When Rachel Heinhortz's daughter asked her: "Can't we just ask them not to do this here, Mommy?" she didn't know how to respond. The Heinhortz family is the closest family to the Import Facility in Cove Point, Maryland, which Dominion Energy wants to convert into an export facility for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in order to ship natural gas overseas to sell on the global market in Asia and Europe. Dominion has met fierce opposition–including 150,000 public comments–from concerned citizens who fear the export terminal would not be in the public interest. On July 13th, we all met at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) office in D.C., the environmental body responsible for approving pipelines, compressor stations, and the proposed LNG export terminals such as Cove Point, to tell them these dirty energy facilities will not be built.
How could Rachel tell her daughter that some people are exploited because they can’t fight back? That sometimes the people meant to protect us are profiting from the dangerous infrastructure they permit? That it isn’t always in the best interest of some people to care about the health of their fellow human beings? “We do not deserve to live in fear of the water we drink and the air we breathe,” Rachel said. Cherri Foytlin of Louisiana had a similar sentiment. “Our politicians tell us about jobs,” she said, “but they don’t tell us about [the toxic fluids] used in fracking… it’s never okay to poison a child.” Founder of Peaceful Uprising Tim DeChristopher added: “When fossil fuel friendly politicians lose this November we want them to know it’s because they didn’t stand up for a livable climate.” Sandra Steingraber also contributed by talking about the fight against LNG in New York and the dangers of fracking. “To the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and President Obama: we are not willing to blow up the bedrock of our nation in order to extract the fossil fuel called methane that will, in turn, blow up our climate,” she said.
After the speakers exited the stage, we marched through the street, chanting “Cove Point Will Not be Built!” and “Whose water? Our water!” Some of us carried signs with pictures of blue crabs and marine life, others wielded cameras, and some held banners with hashtags that read #StopCovePoint and #NoGasExports–nine of us carried a large cardboard LNG tanker dubbed the “SS Dominion Titanic” atop our shoulders.
The day after the rally, I watched 25 organizers, teachers, environmental consultants, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers get walked away in handcuffs. In an article I wrote a couple days prior to this rally and action, I explained the problems of Cove Point and other proposed export terminals like it including 100 coal-fired power plants’ worth of emissions, hundreds of miles of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, and an increase in the price of natural gas.
A couple of days later, I was standing with my camera in hand, taking pictures, yelling at FERC employees, and chanting in solidarity as homeland security arrested women who were old enough to be their grandparents. Some of the arrestees had Ph.Ds, some worked as environmental consultants, and others were organizing on the front lines in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina and other places where fracking and fossil fuels have taken over the energy market. I was able to take arrest photos, action photos of the protest, and even captured a disgruntled Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam.
This action was a warning to FERC that the people will not stand down and watch Cove Point be built. There are plenty of people willing to risk arrest to prevent these export facilities from completion because these terminals threaten domestic and worldwide citizens through climate and health impacts related to greenhouse gases and poisonous pollution. If Cove Point and the other proposed sites are approved, you can bet more then 25 people will turn out to prevent the construction. You can bet we’ll do everything we can to protect our rights, our fellow citizens, and our earth. You can bet we’ll lay down our bodies to protect the land and the people we love—because, as Sandra Steingraber puts it: “that’s what love means.”
Photos by the author.