In recent months many voices have called for larger, escalated action on climate change. We agree. At the beginning of November, as the election campaigns conclude, we call for multiple, consecutive days of climate direct action in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. Vote we must, but we must do much more. We hurtle toward a climate precipice with one foot occasionally, tentatively tapping the brake but the other simultaneously flooring the accelerator on our fossil-fueled economy.
Today, citizens from Calvert County, Maryland, angry that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners sent stand-ins to a meeting in their area on the controversial proposal to allow the Dominion Cove Point facility to convert from an import to an export terminal for liquified natural gas (LNG), took their case to FERC’s monthly meeting in Washington D.C. A group of 20 people, including members and allies of the Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, delivered what they described as “an unannounced intervention” in response to their feeling that the commission intends to rubber stamp the proposal without adequate assessment of the dangers to the surrounding community.
3.5% is all it takes. “The history of resistance movements shows that when 3.5% of a population gets mobilized on an issue, no government can withstand it,” explains Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, an organization working with System Change not Climate Change and Global Climate Convergence to put on the New York City Climate Convergence Sept. 19-21. The Global Climate Convergence represents a coming together of activists and organizers from across the country and the globe. The GCC seeks to mobilize some of that 3.5% – or, in fact, even 1% – as numbers as small have proven enough to facilitate real change in the past.
A team of scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have found evidence “directly linking” the uptick in Colorado and New Mexico earthquakes since 2001 to wastewater injection, a process widely used in the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and conventional drilling. In a study to be published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America on Tuesday, the scientists presented “several lines of evidence [that] suggest the earthquakes in the area are directly related to the disposal of wastewater” deep underground, according to a BSSA press release. Fracking and conventional natural gas companies routinely dispose of large amounts of wastewater underground after drilling. During fracking, the water is mixed with chemicals and sand, to “fracture” underground shale rock formations and make gas easier to extract.
The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest industrial consumer of fossil fuels in the world. It is also the top arms exporter and military spender at $640 billion, which accounts for 37% of the total. Other western countries that are top military spenders like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, have high carbon emissions per capita. Military expenditures are depriving the international community of the funds desperately needed to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. Over the past two decades, the developed countries have provided a paltry $12.5 billion for the Global Environmental Facility, one of the first funding mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC). In ten years, the Adaptation Fund has only disbursed $150 million to help developing countries, which are the most vulnerable and least responsible for climate change. In 2009 at the UNFCCC 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen, developed countries made a commitment to raise $100 billion annually by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund to finance the national adaptation plans for developing countries. This is less than 1% of global annual military expenditures. Yet, wealthy, industrialized countries have failed to make adequate pledges to pay their climate debt.
Eduardo, the dangerous Martinez, is a retired public school teacher and registered Democrat. He’s silver-haired, soft spoken, neatly dressed, and rather distinguished looking. For years, he has devoted himself to good causes in Richmond, including serving on the city planning commission. On that body, he has been an influential voice for Richmond’s Environmental Justice Coalition. Earlier this summer, for example, he voted to impose additional air quality and safety requirements on Chevron, in return for city approval of its long-delayed $1 billion refinery modernization plan. This project was finally OKed by the city council majority in July after some improvements were obtained, plus $90 million in Chevron-funded “community benefits.” Chevron did not forget that Martinez—Eduardo, not Al—helped to challenge and change its original blueprint for “modernization,” a project that will employ 1,000 building trades workers. And that’s why Richmond voters have just discovered, via expensive mass mailers and phone calls, that Eduardo Martinez is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
VANCOUVER – In January of this year, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers made a presentation to high-ranking officials in British Columbia’s Environment Ministry, outlining changes they wanted to environmental review rules for natural gas projects. Those changes became law on April 14, but they didn’t stay that way for long. An outcry from First Nations organizations forced an about-face from Environment Minister Mary Polak, who rescinded the revisions two days after they were passed by order-in-council. “Industry prefers shorter regulatory timelines and less regulatory burden to reduce costs,” said internal documents obtained by The Canadian Press through a Freedom of Information request.
Global warming is a potentially devastating problem requiring urgent action by governments. However, to date the U.S. government has remained largely paralyzed. Now new Greenpeace research has shed light on the sources of paralysis, a multi-decade war on democracy by the kingpins of carbon – the coal, oil, and gas industries allied with a handful of self-interested libertarian billionaires. Their strategy has aimed to (1) shrink, disable and paralyze progressive government and (2) manipulate the remaining levers of government power by (a) eliminating all restrictions on private money in elections and (b) disenfranchising blacks, Latinos, the young, the elderly, and the disabled, all of whom are presumed to favor Democrats. Since 1975, their strategy has rolled back New Deal programs, weakened labor unions, and reversed victories of the civil rights movement, undermining the strength and cohesion of the middle class, further enriching and empowering a tiny self-interested elite.
Booming production of oil and natural gas has exacted a little-known price on some of the nation’s roads, contributing to a spike in traffic fatalities in states where many streets and highways are choked with large trucks and heavy drilling equipment. An Associated Press analysis of traffic deaths and U.S. census data in six drilling states shows that in some places, fatalities have more than quadrupled since 2004 — a period when most American roads have become much safer even as the population has grown. “We are just so swamped,” said Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva of Karnes County, Texas, where authorities have been overwhelmed by the surge in serious accidents. The industry acknowledges the problem, and traffic agencies and oil companies say they are taking steps to improve safety. But no one imagines that the risks will be eliminated quickly or easily.
A First Nations group protesting a copper and gold mining site in the heart of the Sacred Headwaters of northwest B.C. was responded to by RCMP officers with rifles on Friday afternoon, according to several eyewitness accounts. Members of the “Klabona Keepers” have occupied a drill site in Tahltan territory, near Iskut B.C. for several days. The drill is operated by Firesteel Resources of Vancouver. Tahltan band member Peter Jakesta helps run the protest camp, and said four RCMP members came in unannounced, took their radios, and told them to leave or risk being charged with theft.
This summer, we returned to northern El Salvador. That’s where the Pacific Rim mining company started to dig its exploration wells about a decade ago. Near that disputed mining site, local resident Vidalina Morales explained how she and others came to oppose mining: “At first, we thought mining was going to help us out of poverty through jobs.” But, she said, during a visit to a mine in neighboring Honduras, “we saw polluted rivers and people with bad skin diseases, and we learned about the social conflicts that mining brought between those working in the mine and those in the community.”
As predicted yesterday, Tesla and the Neveda governor have confirmed that the gigantic battery Gigafactory that will make enough battery cells to power 500,000 electric vehicles per year will be located in Nevada. Governor Brian Sandoval and Elon Musk made the joint announcement, with the Governor saying that this investment in his state represents “nearly one hundred billion dollars in economic impact to the Silver State over the next twenty years” and that he called Tesla and Musk “21st century pioneers, fueled with innovation and desire” (how poetic). Musk, in turn, said that the “Gigafactory is an important step in advancing the cause of sustainable transportation and will enable the mass production of compelling electric vehicles for decades to come.”
A coalition of environmental organizations this week filed a motion to preserve the groundbreaking ban on fracking enacted by Longmont, Colorado voters in 2012. Our Health Our Future Our Longmont, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, and Earthworks, represented by the University of Denver Law Clinic, appealed a July ruling by a Colorado judge that struck down the prohibition. “We are committed to continuing to protect the health, safety and property of Longmont residents,” said Kaye Fissinger, President of Our Health Our Future Our Longmont. Boulder District Judge D.D. Mallard had ruled that Longmont’s ban constitutes an “irreconcilable conflict” with the state’s interests in oil and gas interests, and that the state takes precedence over the local ruling. But the coalition that appealed the ruling argues that state law prohibits extractive policies that are harmful to the environment.
Dominion changed the venue for its information meeting on its natural gas pipeline next week after protest plans were announced at its previously arranged location. Company representatives scheduled it as the first of many open houses to answer questions from landowners and the public on an informal, one-on-one basis. They will have more details about information and maps for the proposed 550-mile utility line Dominion wants to build from West Virginia to North Carolina. The Augusta County Alliance, which formed in opposition to the energy company’s proposal, alerted supporters Thursday about protests being organized in Verona. On Friday, County Administrator Pat Coffield notified Dominion that the wording of the alert from the Alliance raised safety concerns about government employees and open house visitors. The open house would have overlapped with Government Center hours. Because of that and the safety concerns, “I do not feel that the Government Center is the appropriate location for the Open House along with the planned activities of the Augusta County Alliance,” Coffield wrote in a letter to Dominion. In an interview, Coffield noted phrases in the Alliance email newsletter about not letting, “the landowners go in there alone.” “Let’s pack the parking lot and pack the room,” the notice said.