Opponents of Vermont Gas’ fracked gas pipeline, including ratepayers, marched on the Williston pipe yard this morning and blocked the front driveway with a peaceful sit-in, demanding an end to construction of the pipeline. A Stop Work Order was issued to management on site, informing Vermont Gas and its subcontractors that they were to stop all construction immediately. Jen Berger, a Burlington ratepayer, said, “Last week ratepayers and Addison County residents were shut out of the Public Service Board offices. Today, we are taking our demands directly to Vermont Gas, telling them they do not have permission to build this dirty pipeline.” Berger referenced an incident last Tuesday, when dozens of ratepayers and Addison County residents were barred from entering the Public Service Board office to deliver a petition signed by 500 ratepayers, calling on the Board to suspend construction of the pipeline.
Greenpeace USA has released a major new report on an under-discussed part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule: it serves as a major endorsement of continued coal production and export to overseas markets. “Leasing Coal, Fueling Climate Change: How the federal coal leasing program undermines President Obama’s Climate Plan” tackles the dark underbelly of a rule that only polices coal downstream at the power plant level and largely ignores the upstream and global impacts of coal production at-large. The Greenpeace report was released on the same day as a major story published by the Associated Press covering the same topic and comes a week after the release of another major report on coal exports by the Sightline Institute that sings a similar tune. The hits keep coming: Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson framed what is taking place similarly in a recent piece, as did Luiza Ch. Savage of Maclean’s Magazine and Bloomberg BNA. But back to Greenpeace. As their report points out, the main culprit for rampant coal production is the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which leases out huge swaths of land to the coal industry. Greenpeace says this is occurring in defiance of Obama’s Climate Action Plan and have called for a moratorium on leasing public land for coal extraction.
Think of it as history’s biggest haymaker — after a decadeslong windup, sea-level rise is gearing up to clobber American coastal cities from Miami to D.C., as two recent scientific warnings make clear. First came the federal National Climate Assessment’s disturbing finding that global warming is already increasing dangers from floods and Hurricane Sandy-style storm surges. Then came two studies showing that huge Antarctica glacier clusters have started a long-term collapse that could cause far greater sea-level increases. So why isn’t President Obama proposing a more serious solution to the greenhouse gas emissions from our nation’s power plants — the largest source of the pollutants disrupting our climate and paving the way for rising oceans to redraw America’s coastlines? The president’s Clean Power Plan, which is the focus of public hearings in four cities around the country this month, has generated tremendous hype and confusion. But the bottom line is simple: These rules just don’t do enough to cut planet-warming pollution from existing power plants.
With all eyes glued on the atrocities in Gaza and Ukraine, another homegrown atrocity may soon be underway. The Obama administration has quietly executed one of those sneaky summer weekend news dumps in hopes of nobody noticing or caring. Because what, after all, are pods of insane dolphins, and hordes of dead turtles, and the extinction of an entire whale species compared to hundreds of battered human bodies? From Think Progress: On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the use of seismic airguns to explore the seabed from Cape May to Cape Canaveral for oil and gas. These sonic cannons are compressed airguns that get towed behind ships, using dynamite-like blasts to produce sound waves 100,000 times louder than a jet engine underwater every ten seconds. The waves travel through the water and through the ocean floor, bouncing back up at different rates to provide prospective drillers and researchers a better sense of where oil, gas, minerals, and sand lie beneath the waves.
Deploying the age-old “Friday news dump,” President Barack Obama’s Interior Department gave the green light on Friday, July 18 to companies to deploy seismic air guns to examine the scope of Atlantic Coast offshore oil-and-gas reserves. It is the first time in over 30 years that the oil and gas industry is permitted to do geophysical data collection along the Atlantic coast. Though decried by environmentalists, another offshore oil and gas announcement made the same week has flown under the radar: over 21 million acres of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas reserves will be up for lease on August 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Superdome. On July 17, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the lease in the name of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy. “As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, BOEM…today announced that the bureau will offer more than 21 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development in a lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area,” proclaimed a July 17 BOEM press release. The release says this equates to upwards of 116-200 million barrels of oil and 538-938 billion cubic feet of natural gas and falls under the banner of the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement.
Last week saw California adopt mandatory restrictions on civilian water use. People caught watering their lawns to the point of runoff, hosing off sidewalks or driveways or washing cars without a shut-off nozzle can face fines of up to $500 a day. The Golden State is in the third year of record drought, and while these consumer restrictions are not expected to make a sizeable dent in state water usage on their own, officials hope the fines, which go into effect August 1, will send a message to Californians who apparently have yet to grasp the severity of the situation. That message, however, has not, it seems, reached Nestlé Waters North America, makers of a variety of bottled waters, including Arrowhead brand.
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.