October 15, 2019
Extinction Rebellion has hit its stride, with a full week of brave, artful and sometimes battered demonstrations of the power of courage, once hope is let go and utter commitment, “win, lose or draw,” takes its place. Our pages will be filled with scenes of joy, art, dedication, and the power of non-violent responses to government violence. When all is said and done, courage is the resolve to do what is right without any assurance that things will turn out well.
But first the news.

Natonal Grid’s Pipeline Extortion Tactics
Thwarted by Cuomo Administration

Natonal Grid’s Pipeline Extortion Tactics Thwarted by Cuomo Administration

The utility has been denying service in order to pressure New York to approve a fracked gas pipeline

On October 11, 2019, the Cuomo administration announced that the utility giant National Grid must restore gas service to customers they were refusing to service in response to the state’s rejection of the Williams fracked gas pipeline in the New York Harbor.

The governor added that the company could face millions of dollars in penalties, and that the Public Service Commission is expanding its investigation of the company.

National Grid’s reckless and cynical attempt to hold New Yorkers hostage in order to win approval of a dangerous, unnecessary pipeline is unraveling before our eyes. The Cuomo administration was right to reject the Williams pipeline, since it is a threat to clean water and a safe, livable climate. National Grid’s outrageous response—making bogus claims about a shortage of gas—has upended thousands of families and businesses they are supposed to serve. The administration’s recommendations, including energy efficiency and demand-response programs, underscore the fact that the Williams pipeline is absolutely unnecessary.—Laura Shindell, “National Grid’s Pipeline Extortion Tactics Thwarted by Cuomo Administration,” Food & Water Watch, 10/11/19

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Rochester XR Born

On October 8, 2019, XR Rochester unfurled a banner over a pedestrian bridge across the 490 expressway in Rochester, NY. XR Rochester demands action on the Climate Crisis via nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. Join today! Sign up at ExtinctionRebellion Rochester.—Extinction Rebellion, “XR Rochester Drops Banner Over 490 Expressway in Rochester, NY,” XR Rochester|Vimeo, 10/10/19

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Bethany residents plagued by fracking noises

Bethany residents plagued by fracking noises

BROOKE COUNTY, W.Va.— Continued economic growth and development sometimes comes at a cost to the community.

This is the case with Southwestern Energy company, where drilling from fracking has caused excessive noise during all hours of the night in Bethany, West Virginia.

Last month’s meeting, which Southwestern Energy did attend, resulted in the construction of a sound barrier wall. According to residents, that did not work to abate the sound.

Residents are also concerned about increased traffic of large trucks that do not always require signal vehicles. The residents would like legislatures to step in regarding this.…—Alexa Trischler, “Bethany residents still plagued with fracking noise,” WRTF, 1/2/19

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Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction Mess
Poses Major Risk to Atchafalaya Basin

Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction Mess Poses Major Risk to Atchafalaya Basin

It is a crime against nature,” Jody Meche, president of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, said while scanning the Bayou Bridge pipeline right-of-way on the west side of the Atchafalaya Basin, the country’s largest river swamp in a designated National Heritage Area.

His voice trembled with rage as he told me that he was speaking for all the animals living in the basin that can’t speak for themselves.

“The Bayou Bridge pipeline has left a dam across the Atchafalaya Basin affecting the fisheries, the birds, the otters, minks, raccoons, and nutria,” Meche said.

On September 27, I joined Meche and Dean Wilson, executive director of the conservation group Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, on a monitoring trip to the west side of the pipeline. It was their first trip along the pipeline’s construction path, which only recently became visible after unusually high water levels in the basin receded.

The controversial 163-mile-long pipeline spans southern Louisiana from Lake Charles, near the Texas border, to St. James, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The Bayou Bridge pipeline is the tail end of a pipeline network built to transport Bakken oil from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast, likely for export.
Construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline was completed at the end of March, despite high-water conditions, and has been operational for months.

The destruction is even worse than I anticipated,” Wilson said, scanning piles of dirt left along the construction site that, in places, were blocking small natural waterways through the swamp.

I knew it was going to be bad because construction should have stopped when the water got high, but I never imagined it would be this bad,” Wilson told me.…—Julie Dermansky, “Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction Mess Poses Major Risk to Atchafalaya Basin,” DeSmog, 10/10/19

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Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill limiting oil and gas development

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill limiting oil and gas development

The measure bars any California leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure to be built on state property.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday, October 12, 2019 signed a law intended to counter Trump administration plans to increase oil and gas production on protected public land.

The measure bars any California leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure to be built on state property. It makes it difficult for drilling to occur because federally protected areas are adjacent to state-owned land.

The law sends a “clear message to [President] Trump that we will fight to protect these beautiful lands for current and future generations,” said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates), who introduced it.

It’s one of several new laws enacted by the governor in recent days.

Newsom also signed a law that renames the California agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. Language in the measure states the mission of the newly christened Geologic Energy Management Division includes protecting public health and environmental quality.

The governor ordered the firing of the agency’s head in July, when it was still called the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. Ken Harris was dismissed over an increase in state permits for hydraulic fracturing and allegations of conflicts of interest among senior government officials.…

Advocacy groups Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance released data over the summer showing regulators have been issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing at twice the rate this year when compared with 2018.

