Disruption of U.S. Senate hearing includes a 25-year veteran of FERC

Three activists with Beyond Extreme Energy disrupted Thursday’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the nominations of the final two members to join Trump’s FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Committee). One of the arrestees was a 25-year veteran of the agency.

FERC is the agency that approved the expansion of the fracked gas pipeline and the compressor station, the site of the proposed gigawatt Invenergy power plant in Burrillville. Approval by FERC is also required for the National Grid liquefaction facility planned at Fields Point in the Port of Providence.

Arrest of Andrew Hinz, FERC veteran of 25 years

Arrest of Andrew Hinz, FERC veteran of 25 years

At Thursday’s committee hearing, when Chairwoman Senator Murkowski asked the nominees, Richard Glick and Kevin McIntyre, to stand, Andrew Hinz also stood and shouted:

Have a conscience! FERC is destroying the atmosphere!

In a prepared statement, Hinz wrote:

“Because I spent 25 years working at FERC, I am compelled to speak out. It is abundantly clear now that natural gas is not a safe bridge fuel. We must divert any proposed investment in fossil fuel infrastructure not required for safety to a rapid transition to sustainable energy. FERC is broken and in dire need of a reset. It must take into account solid, overwhelming evidence of climate impacts and, instead of permitting fossil fuel expansion projects, it must support and aggressively promote incorporation of sustainable energy into our grid. Until FERC is reset, we are witnessing an undemocratic, non-representative process that is merely an extension of the fossil fuel industry and is destroying our atmosphere and poisoning our water. My message to our legislators: find your conscience before it is too late–while there is still time to keep our planet habitable.

Ted Glick, a New Jersey-based activist who was arrested at a similar hearing for Trump’s first two nominees to FERC, stood and repeatedly asked Congress to investigate FERC. The agency’s abuses of law and power have been exhaustively documented by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which hosted a speak-out at the National Press Club last year.

Ted Glick met earlier this year with Richard Glick (no relation), whose expertise is in renewable energy. Ted Glick said:

“Based on my meeting with him and what I know about him, he will have no impact at FERC. He will be run over by Trump’s three appointees, and probably [Obama appointee] Cheryl LaFleur, too. FERC is a corrupt agency and it’s a waste of a good man.

Indeed, in a recent 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that FERC had not properly analyzed the climate impact of burning the methane that the Southeast Market Pipelines Project would deliver to power plants.

Clarke Herbert, a retired school teacher from Alexandria, Virginia, disrupted the meeting and focused on the disruption to the lives of thousands of people due to construction of fracked gas infrastructure. In a statement, he wrote:

FERC’s process for approving pipelines violates our constitutional protections of private property. The 5th amendment not only protects us from self-incrimination [‘Taking the Fifth’], it also states, ‘No person shall be deprived of property without due process of law nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.’ In this country FERC allows the legal seizure of private property from landowners because the government determines there is a public need without allowing landowners to question that need or examine the studies the government relies upon.  At one time, pipelines were useful to carry gas to remote areas of the country to keep Grandma warm in the wintertime. Today, with deregulation, pipelines are a platform for commodity trading and the export of gas to foreign countries.

The three activists were escorted out of the hearing room and arrested.

Capitol Hill hearing room crime scene

Capitol Hill hearing room crime scene

Beyond Extreme Energy has been using creative, non-violent actions to target FERC since 2014. BXE is a leader of the FERC Vacancies Campaign, which fought for six months to get Congress to investigate FERC before approving nominees who would restore the agency’s quorum. The U..S. Senate approved Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson in August, restoring the quorum. The agency’s first meeting since February is set for September 20.

Senator Whitehouse’s office in D.C. did not respond to a request to comment on the FERC vacancies, the arrests, and the senator’s apparent intent to vote for the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017. This legislation, if enacted, would require the Department of Energy to expedite approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects. It would also authorize funding for research of methane hydrates, which contain the world’s largest methane reserves, trapped under Arctic permafrost, Antarctic ice, and ocean sediments worldwide.

Information for the “Dance” at Senator Whitehouse’s 2017 Clam Bake

Event link & reasons

Parking

The location of Senator Whitehouse’s fundraiser is Kempenaar’s Clambake Club, 323 Valley Road, Middletown, RI 02842. It’s on a dirt road on the west side of Valley Rd, (RT 214).

It is possible that police will direct you elsewhere; if not, we recommend the following.

East of Valley Road, just behind Hogan Associates Real Estates, is the Middletown DHS Office, which we recommend for general parking. This links to a map is centered at the DHS building. There also is street parking just south, on Goldenrod Drive.

On the dirt road toward Kempenaar’s is the Newport Animal Hospital.  We do not recommend general parking at that location but if you have trouble walking, it’s an option.

March—Cancelled—Meet at Valley Road X dirt road

Meet at Middletown DHS Office parking lot and march to destination at 1PM.

Sign

Dance Music

Sheet Music

Help protect the environment for present and future generations

Please join us and help protect the environment for present and future generations.

Where: U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s yearly fundraiser, Kempenaar’s Clambake Club – 323 Valley Road Middletown, RI 02842

When: Sunday, August 20, 2017 2 pm; please be there at 1 pm for maximum impact

Why: Time has run out; we have no choice but to act in accordance with U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken’s opinion [1] issued as part of the Our Children’s Trust’s landmark lawsuit filed on behalf of youth plaintiffs against the federal government:

Exercising my `reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.

Time has run out; there can no longer be any support for fracked gas as “bridge fuel.” We must live up to our duty to protect the environment for present and future generations. We must end support for projects that perpetuate environmental racism. We must honor our treaties with Indigenous Peoples which committed us to living in harmony with Mother Earth. In other words, we have no choice but to keep all fossil fuels in the ground and invest exclusively in a renewable energy infrastructure.  

In spite of creating the impression that they understand the seriousness of these threats, the federal legislature has failed to act responsibly. This was clear at the confirmation last week by the U.S. Senate of Trump appointees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  This restored the quorum of the commission, which can now resume and expedite its approval of just about every project of the fossil fuel corporations.

Rather than addressing the advance of climate change at a rate that surpasses virtually all scientific predictions, Congress proposes to go in the opposite direction.  (For a list of alarming recent predictions see Appendix I.)  A case in point is the pending Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017. [2]  Indeed, Food and Water Watch sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Schumer. [3]  The letter was signed by 350 organizations among which notable ones such as the League of Women Voters, Our Revolution, CREDO, Working Families Party, Friends of the Earth, and Center for Biological Diversity.  The letter stated:

Among the many pro-fossil fuel provisions in the bill are: streamlining the approval process for liquid natural gas export terminals; expediting the review of new oil and gas drilling and fracking permits; granting new authority and deference to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a rubber-stamp approver of natural gas infrastructure projects; and expanding research and development for extracting methane hydrates.

Senator Whitehouse is on record asserting about fracked gas: “I actually think it is a bridge fuel.” [4] He has made it clear, that he considers energy an area with room for bipartisan work. [5] Clearly, his intention is to vote for this bill, as he did on a similar occasion in 2016. [6] The U.S. Senate is about to approve a bill that fails to mention solar or wind energy, and instead is a license to continue extreme energy extraction. 

Instead, Senator Whitehouse should work on a bill that is consistent with his duty under the Public Trust Doctrine to protect the environment.  Such a bill should reflect the issues we urged Governor Gina Raimondo to promote.  (See Appendix II for details.)

We want a climate bill that will end practices such as fracking, mountaintop removal, tar sands extraction, and uranium mining. Such a bill should end building out all infrastructure such as power plants, pipelines, compressor stations, LNG facilities, off-shore and arctic drilling platforms, along with any other facilities that put us out of balance with nature.  There are viable plans [7] and we have the money; all that is lacking is the political will.

Join us to drive home this message at the senator’s upcoming fundraiser.

Appendix I

Recently, numerous publications in prestigious scientific journals have added new evidence to a growing list of extremely disconcerting observations and predictions.  The following is short subset.

  1. Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely [8]
  2. Two degrees of warming already baked in [9]
  3. Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia (affecting 20% of the world population) [10]
  4. Global risk of deadly heat (currently affecting 30% of of the world population) [11]
  5. Outpacing projections (this refers to how models that forecast the decline Arctic sea ice systematically underestimate the rate of decline) [12]

Appendix II

The following is from a recent letter [13] to Governor Gina Raimondo.

  1. Power all sectors of our economy, including transportation, with 100% renewable energy by 2035;
  2. Reject all proposals for additional fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines;
  3. Eliminate fracking and other forms of extreme energy extraction such as mountaintop removal mining, deep-sea drilling, and tar sands;
  4. For Rhode Island:  appoint a chief Climate Mitigation Officer to facilitate this transition;
  5. Divest from fossil fuels;
  6. Push for Congress to
  1. fully fund research on climate change and climate solutions;  and
  2. fulfill our pledge to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund to support adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries.

It  may very well be too late for targets, such as item # 1 cited above.  This target might have been appropriate in 2013, but this is no longer the case. As James Hansen et al. in  Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions[14] write: “Now climate restoration this century would also require substantial technological extraction of CO2 from the air.”  Clearly, this is an issue that can be only be resolved at the federal and global level.


[13] http://www.rifuture.org/author/fossil-free-rhode-island/

[14] http://csas.ei.columbia.edu/2017/07/18/young-peoples-burden-requirement-of-negative-co2-emissions/

NTRI sign at the Eco Fair

As part of our community outreach effort to invite families to join Nature’s Trust RI campaign , Pamela Lezaeta and Suzanne Enzer, parents of Compass school, prepared an informational booth at the annual Eco Fair event of Compass, a public charter school in Kingston (RI). We collected signatures of interested parents and displayed educational experiments for children to see examples of the impacts of global warming. One experiment demonstrated the increase in ocean acidification due to increasing CO2 uptake from the atmosphere. Ocean acidification is the process in which the excess atmospheric CO2 dissolves into the ocean and is converted to corrosive carbonic acid. The simulation was done with a mix of water and bromothymol blue dye that would change to yellow as the PH level decreases with the absorption of CO2. One experiment simulated the ocean uptake of CO2 by a person blowing into the solution with a straw. The solution would slowly absorb the C02 flow manifested in a gradual change of color to a light green. The other simulation was done by inserting dry ice (frozen CO2) into the blue solution, making the demonstration more dramatic, bubbling with a rapid change of color to a bright yellow (lower PH).

The following video published by NOAA demonstrates the devastating impact of ocean acidification produced by the uptake of too much CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere.

NOAA Ocean Acidification Demonstration

 

CO2 collected from a clam shell dissolving in acetic acid

Other experiment consisted in sea shells dissolving in an acid solution (acetic acid), which is a corrosive environment (made of carbonic acid) for the sea shells made of Calcium carbonate. As the sea shell dissolves, the original carbon of its body is released as a gas. The gas is trapped with a balloon that would grow as the shell dissolved into CO2. This experiment demonstrated the corrosive environment of ocean acidification, making the build up of Calcium Carbonate organisms (such as Coral reefs) unsustainable in an acid ocean. The gas trapped by the balloon provided a visual representation on how much carbon was needed to build the sea shell. Ocean acidification not only affects the food web of the sea, but it also diminishes the capability of the ocean to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

The PMEL carbon program NOAA website offers a concise explanation on the causes and consequences of ocean acidification.

Ice shelf break up in Larsen (2002), W Antarctica. Approx. 3,250 square km

A third experiment measured the time difference for ice blocks of different sizes to melt in water, comparing seven small ice blocks of equivalent mass with that of a single large block, to demonstrate how melting of a glacier speeds up as it breaks down into smaller pieces. This experiment illustrates what is happening in Antarctic and the Artic with increasing air and sea temperatures, as a large ice sheet breaks up into pieces, the melting rate accelerates on the newly exposed ice surfaces.

 

Below is the brochure shared at the Eco Fair:

We also shared information on current national and state incentives for switching to renewable sources of energy, which the public is not always aware since the information is not widely available: Newsletter Incentives to Green Up. A collective effort to reduce personal carbon footprint will, however, not be enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable level if the state continues the dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation and transportation.

 

Nature’s Trust RI @ March for Science in RI—April 22, 2017

Nature’s Trust Rhode Island’s email address is:

NaturesTrustRI@pobox.com  (note the s after Nature!)


Brochure for March for Science



More information

Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, a 16-year-old from Eugene, is passionate about preserving this beautiful Earth.

A wealth of information with current developments, videos, action plans, etc.: Our Children’s Trust

Mary Christina Wood on Bill Moyers’ last show talks about the time-honored public trust doctrine.

