The 29th of May was the last day of the third round of daily protests at FERC by Beyond Extreme Energy. This time around, activists marched from FERC and stormed into the office buildings housing some of their friends. First up was Spectra, builder of the “AIM” pipeline project FERC rubber stamped. Next up was ANGA, “America’s Natural Gas Alliance,” the notorious gas and fracking lobby. Finally came a suprise: the headquarters of NPR, known for promoting gas fracking with what can only be called public disservice announcements.
The protests began with a march on FERC, and once again few FERC staffers were visible seeking to enter the building. After about 1/2 hour, activists marched away, talking about getting on the Metro to reach another target. This talk was a diversion, the actual target was closer than any Metro station except Union Station. This was a building housing Spectra Energy, a notorious fracked gas pipeline company
Spectra’s “Algonquin Incremental Market” or AIM pipeline is one of three Spectra fracked gas projects intended to ship gas ultimately to export out of Cove Point, MD in Calvert County. The name of this pipeline after both the rightful owners of the whole Northeast seaboard and after the American Indian Movement is very offensive.
After Spectra, activists marched farther from FERC, passing through Chinatown on their way to ANGA. ANGA’s building has been stormed before, but this time some of the activists managed to get on elevators and reach ANGA’s actual office before the elevators could be shut off. An April 2012 effort by Occupy and Earth First protesters to get there ran into locked doors at the top of the fire stairwell. That was during the Earth Week protests leading up to the Spring 2012 IMF meetings. This was after an attempt to use the elevators failed due to security shutting them off. This time around, security was too busy or too distracted to shut them off in time.
The final target before returning to FERC was the headquarters of NPR or National Public Radio. NPR’s response was to ask the police to immmediately remove anti-fracking protesters, presumably by any means necessary. After one warning, protesters exited the building.
One of NPR’s corporate sponsors is ANGA! Due to this, NPR has been running a series of pro-fracking advertisments. Their broadcast licenses are for noncommerical use only and most of their stations are on the section of the FM band reserved for noncommercial and educational use, yet they run radio pieces promoting the pro-fracking agenda of their sugar daddy ANGA. Meanwhile their high powered transmitters shout down educational stations like University of MD’s WMUC, which is badly jammed by NPR Baltimore just a few miles away. So much for educational spectrum. On top of that, the pro-fracking spots have been called deceptive by many groups.
After leaving NPR, protesters marched back to FERC for a public assembly held right outside on 1st St NE. Since FERC refuses to let the public comment on gas infrastructure before it can be rubber stamped, a public meeting was held outside on the street instead. Residents of areas under threat from pipelines and fracking wells delivered testimony on the ugly things happening to their land.
The three pipelines under contruction by protest target Spectra are not alone in appearing to be isolated projects but actually part of a massive new fracked gas export infrastructure. Dominion’s Atlantic Coast pipeline is another project aimed at connecting to the pipelines that wil end in Calvert County, so it appears that Cove Point is to be the mouth of a gigantic river of fracked gas exported to European and Asian markets. The renovation and expansion of the old LNG import plant at Cove Point for fracked gas export is another Dominion project. On Saturday, the 30th of May, Calvert County residents backed by some of the BXE protesters will march from Solomons at the southern tip of Calvert County all the way to a park next to the gas plant at Cove Point.
In addition to the craven refusal of FERC and other Federal agencies to do anythign about the damage being done by fracking, an even bigger threat looms on the horizon. The proposed TPP and TTIP trade agreements could expose states such as MD that impose moratoriums on fracking to investor lawsuits for reducing the profits of this trade. It was announced at the protest that MD just enacted a moratorium on fracking until Oct 2017.
If either the TPP or TTIP is adopted prior to October 2017, renewing the moratorium would expose MD to the “investor-state dispute resolution process,” meaning a trial before a corporate court with corporate lawyers for judges. Due to this, one of the banners at the protest condemned the bills to grant “fast track” uo or down, no-debate Senate approval of any new trade treaties.
Activists from Beyond Extreme Energy inside Spectra’s building
Inside “America’s Natural Gas Alliance” or ANGA. One or two elevator loads of protesters made it to their offices on the 8th floor.
Inside National “Public” Radio, which is running pro-fracking ads on noncommercial airwaves
This is FERC-a rubber stamp for any and all gas projects
A Dominion gas pipeline protrayed as a fire-breathing dragon