Utah Tar Sands Resistance

fe1768d42035b27d1d3c190903e37054_normalYesterday, about 80 activists formed a blockade to halt construction of a tar sands strip mine in the Book Cliffs of eastern Utah. The mine is being built by US Oil Sands, a Canadian company, and would be the first in the US. The action was led by the Climate Justice Summer Camp, which was holding a two-week direct action camp nearby.

The mine is located on traditional Ute hunting lands and in the Colorado River Basin, which provides drinking water to 40 million people. As Peaceful Uprising argues,

Tar sands and oil shale mining and refining, if allowed to begin in the U.S., would rob us of our water rights. The Colorado’s flow is diminishing, not increasing, and these mining and refining processes require massive amounts of water. This inescapable reality would cause widespread conflicts over water, as water rights were seized from farmers and communities. We will not allow tar sands and oil shale profiteers to seize the water that rightfully belongs to everyone.

During the protest, those locked to equipment were arrested along with other supporters, leading to 21 arrests total, and protesters were faced with police brutality. To follow the events of the blockade and give support, go to the twitter feed for Utah Tar Sands Resistance and donate on their website: http://www.tarsandsresist.org/ or here.

For background, check out our KPFK interview from March with Melanie Martin, from Peaceful Uprising. 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Tar Sands

Indigenous Mountain Farmers Unite on Climate Change

Photo: Chris Stowers/Panos

Photo: Chris Stowers/Panos

With representatives from more than 10 countries, The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples formed in May as a coalition to lobby against climate change by advocating for traditional farming strategies. The group called on governments to “support climate change adaptation measures based on traditional knowledge; promote indigenous languages; and bridge local knowledge and science to create effective solutions for conservation, food security and climate adaptation.” While collaboration and shared knowledge are honorable ideas, we at GJEP are curious about the organizations behind the movement and hope that there are no hidden motives lurking beneath the curtain.

Indigenous Mountain Farmers Unite on Climate Change
July 15, 2014
by Sci Dev Net

Farmers from 25 indigenous mountain communities in ten countries have come together to share traditional knowledge that could help them to mitigate climate change and to lobby governments for greater recognition of their unique knowledge.

The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples was formed at a workshop in Bhutan last month (26 May-1 June). It includes communities from Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan, Tajikistan and Thailand.

Member communities from Bhutan, China and Peru had already agreed to exchange seeds at a meeting held in Peru earlier this year (26 April-2 May). The agreement was extended to the other members at the most recent meeting.

The farmers say the network will enable communities to access new seed varieties that are more resilient to pests and drought; will help increase their crop diversity; and will reduce their dependence on corporate-owned seeds.

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Obama’s policies of extreme energy extraction take another step

A number of news sources reported this weekend on the White House approving the use of underwater sonic blasts to pinpoint oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a step in the process to large-scale offshore oil drilling in federal waters.

The Washington Post reported:

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed but ultimately decided to approve this exploration in the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida.

The sonic blasts are, of course, just the very start.

Energy companies need the data as they prepare to apply for drilling leases in 2018, when current congressional limits expire.

Offshore Oil Rig. Reuters.

Offshore Oil Rig. Reuters.

Oil companies, with the government’s blessing, plan to drill offshore all along the East coast, with only the North East off limits.

A quote by an engineer for American Petroleum is particularly ominous:

 

“One thing we find is, the more you get out and drill and explore to confirm what you see in the seismic, you end up finding more oil and gas than what you think is out there when you started,” Radford said.

Florida communities have pushed back, in particular:

Florida has already felt the devastating effects of an uncontrolled oil release with the Deepwater Horizon event, of which cleanup efforts are still ongoing,” said John Morris, a county commissioner whose constituency includes the beach town.

However, the drilling would happen on federal waters, outside of reach from any local ban. While the article emphasizes the devastating effects of sonic booms on marine life and possible pollution from drilling, the dangers of such deepwater drilling extend even further. The thoughtlessness is mind-boggling, unless the whole thing is seen as desperate attempts in the era of extreme energy.

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Biomass unspoken driver of Oregon logging spike

 

A slash pile at a timber harvest site in the Tillimook State Forest.

A slash pile at a timber harvest site in the Tillimook State Forest.

The AP recently reported that timber ‘harvest’ last year was at its highest since 2006; 4 Billion board feet. This marks a steady increase over the past 4 years. The state Department of Forestry identifies two causes for the increase: increased house construction and “the export market.”

“This [the spike] is most likely due to small forestland owners taking advantage of higher prices as a result of a still strong export market in 2013,” Kaetzel [economist in the Department] said in a statement.

The AP does not clarify what that market is, but we know it’s in large part biomass.

Photo Credit: Marcus Kaufmann, via Northwest Public Radio

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Study finds U.S. citizens want to see government action on climate change

For U.S. politicians, taking a solid stance on climate change is like the kiss of death. They avoid it like bad breath. However, a new study shows that more than half of the voters surveyed want to see their governmental representatives taking “unilateral action” to fight against climate change. A “unilateral” stance would be rather interesting for the U.S. government, seeing as how it consistently refuses to cooperate on this issue with the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, we cannot trust the US government to decide what kind of climate action to take, as President Obama has been quite clear that he considers fracked gas and nukes part of the climate solution.  The U.S. public needs to understand which methods really constitute as clean, sustainable energy and which ones are just politically safe shams, before they can demand real, just and ecologically appropriate action.  No fossil fuels, no false solutions,  just digging in to do the real work.

