Heather’s out of jail!

Otters behind a fence color
Otters don’t belong in cages, and neither do people!

… but this damn export terminal is still being built.

Still, we’re pleased as punch to announce that Heather is free and with friends.

“I want to thank people for all of the support I’ve received throughout this process,” said Heather upon her release. “I’m very privileged and grateful for the community I have around me.”

Heather was taken to jail on May 27, after the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office unsurprisingly failed to find any wrongdoing with itself after complaints were filed by Heather and another activist over having their lives put in danger by the police and Heather being assaulted by one of the cops during the police response to a SEED action in February 2015. The police instead charged Heather and the other activist with filing false statements, leading to this incarceration for Heather and a charge on an inactive docket for the other activist.

Heather still has extensive community service, two years of supervised probation and a suspended sentence of 75 days in jail hanging over her head, but at least the judge-ordered jail time is behind her.

Still, many other good people remain behind bars and need support — in the Calvert County Detention Center and beyond. We encourage you to check out Critical ResistanceBlack and Pink, Prisoner Solidarity and Earth First! Prisoner Support to do what you can to help folks who are locked up. If you’re around Washington, DC, this coming weekend, come on out to the Convergence Against Toxic Prisons to get more involved with prison abolition movements!

As was stated up top, Dominion hasn’t been stopped yet from building its fracked gas export terminal at Cove Point. A grip of cranes tower over the northern edge of Lusby, Calvert County’s most populous area, reminding residents that, at best, 22.5 tons of toxic emissions are headed into their air if this thing isn’t shut down first. At worst, if the facility explodes, thousands could die instantly, since this is being built right in a densely packed residential area. There have been fatal explosions at other Dominion facilities, other facilities in Southern Maryland and at this exact siteConcerns about a catastrophic explosion should not be brushed over.

The movement to drive Dominion out of Cove Point and ruin the gas industry’s plans for the mid-Atlantic is going ahead full-steam. To plug in, follow We Are Cove Point, SEED and Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community on Facebook or check out the websites linked from each of those pages. We’re doing what we can, but we can accomplish more with you on board!

Thanks to everyone who has supported both SEED activists during this legal process. For a scrappy, do-it-yourself group like SEED to raise the money needed to defend both SEED activists in all of this … We’re deeply honored and appreciative to have such amazing support in the face of a $40 billion company seeking to flex its muscles after buying the favor of the governmental structure of Calvert County. This support is what enables this movement to continue.

It’s letter writing time!

prisonbirdletter

It’s a rainy Memorial Day here in Calvert County, where Dominion is building its fracked gas export terminal amidst heavy resistance — and where Heather Doyle is being held in the county jail. Perfect letter writing weather!

Heather would love to hear from you. She’s reading a mystery novel right now, and while that can take her mind outside of her confinement, she’d rather read letters from actual people.

Write Heather at:

Heather G. Doyle
#294461
Calvert County Detention Center
PO Box 9
Barstow, MD 20610

MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS FIRST!: http://www.co.cal.md.us/index.aspx?NID=289
THE JAIL IS VERY STRICT ABOUT WHAT THEY WILL AND WON’T ALLOW IN.

Update! If you had letters that you sent to the jail returned, or if you had been meaning to write Heather but hadn’t gotten around to it, you can send mail that she’ll still receive to:

Heather Doyle
PO Box 101
Lusby, MD 20657

While you’re already writing letters, why not write some letters to the editor? Click on the links to send letters to regional publications near Calvert County:

The Calvert Recorder (Make sure to select “The Calvert Recorder” as the newspaper you’re submitting to)
The Bay Weekly
The Washington Post
The Baltimore Sun

It’s really important to Heather that the focus stays on why she took the action that lead to her incarceration. Dominion’s export terminal at Cove Point, Maryland, must be stopped. Click here for some reasons why. To get involved in, learn more about or donate to this fight, check out calvertcitizens.org, wearecovepoint.org and seedcoalition.wordpress.com.

For more info on why Heather’s in jail, read this article.

Lastly, while it’s important to support Heather through all of this, many other people have stood up in strong ways and are now in prison for long periods of time because of it — or could just really use a friendly word from the outside. We encourage you to pick a prisoner (or a few) to write with. Just like for Heather, getting letters can mean the world to people when they’re caged and separated from what their lives were like on the outside. Click here for writing LGBTQ people in prison, here for writing political prisoners of many different backgrounds and here for writing radical ecological political prisoners.

Go ahead and put some pen to paper!

While you’re at it, if you’re looking for some hot letter writing jamz, check out “Inmate Correspondence,” by Not Sorry!. A member of SEED plays on this.

Heather Doyle found guilty, jailed in Calvert County

Heather Solomons

Heather Doyle was found guilty today of supposedly filing a false statement after she was assaulted by Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Vladimir Bortchevsky during a February 3, 2015, action on a Dominion Cove Point construction site.

On that date, Heather and another activist with Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED) climbed a crane on a site being used for the construction of a massive fracked gas export terminal in the community of Cove Point, Maryland. They hung a banner from the top of the crane that read “Dominion, go home. No gas exports. Don’t frack Maryland. Save Cove Point.” The climbers’ lives were jeopardized when law enforcement officers tried to remove them from the crane in an unsafe way — an allegation that the state’s attorney didn’t challenge in court. The complaint Heather filed that is central to this case stems from her being assaulted during the extraction by a 6’4”, 285 lb. cop while surrounded by numerous officers, Dominion employees, and contractors.

A statement about the assault and endangerment was released after the court process from that action ended, in order to not incriminate the defendants when they had open legal cases. Soon after, elected Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans, a local journalist, and others encouraged Heather and the other activist to file official complaints with the Sheriff’s Office about their experience. The other activist filed a complaint about the police endagerment, received a false statement charge, and pled out to a plea agreement in November, putting her charge on an inactive docket.

Heather rejected a plea in early May that would have required her to apologize to Sgt. Vladimir Bortchevsky (the cop who assaulted her) and Dfc. Robert “Bubba” Brady (the first officer to climb onto the crane). Brady’s actions created an unsafe environment for the climbers, and he was complicit in the assault. In exchange for the twisted request that she apologize to her assaulters, Heather’s case would have been placed on an inactive docket, from which it could be made active again whenever the state wanted. Heather chose to go to trial instead.

Approximately 20 supporters gathered in the courtroom each day, including both of Heather’s parents, friends from as far away as Oakland, and numerous Calvert residents who would be impacted by Dominion’s export terminal if it’s allowed to become operational.

Most of May 24 was taken up by jury selection at the Calvert County Circuit Court in Prince Frederick, Maryland. A court official remarked they had only seen jury selection go as long once or twice in their entire career at that court house. There were numerous questions to prospective jurors about their relationships to Dominion, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, and other entities that would give them a hard time rendering an unbiased verdict. Many jurors with obvious conflicts were excused, but those making it onto the final jury included a juror who grew up with and took martial arts classes with the captain of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Special Operations Team, as well as others who had police or Dominion contractors in their household or families.

Following jury selection, opening statements were made, and the prosecution began its case toward the end of the day. The prosecution continued its case all day May 25. The defense finally started its case early on May 26, after four witnesses were no longer going to be called because of a time crunch based on a scheduled police raid. However, one of those witnesses, Captain Ricky Thomas of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Team, who supposedly couldn’t testify because he needed to leave for that raid at 11:30 was seen in the court house at noon, and was in the court room soon after and for much of the afternoon. Toward the end of the defense’s case, the judge sided with the state that the defense’s expert ropes witness couldn’t take the stand, since the state no longer argued that allegations of endangerment at the hands of the police were unfounded.

The last defense witness was Heather. She spoke eloquently and emotionally about her experiences on February 3 and afterward, and about why she did what when. During the state’s cross examination, the lead prosecutor kept trying to put words in Heather’s mouth, saying Heather wanted publicity by any means necessary and asserting that Heather didn’t get the media attention she wanted after the February 3 action — that her statements about the assault and endangerment were merely to get extra attention. Following closing arguments, the jury deliberated for around two hours before going home for the night. This morning, after two more hours of deliberation and a handful of questions to the judge, the jury finally reached a unanimous verdict at 11:12 a.m.

Before sentencing, Heather’s dad spoke to the court about how proud he was of her, and numerous Cove Point residents submitted letters to the judge to comment on her character and how much they value what she’s done for them and their community. Heather also gave her own statement to the court.

“I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m just glad this is over,” Heather said in a statement written in anticipation of her possible incarceration. “I feel deeply concerned about people who are living here under constant threat of harassment and intimidation for publicly opposing this project that threatens the health of their community and their lives.”

The judge sentenced Heather to three months in jail, all but 15 days suspended; 240 hours of community service; court costs; and two years of supervised probation. She was taken into custody in the court room.

“It’s only been a couple of years since we learned the real meaning behind Dominion’s misleading word: ‘expansion,’” said Cove Point resident Leslie Garcia. “My peaceful bayside community is disappearing. Residents have been pulled over by police for ‘harassing’ suspicious-looking Dominion employees hanging out in the neighborhood. The real charges? We object to the unexamined health and safety risks that the LNG refinery and export plant exposes us all to. Police protection has been bought by Dominion. Even this trial was referred to as ‘the Dominion trial’ by the beefed-up security at the entrance to this court house. It is a hollow and bitter consolation to know that these cops are promoting the same irreparable harm to their own families.”

“As a 58-year old woman, I feel an anxiety and tension that I’ve never felt before, all attributed to the construction of the Dominion Cove Point facility and the role that Dominion has come to play in this community,” added Lili Sheeline, of Port Republic, Maryland. “The company’s influence is palpable everywhere, from schools to libraries to county government — and especially to county law enforcement. Specifically, the role that the Special Operations Team plays in ‘policing’ our society is, frankly, scary to me. Twice, I’ve been treated in what I considered to be a surprisingly threatening way by Special Operations, who do the bidding of both the county and Dominion. I grew up believing, perhaps naively, that most members of law enforcement, by and large, are respectful of citizens and of our rights. In general, I have returned that respect. What I find now in southern Calvert County is very different. My biggest fear is that we, the public, have lost any right to ask questions.”

Heather’s been clear for the duration of this ordeal that her experiences with the legal system would look very different if she was a person of color or had other attributes that would cause bias to a predominantly white, middle class judge and jury. Even though the last year of Heather’s life has been a difficult one — and she’s currently behind bars — it’s still important to her to make the point that police, the judicial system and society at large treats her better than it would many others who are caught up in similar situations.

To support Heather while she’s locked up, donate jail funds at https://seedcoalition.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/74/.

Please write to her at:

Heather G. Doyle
#294461
Calvert County Detention Center
PO Box 9
Barstow, MD 20610

More guidelines for sending mail are at http://www.co.cal.md.us/index.aspx?NID=289. Note: The jail is very strict about what mail it will or won’t admit.

To support the struggle to stop this export terminal, please visit and donate to calvertcitizens.org, wearecovepoint.org and seedcoalition.wordpress.com.

Heather’s trial starts tomorrow!

 

Solomons 313 boardwalk pic

It’s said that the action isn’t over until the court process is finished.

In that sense, the banner hang SEED did on a Dominion construction site for its liquefied natural gas export terminal it’s building at Cove Point in February 2015 is not yet done.

The two SEED activists who were arrested went to court and were convicted of trespass last year. After their convictions, they both filed complaints against the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office for putting their lives in danger, and Heather Doyle (one of the activists) filed an additional brutality complaint after being assaulted by Deputy Sergeant Vladimir Bortchevsky.

The Calvert Sheriffs didn’t take kindly to having these complaints filed against them, so they launched a massive investigation, charging Heather and the other activist with making a “false statement” to an officer. This new criminal charge is actually more serious than doing the action in the first place. Heather is facing up to six months in jail.

This trial will be a jury trial, held in the Calvert County Circuit Court. It will start Tuesday, May 24, and is expected to end on Thursday, May 26 — though it could go longer.

If people would like more information, want to know how they can help, or want to know more details any of this, feel free to write SEED at contactseed@riseup.net.

More information is at https://seedcoalition.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/cove-point-defender-fighting-charge-for-filing-complaint-against-police-abuse/.

If you’d like to donate any money to help with legal costs for this trial, go to our donate page here. Thanks!

Multiple Arrests as Sunoco Logistics Clears Forest in Huntingdon

From SEED: Another person, Ellen Gerhart, was arrested this morning and has since been released. Bail for the two other arrestees has been set at $100,000 for one, $200,000 for the other.  Tax-deductible donations for legal fees and logistical costs are being accepted and managed by Energy Justice Network. The link for online donations is http://energyjusticesummer.org/donate-to-the-gerhart-fight-against-sunocos-mariner-2-pipeline/

Checks to “Energy Justice Network” with “Mariner” in the memo can also be mailed to 1434 Elbridge St Philadelphia 19149.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Coryn Wolk

March 29, 2016 (215) 360-3564 / cwolk@cleanair.org

TWO ARRESTED AS SUNOCO LOGISTICS CLEARS FOREST IN HUNTINGDON

Police Back Pipeline Despite Lack of Permits, Landowner Objections

Huntingdon, PA – Backed by Pennsylvania state police and Huntingdon County sheriff’s deputies, on March 29, Sunoco Logistics Partners’ chainsaws cut a swath through forest that the Gerhart family had protected for decades, clearing the way for the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Ellen and Stephen Gerhart
Ellen and Stephen Gerhart

Hundreds of Pennsylvania residents had called and emailed Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on March 28, requesting that they intervene to prevent Sunoco from felling trees in sensitive areas without the necessary water-crossing and erosion permits. But the DEP declined to stop Sunoco from felling trees, saying on March 29 that Sunoco “indicated” that it is not cutting trees near water bodies or in wetlands. On the same day, Sunoco’s crews were observed cutting trees on steep slopes and allowing them to fall across streambeds, trespassing outside the pipeline right-of-way and allowing trees to fall outside its boundaries. Some falling trees narrowly missed observers who were standing, legally, outside of the right-of-way.

By the end of the day’s cutting, multiple sections of streams and wetlands were filled with trees, branches and sawdust. In response to the near-misses and complaints of Sunoco tree-cutters trespassing, state troopers said that observers were responsible for their own safety and claimed they were not aware that pipeline workers had to stay inside the right-of-way.

Those opposing the cutting were treated differently. State police arrested an Altoona resident, who is alleged to have crossed into the right-of-way to warn crews that a tree they were about to cut held a safety line for one of three tree-sitting protesters, as well as another observer who had been telling crews to stay inside the right-of-way. The two were taken to Huntingdon County jail and charged with indirect contempt of court and disorderly conduct. Bail for both was set at $100,000. They face up to six months in jail for the charge of contempt of court, and at least one faces a year for an additional charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

On Monday, March 28th, Huntingdon County’s President Judge George N. Zanic had issued Sunoco an emergency injunction to allow tree-clearing to proceed. The family intended to appeal that decision, but the chainsaws arrived before they were able to do so.

Cutting is expected to continue on Wednesday, March 30.

BACKGROUND

Ellen and Stephen Gerhart purchased the property in 1982 and placed it in the Forest Stewardship Program, pledging never to develop it. Now they are fighting seizure of their property by eminent domain, in a case that is still in litigation. The Gerhart family refused a cash offer from the company, stating concern about the impact of the pipeline on the environment and on their community’s health, safety and well-being.

“We are living, breathing Pennsylvanians who have tried to preserve this land,” Stephen Gerhart, 85, wrote in a letter to Judge Zanic. “Sunoco is a billions of dollar, faceless entity, based in Texas. The products that they want to transport through our land are not needed in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the United States.”

“Our opposition to the project,” said Ellen Gerhart, “has to do with our rights as property owners and stewards of the environment. You would think that government officials who have sworn to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution would do so, but they’re ignoring their responsibility and allowing out-of-state companies to run over the rights of Pennsylvania citizens.”

