By Hilary Niles, April 3, 2014. Source: VT Digger
Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Sears (right), D-Bennington, and Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, discuss a bill on GMO labeling Thursday at the Statehouse. Photo: Hilary Niles/VTDigger
Vermont lawmakers are poised to “boldly go where no other state has gone before,” Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said Thursday before casting his vote for an unprecedented food-labeling law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee gave H.112 unanimous approval Thursday. The bill would require the labeling of food made with genetically modified ingredients sold in Vermont.
Vermont will not wait for more states to adopt similar laws before it moves ahead with GMO labeling.
Connecticut and Maine have passed laws that included a trigger based on other states’ adoption of labeling provisions. Vermont lawmakers emulated Connecticut’s and Maine’s legislation, but did not include a trigger in H.112.
Note: Keith Brunner is Media and Communications Associate for Global Justice Ecology Project, and a volunteer organizer with Rising Tide Vermont.
-The GJEP Team
By Keith Brunner, March 17, 2014. Source: Toward Freedom
Nate and Jane Palmer’s farm sits in a clay plain basin adjacent to one of the many wetlands in Monkton, a rural Vermont community known for, among other things, its annual salamander migrations and amphibian road crossings. In addition to raising animals and growing crops for small-scale biofuel experiments, the couple runs Palmer’s Garage, a repair shop and community fixture in nearby North Ferrisburgh.
Jane Palmer recalls the controversy when Vermont Gas first announced its intention to construct a gas pipeline down the western side of the state, a route which would require a right-of-way through the center of Monkton. “We thought it was a dumb idea that would undermine alternative energy efforts,” she says.
But it wasn’t until a neighbor stopped by in late January 2013 with maps showing the pipeline running through their fields and 150 feet from their house that the Palmers began to really pay attention. Shortly thereafter, an agent from the gas company called the house, seeking permission to survey their land for the pipeline. The Palmers refused, stating they had no intention of allowing a gas pipeline to be built across their land. Nate notes that, “we essentially flipped them the bird from the beginning.” Continue reading
Note: Rachel Smolker a good friend and former colleague of GJEP, and is currently co-director of Biofuelwatch.
-The GJEP Team
By Rachel Smolker, February 26, 2014. Source: Huffington Post
I am fortunate to live in the tiny state of Vermont, a state that has boldly led the way on so many issues it’s hard to list them all. We were the first to pass same-sex marriage and to take serious steps to make health care accessible to all. We outlawed billboards altogether and passed Act 250, a sophisticated mechanism for protecting the landscape against wanton development. That, in fact, led Vermont to be the last state in the nation to be colonized by Walmart. We were also the first state to ban fracking. We fought Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission long and hard demanding they shut down the dangerously rickety Yankee Nuclear power plant. Recently, at long last and against all odds, we “won” a semi-victory on that front.
Now Vermont has taken another bold step: denying permission for development of a dirty biomass burning facility, deceptively referred to as the North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project.
That facility would have burned 450,000 tons of wood annually, harvested from the “Green Mountain” state’s just barely recovering forests. The state’s Public Service Board is required to review big development proposals and issue (or deny) a “certificate of public good” (CPG) in order to proceed with the project. In this case, the decision was that the facility was not a public good. Many biomass facilities around the country and the world have not won permits, or have been abandoned en route to development due to economic concerns. But Vermont may be the first to deny a permit on the basis of sound reasoning.
February 11, 2014. Source: Partnership for Policy Integrity
McNeil biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont. Photo: Josh Schlossberg
In a final decision reached today on the fate of the 35 MW North Springfield Sustainable Energy biomass plant proposed in Vermont, the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) denied the plant a certificate of public good, stating that the project would interfere with the State’s ability to meet statutory goals for reducing greenhouse gases “as a result of the large annual releases of greenhouse gases that would result from combustion of the wood fuel.”
“This is an important decision for the state of Vermont, and nationally”, said Mary Booth, Director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, an organization that helped the citizen opponents, the North Springfield Action Group, contest the facility in front of the PSB. “When policymakers see that bioenergy involves harvesting forests and burning the wood in low-efficiency power plants, they conclude that large-scale bioenergy isn’t compatible with greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
The 35 MW plant would have burned 450,000 tons of wood a year, most of which would have been sourced from whole-tree harvesting. Carbon dioxide emissions would have been over 445,000 tons per year. While the developer claimed there would be a greenhouse gas benefit, they testified they had not actually done any analysis to demonstrate a reduction in emissions. Continue reading
1 November, 2013. Source: Rising Tide Vermont
Activists disrupt the governors’ Lake Champlain yacht trip during the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in 2012. Photo: Will Bennington
Rising Tide Vermont today issued the following statement regarding the New England Clean Power Link , a proposal for 150 miles of new transmission lines from the Quebec border, under Lake Champlain and across the state of Vermont. Financed by one of the largest private equity firms in the world , the proposed project would transport electricity derived from mega-dams in Quebec and Labrador to New England markets.
“Rising Tide Vermont stands in solidarity with First Nations communities who are defending their traditional territories against resource colonialism and environmental devastation,” said Sara Mehalick, a member of Rising Tide Vermont. “For decades, Cree, Innu, and Inuit communities in Quebec and Labrador have been organizing to halt the construction of massive hydroelectric dams on their ancestral lands, which have severely impacted wildlife, watersheds, and the livelihoods of nearby communities. The New England Clean Power Link would be a green light for the continued colonization of these territories, now under the guise of so-called ‘clean energy’.” Continue reading
Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Water
September 12, 2013
Middlebury College, VT — At 3:00PM on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, five protesters removed thousands of flags desecrating occupied Abenaki lands. The U.S. flags were part of a 9/11 memorial established by Middlebury College students.
Amanda Lickers, a member of the Onondowa’ga Nation, states, “In the quickest moment of decision making, in my heart, I understood that lands where our dead may lay must not be desecrated. In my community, we do not pierce the earth. It disturbs the spirits there, it is important for me to respect their presence.”
“For over 500 years our people have been under attack. The theft of our territories, the devastation of our waters; the poisoning of our people through the poisoning of our lands; the theft of our people from our families; the rape of our children; the murder of our women; the sterilization of our communities; the abuse of generations; the uprooting of our ancestors and the occupation of our sacred sites; the silencing of our songs; the erasure of our languages and memories of our traditions. I have had enough.” stated Lickers.
Lickers was at the college to facilitate a workshop on Settler Responsibility and Decolonization.
Note: Anna Shireman-Grabowski is a member of Rising Tide Vermont, a fiscally-sponsored project of Global Justice Ecology Project. GJEP members Will Bennington and Keith Brunner are also members of Rising Tide Vermont and the grassroots Campaign to Stop the Vermont Gas Pipeline.
-The GJEP Team
By Jay Saper and Anna Shireman-Grabowski, July 3, 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence
Photo: JM Photography
Middlebury College in Vermont may be a small school, but it has long been recognized as a big leader on the environment. Back in 1965, Middlebury established the nation’s first environmental studies major. More recently, in 2007, the school was among the first to pledge to go carbon neutral. It is also the birthplace of the international climate group 350.org and home to renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben. But despite this clear commitment to protecting the planet, Middlebury College is now supporting a controversial pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas through Vermont and under Lake Champlain to the state of New York.
The company behind this project, Vermont Gas, currently operates a network of fracked gas distribution pipelines in northern Vermont that it hopes to connect with national networks in New York. If completed, this project would directly undermine the spirit of the fracking ban in Vermont and threaten New York’s tenuous fracking moratorium.
While 70 percent of the gas that would run through the pipeline is promised to International Paper — a private corporation in New York — Vermonters are being forced to foot a significant portion of the pipeline’s cost with only some businesses and homes getting access to the gas it carries. The bigger picture, however, is that dozens of towns along the route will be subjected to commercial disturbance and health and safety risks without any definite economic gains.
Money is not the only thing Vermont Gas is taking from the public. The company is also applying to the Vermont Public Service Board for a Certificate of Public Good, which would allow it to use of eminent domain to seize land and force local residents to host the pipeline in their front yards.
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project campaigner Will Bennington traveled to Boston on Thursday with Burlington, Vt.-based Justicia Migrante/Migrant Justice to participate in the Not One More Deportation demonstration.
GJEP believes that the root causes of climate chaos and migration are inextricably linked. Many farmworkers in Vermont come from Chiapas, Mexico, where GJEP has worked to expose the impacts that free trade agreements and international carbon trading schemes (most notably REDD) have on indigenous and peasant farming communities.
Free trade agreements and neoliberal economic domination destroy local communities and economies, resulting in massive land grabs and migrations. These same policies also erode the ability of communities to protect their ecosystems and land against the relentless march of the industrial economy. There is no climate justice without migrant justice.
-The GJEP Team
By Dylan Kelley, June 28, 2013. Source: Vermont Commons
Joining others from across the region, a bus-load of Vermonters traveled to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regional detention facility outside of Boston on Thursday to confront the federal agency over the unparalleled rate of detention and deportation of undocumented workers. In addition to ramping up their fight to stop the deportation of organizer and “Human Rights Hero” Danilo Lopez, Vermont’s Migrant Justice organization also made the journey to Beantown to show solidarity with the rapidly growing NOT1MORE campaign that has rallied across the nation against the Obama administration’s unprecedented policies of sweeping detention and deportations.
Departing from Burlington in the morning, a bus-load of Vermonters (including performers from Bread & Puppet Theater) discussed the import of the day by considering what is at stake for their most cherished organizer as well as others like Pancho, an undocumented worker that had lived with “shackles of fear” of U.S. Border Patrol while working with farms near the Vermont-Canada border. “I was living in fear, then [after getting involved with Migrant Justice] I decided to get rid of that fear” said Pancho. “Migrant Justice has opened a door for me… this feels like one big family.” Echoing that sentiment was Telma, another undocumented worker onboard: “Life is hard, but not because the work is hard. Working on the farm; you can’t leave, you are shut in and are always in fear of Border Patrol and the police. Migrant Justice changed life for me. Now, I live with less fear; I have rights; I feel powerful.”
Organizers Natalia Fajardo and Danilo Lopez speak to Burlington Press before departing for Boston Thursday Morning
Finally arriving in Boston, the workers met for a networking lunch with other organizations such as SEIU; Matahari; Jobs with Justice; the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network; and various other organizations working towards a halt to the massive waves of deportation brought on by ICE and the Obama administration.
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project is fortunate enough to call Danilo Lopez a friend, neighbor and ally in the struggle for human rights in Vermont and beyond. Please support Danilo and his community by signing the petition to prevent his deportation here. The same forces of economic domination that displace and destroy ecosystems also displace and destroy human communities. GJEP stands in solidarity with Danilo and all immigrants facing the unjust threat of deportation. ¡Ya basta! NOT ONE MORE DEPORTATION!
-The GJEP Team
June 19, 2013. Source: Migrant Justice
Daniel Alejandro Lopez Santiago, (A089-088-623) known as ‘Danilo’ by his friends, is a farm worker and leader with the Vermont community group, Migrant Justice. In 2011, just three weeks after leading the first ever migrant farm worker press conference and rally at the Vermont state house, Danilo was placed in deportation proceedings.
Sign the petition demanding that Danilo be allowed to stay in the US.
Danilo was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for speeding, and the police officer questioned him about his immigration status, and proceeded to call Border Patrol and place him in removal proceedings.
He was released after community organizing, and continued to stay involved. Just one month after his detention, Danilo led a successful meeting with Governor Peter Shumlin to create a new state policy that prohibits the use of state resources for immigration enforcement. The VT Human Rights Commission investigated the police stop, and found that Danilo was unlawfully discriminated against in violation of Vermont’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act.
For this, and his continued activism, Danilo was recognized as the “Vermont Human Rights Hero” of 2011 by the Vermont Workers’ Center at a conference of hundreds of community leaders at the University of Vermont.