August 28, 2018
This edition’s theme is taken from an old aphorism, amounting to a theory of change: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you and you win.” Grass roots activists are being fought as never before: politicians and corporations are attempting to criminalize protest and non-violent action. This week we focus on how that is going for the powers that be.
But first the news.

Dear reader, our fundraising ended with a rousing success! The Banner is financially secure for well into autumn, 2019. Thank you all for the outpouring of donations large and small, and for the words of encouragement for our work here at The Banner.

Elmira Rise for Climate on September 8

Rise for Climate Elmira and Corning!  Saturday, September 8  in Elmira and Corning

Rise for Climate is about making the transition to 100% renewable energy and ending fossil fuel infrastructure build-out at the local and state levels. It is also about green jobs, environmental justice, and people working with local leaders/elected officials to ensure a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.

All events are family friendly. It takes many hands to lighten the load. Please e-mail Heather and Doug to volunteer. Thank you very much for getting involved!

Click on this link to RSVP: Elmira Rise for Climate
For more info and to volunteer help with event:
contact Heather Stanton hstanton6@gmail.com or Doug Couchon dcouchon@gmail.com

Join us for a sign and banner making party :
Monday, August 27th at 7:00PM,

Elmira Town Community Center
1409 Grandview Avenue
Elmira, NY 14905

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Oscar-Nominated Director Josh Fox
Speaks Against Fracking

Oscar-Nominated Director Josh Fox Speaks Against Fracking

Nearly 1,000 Cornellians, Ithacans and activists converged on Bailey Hall Friday night for The Truth Has Changed, a monologue performance by Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated director of Gasland and prominent anti-fracking activist Josh Fox.

The roughly two and a half hour performance was filmed as part of Fox’s upcoming feature film by the same title originally commissioned by HBO, to be released next year. It was also one of many stops on a nationwide tour of politically focused events.

Fox’s performance was a potpourri of political activism, climate advocacy and entertainment organized by Cornell Environmental Collaborative and Climate Justice Cornell and sponsored by 39 groups from Cornell and the local community.

…According to Fox, one of the primary drivers behind the visit to Cornell was to support local efforts by No Fracked Gas Cayuga, a recently formed group that opposes the burning of fracked gas from Pennsylvania in the Cayuga Power Plant.

…Anti-fracking in upstate New York initially provided the grass-roots support for a now mainstream environmental cause. Parts of Gasland were even filmed in Ithaca, and Fox, recognized as a central figure in the anti-fracking world, proved a magnet for like-minded activists with his performance Friday night.…—Matthew McGowen, “Oscar-Nominated Director Josh Fox Speaks Against Fracking,” The Cornell Daily Sun, 8/26/18

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Study: Upstate NY among first to have most heat waves due to climate change

Study: Upstate NY among first to have most heat waves due to climate change

Syracuse, N.Y. — The Great Lakes region, including Upstate New York, will be among the first in the U.S. to have more heat waves due to climate change than to natural variability, a new study says.

Climate change will be the biggest driver of heat waves in the western U.S. by the late 2020s and in the Great Lakes region by the mid-2030s, the study found.

“These are the years that climate change outweighs natural variability as the cause of heat waves in these regions,” said Hosmay Lopez, the lead author of the study and a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Without human influence, half of the extreme heat waves projected to occur in the future wouldn’t happen.” 

The Great Plains won’t have most of its heat waves caused by climate change until the 2050s and 2070s, largely because that region will see a bigger influx of Gulf of Mexico moisture that will help moderate extreme heat, NOAA said.

The study looked at heat waves, NOAA said, because heat kills more Americans than any other kind of extreme weather. The Great Lakes, Western U.S. and southern and northern Great Plains were studied because those are “the four major heat wave ‘clusters’–large geographic areas that tended to experience extreme heat at the same time during the past century.”…—Glenn Coin, “Study: Upstate NY among first to have most heat waves due to climate change,” NewYorkUpstate, 4/3/18

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Atlantic Coast Pipeline foes
file their broadest legal challenge yet

Atlantic Coast Pipeline foes file their broadest legal challenge yet

Citizen groups filed another lawsuit against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Thursday, this time taking direct aim at the federal certificate that undergirds all other permits for the complex interstate gas project.

Pipeline foes have long contended the project isn’t needed to meet demand in Virginia and North Carolina, and that it will cause unmitigated harm to the region’s forests, endangered animals, and waterways.

They’ve filed numerous suits focused on the pipeline’s environmental impacts, winning temporary victories last week that have stalled construction. Thursday’s court challenge with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the first to focus on whether the gas project is necessary, and success in this case would more likely be permanent.

“This is really the central permit for the entire project,” said Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which with Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the suit on behalf of 13 conservation groups. “This the permit where the need for ratepayers to finance the project is squarely at issue.”

Defining success against pipelines

The 600-mile pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina is a massive undertaking by any measure. It will bore under or through the Blue Ridge Parkway, two national forests, and hundreds of rivers and streams, including habitat for rare and endangered animals. Its 100-foot wide construction berth will require felling large swaths of forests, crossing the land of thousands of individual property owners. In many cases, the census tracts in the pipeline’s path contain more American Indians and people of color than the surrounding county as a whole.…—Elizabeth Ouzts, “Atlantic Coast Pipeline foes file their broadest legal challenge yet,” Energy News Network, 8/17/18

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Head of Jefferson National Forest reassigned
as pipeline controversy continues

Head of Jefferson National Forest temporarily reassigned as pipeline controversy continues

A switch is coming to the Jefferson National Forest’s top leadership, a job complicated by conflict over plans to run a natural gas pipeline up and down mountainsides and under the Appalachian Trail.

Forest supervisor Joby Timm has been temporarily assigned to the U.S. Forest Service’s regional office in Atlanta, according to an agency spokeswoman.

…Although officials say Timm is expected to return to the supervisor’s position, the transition comes at a challenging time for his office.

Last month, an appeals court scolded the Forest Service for not addressing environmental concerns when it allowed the Mountain Valley Pipeline to pass through public woodlands.

Further reading: Despite stop work order, ACP, MVP get permission to continue building

Forest service officials are now reconsidering a permit struck down by 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 27, which in turn led federal regulators to order a stop to pipeline construction.

Timm and his agency have also been accused in lawsuits of taking a heavy-handed approach with protesters who sat in trees and participated in other non-violent demonstrations.

And in May, the Forest Service issued a public apology after its law enforcement officers repeatedly drove all-terrain vehicles on the Appalachian Trial as they monitored the tree-sitters, damaging a scenic footpath that is closed to motorized traffic.…—Laurence Hammack, “Head of Jefferson National Forest temporarily reassigned as pipeline controversy continues,” The Roanoke Times, 8/15/18

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Then They Fight You and You Win
How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters

How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters

In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines.

The activists were ready for a fight. An oil pipeline was slated to cross tribal lands in eastern Oklahoma, and Native American leaders would resist. The Sierra Club and Black Lives Matter pledged support.

The groups announced their plans at a press conference in January 2017 at the State Capitol. Ashley McCray, a member of a local Shawnee tribe, stood in front of a blue “Water is Life” banner, her hair tied back with an ornate clip, and told reporters that organizers were forming a coalition to protect native lands.

They would establish a rural encampment, like the one that had drawn thousands of people to Standing Rock in North Dakota the previous year to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Further reading Pipeline Protest Arrests Raise Questions About Controversial Louisiana Law

Louisiana would rather criminalize protest than offend Big Oil | Opinion

The following week, an Oklahoma state lawmaker introduced a bill to stiffen penalties for interfering with pipelines and other “critical infrastructure.” It would impose punishments of up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines—and up to $1 million in penalties for any organization “found to be a conspirator” in violating the new law. Republican Rep. Scott Biggs, the bill’s sponsor, said he was responding to those same Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

