Report: Hundreds killed while defending environment, land rights
April 16, 2014

Hundreds of people have been killed while defending the environment and land rights around the world, international monitors said in a report released Tuesday, highlighting what they called a culture of impunity surrounding the deaths.

At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2013 during disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights – with Latin America and Asia-Pacific being particularly hard-hit – according to the study from Global Witness, a London-based nongovernmental organization that says it works to expose economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.

Only 10 people have ever been convicted over the hundreds of deaths, the report said.

The rate of such deaths has risen sharply – with an average of two activists killed each week – over the past four years as competition for the world’s natural resources has accelerated, Global Witness said in the report titled “Deadly Environment.”

“There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,” said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

“This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,” Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

Land rights are central to the violence, as “companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops,” the report said. When residents refuse to give up their land rights to mining operations and the timber trade, they are often forced from their homes, or worse, it said.

The study ranked Brazil as the most dangerous place to be an environmentalist, with at least 448 killings recorded.

One case that especially shocked the country and the global environmental movement involved the 2011 killings of environmentalists Jose Claudio Ribeira da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.

“The couple had denounced the encroachment of illegal loggers in the reserve and had previously received threats against their lives,” the report said.

Masked men gunned down the couple near a sustainable reserve where they had worked for decades producing nuts and natural oils. The killers tore off one of Jose Claudio’s ears as proof of his execution.

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BP spills tar sands in Lake Michigan, threatening drinking water supply for 7 million peopleMarch 28, 2014
A BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana leaked up to 1,638 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan Monday afternoon, an incident that occurred less than two weeks after the U.S. lifted BP’s ban on seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP says the spill, which has since been stopped and contained, was caused by a “disruption in the refining process” at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. Dan Goldblatt, spokesman at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told ThinkProgress that his office was notified at about 4:30 CDT Monday of an oil sheen, which EPA officials said on a press call Thursday totaled about 5,000 square yards, on Lake Michigan. Mike Beslow, On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA, said that when he visited the site around 9 p.m. Monday, the sheen was no longer visible.
Lake Michigan acts as the drinking water source for 7 million people in the Chicago area alone, but EPA officials said on the call that the drinking water wouldn’t be affected by the spill. The EPA, BP and the Coast Guard are leading the cleanup effort, which involves placing booms on the water, scooping up oil, which has been turned hard and waxy by cold weather, with their hands, and cleaning up a nearby beach that was contaminated. BP told Reuters that they have had “no reports of any wildlife impacted,” and EPA officials confirmed this on the call.
The presence of a sheen on a body of water is typically viewed as a violation of the Clean Water Act, and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said during the call that officials would look into whether action should be taken against BP.
“I can assure you that EPA’s lawyers will be looking at this matter and determining whether or not enforcement action will be appropriate,” she said.
The Whiting refinery, which was recently upgraded to process oil from the Canadian tar sands, has drawn the ire of environmentalists in the past, due to its pollution of Lake Michigan. Last September, Indiana regulators ruled that BP must cut the amount of mercury pollution it releases annually into Lake Michigan from the refinery from 23.1 parts per trillion of to 8.75 parts per trillion. The new rule marks a “modest but significant” change, according to the NRDC, but is still above the federal mercury limit of 1.3 parts per trillion.
The Whiting refinery was also at the center of a November lawsuit by Chicago residents, who sued BP, Koch Industries, and other companies over the storage of vast piles of petroleum coke, a byproduct left over from the refining of tar sands oil. The Whiting refinery currently produces about 600,000 tons per year of petcoke, but the recent $3.8 billion expansion has the potential to up its petcoke production to 2.2 million tons per year.

Spokespersons at BP did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment. The spill comes on the heels of a barge collision that spilled up to 170,000 gallons of oil into into Galveston Bay Saturday, and just over a week after a spill of 20,000 gallons of oil was reported in an Ohio nature reserve.
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BP spills tar sands in Lake Michigan, threatening drinking water supply for 7 million people
March 28, 2014

A BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana leaked up to 1,638 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan Monday afternoon, an incident that occurred less than two weeks after the U.S. lifted BP’s ban on seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP says the spill, which has since been stopped and contained, was caused by a “disruption in the refining process” at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. Dan Goldblatt, spokesman at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told ThinkProgress that his office was notified at about 4:30 CDT Monday of an oil sheen, which EPA officials said on a press call Thursday totaled about 5,000 square yards, on Lake Michigan. Mike Beslow, On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA, said that when he visited the site around 9 p.m. Monday, the sheen was no longer visible.

Lake Michigan acts as the drinking water source for 7 million people in the Chicago area alone, but EPA officials said on the call that the drinking water wouldn’t be affected by the spill. The EPA, BP and the Coast Guard are leading the cleanup effort, which involves placing booms on the water, scooping up oil, which has been turned hard and waxy by cold weather, with their hands, and cleaning up a nearby beach that was contaminated. BP told Reuters that they have had “no reports of any wildlife impacted,” and EPA officials confirmed this on the call.

The presence of a sheen on a body of water is typically viewed as a violation of the Clean Water Act, and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said during the call that officials would look into whether action should be taken against BP.

“I can assure you that EPA’s lawyers will be looking at this matter and determining whether or not enforcement action will be appropriate,” she said.

The Whiting refinery, which was recently upgraded to process oil from the Canadian tar sands, has drawn the ire of environmentalists in the past, due to its pollution of Lake Michigan. Last September, Indiana regulators ruled that BP must cut the amount of mercury pollution it releases annually into Lake Michigan from the refinery from 23.1 parts per trillion of to 8.75 parts per trillion. The new rule marks a “modest but significant” change, according to the NRDC, but is still above the federal mercury limit of 1.3 parts per trillion.

The Whiting refinery was also at the center of a November lawsuit by Chicago residents, who sued BP, Koch Industries, and other companies over the storage of vast piles of petroleum coke, a byproduct left over from the refining of tar sands oil. The Whiting refinery currently produces about 600,000 tons per year of petcoke, but the recent $3.8 billion expansion has the potential to up its petcoke production to 2.2 million tons per year.

Spokespersons at BP did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment. The spill comes on the heels of a barge collision that spilled up to 170,000 gallons of oil into into Galveston Bay Saturday, and just over a week after a spill of 20,000 gallons of oil was reported in an Ohio nature reserve.

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Largest anti-fracking rally in California history draws thousands
March 17, 2014

They came in their thousands from across the Golden State. On Saturday, the largest anti-fracking rally and protest in California’s history took place in the state capital of Sacramento.

The message to California Gov. Jerry Brown was simple: act now to ban fracking.

The rally, which was organized by Californians Against Fracking and some 80 environmental and health organizations, such as Oil Change International (OCI) and 350.org.

Protestors were young and old, united in their opposition to fracking. One group of grandmothers sang: “We don’t want your fracking turning all our water brown, Take your freakin’ frackin’ drills or we will shut you down! Hydro-FRAC-turing just sucks.”

“Governor Brown has positioned himself as a climate champion, and we want to make it clear that as he decides whether to green light a massive expansion of fracking in California, his legacy is on the line,” said rally organizer Zack Malitz

David Turnbull, campaigns director at OCI warned Gov. Brown he would be “foolish to ignore,” the growing movement against fracking in the State. “The Governor can choose to stand with these concerned Californians and stop fracking in our state, or he can continue to stand with Big Oil,” Turnbull said.

Two days previously environmental groups had released a report warning that oil companies areincreasing California’s earthquake risk by fracking, which is especially pertinent given the active fault lines of California.

The report concluded that a boom in fracking in California would worsen the danger of earthquakes, by greatly increasing oil wastewater production and underground injection. Extracting the Monterey Shale’s oil in the state could produce almost 9 trillion gallons of contaminated wastewater, the report estimates. That could expose California to a surge in damaging earthquakes like those seen in other states. (Last week I blogged about how one frack well in Ohio has been suspended due to small quakes.)

“This isn’t rocket science,” said one of the report’s authors, Jhon Arbelaez from EarthWorks. “We’ve known for decades that wastewater injection increases earthquake risk. Since Gov. Brown resolutely refuses to learn from other communities’ experience with fracking across the country, our only option to protect California families is to prevent fracking altogether.”

And that certainly was the message at Saturday’s rally.

“People need to know what fracking looks like,” said Rodrigo Romo, one activist from the heavily fracked region of Shafter, CA. “In the Central Valley there is no buffer between fracking sites and our community; there are wells next-door to schools and agricultural land. It is time for our decision makers to listen to us and stop fracking.”

Source
PhotosCorrine Koster and Rae Breaux

Four years after Deepwater Horizon disaster, US agrees to let BP oil rigs back into the GulfMarch 14, 2014
Get ready, Gulf: BP is back.
The U.S. government on Thursday announced that it will lift the ban that prevented BP from seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, ending a lawsuit filed by the British oil company that said it was being unfairly punished for its disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The announcement comes nearly four years after the Deepwater explosion, which killed 11 crewmen and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
“This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we’ve outlined together,” Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, said in a statement. “Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I’m confident we’ve secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs.”
Following the Deepwater spill, BP wasn’t always banned from seeking federal oil leases in the Gulf. For more than two and a half years after the disaster, the U.S. government continued to purchase fuel under contracts with BP. The last lease sale BP participated in was in June 2012, when they acquired deepwater leases. The U.S. government only announced that it would ban BP and its 21 related entities from seeking government contracts in November of 2012 and January of 2013.
BP filed its lawsuit against the U.S. government in August 2013, claiming the ban was unfair and didn’t take into account the company’s “strong safety record,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit sought to make the ban “null, void, and unenforceable,” and asked the court to prevent the EPA from enforcing it.
The agreement announced by EPA to let BP back into the Gulf will end that lawsuit, and will also establish a so-called “administrative agreement” designed to keep BP in check. Under the agreement, BP will be required to retain an EPA-approved independent auditor to conduct annual reviews and report on BP’s compliance. The agreement, EPA said, will include requirements on ethics, corporate governance, and safety procedures. There will be “zero tolerance” for retaliation against employees or contractors who raise safety concerns, the EPA said.
Just because BP wasn’t allowed to bid for new oil leases in the Gulf for the last few years, however, doesn’t mean that the company wasn’t drilling in the Gulf. BP had existing leases it was allowed to operate — more oil leases in the Gulf than any other driller, in fact. It also holds leases in the Gulf from non-U.S. contractors. In November, for example, the companyadded two new drilling rigs to its offshore Gulf of Mexico operations, under a long-term contract to BP from Seadrill Ltd, an international offshore drilling contractor.

That November announcement brought the company’s total number of Gulf rigs to nine. Now, with the ban on federal drilling leases lifted, the sky’s the limit.
Source

Four years after Deepwater Horizon disaster, US agrees to let BP oil rigs back into the Gulf
March 14, 2014

Get ready, Gulf: BP is back.

The U.S. government on Thursday announced that it will lift the ban that prevented BP from seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, ending a lawsuit filed by the British oil company that said it was being unfairly punished for its disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The announcement comes nearly four years after the Deepwater explosion, which killed 11 crewmen and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

“This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we’ve outlined together,” Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, said in a statement. “Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I’m confident we’ve secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs.”

Following the Deepwater spill, BP wasn’t always banned from seeking federal oil leases in the Gulf. For more than two and a half years after the disaster, the U.S. government continued to purchase fuel under contracts with BP. The last lease sale BP participated in was in June 2012, when they acquired deepwater leases. The U.S. government only announced that it would ban BP and its 21 related entities from seeking government contracts in November of 2012 and January of 2013.

BP filed its lawsuit against the U.S. government in August 2013, claiming the ban was unfair and didn’t take into account the company’s “strong safety record,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit sought to make the ban “null, void, and unenforceable,” and asked the court to prevent the EPA from enforcing it.

The agreement announced by EPA to let BP back into the Gulf will end that lawsuit, and will also establish a so-called “administrative agreement” designed to keep BP in check. Under the agreement, BP will be required to retain an EPA-approved independent auditor to conduct annual reviews and report on BP’s compliance. The agreement, EPA said, will include requirements on ethics, corporate governance, and safety procedures. There will be “zero tolerance” for retaliation against employees or contractors who raise safety concerns, the EPA said.

Just because BP wasn’t allowed to bid for new oil leases in the Gulf for the last few years, however, doesn’t mean that the company wasn’t drilling in the Gulf. BP had existing leases it was allowed to operate — more oil leases in the Gulf than any other driller, in fact. It also holds leases in the Gulf from non-U.S. contractors. In November, for example, the companyadded two new drilling rigs to its offshore Gulf of Mexico operations, under a long-term contract to BP from Seadrill Ltd, an international offshore drilling contractor.

That November announcement brought the company’s total number of Gulf rigs to nine. Now, with the ban on federal drilling leases lifted, the sky’s the limit.

Source

2nd major environmental disaster in West Virginia this year: Pipe break at coal facility contaminates waterwayFebruary 13, 2014
A coal preparation facility spilled an unknown quantity of coal slurry into a creek in Kanawha County, W.V. Tuesday morning, according to West Virginia officials.
As the Charleston Gazette reports, the spill occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation, which is located near Fields Creek. The operation is near Winifrede, WV — southeast of Charleston, the state’s capitol and site of last month’s major chemical spill. The amount of coal slurry that spilled is still unknown, but a West Virginia DEP spokesman told the Charleston Gazette that the spill could probably be characterized as “significant.” Local reporters have tweeted photos of the spill, which has turned the creek’s water black. 
According to the county’s emergency services director, the spill was caused by a break in the eight-inch slurry line that ran between the preparation plant and the company’s refuse impoundment, which occurred sometime between midnight and 5:30 in the morning. According to the DEP, the company in charge of the facility reported the spill to the DEP at 7:30 a.m.
Workers have shut down the slurry pumps to stop the spill, but the slurry has contaminatedthe creek, which flows into the Kanawha River. Responders are trying to contain the spill to Fields Creek in the hopes that it does not reach the Kanawha River. Officials say if the spill does reach the river they don’t think it will affect drinking water because there are no water intakes downstream of the spill.
Coal slurry is a mix of solid and liquid waste that’s created from coal preparation, a process that includes washing coal with chemicals like MCHM. The DEP said in a statement that the facility utilizes a frothing chemical called Flomin 110-C that contains MCHM, the same chemical that spilled from a Freedom Industries holding plant and contaminated water for 300,000 West Virginians last month. Lawmakers have been grappling with how to prevent similar spills from happening in the future — West Virginia Sen. John Unger (D), introduced abill aimed at regulating above-ground storage tanks that was passed unanimously in the Senate, but Tuesday morning’s spill proves that other holding facilities, including impoundments, are also at risk of spills.
Slurry has spilled before in West Virginia — in 1972, a coal slurry impoundment dam in Logan County burst, spilling 132,000,000 gallons of liquid onto small mining settlements, killing 125 people and injuring 1,121. And in October of 2000, a coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky, spilled 306,000,000 gallons, polluting 100 miles of waterways and killing aquatic life and plants in West Virginia and Kentucky.
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2nd major environmental disaster in West Virginia this year: Pipe break at coal facility contaminates waterway
February 13, 2014

A coal preparation facility spilled an unknown quantity of coal slurry into a creek in Kanawha County, W.V. Tuesday morning, according to West Virginia officials.

As the Charleston Gazette reports, the spill occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation, which is located near Fields Creek. The operation is near Winifrede, WV — southeast of Charleston, the state’s capitol and site of last month’s major chemical spill. The amount of coal slurry that spilled is still unknown, but a West Virginia DEP spokesman told the Charleston Gazette that the spill could probably be characterized as “significant.” Local reporters have tweeted photos of the spill, which has turned the creek’s water black. 

