South Portland Approves Law Barring Tar Sands Oil

Tar Sands protest in South Portland

Nearly 500 people turned out for that meeting, many wearing light blue or red T-shirts in support of or opposition to the changes. Monday night, only the light blue T-shirts of supporters were apparent. The Planning Board voted 6-1 last week to recommend the zoning proposal, which aims to prevent the bulk loading of crude oil, including tar sands, onto marine tank vessels and block construction or expansion of terminals and other facilities for that purpose. Supporters of the ban hugged and congratulated one another after the vote. “This is so exciting,” said Mary Jane Ferrier, spokeswoman for the group Protect South Portland. “This is a big thing with impact far beyond our city.” Opponents – including Tom Hardison, vice president of the Portland Pipe Line Corp. – were disappointed but not surprised that the ban passed.

Fukushima: Bad and Getting Worse

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IPPNW concludes that Fukushima’s radiation disaster is “far from over”: the destroyed reactors are still unstable; radioactive liquids and gases continuously leak from the complex wreckage; melted fuel and used fuel in quake-damaged cooling pools hold enormous quantities of radioactivity “and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error.” Catastrophic releases of radioactivity “could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades.” IPPNW finally recommends urgent actions that governments should take, because the UNSCEAR report, “does not adhere to scientific standards of neutrality,” “represents a systematic underestimation,” “conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment,” and its conclusion is phrased “in such a way that would most likely be misunderstood by most people…”

Breaking: Impacted Residents Arrested At FERC Over Fracking

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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.

A Fracking Boondoggle

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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.

Residents Fighting Pipeline One Step At A Time

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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.

Last Call: A Manifesto For Transformation

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This is more than an economic and political crisis: it’s a crisis of civilization. For the most part, European citizens believe the idea that consumer society can “progress” into the future (and that it should). Meanwhile, a good part of the inhabitants of the planet hope to achieve our level of material comfort. However, we have succeeded in achieving this level of production and consumption at the cost of exhausting natural resources and energy sources, and disrupting the equilibrium of Earth’s ecosystems. None of this is new. The most lucid researchers and scientists have warned us since the 1970′s: to continue with the current trends of growth (economic, demographic, in the use of resources, generation of pollutants and increase in inequality) the most probably result for the 21st century would be the collapse of civilization. Today the news has accumulated that indicates that the path of unrestricted growth is already a genocide in slow motion.

TransCanada Buys Town’s Silence On Tar Sands Pipeline Proposal

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A small town in Ontario, Canada will be receiving $28,200 from energy company TransCanada Corp. in exchange for not commenting on the company’s proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline project, according to an agreement attached to the town council’s meeting agenda on June 23. Under the terms of deal, the town of Mattawa will “not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects” for five years. In exchange for that silence, TransCanada will give Mattawa $28,200, which will ultimately go towards buying a rescue truck for the town. “This is a gag order,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, a campaigner for energy and climate issues with the Council of Canadians, told Bloomberg News. “These sorts of dirty tricks impede public debate on Energy East, a pipeline that comes with significant risks for communities along the route.” The terms of the agreement did not specifically mention the controversial Energy East pipeline, which would carry more than a million barrels of tar sands crude oil across Canada each day. However, the deal is being widely seen as a way for the company to avoid obstacles that may get in the way of the pipeline’s approval — especially considering the obstacles that have long plagued the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States.

Woman Arrested At ‘Knit-In’ Protest

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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.

Affected Homeowners Occupy Vermont Gas Office

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Monkton and Cornwall homeowners staged a “knit-in” at Vermont Gas Systems’ headquarters, occupying the main lobby and demanding the company stop trying to scare peaceful protestors and landowners with false allegations and eminent domain. Jane Palmer, Maren Vasatka and Claire Broughton, all of Monkton, and Mary Martin of Cornwall live in the path of the proposed fracked gas pipeline. They said they won’t leave until Vermont Gas publicly admits to illegally trespassing on land in Addison County, agrees to negotiate fairly with homeowners and stops trying to use scare tactics against peaceful protestors engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Vermont Gas offices.

Obama Administration Secretly Weakening EPA Rules

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Hopes for environmental policy change were dashed before the end of Obama’s first year. He talked a big game on the campaign trail, but when it came to acting on those promises, that rhetoric proved to be just as hollow as his predecessor’s. Obama doubled down on coal, oil, and fracking, while allowing renewable energy investments to fall. But the most disturbing part of the story is that Obama and his officials have been working in secret to weaken environmental standards that his administration has been patting themselves on the back for in public. Recently, a federal judge expanded a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that was filed against the Small Business Administration (SBA), which claims that officials within the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been working to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power plant pollution standards. The administration has been dragging its feet in providing the information requested, even after the court ruling, which has led environmental groups to file a complaint against the White House.

People Seize Their Power In Wisconsin, Challenge Enbridge

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Enbridge knew that the residents of Jefferson County, Wisconsin, were starting to catch on to the dangers of their proposed Line 61 tar sands pipeline expansion. So, in an attempt to create positive PR, Enbridge called for an event Tuesday night at the local Fort Community Credit Union called “Coffee and Conversation” in order to answer questions about the project. Enbridge set the agenda as well as the scope of the hearing, so nobody knew what to expect from the meeting. . . It became apparent that the company plan was to field questions from individual residents instead of holding a full group hearing. Enbridge clearly wanted to avoid a group encounter with concerned citizens. That’s when the people of Jefferson decided to take democracy into their own hands. Several of those frustrated by the company’s format for the evening started setting up chairs that were stacked on a wall in the room. Enbridge officials seemed perplexed as people started grabbing chairs and setting them into the room. At one point the lead Enbridge spokeswoman tried to tell those setting up chairs to move them to the back of the room . . . .

The West Doesn’t Need Nuclear For Energy Independence

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Some of the most confounding problems of our day — global warming and the West’s energy dependence on Russia and the Middle East — appear to President Barack Obama and some of Europe’s leaders to have an obvious answer: more nuclear power. A May 2014 EU Commission study on Europe’s energy security after the Ukraine crisis insists it’s going to be a big part of the solution. Nuclear is also a central component of Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy. After all, nuclear power plants are supposedly inexpensive to run, emit no CO2 and could lessen dependence on oil and gas imports from volatile regions of the world. A no-brainer, right? Not by a long shot. Nuclear power is a nasty red herring that advocates will pay for dearly, should it figure into their response to the current challenges on the table. In the past, critics of nuclear power went to great lengths to point out nuclear energy’s inherent danger. Consider the meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011, they said, on top of the untold number of smaller mishaps that never make the headlines. And then there’s the unsolvable dilemma of radioactive nuclear waste, which nobody wants anywhere near their backyards.

Maasai Families Face Eviction As Geothermal Companies Take Land

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Reminiscent of what happened to the Maasai community in Narasha in 2013, Maasai pastoralists in Kedong, Akira and Suswa are glaring at massive evictions arising from a group of concessions awarded to several companies including Hyundai, Toshiba, Sinopec and African Geothermal International (AGIL) for the purposes of developing geothermal projects on the Maasai lands. According to the local communities–who claim ancestry to the land and have filed cases in Kenyan courts– African Geothermal International (AGIL) and Marine Power along with Akira I and Akira II1 have disregarded court injunctions instituted by the Maasai, proceeding to deploy their heavy machinery to their proposed project sites without due diligence or consultations with the local communities. The concession areas, which cover hundreds of thousands of acres, are home to thousands of Maasai pastoralists.

Stop Mountaintop Removal: Activists Blockade Alpha Natural Resources

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Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads “Save Coal River Mountain” “That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it’s the mountain that’s sustained my family for generations. I’ll be a dead man before I see them take what’s left up there,” said Junior Walk, of West Virginia.

After The Harvest: Learning To Leave The Planet Gracefully

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Every time I read the latest bad-and-getting-worse news about the health of the ecosphere, such as last month’s report that the melting of some giant glaciers had passed the point of no return, I think back to a conversation 25 years ago that helps me put such news in perspective. In a Minneapolis bakery where my new friend Jim Koplin and I had settled into a Friday morning coffee session to analyze the world, and gossip a bit, Koplin told me that he thought the most important task for human beings — as a species, not just as individuals — was “learning to leave the planet gracefully.” Why would human beings need to learn to leave the planet gracefully? The answer — so painfully obvious today, as the evidence about ecological crises piles up, readily available to anyone who chooses to know — was clear to Koplin more than 25 years ago. Although he wasn’t prone to quoting scripture, I am, so let me offer a “why” in the words of Jeremiah from the Hebrew Bible: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20)