A new website has published an interactive map of the U.S and Canadian Rail system that is being used to transport millions of gallons of potentially dangerous crude oil. The lines run through cities and towns and rural areas across the land. We know from the Lac-Megantic, Quebec disaster of July 2013 that destroyed the town and killed 47 people, that safety is hardly assured. Oil transportation by rail has increased 4000% in the last six years. Are safety strategies keeping up with this increase?
Police helicopter photo of Lac-Megantic of the derailment.
Do you want to know if these trains are running through your community? The organization that created the website, ForestEthics.org has published the map and has a petition for you to sign.
Petition- To: US President Obama and Congress
It seems each month another town is facing a terrifying oil train derailment, poisoned drinking water, or a deadly explosion. Our rail system takes these trains through population centers by schools and homes. Safety standards are weak and our emergency responders are not equipped for accidents.
We are not prepared for this threat:
Oil trains are more than a mile-long with 100+ cars, concentrating the risk of an accident that could ignite the three million gallons of crude on a single train.
Oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000 percent in the last five years.
Rail routes run right through major urban areas and cross water supplies. The US rail system was not designed to transport dangerous crude oil.
Dangerous DOT-111 cars, which make up the majority of US oil tanker trains, have serious flaws that make them highly prone to puncture during a derailment.
We have the solution:
The first step: Ban unsafe oil tanker cars.
We must prepare and equip emergency responders and reroute trains around population centers and away from water supplies.
New rail safety rules must be strong and must give citizens the information they need to protect themselves and the power to say no.
We do not need the extreme oil transported by these trains. The crude oil carried by train is more explosive and more toxic than conventional crude oil; it is also more carbon intensive. At a time when our oil use is decreasing and the threat of climate disruption is growing, the risk from oil trains is unacceptable.
View the Map and Sign the Petition Here
Learn More about Oil Trains Here
Matt Apuso of the New York Times has just published an article on THE UPSHOT detailing information that it received from the Pentagon regarding the transfer of military equipment such as machine guns, night-vision equipment, silencers, armored cars, and aircraft to local and regional police agencies. It is a compelling piece that will help you to track transfers of weapons into your communities since 2006. The original program was created by the Defense Department in the 1990s. Raw data can be found here.
Photo by Getty Images Scott Olson from Ferguson Missouri just before he was arrested by police, for taking photos of their actions. This photo shows police forcing protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 -Getty Images/Scott Olson
Matt Apuzzo New York Times THE UPSHOT
WASHINGTON — Since President Obama took office, the Pentagon has transferred to police departments tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
In May, The New York Times requested and received from the Pentagon its database of transfers since 2006. The data underpinned an article in June and helped inform coverage of the police response this month in Ferguson, Mo., after an officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.
The Times is now posting the raw data to GitHub here. With this data, which is being posted as it was received, people can see what gear is being used in their communities. The equipment is as varied as guns, computers and socks.
The Pentagon-to-police transfer program is not new. Congress created it during the drug war, as a way to increase police firepower in the fight against drug gangs. But since 9/11, as the Pentagon geared up to fight two wars, then drew down as those wars ended, the amount of available military surplus has ballooned.
Now, after a week of confrontation between protesters in Ferguson and heavily armed police, members of Congress are criticizing the trickle down of military gear.
Read the whole piece here.
2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas
A federal judge in Mexico overturned a permit that allowed Monsanto to plant GMO soy when evidence proved that the frankenplants endangered native honeybee colonies.
Victory is sweet!
In his article, “Monsanto in Mexico: Court rules against the Gene Giant in Yucatan,” Devon G. Pena explains the situation:
According to reports appearing in the Mexican print media, a federal district court judge in Yucatán yesterdayoverturned a permit issued to Monsanto, the U.S.-based multinational corporation that is a leading purveyor of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The permit, which had been issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food on June 6, 2012, allowed the commercial planting of GM soy bean in Yucatán. The ruling was based on consideration of scientific evidence demonstrating (to the judge’s satisfaction) that GMO soy crop plantings threaten Mexican honey production in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. (Read More)
Across the globe, governments backed by corporate cash call for scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful, but when that proof is placed before them, they dodge reality and keep on pushing their agendas. Mexico revoking Monsanto’s permit shows other governments that it is not too late to turn away from Big Ag and back to the people.
WASHINGTON D.C. – A draft chapter of the U.S-EU trade agreement leaked today by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) reveals public health and food safety could be at risk, according to an accompanying analysis. The leaked chapter concerns Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues—those surrounding food safety and animal and plant health—in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated. Only TTIP negotiators and security cleared advisors, mostly corporate representatives, can read and comment on draft negotiating texts.
The document reveals U.S. plans to “not require port of entry food inspections and testing, meaning food contamination outbreaks will be harder to trace to their origin, and liability harder to assess…”
According to the IATP analysis accompanying release of the leaked document, “This leaked draft TTIP chapter doesn’t tell us everything about where negotiations are headed on food safety, but it tells us enough to raise serious concerns.”