According to the county’s emergency services director, the spill was caused by a break in the eight-inch slurry line that ran between the preparation plant and the company’s refuse impoundment, which occurred sometime between midnight and 5:30 in the morning. According to the DEP, the company in charge of the facility reported the spill to the DEP at 7:30 a.m.

Workers have shut down the slurry pumps to stop the spill, but the slurry has contaminatedthe creek, which flows into the Kanawha River. Responders are trying to contain the spill to Fields Creek in the hopes that it does not reach the Kanawha River. Officials say if the spill does reach the river they don’t think it will affect drinking water because there are no water intakes downstream of the spill.

Coal slurry is a mix of solid and liquid waste that’s created from coal preparation, a process that includes washing coal with chemicals like MCHM. The DEP said in a statement that the facility utilizes a frothing chemical called Flomin 110-C that contains MCHM, the same chemical that spilled from a Freedom Industries holding plant and contaminated water for 300,000 West Virginians last month. Lawmakers have been grappling with how to prevent similar spills from happening in the future — West Virginia Sen. John Unger (D), introduced abill aimed at regulating above-ground storage tanks that was passed unanimously in the Senate, but Tuesday morning’s spill proves that other holding facilities, including impoundments, are also at risk of spills.

Slurry has spilled before in West Virginia — in 1972, a coal slurry impoundment dam in Logan County burst, spilling 132,000,000 gallons of liquid onto small mining settlements, killing 125 people and injuring 1,121. And in October of 2000, a coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky, spilled 306,000,000 gallons, polluting 100 miles of waterways and killing aquatic life and plants in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Source

12,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in Minnesota on Monday

February 4, 2014

No significant cleanup work is planned after a valve or cap mishap on a Canadian Pacific rail car spilled 12,000 gallons of crude oil between Winona and Red Wing.

According to officials at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the incident was reported at 11:41 a.m. Monday, after crews discovered the leak. The spill involved less than half the contents of a typical tanker car, which holds about 26,000 gallons of liquid.

According to David Morrison, a member of the MPCA emergency response team sent out Tuesday, the spill was more pronounced along the tracks in Winona when he inspected rail crossings in the city Tuesday afternoon. Morrison said this was probably due to increased snow cover on the tracks, making the spill more visible, and the train traveling more slowly through the city, depositing more oil.

No major cleanup work was planned as of Tuesday, MPCA public information officer Catherine Rofshus said, due to the low volume of oil along the tracks, but could change if larger pools of oil are found or oil threatens any waters along the tracks.

Rofshus said MPCA staff were still examining critical areas such as river crossings Tuesday morning to assess any environmental damage or amounts of oil requiring cleanup. Another option the MPCA is looking into is dispatching staff when snow melt occurs to look for oil sheen and runoff.

“The main goal of the MPCA today is to protect any waters from contamination as the railroad tracks cross the Zumbro and Cannon rivers, as well as Wells Creek, along with close proximity to wetlands, including Weaver Bottoms,” Rofshus said in an email Tuesday morning. “Initial reconnaissance found only a spattering of oil across Wells Creek north of Lake City.”

Rofshus said the MPCA’s first goal with the incident is response, followed by an investigation. No fines or citations will be issued until that investigation is completed, she said.

State law requires any spill of five gallons or more of fuel or oil be reported to the duty officer at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Oil was spilled in 2009, when a leaking Union Pacific locomotive splattered 15 houses on Winona’s East End with oil before traveling on to Milwaukee. Union Pacific employees initially neglected to report the leak, coming forward several days later. The total amount of oil leaked was never disclosed, with Union Pacific officials calling it a small amount.

Other spills have been reported to the MPCA over the years, mostly involving small amounts of hydraulic fluid or fuel leaked or spilled from locomotives. The largest rail incident in recent memory was the 2008 Dresbach derailment that dropped more than two dozen cars into the Mississippi River, released 3,200 gallons of fuel and diesel, and more than 33,000 gallons of liquid fertilizer.

Ed Greenberg, spokesman with Canadian Pacific, said the company is cooperating with the MPCA investigation and is also doing one of their own into what caused the leak. The tanker car that had the malfunction has been pulled from service, Greenberg said, and if future clean up efforts are required, Canadian Pacific will cooperate fully.

“All indications are the product remained between the rails,” Greenberg said. “Any potential mitigation actions will take place if identified.”

Source

Officials: Second chemical leaked into West Virginia water supply

January 22, 2014

A second chemical was mixed in with the previously identified MCHM crude that leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries chemical company earlier this month and tainted drinking water in a large swath of West Virginia, a spokeswoman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin confirmed to Al Jazeera Tuesday evening.

State authorities said that earlier Tuesday they had received a document from Freedom Industries indicating the presence of the second substance, a modified form of a chemical called PPH. Thechemical spill into the Elk River prompted authorities to impose a Jan. 9 ban on drinking, bathing or even touching water from taps.

The ban was lifted Jan. 19, but residents this week were still reporting symptoms such as rashes or nausea after coming into contact with the water. Some also complained of a strange, licorice-like odor coming from taps and toilets.

Some residents are still refusing to drink the water, and authorities have warned pregnant women against drinking it until levels of MCHM are undetectable.

The West Virginia governor’s office had strong words for the chemical company, whose storage facility held MCHM, a material used in the processing of coal. The company on Tuesday revealed to state authorities that the modified PPH was also in the tank.

"It was Freedom’s responsibility to let people know there was another chemical in the tank and they did not," Amy Goodwin, the director of communications for Tomblin, told Al Jazeera.  

"At this point there is very limited trust in any of the information that is being provided by Freedom, but the second we found out about it, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health and Human Resources, the National Guard and the Office of Homeland Security went out and did testing within the system," she said.

Members of the West Virginia National Guard did about 20 tests, which reportedly take several hours to complete. When this story was published, they believed the levels were nondetectable but were waiting for confirmed results.

The tests were done using samples collected from the tank the day the spill was originally identified, Jan. 9.

Goodwin said the second chemical was a “stripped form” of the chemical PPH, meaning it has certain elements removed from its pure form.

About 300 gallons of the chemical were in the tank, making up about 5 percent of the tank’s total capacity, Goodwin said.

State officials worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) throughout the day Tuesday to learn more.

In its initial assessment of the chemical spill, the CDC said it is unlikely that the chemical poses any new threat to people’s safety. 

"An initial review of the currently available toxicologic information does not suggest any new health concerns associated with the release of PPH," a CDC statement read. "It is likely that any amount of PPH currently in the water system would be extremely low. However, the water system has not been tested for this material."

And while “toxicologic information on PPH is limited,” it appears to be of a lower toxicity than MCHM, the CDC said. 

During the height of the tainted water crisis last weekend, officials said they were waiting for tests to show that MCHM had dropped to around 1 part per million, which authorities had deemed a safe threshold. 

American Water — the parent company of West Virginia American Water, the company responsible for the region’s water supply — told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that it was doing its own tests.

"We have described in detail our water treatment process with state chemical experts, who ascertained that our current treatment process would likely have removed this chemical," water company spokeswoman Maureen Duffy told Al Jazeera. "We are also testing water samples collected last week to further confirm this and will share those results when available."  

After consulting with other authorities in the wake of the revelation of the second chemical’s presence, American Water said it determined that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources was “best positioned to discuss health-related questions about this chemical.” 

According to the local Charleston Gazette newspaper, Gary Southern, president of Freedom Industries, told West Virginia environmental regulator Mike Dorsey about the presence of the second chemical about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Source

WikiLeaks exposes Obama administration’s weakening of environmental policies in TPP

January 15, 2014

The U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries aren’t on the same page regarding environmental policies within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, and the dissension has been exposed by WikiLeaks.

Organizations who have viewed the leaked version of the TPP’s environment chapter say it shows that the U.S. could ease up on pollution control requirements, a shark fin harvesting ban and other regulations it had previously been negotiating for. Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, told The New York Times that the environment chapter no longer contains language she believes would have ensured that more trade doesn’t equate to destruction of the environment.

“It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,” she said.

Other groups worry that TPP passage could ignore fracking bans in the U.S. The draft documents are dated Nov. 24. There has been one meeting since then.

The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) banded together to analyze the document and discover what was missing. Their findings include:

  • A “clear step back” from the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) agreed on by the U.S. and TPP countries in 2007. At the time, Congress and the Bush Administration agreed to “incorporate a specific list of multilateral environmental agreements” in its free trade agreements (FTA), committing the countries to adopting and maintaing those measures and subject them to dispute settlement procedures if need be. Now, TPP countries like Japan, Mexico and New Zealand only need to “affirm” its commitment” to implement the MEAs to which it is a party.
  • A considerable rollback from the dispute resolution process presented in the May 2007 and recent FTAs. Six years ago, violations of the obligations in the environment chapter could be treated like violations of commercial chapters of the agreement. The organizations who authored Wednesday’s analysis say that’s a critical piece of the agreement that provides backing to environmental provisions and ensures that there are consequences for violating them. According to the Sierra Club, NRDC and WWF, “the consolidated text of the TPP environment chapter, however, sends countries back to a pre-2007 world.”

  • The credibility of the article on marine capture fisheries has been severely undercut by a failure to subject commitments to binding dispute settlement. Environmental organizations believe that sections on shark finning, fisheries subsidies and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fish are among those that must be strengthened.

“This peek behind the curtain reveals the absence of an ambitious 21st-century trade agreement promised by negotiating countries,” Carter Roberts, the U.S. CEO of WWF, said in a statement. “The lack of fully-enforceable environmental safeguards means negotiators are allowing a unique opportunity to protect wildlife and support legal sustainable trade of renewable resources to slip through their fingers. These nations account for more than a quarter of global trade in fish and wood products and they have a responsibility to address trade’s impact on wildlife crime, illegal logging, and overfishing.”

The groups fear that the leaked draft is the final product. If that’s the case, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, believes President Barack Obama’s environmental record would end up being worse than that of Bush.

“This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues—oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections,” Brune said. “In fact, (the environment chapter) rolls back on the progress made in past free trade pacts.”

Source

Rain forest warriors: How indigenous tribes protect the AmazonDecember 24, 2013
The destruction of the Amazon in Brazil can be seen by satellite: Where logging roads have spread their tentacles and ranchers have expanded their grazing, all is brown.
Beginning in the early 1980s, these photos from space lost more and more green, so that by 2004 the destruction seemed unstoppable. Brazil’s deforestation rate had reached an alarming 27,000 square kilometers (nearly 17,000 square miles) per year.
But stop it did—not everywhere, but at the borders of what appears from space to be a green island the size of a small country. The brown spreads around this protected zone in the southern Xingu river basin of Brazil, but doesn’t penetrate.
These are the borders of the lands of indigenous tribes.
A Lesson for Environmentalists
The massive green island is comprised of ten legally ratified indigenous territories totaling 35 million acres (14 million hectares). The forest is home to roughly 7,000 Kayapo Indians and, to the south, another 5,500 Indians from 14 different groups
For those who want to protect the Amazon, there’s a lesson here. How do relatively few indigenous people manage to keep the chainsaws and bulldozers at bay over a vast area of pristine forest?
Legal protections are part of the answer: Threatened by ranchers, loggers, and gold miners on their borders, the Kayapo fought for and won official recognition of their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. (Their southern neighbors were already living in a smaller protected area, the Xingu Indigenous Park, established in the 1960s.)
But this region of the southeastern Amazon is like the Wild West, a territory lacking proper governance. Violent conflict over land, illegal logging and gold mining, fraudulent land deals, and other corruption are rampant. Laws are not protection enough.
Understanding the Enemy
Some native tribes have staged protests, pressured the government, and fought on the ground to secure their rights. Some have also formed alliances with environmental and indigenous-rights organizations, which have helped them to form their own nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), enabling them to enlist further outside backing.
One example: Overflights of Kayapo territory in recent years, funded by outside NGOs, spotted gold miners in a remote area. After government inaction, the outside partners equipped a Kayapo expedition with boats, motors, fuel, GPS, and radio.
In July, several dozen Kayapo warriors traveled more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) by boat and on foot to strike at the illegal mining camps. They destroyed the mining equipment and pressured the government to send helicopters to take the captured miners away.
NGOs have also supported initiatives to help the Kayapo become economically more self-sufficient. These include a program to harvest and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Brazil nuts, giving families needed income and reducing pressure to allow in loggers and miners in return for cash.
New Threats
The Amazon rain forest is the greatest expression of life on Earth. It is home to about a third of our planet’s terrestrial life forms, cycles about one-quarter of the Earth’s freshwater, and plays a key role in absorbing carbon and moderating climate.
The need to remain vigilant and engaged is constant. Destruction of rain forest continues, and the powerful agriculture, mining, and logging lobbies in Brazil are proposing amendments to the 1988 constitution that would, in effect, remove legal protections from indigenous lands.
More outside assistance and deeper alliances with the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are urgently needed.
Source

Rain forest warriors: How indigenous tribes protect the Amazon
December 24, 2013

The destruction of the Amazon in Brazil can be seen by satellite: Where logging roads have spread their tentacles and ranchers have expanded their grazing, all is brown.

Beginning in the early 1980s, these photos from space lost more and more green, so that by 2004 the destruction seemed unstoppable. Brazil’s deforestation rate had reached an alarming 27,000 square kilometers (nearly 17,000 square miles) per year.

But stop it did—not everywhere, but at the borders of what appears from space to be a green island the size of a small country. The brown spreads around this protected zone in the southern Xingu river basin of Brazil, but doesn’t penetrate.

These are the borders of the lands of indigenous tribes.

A Lesson for Environmentalists

The massive green island is comprised of ten legally ratified indigenous territories totaling 35 million acres (14 million hectares). The forest is home to roughly 7,000 Kayapo Indians and, to the south, another 5,500 Indians from 14 different groups

For those who want to protect the Amazon, there’s a lesson here. How do relatively few indigenous people manage to keep the chainsaws and bulldozers at bay over a vast area of pristine forest?

Legal protections are part of the answer: Threatened by ranchers, loggers, and gold miners on their borders, the Kayapo fought for and won official recognition of their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. (Their southern neighbors were already living in a smaller protected area, the Xingu Indigenous Park, established in the 1960s.)

But this region of the southeastern Amazon is like the Wild West, a territory lacking proper governance. Violent conflict over land, illegal logging and gold mining, fraudulent land deals, and other corruption are rampant. Laws are not protection enough.

Understanding the Enemy

Some native tribes have staged protests, pressured the government, and fought on the ground to secure their rights. Some have also formed alliances with environmental and indigenous-rights organizations, which have helped them to form their own nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), enabling them to enlist further outside backing.

One example: Overflights of Kayapo territory in recent years, funded by outside NGOs, spotted gold miners in a remote area. After government inaction, the outside partners equipped a Kayapo expedition with boats, motors, fuel, GPS, and radio.

In July, several dozen Kayapo warriors traveled more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) by boat and on foot to strike at the illegal mining camps. They destroyed the mining equipment and pressured the government to send helicopters to take the captured miners away.

NGOs have also supported initiatives to help the Kayapo become economically more self-sufficient. These include a program to harvest and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Brazil nuts, giving families needed income and reducing pressure to allow in loggers and miners in return for cash.

New Threats

The Amazon rain forest is the greatest expression of life on Earth. It is home to about a third of our planet’s terrestrial life forms, cycles about one-quarter of the Earth’s freshwater, and plays a key role in absorbing carbon and moderating climate.

The need to remain vigilant and engaged is constant. Destruction of rain forest continues, and the powerful agriculture, mining, and logging lobbies in Brazil are proposing amendments to the 1988 constitution that would, in effect, remove legal protections from indigenous lands.

More outside assistance and deeper alliances with the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are urgently needed.

Source

For first time, anti-terrorism law used to have Americans protesting Keystone XL pipeline arrestedDecember 17, 2013
A demonstration against Devon Energy and the company’s role in fracking and tar sands mining, including the Keystone XL pipeline, ended with four individuals being placed under arrest last week. Two of them were arrested by police on the basis that they had violated an Oklahoma anti-terrorism law prohibiting “terrorism hoaxes.”
It is strongly suspected that this happened as a result of advice that TransCanada has been giving local law enforcement in states, where protests against the Keystone XL pipeline have been taking place. They have been meeting with law enforcement and suggesting how terrorism laws could be applied to stop citizens from protesting the corporation’s activities.
I spoke with the two individuals arrested on terrorism charges, their lawyer and a spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR), which for months has been conducting nonviolent direct actions against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Oklahoma.
On December 13, several people entered Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City to protest Devon, an energy company involved in natural gas and oil production that involves fracking. They are also invested and involved in tar sands mining in Canada. Devon Energy CEO John Richels sits on Trans Canada’s Board of Directors.
In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two individuals locked themselves with a bike lock inside one of the multiple revolving doors that lead into the atrium of Devon Tower. Two other individuals unfurled a banner from the second floor. The banner had the Mockingjay emblem on it from The Hunger Games and a slogan read, “The odds are never in our favor.” Simultaneously, another banner was unfurled that indicated support for indigenous activists in Canada who have been fighting to prevent energy extraction on their land.
According to attorney Douglas Parr, who is representing the two individuals who unfurled The Hunger Games banner, glitter “fell off the banner” and on to the floor of the atrium. All protesters inside the building were asked to leave. The two individuals, who dropped The Hunger Games banner and left the building when requested to do so by security, were then sought after by police and arrested. The two people locked inside the revolving door were eventually removed and arrested as well.
Stefan said he allegedly let go of The Hunger Games banner and it unfurled. “Consequently, some glitter that was on the banner fell [from the second floor] to the ground.”
“At which point, we were approached by Devon employees,” Stefan added. He and the second individual, Bailey, explained they were engaged in “nonviolent peaceful protest.” What had fallen was glitter. Building security told everyone to leave.
A janitor, according to Stefan, came over to sweep up the glitter. Security did not have the building evacuated. However, FBI and a HAZMAT team were later called to the scene to inspect the substance that had unintentionally landed on the atrium floor of Devon Tower.
“I was present after banner droppers were arrested but before the individuals who had locked themselves in a revolving door were extracted,” Parr recalled. “Police on the scene were communicating with someone off site attempting to find some statute in the Oklahoma anti-terrorism statutes.” They were “trying to figure out if one of those statutes could be applied to the banner droppers.”
But, Parr added, “The building was never evacuated. The atrium was never evacuated. People were never warned off of the building at all.”
Stefan and Bailey were booked into jail for a violation of an Oklahoma felony statute called “terrorism hoax.” The statute is intended to prohibit people from “willfully faking a terrorist attack. The two individuals, who locked themselves in the revolving door, were charged with trespassing.
“To my knowledge,” Parr stated, “it is the first time that any of these statutes in Oklahoma have been used with regard to protest activity.” It’s also the “first time terrorist charges” have been “used as a basis for an arrest” against individuals protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Both Stefan and Bailey have not been formally charged with violating a “terrorism hoax” statute, a felony which carries a potential sentence of ten years in prison. They were arrested with “terrorism hoax” as the basis and reports have to be submitted to the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide if they will be charged.
A spokesperson for GPTSR, Eric, noted that the group had video of the action. “Nobody is panicking” in the video when the banner was dropped. “There’s no chaos.” A janitor, he said, cleaned up the glitter with “no protective gear.” But Devon Energy and police chose to escalate the scene and began to discuss possible charges of “biochemical assault” and “terrorism hoax” against protesters.
GPTSR’s action was the second action the group has done at Devon Tower. Previously, they had done a mock oil spill cleanup and engaged in a performance to show how ridiculous and ineffective some of the industry’s methods happen to be. It did not receive as much attention as last week’s action and nobody was arrested.
“Devon Energy is a key player in the deadly tar sands industry,” according to a posting on GPTSR’s website. “And though Devon Energy has been touted as practicing the safest and greenest form of tar sands extraction, the form of extraction that Devon practices, steam assisted gravity drainage, emits 2.5x the greenhouse emissions as open mining according to the Pembina Institute. Additionally, since 80% of tar sands reserves lie too deep within the earth to mine, this type of extraction will utilize 30x more land area than open mining.”
“We wanted to take an anti-fracking stance and also symbolically represent that Devon in Oklahoma is a symbol of power,” Bailey explained.
The group had mostly been engaged in actions in rural areas. Stefan had participated in such an action targeting TransCanada in February. But, Eric said, “You do get attention in the city whereas it’s much more easier to ignore you in the rural areas.” That is why the group has begun to plan nonviolent direct actions against Devon Energy in Oklahoma City.
On June 14 of this year, Bold Nebraska, an organization that fought construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed TransCanada was “providing security briefings to Nebraska authorities warning them to look into the application of ‘anti-terrorism laws’ on people who oppose the pipeline.”
A presentation consisting of private intelligence gathered by the company on protesters and organizations demonstrating against the corporation advised, “District Attorneys may have more information regarding the applicability of State or Federal Anti-Terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.” It suggested resident FBI offices “explore federal charges with the US Attorney.”
The presentation was given to local law enforcement in Nebraska to hype the threat to TransCanada. It contains what could be considered dossiers on activists. As GreenistheNewRed.com’s Will Potter described, it is “a playbook on how to go after activists.”
Up and down the route of the pipeline being constructed, TransCanada has been meeting with law enforcement to advise them of what they could do to control protesters and deter them from challenging TransCanada.
Parr cited an open records request and said law enforcement from Oklahoma City had met with TransCanada. He believes that is what police did in trying to apply an Oklahoma anti-terrorism statute to protest activity was a result of advice from TransCanada.
According to Eric, police from Oklahoma showed up to a “week-long training” hosted by GPTSR. Police have conducted surveillance on the group and there has been cooperation among law enforcement in Oklahoma so that protesters are heavily monitored. FBI questioned some of the protesters as they were leaving Devon Tower on Friday.
Parr has “represented a number of people over the course of this last year who have been arrested in protest activity against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands extraction.” TransCanada has managed to obtain temporary restraining orders in two counties in Oklahoma against specific individuals, who were arrested in direct actions. The temporary restraining orders prohibit these individuals from “invasion of the property of TransCanada.” They can be viewed as part of an effort to stifle resistance to the corporation’s pipeline construction.
Environmental groups in Canada, which have been fighting energy corporations, like TransCanada, have been targeted as if they were extremist or terrorist organizations.
To TransCanada, groups like GPTSR and the larger environmental movement targeting pipeline construction are a part of an insurgency to be preemptively halted. The corporation is engaged in psychological operations to, as Sasha Ross has written, “promote an image of popular satisfaction, compliance and respect for authorities in order to facilitate the plans of the state or employer.”
An army field manual, FM 3-24, on counterinsurgency states, “Some elements of culture should be identified and evaluated in a counterinsurgency operation.” This operation can help law enforcement learn how to best approach the population.
To authorities criminalizing protest activity in Oklahoma as terrorism, Eric said this is very “disrespectful to Oklahoma’s history,” since it is a city in America that actually has experienced a terrorist attack, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
The group condemns “corporations trying to put folks away just for being nonviolent protesters and using very scary language that strikes at the heart of people in Oklahoma City.”
Source
(lol @ the thought of the FBI inspecting glitter.)

For first time, anti-terrorism law used to have Americans protesting Keystone XL pipeline arrested
December 17, 2013

A demonstration against Devon Energy and the company’s role in fracking and tar sands mining, including the Keystone XL pipeline, ended with four individuals being placed under arrest last week. Two of them were arrested by police on the basis that they had violated an Oklahoma anti-terrorism law prohibiting “terrorism hoaxes.”

It is strongly suspected that this happened as a result of advice that TransCanada has been giving local law enforcement in states, where protests against the Keystone XL pipeline have been taking place. They have been meeting with law enforcement and suggesting how terrorism laws could be applied to stop citizens from protesting the corporation’s activities.

I spoke with the two individuals arrested on terrorism charges, their lawyer and a spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR), which for months has been conducting nonviolent direct actions against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Oklahoma.

On December 13, several people entered Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City to protest Devon, an energy company involved in natural gas and oil production that involves fracking. They are also invested and involved in tar sands mining in Canada. Devon Energy CEO John Richels sits on Trans Canada’s Board of Directors.

In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two individuals locked themselves with a bike lock inside one of the multiple revolving doors that lead into the atrium of Devon Tower. Two other individuals unfurled a banner from the second floor. The banner had the Mockingjay emblem on it from The Hunger Games and a slogan read, “The odds are never in our favor.” Simultaneously, another banner was unfurled that indicated support for indigenous activists in Canada who have been fighting to prevent energy extraction on their land.

According to attorney Douglas Parr, who is representing the two individuals who unfurled The Hunger Games banner, glitter “fell off the banner” and on to the floor of the atrium. All protesters inside the building were asked to leave. The two individuals, who dropped The Hunger Games banner and left the building when requested to do so by security, were then sought after by police and arrested. The two people locked inside the revolving door were eventually removed and arrested as well.

Stefan said he allegedly let go of The Hunger Games banner and it unfurled. “Consequently, some glitter that was on the banner fell [from the second floor] to the ground.”

“At which point, we were approached by Devon employees,” Stefan added. He and the second individual, Bailey, explained they were engaged in “nonviolent peaceful protest.” What had fallen was glitter. Building security told everyone to leave.

A janitor, according to Stefan, came over to sweep up the glitter. Security did not have the building evacuated. However, FBI and a HAZMAT team were later called to the scene to inspect the substance that had unintentionally landed on the atrium floor of Devon Tower.

“I was present after banner droppers were arrested but before the individuals who had locked themselves in a revolving door were extracted,” Parr recalled. “Police on the scene were communicating with someone off site attempting to find some statute in the Oklahoma anti-terrorism statutes.” They were “trying to figure out if one of those statutes could be applied to the banner droppers.”

But, Parr added, “The building was never evacuated. The atrium was never evacuated. People were never warned off of the building at all.”

Stefan and Bailey were booked into jail for a violation of an Oklahoma felony statute called “terrorism hoax.” The statute is intended to prohibit people from “willfully faking a terrorist attack. The two individuals, who locked themselves in the revolving door, were charged with trespassing.

“To my knowledge,” Parr stated, “it is the first time that any of these statutes in Oklahoma have been used with regard to protest activity.” It’s also the “first time terrorist charges” have been “used as a basis for an arrest” against individuals protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Both Stefan and Bailey have not been formally charged with violating a “terrorism hoax” statute, a felony which carries a potential sentence of ten years in prison. They were arrested with “terrorism hoax” as the basis and reports have to be submitted to the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide if they will be charged.

A spokesperson for GPTSR, Eric, noted that the group had video of the action. “Nobody is panicking” in the video when the banner was dropped. “There’s no chaos.” A janitor, he said, cleaned up the glitter with “no protective gear.” But Devon Energy and police chose to escalate the scene and began to discuss possible charges of “biochemical assault” and “terrorism hoax” against protesters.

GPTSR’s action was the second action the group has done at Devon Tower. Previously, they had done a mock oil spill cleanup and engaged in a performance to show how ridiculous and ineffective some of the industry’s methods happen to be. It did not receive as much attention as last week’s action and nobody was arrested.

“Devon Energy is a key player in the deadly tar sands industry,” according to a posting on GPTSR’s website. “And though Devon Energy has been touted as practicing the safest and greenest form of tar sands extraction, the form of extraction that Devon practices, steam assisted gravity drainage, emits 2.5x the greenhouse emissions as open mining according to the Pembina Institute. Additionally, since 80% of tar sands reserves lie too deep within the earth to mine, this type of extraction will utilize 30x more land area than open mining.”

“We wanted to take an anti-fracking stance and also symbolically represent that Devon in Oklahoma is a symbol of power,” Bailey explained.

The group had mostly been engaged in actions in rural areas. Stefan had participated in such an action targeting TransCanada in February. But, Eric said, “You do get attention in the city whereas it’s much more easier to ignore you in the rural areas.” That is why the group has begun to plan nonviolent direct actions against Devon Energy in Oklahoma City.

On June 14 of this year, Bold Nebraska, an organization that fought construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed TransCanada was “providing security briefings to Nebraska authorities warning them to look into the application of ‘anti-terrorism laws’ on people who oppose the pipeline.”

A presentation consisting of private intelligence gathered by the company on protesters and organizations demonstrating against the corporation advised, “District Attorneys may have more information regarding the applicability of State or Federal Anti-Terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.” It suggested resident FBI offices “explore federal charges with the US Attorney.”

The presentation was given to local law enforcement in Nebraska to hype the threat to TransCanada. It contains what could be considered dossiers on activists. As GreenistheNewRed.com’s Will Potter described, it is “a playbook on how to go after activists.”

Up and down the route of the pipeline being constructed, TransCanada has been meeting with law enforcement to advise them of what they could do to control protesters and deter them from challenging TransCanada.

Parr cited an open records request and said law enforcement from Oklahoma City had met with TransCanada. He believes that is what police did in trying to apply an Oklahoma anti-terrorism statute to protest activity was a result of advice from TransCanada.

According to Eric, police from Oklahoma showed up to a “week-long training” hosted by GPTSR. Police have conducted surveillance on the group and there has been cooperation among law enforcement in Oklahoma so that protesters are heavily monitored. FBI questioned some of the protesters as they were leaving Devon Tower on Friday.

Parr has “represented a number of people over the course of this last year who have been arrested in protest activity against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands extraction.” TransCanada has managed to obtain temporary restraining orders in two counties in Oklahoma against specific individuals, who were arrested in direct actions. The temporary restraining orders prohibit these individuals from “invasion of the property of TransCanada.” They can be viewed as part of an effort to stifle resistance to the corporation’s pipeline construction.

Environmental groups in Canada, which have been fighting energy corporations, like TransCanada, have been targeted as if they were extremist or terrorist organizations.

To TransCanada, groups like GPTSR and the larger environmental movement targeting pipeline construction are a part of an insurgency to be preemptively halted. The corporation is engaged in psychological operations to, as Sasha Ross has written, “promote an image of popular satisfaction, compliance and respect for authorities in order to facilitate the plans of the state or employer.”

An army field manual, FM 3-24, on counterinsurgency states, “Some elements of culture should be identified and evaluated in a counterinsurgency operation.” This operation can help law enforcement learn how to best approach the population.

To authorities criminalizing protest activity in Oklahoma as terrorism, Eric said this is very “disrespectful to Oklahoma’s history,” since it is a city in America that actually has experienced a terrorist attack, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

The group condemns “corporations trying to put folks away just for being nonviolent protesters and using very scary language that strikes at the heart of people in Oklahoma City.”

Source

(lol @ the thought of the FBI inspecting glitter.)

16 protesters delay tar sands megaload, arrested December 17, 2013
Police arrested 16 protesters late Monday as activists locked themselves to disabled vehicles in front of a tar-sands megaload near John Day, delaying the shipment’s passage.
“Climate justice groups stopped the movement of a controversial shipment of equipment bound for the Alberta tar sands,” said a news release issued at 1:49 a.m. Tuesday by Portland Rising Tide, an activists’ network. “Police responded and arrested 16 at the two blockade sites, using ‘pain compliance’ to extract them.”
The blockade is the second pulled off by activists slowing the 901,000-pound rig as it heads for Alberta via Oregon and Idaho. The load was first blocked Dec. 1, when two men locked themselves to the truck and had to be extracted by police, which took so long the shipment canceled its nightly move.
This time the megaload was able to proceed, said Holly Zander, a spokeswoman for Omega Morgan, the trucking company.
"After the protesters were removed from the road we proceeded with travel and are about 30 miles east of John Day now," Zander said in a Tuesday morning email. She expects the rig and its convoy to travel about 35 miles Tuesday night.

Protesters demonstrated at Omega Morgan’s Hillsboro headquarters last week. They say extraction of petroleum products from Alberta’s tar sands is environmentally destructive, hastening global climate change.
Zander says Omega Morgan is just doing its job hauling giant cargo, a routine project for the company that moved the Sellwood Bridge platform and helped replace the Skagit River Bridge.
The megaload is hauling an evaporator manufactured in Portland to the Athabasca oil fields north of Edmonton. Omega Morgan says the shipment is the first of three for General Electric Co., which owns the equipment.
Source

16 protesters delay tar sands megaload, arrested 
December 17, 2013

Police arrested 16 protesters late Monday as activists locked themselves to disabled vehicles in front of a tar-sands megaload near John Day, delaying the shipment’s passage.

“Climate justice groups stopped the movement of a controversial shipment of equipment bound for the Alberta tar sands,” said a news release issued at 1:49 a.m. Tuesday by Portland Rising Tide, an activists’ network. “Police responded and arrested 16 at the two blockade sites, using ‘pain compliance’ to extract them.”

The blockade is the second pulled off by activists slowing the 901,000-pound rig as it heads for Alberta via Oregon and Idaho. The load was first blocked Dec. 1, when two men locked themselves to the truck and had to be extracted by police, which took so long the shipment canceled its nightly move.

This time the megaload was able to proceed, said Holly Zander, a spokeswoman for Omega Morgan, the trucking company.

"After the protesters were removed from the road we proceeded with travel and are about 30 miles east of John Day now," Zander said in a Tuesday morning email. She expects the rig and its convoy to travel about 35 miles Tuesday night.

Protesters demonstrated at Omega Morgan’s Hillsboro headquarters last week. They say extraction of petroleum products from Alberta’s tar sands is environmentally destructive, hastening global climate change.

Zander says Omega Morgan is just doing its job hauling giant cargo, a routine project for the company that moved the Sellwood Bridge platform and helped replace the Skagit River Bridge.

The megaload is hauling an evaporator manufactured in Portland to the Athabasca oil fields north of Edmonton. Omega Morgan says the shipment is the first of three for General Electric Co., which owns the equipment.

Source

Indigenous Canadian fracking protesters refuse to back down
December 3, 2013

Anti-fracking demonstrators set tires ablaze to block a New Brunswick highway Monday in a fiery response to a judge’s decision to extend an injunction limiting their protests against a Texas-based shale gas exploration company.  

In a courtroom in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, Judge Paulette Garnett ruled to continue through Dec. 17 the injunction obtained by SWN Resources Canada against a coalition of protesters led by Mi’kmaq indigenous people from the Elsipogtog First Nation.

The injunction, which SWN obtained on Nov. 22, is designed to keep protesters from interfering with SWN’s seismic testing work. It requires that demonstrators remain at least 250 yards in front of or behind contractors and their vehicles and 20 yards to the side.

The Mi’kmaq have argued that SWN is conducting exploration work on land that they never ceded to the crown when they signed treaties with the British in the 18th century. 

New Brunswick’s government granted SWN licenses to explore for shale gas in 2010 in exchange for investment in the province worth approximately CA$47 million (about US$44 million).

The protesters fear that exploration will inevitably lead to gas extraction by means of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into shale rock to release gas deposits trapped inside. Opponents say fracking can contaminate the environment, especially water.

SWN has been trying since mid-November to complete the final 10 days of work it says are left in its exploration season. The company has claimed in court documents supporting the injunction application that each day of lost work costs about $54,000 and that vandalism by protesters has resulted in damage to more than 1,000 geophones — pieces of equipment used for seismic testing in conjunction with specialized trucks.

Daily confrontations

But the injunction has not deterred the anti-fracking alliance of indigenous people and members of New Brunswick’s Acadian and anglophone communities, a grouping that has consolidated since Elsipogtog residents began trying to stop SWN’s exploration work last May. Over the past week there have been daily confrontations with police, as protesters — who prefer to be known as protectors of the land and water — have persisted in their efforts to slow the seismic-testing operation.

“This isn’t just a native issue,” Edgar Clair of Elsipogtog First Nation told Al Jazeera from the site of the blockade on Route 11. “But the natives want the world to know that this is Mi’kmaq territory, and they won’t back down, and they won’t abide by this injunction.”  

Earlier Monday afternoon protesters blocked Route 11 — the latest front line in this conflict over shale gas exploration — after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who decide how and when to enforce the injunction, arrested several people on or near the highway. People at the site said that there were more than 100 RCMP officers in the area, that some were armed with rubber pellet guns often used for crowd control and that at least one K-9 unit was on hand.

As night descended, there were reports that police in riot gear were near the blockade. The RCMP could not immediately be reached for comment.  

“Our people are tired, and this is a response to the justice system,” said an Elsipogtog community member who was at the site and asked to go by the name Jane Doe 372, for fear of being targeted by police. The moniker is a reference to the injunction that names five individuals and a John and Jane Doe. “We’re tired of not being taken seriously and that the treaties we agreed to are not being taken seriously.” 

Full article
Photo 1, 2

We warned that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota, with the Council of Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples in a statement of resistance to environmental destruction, saying there is “no time left to defend the Earth.”
Green activists navigate life in the post-privacy eraNovember 2, 2013
We now know that the U.S. government can obtain virtually any email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, Skype messages, file transfers, and social networking details it wants. We know that it can monitor the location, duration, and telephone numbers involved in any phone call on an ongoing, daily basis.  We know that it monitored the foreign officials who traveled to the G20 summit in 2009. We know that it has deliberately weakened the encryption software meant to protect financial transactions. We know that it has tapped into the fiber-optic cables connecting international servers so that it can copy, basically, any information that moves through them.
What does this mean for environmental activists, who, like the rest of us, increasingly organize their lives over the internet? “I remember in the past we used to tell each other to wipe our phone’s contacts before protests,”  says Joshua Kahn Russell, who once organized protests with the Ruckus Society and now is a global community manager with 350.org. “I can’t imagine activists doing that now, since the government and private companies have infinitely more access to our personal information that we freely provide through Facebook and other social networking sites.”
The ’90s and early ’00s were, arguably, the peak of government paranoia about the environmental movement. In 2005, John Lewis, the top FBI official in charge of domestic terrorism, declared that radical environmentalists were the No. 1 domestic terrorist threat. State, local, and federal officials dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tracking down the disbanded members of The Family, an offshoot of the Earth Liberation Front that set fire to a car dealership, a ski resort, a horse slaughterhouse, and other sites in the Pacific Northwest. The FBI also spent three years monitoring Greenpeace [PDF] and put several members on the terrorism watch list, in an investigation that the Justice Department’s inspector general later ruled was improper.
If electronic surveillance is being used on environmental activists, there is not much sign of it yet. “We use everything from two-way radios to cellphones to internet to chat to Facebook to organize,” says Ramsey Sprague, a Texan who has worked with the Tar Sands Blockade. “We follow Basic Security Culture, which is just about being aware of what you are talking about, and who you are talking about it with.”
The most visible manifestation of surveillance in the environmental movement has been a rash of undercover agents. At times they have engaged in activities that blurred the lines between police work and entrapment; but for the most part, they’re a consistent enough presence that every experienced environmental group has a policy for dealing with them.
“It goes against the core values of inclusion to look at someone and say ‘That looks like a cop,’” says Sprague. “Although young officers do look very … sculpted. So you have them do outreach. Send them out to go talk to people who are really being affected by what oil companies are doing in their community.”
Both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy were visited by undercover informants, as were groups like the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. That organization figured out it was being monitored this March, after its plan to block the gates to TransCanada’s oil reserves in Cushing, Okla., was derailed by the sudden appearance of police officers, who began to pull over cars full of demonstrators before they even reached Cushing.
SourcePhoto: Tar Sands Blockade in Nacogdoches, Texas November 2012

Green activists navigate life in the post-privacy era
November 2, 2013

We now know that the U.S. government can obtain virtually any email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, Skype messages, file transfers, and social networking details it wants. We know that it can monitor the location, duration, and telephone numbers involved in any phone call on an ongoing, daily basis.  We know that it monitored the foreign officials who traveled to the G20 summit in 2009. We know that it has deliberately weakened the encryption software meant to protect financial transactions. We know that it has tapped into the fiber-optic cables connecting international servers so that it can copy, basically, any information that moves through them.

What does this mean for environmental activists, who, like the rest of us, increasingly organize their lives over the internet? “I remember in the past we used to tell each other to wipe our phone’s contacts before protests,”  says Joshua Kahn Russell, who once organized protests with the Ruckus Society and now is a global community manager with 350.org. “I can’t imagine activists doing that now, since the government and private companies have infinitely more access to our personal information that we freely provide through Facebook and other social networking sites.”

The ’90s and early ’00s were, arguably, the peak of government paranoia about the environmental movement. In 2005, John Lewis, the top FBI official in charge of domestic terrorism, declared that radical environmentalists were the No. 1 domestic terrorist threat. State, local, and federal officials dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tracking down the disbanded members of The Family, an offshoot of the Earth Liberation Front that set fire to a car dealership, a ski resort, a horse slaughterhouse, and other sites in the Pacific Northwest. The FBI also spent three years monitoring Greenpeace [PDF] and put several members on the terrorism watch list, in an investigation that the Justice Department’s inspector general later ruled was improper.

If electronic surveillance is being used on environmental activists, there is not much sign of it yet. “We use everything from two-way radios to cellphones to internet to chat to Facebook to organize,” says Ramsey Sprague, a Texan who has worked with the Tar Sands Blockade. “We follow Basic Security Culture, which is just about being aware of what you are talking about, and who you are talking about it with.”

The most visible manifestation of surveillance in the environmental movement has been a rash of undercover agents. At times they have engaged in activities that blurred the lines between police work and entrapment; but for the most part, they’re a consistent enough presence that every experienced environmental group has a policy for dealing with them.

“It goes against the core values of inclusion to look at someone and say ‘That looks like a cop,’” says Sprague. “Although young officers do look very … sculpted. So you have them do outreach. Send them out to go talk to people who are really being affected by what oil companies are doing in their community.”

Both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy were visited by undercover informants, as were groups like the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. That organization figured out it was being monitored this March, after its plan to block the gates to TransCanada’s oil reserves in Cushing, Okla., was derailed by the sudden appearance of police officers, who began to pull over cars full of demonstrators before they even reached Cushing.

Source
Photo: Tar Sands Blockade in Nacogdoches, Texas November 2012

Amazonian indigenous women mobilize against further environmental destruction in Ecuador October 25, 2013
¡La selva se defiende! ¡La selva no se vende! Defend the rainforest! Don’t sell the rainforest!
For the last two weeks, these chants have echoed throughout Ecuador and are now echoing out around the globe. On October 10th, women from seven different indigenous nationalities (Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa and Sápara) began gathering in the Amazon-port city of Puyo to embark upon a new journey, a journey for life. Two days later, over 100 women began a “Women’s Mobilization for Life.” They walked, marched, danced and caravanned from Puyo to the capital city of Quito in resistance to the Ecuadorian government’s oil drilling plans in Yasuni-ITT and the southern-central Amazon. They traveled 250 kilometers from the Amazon to the Andes stopping in cities along the way including Baños, Latacunga and Ambato to call attention to their concerns and demands across the nation.
Women of all ages – elders, youth and babies – and their supporters, husbands, brothers, spiritual and political leaders marched to raise national awareness of the need to defend life and indigenous territories. Specifically, they mobilized to:
Demand respect for the autonomy of the community and territorial governing structures of the distinct nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Show the evidence of exploitation of natural resources through the extraction that takes places within the capitalist system of accumulation
Share the community model of life and development as a viable economic alternative to the extraction model proposed by the government
Deliver resolutions from the GONOAE (formerly CONFENIAE) Congress and the Indigenous Women’s Assembly in Defense of Life, Territory and “Living Well” concept
Not only did the women manage to do this, but they also raised visibility of the Kawsak Sacha – "Selva Viviente" or “Forest Living” – concept, which respects all of nature and its guardians in a peaceful coexistence with human life in the rainforest. This influenced national public opinion and garnered press, which has recently been focused on President Correa’s announcement to cancel the Yasuni-ITT initiative in mid-August.
Upon arrival in Quito on October 16th, the group demanded to meet with President Correa. When he would not receive them last week, they decided to stay over the weekend in attempt to get a meeting this week. During that time, they gained more and more support as they held meetings, press conferences and marches. Photos and articles of their demands spread rapidly across social media channels in Ecuador and around the world, stemming from the group’s La Huangana Colectiva online base.
Source

Amazonian indigenous women mobilize against further environmental destruction in Ecuador 
October 25, 2013

¡La selva se defiende! ¡La selva no se vende! 
Defend the rainforest! Don’t sell the rainforest!

For the last two weeks, these chants have echoed throughout Ecuador and are now echoing out around the globe. On October 10th, women from seven different indigenous nationalities (Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa and Sápara) began gathering in the Amazon-port city of Puyo to embark upon a new journey, a journey for life. Two days later, over 100 women began a “Women’s Mobilization for Life.” They walked, marched, danced and caravanned from Puyo to the capital city of Quito in resistance to the Ecuadorian government’s oil drilling plans in Yasuni-ITT and the southern-central Amazon. They traveled 250 kilometers from the Amazon to the Andes stopping in cities along the way including Baños, Latacunga and Ambato to call attention to their concerns and demands across the nation.

Women of all ages – elders, youth and babies – and their supporters, husbands, brothers, spiritual and political leaders marched to raise national awareness of the need to defend life and indigenous territories. Specifically, they mobilized to:

  1. Demand respect for the autonomy of the community and territorial governing structures of the distinct nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon
  2. Show the evidence of exploitation of natural resources through the extraction that takes places within the capitalist system of accumulation
  3. Share the community model of life and development as a viable economic alternative to the extraction model proposed by the government
  4. Deliver resolutions from the GONOAE (formerly CONFENIAE) Congress and the Indigenous Women’s Assembly in Defense of Life, Territory and “Living Well” concept

Not only did the women manage to do this, but they also raised visibility of the Kawsak Sacha"Selva Viviente" or “Forest Living” – concept, which respects all of nature and its guardians in a peaceful coexistence with human life in the rainforest. This influenced national public opinion and garnered press, which has recently been focused on President Correa’s announcement to cancel the Yasuni-ITT initiative in mid-August.

Upon arrival in Quito on October 16th, the group demanded to meet with President Correa. When he would not receive them last week, they decided to stay over the weekend in attempt to get a meeting this week. During that time, they gained more and more support as they held meetings, press conferences and marches. Photos and articles of their demands spread rapidly across social media channels in Ecuador and around the world, stemming from the group’s La Huangana Colectiva online base.

Source