8 Youth Activists Oppose Keystone XL; Lock Down In TransCanada Office

Youth Activists Locked Down

8 Youth Activists Locked Down in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA Office

UPDATES:

Check tweets (to the right) and Pheonix for more updates. Also see Protester’s Bios.

Follow #NoKXL on twitter to follow protests across the nation opposing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (trending as of 7:10 PM).

~ 6:30 PM Just and Stable reports that chains have been removed and protesters are in jail being processed.

4: 30 PM This just in from youth activist Devyn Powell:

            As you read this email, I am locked down in a TransCanada office with seven other youth activists.  We are engaged in a protest against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, because building this pipeline to develop the tar sands will lock us irrevocably into the climate crisis.  The Keystone XL, which runs from Canada to Texas, threatens a stable future by perpetuating our oil addiction. Chaining myself to my seven friends is a last resort after our government, heavily influenced by corporate fossil fuel interests, has proved unable to take action against this deadly project.  
 
The fossil fuel industry is knowingly sacrificing our future for its profits. I have decided that I need to fight the injustice, irresponsibility, and immorality of their actions by using all the nonviolent means of protest available to me. TransCanada’s intent to build the pipeline will contribute to drought, flooding and starvation through future Hurricane Sandys, crop failures, and more climate disasters. We are not going to passively let this happen.
 
I’m sending this email to ask for your help. First, please share the image below on any and all social media channels you use in order to raise awareness about TransCanada’s threat to our future. Second, if you are able, we would greatly appreciate any financial assistance you can contribute to cover our jail fees, gear costs, and future actions.  Go to THIS WEBSITE to donate.
 
The next few months will be crucial in halting this toxic pipeline. As Obama considers approving Keystone XL, we all need to put our voices and bodies in TransCanada’s path in whatever ways we are able.  Today’s action marks the beginning of what we hope will be the next chapter in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. If you would like to learn more and get involved, go to:http://www.january7th.wordpress.com.
 
Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate your help very much, and I hope we can continue working together to stop the climate crisis.

Reports of High Greenhouse Gas Emissions In Natural Gas Production

“Alarmingly high methane emissions” from oil and gas fields reported online by the journal Nature on January 2nd, raise questions about industry and legislative promotion of “clean” natural gas as a low greenhouse gas emitting alternative to other fossil fuels.

Reported in Nature News:

The researchers, who hold joint appointments with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, first sparked concern in February 2012 with a study1 suggesting that up to 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere. If methane — a potent gas — is leaking from fields across the country at similar rates, it could be offsetting much of the climate benefit of the ongoing shift from coal- to gas-fired plants for electricity generation.

Industry officials and some scientists contested the claim, but at an American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, California, last month, the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.

For more check out:

http://www.nature.com/news/methane-leaks-erode-green-credentials-of-natural-gas-1.12123

Check out Occupy Boston and 350MA for civic organizing opposing the expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline.

~ Nuevaspora

Local Climate Activist Arrested In Texas KXL Protest

We have just received word that Murtaza Nek, MIT graduate and active participant in 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future was arrested in a protest against the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Readers may recognize him as the young man who has voiced the importance of climate justice at several Occupy Boston events.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL is presently under construction with the intent to bring tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to Huston ports. Last year, Dr. James Hansen, prominent climate scientist, head of NASSA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and adjunct professor at Columbia University explained the risk in a New York Times Op Ed:

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

The update on Murtaza comes from climate and social justice advocate Dorian Williams, who writes:

Dear fellow proponents of climate justice,

Many of you may know Murtaza Nek as he has been an active participant of 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future. Recently he took a trip down to Texas to contribute to the Tar Sands Blockade’s fight against the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline.
 
As of 11:50am on January 3rd, Murtaza was arrested in Texas while trying to provide direct support to his friends partaking in a particularly vulnerable tree sit for the Tar Sands Blockade. 
 
You can learn more and see the footage of the arrest here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/15th-action/
 
For those of who have not had a chance to meet Murtaza, he has been an amazingly strong and dedicated ally in this movement. Having accomplished Climate Summer this past year, where he biked from town-to-town across Massachusetts supporting climate action and discussion, Murtaza brought back his organizing and bike power here. Every week, Murtaza would bike from Worcester to Cambridge and back to participate in SJSF and 350MA meetings, helping organize and participate in actions targeting fossil fuels like tar sands and natural gas.
 
Now he needs our commitment and support in return. Please spread the word and consider donating to the legal fund that would enable his release: https://www.wepay.com/donations/tsbdonate.
 
In Peace and Solidarity,
Dorian

Murtaza Nek is one of several protesters who have recently been arrested in protests against Keystone XL’s southern leg. For more information on the tar sands, check out the following links:

Hansen’s TED talk

Photographer Garth Lenz on Alberta Tar Sands: The True Cost Of Oil

~ Nuevaspora

NOAA: 9 Months in 2012 Capped Hottest Years On Record

Of the 12 hottest 12 month periods recorded in the the US, 9 spanned between 2011 and 2012. That includes all 8 of the top 8 periods. This is according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

These are the warmest 12-month periods on record for the contiguous United States. The December 2011-November 2012 12-month period was the sixth warmest consecutive 12-months that the contiguous U.S. has experienced and the warmest November-October 12-month period on record.

~ NOAA

For more check:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2012/11/supplemental/page-2/

 

 

It’s also been pretty dry. For yet more, check: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/

Thanks Climate Progress for the heads up!

~ Nuevaspora

What’s Next? Advancing the Climate Movement in a Post Election, Post Sandy World Must Include Climate Justice

Listen in to any climate action group meeting around the country and you will probably hear some version of the same questions being discussed right now: How can we keep the urgency of climate change at the fore?  And what do we need to do to further build a grassroots movement for urgent and ambitious action on climate? And most important, where are there opportunities for common projects or connected work? 

On November 15, the Climate Reality Check Coalition (description at the end of blog) held the latest in a series of national conference calls to help strengthen community organizing on climate.  These calls serve to make space for voices from the many and varied constituencies within the climate movement.  I like listening in to these conference calls because the participants usually are not folks from Washington, DC, think tanks, but activists from organizations close to their base.

On the most recent call were voices from NC Warn, the NAACP Climate Initiative, the Black Mesa Water Coalition, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Food and Water Watch, and 350.org. These varied organizations strongly believe in building a movement locally.  Yet at the same time they see that their own grassroots organizing can be more powerful when informed and encouraged by actions being taken by other groups also working on climate justice in other parts of the country. Their respective websites give one a feel for what is important to their constituencies and the ways they talk about climate concerns in the context of social justice. You might want to check out the respective websites for ideas, inspiration, and photos of the people that participate in the calls. (Respective websites appear at end).

I highlighted points made during the call in bold green:

On the ground struggles are critical.  Jihon Gearon from the Black Mesa Water Coalition in Flagstaff, AZ, emphasized that every community battling fossil fuels is important because each one exemplifies what transitions can look like. The Navaho nation is party to many settlements regarding extraction of natural resources.  Between now and 2019 many of those settlements are expiring;  some groups want to keep the settlements for another 30 years, but others believe in making a transition to sustainable practices.

For example, the Black Mesa Water Coalition has the goal of holding the Peabody Coal Company accountable for the damage done to Black Mesa’s water, environment, and community health; to permanently close the coalmines on Black Mesa; and to replace the coal-fired generating stations fed by the Black Mesa mines with renewable energy.  The national environmental organizations are sometimes surprised by the changes achieved by the local and regional groups.  The progress underscores the need for building more organizing capacity at the local levels.  (Photo below of Black Mesa Water Coalition workers)

Image

 Speak to what people want, not what seems politically feasible.  Mark Slossberg from Food and Water Watch stressed the importance of organizing at the community level with a clear message about impacts, which creates a tie between the community’s issue and broader climate issues.  Unique issues concerning water, air, traffic, and health can be tied to climate issues.  For example, the anti-fracking movement focuses on the impact on community water supplies.  In NY, the coalition against fracking is comprised of hundreds of organizations that have succeeded in delaying fracking by electing and holding account local officials.  In Longmont, Colorado, a ballot initiative to ban hydraulic fracturing was won by people talking about what they care about; the citizen effort spent around $20,000, compared to a $507,000 industry-backed campaign to defeat the measure.

Focus on local struggles and place-based organizing.  Jacqui Patterson, the Director of the NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, reminded climate action organizers to avoid issue “silos”. For example, the end coal campaigns cannot be at the expense of different communities facing impacts from fracking.  She advocated for community-owned utilities, carbon neutral communities, and local self reliance and resilience.

                                                         Image

                            Jacqui Patterson, Director of NAACP Climate Justice Initiative

Climate justice has to be part of any solution to the climate crisis. Pete McDowell of NC Warn said core values give climate activists a positive identity of doing their duty and mission; activists should take pride in mission.  He urged that climate activists adapt their language to what gives meaning to people’s lives.  “We have to de-brand our approach; there’s too much organizational chauvinism.” He viewed climate activism as broader than traditional environmental groups and climate action campaigns need to allow collaborating groups to have their own identity.

Recast the climate question as a moral question.  This is another important way to challenge fossil fuel, according to Mae Boeve.  350.org is partnering with Energy Action, a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement. Thirty groups are working on divestment from fossil fuel corporations across the country.

 How to use the first 100 days of Obama’s next term.  Ted Glick, from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network felt the climate action agenda must essentially focus on Obama. The first 100 days can be an occasion to bring national attention to the urgency of ending consumption of all fossil fuels, not just coal.  Gas and all other fuels that release green house gases (GHG’s) block the transition to renewables. Ted advocated for actions around No to Keystone XL Pipeline, and urged organizations to call for a National Climate Summit.  He is in favor of a carbon tax.

We can continue to push for a lot more.  Mae Boeve of 350.org urged that groups push for answers from the President. The Keystone XL pipeline is an immediate target nationally. She posed a few questions for groups.  What can we learn from other groups?  What new tools can bring people into the movement?  How can we build scale?  What can we learn from the Obama campaign itself?

 Questions and comments from listeners: 

 Lies in advertisements by natural gas companies go virtually unanswered.  Can groups take them on?  Can we spend money to do counter ads?

 Action alerts are ineffective.  Better than e-mailing elected officials who don’t pay much attention, show up in great numbers in district offices to force them into action.  Apply heat.

 How to deal with weak Congress proposals on controlling climate change? One listener suggested that we build power by organizing around where Congress people get elected.  We have to work at all levels and tie politicians to those funding them. Another suggested putting together local climate action teams that highlight how to reduce the demand for energy.

 What about U.S. international negotiations?  From a policy aspect, who is appointed to the U.N. is important, but until we take dramatic action as a nation to cut emissions, we won’t be effective on the international scene.  Other grassroots efforts in other countries can give examples for people, since mainstream media doesn’t give attention.

How to prevent moving from coal to downside of investing in massive gas infrastructure? Public education is needed.

Alert people to the methane releases in the Arctic.  Is it on the radar?

To hear the entire conference call, go to the recording at http://bit.ly/Udjyic.

Further Information on Conference Call Participating Organizations at:

 Climate Reality Check Coalition http://climaterealitycheck.org/   The coalition is a diverse alliance of organizations united by a deep appreciation for all interdependent life on the Earth, including the entire human family. “Together, the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can and must develop practical and transformative solutions — solutions that heal old wounds, and that move our nation and world closer to achieving social, economic and environmental justice.”

NC Warn (Waste Awareness Reduction Network) http://www.ncwarn.org/   The organization is part of the Black, Brown, and Green Alliance of Durham, NC. In partnership with allies, including Greenpeace, AARP-NC, the NC Housing Coalition and the NC Justice Center, NC WARN is working to change Duke Energy Progress’ business model of building unneeded, expensive power plants and repeatedly raising electricity rates.  Duke Energy Progress is now the largest electricity corporation in the United States. Shifting them away from fossil fuels could be the global game-changer humanity needs to avert runaway climate catastrophe.

NAACP Climate Justice Initiative http://www.naacp.org/programs/entry/climate-justice  The NAACP Climate Justice Initiative advances an advocacy agenda which promotes policies on issues such as clean energy, transportation equity, food justice, equity in urban/rural development, economic empowerment/green economy, health justice, education justice, disaster planning, housing justice, etc with desired outcomes and processes framed by four Rs: 1) Real Reductions in the emissions that are driving climate change and harming our communities; 2) Reparations through resource provision for mitigation and adaptation that is controlled by our communities; 3) Representation at state, local, national, and global levels in decision making around policies, programs and practices; 4) Rights Based Responses that ensure that human and civil rights are upheld through the transition.

Black Mesa Water Coalition http://www.blackmesawatercoalition.org/  Black Mesa Water Coalition is dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, with the vision of building sustainable and healthy communities. BMWC strives to empower young people while building sustainable communities.

 350.org http://www.350.org/ 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.

 Food and Water Watch http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org  Food and Water Watch helps people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping the global commons — our shared resources — under public control.

 Chesapeake Climate Action Network http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/  CCAN’s mission is to build and mobilize a powerful grassroots movement in the unique region that surrounds our nation’s capital to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability.

Also mentioned during the call:

Energy Action Coalition http://www.energyactioncoalition.org/  Energy Action Coalition is a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups. Working with hundreds of campus and youth groups, dozens of youth networks, and hundreds of thousands of young people, Energy Action Coalition and its partners have united a burgeoning movement behind winning local victories and coordinating on state, regional, and national levels in the United States and Canada.

END

 

On the Front Lines of Tar Sands Resistance

 

Image

 

Photo Caption: Dozens of protesters opposed to the Keystone XL oil pipeline held a rally on Nov.5, 2012 at the Washington, D.C., office of a firm lobbying on behalf of TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline. Four protesters were arrested after staging a sit-in and refusing to leave. 

One of the first decisions for the elected President in new term will be dealing with the Keystone XL pipeline project.  Recently I listened to a conference call interview* with 3 activists from Alberta, Nebraska, and Texas about current strategies in the bigger picture of long-term opposition to tar sands pipeline proposals in different parts of the U.S. and Canada.  Those interviewed are leaders on the front lines of resistance: Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign (www.ienearth.org), Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska (www.boldnebraska.org), and Ethan Nuss of the Texas Tar Sands Blockade (@KXLBlockade). 

 All three activists echoed the sentiment that groups throughout North America can learn from each other’s experiences in resisting expansion of tar sands mining and transport.  All urged that the groups keep communicating with each other and support each other’s work.

 I’ve arranged my notes from the call in the form of questions.

 What’s happening with the southern KXL blockade in Texas?  Ethan Nuss said the human blockade continues. For over a month protesters have blockaded pipeline construction in E.Texas by sitting in trees.  They have no intentions of coming down until the pipeline is stopped.   The protesters are using a variety of direct actions to stop construction.  Each action has the opportunity to tell a story and bring to light the abuses on local communities.   He explained that Texas and Oklahoma landowners have united in civil disobedience (CD) to stop TransCanada’s KXL pipeline.  They didn’t come to this lightly and would much rather use legal tactics, but people feel they have no options left, after 4 years of petitions, lobbies, and political organizing.  Multi-national corporate bullies have not respected them. Land was taken by fraudulent means, with lies from company representatives. The CD participants were met with alarming responses, such as torture tactics which violated their right to assembly.  Local public police were hired by TransCanada to refuse access of food and water.  Fifty people went past the police line to deliver food and supplies.  More than twenty were arrested;  about 100 people attended a support rally.  The press is giving coverage. 

 What is the Texas KXL Blockade Strategy?  Ethan sees the blockade action in the proud American tradition of CD.  All major movements have arrived at point where existing legal lines do not permit change.  Extra-legal actions and CD are necessary.  They want to open legal space for the landowners to question how the company in Texas is operating and behaving across the country as well. They see their work in Texas being pertinent to other areas where pipeline resistance is underway.

 What’s happening with the Northern Gateway project in Canada?  Clayton Thomas-Muller answered that the status of the Northern Gateway pipeline is all a shell game.  The politics are grounded in the knowledge of infrastructure intervention.  One approach is mass direct action (3000 signed on for direct action to Defend the Coast in British Columbia in October).  The outcome looks good—businesses, unions and the government Council are all standing in opposition.  TransCanada says it is more economic to use Gateway and bring down the price of gas (false!).  Gateway faces many years of legal challenges (e.g., the lack of consultation with indigenous communities, treaty infringements).  Another issue is a potential takeover of areas of tar sands by a Chinese firm’s free trade bilateral agreement between Canada and China, and the right of China to contest land-locking their mineral rights.

 What is happening with Trailbreaker line 9, the pipeline proposed for reversal of flow to allow tar sands crude to be transported to Portland, Maine?    A number of native groups in Ontario and Quebec have been fighting the erosion of requirements for a full environmental impact assessment.

 How are First Nation tribes involved with resistance?  Clayton explained that many tribes are affected by the various pipeline proposals and developments. The Indigenous Environmental Network organizes for grassroots intervention against the pipeline and works on baseline education for communities in front-line extraction areas.  The campaign targets the Northern Gateway and Trailbreaker, as well as the McKenzie Valley Gas project (to supply gas for Tar Sands extraction).  IEN sends an anti- KXL campaigner to tribal councils and gets resolutions opposing the pipeline across their lands.  They have convened gatherings;  one led to the Mother Earth Accord (MEA), a political declaration opposing the KXL with particular concerns by indigenous people (treaty rights violations, health and safety, publicly-owned infrastructure such as water utilities supplying Lakota nation and non-indigenous communities, the Ogallala aquifer).  MEA is significant because it has over 60 pages of endorsements, including political parties, NGO’s, tribal groups.  The MEA occasioned the only direct exchange with Obama.  During the White House Tribal Summit, Rosebud Sioux successfully handed the MEA directly to President at private dinner.  Their corporate campaign targets include banks, e.g., Royal Bank of Scotland, etc. 

 What about tribal actions in the U.S.?  In the Dakotas, a lot of groups both indigenous and non-indigenous are meeting in upcoming months to identify next steps forward on the northern leg of KXL and approval points.  Strategies involve evoking sovereignty over sacred sites, direct legal intervention, CD, and working with “cowboy-Indian alliances” that have developed over the years.  In addition to pipeline concerns, the impact from refinery operations and how they impact people have not been that visible up to now.  Racialized communities of color exist amidst the big industrial refining operations.  A lot of environmental racism exists in the Gulf coast around the refineries.  Those voices need to be heard too, from Houston to Port Arthur, Texas.

 What can we do to support your work?  Clayton urged using social media to follow campaigns on twitter and facebook.  He suggested sending opinion pieces to conventional media to highlight IENearth work:  http://www.IENearth.org.

 What’s happening in Nebraska with KXL?  Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska reported on lessons learned from organizing.  The advocacy group started to have a voice to work on environmental issues with a progressive perspective in 2010.  Soon thereafter the Keystone XL issue came up.  They decided to first organize and establish a legal structure, with people farmers and ranchers in communities where the pipeline will cross.  The lesson learned from the first Keystone battle was to build an organization to take on the company. This time around Bold Nebraska is organizing landowners to tell TransCanada to talk to their legal team.  New Energy Voters.Org emerged to give people a way to elect representatives that would have new energy future policy as well as Keystone concerns. 

 What can individuals do?  One of the conference call listeners said “Our town in Connecticut purchases TransCanada electricity through a hydro project in Quebec.”  Jane Kleeb urged citizens to ask each town/city government which company supplies electricity, and how much it is paying for energy from TransCanada.  Ask a national group to find alternative sources of energy.  Speak directly to city council to ask if aware of TC’s practices and what are alternative sources of energy that people can do.  TC is not a good neighbor.

 –Submitted by Susan Redlich, Volunteer with 350MA

*The Climate Reality Check Network sponsored the call. It was recorded and facilitated by Public Citizen’s Energy Program  (www.citizen.org)   Blog: www.energyvox.org