–The GJEP Team

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

A massive new study shows that voters are ready for the government to forge ahead even without an international agreement

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US pushing tar sands into Europe despite EU proposed block

IPS reports on US efforts to push tar sands oil into the EU despite resistance in Europe.

Newly publicized internal documents suggest that U.S. negotiators are working to permanently block a landmark regulatory proposal in the European Union aimed at addressing climate change, and instead to force European countries to import particularly dirty forms of oil.

Thousands of acres of trees and plants, in an area the size of Florida, must be stripped away and the ground torn apart to mine for tar sands oil.

Thousands of acres of trees and plants, in an area the size of Florida, must be stripped away and the ground torn apart to mine for tar sands oil.

Current negotiating texts for the TTIP talks are unavailable. But critics say the negotiations are forcing open the massive E.U. market for a particularly heavy form of petroleum known as tar sands oil, significant deposits of which are in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The oil industry has repeatedly expressed concern over the European Union’s potential tightening of regulations around transport fuel emissions, first proposed in 2009 for what’s known as the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Yet according to a report released Thursday by Friends of the Earth Europe, the sector now appears to have convinced the U.S. government to work to permanently block the implementation of this standard.

 

 

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Earth Watch: Tom Goldtooth from the Venezuelan Social PreCOP

Tom Goldtooth presenting at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making

Tom Goldtooth (left, white shirt) presenting at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice delegate to Venezuela, spoke to Margaret Prescod (KPFK) from the Social PreCOP on Margarita Island.

Goldtooth spoke about the goals for the Social PreCOP, the vital importance of the inclusion of Indigenous peoples in climate discussions and action, the Indigenous-rooted concept of good living (buen vivir), and the need for real, sustainable climate action that does not accept false solutions like REDD.

Listen to the interview here, from the July 17th Sojourner Truth show.

Read the talking points from Tom’s presentation at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making here.

Tom Goldtooth is a member of our New Voices Speakers Bureau.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Earth Radio, Earth Watch, Indigenous Peoples, KPFK

Breaking Action Alert: Enbridge Blockaded

17 July 2014.  Source: Swamp Line 9 via Earth First! newswire

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Individuals from Six Nations and their allies have interrupted work on a section of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. The work stoppage began around 10am this morning. Individuals involved asked workers to leave, asserting that the land is Haudenosaunee territory guaranteed under the Haldimand deed, and that Enbridge’s workers were present without consent or consultation.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Tar Sands, Uncategorized

Earth Minute: System Change not Climate Change in Venezuela

See below for transcript.

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Transcript

I am recording this week’s Earth Minute from the Venezuelan Island of Margarita.  The Venezuelan government has assembled hundreds of organizations from around the Americas and across the world under the theme of “Changing the System, Not the Climate.”  The idea of this meeting is to begin to develop justice-based strategies and discussions to inform a peoples’ position at this year’s UN Climate Conference in Lima Peru in December.

“System Change not Climate Change” originally emerged as the demand from civil society organizations protesting the northern-dominated and pro-corporate UN Climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. There UN delegates and observers staged a massive “Reclaim Power” march out that attempted to meet with thousands of activists marching toward the conference.  The idea was to come together for a Peoples’ Assembly, where real peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis would be advanced.  While that action was met with severe repression and violence from the Danish Police, the powerful concept of “System Change not Climate Change” continues to carry forward.

 

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project reporting from Venezuela.

Photo: Climate Justice Now! Statement on Climate Change from COP-15, Copenhagen, December 2009. Photo: Neil White/Guardia

Image: noticias24.com via lainfo.es

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Wally Menne explains importance of recent article on how forests are defined

 A recent article in the journal Biotropica has addressed the vital problem of what gets counted as a forest:

Natural forest values are jeopardized when land-use decisions are informed by remote sensing analyses that distinguish only forest and non-forest and when ‘forest’ is defined solely on the basis of tree cover. These practices engender somewhat false senses of accomplishment when the forests reported to cover substantial portion of tropical landscapes little resemble old growth.

As a further illustration of the importance of clarity about what is meant by ‘forest’ as well as ‘reforestation’ and ‘restoration,’ consider the consequences of a country passing the ‘forest transition’ [...] If the restored areas contribute to the well-being of local people, then so much the better. In contrast, consider industrial monocultures of invasive exotic and low water-use efficiency trees that replace secondary forests or naturally non-forested ecosystems such as savannas or grasslands; these too might confer some social and economic benefits, but with high costs in terms of lost biodiversity and ecosystem services (Putz & Redford 2009, Stickler et al2009).

Similarly, passing the forest transition has negative consequences for human welfare if that accomplishment involves reduced food production or loss of local control as when agribusinesses accumulate lands from smallholders to plant non-food commodities (Zoomers 2010).

Wally Menne, from Timberwatch, explained the significance of this scientific report very well in a response to the Center of International Forestry Research’s blog on the article. Menne, who is also a member of the New Voices Speakers Bureau, wrote:

This is a courageous attempt to help rectify a gross injustice that has been perpetrated against forests and forest peoples by the global timber industry, and which has been supported by the FAO and other elements within the United Nations system.

The existing ‘official’ definitions of forest currently in use have not come about by pure accident. They were designed to confuse monoculture tree plantations with real forests, deliberately in order to allow the systematic conversion of biodiversity rich and culturally diverse forests and forest dependent communities into elements of capitalist controlled production and consumption.

Timber plantations are simply a part of that industrial production process, which ruthlessly exploits natural ecosystems including real forests and grasslands. They should not be called forests.

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Filed under Forests, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests