FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Public Has Been Ignored for Too Long on Pipelines

In school, we’re taught that the U.S. is a nation of laws, and no one is above the law. But for communities nationwide fighting natural gas pipelines, they quickly find that the law is stacked against them.

Imagine receiving notice one day that a pipeline is going to cut through your property — maybe just yards away from your home, mowing down old growth trees, and cutting through pristine springs. The pipeline will endanger your family, damage your business, threaten your drinking water, and lower the value of your home. It could leak or even explode.

But when you go through the process of objecting to the permitting of the pipeline, or file a case in court when that doesn’t work, you discover that the pipeline company is allowed to tear down trees on your property and begin work before your case is ever decided.

That’s why communities let down by officials, regulators, and courts are turning to direct action to fight pipelines.

Last year, a group of Pennsylvania nuns from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ Order built an open-air chapel in a corn field. Their chapel sat right in the path of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in a bid to raise awareness of complaint they filed against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to keep the pipeline off their land.

This year, in Virginia and West Virginia, other protesters — mostly women — have been sitting in trees for as long as 57 days straight, to protest the fact that state and federal regulators have repeatedly sided with the builders of the Mountain Valley Pipeline over the local communities in the pipelines’ path.

Most of the blame for the rubber stamping of pipelines across the country lies with FERC. The little-known agency wields immense power when it comes to natural gas infrastructure. All new interstate natural gas pipelines come before FERC for review. And over the past three decades, FERC has approved almost every pipeline that’s come before it.

These approvals are handed down even when communities show compelling evidence that the pipeline isn’t needed, that it’s a danger to their community, and that it will exacerbate climate change by increasing fracked natural gas. FERC consistently ignores the voices of the communities impacted by its decisions.

That’s not just the opinion of community activists — it’s also the findings of a report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General. The report found that FERC makes it difficult for the public to weigh in on pipelines and isn’t listening to the concerns of communities, particularly poor communities.

Ironically, the report was issued at a moment when FERC itself is calling for feedback on its pipeline process (which has been extended to July 25). Tens of thousands of people will be weighing in to tell FERC all the ways in which its current processes are broken — and how the agency could reform the pipeline review process to value people, communities, consumers, and the environment, rather than always siding with industry.

Recently, after receiving an outpouring of concern from the public, all five of FERC’s commissioners opposed the Trump administration’s call to preference coal and nuclear power on the electric grid — a move that would harm American consumers. If FERC hears from enough Americans that the agency’s rubber-stamping of natural gas pipelines is also not in the national interest, maybe it’ll start to reform its review practices.

If not, FERC will see increasing protests nationwide as communities do everything they can to protect their health and well-being from pipelines and fracking.

More articles by:

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail