The following letter was sent to Robert Godfrey of Save Passamaquoddy Bay. Used with permission. Emphasis (red text) added by Robert.
I wanted to send you a quick update on an action you took a few weeks back calling on FERC to reject the new gas pipelines being proposed across the eastern United States.
Earlier this month I was in Tecumseh, Michigan, at a public hearing where I delivered your message directly to FERC, along with 7,402 other petition signatures. Those living in the path of the pipelines in Michigan were incredibly thankful to have your support – especially because of how the hearing was set up.
Usually, public hearings are moments for a community to come together and hear from each other about an important issue. Not this time. Instead of the normal auditorium setting where people speak in front of a crowd, each person with a comment was taken to a side room right next to an empty auditorium:
FERC changed the hearing format at the last minute and local folks were incredibly angry. They wanted the chance to meet other community members opposed to the pipeline and share information in an open format.
Instead, community members had to improvise, setting up a table outside the venue with a sign-up sheet for folks who wanted to get more involved. I was told multiple times by local organizers that FERC changed the format to stop the community from self-organizing.
FERC has seen what communities opposed to pipelines look like, whether it’s Keystone XL or the Dakota Access Pipeline fight currently underway – and they want to avoid that at all costs. Indeed, it is only because FERC hearings have become increasingly filled with dissenting members of the public, slowing down the process of rubber stamping these projects, that the agency has resorted to these undemocratic measures.
I went along with FERCs revised format and had a 1-on-1 meeting where I delivered your petition signature and made it clear that these pipelines can’t be built if we want to take our climate commitments seriously.
After the “public hearing”, I spoke with as many local community members as I could to find new ways for us to continue opposing these projects together. We’ll be in touch soon with more ways to get involved based on those conversations.
Thank you for joining the fight against these pipelines.