A short video about what motivates people:

If you really want to dig into the legal theory and the failure of the current system of permits to destroy the environment, read Nature’s Trust.  Or attend this virtual lecture by Mary Christina Wood at Yale:

References

  1. International Cryosphere Initiative: “Never has a single generation held the future of so many coming generations, species and ecosystems in its hands.” (2015)
  2. Hansen, Amicus Brief “ Effective action remains possible, but delay in undertaking sharp reductions in emissions will undermine any realistic chance of preserving a habitable climate system.”(2011)}
  3. Foster et al. “Humanity’s fossil-fuel use, if unabated, risks taking us, by the middle of the twenty-first century, to values of CO$_2$ not seen since the early Eocene (50 million years ago).” (2017)
  4. Turner et al. did satellite studies that “suggest that U.S. methane emissions have increased by more than 30% over the 2002–2014 period.” (2016)
  5. Growth curve of global atmospheric CO2: see How to distribute humanity’s remaining carbon-dioxide budget, Appendix A.

Impressions of Resistance: Volume 1, coming soon at RISD

This design is by Stacy Smith of RISD.  She did this as part of her thesis and is calling her project Impressions of Resistance: Volume 1 and wrote on Facebook:

New #impressionsofresistance design for Peter Nightingale of :Fossil Free RI I hope you like it, Peter.

This one broke my heart. There is still music, and hope.

Stacy created this design after an interview with Peter, who teaches physics at the University of Rhode Island and loves Renaissance music.  The background is nuclear physics in somebody’s hand-written notes.  At the bottom, between the houses is a vocal manuscript from around 1600.  What a stunning design!

If Stacy’s print sells, the $600 will go to Fossil Free Rhode Island.  Here are the details for her exhibition and its opening:

What:
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) 2017 Thesis Exhibition Opening Reception
Wednesday May 24 from 6-8pm (cash bar)
Dates:
May 25-June 3,
Show open daily from 12-5, 10:30-6 on June 4
Where:
Rhode Island Convention Center, Hall A, One Sabin St., Providence

Grad Show Facebook event page 
Grad Show Website

Nature’s Trust RI @ March for Science in RI—April 22, 2017

Nature’s Trust Rhode Island’s email address is:

NaturesTrustRI@pobox.com (note the s after Nature!)


Brochure for March for Science

At the March for Science in Providence




More information

Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, a 16-year-old from Eugene, is passionate about preserving this beautiful Earth.

A wealth of information with current developments, videos, action plans, etc.: Our Children’s Trust

Mary Christina Wood on Bill Moyers’ last show talks about the time-honored public trust doctrine.

A short video about what motivates people:

If you really want to dig into the legal theory and the failure of the current system of permits to destroy the environment, read Nature’s Trust. Or attend this virtual lecture by Mary Christina Wood at Yale:

References

  1. International Cryosphere Initiative: “Never has a single generation held the future of so many coming generations, species and ecosystems in its hands.” (2015)
  2. Hansen, Amicus Brief “ Effective action remains possible, but delay in undertaking sharp reductions in emissions will undermine any realistic chance of preserving a habitable climate system.”(2011)}
  3. Foster et al. “Humanity’s fossil-fuel use, if unabated, risks taking us, by the middle of the twenty-first century, to values of CO$_2$ not seen since the early Eocene (50 million years ago).” (2017)
  4. Turner et al. did satellite studies that “suggest that U.S. methane emissions have increased by more than 30% over the 2002–2014 period.” (2016)
  5. Growth curve of global atmospheric CO2: see How to distribute humanity’s remaining carbon-dioxide budget, Appendix A.

Vive le procès

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked the people of Rhode Island to respect the process of the Energy Facility Siting Board as it makes its decision about the Invenergy-Raimondo power plant to be sited in Burrillville, RI.

The official recordings of the proceedings of the board illustrate the inner workings of the “process:” laws of nature, the Rhode Island Constitution and democracy be damned!

Why the laws of nature? Because the “studies” used in the “process” completely ignore the expected impact of climate change on the weather patterns over the life span of the power plant.

Why the Rhode Island Constitution? Because the board acts in violation of Article 1 Section 17, “the duty of the general assembly to provide for the conservation of the air, land, water …”

Banality of evil at work!

To Save Life on Earth: Civil Resistance as a Moral Imperative

Presentation by Peter Nightingale, November 19, 2016, hosted by the Green Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County.

typhoon

This is the link to the PDF of the talk: To Save Life on Earth: Civil Resistance as a Moral Imperative.

In these times it might be good to remember the following quote from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

It was the new politics of ambiguity-speaking for the lower and middle classes to get their support in times of rapid growth and potential turmoil. The two-party system came into its own in this time. To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them, in a period of rebellion, to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control. Like so much in the American system, it was not devilishly contrived by some master plotters; it developed naturally out of the needs of the situation.