100+ Arrested at Beyond Extreme Energy's Week-Long Protests at FERC
As the participants in the Great March for Climate Action ended up in Washington, DC, on Nov. 1 after a six-month trek across the country, they joined with other environmental groups to launch a week of action under the banner Beyond Extreme Energy. The actions revolved around a series of blockades at the DC headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with more than 100 people arrested.
Nonviolent direct actions began on Monday with 25 protestors arrested outside FERC's office while blockading the entrance with a giant sign depicting families impacted by fracking infrastructure greenlighted by FERC. Today was the final day of the actions intended to call attention to FERC's approval of projects that endanger communities and drive climate change, and demand a more inclusive and open hearing process.
On Wednesday, 5o activists from across the country blockaded FERC's offices, led by a group of students from Hampshire College in Massachusetts who came to D.C. specifically for the action, representing students and young people everywhere. Another 16 people were arrested.
“As students were in a particular position where our future is uncertain,” said Hampshire student Dineen O’Rourke, a student from Hampshire College. “We're ready to come together to resist the injustice FERC is serving us to our future and to communities already facing the brunt of the climate crisis."
"Yesterday's election was a demonstration of what happens when voters are fed up with politicians who talk without action," added Drew Hudson, director of Environmental Action. "On a night that otherwise favored conservative, anti-environment candidates, voter in the tiny community of Denton—in the heart of Texas oil country —chose to ban fracking. This movement that's shutting down FERC, shutting down Cove Point, and resisting in countless communities from New York to California is coming for the pundits and politicians. They had better get ready for us."
Thursday, about 35 activists again shut down FERC's offices in a campaign led by Veterans for Peace and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, to coincide with the U.N. Day of Observance on War and the Environment, in a protest that included a silent vigil and a "die-in."
Today #FERCblockade once again closed @FERC's road... for the 5th time this week! #FERCdoesntwork so shut it down! pic.twitter.com/FuNPLrIYHg
— Popular Resistance (@PopResistance) November 7, 2014
"The Pentagon is the single biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the entire world," said Army veteran and VFP and NCNR member Ellen Barfield.
"So protesting climate change and extreme energy recovery at drilling sites and so-called regulatory agencies is not enough. War, even just training for it, is of course massively destructive and wasteful. War is bad for the environment. Today, the 6th of November, is the United Nations day to acknowledge that fact every year and to call for the prevention of what it calls the exploitation of the environment in war. Sadly though, UN admonitions have little effect on U.S. foreign policy. The very fracked gas Beyond Extreme Energy activists are protesting this week is being used as an economic weapon by the Obama administration, threatening Russian gas exports to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines."
Finally, on Friday, the protestors concluded with a blockade while families from Pennsylvania with talk about the impact fracking has had on their homes and communities.
The final protest included sit-ins, human carpets, banners, blockadia and an art prop created by the People's Puppets representing towns affected by the projects FERC has approved.
In addition to the blockades, protests and sit-ins at FERC headquarters, protests have taken place at Cove Point where FERC approved Maryland's Dominion Cove Point natural gas export facility located close to residential communities, at the Justice Department and the Department of Transportation, and at the headquarters of National Public Radio (NPR) to protest its ads from the oil and gas industries.
"In exchange for an undisclosed sum of money, NPR hosts like Steve Inskeep, Audie Cornish and Melissa Block routinely read misleading and outright false statements that encourage listeners to 'think about' the benefits of fracked gas," explained Hudson. "Not only are these ads offensive and inappropriate on public radio, they take up valuable air time at a moment that NPR has decided to cut it's energy and environment reporting staff by 80 percent."
While the Week of Action may be over, environmental groups aren't planning to let up. On Monday, a group called Stopping Exports and Extraction Destruction (SEED) will hold a peaceful protest near the Cove Point facility.
Watch this video by Robert Brune of DC Media Group of the first day of actions at FERC headquarters:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
The U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Tuesday saying that the Federal Environmental Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to adequately review the environmental impacts of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the fracked gas Sabal Trail pipeline, which runs more than 500 miles through Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
As ocean waters warm and acidify, corals across the globe are disappearing. Desperate to prevent the demise of these vital ecosystems, researchers have developed ways to "garden" corals, buying the oceans some much-needed time. University of Miami Rosenstiel School marine biologist Diego Lirman sat down with Josh Chamot of Nexus Media to describe the process and explain what's at stake. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is killing coral?
I wish we had an easy, straightforward answer for what's killing corals. We know there are many, many different factors influencing coral abundance, diversity, distribution and health these days, but I think the specific answer varies based on where you are.
Temperatures play a major role at global scales, and then you have all of these other, more local factors like disease, physical impacts of storms, or ship groundings.
Researcher Stephanie Schopmeyer prepares to out-plant Staghorn coral onto a Miami reef. Rescue-A-Reef, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
We had the dredging of the Port of Miami channel a couple of years ago and that caused a lot of localized mortality due to sediment burial and sediment stress. You also have land-based sources of pollution that can damage by location and nutrient influence that causes algal overgrowth of corals.
