By Adam Federman, June 7, 2013. Source: EcoWatch
Photo illustration by Nadia Khastagir / Design Action
In February 2010, Tom Jiunta and a small group of residents in northeastern Pennsylvania formed the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC), an environmental organization opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the region. The group sought to appeal to the widest possible audience, and was careful about striking a moderate tone. All members were asked to sign a code of conduct in which they pledged to carry themselves with “professionalism, dignity and kindness” as they worked to protect the environment and their communities. GDAC’s founders acknowledged that gas drilling had become a divisive issue misrepresented by individuals on both sides and agreed to “seek out the truth.”
The group of about 10 professionals—engineers, nurses and teachers—began meeting in the basement of a member’s home. As their numbers grew, they moved to a local church. In an effort to raise public awareness about the risks of hydraulic fracturing or fracking they attended township meetings, zoning and ordinance hearings and gas-drilling forums. They invited speakers from other states affected by gas drilling to talk with Pennsylvania residents. They held house-party style screenings of documentary films.
Since the group had never engaged in any kind of illegal activity or particularly radical forms of protest, it came as a shock when GDAC members learned that their organization had been featured in intelligence bulletins compiled by a private security firm, The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR). Equally shocking was the revelation that the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security had distributed those bulletins to local police chiefs, state, federal and private intelligence agencies, and the security directors of the natural gas companies, as well as industry groups and public relations firms. News of the surveillance broke in September 2010 when the director of the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, James Powers, mistakenly sent an email to an anti-drilling activist he believed was sympathetic to the industry, warning her not to post the bulletins online. The activist was Virginia Cody, a retired Air Force officer. In his email to Cody, Powers wrote:
“We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.”
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project has always maintained that the only solution to prevent runaway climate chaos is to confront the root causes of the problem. Economic domination and the spread of neoliberalism, through free-trade agreements like NAFTA, are the driving forces preventing real solutions to climate change. These agreements, and the institutions like the WTO and World Bank that support them, have us in a chokehold of the entrenched powers of the global economic elite. GJEP has witnessed this dynamic of top-down control first hand, from the local level all the way to the halls of the UN climate negotiations. Until we cast away the chains of free trade agreements and the neoliberal doctrine, our communities will continue to suffer, pipelines or not.
-The GJEP Team
By Farron Cousins, May 13, 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
As the public anxiously awaits the U.S. State Department’s final decision on the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the discussion has largely ignored the elephant in the room: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)
Thanks to NAFTA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, the State Department will likely be able to do little more than stall the pipeline’s construction. In its simplest form, NAFTA removes barriers for North American countries wishing to do business in or through other North American countries, including environmental barriers. The goal of the agreement was to promote intra-continental commerce and help the economies of all involved in the agreement.
Before diving into NAFTA, it’s important to take a look at what the State Department and the media have done so far in regards to Keystone XL. Before she left office and was replaced by John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ties to the project were almost too many to count. Most notable was the fact that many of her former staffers and associates were lobbyists for Keystone, and they had a direct line into both Clinton and President Obama.
It is likely a result of these connections that the State Department’s environmental assessments were strikingly flawed and inadequate. As the NRDC pointed out, many of the so-called “standards” that the State Department put in place regarding the pipeline were simple “smoke and mirror” schemes to distract the public, and they failed to do their due diligence by considering alternative paths for the pipeline. Furthermore, climate impacts from operation and construction were almost completely ignored.
By Crysbel Tejada and Betsy Catlin, May 8 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence
From left: Casey, Dwain & Carter Camp at the opening ceremony of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance Action Camp, near Ponca City, Okla. Photo: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance/Girard Oz
On cloudy days, heavy smoke fills the air of Ponca City, Okla., with grey smog that camouflages itself into the sky. The ConocoPhillips oil refinery that makes its home there uses overcast days as a disguise to release more toxins into the air. These toxins are brimming with benzene — a chemical that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can cause leukemia, anemia and even decrease the size of women’s ovaries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 the ConocoPhillips refinery released over 2,000 pounds of this chemical into the air in Ponca City.
