The federal government dropped charges against Peter Nightingale and three other activists, known collectively as the FERC4. They were arrested at a Washington DC Federal Energy Regulatory Commission meeting in May, 2016 as part of a Beyond Extreme Energy protest and charged with unlawful entry.
“By dismissing the charges, the government steered clear of what promised to be a sharply-contested courtroom battle with the FERC4,” said a press release.
Nightingale is a University of Rhode Island physics professor and a frequent contributor to RI Future. “We wanted to show that the judges and juries should know that they have become among the last barriers standing in the way of a global climate cataclysm,” he said.
The other three activists are Claude Guillemard, of Baltimore, (“FERC has always been the real criminal in this case.”); Ellen Taylor of Albany NY, (“FERC should have been on trial here. It has been conducting government business illegitimately by issuing permits for toxic and dangerous pipelines.”); and Donald Weightman of Philadelphia.
They were charged with misdemeanor unlawful entry and requested a jury trial. They “planned to use the trial to show that FERC is a “Rubber Stamp Machine” because it routinely issues pipeline permits to the fracked gas industry while ignoring critical environmental and pipeline safety issues,’ according to the press release.
All four plan to stay involved in the climate defense movement.
“The FERC4 expect to join other activists fighting the pipeline industry and the federal government — notably against FERC in Washington DC – and in front-line communities that are challenging pipeline and other infrastructure projects on the East Coast and elsewhere,” the press release said.
More from the press release:
When it dismissed the criminal charge against the FERC4, the government ducked involvement in a wave of anti-fossil industry and anti-government court battles. These include the arraignment today of Lee Stewart of Greenbelt, MD, who (with four others, not charged) on May 25 allegedly disrupted the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominations to the Commission.”
Last year the Montrose 9 defendants argued that the need to protect health, safety and the climate justified their blockade of a pipeline in Westchester County NY, but were found guilty of the blockade charge in December; in the Children’s Trust litigation in Oregon, the plaintiffs, a group of children, last November won the right to have their claim—that the federal government is violating its duty to protect them by treating the climate as a public trust- heard in court; and in a series of cases protesters (and documentary filmmakers), now face felony criminal charges for shutting down all of the tar sands oil coming into the United States from Canada, by manually turning off pipeline valves in four Western states for several hours in a coordinated protest last year.