Local factors are superimposed on regional factors directly related to global climate change. Changes in temperature, more temperature extremes, acidification of the water, changes in storm frequency and sea level rise— all are at different scales — but they all combine to cause coral mortality.
Factors vary both spatially and temporally, but the outcomes are all the same. Regardless of where you are, we've lost a tremendous amount of coral.
Nursery-raised Staghorn coral out-planted onto a reef by a citizen scientist.
In the face of all those threats, can restoration work?
Historically, restoration was developed and used for acute disturbances. A ship runs aground, and so then there's a recovery, and funds are allocated to recovering the reef structure at a given location, and then corals are planted on top of that. But as global conditions decline for coral reefs, there's now a need to scale up. So, we're not just dealing with the localized impact—we're looking at species declining throughout their range.
We need other tools at larger scales, and that's where coral reef gardening has come into play, because it works at larger scales compared to just dumping cement and rebuilding reef structures, costly endeavors that recover just a very small footprint. We're growing and planting these organisms.
Do you worry about planted coral dominating the reefs?
Initially, these techniques were developed for fast-growing corals. The genus that we're focusing on, Acropora, is threatened, so these are very important reef-building species.
When abundant, they monopolize shallow environments. They form thickets, extensive areas of high-density colonies. That's the way they used to grow, until about three to four decades ago when they got wiped out by disease and other factors. The branching corals that we're working with grow between 10 and 15 cm per branch per year, so that's very fast growth.
Through recent advances in coral aquaculture, we're now also able to grow massive species, the ones that grow very slowly. Mote Marine Lab has developed microfragmentation techniques where they can cut coral colonies very, very small and make them grow very, very fast. Although we focused on branching corals initially, now most of the programs, especially here in Florida, are expanding onto other threatened species.
Citizen scientists plant coral. Rescue-A-Reef, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Can these efforts solve the problem, or are they a placeholder until climate stabilizes?
You hit the nail on the head. One of the early criticisms of reef restoration was the scale issue and spending a lot of resources working on a very small footprint.
We've dealt with that now, over the past 10 years we've expanded to the point where we're growing thousands and thousands of corals—we're planting thousands and thousands of corals—so that issue of scale is no longer a valid criticism.
The other major criticism is that, even though we're planting a lot of corals, we're planting them onto environments where the same stressors that caused their initial mortality are in place. Now there is ocean acidification and increased temperatures, so things have gotten, in some cases, progressively worse.
Staghorn corals create a sustainable source of corals for use in restoration. Rescue-A-Reef, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
That is a valid concern if we were just planting corals, but we're not just doing that. We're still concentrating on all of the other aspects of reef restoration, setting up marine protected areas to protect fish stocks and coral impacts, working to curb land-based sources of pollution, and setting up sedimentation and nutrient controls. And then, on a much larger scale, we're all trying to curb carbon emissions, trying to limit the greenhouse impacts and acidification impacts. All these tools just help us buy time.
We're also doing a lot of genomics work to see how corals can increase their resilience. A colleague of mine here at the Rosenstiel School at University of Miami, Andrew Baker, is stress-hardening corals. He works on coral symbiosis, and he found that by applying a little bit of non-lethal stress, he can make corals shuffle their Zooxanthellae, which are the endosymbiotic microalgae that provide energy to the corals. In that process, they're able to uptake Zooxanthellae that are more thermally tolerant. So, through the forced shuffling of symbionts, you may be able to buy these corals one or two degrees of tolerance, so that they become more tolerant to bleaching in future years. That is cutting-edge science.
We're trying to actually find out what makes corals survive, and trying to beef up their defenses and their resilience over time. And that's because we have access to all these coral genotypes through the active propagation from coral gardening.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
By Karen Perry Stillerman
This job has responsibility for scientific integrity at the USDA, as well as oversight of the department's various research arms and multi-billion dollar annual investments in agricultural research and education that are essential to farmers and eaters alike.
The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club lodged formal comments with the federal government Monday opposing a massive gas fracking project that spans 220 square miles of public land in Wyoming south of Yellowstone National Park.
The Normally Pressured Lance gas field would destroy wildlife habitat and worsen ozone pollution, a major cause of childhood asthma, in areas already suffering from extreme air pollution.
Sierra received complete surveys from a record-breaking 227 schools—in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and for the first time ever, Canada.
By Andy Rowell
The decades-long struggle for social and environmental justice in the Niger Delta continues, largely unseen by the wider world.
On Aug. 11, hundreds of people from the Niger Delta stormed the Belema flow station gas plant owned by Shell in the Rivers State region of the Delta. The plant transports crude oil to the Bonny Light export terminal, from where it is shipped overseas.
The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a statement the Interior Department has directed it to cease its study on the potential health risks for people living near surface coal mines in Central Appalachia.
The Interior Department, which committed more than $1 million to the study last year, has begun an agency-wide review of grants over $100,000 because of the "Department's changing budget situation."