Hudson Valley News
7:33 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Their Day of Action Is To Raise Awareness Of A Federal Agency

Credit WAMC/Allison Dunne

Representatives from grassroots groups across several states will be in Washington, D.C. Thursday to attend a public meeting of a federal commission. They will also be there to protest what they call the agency’s rubber-stamping of natural-gas infrastructure projects.

The Day of Action comes under the banner of “We the People Matter ”, a new organization, and web site, that connects several grassroots groups that Asha Canalos says are fighting similar battles – the agency’s track record of approving natural-gas infrastructure projects despite citizen opposition.

Canalos is with the group “Stop the Minisink Compressor Station”, which is protesting the natural-gas compressor station well under construction in Orange County’s Hamlet of Westtown, where many 9/11 first responders reside. She and her fellow petitioners are waiting for a full hearing of their case currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals, a case that challenges FERC’s approval of the project. FERC is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

She says the protest will be silent and peaceful, and precede FERC’s monthly meeting. Tamara Young-Allen is a spokeswoman for FERC. She says it’s not the first time protestors have descended upon monthly meetings.

And she says the fact that FERC cases have gone to the U.S. Court of Appeals and even the Supreme Court shows that FERC can be challenged.

While FERC does not have the authority to approve fracking, or hydraulic fracturing projects – that’s a state matter – it does have the power to approve infrastructure components of these projects, such as compressor stations. Jill Wiener is with Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, an all-volunteer, grassroots organization opposed to hydraulic fracturing, and part of “We the People Matter.”

FERC’s monthly meetings are public, so the public is welcome to sit in and listen, though public comments are reserved for comment periods related to specific projects.

After the protest and monthly FERC meeting, during which they will don t-shirts bearing the docket numbers of their FERC cases, organizers and community leaders of “We the People Matter” say they plan to march from FERC to Capitol Hill to meet with their respective senators and congressional representatives.

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