In early March, the Gerharts hired Schmid & Company Consulting Ecologists to conduct an independent analysis of the waterbodies and wetlands on their property. Schmid & Company found that Sunoco had undercounted the number of wetlands on the property by a factor of seven. The Gerharts then asked the Pennsylvania DEP to put a stop to tree clearing for the pipeline until Sunoco secured the necessary erosion and water-crossing permits, a recommendation supported by Schmid & Company.

“I believe it is unwise public policy to allow private parties to damage the environment prior to any determination that the proposed impacts are either necessary or unavoidable,” James Schmid wrote in a letter to Judge Zanic before Monday’s hearing. “But that is what appears to be about to happen here.”

Before tree-clearing began, Dr. Mark Bonta, a member of the Environmental Studies faculty at Penn State Altoona, looked at the Gerhart’s property and said that “it appears to be a model for how to leave an upland woods and forested wetland alone to foster biodiversity.”

Sunoco Logistics Partners is a company controlled by Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas. It has contracts with European petrochemical companies for the export and sale of massive amounts of NGLs that would flow through the Mariner East 2 pipeline. On March 24, after a two-week journey from Marcus Hook, Pa., the first export shipment of ethane from Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 pipeline reached Norway on the Ineos Intrepid, the largest multi-gas carrier in the world; it would be one of eight ships in a planned “virtual pipeline” carrying Mariner East ethane to petrochemical depots in Europe.

Sunoco LP is embroiled in dozens of eminent domain cases across the state. Landowners and residents  are banding together to oppose its massive NGL export project, saying that it is unnecessary and is not for public use, while the company claims it is a public utility with eminent domain rights.

 

Resisting LNG Exports from Dominion Cove Point • Event February 18 at Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore

Thursday, February 18
7:30 p.m.
Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse

Several people march in front of a construction site. In the foreground, two people carry a banner with a Stop sign and "Cove Point LNG Exports" spray painted on it. Several police in olive green fatigues are visible in the background.
Photo by John Zangas, DC Media Group

Dominion Resources is constructing a dangerous liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Southern Maryland. This LNG terminal would export to India and Japan natural gas that is produced by fracking in the Marcellus Shale and transported by several pipelines that are being resisted across the mid-Atlantic. Along with worsening the major health risks to communities and environmental destruction caused by the fracking industry, Dominion Cove Point poses a catastrophic heath and safety threat to the rural community living on and around the beautiful Cove Point peninsula on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The fight to stop this project is on!

SEED (Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction) is a direct-action-based group from the mid-Atlantic created to work against energy projects that are harming residents in the region. This includes mountaintop removal, coal exports, fracking, compressor stations, gas pipelines and the under-construction Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal. Since its inception in 2014, SEED has been working with other groups and community members in Lusby, Maryland where Cove Point meets the Bay, to help protect the welfare of Calvert County residents impacted by this terminal and to do what it can to make sure the project is never completed.

Join members of SEED, We Are Cove Point, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Beyond Extreme Energy, friends living along the Marcellus Shale, and other organizations resisting fracked gas infrastructure for a presentation and discussion on Thursday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. This evening will be a great opportunity to learn more about the potential first LNG export facility on the East Coast and how we can stop it! Activists will share information about our ongoing work taking action to shut down Dominion’s plans for Cove Point and how folks can plug in moving forward, including an upcoming education and action camp, Cove Point Spring Break.

Resisting LNG exports from Dominion Cove Point • Event January 7 at Potter’s House in DC

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Protesters block the entrance of a Dominion construction site related to the Cove Point LNG export terminal.

Dominion Resources is constructing a dangerous liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Southern Maryland. This LNG terminal would export to India and Japan natural gas that is produced by fracking in the Marcellus Shale and transported by several pipelines that are being resisted across the mid-Atlantic. Along with worsening the major health risks to communities and environmental destruction caused by the fracking industry, Dominion Cove Point poses a catastrophic heath and safety threat to the rural community living on and around the beautiful Cove Point peninsula on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The fight to stop this project is on!

