South Dakotans fight TransCanada on their own turf

Photo of crowd yesterday at hearing, posted on DRA's Twitter feed

Photo of crowd yesterday at hearing, posted on DRA’s Twitter feed

Pierre, SD – The fight to stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline can add one more state to its battleground: South Dakota. A powerful coalition of local allies intervened in the certification of the pipeline permit at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, and the battle for the open US Senate seat in South Dakota could be decided by voters strongly opposed to Keystone XL.

Four tribal nations and a number of grassroots Native groups, each belonging to the Oceti Sakowin, have petitioned to intervene. Those tribes are the Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Standing Rock, and Yankton Sioux Tribes. Dakota Rural Action, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and several South Dakota landowners have also petitioned to intervene. This coalition, called No KXL Dakota, is comprised of tribal nations, non-profit organizations, individual tribal citizens and non-tribal landowners, each dedicated to the protection of Mother Earth and the natural resources of South Dakota.

TransCanada opposed the intervention of several applicants to party status, including the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utility Commission Office, both Native entities dealing with energy issues in South Dakota.

This high-profile pipeline battle has intensified with the South Dakota congressional race. Republican candidate Mike Rounds is the only candidate fully endorsing the pipeline, while Democratic opponent Rick Weiland has gained local support because of his opposition to Keystone XL and Independent Larry Pressler has also courted the Native vote.

Lewis Grassrope of Wiconi Un Tipi: “We are here to ensure that this committee [the PUC] hears our voice on this opposition to the pipeline or any pipeline through these lands.”

Joye Braun of Pte Ospaye Spirit Camp: “Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp mission is stand in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the social evils that come with Big Oil, to educate the people about the KXL Pipeline, fracking, and the pollution that occurs with oil production. Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp is located just outside of the Bridger Community on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and 2.2 miles from where the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline proposes to go through. It is a hugely historic area known for centuries as a crossroads for Natives Peoples to travel through on their way to the Black Hills. It is ground zero for the Lakota people fighting this pipeline as it would have to pass through this area first to try and get to the other camps and Nebraska.”

No KXL Dakota allies have pledged to stand their ground and not back down in the now local battle over property, land, water, human trafficking, and treaty rights.

Press conference: Capitol Building sidewalk, 15 minutes after PUC hearing ends

Dakota Rural Action will be live-tweeting the PUC hearing; follow @DakotaRural

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Indigenous Peoples, Keystone XL

BP still in denial about impact of Gulf oil disaster

A new report released this week by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil disaster from April of 2010 left at least 10 million gallons of congealed oil on the floor of the Gulf.

BP disputes the findings saying that “the authors fail to identify the source of the oil.”

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Tons of BP Oil Still on the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico

A new study shows that cleanup barely scratched the surface

Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones. 27 October 2014

We all saw the images of oil-coated birds and shorelines in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. These were the most visible impacts of the catastrophe, but much of the oil that gushed from the busted Macondo wellhead 5,000 feet underwater never made it to the surface. Of the estimated 5 million barrels that spilled, approximately 2 million stayed trapped in the deep ocean. And up to 31 percent of that oil is now lying on the ocean floor, according to a new study.

Based on an analysis of sea-floor sediment samples collected from the the Gulf of Mexico, geochemists at the University of California-Santa Barbara were able to offer the first clues about the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil. Their results were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The data, which was gathered as part of the ongoing federal damage assessment, shows “a smokingly clear signal, like a bulls-eye” around the Macondo well, said lead author David Valentine.

In a related story published last week in GRIST, researchers claim that they can now identify the fingerprints from tracking operations in polluted water contaminated by fracking. Maybe the day is not so far off where forensics will link BP to the world’s greatest ecological catastrophe in ways that are undeniable, even in their own minds.

Read more here.

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Filed under Human made disasters, Oceans, Oil, Pollution

Today ends the EPA’s public comment period for new standards on oil refineries

For people living in the shadows of oil refineries, simply breathing can be a major health risk. The EPA’s proposed new standards, aimed to reduce cancer risk, still leave a lot to be desired. According to an article on EarthJustice, more than 275,000 public comments, plus a comment letter from about 100 organizations, are not letting the EPA get away with providing the bare minimum of protection.

The ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Wilmington, California. PHOTO: JESSE MARQUEZ

The ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Wilmington, California. PHOTO: JESSE MARQUEZ

Today, Oct. 28, 2014, marks the end of the public comments period on these new proposals. However well-intended these suggestions are, regulations don’t reverse climate change. They also don’t cure cancer, asthma and death. More than regulations and new standards are needed to create real, sustainable climate change.

by EarthJustice, 27 October 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received more than 275,000 public comments supporting strengthening health and safety standards proposed in May that would reduce hazardous air pollution from oil refineries. In addition, EPA received a comment letter from over 100 community, health, and environmental organizations.

Tomorrow, October 28, the EPA’s public comment period on the proposal ends.

Community comments provide support for finalizing a more robust standard by specifically calling for reducing emissions from not only some parts of a refinery, but also leaks and flaring of cancer-causing air toxics. Comments were generated by Earthjustice, CREDO, Sierra Club and many others.

Get the whole story here.

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Filed under Climate Change, Energy, EPA, Oil, Pollution

VT pipeline protesters rally in Montpelier, 60+ arrested for peaceful sit-in

Protesters marched into the Pavilion in Montpelier on Monday to protest the Vermont Gas pipeline. Photo and caption by John Herrick/VTDigger

Protesters marched into the Pavilion in Montpelier on Monday to protest the Vermont Gas pipeline. Photo and caption by John Herrick/VTDigger

After a rally with hundreds of Vermont residents, over 60 people were arrested sitting-in in Governor Shumlin’s office–calling on the Governor to drop his support for the fracked gas pipeline and advance a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Rising Tide’s Twitter feed has loads of great images:

John Herrick of VT Digger covered the action; he gives a little too much time to VT Gas, but otherwise does good work letting us know about this important part of the campaign in VT.

VT Gas Pipeline Protesters Occupy Governor’s Office

By John Herrick. VT Digger. 27 October 2014.

MONTPELIER — Hundreds of environmental protesters occupied the governor’s office on Monday, demanding that Gov. Peter Shumlin reverse his support for the natural gas pipeline through Addison County, and oppose any other fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Vermont. State regulators approved the project last December, and the company began construction this summer.

The protesters danced, sang and played instruments to protest Vermont Gas’ 41-mile pipeline from Colchester south to Middlebury. They brought sheep, dogs and children. Some slipped past security and climbed the stairs to the fifth floor of the Pavilion Building.

Read the whole article here.



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Filed under Actions / Protest, Fracking, Pipeline

Hopi Relocation Happening Now as Black Mesa Harassment Escalates

From Black Mesa Indigenous Support

Since 1974, U.S. federal relocation policy—known as Public Law 93-531—has forced tens of thousands of Dineh (Navajo) people from their ancestral homeland—now known as the Hopi Partitioned Lands—in Arizona. This constitutes the largest forced relocation of Indigenous peoples in the U.S since the Trail of Tears. The relocation is ongoing and impacts generations. The policy, crafted by the Department of Justice and Peabody Energy Company representatives, opened access to the mineral resources of Black Mesa – billions of tons of low-sulfur coal, uranium, and natural gas. A July 2012  report by the Navajo Human Rights Commission classifies the relocation as a massive human rights violation and demands the immediate repeal of PL 93-531 and an end to relocation efforts and harassment in the form of surveillance, livestock impoundments, and disruption of gatherings and ceremonies that the resistance community experiences.

Observers recording harassment by government agents-source Black Mesa Indigenous Support October 2014

Observers recording harassment by government agents-source: Black Mesa Indigenous Support October 2014

This summer has seen an escalation of tensions and calls for independent observers. Over the weekend comes a plea from Black Mesa Indigenous Support that harassment has escalated and help is needed.

URGENT: Widespread Impoundments & an arrest on the HPL, October 2014

Black Mesa Indigenous Support. 26 October 2014

UPDATE from HPL (Hopi Partition Land) residents: Shirley Tohannie and elder Caroline Tohannie had their entire herd of 65 sheep impounded by the Hopi Rangers (US federal government) Tuesday, October 22, 2014. If the fines aren’t paid the sheep will go to auction, and the family is being told that the sheep will not be able to return to the family’s rangeland. The cost to release the livestock is nearly $1,000.