The activists established the camp in March, and within weeks the federal Department of Homeland Security and state law enforcement wrote a field analysis identifying “environmental rights extremists” as the top domestic terrorist threat to the Diamond Pipeline, planned to run from Oklahoma to Tennessee. The analysis said protesters could spark “criminal trespassing events resulting in violence.” It told authorities to watch for people dressed in black.…—Nicholas Kusnetz, “How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters,” InsideClimate News, 8/22/18

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Standing Rock Veterans Lead Fight to Shut Down
Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline

Standing Rock Veterans Lead Fight to Shut Down Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline

A group of Standing Rock veterans and their allies have set up camp in Northern Michigan to stop another pipeline: Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that passes under the Straits of Mackinac between Lakes Huron and Michigan as it carries oil from Western Canada to Ontario, Michigan Radio reported Sunday.

The protesters, about 15 in total, are concerned about the possible damage an oil spill from the pipeline could do to the Great Lakes and have vowed not to leave their camps until the pipeline is removed.

“As long as it takes ’til it’s shut,” Nancy Shomin, who helped start the camp, told UpNorthLive Monday.

The protest camps follow growing concern about the aging pipeline after it was dented by an anchor in April. In July, an independent report found a spill from the pipeline could damage 400 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario and cost Michigan around $2 billion, Michigan Radio reported.

At a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing Monday, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) criticized Enbridge for dragging its feet to shut down operations during a storm shortly after the anchor strike.

“Can you see why that is something that people look at and say, Enbridge is not really focused on going the extra measure of safety, when they had a damaged pipe and severe weather and they pushed back on shutting down to make sure nothing happened?” he said to applause, addressing Enbridge senior vice president of operations for liquid pipelines David Bryson, according to Michigan Radio.…—Olivia Rosane, “Standing Rock Veterans Lead Fight to Shut Down Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline,” EcoWatch, 8/23/18

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All the Battles Being Waged Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Are Following a Single Strategy

All the Battles Being Waged Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Are Following a Single Strategy

The activists holding a growing number of protests against oil pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects from coast to coast are winning some courtroom victories.

For example, a federal appeals court recently struck down two key decisions allowing a natural gas pipeline to cut through Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, just days before a three-judge panel nixed two permits for another pipeline intended to transport natural gas in Virginia because it would compromise efforts to protect endangered wildlife. At the same time, Oregon’s Supreme Court declined to revisit a lower court ruling that let Portland’s prohibition of big fossil fuel export projects stand.

Just like when activists refuse to leave their treetop perches to stop oil companies from axing an old-growth forest or when they lock their bodies to bulldozers to prevent the machine from making way for a new coal mine, these legal challenges are part of a coordinated strategy I have studied for years while researching the movement to slow down and address climate change.

Their overarching aim is to prevent as much new fossil fuel infrastructure as possible from being built and shutting down as many operations as possible. It’s all part of a “keep it in the ground” strategy with “it” referencing fossil fuels.

Keep it in the Ground

This wide-ranging attempt to block oil, gas and coal infrastructure emerged after the American political system tried and failed to deal with climate change.

Although the government has enacted some climate-related legislation, including measures that help fund renewable energy and energy efficiency, Congress has never produced a comprehensive law to deal with climate change. The highest-profile failure came in 2009 and 2010, when the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act but the Senate failed to take it up.

Climate change activist leaders, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other organizations, poured money and time into passing this bill — with nothing to show for it in the end.

Many of this movement’s rank-and-file members reached two main conclusions regarding this failure. Real climate action, they decided, would require a broad-based, grassroots social movement. And the oil, gas and coal industries’ influence over the nation’s political system, through financial donations to politicians and other activities, was to blame for the lack of climate action in the U.S.

As one movement strategist at a prominent climate advocacy organization told me, a large number of climate activists at that point became determined to bring about what they called the managed decline of the fossil fuel industries.…—Luis Hestres, “All the Battles Being Waged Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Are Following a Single Strategy,” DeSmogBlog, 8/14/18

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Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future

Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future

Climate scientists rarely speak publicly about their personal views. But in the wake of some extreme weather events in Australia, the specialists who make predictions about our climate reveal they’re experiencing sometimes deep anxieties.—Australian Broadcasting Company “Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future,” YouTube

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Youth climate case in Washington State
dismissed by judge

Youth climate case in Washington State dismissed by judge

Judge abdicates responsibility
deeming existential consequences of law not under judicial purview

While a youth-led climate lawsuit continues making its way through federal court, a state-level suit filed by 13 young people against the state of Washington was dismissed by a judge on Tuesday.

The case, Aji P. v. State of Washington, is one of several suits filed in state courts by young people claiming the states are violating their constitutional rights by perpetuating an energy and transportation system dependent on fossil fuels.

But King County Superior Judge Michael Scott sent this one to an early defeat, ruling that these issues should not to be resolved by a court, but are political questions best addressed by the legislative and executive branches.

Andrew Welle, co-counsel for the young plaintiffs, said they would appeal.

“The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that similar claims against the federal government must advance to the trial stage, affirming that the judiciary has a duty to resolve constitutional claims of this nature,” Welle said. “Given the urgency of climate change and the important constitutional issues involved, the political branches of government cannot be immune from liability for the constitutional climate crisis of their own making.”…—Karen Savage, “Youth climate case in Washington State dismissed by judge,” Climate Liability News, 8/15/18

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Strange Lakes Are Speeding Up Arctic Permafrost Melt, And That’s Really Bad News

Strange Lakes Are Speeding Up Arctic Permafrost Melt, And That’s Really Bad News

The Arctic permafrost really should stay frozen. In many places it’s been frozen for tens of thousands of years, locking away greenhouse gasses and ancient diseases.

Unfortunately, our planet’s changing climate is denting permafrosts around the world. And now NASA-funded research has confirmed that the expected gradual thawing of the Arctic permafrost is being dramatically sped up by a natural phenomenon known as thermokarst lakes.

These lakes form when a lot of ice in the deep soil melts. Water takes up less space than ice, so this leaves room for water to collect from other sources as well, including rain and snow.

“When the [thermokarst] lakes form, they flash-thaw these permafrost areas,” explained ecologist Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

“Instead of centimetres of thaw, which is common for terrestrial environments, we’ve seen 15 metres of thaw beneath newly formed lakes in Goldstream Valley within the past 60 years.”

Further reading: 21st-century modeled permafrost carbon emissions accelerated by abrupt thaw beneath lakes | Nature Communications

Permafrost covers about 24 percent of the exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere. There’s a lot of it. In some areas of the Arctic, the frozen ground is up to 80 metres (260 feet deep).

But despite its name, permafrost is not always permanent. With unusually warm weather, especially further away from the Arctic, it can melt, even on a semi-regular basis; however, deep in the Arctic a lot of it has stayed unmelted for tens of thousands of years – until now.

And that’s where the problems start. The Arctic landscape also holds one of the largest natural reservoirs of organic carbon in the world. It’s all locked up in the ice, not causing any trouble at the moment.

But when it slowly melts, the soil microbes eat the carbon and produce carbon dioxide and methane, which enters the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.…— Jacinta Bowler, “Strange Lakes Are Speeding Up Arctic Permafrost Melt, And That’s Really Bad News,” Science Alert, 8/20/18

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Activists Have A New Strategy To Block Gas Pipelines: State’s Rights

Activists Have A New Strategy To Block Gas Pipelines: State’s Rights

Environmental activists are using a new strategy to block construction of oil and gas pipelines. It already has worked in New York where construction on the Constitution Pipeline has stalled. Now activists are trying the strategy in Oregon.

The proposed Jordan Cove project includes a pipeline that would transport natural gas across the Cascades mountain range to the Oregon coast. There it would be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export.

At a recent protest rally supporters of the No LNG Exports campaign submitted more than 25,000 comments to encourage Gov. Kate Brown and her Department of Environmental Quality to reject the project.

