On the 31st of May, FERC held their one and only hearing in Lusby, Calvert County for local residents who will be affected by Dominion Energy’s proposal to convert the old Cove Point LNG import plant to a fracked gas export facility.The hearing was carefuly stage-managed to make each opponent of the project think they were alone in one of the most corrupt processes I have ever seen.
1PM and later, the hearing: It quickly became evident that many who stood in the lopng line since 7AM were NOT the speakers, but paid or otherwise recruited linestanders. Out of the first 20 speakers, 19 were for the project but had business connections expected to profit from it. Only two of then lived in Lusby, the others were from elsewhere in Calvert County or farther away. After they finished the FERC folks called a break! Up until this time, opponents of the project had the impression of being alone or nearly alone in a room full of skilled workers who intended to work on the project or in industries that would benefit from it. The hope may have been that opponents would be afraid to speak out with all the muscle in the room and would not return.
This intimidation program backfired when most of the “trade union” folks decided they had done their job and left, conceding the field to opponents of the project. From then on, FERC had to listen to hour after hour of residents opposing the project by a supermajority that may have been as high as 90%. Someone overheard one of Dominion’s goons complaining that the “union” folks had all gotten up and left after the break. Maybe rank and file support for this project and this level of corruption isn’t as committed as bought-and-paid for bosses had imagined?
One of the speakers who was not from Lusby but one of the protesters who had set up against the project beginning at 7AM told the whole crowd how the sheriff’s deputies had refused to permit her comparable space to what the supporters of the project had, calling the whole thing “Dominion’s event.” If the sheriff’s department is for this dangerous project, than most likely their bosses in the Calvert County government’s executive branch are the ones who have been bought and paid for by Dominion. Residents of Cove Point itself have to drive right past the plant’s front gate to evacuate, I checked that out myself. Residents of Lusby must either pass the Cove Point area on Rt 2/4, or else drive south to pass over a single bridge over a wide river to evacuate.
NOON: Representatives of Chesapeake Earth First!, the IWW, and Food Not bombs have arrived and set up a joint table. FNB contributed over 100 sandwiches in the brown lunch bags on the table.
Two hours before the 1PM start of the hearing, a long line of people had already built up waiting for the building to open. Dominion Energy has brought in their supporters from out of the area and is serving them foot. A lot of their supporters are from the Ironworkers, but the union never held a vote on the issue for the rank and file to decide. It is suspected union management made that decision without consulting their dues-paying rank and file, then simpy brought in whoever they could get to support them As this is written people are on their way to counter that, and CCAN is already here. Some CCAN folks may have set up as early as 7AM to get their position and prevent pre-emption by Dominion’s supporters.