SpectraBusters: We ain’t afraid a no pipeline: Inadequate insurance and safety plus eminent domain and environmental destruction by Sabal Trail –OSFR

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River sent this letter yesterday to the same newspapers Sabal Trail has been in recently. -jsq

Sabal Trail’s spokesperson distributing large quantities of disinformation

“Safety, public input, federal monitoring, jobs, tax revenue, exceed federal safety requirements, reliability, affordable, clean, thorough review, latest proven technologies:” these are all good little meta tags and nice sounding words and phrases used by Andrea Grover, public relations employee for Sabal Trail, in her recent editorial about that company’s proposed natural gas pipeline which was carried by newspapers in the southeastern United States.

But let us point out a few facts that this editorial fails to mention. There were plenty of public input meetings (we attended seven of these, and we read the minutes from others) and the input was overwhelmingly negative. Issues of concern include lack of adequate insurance, poor safety record, forceful takeover of private land, destruction of wildlife and the environment, and danger to springs and rivers. A mere three favorable citizens’ comments were heard.

The product to be transported through the proposed pipeline is the result of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. This extraction technique involves injecting sand and chemicals into underground wells. Three members of Congress, Henry Waxman, Edward Markey, and Diana De Gette contend that millions of gallons water containing hazardous chemicals, 29 of which are known or suspected human carcinogens, were injected into wells from 2005-2009.

These chemicals poison the well water and sloppy extraction techniques may result in the methane leaking from the pipes in the wellbore, which can contaminate the surrounding aquifer. According to recent studies, these leaks increase greenhouse gases (which contributes to global warming) sufficiently to counteract the “clean” qualities of natural gas, thus reducing its desirability over coal as an energy source.

Fracking is now unquestionably tied to earthquakes, as pointed out in recent articles in Science Magazine and the U. S. Geological Survey. From 2000 through 2008 in Oklahoma, there were six earthquakes of magnitude three or higher, but since fracking arrived, there were 850 in just a 15 month period in 2010-2011, and this year, from January to May, the count is 145.

Frequent quakes in Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio, have resulted in the latter two states putting bans on fracking because “They’d rather forego some of the potential economic effects of oil companies in their states to avoid a potential disaster invoking human lives.” (Washington Post article by Dominic Basulto, July 15, 2014)

From 1994 through 2013, the U.S. had 745 serious incidents with gas distribution, causing 278 fatalities and 1059 injuries, with $110,658,083 in property damage. From 1994 through 2013, there were an additional 110 serious incidents with gas transmission, resulting in 41 fatalities, 195 injuries, and $448,900,333 in property damage.

A recent Wall Street Journal review (Jan. 20, 2014) found that there were 1,400 pipeline spills and accidents in the U.S. from 2010-2013. According to the review, four in every five pipeline accidents are discovered by local residents, not the companies that own the pipelines.

Even though Grover stresses safety, her company has a safety record that is worse than terrible. At one point it received the largest fine ever for safety violations. A Valdosta State University study found that Sabal Trail/Spectra has experienced There have been at least 128 pipeline accidents nationwide since 2010. Spectra alone has been responsible for $8,000,000 in property damage (according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), that it has been fined $15,000,000 for spills at 89 pipeline sites, and that it was deemed to have a “poor maintenance and monitoring record.”

Grover brags about the virtues of natural gas, pointing out that it produces 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than fuel oil. She fails to mention that it produces 100 percent more than solar or wind power, and that this is fracked gas, and the havoc it wreaks on our aquifer.

“We do not maintain insurance coverage against all of these risks and losses, and any insurance coverage we might maintain may not fully cover the damages caused by those risks and losses.”
—Spectra Energy 2013 Form 10-K

What else does she fail to mention? Well, that in the scoping meetings it came out that Sabal Trail does not have adequate insurance and will not be responsible for fighting fires, clearing wreckage, hauling bodies to hospitals, etc. when their pipe blows up; instead, the local, under-equipped-for-huge-mega disasters emergency units like we have in Bell and Branford will have to do it.

And that the gas will most likely be exported to foreign countries, even though unwilling landowners will have their land taken away under the guise of eminent domain; that the “open access” pipeline has the blessing (and permits) of federal agencies to sell the gas to other companies for export after it reaches its terminal in south Florida.

Our Santa Fe River, Inc., not for profit 501c3, of which Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson is president, and Jim Tatum Ph.D. is a member, has been opposing the proposed Sabal Trail Transmission gas pipeline from Alabama through Georgia to Florida.

Special thanks to Anita Stewart

BOEM Extends Public Comment Period on Environmental Review for Geological and Geophysical Survey Activities Off the Atlantic Coast

Latest on comment extension about the Atlantic Seismic Final PEIS, which includes up to three deep stratigraphic test wells and up to five shallow test wells…..

Note to Stakeholders
March 31, 2014

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is extending the public comment period for the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for geological and geophysical (G&G) survey activities off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. The comment period will be extended for 30 days and will now end on May 7, 2014.

The comment period is being extended in response to requests from the public asking for additional time to provide input.

The PEIS assesses G&G activities conducted under BOEM’s oil and gas, renewable energy and marine minerals programs through 2020, including deep-penetration and high-resolution seismic surveys, electromagnetic surveys, magnetic surveys, gravity surveys, remote-sensing surveys and geological and geochemical sampling. The PEIS also evaluates reasonably foreseeable environmental effects in adjacent state waters.

The PEIS is available for public comment at: www.boem.gov/Atlantic-G-G-PEIS/.
The February 27th news release announcing the original completion of the EIS and request for public comments can be found here: http://www.boem.gov/press02272014/

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy resources.

About the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes economic development, energy independence, and environmental protection through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy resources.

For More Information:
Caren Madsen or Blossom Robinson BOEM Office of Public Affairs (202) 208-6474
Please visit us at www.BOEM.gov

Special thanks to Richard Charter

Otago Daily Times New Zealand: Protesters exhorted to ‘say no’


By David Bruce on Fri, 14 Feb 2014
The Regions: North Otago

Greenpeace hopes thousands will flock to protests in the South Island tomorrow to oppose deep-sea oil drilling off the Otago coast.

Individual communities, under the umbrella of Greenpeace’s ”Banners on the Beach” campaign to ”say no to the deep sea oil gamble”, have organised 17 protests at venues stretching from Golden Bay to Bluff.

Greenpeace public engagement co-ordinator Genevieve Toop told the Otago Daily Times from Auckland about 5000 people were at similar protests in November at 45 beaches in the North Island, opposing exploratory drilling off Raglan by Anadarko, also off the Otago coast.

In North Otago, two beaches will be used for protests, Friendly Bay in Oamaru Harbour and one of the region’s most popular tourist spots, the Moeraki boulders. St Clair is the Dunedin venue.

One of the organisers of the Moeraki protest, Bronwyn Judge, said drilling offshore in very deep and rough water posed a higher risk of an oil spill than on land or in shallow water.

Development of clean energy sources and a significant reduction in the dependence on fossil fuels was also needed to combat catastrophic global climate change, not seeking more fossil fuel, she said.

Those wanting to protest have been urged to gather at the two sites at noon, meeting at Friendly Bay and the Moeraki Boulders reserve car park.

They are asked to prepare and bring their own banners, face paint or sand building tools, cameras or videos to record the protest, a picnic lunch and swimming clothes if the day is good.

At Moeraki, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher would explain the Waitaki District Council’s thinking and other councillors had been invited for the discussions, then walking along to the boulders for photographs.

Another speaker will be University of Otago associate professor Bob Lloyd. director of the energy studies programme in the physics department, whose work has included renewable energy.

Other protests at noon tomorrow are planned for Timaru’s Caroline Bay, the Waitati Festival at Bland Park and Bluff’s Marine Parade.

– david.bruce@odt.co.nz

Special thanks to Richard Charter

Common Dreams: Groups to Obama: Your Fossil Fuel-Driven Policies Equal ‘Catastrophic Climate Future’

Published on Friday, January 17, 2014
‘America’s energy policies must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, not simply reduce our dependence on foreign oil.’
– Jon Queally, staff writer

While President Obama made a big deal out of delaying the northern half of the Keystone pipeline’s construction, he compensated by signing an executive order to expedite similar infrastructure projects everywhere else. (Photo/Matt Wansley via Flickr)Citing the glaring gaps between his sometimes encouraging rhetoric and the realities of his fossil fuel-laden policies, eighteen environmental, environmental justice, and public health advocacy organizations have written a pointed letter (pdf) to President Obama slamming his “all of the above” energy strategy as a “compromised” approach that “future generations can’t afford.”

The coalition behind the letter—which includes the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, NRDC, the Energy Action Coalition and others—is upset that Obama voices concern about climate change in lofty speeches and with compelling promises even as he oversees the most dramatic push in oil and gas extraction in a generation, continuing an aggressive fossil fuel expansion despite what the climate science is saying about the urgent need to dramatically cut carbon emissions.

“You can’t have it both ways,” said Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune in an interview with the Washington Post, which received advanced notice of the letter that was sent to the White House on Thursday.

“In the coming months your administration will be making key decisions regarding fossil fuel development — including the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking on public lands, and drilling in the Arctic ocean — that will either set us on a path to achieve the clean energy future we all envision or will significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

From the letter:

We believe that continued reliance on an “all of the above” energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution and would undermine our nation’s capacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption. With record-high atmospheric carbon concentrations and the rising threat of extreme heat, drought, wildfires and super storms, America’s energy policies must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, not simply reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

As the Post reports:

The criticism came on the same day that the fossil-fuel industry and its congressional allies began separate efforts to challenge the administration’s environmental policies. That suggests that the White House will have to marshal additional resources to defend the work it is already doing to address climate change.

The American Petroleum Institute announced a new advertising and electoral campaign that will promote domestic oil and gas production. At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked the Government Accountability Office to determine whether the Senate can use the Congressional Review Act to reverse a proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from new power plants.

Though President Obama has yet to make a final decision on approval of the contoversial Keystone XL pipeline, the green groups applauded his previous comments on the project when he said the climate impact of the tar sands pipeline would be a key aspect of the overall determination. The groups want to see that standard now applied to all fossil fuel related projects in the country.

“We believe that a climate impact lens should be applied to all decisions regarding new fossil fuel development,” the letter continues, urging Obama to replace his focus on coal, gas, oil, and nuclear development with a new paradigm that champions “carbon-reducing clean energy” strategies.

In the coming months your administration will be making key decisions regarding fossil fuel development — including the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking on public lands, and drilling in the Arctic ocean — that will either set us on a path to achieve the clean energy future we all envision or will significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. We urge you to make climate impacts and emission increases critical considerations in each of these decisions.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty: Russia: Families Say Detained Greenpeace Crew ‘Ordinary, Peaceful People’ & Interview: Greenpeace Head Says Biggest Crime Is Arctic Drilling


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Russia: Families Say Detained Greenpeace Crew ‘Ordinary, Peaceful People’

By Claire Bigg and Aleksandra Vagner
October 11, 2013

When her husband left for the Arctic last month to cover a Greenpeace protest against offshore oil drilling, Alina Zhiganova watched him go with a heavy heart.

She knew the reporting trip would keep him away from home for several weeks.

But neither of them suspected how dramatically the protest would end for all those involved, including for Zhiganova’s husband, distinguished Russian photojournalist Denis Sinyakov.

On September 19, Russian authorities detained all 30 people on board Greenpeace’s icebreaker, “Arctic Sunrise,” and charged them with piracy for attempting to stage a protest on an oil platform owned by Gazprom.

The defendants, many of whom are foreigners, have all been remanded in custody for two months pending trial.

They face up to 15 years in prison.

Zhiganova was able to pay a brief visit to her husband at his pretrial detention center in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.

What she saw deeply alarmed her.

“He’s holding his head high,” Zhiganova says, “but as someone who has known him for a long time, I can see that he’s not well at all. He has lost a lot of weight. He has huge black circles under his eyes. You can tell he’s having a hard time.”

‘The Death Of Freedom Of Speech’

A court in Murmansk denied bail to Sinyakov on October 8, saying he was a flight risk although he and Zhiganova have a 3-year-old son.

Speaking by videolink from his detention center, he told the court that he had only been covering the protest as a journalist and that his prosecution “spells the death of freedom of speech in Russia.”

At the same hearing, a Greenpeace spokesman and the doctor onboard the “Arctic Sunrise” were also denied bail.

Sinyakov had been documenting the protest for the Russian news website Lenta.ru and also took pictures for Greenpeace on a freelance basis.

Another freelance journalist, British national Kieron Bryan remains in detention after the court turned down his bail appeal on October 11.

The charges of piracy leveled against the environmental activists and the two reporters, widely denounced as disproportionate, have sparked a barrage of criticism worldwide.

Under Greenpeace’s plan, two activists who began to scale the Gazprom platform were to unfurl a banner reading “Don’t Kill the Arctic.”

Russian Coast Guard personnel eventually descended onto the ship from helicopters and threatened the crew with guns before towing the vessel to Murmansk.

The group says it had no plan to take control of the platform and that its ship was in international waters when it was seized.

Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace International, described all 30 detainees as prisoners of conscience and demanded a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

INTERVIEW: RFE/RL Speaks With Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo

In Russia, Sinyakov’s jailing has caused particular dismay.

Fellow journalists have rallied to his defense, staging pickets, launching petitions, and publishing black squares in place of photographs on their websites as a sign of solidarity.
More than 300 journalists sent a note to the court in Murmansk calling for his release.

They say his prosecution sets a dangerous precedent that could embolden authorities to punish reporters simply for covering protests critical of Kremlin policies.

Putin’s own human rights council condemned Sinyakov’s detention as “a crude violation of the law on mass media” and noted that journalists covering news events “cannot bear responsibility for the actions of those participating in this event.”

Zhiganova, however, says her husband is all but cut off from the outside world and was unaware of the campaign until his lawyer briefed him during a recent prison visit.

“Denis did not know about what was going on in Moscow — about the protests, about the fact that newspapers were publishing black squares instead of photos,” she says. “He didn’t know any of that. He is isolated from society. He’s in pretrial detention together with criminals and, apart from his lawyers, he has no contact with anyone.”

Agonizing Separation

For the families of foreign activists detained on the “Arctic Sunrise” the separation has been just as agonizing.
Anita Litvinov, the wife of Swedish national Dmitry Litvinov, says she is currently waiting for a Russian visa to visit him in detention.
Litvinov last spoke to her husband on September 19, when he called to congratulate their son on his 14th birthday. The couple lives in Stockholm and has two other children.

Since then, the family has received only sporadic news from him through the Swedish Embassy in Russia.

“Based on everything I hear, I’m very, very worried, and very anxious,” she told RFE/RL. “I’m very eager to have him back home.”

Anita Litivnov stresses that Greenpeace has a long history of nonviolent protests.

Last month’s stunt at the Gazprom oil platform, she says, was no exception:

“I know my husband and I know some of the other people who were on the ‘Arctic Sunrise,'” she said. “They are ordinary peaceful people. They wanted to draw attention to a problem that is connected to environmental pollution and global warming. Their intentions are, and have always been, peaceful.”
EXPLAINER: Five Things To Know About Russia’s Greenpeace Drama

Some observers believe that Russian authorities are seeking to deter Greenpeace from staging further protests in the Arctic — which Russia wants to turn into its top source of oil and gas over the next decade – and that the activists will soon be released.

Putin has defended their detention. But he has also said the activists were not pirates, fuelling hopes they would be spared jail sentences.
Sinyakov’s wife, at any rate, has no intention of giving up her battle to free him: “If I didn’t have hope, I would go mad.”



Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Interview: Greenpeace Head Says Biggest Crime Is Arctic Drilling

October 11, 2013

Russian authorities are keeping 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists in detention after the environmental group attempted to stage a protest against offshore oil drilling in the Arctic at a platform owned by Russia’s Gazprom. All 30 detainees have been charged with piracy.

RFE/RL’s Mark Krutov spoke to Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International.

RFE/RL: Greenpeace activists have been campaigning on environmental issues for decades now. What kind of legal issues have you run into over the years?

Naidoo: Probably the worst impact of any action taken against Greenpeace was the murder of one of our activists, Fernando Pereira, when French intelligence bombed the “Rainbow Warrior” 27 years ago in Auckland, New Zealand. We have had activists that have been in prison. In Copenhagen, for example, some of our activists were held for 21 days over Christmas and New Year’s.

We have activists who engage in peaceful protests around the world who often are arrested, but often the charge is trespassing and that usually carries a fine rather than prison time. The worst prison time, as far as I understand, that any of our colleagues have served is six months.

RFE/RL: Have piracy charges ever been leveled against Greenpeace activists?

Naidoo: We have never been charged with piracy. There have been cases where sometimes a government might start talking about piracy and then quite quickly realize that “these guys are peaceful, they are not armed, and they are not acting for personal gain, so therefore they don’t meet a lot of the basic definitions of piracy” and it’s struck.

RFE/RL: The Russian authorities accuse the activists of violating Russian and international law. You have expressed the desire to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. If Putin agrees to this meeting but makes it a precondition for the activists’ release that Greenpeace admits guilt, will you comply?

Naidoo: It depends [on] admitting the guilt for what, right? If it is to admit the guilt for piracy, definitely not.
Clearly, if we were to admit that we broke the law at the level of breaching the exclusion zone, for example, and to admit that — which is a violation — we would be happy to admit that. But to say that we tried to storm the rig, to say that we are pirates, and so on, and that we were risking property and people — all of which is not true — that we cannot honestly concede to, even if it means getting the people released.

The biggest crime being committed is the environmental crime of pursuing drilling in the Arctic for oil, when in fact the threats — of climate change on the one hand, but also to the environment of the Russian Arctic — [are] so potentially devastating that history will judge this is the biggest crime that went unpunished and unregulated.
RFE/RL: You have said that Greenpeace is not picking a fight with the Russian government and that your protest focused on Gazprom. Are you aware, though, of the close ties between Putin and Gazprom?

Naidoo: Yes, we are aware of that. But our focus is not on the presidency or the government per se. Our focus is on a company that, we believe, might be operating within the law, but is engaged in environmental destruction and will lead the planet to climate disaster.

Especially when just recently the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that we are running out of time, there has to be more urgency, and that known fossil fuel reserves — a significant chunk of it — [need] to stay underneath the ground where they are if we are to prevent runaway catastrophic climate change.

And runaway catastrophic climate change, just to be clear, means that life on this planet as we know it will be threatened and we will put at risk our [children’s] and grandchildren’s future. That’s what is at stake. And that is why the Artic is so important and that is why we have been taking these actions.

RFE/RL: Could you clarify the status of Russian national Denis Sinyakov, one of the two freelance journalists who were detained during Greenpeace’s protest last month. Can he be considered an activist, too?

Naidoo: The Greenpeace activists made a conscious decision — they knew that there are potential consequences whenever Greenpeace activists take action. But we don’t expect the journalists to get arrested. That’s why in my letter to President Putin I said that it’s not fair. As Denis said: “The crime I’m accused of is called journalism, and I will continue to do it.”

350.org: 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, 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.

Grist.org: How Shell is trying to send a chill through activist groups across the country


This is pretty chilling……..DV

By Ben Jealous and Philip Radford

One of our most important rights as Americans is the freedom to express ourselves. This takes the form of voting, it takes the form of activism, and it takes the form of our First Amendment right to free speech.

This summer, the 9th Circuit Court in California is weighing the question of whether companies have the right to take preemptive legal action against peaceful protesters for hypothetical future protests. This will be an extraordinary decision that could have a significant impact on every American’s First Amendment rights.

The case, Shell Offshore Inc. vs. Greenpeace, was filed by Shell Oil Company. Last summer, Shell assumed -based on conjecture – that Greenpeace USA would protest the company’s drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. Shell asked the 9th Circuit court for a preemptive injunction and restraining order against Greenpeace USA [Full disclosure: Philip Radford is the executive director of Greenpeace USA].

Despite Greenpeace’s appeal, the court granted the injunction for the entire duration of the drilling period, a decision which effectively gave a federal blessing to the company’s wish to do its controversial work in secret.

Greenpeace has asked the court for a full review, and this summer, the court will decide the ultimate fate of the case.

If the court rules in Shell’s favor, it would have a profound chilling effect on First Amendment rights across the country. Nothing would stop other corporations from taking similar preemptive legal action against anyone they deem to be likely protesters. That could be an environmental group, it could be a civil rights group, or it could be a Tea Party group – or anyone in between.

Even if the most frivolous of these suits were eventually overturned on appeal, it would still set a dangerous precedent. Anyone who wants to silence a protest outside a convention, a disaster site, or any political space would have legal precedent to do so for as long as their lawyers could keep the case in court.

This case isn’t just about the fate of the Arctic. It is about the state of our democracy.
Entrenched power, whether corporate or governmental, wants to keep things just the way they are. For generations, ordinary people of social conscience who see injustice in the status quo have exercised their First Amendment rights in order to make the changes necessary for progress.

It isn’t always easy.

In 1965, after years of dedication to the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond was one of the first African-Americans since Reconstruction elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Even though Bond won his election fairly and took a legally binding oath of office, his colleagues voted to deny him his right to speak in the Assembly.
Despite the clear racial motivations, Bond was undaunted. He filed afederal lawsuit claiming that the Georgia House had violated his First Amendment rights, and the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. Bond’s right to speak was ultimately upheld.

In his decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that the case was central to the function of the First Amendment. Warren wrote:
Just as erroneous statements must be protected to give freedom of expression the breathing space it needs to survive, so statements criticizing public policy and the implementation of it must be similarly protected.

As Bond and Chief Justice Warren recognized, the right to protest is a foundational American right. In fact, this tradition, forged by Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and countless others, is the only thing that puts the power of the people on any kind of scale relative to the power of multibillion dollar corporations or entrenched government power.

Our power as citizens lies in our ability and willingness to protest. Without the right to speak and protest, the civil rights, environmental, and other movements would never have accomplished the great things we have. Right now Shell is trying to set a precedent to restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights. If they succeed, it will have a devastating and chilling effect on our democracy.

Ben Jealous is the CEO of the NAACP.
Philip Radford is the executive director of Greenpeace USA.
Special thanks to Richard Charter

Pear Energy: Say “no” to fossil fuels. Sign up for clean energy now. It’s easy.

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Here’s the link to learn more:

Common Dreams: SmogBlog.com: 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 350.org’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 DeSmogBlog.com

Sun Herald: 5-year-old among many groups to weigh in on funding for Gulf Restoration


By PAUL HAMPTON – jphampton@sunherald.com

BILOXI — One of the most effective people at Tuesday night’s meeting on the RESTORE Act didn’t have a great speaking voice, a polished presentation or a bunch of political connections.

Annika Smith of Biloxi did have the exuberance of a 5-year-old and one very connected pal — Justin Ehrenwerth, who eight days ago became chairman of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

“Before I say anything else, I have to tell you about the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in my eight days and it happened just a few minutes ago,” said Ehrenwerth, the Commerce Department’s representative on the council. “There is a young girl and I don’t know if she’s still here, she may have had to leave Š there she in the back, she’s waving. I hope you can see Annika in the back.”

And just like that, most of the several hundred people Coast Convention Center met Annika, the little girl bouncing up and down and waving wildly.

“I’ve been talking about Annika a long time. She was here when we were here in February and she was handing out these buttons that say
‘Restoring our Ecosystem Restores Our Economy.”

Ehrenwerth said at that meeting he couldn’t wait to get his button, but before he got the chance Annika’s bedtime arrived and she had to leave. But she’d heard the request.
“She wrote me the nicest letter in my favorite color of crayon — thank you for that — and included a few stickers. I’ve been really looking forward to this and hoping you’d be here tonight. So thank you for being here.”

Later she said she was handing out the stickers (“They’re not buttons, they’re stickers”) for a friend, Mark LaSalle, the director of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. She said after she sent Ehrenwerth his sticker, he sent her a thank-you note.
“That was nice,” she said.

A parade of ideas

Then came a parade of people — someone from just about every activist organization on the Coast, it seemed — to give their thoughts on the council’s draft plan to spend money the government has received and will receive in the wake of the BP oil disaster. There was the Audubon Society, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Steps Coalition, Boat People SOS, Oxfam, the Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network, Women of the Storm, Ocean Conservancy, Asian Americans for Change, Nature Conservancy and others.

One theme that emerged was similar to Annika’s stickers — restoration and economic development go hand in hand.

Avery Bates of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama commended Mississippi for rebuilding the oyster reefs.

“It’s a major, major improvement to the environment, the ecosystem, because of the work that that little oyster does,” he said. “And he’s wonderful eating. And we like to feed the people in Alabama and Mississippi, where many of our people have to come to make a living. We literally have thousands and thousands of people who depend on us for their seafood. And we want to commend you for starting off right by building back not only the ecosystem but also the economy.”

Distrust remains

But another theme was equally evident. There was skepticism, in some cases outright distrust, that the people would ever know how the money was spent or that it would be spent on projects that have nothing to do with restoration.

“The state of Mississippi is going to be completely oriented toward figuring out ways to pour concrete, build buildings and help the contractor buddies who helped get them into office,’ said Steve Shepard, Gulf Coast Group chair of the Sierra Club. “That’s the way the state of Mississippi works.”

Mike Murphy of The Nature Conservancy said one way to help ensure the money was allocated fairly would be to develop a ranking system “that is transparent.”
Many of the Vietnamese were worried they were being left out because the draft plan wasn’t translated and the meeting was being held the day shrimp season started, when many were out on their shrimp boats.

Grace Scire of Boat People SOS said her organization had finished a translation just the night before. She, too, urged the council to send out its meeting notices in more than just English.

About the plan

The plan, which provides a broad outline of the process to apply for RESTORE Act money and describes the process for the approval of each state’s plan to spend BP money, could be finished as early as July, officials at the meeting said. It also sets broad goals for restoration of the Gulf.

The council was established by the act and comprises the governors of the five Gulf states and officials from six federal agencies: Agriculture, Army, Commerce, EPA, Homeland Security and Interior.

The council’s website says it will soon:
– Refine its objectives and criteria for evaluating projects

– Establish advisory committees

– Develop regulations for allocating oil-spill money

– Release a schedule for submitting proposals

– Publish a list of programs and projects that will be funded over the next three years

– Adopt a 10-year funding strategy for money expected to be provided by the companies responsible for the disaster

Special thanks to Richard Charter

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.

Mother Jones: Grassroots Greens Challenge Environmental Defense Fund on Fracking

→ Climate Change, Corporations, Energy, Environment, Regulatory Affairs

—By Kate Sheppard
| Wed May. 22, 2013 1:49 PM PDT


Michael G McKinne/Shutterstock.com

A coalition of grassroots environmental groups—plus a few professors and celebrities—issued a public message to the Environmental Defense Fund on Wednesday: You don’t speak for us on fracking.

The coalition of 67 groups released an open letter to EDF President Fred Krupp criticizing his organization for signing on as a “strategic partner” in the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that bills itself as an “unprecedented, collaborative effort of environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, energy companies and other stakeholders committed to safe, environmentally responsible shale resource development.” CSSD’s partners include Chevron, CONSOL Energy, and Shell. The partners have been working together on voluntary industry standards for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial process used to extract natural gas from shale rock.

The groups that signed the letter included national organizations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, as well as regional environmental outfits such as the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Catskills Citizens for Clean Energy. Actors Mark Ruffalo and Debra Winger also signed the document. They wrote:

The very use of the word sustainable in the name is misleading, because there is nothing sustainable about shale oil or shale gas. These are fossil fuels, and their extraction and consumption will inevitably degrade our environment and contribute to climate change. Hydraulic fracturing, the method used to extract them, will permanently remove huge quantities of water from the hydrological cycle, pollute the air, contaminate drinking water, and release high levels of methane into the atmosphere. It should be eminently clear to everyone that an economy based on fossil fuels is unsustainable.

Gail Pressberg, a senior program director with the Civil Society Institute, criticized EDF for a “willingness to be coopted” by industry in a call with reporters about the letter. “For too long, nationally-oriented groups have tried to call the shots on fracking,” she said. “These local people can and should be allowed to speak for themselves.”

EDF’s Krupp responded with his own letter on Wednesday, defending the group’s participation in CSSD and its record of “fighting for tough regulations and strong enforcement” on natural gas extraction:

Let’s be clear about where EDF stands. It’s not our job to support fracking or to be boosters for industry. That is not what we do. In fact, we regularly clash with industry lobbyists who seek to gut legislation protecting the public, and we have intervened in court on behalf of local communities and their right to exercise traditional zoning powers. We have made it clear that there are places where fracking should never be permitted. But if fracking is going to take place anywhere in the U.S.—and clearly it is—then we need to do everything in our power to protect the people living nearby. That includes improving industry performance in every way possible. In our view, CSSD, a coalition that includes environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, energy companies and other stakeholders, is one way to do that.

Make no mistake: CSSD is not and never will be a substitute for effective regulation. Stronger state and federal rules, along with strong enforcement, are absolutely necessary. However, voluntary efforts can build momentum toward regulatory frameworks.

I’ve covered the sparring between EDF and grassroots groups over gas before. At the heart of it is that many of the grassroots groups want there to be no fracking, period. EDF’s position is that fracking is “never going to be without impact, never going to be risk free,” as EDF Vice President Eric Pooley described it to me, “but we’re also mindful that it’s happening all over the country.” Voluntary standards, Pooley said, are not the ultimate goal—but they can help reduce impacts in communities that already have drilling, and lay the groundwork for actual regulations. “How could we not, in good consciousness, want to engage if we see an opportunity to reduce impacts in communities?” he said.

For what it’s worth, both enviros and industry folks have berated CSSD for being too accommodating of the other side.

San Francisco Chronicle: Keystone pipeline foes set for protests

I agree that we should all do what we can to express our opposition to this insanity. DV

http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/joegarofoli/article/Keystone-pipeline-foes-set-for-protests-4536853.phpKeystone protests

Michael Macor, The Chronicle
An El Sobrante man named Rick participates in civil disobedience training Saturday in Richmond.

By Joe Garofoli
May 22, 2013

Climate-change activists aren’t waiting to see what President Obama will decide on the most controversial environmental issue of his tenure – the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry petroleum extracted from the Canadian tar sands 1,700 miles across the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico.

To call attention to the project and what they consider the government’s slow political response to climate change, tens of thousands of activists plan to get arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience across the nation in the coming weeks.

In small groups such as one that gathered in a Richmond storefront office last weekend, they’ve begun training for demonstrations aimed at key players in the Keystone decision.

They will begin at a Facebook shareholders meeting next month in Millbrae. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg started a political action committee that is supporting senators who favor the pipeline.
A larger protest will follow Aug. 3 in Richmond near the Chevron refinery.

“Things are getting worse,” said LaVerne Woodrow, a 51-year-old registered nurse who drove from Arroyo Seco (Monterey County) with her 26-year-old son to participate in the Richmond training Saturday.

Woodrow participated in various social justice marches when she was younger, but she has never been arrested at one before.

“I am a law-abiding citizen. Worst I ever had was a parking ticket,” Woodrow said. “But I live out in the country. I see the damage that’s being done to our environment.”

Promising action

More than 59,000 people have signed an online pledge to express their disgust and engage in what San Francisco-based pledge organizers Credo Action calls “serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested.”

As the State Department analyzes the Keystone project before a final decision, expected this year, activists are corralling their energy into campaigns with names like “Summer Heat,” featuring street demonstrations the last two weeks of July, typically among the hottest days of the year.

Another group of environmental activists is plotting a campaign called “Fearless Summer” to protest various types of natural-resource extraction – from fracking to mountaintop removal to extract minerals.

Supporters of the Keystone pipeline say the project would bring much-needed jobs to the United States, where 11.7 million people are unemployed, according to the Labor Department. But while construction of the pipeline is estimated to create 42,100 temporary jobs, a State Department study projected it would add only 35 permanent jobs, mostly for pipeline inspection and maintenance.

Team in training

The four-hour Richmond tutorial was among the first of more than 1,000 training sessions that eventually will take place nationally, organizers say.

On Saturday, activists gathered in the Richmond storefront amid posters of past direct actions: “Against the Patriot Act,” “Wells Fargo: Reset Mortgages Now!” and “We are the port authority!” – from an Occupy demonstration at the Port of Oakland.

Many of the 15 people who attended the training had participated in civil disobedience before. Uniformly liberal, they needed few primers on climate change or why the pipeline was a bad idea, from their perspective.

“Why are we doing direct action?” instructor David Solnit, a longtime Bay Area activist who has protested internationally, asked the group sitting around a long, rectangular table.

“To piss off the powers that be,” volunteered one.
“To unite power behind us,” said another.

Handy tips

Solnit nodded, with a soft smile. Direct action protest not only “builds our power,” he said, but takes it from the 1 percent – the wealthiest of Americans.

Much of the afternoon was spent discussing and role-playing the mechanics of gumming up the gears of capitalism. Sprinkled throughout were practical tips on how to behave in the heat of nonviolent battle.

Start with the best way to sit together to block a building entrance.
Next to each other in a straight line? Bad idea. Security can pry away the weaker members, instructors said, as they demonstrated on such a chorus line.

Sitting in a circle? Better.

“But my back is kind of hurting sitting like this,” said one circle-sitter.

Handy tip: Sit back-to-back in concentric circles. Not only does it provide back support but it allows the activists to have a 360-degree view of the action. Plus, by putting the weaker members in the inner circle, it protects them from getting pried off.

When it comes to getting arrested, Solnit said, “the key thing to remember is, you always have choices.”

If you don’t want to be arrested, he said, leave when the cops tell you to disperse. “But when would be some times where you would want to be arrested?” he asked.
“To prolong the action,” said one man.

“To make a more dramatic statement,” said another.

Handy tip: Don’t wear contact lenses if you’re planning to get arrested. Pepper spray burns even more. Wear your prescription glasses instead.

Calming down

Much of the afternoon’s conversation involved “de-escalation” – how to bring down the temperature of tense confrontations. There is an art in talking nose-to-nose with the employee of a company you’re blockading. Start with saying, “This is a peaceful protest.”

Handy tip: If they’re yelling at you, match the level of their voice initially, then start talking softer. “And then they’ll start talking softer,” Solnit said.

When the training session ended, Tania Pulido was ready to hit the barricades. The Richmond resident is 23, a soon-to-be-senior at UC Berkeley and a direct-action rookie. Still, she’s a little worried about what might happen if she were to be arrested.

“It’s a risk,” she said. “I’m a student with a lot of loans. You never know what the government could do with those loans if you get arrested.”

Joe Garofoli is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jgarofoli@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @joegarofoli

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/joegarofoli/article/Keystone-pipeline-foes-set-for-protests-4536853.php#ixzz2U5asuj9T



San Francisco Chronicle

Inside a civil disobedience training session (VIDEO)

In today’s Chronicle, we have a story about climate change activists training to engage in civil disobedience over the Keystone XL pipeline. They’re ready to roll on different protest campaigns with innocuous names like “Summer Heat” and “Fearless Summer,” but the message is clear:

Oh, it’s on.

Enviros are frustrated with the lack of political progress on halting climate change, and their anger is focused on the looming Keystone decision. A growing number of people – and not just the professional activist community – want to do something more than contact their member of Congress (who obviously aren’t listening) or post a quick rant on Facebook. That just ain’t enough, many tell me.

So let’s go to the barricades.

Naturally, this being the Bay Area, the trainings are ramping up here first. We checked out a training the other day in Richmond. Lot of role-playing. Lots. Down to some role-playing security officers wielding rolled-up foam “batons.”

Here’s the crew role-playing how they would blockade the entrance to a building. Let’s go to the video, courtesy of SFGate.com/San Francisco Chronicle’s Shaky Hand Productions:

In the next video is David Solnit – a longtime Bay Area activist who has demonstrated around the world – explaining the do’s and don’t’s of getting arrested.

Here’s a handy tip: Don’t ever touch a police officer, police dog or police horse in any way, instructors warned. One activist at the training hushed the crowd with a story about a fellow protester who pet a police horse during a demonstration. The protester, who was a horse lover, was charged with assaulting an officer.

Again, courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate.com’s Shaky Hand Productions, is a peek at the training:

Special thanks to Richard Charter.

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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More from this author
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