Protesters call upon President Obama and federal regulators to reject proposed Cove Point facility and halt approvals on all pending liquefied natural gas export terminals nationwide
Residents impacted by shale gas infrastructure and their supporters blocked the entrances to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters today in protest of the proposed Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and others proposed around the country.
This is the second consecutive day of action to demand that the Obama administration take the voices of impacted communities seriously in the federal regulatory process, and that FERC reject Dominion Resources’ proposed LNG export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, just 50 miles south of the White House on the Chesapeake Bay. Over a thousand people rallied on the National Mall and marched to FERC yesterday despite scorching heat and high humidity.
Protesters linked arms and blocked the main entrance and a secondary entrance of FERC as employees came in to work this morning. A total of 24 people were arrested for the shut down, including participants from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. The protesters were arrested by Homeland Security police and then turned over to the DC Metropolitan Police for processing. They were charged with “incommoding,” or blocking a public passageway, and are being released with a citation and $50 fine.
“People ask what the connection is between Marcellus Shale and Cove Point,” said arrestee Ann Bristow from Garrett County, Maryland. “One connection is the transportation of this product. Compressor stations have been shown to be one of the most toxic sources of air emissions. Pipelines and compressor stations will only increase with more demand from Cove Point.”
If approved, the Cove Point export facility would be the linchpin tying together communities from northern Pennsylvania to central Virginia to southern Maryland that are struggling for a clean and healthy environment free of fracked gas infrastructure.
Alex Lotorto, a resident of Pike County, Pennsylvania, was among the arrestees. “There is a FERC-permitted natural gas pipeline and compressor station about to be constructed in my hometown of Milford, Pennsylvania. The exhaust is equal to over a 100 diesel school buses idling constantly next to homes where children are sleeping,” said Lotorto. “I’m here to let FERC and the company know what’s waiting for them if the permit is issued.”
Michael Bagdes-Canning from Butler County, Pennsylvania was also arrested in front of FERC’s office. “I’m willing to go to jail because my friend Susan wakes up every morning with headaches from the air she breathes from the Bluestone natural gas processing plant,” said Bagdes-Canning. “I’m willing to go to jail for the dozens of battles we are fighting in Butler County, Pennsylvania; battles that will only intensify if the international market is opened up by export facilities like Cove Point.”
Among the arrested people, their supporters, and the 150,000 people who sent in comments to FERC opposing the Cove Point project, the consensus is clear: Now is the time to stop the pollution of communities dealing with the extraction, transportation, processing and potential export of hydraulically fractured–fracked–natural gas. It’s time to get serious about shifting to clean, jobs-producing, renewable energy.
Karen Leu, a resident of Takoma Park, Maryland, was among the arrestees. “The LNG facility at Cove Point does not speak love to rural communities faced with unhealthy drinking water or a world facing a climate catastrophe,” said Leu. “What will we stand up for if not love?”