Four of seven activists who were arrested last May at a protest at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters had their trial date set for a status hearing at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
The defendants, aka FERC4, are Claude Guillemard of Baltimore, MD, Peter Nightingale of Kingston, RI, a professor of physics at the University of Rhode Island, Ellen Taylor of Washington, DC, and Donald Weightman of Philadelphia, PA. They were arrested at FERC during a peaceful protest, the #RubberStampRebellion, which was part of a long series of demonstrations led by the activist group Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE).
Of the seven activists who were arrested and were charged with “unlawful entry,” the FERC4 will go to trial on June 21, 2017 to contest the charge. At the trial, they will testify that FERC approves fracked, natural gas pipeline projects that poison our water, pollute our air and over-heat our planet. FERC has rejected every attempt to hold it accountable to the public.
As Claude Guillemard puts it: “FERC is an instrument of expansion for the fossil fuel industry. Its hidden funding by the oil and gas companies creates a direct conflict of interest.” Nightingale, a member of Fossil Free Rhode Island, adds: “The projects FERC rubber-stamps imperil life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of nearby communities; global climate change makes FERC a threat to life on Earth itself.”
The FERC4 trial will focus on many of the same issues that We The People brought up in the National Press Club in Washington on December 2, namely, the abuses of power and law that FERC inflicts on communities across America.
Three defendants—Guillemard, Nightingale and Weightman— will represent themselves. Mark Goldstone, a well-known lawyer with a decades-long reputation in First Amendment cases, will represent Ellen Taylor. Mr. Goldstone said, “I am honored to stand with the FERC4, brave, nonviolent climate warriors. They demand accountability from FERC, an agency that has been captured by the fossil fuel industry and ignores citizens’ demands for clean, renewable energy.”