE members, injured mainly by the police in the course of our nonviolent actions.

This BXE record on nonviolence is not a fortunate coincidence. BXE is committed publicly to solely nonviolent tactics. Before our actions at FERC—and we’ve been there about a dozen days since last July—we do trainings in nonviolence. And as we say at our website, “we will hold each other accountable to respecting these agreements.”

Here is how we answered FERC’s disingenuous, cowardly charges against us:

“FERC is altering its long-established meeting procedures to try to avoid having to deal with people who are angry about FERC’s rubber-stamping ways. These are people whose communities have been ignored by FERC’s decision makers, whose ways of life are endangered or who are justifiably deeply concerned about climate change. These people have shown up and will continue to show up at FERC meetings.

“FERC is fully aware that Beyond Extreme Energy has been, is and always will be nonviolent in its tactics. Their claim that they needed to change their May 21 meeting date ‘to better ensure the safety of its staff and the public during the protests planned for May 21’ is dishonest and deceitful, and demonstrates unambiguously that they are more interested in the needs and profits of industry than in the needs of the American people. Instead of changing its meeting dates to try to avoid protests, FERC should have the courage and integrity to end its subservience to industry, and start being concerned with the health and safety of people being victimized by fracking and gas infrastructure expansion, not make up false charges and insinuations.”

It’s clear what FERC is doing. As illegitimate and dishonest power always does against popular movements for justice, they are attempting to paint us as irrational, fringe elements with no popular support. They are trying to isolate us.

Fortunately, the 67 organizations which have so far endorsed our May 21-29, and now May 14, actions, many of them local frontline groups fighting fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, will not be fooled. They know about FERC’s undemocratic and dishonest ways. We’ve had it with the #FERCus! Let’s join together this month to take this campaign to a whole new level!