More $$ for Fossil Fuels?

Last week a local climate organizer lamented that Occupy Boston had little concern for climate change. I told most people associated with the movement were very concerned. “Well then,” he said, “People should be out in the the streets!”

That’s exactly where Occupiers were on August 4th, holding a bake sale for fossil fuel companies with 350 MA. Yes, it was satirical. We were calling attention to the fossil fuel subsidies that already exist. No, it wasn’t covered by mainstream press. It was, however, covered by Steve R. on the Occupy Boston website. Thank you Steve.

A Little Bake Sale for Big Oil

“Can you spare $11 billion for big oil?
Sorry, I didn’t bring my wallet …

On Saturday August 4th, activists from 350ma and Occupy Boston met in Dewey Square, to hold a little fundraiser for big oil. Why a fundraiser? Washington gives big oil, coal, and gas roughly $11 billion in subsidies and tax cuts each year, and there’s talk of trimming some of that back. Cutting these subsidies would be a (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) job killing travesty; so, we went out and canvassed the sidewalks, chatted up people on corners, and panhandled in the street.

But wait … oil is modern day miracle. It’s in everything
I own, right down to my shoelaces.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve got nothing against people tying their shoes. In fact, we think that tying your shoes is a darn good idea. But we do take issue with petroleum spilling onto our coastline, pollution spreading across out atmosphere, and CO2 warming our planet. Yes, oil is cheap (and heavily subsidized), but it’s also a finite, non-renewable resource. Eventually we will have to find something else to help us get our shoes tied.”


Near the Museum of Science, other activists asked people for spare change for the corporations, eliciting more interesting responses:

Later in the day, other protesters protesters preformed a short public performance in Harvard Square, designed to illustrate the true costs of fracking and cheap natural gas. This was specifically in response to the proposed expansion of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Pipeline. The overall turnout was fantastic with people spread all over the city. However, the question of how to foster deeper dialogue regarding these issues, as well as how to bring them to a larger audience remains. Will we continue to subsidize the wealthiest corporations on the planet at our own expense?

Dear readers, that one is on you.

~ Nuevaspora

[Sorry for the two week gap in posts. Again this is 100% grass roots organizing and volunteering. There is no one to fill in when we are busy. Expect things old and new to come trickling in over the next few days. There have been more actions since then, and maybe some summaries of these will trickle in along with them.]


Remaining Hobet 45 Protesters Offered Plea Deal

A quick update on the 10 people that were waiting a final hearing on Tuesday, after they were arrested for shutting down the Hobet 45 coal mine (a nonviolent protest against the practice of mountaintop removal, its impact on public safety and local ecology, and its impact on global climate trends).

“UPDATE 8/7/12:  The remaining 10 arrestees were offered the same plea deal in Lincoln County Court this morning.  All have accepted the deal.  All arrestees have now been released at of 2:30 pm.  Thanks for all of your steadfast support.  More soon.”

… from the RAMPS website. This means all protesters involved are now out of jail.

~ Nuevaspora

Massachusetts volunteers tell Congress to price carbon

[Submitted by Gary Rucinski, of CCL which works with individuals and elected representatives from all parts of the political spectrum to find ways of mitigating climate change. They are currently working to build support for the Save Our Climate Bill as a means of establishing a Carbon Fee and Dividend.]

Citizens Climate Lobby in D.C.

CONTACT: Gary Rucinski,, 617-803-8038

F O R    I M M E D I A T E    R E L E A S E

WASHINGTON, July 30 – As the worst U.S. drought in half a century grips much of the nation and experts point to climate change as a factor, volunteers from Massachusetts came to the nation’s capital last week to ask that Congress put a price on carbon that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Massachusetts residents Susan Labandibar, Gary Rucinski, Jack Thorndike, Karen van Hoek, and David Gordon Wilson joined volunteers from the U.S. and Canada attending the Third Annual Citizens Climate Lobby International Conference in Washington, D.C. They visited the offices of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation to make their case for a progressive, revenue-neutral tax on carbon. Legislation for such a tax has been introduced in the U.S. House as the Save Our Climate Act (H.R. 3242). (Massachusetts Representatives Michael Capuano, James McGovern, and John Olver are co-sponsors of HR 3242.) They thanked Rep. Capuano personally for signing on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 3242.

For Gary Rucinski, the group leader of the Boston area CCL chapter, the visits on Capitol Hill left him hopeful that the U.S. could start reducing greenhouse gas emissions before it’s too late:

“I was energized by how we doubled the number of conference attendees and meetings on the Hill compared to last year’s conference. Congressional aides listened to our position and demonstrated their respect for CCL’s work by asking detailed questions about our proposal for putting a price on carbon. They are striving to find solutions and grateful for citizen involvement.”

At a packed reception held at the end of their first lobbying day, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), co-sponsor of the Save Our Climate Act, told volunteers, “This is about future generations more than it is about us, because things are going to get worse if we don’t dramatically alter the political and legislative trends of this country.”

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), who introduced a carbon tax bill in the previous Congress but lost his bid for re-election, spoke to an appreciative crowd about making the case for a carbon tax: “What you’re here to do is to help people in Congress to see that there are people willing to see the true costs [of fossil fuels]… The conservatives can get into this thing if we can show that this is about free enterprise and accountability. It’s about fixing market distortions so that true costs are accounted for.”

A few days before CCL’s conference, Inglis launched his Energy & Enterprise Initiative to talk about the conservative rationale for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. An introductory video on the Initiative’s home page features former Reagan economist Art Laffer.

CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds came away from the week of lobbying buoyed by the prospects for a carbon tax in the next Congress.

“We’ve had some great conversations on the Hill this week with a number of Republican offices, which makes me optimistic that we can get a bi-partisan bill introduced early in the next Congress. The big topic of the moment right now is the fiscal cliff, but the climate cliff will make that look like a picnic if we don’t put a price on carbon soon.”

New England Wakes Up to Tar Sands Oil Line Proposal During Week of Protest

[Submitted by Susan Redlich. If you are reading this and wondering about actions in the area, check out the Fossil Fuel Bake Sale in Dewy at noon, the Natural Gas Guerrilla Theater in Harvard Square and other actions that will be held all over the area today.]

Despite the big turnout at the demonstration and the week-long citizens’ walk through towns along the pipeline, the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers issued no statement or response to the opponents of Trailbreaker (the name for the project that would reverse flow in the existing Portland to Montreal oil pipeline in order to transmit crude tar sands oil to the Atlantic coast for export).  What’s next for grassroots organizers against tar sands in the northeast?  Answer: The Tar Sands Free Town Initiative. (See what all towns can do at end of blog)

“There is power in our voices, there is power in the land, we say ‘yes’ to the earth, and ‘no’ to tar sands.”  (Sung by hundreds of demonstrators at Battery Park overlooking Lake Champlain on Sunday, before they walked silently down the street and enacted a human oil spill in front of the hotel where the New England Governors Conference was taking place.)

An estimated 500 people answered the call by Tar Sands Free Northeast

An estimated 500 people answered the call by Tar Sands Free Northeast to make the Governors and Premiers feel the heat of grassroots opposition to bringing tar sands oil through New England.  The peaceful march held in Burlington, Vermont, on Sunday, July 29, included 5 of us representing  I had been following the story of the tar sands oil spill into the Kalamazoo River ever since I met people from Kalamazoo, Michigan that came to the Anti-Keystone XL Pipeline protest in November in Washington, D.C.. These folks had first hand experience with the disastrous impact of an existing pipeline that carried tar sands oil through their community. On July 25, 2010, an Enbridge company tar sands pipeline near Marshall, Michigan, burst open, spewing more than one million gallons of diluted bitumen from a large gash in a black pipe.

According to Tar Sands Free Northeast, “Tar sands companies, including fossil-fuel giant Enbridge

Photo of Devyn of in front of City Hall.

(a parent company of Gaz Metro, Green Mountain Power’s owner), have clearly stated their interest in accessing eastern markets for tar sands exports. The complete reversal of Line 9 and the Portland-Montreal pipelines would link tar sands oil production centers to international shipping facilities in Maine.”

Tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada, as well as refining of the bitumen at facilities elsewhere, and the eventual carbon combustion will accelerate climate change which endangers us all, no matter what state we are from.

What are the chances the oil will pass through Vermont? The Burlington Free Press quoted Governor Shumlin of Vermont as saying: “I can’t say anything for sure, because I don’t run Enbridge. They have told me, and they’ve told Premier Charest, and they’ve told everybody that I know from other states that they are not considering any longer using that pipeline for tar sands oil. That’s great news for Vermont.”

But the silence of the Governors Conference on the subject I think speaks for itself, in other words, the proposal is being discussed in back rooms.

The demonstration gave visibility to many groups that see the tie-in between stopping tar sands oil transport and stopping the corporate influence over politicians and resources.  The range of voices and interests can be seen in the video accompanying the article by Elliot deBruyn of the Burlington Free Press.

Photo of Jackson and Alice from with map of a gas pipeline proposed to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts.What’s next for grassroots organizers against tar sands in the northeast?  The Tar Sands Free Town Initiative. The following information is taken from the TarSandsFreeNE website.

What’s next for grassroots organizers against tar sands in the northeast?  The Tar Sands Free Town Initiative. The following information is taken from the TarSandsFreeNE website.

“The Initiative connects people in local communities across the United States and parts of Canada who are fighting the expansion of tar sands in their local community. Building on model resolutions already adopted in Bellingham, Washington, individual municipalities can pass resolutions that keep fuel from tar sands refineries out of their towns.

Although tar sands oil itself hasn’t yet entered New England, fuel from refineries using tar sands is being distributed across New England, so municipalities must take action to avoid buying this fuel that supports the tar sands.  Also, pipeline companies appear to be taking steps to bring tar sands directly to the eastern seaboard.  Municipal resolutions can take a stand against these tar sands plans as well.

Setting up a network of towns, organizations, and businesses who oppose fuel from tar sands refineries and new infrastructure for transporting tar sands will raise public awareness about the dangers of tar sands, hold oil companies and politicians to account, and demonstrate to governments that the public rejects this extreme form of energy that is much more dangerous and polluting than conventional oil.”

by Susan Redlich

Controversy Over Logging of Algonquin Land

Lest we forget what is happening with our northern neighbors…

Last week in Montreal, clanging cookware and red squares became symbols of solidarity with an Indigenous community defending its land rights. On Wednesday, July 18, about 200 people demonstrated at the Montreal headquarters of Resolute Forest Products, the logging company currently locked in a stand-off with Algonquin protestors near Poigan Bay, Quebec.

Banging pots and pans, the crowd denounced Resolute for continuing to log in the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake despite staunch opposition from the people living there.

Members of this Indigenous community, located a four-hour drive north of Montreal, have maintained a protest camp near the logging site for more than two weeks. Gabriel Wawatie, an elder whose family harvesting grounds fall within the area being cut, wrote in a letter to Quebec Premier Jean Charest on July 4: “As one of the main harvesters, I was not properly consulted nor provided a written consent to this logging.”

Read more of LORI THERESA WALLER‘s article in: Red squares for Indigenous solidarity: Montreal protests logging of Algonquin Land.

To learn more about he situation check out the Barriere Lake Solidarity site.

~ Nuevaspora (By way of Rita Sebastian)





Update on 20 Protesters Arrested at Hobet 45 Coal Facility

Update from RAMPS site (yesterday):

Great news from the Lincoln County Court today.  Half of our arrestees had their bail reduction hearings today.  Instead of reducing their bails, the court offered a plea deal.  In exchange for pleading guilty to the trespassing charge only, our activists were offered a $500 fine and 1 years probation.  Nine arrestees have accepted the deal and will be released today.  The other protester assigned that magistrate is Dustin Steele, who is free and has not taken the deal.  What a relief and victory for all who have supported the Hobet 20.

This isn’t over however.  The remaining 10 prisoners have a different magistrate and their hearing isn’t until Tuesday the 7th.  There is no guarantee they will be offered the same deal or in fact any deal at all.  We must keep the pressure on and continue to support our brothers and sisters in jail.

Dorian Williams waiting with the other 9 people for a hearing on Tuesday.

For more information please see the RAMPS site.

~ Nuevaspora

Perspectives From Burlington VT

There were actions addressing environmental concerns all over the country last weekend. Many people from the Boston area headed up to Burlington, Vermont to join in a human oil spill. Michael Levitin at Thruthout and Chloe Maxmin at First Here Then Everywhere have both covered the event, the latter writing from a first hand perspective. A dispatch from one of our own Boston area OB CASEJ organizers will be out in a few days!  ~ Nuevaspora


An excerpt from Levitin’s America’s Green Summer: From Vermont to Appalachia to Texas, Citizens Say Not to Dirty Power:

“The 500-person turnout and smartly choreographed “human oil spill” made Vermont the latest staging ground in what is quickly developing as a green summer of activism and resistance across America. Also over the weekend, thousands marched in Washington, DC to oppose the toxic impacts of fracking. On Saturday, activists shut down a mountaintop coal removal site in Lincoln County, West Virginia, drawing increased attention to the human and environmental costs of corporate strip mining in Appalachia.

And that is just the tip of things. Protesters in Texas have initiated a tar sands blockade, vowing to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through their state. Other blockades are getting underway at ports along the West Coast to prevent further construction of coal-shipping facilities. And in August, activists nationwide will descend on Helena, Montana, to engage in an unprecedented coal export action aimed at protesting and blocking coal shipments west to the Pacific and Asian markets from the Powder River Basin, which holds 40 percent of America’s coal supply.”

From Maxmin’s Hey Govenors! Come On Out. We’ve Got Something to Talk About:

“That is what 500 people chanted as we stood outside the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, VT where the New England Governor’s and Eastern Premier’s Conference was taking place. One thing was missing from their agenda: tar sands. There was no plan to talk about Trailbreaker, the massive proposal to pump tar sands oil from Montreal through VT, NH, ME, and down to Casco Bay in South Portland.

As the Maine Sierra Club intern, I helped organized a bus of 50 Mainers to drive from Portland to Burlington early Sunday morning, a 4.5 hour trip. We were Sierra Club members, 350 Maine organizers, concerned citizens, reporters, students, and activists. Everyone was committed and enthusiastic; we all were ready to make our voices heard.”