Week of Anti-Fracking Action Culminates with Blockade, Arrests Outside Federal Building

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Week of Anti-Fracking Action Culminates with Blockade, Arrests Outside Federal Building

Environmental activists blockade entrance to federal building in D.C. to fight fracking plans

Activists shut down the road leading to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee from November 3-7, 2014. (Photo: A Jones/flickr/cc)

Activists shut down the road leading to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee from November 3-7, 2014. (Photo: A Jones/flickr/cc)

As the week of climate action known as Beyond Extreme Energy came to a close in Washington, D.C. on Friday, activists blockaded the entrance to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) building for the fifth day in a row in a final push to fight the commission's approval of fracking projects around the country.

People also marched to the D.C. Department of Transportation building to demonstrate against policies that activists say will expand the use of coal, oil, and gas exports in Pennsylvania.

Activists locked themselves to each other to form a human chain in front of one entrance to the FERC building, while others linked arms or held up massive banners displaying the faces of families living in communities affected by fracking. A special team from the Department of Homeland Security was called in to cut off locks and make arrests, according to posts on social media.

"FERC doesn't work!" protesters chanted.

Throughout the week, people took part in various actions around the country in communities where FERC has approved fracking projects, which activists say amounts to "rubber-stamping" environmentally harmful proposals without considering their effects.

In late September, FERC approved energy company Crestwood Midstream's request to expand underground methane storage in salt caverns next to Seneca Lake, one of 11 Finger Lakes in New York. The commission also approved construction of fracking pipelines, compressor stations, export facilities, and underwater gas storage areas in Seneca Lake and other regions, including New York’s Myersville and Minisink, and Cove Point in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

Activists say FERC has not properly assessed the harmful effects that these gas and fracking projects have on environmental and public health, and that the burden of proof falls too often on blighted communities, rather than those who propose the project. They demanded that the commission withdraw its permits for fracked-gas export facilities and gas expansion plans and make the "rights of human beings and all life on Earth" its top priority.

"[We] call on FERC to make decisions based on the well-being of current and future generations and the protection of our shared natural resources," Popular Resistance said in a press release. "Specifically, we call on FERC to reject the proposal to build a dangerous gas export facility at Cove Point and to place a moratorium on approvals of other export facilities."

While Beyond Extreme Energy was scheduled to end on Friday, other environmental action groups plan to keep the movement going, with at least one organization announcing an action to take place on Monday at Cove Point.

Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED), a coalition representing mid-Atlantic groups fighting energy extraction and exports, called for protesters to join a sit-in at a Cove Point construction site owned by gas company Dominion.

Protesters with AMP Creeks Council on Monday shut down a Dominion site on Solomons Island that is crucial to the company's natural gas export terminal in Cove Point. Kelly Canavan, president of the AMP Creeks Council, chained herself to a piece of equipment at the site in protest of federal approval for Dominion to expand its terminal.

On Twitter, people used the hashtag #FERCblockade to update their actions:

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