Land defenders in Utah locked themselves to equipment being used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands’ companies processing plant, as well as a fenced “cage” used to store the equipment. Others formed a physical blockade with their bodies to keep work from happening, and to protect those locked-down to the equipment. Banners were also hung off the cage that read: “You are trespassing on Ute land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.” 13 people were arrested for locking to equipment. An additional six people were arrested after sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those being taken away in two police vans. Two of the protesters arrested were injured. One was taken a nearby hospital to be treated, while the other is being treated at the Uintah County Jail. The nature of their injuries is not being disclosed by the county sheriffs. A media representative from Unedited Media was also arrested. Two additional people were arrested when they arrived at Uintah Country Jail to provide support to the land defenders inside. An estimated 10 armed deputies with police dogs were standing outside the jail wearing bullet proof vests.
Vermont Gas Systems ratepayers and Addison County residents are holding a “fish-in” at the Public Service Board (PSB) offices, denouncing Vermont Gas’ recent cost increase for the fracked gas pipeline as a “bait-and-switch”. The group is hand-delivering a petition signed by 500 Vermont Gas ratepayers, calling on the board to reopen the project’s Certificate of Public Good (CPG) and halt construction until the 40% cost increase is evaluated. “Vermont Gas is pulling the old bait-and-switch on ratepayers and the public, and we are here today to stop them,” said Andy Simon, a ratepayer from Burlington and fish-in participant. “The Board needs to listen to ratepayers, who don’t want to fund dirty energy projects.”
I first met Victoria Tauli-Corpuz 11 years ago in Rome. An indigenous Filipina activist, Vicky was attending a meeting on indigenous peoples’ rights at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency where I work. In fact, it was the first time indigenous peoples’ representatives had ever been invited to IFAD’s offices on the outskirts of the Eternal City. Since then, IFAD and the UN system as a whole have made progress on bringing indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work – though we still have plenty more to do. Flash forward to New York this spring, when I heard Vicky’s name called by the chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the General Assembly hall at UN headquarters.
Today’s blog post is not addressing directly what is happening here in Venezuela at the SocialPreCOP, but something on the minds of many people here–the next step in the series of climate meetings/actions this year. That is the upcoming climate march planned for New York City on September 21st, two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru. Part of the objective of the Venezuelan government at this SocialPreCOP meeting is to come away with a set of demands from people gathered here that they can take to this exclusive summit. The September climate march was called for by Big Green NGOs 350.org and Avaaz, who have thrown copious quantities of cash at it. But many environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US have demanded a seat at the organizing table to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard, despite their small budgets.
The UN and world leaders have been debating what to do about climate change for two decades – and gotten nowhere. Their solutions have only gotten fuzzier as the science and impact of climate change have become clearer. Now they’re coming to New York and it’s time for our voices to be heard! Join us as we discuss real alternatives and develop action plans that transform the system, rather than accept it. We are told that technology, market mechanisms, or individual lifestyle changes are what will save the planet. They will not. Because they are all solutions that accommodate the system, not challenge it. The root of the problem is an economic system that exploits people and the planet for profit. It is a system that requires constant growth, exploitation, warfare, racism, poverty and ever-increasing ecological devastation to function.
Residents impacted by shale gas infrastructure and their supporters blocked the entrances to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters today in protest of the proposed Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and others proposed around the country. This is the second consecutive day of action to demand that the Obama administration take the voices of impacted communities seriously in the federal regulatory process, and that FERC reject Dominion Resources’ proposed LNG export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, just 50 miles south of the White House on the Chesapeake Bay. Over a thousand people rallied on the National Mall and marched to FERC yesterday despite scorching heat and high humidity.
An umbrella group of churches, which represents over half a billion Christians worldwide, has decided to pull its investments out of fossil fuel companies. The move by the World Council of Churches, which has 345 member churches including the Church of England but not the Catholic church, was welcomed as a “major victory” by climate campaigners who have been calling on companies and institutions such as pension funds, universities and local governments to divest from coal, oil and gas. In an article for the Guardian in April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that “people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change” and events sponsored by fossil fuel companies could even be boycotted.
A few years ago, Tammy Manning and her family moved to Franklin Forks, Pennsylvania, 10 miles from the New York state border. Unbeknownst to her, energy companies had started ramping up natural gas drilling operations near her home. When WPX Energy opened up two fracking wells near her property, Tammy noticed that something was very wrong in her household. Fracking requires blasting open fissures in deep shale rock formations to release the natural gas held within them. The process, formally called hydraulic fracturing, propels millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand into rocks deep underground. As much as 75 percent of this poisoned water, along with leaked methane, returns to the surface. There, it can seep into drinking water tables.
Both the Rally at Clarkdale Friday and the March Saturday to Greenfield Common went really well. Friday, Ben Clark gave tours showing how much of his family farm would be impacted, great music, speaker State Rep Stephen Kulik and of course greeting the Shelburne marchers and the passing off of the batton. Saturday we all gathered at Clarkdale farm at 9am, with Congressman Jim McGovern joining us for the whole march. He gave a short speech, before we left, giving words of support for our action. We walked 2 1/2 miles to the Greenfield Common, receiving lots of friendly honks. At the Common we all gathered around in the shade while Jim McGovern spoke about his feelings against this pipeline and how much he was touched by seeing the damage that would be done to Clarkdale and many other beautiful farms and conservation land, as well as land owners whose homes have been there for over 100 years.
Dozens of people will risk arrest early Monday morning in front of the entrance to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to protest the controversial federal handling of proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals at Cove Point, Md. and across the U.S. Monday’s demonstration will come on the heels of Sunday’s mass demonstration of several thousand people (www.StopGasExports.org) and will underline the urgency of marchers’ call for President Obama and FERC to halt approval of all LNG export permits. These two days of action have arisen from multiple campaigns against fracking and its associated damages across a multi-state region.
Residents in Massachusetts are in the midst of a rolling action to protest the construction of a fracked gas pipeline through their state. The high-pressure pipeline to be built by Kinder Morgan, a Houston-based energy company that is the fourth largest in North America, and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. will run from Richmond in the West to Dracut, just North of Boston. The rolling march is being organized by No Fracked Gas in Mass. It began on July 6 with a kick-off rally in Richmond and will proceed from town to town along the path of the pipeline to end with another rally at the Statehouse on Wednesday, July 30. Below are photos and videos so far and more information about the pipeline. All are welcome to join the rolling action at any point along the way.
Vermont: A “knit-in” was broken up in South Burlington, on Wednesday, after five women who are unhappy with a Vermont Gas pipeline plan occupied the utility’s waiting room — and occupied themselves by knitting. One woman was bound off by police, taken away in what Vermont Public Radio says were five squad cars that responded to perhaps the most civil of all disobediences. The knitters insisted on speaking to Vermont Gas officials about their complaints over a pipeline expansion. They were told they needed an appointment; after the utility’s headquarters closed, they were warned that they were trespassing. Jane Palmer, a diminutive woman in a floral-print dress and a straw hat, was arrested about 30 minutes after the offices closed.
On Sunday, July 6th, the walk starts with a Kick-Off Celebration at Hilltop Orchards, Canaan Rd. (Rte. 295) in Richmond. Arrival time is 11-11:30, during which people can browse the Winery and Store and enjoy the expansive south-country view. From 11:30 – 1:00, there will be a buffet-style luncheon, with music and speakers from the anti-pipeline movement, Jane Winn of Berkshire Environmental Action Team and Jim Cutler of Hilltown Community Rights. The Kick-Off will be $12 per person, $5 for children, with proceeds going to area pipeline resistance organizations. Tickets can be purchased in advance at eventbrite.com or at the door at Hilltop Orchards. Participation in the Kick-Off Celebration is not required to join the walk.
The federal coal leasing program has many flaws, such as cheating taxpayers out of billions of dollars, increasing mining that damages nearby land and water resources, and subsidizing the coal mining industry’s efforts to boost exports. But the biggest problem is that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pays almost no attention whatsoever to the very obvious fact that when burned, coal will release carbon pollution and contribute to climate change. However, thanks to an important recent court ruling, the Bureau of Land Management may now have a tougher time denying its role in unlocking huge amounts of carbon pollution. A federal court last week blocked Arch Coal’s plans to expand a coal mine in Colorado, on the grounds that BLM failed to consider the impacts of climate change when it approved the mine expansion. “This decision means that these agencies can’t bury their heads in the sand when confronting the very real impacts of climate change,” said Ted Zukoski, an attorney with Earthjustice, which brought the case along with WildEarth Guardians, High Country Conservation Advocates, and the Sierra Club.