Tag Archives: coal

‘We draw the line’: Coal-impacted Lummi Nation and Northern Cheyenne unite in solidarity

By , Oct 9, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Photo by Paul AndersonPhoto by Paul Anderson

Offering solidarity to Indigenous Nations, last month five Carvers from the Lummi Nation House of Tears set out on a journey up the Pacific North West Coast hoping to send a message of Kwel’Hoy, or ‘We Draw The Line’ to the resource extraction industry. With them, lain carefully on the flat bed of a truck, the Lummi carried a beautifully-carved 22-foot cedar totem pole for Indigenous communities to bless along the way. Their journey gained international attention as a pilgrimage of hope, healing and determination for the embattled Indigenous Nations they visited.

The rich prairies and clear streams of Otter Creek, Montana, land of the Northern Cheyenne, were the first stop on the Totem Pole’s profound journey. Both the Lummi carvers who made the 1,200 mile trip inland and the Northern Cheyenne who received them, currently face major, interconnected threats from proposed coal mining developments. Bound by this common struggle the meeting of these Peoples resonated with a deep significance that replicated along the rest of the Lummi’s spiritual trail. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, Pollution

Northwest tribes fight for treaty rights in the face of coal-transport plan

By Terri Hansen August 15, 2012. Source: Indian Country Today

Fall Chinook salmon run
Photo: U.S. Department of Justice website

Treaty fishing rights are meaningless if there are no healthy fish populations left to harvest, say Pacific Northwest tribes, fishers and tribal environmental organizations.

But that is exactly what is happening on the Columbia River in Washington State as habitat degradation has led to a decline of salmon and diminished the treaty harvest to levels not seen in nearly 40 years. And a proposal to transport coal through these sensitive waterways threatens to undermine the salmon population even more, tribal leaders say.

Tribal fishers like Billy Frank Jr. fought hard battles to uphold the tribes’ treaty right to fish. When the 1974 Boldt federal court decision established tribal co-management of Washington State fisheries and affirmed the affected tribes’ treaty rights to half the harvestable salmon, their harvest finally increased.

Now the coal industry is seeking to export millions of tons of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal to lucrative Asian markets through six proposed shipping terminals on Oregon and Washington waterways. If the coal companies prevail, it will degrade salmon and cultural-foods habitat as well as affect treaty rights, say organizations like the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC); the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Tribal Lands Program; tribal nations including the Lummi in northwest Washington and the Yakama in eastern Washington, and tribal voices such as Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs elder Bruce Jim.

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Non-violent activists arrested and beaten for action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining

Source: RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival)

Twenty people were arrested and are currently jailed in West Virginia for a courageous act of non-violent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal mining last weekend.  These folks are currently under a bond of $25,000 per person, and this excessively high bond means that the protestors cannot be released until the funds are raised to bail them out.  We do not have anything close to this amount of money, so we need your help.

Please donate to help raise bail for these activists   http://bit.ly/mj-legal

Last week, as part of a massive “Mountain Mobilization” organized by RAMPS – Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, folks walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mountaintop removal mine as a non-violent protest against this form of coal mining, where coal companies blast the tops off the Appalachian Mountains, destroying the forests and every living thing on the mountain.  Over 500 mountains in Appalachia have already been flattened by this form of mining.  Coal companies dump enormous amounts of mining waste rock and debris into precious headwater mountain streams in mountaintop removal, and the landscape is permanently altered.

Burning coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is the leading contributor to global warming.

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Coal protest movement hits Wyoming

By JEREMY PELZER Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cross-Posted from  Star-Tribune

CHEYENNE— It started as street theater in Cheyenne on Thursday, but by the end of summer, the group organizing the event said it will likely lead to confronting mine operators and law enforcement in Campbell County.

Anti-global warming activists from Wyoming and around the region say they’re planning a number of confrontational civil disobedience protests this summer against coal mines in the Powder River Basin.

The goal, said a High Country Rising Tide leader, is to interrupt business at the mines with “arrestable” activities designed to win publicity for its cause and cut into coal companies’ bottom lines.

High Country Rising Tide is the Wyoming chapter of the national group Rising Tide, which co-organized a rally and a series of protests last month in Washington, D.C., that resulted in dozens of arrests.

On Thursday morning, about 10 activists from the group protested outside the Bureau of Land Management’s Cheyenne office while the agency auctioned off a 243-acre coal-rich land tract in the Thunder Basin National Grassland. As people filed in for the auction, the sign-wielding protesters staged a street theater performance starring “King Coal.”

But the group soon plans do to more than performance art to advance its cause, said High County Rising Tide co-founder Kristen Owenreay, a University of Wyoming graduate student.

Organizers are currently planning a demonstration at a Powder River Basin coal mine sometime in July, Owenreay said. While they haven’t yet exactly decided what they’ll be doing, she said, they plan on doing activities designed to spark a police reaction and interrupt work at the mine.

In August, the group is planning a larger event — a week-long “radical change camp” in Campbell County that Owenreay said will attract environmental activists from around Wyoming and neighboring states.

During the “West by Northwest” camp from Aug. 2-10, attendees will be trained in civil disobedience, hold protests at area coal mines, and pitch in with community service projects, she said.

In particular, Owenreay said the group is targeting proposals to build several deep-water ports in the Pacific Northwest that would allow Powder River Basin coal to be shipped to energy-hungry Asian markets.

The goal, Owenreay said, is to eventually bring to a halt any usage of coal, one of the world’s primary sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

Such an objective is a tough sell in Wyoming, the top coal-producing state in the nation. But Owenreay said her group hopes to show coal companies, investors, and other associated industries that coal isn’t worth it economically.

“Everything that we do is aimed at either mobilizing public support or directly affecting their bottom line in a way that communicates that this is a poor investment,” she said. “This [BLM protest] is the first tiny piece in what’s going to be a big summer for us.”

Wyoming Mining Association Assistant Director Travis Deti said that while activists have a right to do what they want, it’s “disappointing” that they are trying to destroy an industry so vital to Wyoming.

“It’s important to our state, it’s important to our economy, it provides jobs in our state, and they’re just trying to shut us down,” he said.

Read more: http://trib.com/news/local/coal-protest-movement-hits-wyoming/article_f9868ef5-a78c-59ee-8a65-e15a469ecc8b.html#ixzz1vEpz9XFe

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MayDay Action: Peabody Coal Shareholder Meeting Disrupted

Cross-Posted from St Louis Today
Protesters target Peabody Energy's shareholders meeting

At least seven times, protesters stood up at the meeting to yell “Peabody pay up” and other slogans as they were escorted out by company representatives and police. No arrests were reported.

Afterward, more than 100 people — many affiliated with labor unions or the Occupy Movement — demonstrated outside the Peabody Opera house, where the meeting was held.

For the most part, Greg Boyce, the company’s chairman and chief executive, ignored the protesters’ shouts as he conducted the annual meeting, attended by about 100 shareholders.

“In our view, we certainly pay our fair share,” he told shareholders.

In a statement, Peabody said that in 2011 it paid $1.4 billion in taxes, fees and royalties, including more than $200 million in federal, state and local taxes.

Peabody paid Boyce $10.2 million last year, including a $2.6 million bonus that was close to the maximum allowed in his compensation plan. His total pay was up 6.5 percent from 2010.

After the meeting, Peabody released another statement that said last year marked the best financial results — including a $958 million profit — and strongest safety performance in the company’s 129-year history. Boyce said in the statement that the “global supercycle for coal was alive and well, with rising electricity generation and steel demand in China and India driving strong demand for coal.”

In comments to shareholders, Boyce described Peabody’s commitment to St. Louis, its decision to keep and expand its downtown headquarters and its support of the St. Louis Zoo. He noted the meeting’s location at the Peabody Opera House, after the company paid an undisclosed amount in 2010 to the rename the former Kiel Opera House, which reopened last fall after a $78.7 million renovation and restoration.

Every few minutes, protesters — singly or in small groups up to six people — rose to interrupt Boyce. Other shareholders and Peabody directors, seated in a row next to Boyce on the meeting room’s stage, sat quietly as the still-shouting demonstrators were led away.

Boyce’s comments about Peabody’s corporate citizenship made no impression on protesters, who decried what they said was Peabody’s failure to pay its fair share of taxes. Many in the noisy crowd outside the opera house waved signs as they chanted “We pay taxes, so should you” and “This is what democracy looks like.”

Police kept demonstrators behind temporary metal barricades set up along the sidewalk in front of the opera house.

Michelle Witthaus, an Occupy St. Louis member among the protesters escorted from the shareholders meeting, later joined the demonstrators outside. Citing a report last year by Citizens for Tax Justice, a public-interest research group, she said in an interview that Peabody shortchanged city public schools by paying no state income taxes in 2008 or 2010.

Witthaus, 35, said she had seen the effect of inadequate funding as a teacher in a city elementary school. She said her school lacked a sufficient number of computers and other equipment to help children get ready for a high-tech world.

“Our kids in the city of St. Louis will not be prepared for the future,” she said.

At the close of the meeting, the company announced that shareholders had voted to retain Boyce and all other board members, who had sat in a row of chairs across the stage of an ornate meeting room. Shareholders rejected a proposal by Sister Barbara Jennings, coordinator of the Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, to require Peabody to disclose more details of its lobbying activities.

Jennings said shareholders learned only from media reports that Peabody is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which had a role in persuading more than 20 state to enact “stand your ground” laws. Florida’s “stand your ground” law is a focus of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by a member of a neighborhood watch group.

Boyce replied that the company believed its existing disclosure rules are adequate.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/business/energy/occupy-protesters-target-peabody-shareholder-meeting-in-st-louis/article_8d5d8d68-93b7-11e1-9559-0019bb30f31a.html#ixzz1tp1pTnRW

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Action Alert! Help Stop Mountaintop Removal Spruce Mine!

From our allies at I Love Mountains:

Courtesy ILoveMountains.org

We won a major victory for Appalachia last year when the Environmental Protection Agency decided to veto the Spruce Mine in West Virginia — one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed.

Now that historic victory is in jeopardy.

In a controversial decision, a federal court overrode the EPA’s veto of the mine, despite the fact that it will dump 110 million cubic yards of mining waste into local waterways, generate toxic pollutants, and bury over six miles of streams — a clear violation of the Clean Water Act.

Now it is time for The White House to step up and stop the Spruce Mine.

Take action and urge the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to save our mountains and stand up for the Clean Water Act! 

  The EPA vetoed the mine because they know that destroying mountains and dumping waste in Appalachian communities’ streams is wrong. They know that having access to clean water and living in a safe environment is a basic human right.

Last week, the EPA vowed it would not let the court’s ruling interfere with its commitment to protect Appalachian communities and their access to clean water. 2

Tell the White House CEQ to support the EPA’s efforts and stop the Spruce Mine.

Last year you helped us send over 10,000 messages to the EPA urging them to veto the mine. Together we won. We can’t back down now!

Send a message to the White House CEQ today and save Logan County, WV from destructive mountaintop removal mining. 

For the Mountains,

Matt Wasson
ILoveMountains.org

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Historic Victory Won with Retirement of Chicago’s Two Coal Plants!

A decade-long grassroots campaign against two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation

Today, Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of Edison International, will announce the retirement of its Fisk and Crawford coal plants, two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation. The announcement marks a historic victory for a decade-long grassroots campaign to protect Chicago residents from the harmful impacts of coal pollution. According to an agreement signed by Midwest Generation, the Clean Power Coalition, and the City of Chicago, the Fisk coal plant in Pilsen will shut down in 2012 and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village will shut down by 2014.

For over ten years, thousands of Little Village residents have called on government officials and Midwest Generation to shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants. Community organizations in Pilsen and Little Village joined with environmental, health, faith, and labor groups to form the Clean Power Coalition, launching a groundbreaking grassroots campaign to make Chicago a coal-free city. In the last year, thirty five aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel joined on the cause.

The agreement also calls for the creation of a community advisory council to address issues such as the toxicity and future use of the sites. This is a major victory for the residents of the Pilsen and Little Village communities.

“For over ten years our communities have been fighting for the right to breathe clean air, clean land and clean water. Today we are ending over 100 years of pollution for profits and showing the power of community. This fight was more than just about a right to breath, this continues with ensuring the land left behind is properly cleaned to avoid leaving our community with another contaminated piece of industrial land and another struggle for environmental justice in Little Village” says Kimberly Wasserman of LVEJO.

The retirement of Fisk and Crawford will deliver substantial public health benefits. Researchers from the Clean Air Task Force found that pollution from Fisk and Crawford causes 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year. One in four Chicagoans live within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks.

The Chicago Clean Power Coalition is a growing group of organizations fighting for clean air, including: Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, Eco-Justice Collaborative. Environmental Law and Policy Center, Environment Illinois, Greenpeace, Faith in Place, Illinois Student Environmental Coalition, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Nuclear Information Service, Pilsen Alliance, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, Protestants for the Common Good, Rainforest Action Network Chicago, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, SEIU, Sierra Club, and the Southeast Environmental Task Force.

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Portland OR Activists Scale Billboard, Expose Local Coal Threats

Courtesy Portland, OR Rising Tide

Portland, Ore. Three activists with Cascade Climate Network and Portland Rising Tide occupied a billboard at the corner of SE 12th and Sandy Blvd. Sunday afternoon to protest proposals for coal export terminals across the Northwest. The activists altered the billboard with a giant banner that listed five potential coal export sites along the Oregon and Washington coast, while around forty protestors gathered below and spelled “no coal exports” with oversized letters.

Coal corporations including Peabody and Arch Energy are seeking to export up to 100 million tons of coal annually from six separate sites in Oregon and Washington. Last month, with minimal public input, the Port of St Helens approved an option to lease the port to coal companies Ambre Energy and Kinder Morgan. This comes nearly a year after Millennium Bulk Logistics temporarily withdrew an application to export coal from Longview, Washington after internal documents revealed inconsistent figures regarding the intended volume of coal for export.

“Big coal knowingly poisons our land, water and communities for the sake of their bottom line. Coal is the biggest contributor to global climate change, and as we teeter on the threshold of climate chaos we must reject all coal infrastructure,” said Chelsea Thaw, an activist with Cascade Climate Network.

This event was part of a regional day of coordinated action against Northwest Coal Exports. Actions occurred across Oregon and Washington near sites of proposed export and in Montana near the coal fields of the Powder River Basin. Portland Rising Tide has staged numerous protests against coal export throughout the past year including several at coal financing banks.

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Navajo & Environmental Organizations Partner to Appeal Peabody Coal’s Kayenta Coal Permit

Feb 17, 2012

Appeal filed today aims to protect critical drinking water below Black Mesa

To Nizhoni Valley, Ariz- A group of five organizations, To Nizhoni Ani, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Dine C.A.R.E, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed an appeal yesterday that challenges the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSM) decision to renew a permit for Peabody Coal Company’s dirty Kayenta mine. The appeal charges that OSM revised a permit without considering data and analysis demonstrating how Peabody’s pumping of the Navajo Aquifer for coal mining operations is linked to declining water levels, springs and groundwater quality in Navajo communities. The appeal also charges that OSM ignored these signs of material damage and changed the criteria that the agency has used for evaluating the mine’s impact on Black Mesa’s Navajo Aquifer since 1989.

“With this appeal we are ensuring that Peabody is held accountable to the federal laws that protect our communities, environment, water, sacred places and cultural resources,” states Jihan Gearon of Black Mesa Water Coalition. “It’s time for OSM to stop facilitating the destruction of our lands and instead support us in holding the corporations who operate on our lands accountable.”

The Navajo Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water to thousands of Navajo and Hopi residents and has a central role in each tribe’s cultural practices. For nearly 40 years Peabody has mined the Kayenta Mine, which has supplied approximately 8.5 million tons of coal annually to the Navajo Generating Station in northeastern Arizona. Both the Kayenta Mine and the coal plant operations have significantly impacted several indigenous communities, particularly in the Black Mesa region, by damaging community health and polluting water resources.

“Drinking water wells in our community have declined over a hundred feet. Sinkholes and cracks near Forest Lakes have occurred where the surface is subsiding. Water quality has deteriorated and our sacred springs are disappearing. For OSM to just ignore this and say there are no significant impacts is a violation of their trust responsibility to our people,” states Marshall Johnson of To Nizhoni Ani.

Between 1969 and 2005 alone, Peabody pumped over 4,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Navajo Aquifer and continues to pump approximately 1,200 acre-feet for use at its mine operations. Peabody has historically been the largest pumper of regional groundwater, which is also used by local indigenous communities as their primary source of drinking water. Moreover, OSM’s permit allows Peabody to expand their operations into new areas that will force Navajo families to relocate, losing their ancestral homes for more coal development. “Four families will be relocated to make way for the mine expansion,” states Anna Frazier of Dine CARE. “How many more communities must be uprooted before OSM believes the impacts of this mine operation are significant?”

The appeal also argues that OSM failed to comply with several environmental laws and has not kept Peabody from posting adequate bonds to help pay for reclamation of the mine areas. “Peabody has gotten another rubber stamp from OSM and local residents’ health and homes have been sacrificed in the name of cheap coal. OSM must do better a better job to protect the communities of Black Mesa,” states Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club.

The organizations are represented on appeal by attorney Brad Bartlett of the Western Energy Justice Project and Margot Pollans of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University.

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For a copy of the appeal, log onto this link: http://db.tt/6xtEdXIH

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Spies eye green protesters (Australia)

Cross-posted from The Age

Philip Dorling     January 7, 2012

Some environmental activists and groups are being continually monitored by the federal police. Photo: Rebecca Hallas

A FEDERAL government minister has pushed for increased police surveillance of environmental activists peacefully protesting at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities.

Documents released to The Saturday Age under freedom-of-information laws reveal that federal police are continually monitoring anti-coal mining groups, and other environmental bodies.

They also show that Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, who requested the additional surveillance, has been prompted by energy company lobbying to urge stronger criminal penalties against protests that disrupt critical energy infrastructure.

Much of the intelligence collection is carried out for the Australian Federal Police by a Melbourne-based private contractor, the National Open Source Intelligence Centre, which monitors activist websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown yesterday condemned the surveillance, saying it was ”intolerable that the federal Labor government was spying on conservation groups” and wanted to criminalise political protest. ”This is clearly Labor being leaned upon by largely foreign-owned coal corporations,” Senator Brown said. ”It involves wasting public money on police efforts directed against peaceful protests, an essential element of a functioning democracy.”

Documents released by the Resources, Energy and Tourism Department show that a surge in environmental demonstrations prompted Mr Ferguson to write to then attorney-general Robert McClelland in September 2009 to raise concerns of ”issues-motivated activism, and the possibility of disruptions to critical energy infrastructure sites”.

The document say Mr Ferguson sought advice on whether the resources of the attorney-general’s portfolio, and in particular the intelligence-gathering services of the Australian Federal Police, could be further utilised to ”assist the energy sector and jurisdictional police to manage the increasing risk of disruptions”.

Mr McClelland replied in November 2009 that ”whilst I recognise the right to protest, when actions jeopardise energy security and the delivery of essential services, it is important that measures be taken to prevent and deter unlawful activity”.

Mr McClelland confirmed that the AFP ”continually monitors the activities of issues-motivated groups and individuals who may target establishments through direct action, or action designed to disrupt or interfere with essential services. Information is gained through a number of sources, including open source, and state and territory law enforcement agencies.”

In addition to AFP intelligence collection, Mr McClelland also highlighted the role of ASIO ”in intelligence-gathering, analysis and advice in relation to protest activity [that] focuses on actual, or the potential for, violence … Where warranted, ASIO advice may take the form of security intelligence reports, notification of protest action or threat assessments.”

Past and current government security sources confirmed to The Saturday Age that monitoring of environmental protests had increased in recent years.

One senior police officer acknowledged the political sensitivity of gathering intelligence on ”groups that are part of the Greens’ activist base”, but emphasised the potential for Greenpeace and other environmental groups to go ”beyond trespass”. Security sources emphasised that intelligence on protest activity came largely from publicly available sources.

But federal police have also confirmed that ”on very rare occasions, the AFP conducts covert operations targeting individuals who may be members of [protest] groups where specific intelligence exists relating to criminal activities by those individuals”.

FOI documents show the Energy Security Branch of Mr Ferguson’s department was proactive in ensuring the Australian Energy Market Operator, Macquarie Generation and TransGrid were warned of a ”peaceful mass action” at the Bayswater power station in NSW in 2010. Seventy-three protesters were arrested and fined $250. Most convictions were overturned on appeal. The documents show that only four protests briefly interfered with electricity generation, though disruption of coal export activities have been more frequent.

Moves to criminalise protest actions arose after Brian Spalding, then head of National Electricity Market Management Company, complained to the Ministerial Council on Energy in July 2008 that existing penalties did not deter activists at energy infrastructure sites.

Mr Ferguson referred the issue to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG), which reviewed legislation. In July 2009, Mr Ferguson further stressed ”the importance of this work program in light of the continuing trend of incidents that have threatened to disrupt the energy supply chain”.

His department has refused to release the SCAG review of penalties, completed in November 2009, because revealing ”gaps and inadequacies” in current laws would lead to further protest activities.

In late 2009, in the wake of protests at the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley, the then Labor state government sharply increased criminal penalties for protest-related disruption of critical energy infrastructure.

The federal Attorney-General’s Department is now undertaking a study to determine whether new offences targeting the disruption of services provided by critical infrastructure are required.

A spokesperson for Mr Ferguson said yesterday that governments at all levels were concerned to maintain energy security and economic activity. ”This includes maintaining the rule of law and energy supply where issues-motivated groups actively seek to engage in unlawful activity.”

Further information:

AFP spies targeting green activists The Sydney Morning Herald

The watchdog’s kennel in clandestine Croydon The Age

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