Jerry Babbit Lane, the Tohannie’s neighbor on the HPL, was arrested by Hopi rangers when he attempted to check on his neighbors and was charged with disorderly conduct. He was released this evening, 10/23. Rangers told Shirley they plan to take Rena’s (Jerry’s mother) sheep too and that they’re going to start impounding across the HPL.

As we’re writing, another family on Big Mountain has had nearly their entire herd impounded.

Read the full post here.

More Background on the resistance of HPL communities here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Coal, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Mining

Unapproved GMO wheat grows mistrust in USDA

An unapproved variety of GMO wheat was found in Montana, proving once again that little to no regulation is actually being enforced against Big Ag and biotech companies. It’s no secret that the USDA consistently turns its head while GMO-related rules and regulations are repeatedly broken. According to an article on USA Today, the U.S. is the leader in GMO crops, particularly in Iowa, where 95 percent of the corn planted this past year came from genetically modified seeds.

Photo: USA Today

Photo: USA Today

I guess Big Ag thinks it’s can’t afford to wait. As the pressure mounts between consumers demanding labeling and biotech companies refusing, cases like this just show that Big Ag is not at all interested in consumer needs or safety.

GMO wheat mishaps foster skepticism of USDA
by Christopher Doering, USA TODAY, 26 October 2014


In September, the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees biotech crops, said it found the Monsanto wheat two months earlier on a research field at Montana State University, more than a decade after the crop was legally tested there between 2000 and 2003.

The finding came as the USDA concluded a nearly yearlong probe into a similar wheat discovery in Oregon in May 2013. In that case, the government was unable to determine how the modified seeds developed by Monsanto appeared eight years after testing ended for the biotech variety. Neither wheat strain has been approved for sale or consumption.

Each year, hundreds of tests are conducted around the United States, mostly on corn, soybeans and alfalfa by seed giants including Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer.

In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service authorized the planting of more than 500 crops that could be tested on as many as 11,300 sites across the nation.

Read the full article here.

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Scientists try to put brakes on Nicaragua’s Gran Canal, citing threats to water, biodiversity, and Indigenous communities



Lake Nicaragua, Photo by Aaron Escobar/Creative Commons 2.0 via

Jeremy Hance has an update on Nicaragua’s Chinese-backed Gran Canal plan: The Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation has officially advised against the canal, citing a truly devastating list of social and ecological damage that would result from it.

GJEP is firmly against mega-dam projects, and the Gran Canal is one of the most mega being planned right now: It’s important that scientists are doing the work of charting the effects and is keeping us updated.

Scientific association calls on Nicaragua to scrap its Gran Canal
Jeremy 27 October 2014.

The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)—the world’s largest association of tropical biologists and conservationists—has advised Nicaragua to halt its ambitious plan to build a massive canal across the country. The ATBC warns that the Chinese-backed canal, also known as the Gran Canal, will have devastating impacts on Nicaragua’s water security, its forests and wildlife, and local people.

Read more at!

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Filed under Biodiversity, Latin America-Caribbean, Mega-Dams, Water

The Onion skewers Monsanto in sci-fi horror scenario

"Officials say Indianapolis is now 60 percent corn," photo from the Onion with the article

“Officials say Indianapolis is now 60 percent corn,” photo from the Onion with the article

The Onion has been on a roll lately with some great headlines showing that it’s still going strong. Here’s a classically painful-but-funny parody we saved for the weekend, “Monsanto Harvest-Resistant Corn Now Engulfing Most Of Midwest.”

In it, The Onion creates a sci-fi horror scenario very much in the spirit of 1950s, but reading carefully, one can see that it draws carefully from reality, including effects much like the known ecological damage of Monsanto crops (water depletion, for example) and giving it a very Monsanto-like name. Moreover, be sure to read the last paragraph! The author clearly follows the news on Monsanto closely.

This article is a classic parody because it brings out how close to sci-fi horror and how absurd Monsanto really is, along with everything else we can say about it.

Monsanto Harvest-Resistant Corn Now Engulfing Most Of Midwest

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Wreaking untold environmental and economic devastation throughout the region, a strain of harvest-resistant corn engineered by the agrochemical company Monsanto is now engulfing most of the Midwest, officials confirmed Monday.

Read the whole parody here.

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Filed under Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Humor, Industrial agriculture, Monsanto