Category Archives: Oil

Obama’s State of the Union: fantasy, fact, fiction or all of the above?

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

During Obama’s State of the Union address last night the presence of the star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty might have been the most real part of a very surreal evening.

Of particular note were Obama’s comments on energy and climate change.

While the US Southeast was being hammered by a highly unusual winter storm which stranded thousands in the metro Atlanta area, (no, this does not disprove climate change you nitwits, climate scientists have warned for years that a warming globe means extreme and unpredictable weather) Obama was proclaiming a desire to address climate change so that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, [we can say] yes we did.”

This sounds wonderful until we consider the “all of the above” energy strategy Obama touted earlier in the speech, which gives a nod to some of the dirtiest, most polluting and destructive energy sources.  It includes shale oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota–the gas flares of which can be seen from space.  This shale oil is so extremely volatile that in the past year two trains carrying bakken oil have exploded.  It means more coal; it means more deep water offshore drilling of the type that caused the BP oil spill disaster.  It means more nukes, even in the shadow of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima.  And it means more fracking.  Obama made a big show of his support for natural gas “if extracted safely,” which it is not.

Obama spent exactly one paragraph on climate change.  He declared it a fact.  That anyone even needs to do that in this day and age, decades after global warming was identified as a problem, after the Northeast US was smashed by not one but two hurricanes in two consecutive years, after Super-Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, after the record droughts in Australia, Africa and the US Midwest–to name just a few climate-related catastrophes of the past 8 years–is astounding.  However, climate change is not only a fact. In my opinion it is the single greatest threat to future generations of humans and most other species.  Yet it merited only a passing mention.  One paragraph out of a 13 page speech.

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Oil, Political Repression, Pollution, Posts from Anne Petermann

On the 20th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Twenty years ago today an army of Indigenous Peoples, some using only wooden cut outs as guns, emerged from the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. They took over municipalities around the Mexican state, including the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in defiance of the enactment of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement.

new_la-realidad_2_card

La Realidad, 1996.  PhotoLangelle.org

The Zapatistas had condemned NAFTA as “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to many of its unjust provisions, but especially that which eliminated Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.

Article 27, which guaranteed the rights to communal lands in Mexico was an outcome of the revolution led by Emilano Zapata – after whom the Zapatistas took their name – in the early part of the 20th century.

But in order for NAFTA – the free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico – to be passed, Article 27 had to be eliminated.  The eradication of this hard-won victory was accomplished by Edward Krobaker, the CEO of International Paper.  Why did a multinational paper corporation care about this?  Because most of Mexico’s forests were on ejido (communal) lands, which meant they could not easily be obtained or controlled by multinational corporations such as IP.

According to anthropologist Dr. Ron Nigh,

In June of 1995, the government received a letter from Edward Krobacker, International Paper CEO (now John Dillon), establishing a series of conditions, some requiring changes in Mexico’s forestry law, to “create a more secure legal framework” for IP’s investment.

According to La Jornada, all of Krobaker’s (original) demands were agreed to and new forestry legislation has been prepared. Upon returning from a Wall Street meeting with Henry Kissinger and other top financial celebrities, Zedillo announced the rejection of  proposed legislation that would have implemented the Zapatista accords.

Instead he presented a counterproposal, designed to be unacceptable, which the Zapatistas rejected.

Shortly thereafter, Environmental Minister Carabias announced a large World Bank loan for “forestry,” i.e. commercial plantations.

Earlier that year, in January 1995 – one year after the passage of NAFTA and while the Zapatista uprising was still fresh and garnering support from all corners of the globe – Chase Manhattan Bank sent a memo to the Mexican government about the Zapatistas which was leaked.  This memo, released in January 1995, urged the Mexican government to “eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy” or risk  a devaluation of the peso and a fleeing of investors.  The portion of the memo dealing with the Zapatistas is below:

CHASE MANHATTAN’S EMERGING MARKETS GROUP MEMO

CHIAPAS

The uprising in the southern state of Chiapas is now one-year old and, apparently, no nearer to resolution. The leader, or spokesman, of the movement, sub-commandante Marcos, remains adamant in his demand that the incumbent PRI governor resign and be replaced by the PRD candidate who, Marcos argues, was deprived of victory by government fraud in the recent election. Marcos continues to lobby for widespread social and economic reform in the state. Incidents continue between the local police and military authorities and those sympathetic to the Zapatista movement, as the insurgency is called, and local peasant groups who are sympathetic to Marcos and his cronies.

While Zedillo is committed to a diplomatic and political solution th the stand-off in Chiapas, it is difficult to imagine that the current environment will yield a peaceful solution. Moreover, to the degree that the monetary crisis limits the resources available to the government for social and economic reforms, it may prove difficult to win popular support for the Zedillo administration’s plans for Chiapas. More relevant, Marcos and his supporters may decide to embarrass the government with an increase in local violence and force the administration to cede to Zapatista demands and accept an embarrassing political defeat. The alternative is a military offensive to defeat the insurgency which would create an international outcry over the use of violence and the suppression of indigenous rights.

While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.

Orin Langelle, Board Chair of GJEP, who was then the Co-Coordinator of Native Forest Network Eastern North America (NFN ENA) attended the Chase Manhattan Board meeting that year and read the memo out loud to the stock holders.

What many do not know about the Zapatista struggle, is that it is and was a struggle for the land.  For autonomous Indigenous control over their territories.  NFN ENA put out a video about this aspect of the Zapatista struggle after we were asked to help expose the ecological threats to Chiapas which the Zapatistas were trying to stop–including illegal logging, oil drilling and hydroelectric dams.  The video includes interviews from the first North American Encuentro in the Zapatista stronghold of La Realidad in the summer of 1996.  The video is called “Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico.”

A clip of the video can be viewed here:

Despite massive pressure from governments, multinationals and major banks, twenty years later, the Zapatistas are still organizing.  Maybe you thought they had disappeared, but they have not.  They are just busily doing the work of daily life.  They have their own autonomous form of government, their own schools, and they maintain their rejection of any type of support from the Mexican government.

Today, as social movements around the world continue to resist unjust “free” trade agreements such as the TPP (TransPacific Partnership), the Zapatistas continue to be an inspiration to me and I hope to many others as well.

To view Orin Langelle’s photo exhibit of 15 years of photographs from Chiapas, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Oil, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Victory!

This week’s Earth Watch on Indigenous Resistance to the Tar Sands

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up weekly with Pacifica’s Sojourner Truth show hosted by Margaret Prescod to cover important news about the environment.  Every Tuesday we produce an “Earth Minute” and each Thursday an “Earth Watch” interview segment with an activist from the front lines of the battle to protect mother Earth.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Earth Radio, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Mining, Oil, Tar Sands

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: Massive flooding damage to oil and gas infrastructure causes public health hazard

September 19, 2013.

kpfk_logoA major health disaster faces Colorado made worse from overturned tanks storing fracking chemicals mixed in with flood waters. Merrily Mazza of East Boulder County United discusses the dangers posed by leaking tanks and pipelines in Weld County.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Oil, Pollution, Waste, Water

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: Mathew Louis-Rosenburg on Fearless Summer, MTR in southern Appalachia

July 25, 2013.

kpfk_logoMathew Louis-Rosenberg is an organizer in southern West Virginia with Coal River Mountain Watch and the RAMPS Campaign (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival).  He is also a convener of the Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative, a new national effort to network folks fighting on the front lines of battles around energy extraction.

Mathew discusses Fearless Summer, an initiative launched out of the first Extreme Energy Extraction Summit this February, as well as the social and environmental crisis in Appalachia caused by mountaintop-removal coal mining.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Mountaintop Removal, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: Clayton Thomas-Muller on Quebec oil disaster, Tar Sands Healing Walk, Sovereignty Summer

Note: Clayton Thomas-Muller is a good friend and member of the board of Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

July 11, 2013

kpfk_logoClayton Thomas-Muller co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign discusses the oil rail disaster that left scores dead in Quebec, the Tar Sands healing walk and Sovereignty summer.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: Quebec oil spill highlights dangers of ‘fracked’ oil from Bakken Shale

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands

Obama’s green agenda seen through Vermont eyes

Note: Will Bennington, featured in the article below, is Development and Campaigns Associate with Global Justice Ecology Project’s Vermont office.  He is also a volunteer organizer with Rising Tide Vermont.  Bennington has not listened to Obama’s speech, and doesn’t plan to.  Instead, along with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann, he went straight to the actual policy document.  Apparently, other environmentalists in Vermont would prefer to chew on the rhetoric instead of digesting the facts, which are more coal, more nukes, more fracking, more industrial biofuels and more false solutions taking us over the climate cliff.

-The GJEP Team

By Joel Baird, June 25, 2013. Source: Burlington Free Press

Energy efficiency isn’t a bold, new idea in Vermont. Nor is the quest for renewable energy and cleaner air.

But Green Mountain environmental activists took keen notice of President Obama’s unveiling Tuesday afternoon of a new, national climate action plan.

Within minutes of the speech’s conclusion, author Bill McKibben, a Ripton resident and founder of the global 350.org movement, issued a single, simple email.

In response to Obama’s remark that approval of the Keystone XL tar-sand pipeline from Alberta, Canada, hinged on its contribution to increases in greenhouse gas levels (a widely acknowledged outcome), McKibben wrote: “This is an appropriate standard that the president appears to be setting.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Hydrofracking, Nuclear power, Oil, Pollution, REDD, Tar Sands