As part of its efforts to discredit and undermine protestors speaking out against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC moved up the date of its next open meeting to May 14. Originally scheduled for the following week, the meeting’s date was changed to discourage the expected 500+ protestors from gathering outside the Commission’s headquarters to denounce what they say is FERC’s rubber-stamping of energy industry interests at the expense of the public. At least 60 people were arrested at a similar protest in November.
According to news reports, FERC has stated that the reason for the date change is “to better ensure the safety of its staff and the public during the protests.” But an umbrella group called Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), that is a leading the charge against FERC and its policies, says FERC is trying to paint the protestors as dangerous. BXE’s Lee Stewart slammed FERC’s change-of-date, saying its statement about protecting staff is “dishonest and deceitful, and demonstrates unambiguously that they are more interested in the needs and profits of industry than in the needs of the American people.”
FERC has increasingly found itself the target of climate protestors and others opposed to expanding natural gas use and exports, and has taken steps to limit disruptions at its public meetings. In March, FERC announced that it will no longer allow protesters to read statements or take photographs at its open meetings. FERC is in “drastic need for some doses of reality to the impact of their decisions,” said Ted Glick, national campaign coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We think the commissioners really need to hear from the public.”