SEED (Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction) is a direct-action-based group from the mid-Atlantic created to work against energy projects that are harming residents in the region. This includes mountaintop removal, coal exports, fracking, compressor stations, gas pipelines and the under-construction Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal. Since its inception in 2014, SEED has been working with other groups and community members in Lusby, Maryland (the town that includes Cove Point), to help protect the welfare of Calvert County residents impacted by this terminal and to do what it can to make sure the project is never completed.

Join members of SEED, We Are Cove Point, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Beyond Extreme Energy, Lancaster Against Pipelines and other organizations resisting fracked gas infrastructure for a presentation and discussion on Thursday, January 7, from 7-9 p.m. at The Potter’s House, 1658 Columbia Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20009. This evening will be a great opportunity to learn more about the potential first LNG export facility on the East Coast (and its connection to DC energy companies) and how we can stop it! Activists will share information about our ongoing work taking action to shut down Dominion’s plans for Cove Point and how folks can plug in moving forward.

For more information, visit http://pottershousedc.org/event-blog/ or the Facebook event page.

Fancy Dinner Legal Support Benefit Tonight in Baltimore!

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We need your help! And we want to wine and dine yu!

Our friends at Pots and Pans Kitchen Collective are making some delicious food and creating a cozy pop-up restaurant in Baltimore for one night only this December 18th from 6:30-9:30pm. Here’s the look at what’s being cooked up.

MAIN COURSE

bbq tofu in homemade blackberry bbq sauce

SIDE DISHES (choose 3)
– baked vegan mac and cheese
– massaged kale salad
– pan seared brussels sprouts in a balsamic glaze
– spicy garlic green beans
– butternut squash topped with their own roasted seeds
– homemade old bay sauerkraut

all served with a homestyle biscuit

DESSERT
mini sweet potato pie

BEVERAGES

ginger rosemary lemonade
motherwort and black/rooibos tea kombucha
mystery beer
mystery red and wine

Your donation of $15-30 for this meal will go to help SEED activists Carling Sothoron and Heather Doyle who are fighting charges stemming from their work fighting the Dominion LNG export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland.

Please RSVP here or just show up hungry! http://goo.gl/forms/j0L77L0SGn

 

Cove Point Defender Fighting Charge for Filing Complaint Against Police Abuse

Heather Doyle, on Cove Point, with the Cove Point lighthouse and Dominion’s off-shore pier in the background

LUSBY, Maryland — Heather Doyle, an activist with SEED (Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction), is fighting a bogus charge meant to silence dissent against the construction of a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal being built in Cove Point, Maryland. SEED needs to come up with $12,000 to cover lawyer fees for Heather and another activist, which is expectedly difficult for a scrappy grassroots group to raise. Please chip in what you can right now at bit.ly/supportheatherandcarling(3/31/16: That fundraiser has ended. You can still donate here.)

A police investigator and the State’s Attorney in southern Maryland turned the tables on Heather and the other activist after they filed complaints about unsafe and reprehensible police behavior. In an internal investigation of the complaints, members of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office lied to cover up the actions of three officers during their response to a protest action at a Dominion construction area tied to its LNG export project at Cove Point.

Heather was assaulted, and both activists had their lives put in danger by Calvert Sheriffs on February 3 while they hung a banner from a crane that read “Dominion, go home. No gas exports. Don’t frack Maryland. Save Cove Point.” Heather filed formal a complaint with Sergeant James Goldsmith on April 30. Instead of holding its officers accountable for their actions, the Sheriff’s Office denied any wrongdoing, covered for each other, and charged Heather and the other protester with making a false statement to a police officer. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office has done an incredible amount of work trying to build this case against Heather. Dominion Resources, a $40 billion company with a multi-billion dollar investment in Calvert County (including a security services agreement paying the Sheriff’s Office a significant amount each year to be at its beck and call), is suspected of inappropriately pressuring police behind the scenes to go after Heather. It is not a crime to report police abuse, but the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and Dominion Cove Point appear to be conspiring to quell resistance to the LNG project. For more information on the pattern of police harassment and the unusual relationship between the Calvert Sheriffs and Dominion, view the article published by SNL at https://www.snl.com/InteractiveX/Article.aspx?cdid=A-32933709-12331.

