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.

BREAKING: Activists Hanging from Stadium to Protest Bank of America

Activists Suspended From Upper Deck of Stadium During Monday Night Football to Protest Bank of America Financing of LNG Export Terminal

We Are Cove Point demands Bank of America stop financing Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export terminal and other fracked gas infrastructure

Note: This kicks off the Bank of America “Dump Dominion” campaign. Please support this effort by

  1. Donating to the bail fund here.
  2. Visiting DumpDominion.org
  3. Spreading the word!

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — In protest of Bank of America’s role in financing the planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, activists from We Are Cove Point have suspended themselves from the upper deck of Bank of America Stadium during the Monday Night Football game between the Charlotte Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts. They dropped a banner that reads, “BoA: Dump Dominion, WeAreCovePoint.org,” that was seen by the stadium audience of more than 70,000 people.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has played a major role in financing Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) and its $3.8 billion LNG export facility at Cove Point through Dominion Midstream (NYSE: DM). Bank of America is part of a consortium of banks that is lending Dominion up to $4 billion to finance several planned gas infrastructure projects. In June 2013, Bank of America also underwrote $275 million to contribute to the capital expense of the Dominion Cove Point facility. We Are Cove Point activists are now calling on Bank of America and other lending institutions to stop financing Dominion.

Since oil and gas prices have plummeted, industry experts have increasingly seen LNG export facilities as bad investments, and the financial sector has been inexplicably propping up the gas industry. As recently as August, a report from Bank of America itself warned that plummeting crude oil prices have hurt the prospects of LNG export projects. President and CEO Zin Smati of Engie’s GDF Suez Energy North America said, “You cannot ship gas from the United States anymore. … Nobody really is making money from LNG now. Certainly, we are not.”

Dominion Cove Point is a proposed LNG export terminal that is slated to send up to 1.8 billion cubic feet of LNG to Japan and India. The facility would be the only one in the world to be built in a densely populated area, in violation of basic safety siting standards. It would drive demand for harmful fracking across the Mid-Atlantic, emit more than 20 tons of hazardous air pollutants each year, and spew two million tons of greenhouse gases, making it Maryland’s fourth-largest climate polluter. LNG exports are predicted to increase domestic gas prices, resulting in economic loss for every major sector of the US economy besides the gas industry, according to a Navigant Consulting report commissioned by Dominion Cove Point and a NERA economic consulting report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy.

As more communities organize against the encroachment of gas infrastructure, Bank of America and other lending institutions are facing increasing pressure to stop financing dirty energy projects that negatively impact the lives and well-being of those living near export terminals, pipelines, compressor stations, fracking wells and gas-fired power plants.

A broad, strong coalition of people has been actively resisting Dominion Cove Point at every step since the fall of 2013. We Are Cove Point is a leading part of the effort to stop Dominion Cove Point and reclaim the Cove Point community from Dominion’s grip.

Participants in tonight’s action made the following comments:

“Bank of America is allowing companies like Dominion to operate without checks and balances,” said John Nicholson. “They are giving money directly to Dominion with full knowledge of the health and safety risks of building an LNG export facility, and they need to be accountable to that.”

Rica Madrid said, “America doesn’t need more cheap fuel on the market, and we especially don’t need to export those resources overseas. Dominion is building a facility that would contribute to the economic crisis our country is facing. Bank of America is financing the Cove Point LNG plant, and the surrounding community in Southern Maryland is forced to bear the human cost. This is unacceptable.”

For more information, visit WeAreCovePoint.org and DumpDominion.org.

Activists Disrupt Governor McAuliffe’s Keynote Address at Energy Symposium

Abingdon, VA — Five activists disrupted Governor McAuliffe’s keynote address at the Biennial Natural Resources and Energy Law Symposium today by performing a poem written specifically for the Governor and creatively demanding that he “call off” the proposed pipelines threatening to go through Virginia. The activists were members of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, SEED: Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction, We Are Cove Point, and FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas.

GovPlusGas
Activists block the audience’s view of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during his keynote speech at the Biennial Natural Resources and Energy Law Symposium with a banner that reads “Gov + Gas = BFFs 4 Life!”

Taking turns with each verse, they stood on chairs and recited a poem entitled “McAuliffe Knows” (see text below). It spotlighted the hypocrisy of the Governor, primarily regarding his continued support of several natural gas pipelines proposed to devastate Virginia and the Appalachian region. The group targeted the Governor and the event itself – a “symposium” made up largely of representatives from the energy industry, government and academia, to address the “array of energy opportunities in Appalachia.”

The Governor’s keynote address was timed to occur immediately prior to a panel on “Natural Gas Pipelines,” which included a representative from Dominion Resources. On Friday, September 18, 2015, a consortium of energy companies, including Dominion Resources, formally applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 564-mile natural gas pipeline that would pass through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Another consortium, led by EQT Midstream Partners, is seeking to build the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would run from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

According to the Appalachian School of Law’s Dan Caldwell, the day-long symposium was designed to “model an atmosphere of rational debate” in order to reach common ground on laws affecting energy production in Appalachia. Tickets for the event were $50 for students and as high as $200 for anyone not a member of a government or nonprofit group.

Whitney Whiting, a community organizer with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said, “The Governor continues to tout a ‘New Virginia Economy’ based on more fracking and more gas pipelines. But there is nothing ‘new’ about an economic system based on extraction and exploitation of land, people, and natural resources. How will fracked gas traveling through Virginia in massive pipelines benefit Appalachia? It won’t. It will benefit Dominion and EQT, not Virginians, or anyone else in the Appalachian region.”

The group’s participants said they had accomplished their goal of adding an extra voice to the day’s conversation, and by sending the message to Governor McAuliffe and industry representatives that the resistance to natural gas infrastructure in Virginia is stronger than ever.

*****

McAuliffe Knows

McAuliffe knows
that climate change is real.
And when it comes to pipelines
he knows just how we feel.

He knows that fracking sucks
but he must have neglected
to tell us that he only said that
just to get elected

he promised to be a “brick wall”
for women of the state
but does he think the health of our bodies
ends with how we choose to procreate?

does he know that families are slowly dying
from methane-poisoned air and waters?
that fossil fuels like natural gas
steal futures from our sons and daughters?

doesn’t he know that there’s nothing “new”
about an economy based on extraction?
that in Appalachia of all places
the promise of jobs has zero traction?

Because we all know, even if he doesn’t
that exploitation is not the answer
when bodies are sacrificed for profit,
the only growth is rates of cancer.

McAuliffe, we are not deceived.
from you we expect nothing.
your pipedream is our nightmare
Your lack of morality disgusting.

you see nothing wrong with profiting
off of the misery of our neighbors,
in time you’ll see, this pipeline
won’t do you any favors.