“The state of Oregon has the ability to deny the Clean Water Act permit and stop this project once and for all if this project would have negative impacts on Oregon’s water ways, which we know it will,” says Hannah Sohl, director of the group Rogue Climate.

Activists like Sohl want to keep fossil fuels in the ground where they won’t contribute to climate change. Blocking construction of infrastructure, such as pipelines, is one way of doing that. If gas can’t get to market no one will drill for it.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the primary agency responsible for approving interstate gas pipelines.

“You can count on, I think, two fingers the number of gas pipeline projects that FERC has ultimately rejected,” says Daniel Estrin, general counsel and advocacy director for the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Activists’ frustration with the FERC has increased under the fossil fuel friendly Trump administration. That’s why Estrin looked for a new way to stop a pipeline in New York, and he found it in Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. It gives states the right to review new projects to make sure they don’t harm local water. [This strategy was developed by Anne Marie Garti in the spring of 2012, before Dan Estrin became aware of the proposed Constitution Pipeline.ˆ—Editor]

“So it essentially gives states veto power over federal decisions,” says Estrin.…—Jeff Brady, “Activists Have A New Strategy To Block Gas Pipelines: State’s Rights,” NPR, 8/20/18

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Hurricane Lane Brings Hawaii a Warning
About Future Storm Risk

Hurricane Lane Brings Hawaii a Warning About Future Storm Risk

Twenty years of tropical storms: Hawaii, visible on the left at the upper edge of the storm tracks, has largely been spared destructive hurricane landfalls, but warming global temperatures could shift storm behavior in the Pacific. Credit: NASA

As Hurricane Lane’s outer rain bands deluged the Hawaiian Islands this week, scientists looked to the ocean temperature for evidence of connections to climate change and clues to what may be ahead for this region where hurricane landfalls have been rare.

Climate scientists have been warning that warmer oceans and atmosphere will supercharge tropical weather systems. Globally, they generally expect fewer tropical storms overall but an increase in the most intense storms. But they also say it’s important to understand that there will be regional nuances.

In some areas—including the waters near Hawaii—hurricanes will probably become more common by the end of the century, said Hiroyuki Murakami, a climate researcher with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University who focuses on extreme weather.…—Bob Berwyn, “Hurricane Lane Brings Hawaii a Warning About Future Storm Risk,” InsideClimate News, 8/25/18

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Want Cleaner Rice Paddies? Find a Flock of Ducks

Want Cleaner Rice Paddies? Find a Flock of Ducks

At 6 o’clock in a recent summer morning, Tang Zhengqing is already on his way out, with seven ducks waddling in front of him. They walk in pouring rain, cross bridges and streams, and slip on muddy roads for nearly 20 minutes. The destination? Rice paddies several kilometers away.

Rain or shine, Tang has followed this routine for three years. “In the past, I didn’t care where my ducks would be; But now I want to make sure they all go to my rice paddies,” the 60-year-old says, while leading the ducks to the right track with a bamboo stick.

Tang’s ducks carry a special mission—They guard crops from insect attacks and are responsible for weeding. With ducks tearing up weeds, preying on pests and leaving their manure behind as organic plant food, rice growers like Tang can eliminate the need for artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

This technique—known as integrated rice-duck farming—is not entirely new. Growing ducks and rice together in irrigated paddy fields was documented in China some 600 years ago, and Chinese farmers practiced it for centuries until they were lured away by quick fixes like synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and chemical pesticides. But as the use of industrial technologies has posed a growing threat to the environment in recent years, some farmers have turned to ancient wisdom to feed the world’s hungry.…—Coco Liu, “Want Cleaner Rice Paddies? Find a Flock of Ducks,” National Geographic, 10/3/16

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And That’s A Wrap! Thanks to everyone who sent in news, action announcements and comments this week. Send kudos, rotten tomatoes and your story ideas, your group’s action events, and news of interest to intrepid climate change and environmental justice warriors! Send to editor@thebanner.news.