Opportunities to Get Involved with the Fight against Dominion Cove Point!

Dominion Cove Point teach-in • June 23, 7 p.m.
Southern Community Center, 20 Appeal Ln., Lusby, MD

This teach-in will look at the impacts the Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal and liquefaction plant would have if the construction is completed and it becomes operational. Already, residents are finding it increasingly difficult to go about their lives during the construction phase. If it goes online, people will be faced with increased health issues, continuous loud noise, light pollution, further degradation of this part of the Chesapeake Bay, and the ever-present risk of a catastrophic explosion. Further away, this project would directly enable a vast increase in fracking and natural gas infrastructure across the eastern US.

Join us to learn more about these issues and how to plug in with endeavors to stop this project from being completed. For more information, write donny@wearecovepoint.org.

Non-violent direct action training • June 27, 1-6 p.m.
Patuxent Friends Quaker Meeting, 12175 Southern Connector Blvd., Lusby, MD

The phrase “direct action gets the goods” is tried and true. This will be a general training on non-violent direct action tactics and theory, covering why direct action might be used and how it can create power. We’ll look at different tactics other campaigns have used and go through exercises to help prepare people for participation in a direct action. There are many tricks and tips to help make sure actions are as effective as they can be and produce the results we’re looking for. This training will seek to walk through all of this in an empowering and accessible manner.

For more information, write donny@wearecovepoint.org

Northeast Anti-Fracking Coalition Derails LDC Gas Forum

Activists chanting in the lobby of the Boston Marriott Copley Place on Tuesday. Photo by FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas
Activists chanting in the lobby of the Boston Marriott Copley Place on Tuesday. Photo by FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas

BOSTON – Activists from Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington DC, and Maine disrupted the twentieth annual LDC Gas Forum two days in a row in protest of the Algonquin Incremental Market Expansion, the Cove Point LNG Export Terminal, the Vermont Gas Pipeline, and to demand the cancellation of all new gas infrastructure projects. Supporters of FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas, Rising Tide Vermont, and SEED: Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction joined the actions. One woman was arrested. Protesters are increasingly united across state lines, and across projects, and showing that they are not going to settle for causing a ruckus in only their own backyards.  The annual Forum, attended by nearly 600 people, is designed to bring together large energy corporations with local gas distributors.

On Monday morning, Jay Gustaferro of Gloucester interrupted the conference’s opening ceremony and took over the mic. Gustaferro addressed hundreds of gas industry professionals, urging them to take issues such as climate change and water contamination seriously. “I wanted to call out some of the myths that they are hoping to spin at this conference, and call out their hypocrisy and criminality.”

Following Gustaferro’s interruption, three more protesters disrupted the conference one at a time, calling for an end to construction of new fracked gas infrastructure and for local utility companies to shun large gas corporations such as Dominion and Spectra who are pushing for expanded infrastructure. All four were escorted from the room by security.

One of the fliers with a list of demands handed out during the actions at the LDC Gas Forum Northeast. Photo by Kelly Canavan
One of the leaflets with a list of demands handed out during the actions at the LDC Gas Forum Northeast. Photo by Kelly Canavan

After the opening ceremonies, still more protesters disrupted a networking session by showering the conference area with leaflets outlining the groups’ demands, and with chants and calls for an end to the “harm they’re inflicting on communities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.” Disruptions also occurred outside of the Boston Marriott Copley Place where there conference was being held, and at off site recreational facilities booked by conference attendees.

On Tuesday protesters swarmed a conference session that featured a speaker from Dominion Cove Point. They carried a banner that read “Fracked Gas Kills”, leaflets outlining demands, and quotes from people living in front lines communities who are most impacted by the gas industry.  Heather Doyle of Maryland read testimony from directly impacted community members.  Doyle was ultimately arrested and released Tuesday evening.

Video: Action during session featuring speaking from Dominion Cove Point LNG

“This industry values profit over people, getting rich off of human sickness and destruction of our homes and of the land. Know that we won’t go down without a fight. Our power in protecting our lives is a force that can not be overcome with talk of markets and money,” said Doyle.

Donate to the FANG legal fund to assist with Doyle’s defense

Video: Doyle being carried out to a police vehicle

As Doyle was being carried out, a new wave of protesters flooded into the first four floors of the hotel with flags and banners, while chanting, blowing whistles, and using musical instruments to delay the conference. Ultimately at least twenty police officers came to the scene to clear the protestors from the hotel. They regrouped, buoyed by yet another group of people, and continued protesting on the sidewalk outside. The conference was unable to conduct business for several hours each day due to the protests.

Video: Activists chant “Fracked gas kills!” to methane-gas industry insiders in the hotel lobby

Dominion Cove Point (DCP) is building a fracked-gas export facility in a densely populated area in Calvert County, Maryland, posing an extreme threat to residents who fear an accident could occur like the explosion of a Williams gas pipeline in Pennsylvania last week.  Williams, like Dominion, is hoping to build oversized pipelines, which are themselves increasingly under fire, to feed the export facility.  DCP faces extreme opposition from the local community and all over the shalefields where fracking would increase if the increasingly tenuous project is ever completed.  DCP continues to face litigation and protests.

After several delays, in Massachusetts Spectra Energy broke ground this week on their controversial “AIM” Expansion project in Dedham.  Residents have raised the alarm over the pipeline’s proximity to an active quarry, among other concerns, and have mounted a relentless and ongoing campaign against it.

6/17/2015 – 1:30 p.m. No charges for Heather! Donations to the FANG legal fund will go to the defense of other methane-gas industry resisters, including those arrested during the Burrillville tree-sit in May.

Calvert County Sheriff’s Deputies Working for Dominion Harass and Arrest Lusby Residents and Visitors

Dfc. Christopher Sloane of the Calvert County Sheriff's Office, looking for a reason, any reason, to arrest someone. Photo by Donny Williams.
Dfc. Christopher Sloane of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, looking for a reason, any reason, to arrest someone. Photo by Donny Williams.

Note: We at SEED offer this account in the same spirit as all of our other stories about activists’ encounters with biased officials and institutions in Calvert County, Maryland, including the police, the courts, the jail, and politicians. We want to illustrate how Dominion has used money, both paid and promised, to gain undue influence and fostered the suppression of dissent within the county. We would also like to see the law enforcement officers who have harassed, endangered, and assaulted activists held accountable. As we spread these stories, though, we also wish to acknowledge the fact that many groups of people in this country are targeted for excessive surveillance and harsh policing simply for existing, let alone speaking up. These groups include people of color, trans* people, indigenous people, and people living on the streets. In addition, environmental activists are being murdered at unprecedented rates worldwide, especially those from indigenous groups fighting for survival. What is happening in Calvert County is part of a linked series of oppressive systems, but it is far from its worst manifestation. SEED and its friends and allies have access to platforms and resources that are denied most caught up in this web. We know that recognizing this is not, in and of itself, a sufficient response, but it is a crucial first step in magnifying the voices and supporting the struggles of marginalized and exploited people.

Just after 8 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, May 31, 2015, two cars on Lighthouse Road were stopped and their occupants, who were going to a walk on Cove Point Beach, were harassed by the Calvert County Sheriffs Office Special Operations Team. Donny Williams, a member of SEED and organizer with We Are Cove Point, who lives in Lusby, Maryland, was in one of the cars. That car had missed a turn, and pulled over so one of the occupants could call for directions. Dfc. Christopher Sloane of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office followed the car in his patrol car, put on his lights on, and told the people in the car they were being detained because they didn’t “belong” in Cove Point (both cars had Pennsylvania plates). He did this while wearing a badge around his neck that identified him as a Dominion contractor. The occupants of the car told him they were guests of a resident of Cove Point Beach, but he pulled the driver of the first car out and ran the IDs of all the occupants of both cars. Meanwhile, more police kept arriving. Very soon, there were about 10 police present with several of their vehicles blocking the road. Lou Blancato, Dominion Cove Point’s head of corporate security, showed up on the scene to converse with the gathered police.

After finding nothing incriminating as a result of questioning the first driver and running the IDs, Dfc. Sloane paused, and then said he “smelled something funny” and would have to call the K-9 unit. There was nothing to smell; it was apparent he was using this assertion to further detain and search the vehicles. Meanwhile, Sgt. Bortchevsky, also with the CCSO Special Operations Team, walked to the second vehicle and announced he smelled “pot.” The two occupants of that vehicle remarked that Sgt. Bortchevsky’s eyes were red and bloodshot and they actually began to smell marijuana when he walked up to their window. They told Sgt. Bortchevsky that he smelled like pot, and he walked away. Matt Weaver, the driver of the second vehicle, later remarked that, while most of the sheriff’s deputies were cordial, Sgt. Bortchevsky’s aggressive attitude appeared to make the other officers nervous and substantially increased the tension in the situation.

Soon, everybody was pulled out of both cars and searched, though they announced they did not consent to being searched. Dfc. Sloane remarked that it didn’t matter if they didn’t consent, because it wasn’t a search; it was a “scan.” His “scan” involved patting them down and going through belongings in their pockets.

