• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 22, 2019
T.J. Coles
Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services
Thomas Knapp
A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Johnny Hazard
Down in Juárez
Mark Ashwill
Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?
Binoy Kampmark
The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia
Laura Flanders
Can It Happen Here?
Dean Baker
The Money in the Trump/Kushner Middle East Peace Plan
Manuel Perez-Rocha – Jen Moore
How Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives
George Ochenski
Playing Politics With Coal Plants
Ted Rall
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat
May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail