Common Dreams: Solar Warriors vs. the Black Snake of Tar Sands
Published on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
by Winona LaDuke

Henry Red Cloud. (Photo: are two very different ways of recognizing Earth Day In the Northern Plains and Washington, perhaps illustrating, what Native people call the choice between two paths, one well scorched and worn, the other green.

This past week, Henry Red Cloud, a descendent of Chief Red Cloud and President of Lakota Solar Enterprises, was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Obama for his leadership in renewable energy. Red Cloud’s work has included installation of over 1000 solar thermal heating units on houses in tribal communities across the Northern Plains. Those units can reduce heating bills by almost one quarter, and cost, less than $2000 to install. The solar thermal panels harken a future with less reliance on propane and fossil fuels, something which proved deadly this winter, as the price skyrocketed, and many homes spent at least that amount to heat.

Henry Red Cloud is one of many Lakota people who has been in DC this past month, and a large number of other Oglala tribal members will descend on Washington for the Cowboys Indians Alliance encampment against the Keystone XL pipeline. Henry Red Cloud sees solar energy as a way to “honor the old ways in the new times,” and address some of the fuel poverty which is rampant in northern plains and north woods first nations, in an era of petroleum, replacing natural fuels. Annually tribes are forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars of propane bills, to keep houses warm, and fuel poverty is when tribal members have to choose between heating or eating. “Last year, more than five million was spent on propane and electricity to keep our members warm,” Red Cloud explained. “We can take that money and turn it around, start some businesses.”

Solar thermal heat, not only keeps people warm, reducing the hemorrhage of fuel bills but it circulates money into a local economy. The solar panels are made on the reservation, and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy center near Oglala, on the reservation employs nine full time workers and several part time workers in the busy season. That is money helping a community and rebuilding infrastructure in that community.

According to Henry Red Cloud and many others is what we need to do. After all, about 14% of reservation households are without electricity, 10 times the national rate. Energy distribution systems on rural reservations are extremely vulnerable to extended power outages during winter storms, threatening the lives of reservation residents. Reservation communities are at a statistically greater risk from extreme weather related mortality nationwide, especially from cold, heat and drought associated with a rapidly changing climate. Reservations need more than 200,000 new houses, and there is no money for them, and Pine Ridge, Henry’s home may be one of the most impacted areas. This is also the home of strong opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, also known as the “fat takers pipeline,” by the Lakota people. Brian Brewer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, told press, “No Keystone XL Black Snake Pipeline will cross Lakota Lands. We will protect our lands and waters and we have our horses ready…”

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, will put in infrastructure as well. As Henry and others point out, that infrastructure will not change the conditions for most people in the northern plains, whom the pipeline will pass. Employment will not be local, or of long term. The man camps of a thousand men will move in, buy some things, stay at hotels, and then move on. And the infrastructure will not improve for the people.

The $7 billion price tag of the Keystone XL was studied in a recent report by Economics for Equity and the Environment. The study found that spending money on unmet water and gas infrastructure needs in the five relevant states along the KXL pipeline route will create more than 300,000 total jobs across all sectors, or five times more jobs than the KXL, with ninety five times more long term jobs. Spending money on the infrastructure in this country, which has received a D + rating from the national engineers, would provide more jobs, and more benefits to American people over the long term, like infrastructure which does not leak or blow up.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that last year the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased around eleven fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 13 gigawatts in 2014. Solar thermal is even less expensive and applicable to many south facing walls. Last June, President Obama announced a comprehensive Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and advance the clean energy economy. As part of that Plan, the President set a goal to double solar, wind, and geothermal electricity generation by 2020 and to more than triple the onsite renewable energy production in federally assisted residential buildings.

The simple elegance of local power, solar energy and working to benefit communities, not corporations, is a good lesson for Earth Day.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Winona LaDuke

Winona Laduke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth, is an author, activist, former US vice presidential candidate, and mother. She is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations. She has led a series of horseback rides along tar sands pipeline routes that pass through her people’s treaty areas in North Dakota.

EPA moves to protect Bristol Bay fishery from Pebble Mine — Agency action begins process to prevent damage to world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery

While the announcement just now by EPA does not have direct implications for protecting Bristol Bay from offshore drilling, EPA’s recognition and acknowledgement of the world-class salmon stocks there can’t hurt …..Richard Charter

Release Date: 02/28/2014

Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454,

(Washington, D.C.-Feb. 28, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is initiating a process under the Clean Water Act to identify appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine. The Pebble Mine has the potential to be one of the largest open pit copper mines ever developed and could threaten a salmon resource rare in its quality and productivity. During this process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot approve a permit for the mine.

This action, requested by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, reflects the unique nature of the Bristol Bay watershed as one of the world’s last prolific wild salmon resources and the threat posed by the Pebble deposit, a mine unprecedented in scope and scale. It does not reflect an EPA policy change in mine permitting.

“Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “It’s why EPA is taking this step forward in our effort to ensure protection for the world’s most productive salmon fishery from the risks it faces from what could be one of the largest open pit mines on earth. This process is not something the Agency does very often, but Bristol Bay is an extraordinary and unique resource.”

The EPA is basing its action on available information, including data collected as a part of the agency’s Bristol Bay ecological risk assessment and mine plans submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Today, Dennis McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10, sent letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Alaska, and the Pebble Partnership initiating action under EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authorities.

“Bristol Bay is an extraordinary natural resource, home to some of the most abundant salmon producing rivers in the world. The area provides millions of dollars in jobs and food resources for Alaska Native Villages and commercial fishermen,” McLerran said. “The science EPA reviewed paints a clear picture: Large-scale copper mining of the Pebble deposit would likely result in significant and irreversible harm to the salmon and the people and industries that rely on them.”

Today’s action follows the January 2014 release of EPA’s “Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska,” a study that documents the significant ecological resources of the region and the potentially destructive impacts to salmon and other fish from potential large-scale copper mining of the Pebble Deposit. The assessment indicates that the proposed Pebble Mine would likely cause irreversible destruction of streams that support salmon and other important fish species, as well as extensive areas of wetlands, ponds and lakes.

In 2010, several Bristol Bay Alaska Native tribes requested that EPA take action under Clean Water Act Section 404(c) to protect the Bristol Bay watershed and salmon resources from development of the proposed Pebble Mine, a venture backed by Northern Dynasty Minerals. The Bristol Bay watershed is home to 31 Alaska Native Villages. Residents of the area depend on salmon as a major food resource and for their economic livelihood, with nearly all residents participating in subsistence fishing.

Bristol Bay produces nearly 50 percent of the world’s wild sockeye salmon with runs averaging 37.5 million fish each year. The salmon runs are highly productive due in large part to the exceptional water quality in streams and wetlands, which provide valuable salmon habitat.

The Bristol Bay ecosystem generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and provides employment for over 14,000 full and part-time workers. The region supports all five species of Pacific salmon found in North America: sockeye, coho, Chinook, chum, and pink. In addition, it is home to more than 20 other fish species, 190 bird species, and more than 40 terrestrial mammal species, including bears, moose, and caribou.

Based on information provided by The Pebble Partnership and Northern Dynasty Minerals, mining the Pebble deposit may involve excavation of a pit up to one mile deep and over 2.5 miles wide — the largest open pit ever constructed in North America. Disposal of mining waste may require construction of three or more massive earthen tailings dams as high as 650 feet. The Pebble deposit is located at the headwaters of Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, which produce about half of the sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay.

The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The Act emphasizes protecting uses of the nation’s waterways, including fishing.

The Clean Water Act generally requires a permit under Section 404 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before any person places dredge or fill material into wetlands, lakes and streams. Mining operations typically involve such activities and must obtain Clean Water Act Section 404 permits. Section 404 directs EPA to develop the environmental criteria the Army Corps uses to make permit decisions. It also authorizes EPA to prohibit or restrict fill activities if EPA determines such actions would have unacceptable adverse effects on fishery areas.

The steps in the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) review process are:

Step 1 – Consultation period with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and owners of the site, initiated today.
Step 2 – Publication of Proposed Determination, including proposed prohibitions or restrictions on mining the Pebble deposit, in Federal Register for public comment and one or more public hearings.
Step 3 – Review of public comments and development of Recommended Determination by EPA Regional Administrator to Assistant Administrator for Water at EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Step 4 – Second consultation period with the Army Corps and site owners and development of Final Determination by Assistant Administrator for Water, including any final prohibitions or restrictions on mining the Pebble deposit.

Based on input EPA receives during any one of these steps, the agency could decide that further review under Section 404(c) is not necessary.

Now that the 404(c) process has been initiated, the Army Corps cannot issue a permit for fill in wetlands or streams associated with mining the Pebble deposit until EPA completes the 404(c) review process.

EPA has received over 850,000 requests from citizens, tribes, Alaska Native corporations, commercial and sport fisherman, jewelry companies, seafood processors, restaurant owners, chefs, conservation organizations, members of the faith community, sport recreation business owners, elected officials and others asking EPA to take action to protect Bristol Bay.

For information on the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) visit: (PDF, 2 pp, 600K)

For information on the EPA Bristol Bay Assessment, visit:

Follow @EPAnorthwest on Twitter!

Special thanks to Richard Charter

Common Dreams, The Guardian: Why We Need an Outright Ban on Fracking–Convicted on Monday after supergluing herself to a fellow anti-fracking protester at Balcombe in the UK, activist says more people should stand up against the risks
Published on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 by The Guardian

by Natalie Hynde

Fracking protest at Balcombe, West Sussex. ‘Taking part in non-violent direct action will cause the investors to think twice.’ Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian. Getting arrested for taking part in direct action at Balcombe was the most liberating experience I’ve ever had. Nothing I’ve ever done in my life has made me feel so empowered and alive.

Anyone can Google the “List of the Harmed” or look at the Shalefield Stories detailing what’s happened to people in the US as a result of fracking – the nosebleeds, the cancers, the spontaneous abortions in livestock, the seizures and silicosis in the worker’s lungs. Not to mention the farming revenue lost from sick and dying cattle. When you have exhausted all other channels of democratic process – written letters, gone on marches and signed petitions – direct action seems the only way left to get your voice heard.

In the US, this industry has buried people’s stories and threatened their livelihoods if they dare to speak out. Researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health have found that a number of toxic, and carcinogenic, petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near fracking wells include benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene, which cause acute and chronic health problems for those living nearby.

In the UK we are told that it will bring energy prices down. Most people do not understand that the exploration wells that we are seeing at the moment are just the start. Unconventional gas will require tens of thousands of wells over huge areas of the country. Production will require pipelines, compressor stations and waste disposal on a massive scale. The tiny exploration companies will be replaced by massive firms when they sell the information and licences they have gathered.

Fracking releases methane into the Earth’s atmosphere which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, between 20 and 100 times more so, than CO2. This is a time when we should be meeting our climate change obligations, not worsening the situation by injecting a chemical cocktail of carcinogens into the earth’s crust.

A lot of us want the moratorium that was lifted in 2012 to be reinstated – due to new evidence and significant Royal Society/RIE recommendations not having been followed. We’ve already had two earthquakes in Blackpool and the property market in the town has tanked as a result of the fracking. In the exploratory drilling process, the range of chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, pose a massive threat if they escape from the well. All wells leak eventually – 6% of gas wells leak immediately and 50% of all gas wells leak within 15 years.

Following on from the Lock the Gate protest in Australia, communities are being inspired to spread information and prepare for when fracking is introduced to their area. Taking part in nonviolent direct action will cause the investors to think twice – we need more people to get involved, even at the risk of getting arrested.

Nothing is in place in the UK at the moment to deal with all the radioactive toxic waste water that we’re left with after the land has been fracked. In other words, they’ve said yes to fracking without having all of the necessary waste water treatment procedures in place. Some believe it won’t be possible to treat it at all, in which case they will end up dumping it in estuaries and elsewhere. Once that water is contaminated it can’t be reversed – it is in the water cycle forever.

Many people think UK shale gas would provide us with energy security, but what does that mean? People don’t realise the Chinese have already invested in iGas and Cuadrilla. The environment is not considered at all. Do we want to leave this mess for the next generation? Why hasn’t the public been informed of the risks? Why are they rushing it through? Why are they offering bribes to local communities? Why has France banned fracking? Why is the French company Total investing in fracking in the UK? Why is the French-owned EDF allowed to build nuclear power stations in the UK? We need an outright ban on fracking – or at the very least, a moratorium.

Radio New Zealand: Anti-oil protesters take to the beaches and other similar articles

Radio New Zealand: Anti-oil protesters take to the beaches
Updated at 10:07 pm on 15 February 2014

Greenpeace says beach demonstrations around the South Island on Saturday are a clear message New Zealanders don’t want offshore drilling.

The Texan company Anadarko is about to begin drilling its first test well off the Otago-Southland coast in the search for a possible gasfield.

Greenpeace says more than 2000 people gathered on 21 South Island beaches in protest on Saturday afternoon.

Energy campaigner Steve Abel says protesters, including families, fishermen, tourism operators and iwi representatives, demonstrated they want a clean energy future for New Zealand.

He says the biggest turnouts were at beaches in Dunedin, with 600 people, Christchurch, with 500, and Kaikoura, 350.

Mr Abel says this shows people are very much saying they don’t want dozens of oil rigs dotted around the coastline.

He says they want jobs for New Zealand that don’t risk ruining fishing grounds or leave oil washing up on beaches.



Anti-oil protests at South Island beaches
18:29 Sat Feb 15 2014

Anti-oil protest have been held around South Island beaches as US oil company Anadarko continues its exploration of New Zealand waters.

Greenpeace says there were more than 2000 people at 20 beaches on the Mainland on Saturday, with the biggest crowds in Dunedin, Christchurch and Kaikoura.

The numbers showed New Zealanders did not want deep sea drilling off the coast, said Greenpeace energy campaigner Steve Abel.

“We don’t want to see dozens of oil rigs dotted off our coastlines – that is the awful vision of John Key and Anadarko. We want jobs for New Zealanders that don’t ruin our fishing grounds or risk oil washing on our beaches.”

Anadarko’s chartered ship the Noble Bob Douglas is now exploring the Canterbury Basin after failing to find oil off the west coast of the North Island.

It says it will most likely find natural gas in the Canterbury Basin, rather than oil.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association says finding commercial quantities of oil and natural gas is not easy, but drilling can be done safely in deep water.

In November last year, six boats protested against the Noble Bob Douglas off the Waikato coast. A subsequent Greenpeace legal challenge to the exploration permit failed.

Anti-oil protesters are again planning a sea-going protest off the Otago coast.

They say deep sea drilling for oil and gas is extremely risky for the environment and question the safety record of Anadarko, which was one of the companies behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.


video at:

TV New Zealand

Oil Exploration Protesters Take to the Beaches

Anti-oil protesters across the South Island have continued their fight against Texan oil giant Anadarko today.

The Noble Bob Douglas will arrive close to New Zealander’s southern shores in the coming weeks for oil and gas exploration.

Over 2,000 people on 20 beaches across the South Island took part in the ‘Banners on the Beach’ protest against the ship’s arrival.

Last week Oil Free Otago sent a flotilla of yachts out to the drill-ship in an attempt to stop the exploration vessel.

Protesters from Kaikoura say seismic testing creates noise pollution that they fear will distress Kaikoura’s whales, dolphins and marine life.

Greenpeace energy campaigner, Steve Abel, said today’s turnout has sent a strong message to the Government and oil industry.

“Over 2000 people and families that have joined in today show that Kiwis don’t want deep sea drilling off our coasts. That’s not the future we want for New Zealand.

“We don’t want to see dozens of oil rigs dotted off our coastlines – that is the awful vision of John Key and Anadarko. We want jobs for New Zealanders that don’t ruin our fishing grounds or risk oil washing on our beaches.

“It’s about defending the way people put food on the table in New Zealand now and not selling out our kids’ future to foreign oil companies. We belong as part of the solution – sticking true to our clean green values and innovating a way forward – not as another oily backwater run for the benefit of US drillers.”

Last November over 5,000 people turned up to protest Anadarko’s drilling off the coast of Raglan.


The Eastern Tribune

Anti-oil protestors gather across the South Island
Mashaal Lakhani

KAIKOURA: The Anti-oil protesters across the South Island are still fighting against the Texan oil giant Anadarko. The Noble Bob Douglas will soon arrive near New Zealander’s southern shores in the next few weeks for oil and gas exploration.

Around 2,000 people on 20 beaches throughout the South Island took part in a protest, ‘Banners on the Beach’, against the arrival of the ship. Earlier it was reported that Oil Free Otago had sent a fleet of yachts out towards the drill-ship in an effort to stop the exploration vessel. Kaikoura protesters believe the seismic testing creates noise pollution that will distress Kaikoura’s marine life.

Steve Abel, Greenpeace energy campaigner, said the turnout on the beaches has sent a strong message to the Government and oil industry. He said around 2000 people and families have come together which shows that Kiwis do not want deep sea drilling to be done off their coasts. That was not the future they wanted for New Zealand.

The protestors demand that they did not want to see dozens of oil rigs dotted off on their coastlines. That is an awful vision of John Key and Anadarko. They want jobs for New Zealanders that do not ruin their fishing grounds or have the risk of oil washing on their beaches. Steve Abel said that this fight was about defending how people put food on the table in New Zealand and not selling out their kids’ future to foreign oil companies. He said they were sticking true to their clean green values and finding a way forward with innovation and not as another oily backwater run for the benefit of US drillers.

Over 5,000 people had turned up to protest Anadarko’s drilling off the coast of Raglan.

– See more at:

Special thanks to Richard Charter

Huffington Post: The Koch Brothers Are Still Trying to Break Wind
Published on Tuesday, December 10, 2013
by Elliott Negin

As Congress dithers for the umpteenth time over extending a key subsidy for wind energy, the industry once again is up in the air. Called the production tax credit (PTC), the subsidy helps level the playing field between wind and fossil fuels and has proven to be critical for financing new projects, helping to make wind one of the fastest growing electricity sources in the country. Given the planet needs to transition as quickly as possible away from coal and natural gas to carbon-free energy to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, who would be against renewing wind’s tax credit?

Charles G. and David H. Koch — the billionaire owners of the coal, oil and gas Koch Industries conglomerate — have enlisted their extensive network of think tanks, advocacy groups and friends on Capitol Hill to spearhead a campaign to pull the plug on the PTC. Never mind the fact that the oil and gas industry has averaged four times what the wind tax credit is worth in federal tax breaks and subsidies annually for the last 95 years.

The Koch network is fighting the wind industry on a number of fronts. Last month, Koch-funded Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) sent a letter signed by 52 House members to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, urging him to let the PTC expire. Meanwhile, a coalition of some 100 national and local groups organized by the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity sent a letter to each member of Congress asking them to do the same. And earlier this month, the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research launched an anti-PTC ad campaign and released a report claiming that only a handful of states actually benefit from the subsidy.

Malcolm Gladwell didn’t include this battle in his new book David and Goliath because, given the odds, it’s more like Bambi versus Godzilla.

The Kochs’ Man in Congress

The fact that Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo is the Kochs’ point man to scuttle the PTC in the House is a bit ironic given his state is a wind energy leader. Kansas has the second highest wind potential in the country, it has already attracted more than $5 billion in wind industry investment, and last year wind generated 11.4 percent of its electricity. With stats like that, the industry has broad bipartisan support. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts — all Republicans — are big fans.

Pompeo, who has been in Congress since only 2011, would argue that he’s against all energy tax credits. For the second year in a row, he has introduced a bill that would eliminate tax breaks that benefit oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, electric vehicles, alternative fuels, solar and wind, including the PTC, which gives wind developers a tax credit of 2.3 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce.

But there’s a catch. Although it appears evenhanded, Pompeo’s bill would severely hamper wind and solar but preserve a number of oil, gas and coal subsidies, including the percentage depletion allowance, the ability to expense the costs of exploration, and the accelerated depreciation of certain kinds of “geologic property.” These and other tax breaks he left out of his bill would be worth about $12.5 billion to the oil and gas industry from 2011 through 2015, according to a March 2012 Congressional Research Service report.

Why is Pompeo so down on wind? Perhaps it’s because Koch Industries is headquartered in Wichita, smack-dab in the middle of his district — and the fact that the company is by far and away his biggest campaign contributor. Since 2010, Koch Industries has given him $200,000, more than four times what his second highest contributor kicked in. Besides Koch Industries, three other oil companies are among Pompeo’s top five contributors — McCoy Petroleum, Mull Drilling and Richie Exploration — and they’re also based in Wichita.

What about the other 51 House members who signed Pompeo’s letter? As it turns out, 65 percent of them received contributions from Koch Industries during the last two or three campaign cycles, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. A quarter of them, meanwhile, cashed checks from ExxonMobil. And except for two congressmen who didn’t take any energy industry money, the signatories received sizable contributions from a number of other corporations that compete with wind, including coal barons Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources; oil and gas giants Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Valero Energy; and Exelon, which owns the most nuclear reactors in the country.

Americans for (Koch) Prosperity Weighs In

Pompeo’s letter came on the heels of a letter from the Kochs’ flagship advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, calling for Congress to kill the PTC. AFP’s letter, which was signed by 102 organizations, claims that “the wind industry has very little to show after 20 years of preferential tax treatment” and declares that “Americans deserve energy solutions that can make it on their own in the marketplace — not ones that need to be propped up by government indefinitely.”

Is that right? Little to show? Preferential tax treatment?

In fact, until Congress left the wind industry hanging late last year, it had been doing quite well. Even with a deep recession and slow recovery, over the previous five years — with the help of the PTC, stimulus spending and state renewable electricity standards — the industry doubled its electricity output, employment and private investment. In 2012, domestic manufacturers produced roughly 72 percent of the wind turbine equipment erected across the country — nearly triple the percentage in 2006 — and more than 13,000 megawatts of new wind generation capacity was installed. By the end of last year, there were enough wind turbines to power 15 million typical American homes — without toxic pollutants or carbon emissions.

But AFP’s complaint that the wind industry has been on the dole far too long is even more galling. What about the oil and gas industry? It’s been feeding at the federal trough since 1918! On average, the industry has benefited from $4.86 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in today’s dollars every year since then, according to a 2011 study by DBL Investors, a venture capital firm. Renewable energy technologies, meanwhile, averaged only $370 million a year in subsidies between 1994 and 2009. The 2009 stimulus package did provide $21 billion for wind, solar and other renewables, but that support barely begins to balance the scales that have tilted toward nuclear power for more than 50 years, oil and gas for 95 years, and coal for more than two centuries.

So who signed the AFP letter? About half of the signatories are local tea party affiliates and anti-wind NIMBY groups of indeterminate size and funding. The other half are, for the most part, relatively obscure national groups, but there are a few that have attracted attention over the years for their contrarian views on climate science and renewable energy. Like AFP, those groups are awash in petrodollars. The American Energy Alliance (and its parent, the Institute for Energy Research), Competitive Enterprise Institute, Freedom Works, Frontiers of Freedom and Heritage Action (and its parent, the Heritage Foundation) collectively have received millions of dollars from Koch family foundations, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s premier trade association.

The Institute for Energy Research’s Questionable Research

On December 3, the Institute for Energy Research and its political arm, the American Energy Alliance, sponsored what they dubbed the “wind welfare” summit in Washington, D.C., featuring IER founder and CEO Robert Bradley Jr., a Koch network veteran. AEA announced it would spend $40,000 on print and digital ads calling for an end to the PTC and is flying in anti-PTC advocates for meetings on Capitol Hill.

Bradley presumably highlighted the findings of a report IER released the day before claiming that a small number of states with wind resources — Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas — are reaping the benefits of the PTC while 30 states and the District of Columbia are “losing millions” to fund it.

The report’s findings, however, don’t hold up to scrutiny. Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, pointed out in a recent blog that IER ignored the fact that a number of the states it identified as “net payers” are home to wind industry manufacturing facilities. There are 62 companies in Ohio making turbine components, for example, 40 in Michigan and 21 in California. Jacobs also discovered that IER downplayed the fact that “the PTC benefits consumers where wind-generated electricity adds to the supply and lowers the price of electricity, landowners who receive lease payments from the wind turbines, and local communities that collect tax payments on installed wind farms.”

Jeff Spross, blogging on the Center for American Progress’ ThinkProgress website, also chided IER, pointing out that most industries are not equally distributed across the country. “The oil and gas industries, for instance, benefit from a wealth of federal tax carve-outs,” he wrote, “but the economic activity they generate is concentrated in just a few key states.”

In other words, it’s disingenuous to single out the wind industry.

Twisting in the Wind

While Congress has generously provided the fossil-fuel and nuclear-energy industries a number of permanent subsidies, it has typically granted the wind industry the PTC on a short-term basis and then wavered over renewing it. Last year the PTC expired on December 31, but as part of the “fiscal cliff” budget deal the next day, Congress extended it for the seventh time since it debuted in 1992 — for only one year.

This uncertainty over the PTC’s status has put wind developers at a distinct disadvantage, making it difficult to attract investors and plan ahead. Last year’s cliffhanger, for example, definitely did a number on the industry. Wind farm construction has fallen off dramatically compared with 2012: Only one utility-scale wind turbine was installed in the first six months of this year. Business picked up somewhat in the third quarter, with 68.3 megawatts installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association, but that’s far below the average of more than 1,000 megawatts that the industry constructed in most quarters in recent years.

Given that it takes years to plan, finance and construct a wind farm, Congress is again undermining the industry’s potential by slow-walking the PTC extension this year. And that potential is tremendous. Wind currently generates about 4 percent of U.S. electricity, but by 2030 it could produce more than 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory also is bullish on wind and renewables writ large. Last year, it published a report that concluded today’s commercially available renewable technologies could easily generate 80 percent of U.S. electricity by 2050, with nearly half coming from wind. If the Koch brothers and their allies have their way, however, it likely will take a lot longer to get there — and it will cost a hell of a lot more.

Elliott Negin is the director of news and commentary at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Akron Beacon Journal: Support grows for pipeline, drops for fracking, Pew survey says

By BOB DOWNING Published: September 27, 2013
From the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:

Most Americans (65%) continue to favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, perhaps the most politically contentious energy issue in Barack Obama’s second term. Yet when it comes to another issue making headlines – a proposal to tighten greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – the public favors stricter limits, by exactly the same margin as the Keystone pipeline (65% to 30%).

Opinions on these two hotly debated issues underscore the complexity of public attitudes on U.S. energy policy. Support for increasing energy production from some traditional sources remains strong: 58% favor increased offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters.

Yet over the past year, opposition to the drilling process known as fracking has increased, as has opposition to nuclear power. Just 38% favor promoting the increased use of nuclear power while 58% are opposed, the highest level of opposition since the question was first asked in 2005.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 4-8 among 1,506 adults, finds that, as with other energy-related issues, there is a sharp partisan divide on the Keystone pipeline. But while an overwhelming majority of Republicans (82%) favor construction of the pipeline, so too do 64% of independents and about half of Democrats (51%).

President Obama’s decision about whether to go ahead with the pipeline is expected in the next few months. Environmental groups staunchly oppose the project, while GOP lawmakers are stepping up pressure on Obama to approve it.

The survey was conducted before the EPA announced its proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Nearly two-thirds of the public favors stricter emissions limits on power plants, including 74% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 52% of Republicans.

Overall, 44% favor and 49% oppose the increased use of fracking, the drilling method that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations. In March, there was more support (48%) than opposition (38%) for more extensive use of the drilling process. The rise in opposition to fracking has come among most demographic and partisan groups.

In terms of broader priorities for the nation’s energy supply, a majority of Americans (58%) say it is more important to develop alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydrogen technology, while just 34% say expanding exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas is the more important priority. These views are little changed from February, when 54% said more important to develop alternatives and 34% said more important to expand production from traditional sources.

There are age differences in opinions about a number of energy policies, but they are particularly stark in views of overall energy priorities. Fully 73% of those younger than 30, and 61% of those 30 to 49, say it is more important to develop alternative energy sources; among those 50 and older, only about half (48%) view alternative energy as the greater priority.

The survey finds that the recent energy boom in the United States has not registered widely with the public: only 48% correctly say that U.S. energy production is up in recent years and just 34% attribute it mainly to greater oil, coal and natural gas, even though oil and gas exploration has been the primary driver of this trend.

There is no indication that awareness of the nation’s growing energy production is related to energy policy attitudes. For instance, among those who know that energy production is growing mostly from traditional sources, 57% prioritize developing alternative energy sources. That is about the same percentage (58%) among those who do not know this.

Keystone XL Support Remains Broad
Support for the Keystone XL pipeline has remained fairly stable during the past six months (65% today, 66% in March), though opposition has risen from 23% to 30%.

During this period, the Obama administration has continued to weigh whether to allow completion of the pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s oil sands through the Midwest to refineries in Texas. Because the pipeline would cross an international border, the northern leg requires federal approval. The southern portion does not, and much of it has been constructed.

In June, President Obama for the first time linked the pipeline debate to climate change, saying he would approve the project only if it would not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

Republicans overwhelmingly support constructing the pipeline. Eight-in-ten conservative Republicans (84%) and 76% of GOP moderates and liberals favor building the pipeline. As was the case in March, Democrats are internally divided: By 58% to 41%, conservative and moderate Democrats favor construction of the pipeline. Liberal Democrats oppose the proposal, by 54% to 41%.

While majorities across all age groups back the Keystone XL pipeline, there is less support among young people. Among those younger than 30, 55% favor building the Keystone XL pipeline while 39% are opposed. People 30 and older favor it by more than two-to-one (67% to 28%).

The balance of opinion favoring the pipeline is roughly the same in the six states it would pass through as in other parts of the country. In the six states the pipeline would traverse – Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas – 69% support its construction while 28% are opposed. Those in other states support it by a margin of 64% to 31%.
Changing Views of Fracking
Since March, opposition to increased fracking has grown significantly across most regions and demographic groups. Overall, 44% now favor increased use of fracking while 49% are opposed. In March, support exceeded opposition by 10 points (48% to 38%).

Opinion about the increased use is now divided in the Midwest and South. In March, support exceeded opposition by 23 points in the Midwest and 18 points in the South. Opposition also has risen in the West, from 44% to 55%. In the Northeast, more continue to oppose (51%) than favor (42%) increased fracking.

While opposition among both men and women has increased since March, there continue to be wide gender differences over the increased use of fracking. About half of men (51%) favor more fracking compared with 38% of women.

Independents and Republicans are more likely to oppose fracking now than in March (by 13 points and 12 points, respectively). Democrats’ views have shown less change, but a majority of Democrats continue to oppose increased use of the drilling method (59%).
Overall, people who are aware that U.S. energy production is growing – and that the increase is mostly coming from traditional energy sources (34% of the public) – have about the same views of fracking as do the majority of Americans who are not aware of this.

However, opinion is more divided along partisan lines among those who know that energy production is increasing from traditional sources. Fully 69% of Republicans and Republican leaners who know that the energy supply is increasing and that the growth is mostly from sources like oil, coal and natural gas favor increased use of fracking.

Conversely, a nearly identical percentage of Democrats and Democratic leaners (68%) who are aware of trends in domestic energy production oppose increased use of fracking.
Opinion is less sharply divided among Republicans and Democrats who are unaware that the domestic energy supply is increasing, mostly as a result of more production among traditional sources.
Support for Alternative Energy Research, More Offshore Drilling
By nearly three-to-one (73% to 25%), the public supports requiring better vehicle fuel efficiency. An identical percentage (73%) favors federal funding for alternative energy research, while two-thirds (67%) back more spending on mass transit.

A majority (58%) also favors more offshore oil and gas drilling. That is lower than last year, when 65% supported more offshore oil and gas drilling. But it remains significantly higher than it was in June 2010, following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, when just 44% of people wanted to allow more drilling in U.S. waters

Nuclear power has lost support over the past year. Currently, 38% favor the increased use of nuclear power while 58% are opposed. In March 2012, opinion was more closely divided (44% favor, 49% oppose). As recently as February 2010, significantly more favored (52%) than opposed (41%) the increased use of nuclear power.
Sharp Partisan Divide over Energy Policies
There are substantial partisan differences in opinions about each of the energy policies on the poll – and in many cases those differences have widened over time.
As in previous Pew Research Center polls, one of the largest gaps between the parties is on the question of offshore drilling. Nearly eight in-ten Republicans (79%) – and 90% of Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the Tea Party – support allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling, compared with 44% of Democrats.

Democrats are far more supportive than Republicans of stricter emission limits on power plants to address climate change; 74% of Democrats favor this compared with 67% of independents and 52% of Republicans. Still, even among Republicans there is more support than opposition to emission limits (52% favor, 43% oppose).

And when asked which should be the more important priority for addressing the nation’s energy supply, large majorities of both Democrats (71%) and independents (60%) say it is more important to develop alternative sources, such as wind, solar and hydrogen technology. A smaller majority of Republicans (53%) say the priority should be expanding exploration of oil, coal and natural gas.
Partisan Differences Widen on Alternative Energy, Fuel Efficiency
Just a few years ago, there was broad agreement on some – though not all – energy policy objectives. In 2006, during George W. Bush’s presidency, comparable majorities of independents (85%), Republicans (82%) and Democrats (77%) favored increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology.

The bipartisan consensus on alternative energy research and other policies – including better fuel efficiency standards – was noted in a February 2006 report, “Both Reds and Blues Go Green on Energy.”

Since then, support for funding alternative technology research has fallen by 24 points among Republicans (to 58%) and 10 points among independents (75%), while increasing slightly among Democrats (84%). Much of the change in opinions among Republicans came after Barack Obama took office in 2009. In September 2008, 85% of Republicans and 77% of independents favor increased funding for alternative energy research; in May of 2010, 61% of Republicans and 73% of independents favored more funding for alternative energy research.

There has been a similar trend in opinions about requiring better fuel efficiency for cars, trucks and SUVs. Seven years ago, large majorities across all partisan groups (87% of independents, 86% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans) favored higher fuel efficiency standards. The percentage of Democrats favoring this has changed little over this period (currently 84% favor), while falling 25 points among Republicans and 13 points among independents.

On some energy policy-related issues, however, such as nuclear power and offshore drilling, partisan differences have remained fairly steady over the years. Currently, 49% of Republicans, 39% of independents and 29% of Democrats favor promoting the increased use of nuclear power. In 2006, 56% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 39% of Democrats supported more nuclear power.

In September 2008, 87% of Republicans, 67% of independents and 55% of Democrats favored more drilling in U.S. waters. Today, there is less support across all three groups, but the partisan gap is about as large as it was then (35 points now, 32 points in September 2008).

Special thanks to Richard Charter Join Phase Two of Global Power Shift (Video)
See video at link above. DV

Join Phase 2 of Global Power Shift
Global Power Shift (GPS) is a planetary-scale project to spark a new wave of climate action around the world.
Here’s the plan:

Phase 1: In June of 2013, 500 young climate leaders gathered in Istanbul, Turkey for a week of intensive training, strategising, and preparations.

Phase 2: National teams will work on scaling up the climate movement through regional convergences, strategic campaigns, and grassroots mobilisations. These events will be launchpads for new, highly-coordinated efforts targeting political and corporate power to achieve bold climate action. Working together, we will truly shift the power and spark the kind of visionary transformation we need to fight the climate crisis.
To make this work, we all need to work together — so sign the pledge on this page to let us know you’re ready to create a Global Power Shift and we will keep you informed of our national (and global!) plans.

Common Dreams: Critics: Obama’s Plan Fails Urgency Climate Crisis Demands
Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 by Common Dreams

President should renounce “all of the above” energy strategy and nation’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels, say environmentalists
– Sarah Lazare, staff writer

At a Tuesday George Washington University speech on climate change, President Obama is feeling the heat (Photo: Charles Dharapak/The Associated Press)Environmentalists warn that President Obama’s ‘climate plan’—announced Tuesday in a speech at Georgetown University—does not contain the urgency required by the fast-spiraling crisis of global warming and climate change and that though some aspects were welcome, the overall approach falls well short of what’s needed.

The plan hinges on Obama’s claim that he plans to use his presidential powers to override a Congress under ‘partisan deadlock’ and order the Environmental Protection Agency to impose carbon emissions limits on current and new power plants.

Though many of the large green groups in the US praised the push for tighter regulation on coal plants by the EPA, critics say Obama’s plan is unclear about exactly how strict these regulations will be. As an example, the president’s plan says that the EPA must be “flexible” to states’ needs, a vague directive that critics charge provides rhetorical cover for further inaction.

Furthermore, critics charge that “new” power plant regulations are hardly groundbreaking or far-reaching enough to meet the demands of the crisis. The 2007 Clean Air Act already empowered the EPA to regulate emissions for new facilities, and yet this has done little to reign in power plant emissions, which account for approximately 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.

The president’s only new step on this front is to propose regulations for existing plants, but critics worry that an administration that has dragged its feet so far will not make the necessary headway.

“He promised today to do something, but there is zero guarantee that he will follow through,” declared Bill Snape, senior counsel to the Center for Biological Diversity. “In reality there are so many industrial sources that need to be regulated, and the administration has been moving very slowly on all of them. It is wise to not fall prey to the flowery rhetoric. You have to really specifically look at concrete action.”

Friends of the Earth welcomed aspects of the Obama approach but said it was not the “broad, ambitious plan that is needed to combat climate change and extreme weather,” but rather a more tepid “series of actions” joined by flowery rhetoric.

“A sensible climate plan,” said Damon Moglen, climate and energy program director of Friends of the Earth, “would include a renunciation of the president’s “all of the above” energy strategy, which promotes biofuels, so-called clean coal, natural gas and dirty and dangerous nuclear power.”

“In order to address climate change,” he continued, “the president needs to focus on the ambitious development of renewable energy, energy storage and efficiency technologies while setting us on a path which clearly leaves behind the fossil fuel-based energy economy of the 20th century.”

And Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen agreed, saying that though Obama’s speech contained laudable elements there was too much that in the plan that would be “counterproductive.”

The important critique, Weissman said, was this:

Catastrophic climate change poses a near-existential threat to humanity. We need a national mobilization – and indeed a worldwide mobilization – to transform rapidly from our fossil fuel-reliant past and present to a clean energy future. We need a sense of urgency – indeed, emergency – massive investments, tough and specific standards and binding rules. Those elements, sadly, are missing from the president’s plan.

A sensible climate plan would include a renunciation of the president’s “all of the above” energy strategy, which promotes biofuels, so-called clean coal, natural gas and dirty and dangerous nuclear power. In order to address climate change, the president needs to focus on the ambitious development of renewable energy, energy storage and efficiency technologies while setting us on a path which clearly leaves behind the fossil fuel-based energy economy of the 20th century. – See more at:
he broad, ambitious plan that is needed to combat climate change and extreme weather. – See more at:
he broad, ambitious plan that is needed to combat climate change and extreme weather. – See more at:
he broad, ambitious plan that is needed to combat climate change and extreme weather. – See more at:
he broad, ambitious plan that is needed to combat climate change and extreme weather. – See more at:

On the issue of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, Obame remained nearly silent. He declared that the Administration would only move forward if it determines the pipeline is ‘in our national interest’ but did not respond to widespread demands that the project immediately halt.

The president plans to vigorously pursue nuclear energy, he states in his official climate plan. Greenpeace activists have previously slammed an approach that they say embraces unsafe energy while escalating global nuclear buildup. Greenpeace USA’s Executive Director Phil Radford declared at a previous presidential speech:

President Obama’s energy policy has already been riddled with disasters, so it’s astounding that he would encourage even greater dependence on dangerous energy sources like oil drilling and nuclear power at a time when the risks have been made all too clear. For the millions of Americans put at risk by the inherent dangers of nuclear power, or those whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the Gulf oil disaster, more of the same is hardly the path toward ‘Energy Security.’ True leadership in the face of these disasters would mean setting out an energy plan that would move us away from our dependence on fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear power and instead harnessing abundant, safe and clean renewable energy.

President Obama declared that the United States must be a ‘global leader’ and work with the private industry to curb the carbon emissions of ‘developing’ nations. This is despite the fact that the Global North, with only 15 percent of the world’s population, accounts for 70 percent of greenhouse gases, and the U.S. is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the world.

The president announced that he will stop providing federal dollars to build foreign coal-powered plants, unless they are ‘clean’ coal plants, or unless that country has no other viable energy option. Yet, critics charge that the concept of ‘clean’ coal is a myth.

Furthermore, he stated his intentions to expand natural gas use, including the controversial and highly polluting drilling practice known as fracking. Public Citizen’s Energy Program Director Tyson Slocum slammed this move:

His focus on fossil fuel exports – including the explicit promotion of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and his failure to curtail coal exports – threatens to undo the positive elements of the plan. By promoting LNG, the administration is moving full-speed-ahead on fracking, with no mention of how to control fugitive emissions, water contamination and other environmental problems posed by the controversial process.

The president appeared to embrace the role of private industry in curbing environmental disaster, praising large multinationals including WalMart and General Motors for ‘voluntarily’ decreasing their carbon emissions.

While many environmental groups expressed skepticism that the president’s plan will bring about real change, they praised broad, global social movements for pushing the debate even this far.

“We’re happy to see the president finally addressing climate change but the plain truth is that what he’s proposing isn’t big enough, and doesn’t move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis,” said Snape.


Common Dreams, Center for Biologic Diversity: Obama Climate Plan Not Enough to Meet Magnitude of Global Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 25, 2013 12:26 PM

CONTACT: Center for Biological Diversity
Tel: (520) 623.5252

Proposal is a Modest Step But Pollution Cuts Insufficient to Prevent Dangers Predicted by Federal Scientists

WASHINGTON – June 25 – President Obama’s new climate plan takes modest steps toward reducing carbon pollution, but the strategy announced today will not cut emissions enough to prevent catastrophic warming and extreme weather dangers predicted by federal scientists. A key point in the president’s plan is a vague directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to establish carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants — standards already required by law. The plan fails to address the Keystone XML pipeline, fracking on public lands and other dirty extreme-energy projects that could fatally undermine the climate change fight.

The Center for Biological Diversity today reiterated its call to halt Keystone XL immediately and establish a national pollution cap for carbon dioxide.

“We’re happy to see the president finally addressing climate change but the plain truth is that what he’s proposing isn’t big enough, and doesn’t move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis,” said Bill Snape, the Center’s senior counsel.

Since Obama’s election in 2008, thousands of heat temperatures have been broken and headlines have been full of deadly floods and hurricanes, epic droughts and dire predictions from the president’s own scientists of more climate chaos to come if the crisis isn’t met with ambitious steps to reduce carbon pollution.

The pollution control measures announced by the president today are aimed at fulfilling his administration’s pledge to put the United States on the path to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. But such a reduction falls far short of what the U.S. pledged in the Kyoto Protocol and would not be enough to avert catastrophic temperature rises, according to climate scientists.

“The president, like all of us, needs to be able to look across the dinner table at his children and know he’s doing all he can to ensure they inherit a planet that’s healthy and livable,” Snape said. “This plan is a small step in the right direction but certainly begs for something bigger and bolder.”

By 2050, when today’s teenagers are in their 50s and 60s, climate change will be imposing harsh new problems on America unless deep pollution cuts are achieved, according to the draft National Climate Assessment, a federal scientific report released earlier this year:

Rising sea levels and increased risk of storm surges will threaten more than $1 trillion worth of buildings and infrastructure on the coasts.
An additional 4,300 people could be killed each year by health problems caused by increased ground-level ozone.
Yields of major U.S. crops will likely decline because of rising temperatures and increased drought and flooding.
The number of days with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit could double, posing major health risks to children and the elderly.

To achieve the necessary emission reductions, the Center is urging the Obama administration to declare carbon dioxide a “criteria pollutant” under the Clean Air Act and set a national pollution cap for CO2at no greater than 350 parts per million (ppm). Many independent scientists have concluded that atmospheric CO2levels above 350 ppm will cause catastrophic global warming.

This “carbon cap” would not require new legislation. The Center is also urging pollution caps for six other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide.

“Strong rhetoric and politically comfortable half-measures won’t achieve what scientists tell us must be done to address the climate problem,” said Snape. “The White House can’t punt on hard climate questions, from the carbon cap to Keystone XL, Arctic drilling and fracking on public lands. It’s time for strong action and strong leadership.”
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature – to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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Common Dreams: Non-Violent Keystone XL Activists = ‘Eco-Terrorists,’ According to TransCanada Documents

Published on Friday, June 14, 2013

Vague language also ensnares journalists, researchers and academics
by Steve Horn

Documents recently obtained by Bold Nebraska show that TransCanada – owner of the hotly-contested Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline – has colluded with an FBI/DHS Fusion Center in Nebraska, labeling non-violent activists as possible candidates for “terrorism” charges and other serious criminal charges.

Further, the language in some of the documents is so vague that it could also ensnare journalists, researchers and academics, as well.

TransCanada also built a roster of names and photos of specific individuals involved in organizing against the pipeline, including’s Rae Breaux, Rainforest Action Network’s Scott Parkin and Tar Sands Blockade’s Ron Seifert. Further, every activist ever arrested protesting the pipeline’s southern half is listed by name with their respective photo shown, along with the date of arrest.

It’s PSYOPs-gate and “fracktivists” as “an insurgency” all over again, but this time it’s another central battleground that’s in play: the northern half of KXL, a proposed border-crossing pipeline whose final fate lies in the hands of President Barack Obama.

The southern half of the pipeline was approved by the Obama Admin. via a March 2013 Executive Order. Together, the two pipeline halves would pump diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) south from the Alberta tar sands toward Port Arthur, TX, where it will be refined and shipped to the global export market.

Activists across North America have put up a formidable fight against both halves of the pipeline, ranging from the summer 2011 Tar Sands Action to the ongoing Tar Sands Blockade. Apparently, TransCanada has followed the action closely, given the level of detail in the documents.
Another Piece of the Puzzle
Unhappy with the protest efforts that would ultimately hurt their bottom-line profits, TransCanada has already filed a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) against Tar Sands Blockade, which was eventually settled out of court in Jan. 2013. That was just one small piece of the repressive puzzle, though it sent a reverberating message to eco-activists: they’re being watched.

In May 2013, Hot Springs School District in South Dakota held a mock bomb drill, with the mock “domestic terrorists” none other than anti-Keystone XL activists.

“The Hot Springs School District practiced a lockdown procedure after pretending to receive a letter from a group that wrote ‘things dear to everyone will be destroyed unless continuation of the Keystone pipeline and uranium mining is stopped immediately,” explained the Rapid City Journal. “As part of the drill, the district’s 800 students locked classroom doors, pulled down window shades and remained quiet.”

This latest revelation, then, is a continuation of the troubling trend profiled in investigative journalist Will Potter’s book “Green Is the New Red.” That is, eco-activists are increasingly being treated as domestic eco-terrorists both by corporations and by law enforcement.
TransCanada Docs: “Attacking Critical Infrastructure” = “Terrorism”

The documents demonstrate a clear fishing expedition by TransCanada. For example, TransCanada’s PowerPoint presentation from Dec. 2012 on corporate security allege that Bold Nebraska had “suspicious vehicles/photography” outside of its Omaha office.

That same presentation also says TransCanada has received “aggressive/abusive email and voicemail,” vaguely citing an incident in which someone said the words “blow up,” with no additional context offered. It also states the Tar Sands Blockade is “well-funded,” an ironic statement about a shoe-string operation coming from one of the richest and most powerful industries in human history.

Another portion of TransCanada’s PowerPoint presentation discusses the various criminal and anti-terrorism statutes that could be deployed to deter grassroots efforts to stop KXL. The charge options TransCanada presented included criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy, and most prominently and alarmingly: federal and state anti-terrorism statutes.
Journalism Could be Terrorism/Criminal According to FBI/DHS Fusion Center Presentation

An April 2013 presentation given by John McDermott – a Crime Analyst at the Nebraska Information Analysis Center (NIAC), the name of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded Nebraska-based Fusion Center – details all of the various “suspicious activities” that could allegedly prove a “domestic terrorism” plot in-the-make.

NAIC says its mission is to “[c]ollect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence data regarding criminal and terrorist activity to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, other Fusion Centers and to the public and private entities as appropriate.”

Among the “observed behaviors and incidents reasonably indicative of preoperations planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity” is “photography, observation, or surveillance of facilities, buildings, or critical infrastructure and key resources.” A slippery slope, to say the least, which could ensnare journalists and photo-journalists out in the field doing their First Amendment-protected work.

Another so-called “suspicious activity” that could easily ensnare journalists, researchers and academics: “Eliciting information beyond curiosity about a facility’s or building’s purpose, operations, or security.”

Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic – producers of the documentary film “Triple Divide” and co-editors of the investigative journalism website Public Herald – are an important case in point. While in the Tioga State Forest (public land) filming a Seneca Resources fracking site in Troy, Pennsylvania, they were detained by a Seneca contractor and later labeled possible “eco-terrorists.”

“In discussions between the Seneca Resources and Chief Caldwell, we were made out to be considered ‘eco-terrorists’ who attempted to trespass and potentially vandalize Seneca’s drill sites, even though the audio recording of this incident is clear that we identified ourselves as investigative journalists in conversation with the second truck driver,” they explained in a post about the encounter, which can also be heard in their film.

“We were exercising a constitutional right as members of the free press to document and record events of interest to the public on public property when stripped of that right by contractors of Seneca.”

Activists protesting against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) during its April 2013 meeting in Arizona were also labeled as possible “domestic terrorists” by the Arizona FBI/DHS Fusion Center, as detailed in a recent investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy.
“Not Just Empty Rhetoric”

It’d be easy to write off TransCanada and law enforcement’s antics as absurd. Will Potter, in an article about the documents, warned against such a mentality.

“This isn’t empty rhetoric,” he wrote. “In Texas, a terrorism investigation entrapped activists for using similar civil disobedience tactics. And as I reported recently for VICE, Oregon considered legislation to criminalize tree sits. TransCanada has been using similar tactics in [Canada] as well.”

And this latest incident is merely the icing on the cake of the recent explosive findings by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying on the communcations records of every U.S. citizen.

“Many terrorism investigations (and a great many convictions) are politically contrived to suit the ends of corporations, offering a stark reminder of how the expansion of executive power — whether in the context of dragnet NSA surveillance, or the FBI treating civil disobedience as terrorism — poses a threat to democracy,” Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee told DeSmogBlog.
© 2013

Our Power Campaign: Communities Unite Around A ‘Just Transition’ Away from Dirty Energy with Historic Training Camp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2013 5:37 PM
CONTACT: Our Power Campaign
Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan
(415) 359-7324
Angela Angel
(510) 759-3177

Groundbreaking Our Power Campaign Will Create Healthy Future for Communities Impacted by Climate Change

CENTRAL ARIZONA – June 11 – This week, Navajo community members of the Black Mesa Water Coalition will host a skills sharing and strategy camp for communities impacted by coal and other dirty energy. This camp marks the first of many convergences of indigenous peoples, communities of color, and working-class white communities building a powerful movement to take on climate change while fostering a new economy. The groups are uniting in a new national campaign launching this week called the Our Power Campaign: Communities United for a Just Transition.

Through the Our Power Campaign, communities are organizing to transition off of dirty energy to foster clean community power, zero waste, food sovereignty, public transit, housing for all, and restoration of ecosystems and watersheds.

“We can create quality jobs by retooling the infrastructure in our regions,” said Bill Gallegos, Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment and Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) Steering Committee member. “We need to divest from dirty energy and the ‘greed economy’ and invest in a transition to local living economies and community resilience. This camp is about learning the skills and forging the strategies we need to bring this transition home.”

“We can have power without pollution and energy without injustice,” said Jihan Gearon, Executive Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition and CJA Steering Committee member. “Navajo people and Navajo lands have been moving central Arizona’s water and providing much of central Arizona and Southern California’s energy for 50 years. Renewable energy provides a new way forward to bring economic and health benefits to the Navajo people while cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the source.”

The backdrop for the camp is one of the communities creating a ‘just transition’. Navajo Generating Station, which is run by the Salt River Project and Peabody Coal’s Kayenta Mine, has depleted the Navajo Aquifer, severely impacted the land base, and adversely affected community health. Generating electricity from coal also pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contributing to climate change which the Navajo Nation is already suffering the effects of.

The Black Mesa Water Coalition is proposing Navajo-owned utility scale solar projects and fostering local, sustainable land-based economies. According to their studies, there is enough old mine lands and good sun on the Navajo Nation to generate over 6,000 megawatts of solar power in the years to come. That would be thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars into the regional economy each year, billions of dollars during construction.

At the groundbreaking training camp, communities along coal’s chain of destruction from the Southwest, Appalachia, the Midwest, and beyond will come together to learn from and exchange with the Black Mesa community. Activities include:

June 14- sharing stories of struggles and victories in communities impacted by dirty energy
June 15- workshops on topics such as direct action and land-based resilience
June 16-17- sessions for communities to strategize together to win shifts away from dirty energy towards local living economies

The Our Power Campaign is launching in three communities impacted by dirty energy– Black Mesa, Arizona; Richmond, California; and Detroit Michigan –and will expand to communities across the country over the coming years. With nearly 40 organizations, CJA’s members are rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities throughout the United States. Together, they apply the power of deep grassroots organizing, direct action, coalition building, civic engagement, policy advocacy, and a variety of communications tools to win local, regional, statewide, and national shifts.

“This is a historic opportunity to unite working-class communities and communities of color across the nation who bear the brunt of the climate and economic crisis,” said Ife Kilimanjaro, Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council in Detroit and CJA Steering Committee member. “Together, we are building a movement that is demonstrating and winning a shift away from dirty energy through investment in the root cause solutions we all need.”

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is a collaborative of over 35 community-based and movement support organizations uniting frontline communities to forge a scalable, and socio-economically just transition away from unsustainable energy towards local living economies to address the root causes of climate change.

The Lens–Survey: Americans nationwide willing to shell out personally to save our coast

By Bob Marshall, Staff writer April 24, 2013 2:00pm

Question: Would enough American households be willing to make a one-time payment in their tax fillings to raise as much as to $201 billion for Louisiana’s coastal restoration effort?

A) Yes
B) No
C) You gotta be kiddin’!

The answer, according to a pair of Mississippi State University researchers who conducted a recent survey, is “A.”

Which will probably leave most coastal area residents thinking “C”.

That’s how one of the researchers reacted.

“I was surprised at the high numbers who said they would help, and then how much they would commit personally, ” said Dan Petrolia, an associate professor of agricultural economics at MSU who conducted the survey with colleague Matt Interis – an attempt to judge the financial commitment Americans would make to Louisiana’s coastal crisis.

“I think this shows there is enough awareness out there by enough people. And that’s very encouraging.” – David Muth

A Louisiana native who was raised in Independence, Petrolia said the idea for the survey came to him after seeing a growing number of “America’s Wetland” bumper stickers. They’re circulated by the America’s Wetland Foundation, the Louisiana civic group whose mission is alerting the nation to the state’s grave coastal emergency.

Does the nation embrace Louisiana as its wetland? “I wanted to find out if Americans really felt that way,” Petrolia said. “It seemed like a pretty straightforward thing to find out.”

One of the best ways to answer the question was to ask how much of their own money Americans would pay to help save the nation’s most productive coastal estuary and the storm buffer for a vital economic and cultural infrastructure.

The MSU researchers asked two different types of questions:
They first asked respondents if they would choose to help pay for the coastal effort, or do nothing.
The second question was multiple choice. Respondents could choose to contribute to two different habitat projects affecting wildlife, fisheries or storm protection. Or they could choose to do nothing.
In each case, those choosing to help did so knowing the decision came with a specified charge in their end-of-year tax filings.

The respondents included 3,400 people spread across every state; only 32 were Louisianans.
The results were good news for the coast:
Forty-three percent of those given the help-or-not question choose to help the state. The median amount they agreed to pay was $1,751.

That would translate to $201 billion, if the 43 percent sample held for the roughly 115 million American households counted in the most recent census.

Sixty percent of those given the multiple-choice question chose to help, with the mean contribution from that group coming to $909, the researchers found. If that result held true for the 115 million American households, it would raise $105 billion for the coastal effort.

The state’s current coastal Master Plan carries a price tag of $50 billion. But the planners reason they could do twice as much with twice the funding.

Petrolia stressed that he was not claiming the survey sample would necessarily hold true for all American households.

But since 93 percent of the respondents had never visited or lived in New Orleans, the level of support should be encouraging to Louisiana, the researcher said.

Garret Graves, head of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, declined to comment on the survey.

David Muth, state director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Coastal Louisiana Campaign, called the results a welcome surprise.

“I think it’s encouraging that Americans are willing to pay anything, frankly,” Muth said. “That’s because when you attach a dollar value to a question like that it sort of puts the (issue) on a whole new plain. I think this shows there is enough awareness out there by enough people. And that’s very encouraging.”

In other findings from the survey:
* Respondents ranked fisheries production as their first concern followed by storm surge protection and wildlife habitat.
* Respondents who had made lifestyle changes for environmental reasons were more likely to support restoration.
* Those who identified themselves as liberal tended to be more supportive than those who identified themselves as conservative.
* Past or present Louisiana residents tended to be more supportive.
The Northern Gulf Institute and the MSU Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station funded the study.

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Bob Marshall covers environmental issues for The Lens, with a special focus on coastal restoration and wetlands. While at The Times-Picayune, his work chronicling the people, stories and issues of Louisiana’s wetlands was recognized with two Pulitzer Prizes and other awards. In 2012 Marshall was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Loyola University School of Communications Den of Distinction. He can be reached at (504) 232-5013.

Special thanks to Richard Charter