“Of the maybe 800 of us that live locally, we have averaged over the last five to seven years maybe one funeral a week,” explained Casey Camp-Horinek, a Ponca woman and longtime activist. “Where we used to have dances every week, now most people are in mourning.”
The refinery is located only 1,000 yards behind Standing Bear Park, which is named after the Ponca chief who, in 1877, led his people on their Trail of Tears, from the Ponca homelands in northern Nebraska to present day Oklahoma. But the park is more than a memorial to the distant past. In 1992, the oil giant’s tank farm spilled and contaminated ground water in a nearby predominantly Ponca neighborhood. As a result, ConocoPhillips agreed to purchase the contaminated land and tear down the 200 homes that were on it. In its place, the company built Standing Bear Park — a bitter testament to the Ponca people’s history of forced relocation and genocide. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Tar Sands
By Steve Horn, May 3, 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
Double-dipping is a “no go” in the real world of eating chips and salsa with a circle of friends but an everyday reality in the world of lobbyists and PR professionals.
Enter double-dipper Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director for President Barack Obama who now runs the firm SKDKnickerbocker (Squier Knapp Dunn), a firm that ”brings unparalleled strategic communications experience to Fortune 500 companies, political groups and candidates, non-profits, and labor organizations.”
Dip one: TransCanada Corporation, which SKDK does public relations work for, as revealed in an Oct. 2012 New York Times investigation. TransCanada is the multinational corporation currently building the contentious southern half of theKeystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline, following the dictates of a March 2012 Obama Administration Executive Order. Within months, the fate of the border-crossing Alberta to Port Arthur, TX KXL export pipeline will also likely be decided by the U.S. State Department.
Dip two: Another SKDKnickerbocker client is the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the American Petroleum Institute trade association equivalent for the freight rail industry. Even without KXL – as covered previously on DeSmogBlog - tar sands crude can be moved to targeted markets via freight rail (coupled with pipeline capacity increases of other tubes and potential barging along Lake Superior).
Note: You can donate to the activists’ bail fund, and Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, here
-The GJEP Team
April 29, 2013. Source: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance
Earlier this morning two Texas residents locked themselves to machinery being used to construct TransCanada’s dangerous and controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Spaulding, OK through Muscogee Creek Nation land by treaty. Benjamin Butler and Eamon Treadaway Danzig took action today to prevent the Cross Timbers bioregion from being poisoned by this inherently dangerous tar sands pipeline, just as the surrounding wetlands and residential areas have been poisoned as a result of Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline rupture near Mayflower, Arkansas. Recent Tar Sands spills in Minnesota and Arkansas, as well as an explosion at a Tar Sands refinery in Detroit have highlighted the urgency in stopping Tar Sands extraction and transportation.
Butler and Danzig are acting as a part of Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, a growing coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to stopping the expansion of Tar Sands infrastructure throughout the Great Plains. Their actions follow the escalating number of work-stopping actions that have occurred in Oklahoma this past month. Both anti-extraction activists cite concern of the effect a spill will have in the Cross Timbers bio-region that they call home. Their action comes in the wake of the rupture of Exxon-Mobile’s Pegasus pipeline which spilled Tar Sands bitumen in neighboring Mayflower, Arkansas. In addition to the high rates of sickness that the surrounding community displayed, the spill in Arkansas has polluted Lake Conway and has had devastating effects on local wildlife. The permanent effect on people’s livelihoods and the health of affected ecosystems remains to be seen.
“This pipeline is essential for continued tar sands exploitation which poses an imminent threat to the health of indigenous communities near the point of extraction, fence-line communities around the toxic refineries, and ultimately the health of every living being along the route,” said Benjamin Butler, who was born at Tinker Air force Base in Oklahoma. “I believe in a more beautiful world, one where the profits of a corporation don’t outweigh the health of the people and the planet.”
By Colin Nickerson, April 21, 2013. Source: The Boston Globe
A tanker prepared to offload crude oil recently in the deep-water port in South Portland, Maine. Photo: Fred Field
Over seven decades, the Portland pipeline has propelled some 5 billion gallons of crude oil across the mountains and beneath the pristine waters of northern New England to refineries in Quebec.