When the K-9 unit arrived, an officer and a dog went around the first car, and the driver heard the K-9 officer tell Dfc. Sloane that car was clean. They then went around the second car, which was also clean. However, Dfc. Sloane informed the people present that the dog had a “hit” on the first car, and he now had to search it to see what the dog may have smelled — even though the K-9 officer had said the car was clean and had no “hit.”

During Sloane’s search of the car, he found a pill bottle with some prescription medicine in it. Kate Rorke, the bottle’s owner, immediately claimed it as hers. When asked, she said she didn’t have her prescriptions on her. She lives in Baltimore and had come to Calvert County for the weekend; in fact, she had been acting as a medic for the march from Solomons to Lusby the day before. Kate had packed the medicine she’d need for the weekend, and wasn’t in the habit of taking her prescriptions with her everywhere that she took a few pills. Sloane and Sgt. David Canning, who identified himself as the officer in charge, said that Kate was going to be arrested for possessing prescription pills without a prescription on her person. Kate suggested they could look up her prescription, and the deputies said a database to do that doesn’t exist. She offered to get her boyfriend, who was home where her prescriptions were located, to take a picture of the forms and send them to her on her phone. After previously saying that people should carry around pictures of their prescriptions on their phones, Sloane and Canning now said they wouldn’t accept that because the picture “could be doctored.” Kate said her prescription was from Rite Aid, and she could call up her pharmacist, who would confirm that she indeed had a prescription for these pills. Sloane and Canning said they couldn’t do that, because they wouldn’t know they were really talking to the Rite Aid pharmacist, as opposed to one of Kate’s friends or any other random person. Kate said the cops could get the number from Rite Aid on their own and call the pharmacist themselves, then pass the phone to her to give the pharmacist authority to share her prescription record with the police. Sloane and Canning didn’t want to do that.

As this exchange took place, two Cove Point Beach residents showed up to claim the occupants of the cars as their guests. They said they absolutely belonged in the area, since they were there to see them. The police said they didn’t care about that any more. They were now in the midst of an “investigation” of “suspicious vehicles.”

After more than an hour, the deputies said the two occupants of the second car were free to go. When the occupants tried to talk with the others who were not yet released about where they should go (the reason they had pulled over in the first place), Dfc. Sloane started yelling to them to leave immediately or get arrested, and to get out of Cove Point. Those two left the scene and went to a Cove Point Beach resident’s house. Soon after, the police arrested Kate and ordered everyone else to leave. They went to the same Cove Point Beach resident’s house, where they called a lawyer and began making plans to get Kate out of jail as quickly as possible.

Kate was charged with two counts of possession of schedule drugs (schedule 2 and 4) without a permit. She was seen around 2 p.m. by the commissioner, who released Kate without bail, saying she was being held without probable cause. Kate still has to return to Prince Frederick in September for a court date. She is now facing a total of eight years in prison for not having her prescriptions on her.

This episode continues a pattern of behavior in which the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office treats people as suspicious merely for opposing Dominion’s export terminal project. Calvert County is not a colony of Dominion, but it feels increasingly like it is. These cars were originally pulled over because they had out-of-state plates and were driving on Lighthouse Road around a time that police knew anti-Dominion people were gathering in the area (on the private property of a Cove Point Beach resident). Dfc. Sloane did not hesitate to tell the occupants of the cars, loudly and repeatedly, that they didn’t belong there and weren’t welcome there. (Dominion Resources is based in Richmond, Virginia. IHI/Kiewit, the joint venture that serves as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal project, is also not based in Maryland. IHI E&C, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based company IHI Corporation, is headquartered in Houston, Texas. Kiewit is based in Omaha, Nebraska.) Yet, later in the day, many people with out-of-state plates were on Lighthouse Road for an event at Cove Point lighthouse, without being stopped or harassed by the police. It’s clear that the difference was the people’s perceived feelings about Dominion. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office is a public entity, not a private force for Dominion, yet it seems to work as both.

Calvert County Citizens March with Allies to Stop Cove Point LNG

Cetology

Photo: About 200 people participated in Saturday’s walk/ Photo by Anne Meador

By John Zangas and Anne Meador

Lusby, Maryland has never seen a civic action this big, according to local residents. Almost two hundred citizens and supporters mobilized on Saturday for a march to stop energy corporation Dominion Resources from converting Cove Point LNG into a liquefaction facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood. They walked six miles from Solomons Island to Cove Point Park to bring attention to health and safety concerns posed by the Dominion export terminal, which they say appropriated the Cove Point name from their community.

We Are Cove Point, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Beyond Extreme Energy, Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Patuxent Friends Quaker Meeting organized the “Walk for Calvert County to be Dominion Free.” The walk was to help residents support each other in the…

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