At the beginning of March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Spectra Energy's AIM Project, pipeline expansion that will bring more fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New England. As we discussed on The Coalition, this project and the national energy business plan of which it is part are immediate threats to the communities near the frack jobs, and those near the pipelines and the compressor stations that pump the gas downstream.
Expanding the natural gas infrastructure is likely to accelerate climate change, one of the biggest threats faced by mankind; up there with nuclear holocaust. At best, these kinds of projects will delay getting off fossil fuels. Quite possibly, given that natural gas is a bigger threat to the climate than oil and coal, this energy policy will ruin life on Earth. In a brief for a court case in which teens sued the federal government for not creating a meaningful climate change action plan James Hansen, former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote:
"...failure to act with all deliberate speed in the face of the clear scientific evidence of the danger functionally becomes a decision to eliminate the option of preserving a habitable climate system."
Instead, the national corporate buiness plan, run out the White House under the guise of dealing with climate change, features the AIM Project and its counterparts that will lock us into decades of increased dependence on fossil fuels.
Why then do we have a national energy policy with natural gas a bridge fuel? Because Wall Street is heavily invested in the shale oil and gas bubble which has been creatively engineered by the usual too-big-too-fail investment banks that own our government. Read Richard Heinberg's Snake Oil about fracking if you want know more about this.
This is how the window dressing works. The White House appoints the commissioners of FERC, the agency that, as we are led to believe, regulates national energy projects. The commission is chaired by Cheryl LaFleur, a former top executive of National Grid — yes that's the company headquartered in Great Britain that was looking for a 24% rate hike of the electricity prices. Given that the Party of Corporate America owns the White House, ss its no surprise that FERC rubber-stamps every industry proposal that comes it way and ignores objections raised by the People.
Cheryl LaFleur at the National Press Club at the end of last January, made it clear where she stands:
"...But our review is project specific and confined to the information in the docket. Speculating about unquantifiable impacts is not part of that process. I think that our nation is going to have to grapple with our acceptance of gas generation and gas pipelines if we expect to achieve our climate and environmental goals."
FERC does not speculate; indeed the standard response to objections raised against the AIM Project are dealt by "we do not speculate." Never mind that the policy as a whole gambles with the lives of countless millions!
The fake regulation at FERC plays another important role in our political system. It allows our political class to hide behind FERC's supposed technical expertise and its role of gatekeeper of the statutory system that emerged after the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. We're not supposed to notice that expertise of the undoubtedly competent and well-meaning staff is systematically suppressed and that the statutes have been corrupted by pollitical appointees and lobbyists.
But, hey, don't we have to protect "regular Rhode Islanders" against spikes in the price of natural gas, as Senator Whitehouse argues here? Talk about speculation! Isn't it interesting that these frightful spikes did not occur during last winter? Reuters reports here why this did not happen: you avoid spikes by planning and storage, not by pipeline expansion. Might there be a hidden agenda here? Export perhaps? Don't take my word for it; convince yourself and look at the map shown in Spectra's Atlantic Bridge Project. Hail, Party of Corporate America, those about to go under salute you!
Why are not more people protesting at the FERC hearings or protesting in the streets? Why have most tuned out of these scams? As Mary Wood, who was featured on Bill Moyers' "last" interview, explains in her book Nature's Trust
"Within the statutory system, a mother protesting a toxic facility near her children's school, for example, might find herself having to speak in terms of ARARs, MCLs, NESHAPs, SIPs, MACT, BDCT, and BACT.33 Few incoherencies impede democracy more than the utter lack of accessible language by which citizens can hold their government officials accountable."
Thousands of acronyms cannot change the fact that little has changed since Adam Smith wrote:
"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
The good news is that the People are fighting back against the corporate take-over of our political system. Project Gutenberg, where you can read Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, is just one tiny example that shows that another world is possible.
Green Power to the People!