July 2, 2014. Source: Rising Tide Vermont
Photo from Rising Tide VT
Monkton and Cornwall homeowners are currently staging a “knit-in” at Vermont Gas Systems’ headquarters, occupying the main lobby and demanding the company stop tying to scare peaceful protestors and landowners with false allegations and eminent domain. Jane Palmer, Maren Vasatka and Claire Broughton, all of Monkton, and Mary Martin of Cornwall live in the path of the proposed fracked gas pipeline. They are joined by Charlotte resident Rebecca Foster.They said they won’t leave until Vermont Gas publicly admits to illegally trespassing on land in Addison County, agrees to not use eminent domain to build the pipeline and stops trying to use scare tactics against peaceful protestors engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Vermont Gas offices.
Jane Palmer, who said Vermont Gas agents have already trespassed on her land when they violated a right-of-entry agreement, plans to stay until Vermont Gas meets her demands or has her removed from the premises.
June 20, 2014. Source: Mountain Justice
Photo from Mountain Justice
Three activists demanding an end to mountaintop removal, block entrance to corporate office, stop business as usual.
Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads “Save Coal River Mountain”
“That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it’s the mountain that’s sustained my family for generations. I’ll be a dead man before I see them take what’s left up there,” said Junior Walk, of West Virginia. Walk lives in the Coal River Valley, directly below Alpha operations on Coal River Mountain. Alpha recently began blasting on the 264 acre Collins Fork mine. Local residents and activists have opposed surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s. Continue reading
Asserting Indigenous Law Over Unceded Lands
Source: Reclaim Turtle Island
-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- June 18th, 2014 [Unist’ot’en Territory - near Smithers, BC] Amid threats of a raid and impending pipeline approvals, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are prepared to continue to defend their territories against the incursion of government and industry. A soft blockade was erected in 2009, which remains today, to insure that pipeline projects which violate Wet’suwet’en Law would not trespass onto Wet’suwet’en territories to develop projects without their consent. Yesterday the Federal government approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline, but the Uni’stot’en Camp still remains in the path of the proposed pipe as well as several others. The Northern Gateway is intended to expand the Athabasca Tar Sands facilitating the export of bitumen to international markets via supertankers off the West Coast. The Uni’stot’en Clan is part of the hereditary chief system which has governed Wet’suwet’en lands since time immemorial and is not subject to the Indian Act or other impositions of colonial occupation. “Harper is illegal, Canada is illegal. The Provincial and Federal governments are illegal because they don’t have jurisdiction in our peoples territory. We have never signed any treaties, this land is unceded.” states Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en Clan member and spokesperson for the camp. Huson references a Supreme Court ruling in the Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia case that clearly states the ownership of unceded territories remains with the Indigenous peoples and that Band Council Chiefs and Indian Act Agents have no authority over these lands. In fact, consultation and consent must be given by the traditional and hereditary governance systems. Huson explains, “They’ve tried to get our consent and our Chiefs have said no to these projects and no means no. Wet’suwet’en law applies to these [projects]. Developers can go ahead and try and put their projects through here but they will be considered trespassers and we’ll enforce Wet’suwet’en law against trespassers… We’re not afraid of the Harper government, we’re not afraid of anyone who is going to try and forcefully put their project through our territory when we’ve already said no.” Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island have been standing up against resource extraction projects which infringe on our collective sovereignty and attack our territories, our peoples and our nations. Continued pushes for pipeline project approvals, tar sands expansion and fracking by the Federal government will only result in increased mobilization by Indigenous peoples. “Our numbers are quite high across Canada, Indigenous people probably out-number settler people and you can guarantee that if there is an uprising in one community – especially with a bigger project that impacts the whole world through global warming – you’re going to have a lot of upset people across Canada, this impacts every body.” Temporary highway, rail and port blockades have been used to show support with other Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and Huson asserts that any attack on the Unist’ot’en will result in widespread, global support. “We had people make vows that they will shut down major highways to impact the Canadian economy if the Harper government is going to ignore Indigenous people.” Dini Ze Toghestiy, a Hereditary Chief for the Likhs’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and member of the Unist’ot’en Camp asserts, “Supporters are repositioning themselves in surrounding towns to help build local support, and people in the cities are mobilized now. There’s individuals all over the world who have pledged to do what they can to help us.” Concerning the threat of a raid on the camp, there was no police presence on Unist’ot’en territory on June 15th – the date set for the anticipated raid. A tip from the BC Civil Liberties Association informed the Unist’ot’en Camp that there’s a rumour going around Victoria that the government, rather than file an injunction against the camp, file a charge for trespass using the Crown Lands Act. “But this is not Crown land” stated Toghestiy, “this land is unceded and we’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. People are showing up to the camp every day, our numbers are growing. This war is far from bring over and we’re going to win this one. We’re going to win it decisively.”
Media Contact: Freda Huson: 778-210-1100
Global Justice Ecology Project works closely with Rising Tide Vermont and stands in solidarity with pipeline resistance. -The GJEP Team
June 9, 2014. Source: Rising Tide Vermont
Photo by Rising Tide Vermont
Montpelier – Landowners and climate activists opposed to the Vermont Fracked Gas pipeline staged a sit-in today at the Department of Public Service, calling on the agency and the Public Service Board to suspend pipeline construction until they address possible widespread hazardous soil and water contamination along the proposed pipeline route.
“We’re here to let the Department and the Board know that without adequate intervention, pipeline construction threatens to disturb soils contaminated with hazardous chemicals,” said Jonathan Shapiro, of Rising Tide Vermont.
The demonstrators, including several Monkton landowners who live along the proposed pipeline route, are concerned that pipeline construction along the VELCO corridor could expose more people and water to contaminated soils. Continue reading