Aside from a few small spills years ago, the 236-mile-long colossus of steel pipes and powerful pumping stations boasts a sterling record. In the upcountry towns through which it passes, the underground pipeline has drawn little notice since it was constructed in 1941.
April 9, 2013. Source: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance
Oklahoma grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, from Warr Acres, has locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery effectively halting construction on TransCanada’s Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline. This action comes in the wake of the disastrous tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower Arkansas, where an estimated 80,000 gallons of tar sands spilled into a residential neighborhood and local waterways.
Using a bike-lock, Zorn has attached her neck directly to a massive earth-mover, known as an excavator, which has brought construction of Keystone XL to a stop. Zorn is the second Oklahoma grandmother this year risking arrest to stop construction of the pipeline, and her protest is the third in a series of ongoing civil disobedience actions led by the Oklahoma-based coalition of organizations, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance.
“Right now our neighbors in Arkansas are feeling the toxic affect of tar sands on their community. Will Oklahoma neighborhoods be next?” asked Zorn before taking action today. “I can no longer sit by idly while toxic tar sands are pumped down from Canada and into our communities. It is time to rise up and defend our home. It is my hope that this one small action today will inspire many to protect this land and our water.”
April 2 2013. Source: The Canadian Press
Crew work on construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline east of Winona, Texas, on Dec. 3, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Tyler Morning Telegraph, Sarah A. Miller
CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. is trying to determine whether there is enough interest in its proposal to convert its existing natural gas pipeline and ship oil from Alberta as far east as New Brunswick.
The Calgary-based energy company announced Tuesday that it is seeking firm commitments from parties interested in the idea, which would see oil transported along an existing pipeline into Quebec, and possibly extending that line into the port city of Saint John, N.B.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who has expressed support for the project, said TransCanada’s announcement was an encouraging step forward
“Our government supports the opportunity for our refineries to process substantially more Canadian oil, generating Canadian jobs and making our country less reliant on more expensive foreign oil,” Oliver said in Ottawa. Continue reading
By Owe Aku International Justice Project, April 1 2013. Source: Native News Network
Image: Native News Network
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION – On March 26, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed Resolution 13-60 “reaffirming the Yellow Bird Steele-Poor Bear administration opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from crossing the Mni Wiconi Water Line, any part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and any and all 1851 and 1868 treaty lands.”
The Keystone XL pipeline’s planned route crosses much of the Lakota treaty territory, meaning the resolution bans the Pipeline from most of the northern great plains. The resolution also cites the traditional and contemporary responsibility of all Lakota people: “through ancient indigenous cultural and spiritual concepts we have always respected and maintained good relations with the animals, air, land and water of our traditional homelands since time immemorial.”
The Resolution also bans any governmental consultation with any entity of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to negotiate passage on behalf of the Tribe. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, Oil, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Tar Sands, Water
Note: From the article below, ”…when it comes to global warming, shipping the oil by pipeline would release less pollution than using rail.” No, when it comes to global warming, shipping oil by any means and burning it will have catastrophic impacts, and will contribute significantly to climate change. Small deviations from business-as-usual will get us nowhere. In fact, they will likely worsen the crisis by creating the illusion that industry cares and is taking the “necessary” steps to protect the environment, while the planet continues to burn.
-The GJEP Team
Associated Press, March 27, 2013. Source: CT Post
Photo: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Thousands of gallons of oil leaked onto frozen ground after a train carrying crude from Canada derailed Wednesday in western Minnesota.
The 94-car Canadian Pacific train was headed south near Parkers Prairie when it lost air pressure and went into an emergency braking mode, the Otter Tail County sheriff’s office said. Fourteen tankers derailed. Three either leaked or spilled oil. No one was hurt, and a spokesman for the state’s pollution control agency said crews were able to control the spill.
An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons leaked onto the ground, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson said. The spill was contained in a field and ditch in a rural area, and the cold weather helped keep the spill contained and prevented oil from moving down the ditch or into the ground, Olson said.
One heavily damaged car spilled much of its 26,000-gallon load, Olson said. He said the oil was “just oozing out” in the cold.