On February 3, Deputy Sergeant Vladimir Bortchevsky choked Heather multiple times with his forearm and forcefully pressed his boot into her chest while the activist was at the base of the arm of the crane. Deputy Robert Brady yanked a climbing rope from Heather, who was belaying a climber further up the crane, and pulled on it as if to pull the climber to the ground. A third sheriff climbed the arm of the crane without proper gear or — seemingly — training, putting himself and the climber in danger. A full account of the police response is at https://seedcoalition.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/activists-were-assaulted-and-put-in-danger-by-calvert-county-sheriffs-office-during-february-action-at-dominion-site/.

Heather waited until her court proceedings were over to file the complaint in order to not incriminate herself before she pled guilty to a trespassing charge. She was sentenced to 40 days at the Calvert County Detention Center, which she served this spring.

“I’m not surprised that this is the kind of lengths that they would go to to discredit people who are working to protect this community,” said Whitney Whiting, an activist with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, working against the construction of Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia. “It’s actually a testament to the fact that the tactics that people are taking on the ground against natural gas infrastructure are working. We only see this kind of pressure on activists when the industry is threatened, and I think that’s a sign that what we’re doing is being effective.”

Ann Nau, a member of Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community, commented, “Dominion has similarly employed strong-arm tactics in the town of Myersville, located in Frederick County, where the citizens overwhelmingly opposed the construction of a compressor station within the town limits, one mile from our only elementary school, in a county that received an F for ozone from the American Lung Association, and in a state with highest number of premature deaths due to air pollution. When our town council unanimously denied Dominion’s application, Dominion sued the town. During construction of the facility, Dominion acted with little regard to the town and damaged town infrastructure. We are used to the aggressive tactics Dominion employs. We stand in solidarity with the citizens and protectors of Lusby who are fighting to protect what we hold dear: the health and safety of our communities and our families.”

“When the system is broken, people are forced to work outside the system,” added Michael Badges-Canning, a resident of Butler County, Pennsylvania, living in the heart of the Marcellus Shale fracking boom. “Heather acted reasonably given the brokenness of the system. As someone living in a sacrifice zone, an area the state permits to be poisoned, I applaud the actions of these two heroes. Unlike the actions of the Calvert County Sherriff’s Office, which claims it is working to keep residents safe, Heather acted boldly to protect us all. Our society is not a healthy one. We use people, and we use places. My home, Butler County, Pennsylvania, is a sacrifice zone, and the people and place are ‘thrown away’ so some might profit. The intimidation, incarceration and maltreatment of Heather and Butler County’s desecration are symptoms of a broken system.”

Due to become operational in late 2017, a best-case scenario has the Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal emitting 22.5 tons of pollutants each year into the air in Lusby, Calvert County’s most populous area. This is expected to lead to spikes in cases of childhood leukemia and asthma, among other illnesses. A worst-case scenario for this terminal is an explosion that could instantly incinerate everyone living within 0.8 miles (more than 1,000 people), cut residents living on the Cove Point peninsula off from the rest of the mainland and leave them unable to evacuate (also more than 1,000 people), and trigger a Department of Energy-recommended evacuation zone of 2.2 miles around the facility (affecting more than 8,000 people). In addition to up to 14.6 billion cubic feet of LNG, 410,000 gallons of highly pressurized, explosive liquid propane would be stored on site, less than 850 feet from homes on Cove Point Road.

“The very best-case scenario is people die earlier of cancer, respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular illnesses,” said Linda Morin, a Lusby resident, teacher, and member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community and We Are Cove Point. “It’s a tragedy that the county thinks all of this money will be there for education. What about the kids? Nobody’s thinking about the kids. It’s their actively growing bodies and minds that are the going the most affected. Several of the chemicals that would be emitted have been linked to autism and ADHD. They just haven’t thought this through.”

At this time, there has not been a quantitative risk assessment for the project, which would require an independent party to model worst-case scenarios and develop emergency response plans accordingly. While that seems like a basic and essential component of a project of this scale, politicians at each level have decided to take Dominion’s money in exchange for turning a blind eye to obvious risks and concerns.

Tracey Eno, Cove Point resident, and member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community and We Are Cove Point commented, “These charges are part of a pattern of intimidation against people resisting Dominion’s fracked gas refinery/power plant/export facility. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office is complicit with Dominion; it receives 1.25 million annually in exchange for officers to protect Dominion’s interests. Who polices the police? We appreciate the actions taken by Ms. Doyle to support the residents of the Cove Point area by bringing attention to the way Dominion is violating our tranquil community.”

Heather had a motions hearing on November 13. A jury trial is anticipated in early 2016. The other SEED activist had her false statement charge placed on an inactive docket on November 23.

Again, SEED has a steep hill to climb in raising funds for this legal defense. This action was taken to support the well-being of people living around this export terminal and throughout the shalefields that would be impacted by this project. Please donate what you can to support this work — whether it’s $10, $100 or more — at bit.ly/supportheatherandcarling(3/31/16: That fundraiser has ended. You can still donate here.)

SEED is a group from the mid-Atlantic working against energy projects that are harming residents in the region. This includes mountaintop removal, coal exports, fracking, compressor stations, gas pipelines and the under-construction Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal. Since its inception in 2014, SEED has been working with other groups and community members in Lusby to protect the welfare of Calvert residents impacted by this terminal and to do what it can to make sure the project is never completed. For more information, visit seedcoalition.wordpress.com.

Calvert Prosecutor Not Proceeding With Charge Against Carling Sothoron

PRINCE FREDERICK, MD — Monday, charges for a false statement to an officer were placed on an inactive docket for a Baltimore educator and activist associated with SEED (Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction). Carling Sothoron filed a complaint with the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) in May stating that officers had created unsafe conditions during her arrest at a protest on Dominion property earlier this year.

Sothoron was one of two activists protesting Dominion’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project at Cove Point, Maryland, on February 3 when she hung a banner reading “Dominion Get Out” from a crane at a construction site for the terminal. During her removal, a Calvert County Sheriff’s Officer dangerously pulled on the rope from which she was suspended. Another officer climbed the crane without proper safety equipment or climb training, putting the safety of both himself and Sothoron at risk. The Sheriff’s Office decided to press charges against Sothoron for filing a complaint about the incidents.

“These charges are part of a pattern of intimidation against people opposed to Dominion’s fracked gas refinery [and] LNG export facility. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office is complicit with Dominion,” said Tracey Eno, a Cove Point resident and member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community.

The other activist involved in the same protest, Heather Doyle, has also been charged with making a false statement to an officer after she filed a complaint regarding physical assault that she experienced during her arrest. Her trial is set for mid-January.

“It’s a sad state of affairs that Dominion has so much sway over my county that people can improperly face multiple charges for the same thing just because Dominion wants to try to silence dissent. These two already went through the legal system for their action against Dominion. These extra charges are being brought purely to send a message to not get in Dominion’s way of its profits,” said Donny Williams, a Lusby resident and member of We Are Cove Point.

In 2015, Dominion paid $1.24 million dollars to Calvert County’s public safety fund, which is 40 percent of the annual revenue for the Sheriff’s Office. Dominion also has contracts with 10 CCSO officers to act as private security for its project. It is clear that the state’s attorney and CCSO are being pressured by Dominion to pursue these charges against the fracking protesters.

“I’m not surprised that this is the kind of lengths that they would go to discredit people who are working to protect this community. It’s actually a testament to the fact that the tactics that people are taking on the ground against natural gas infrastructure are working. We only see this kind of pressure on activists when the industry is threatened, and I think that’s a sign that what we’re doing is being effective,” said Whitney Whiting of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Please continue to support both Carling and Heather’s fight against their charges by going to SEED’s legal support page.

About SEED: SEED is a group based in the mid-Atlantic working against energy projects, including LNG exports, fracking, compressor stations, gas pipelines and coal exports, which are harming residents in the region. SEED has been organizing to stop the Cove Point LNG export facility and to support the residents who are being impacted by this project.