Newsom said the number of hydraulic fracturing permits had increased without his knowledge. California has sought to limit the controversial practice known as fracking.…—Associated Press, “Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill limiting oil and gas development,” Los Angeles Times, 10/12/19

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A Courage That Ignores Hope
Change Is Coming

Social science shows us that peaceful civil disobedience is an effective way to bring about change. Our lives have meaning when we follow our conscience and are willing to make sacrifices to protect what we love. Video rebroadcast courtesy of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver, Canada Song is “Idioteque” written by Radiohead, covered by Julie Bergman.—Extinction Rebellion, “CHANGE IS COMING | Extinction Rebellion vs The Sixth Mass Extinction,” Extinction Rebellion|YouTube, 9/2/19

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We Are All Made of Fire

Interactive World Map of Extinction Rebellion Groups

—Extinction Rebellion, “We Are All Made of Fire,” Extinction Rebellion|YouTube, 9/27/19

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BBC: The Mash Report – Extinction Rebellion

Nish Kumar’s hilarious account of the past days of the Rebellion. The Rebellion will take place across the globe from 7th October.

Worldwide actions are planned in other major cities.

See if your city is listed https://Rebellion.earth/international… or, if your city is not listed, then please visit our global site https://Rebellion.Global/ to get in touch with your local group.

If not now, when? …… If not you, who? Everybody now! Join the rebellion: https://Rebellion.Earth/

International: https://Rebellion.Global/—Nish Kumar, “The Mash Report|BBC Two,” Extinction Rebellion|YouTube, 10/13/19

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Majority of Americans think fossil fuel companies
are responsible for the damages caused by global warming

Majority of Americans think fossil fuel companies are responsible for the damages caused by global warming

A new national survey finds that a majority of Americans think that fossil fuel companies should pay for a portion of the damages local communities are suffering from global warming impacts.

In a new nationally representative survey, we asked Americans how much they think global warming is harming their local communities, who they think is responsible for paying the costs from the associated damages, and whether they support lawsuits to make fossil fuel companies pay for a portion of local damages.

We find that about half of Americans (53%) think global warming is harming their local community either a “moderate amount” or a “great deal.” Fewer think global warming is harming their community “only a little” (19%) or “not at all” (16%).

A majority of Americans (57%) also think fossil fuel companies have either “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” of responsibility for the damages caused by global warming. In addition, 57% of the public supports making fossil fuel companies pay for a portion of the damages to local communities caused by carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels.

When asked more specifically about whether fossil fuel companies or taxpayers should pay for the costs of the damages caused by global warming, a majority of Americans (53%) think fossil fuel companies rather than taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs. Only 12% of Americans think taxpayers and fossil fuel companies should pay an equal share, and just 6% think taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs. Many Americans (29%), however, say they do not know or provide alternative answers.…—Jennifer Marlon, Xinran Wang, Abel Gustafson, Matthew Ballew, Matthew Goldberg, Seth Rosenthal, Anthony Leiserowitz, “Support for Lawsuits Against Fossil Fuel Companies,” Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 6/19/19

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Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action

Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action

Almost 400 scientists have endorsed a civil disobedience campaign aimed at forcing governments to take rapid action to tackle climate change, warning that failure could inflict “incalculable human suffering.”

In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne.

Wearing white laboratory coats to symbolize their research credentials, a group of about 20 of the signatories gathered on Saturday, October 12, 2019, to read out the text outside London’s century-old Science Museum in the city’s upmarket Kensington district.

“We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and non-violent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law,” said Emily Grossman, a science broadcaster with a PhD in molecular biology. She read the declaration on behalf of the group.

“We therefore support those who are rising up peacefully against governments around the world that are failing to act proportionately to the scale of the crisis,” she said.…—Matthew Green, “Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action,” Reuters, 10/13/19

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Rebel Daily 6: Brutality in Belgium – Extinction Rebellion

Rebel Daily 6: Brutality in Belgium – Extinction Rebellion

Belgian police arrested up to 300 Extinction Rebellion protesters in Brussels, Saturday, October 12, after water cannon and pepper spray failed to disperse them. The climate change activists had gathered in front of the Royal Palace in the city center, disrupting traffic.

Police declined to give a precise number of arrests but a Reuters cameraman saw between 250-300 protesters being led away. John Hyland, an Irish volunteer with the movement who lives in Brussels, said the group had planned to occupy the palace’s gardens.

It’s been quite a weekend. We’ve seen no slowing down of global actions: Berlin, London, Australia, Turkey – as ever, more than we can name.

But today’s showstoppers are undoubtedly the rebels in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and most of all in Belgium.

Well over 700 arrests took place in these three countries, 435 in Brussels alone, but these numbers on their own say nothing of the extraordinary courage shown by rebels in the face of some of the most appalling treatment our movement has yet faced.

We stand together. Whether it’s teargas in Brussels or Paris, injuries from excessive force in Prague, police discrimination in London, undemocratic new laws in Australia, or state repression in any other nation, our answer is always the same: compassionate, powerful nonviolence.

Every peaceful protester mistreated by the police means ten more in their place tomorrow; every video of state violence in a ‘democratic’ state is paid for with that government’s legitimacy.

We’re changing the world – there’s no question of that. The question governments must ask themselves is whether they will speed that process up with repression, or speed it up with genuine democratic dialogue.… —”Rebel Daily 6: Brutality in Belgium,” Extinction Rebellion, Reuters, 10/14/19

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“Discobedience: Stayin’ Alive”
XR Melbourne Spring Rebellion: Day 5

On Day 5, October 11, 2019 we focus on one of the most joyful and disruptive actions of the rebellion, Civil DISCObedience. A huge thanks to rebel Mischa who organised this glorious thing. Disco dancers, accompanied by rebels chatting to passersby and explaining the intention behind the action and Extinction Rebellion, took to the streets on both Wednesday, October 9, and Friday, October 11, this week.

As this movement grows (rapidly!), we’ll keep mixing the disco with the disruption to keep spirits and energy up, cause we won’t stop rebelling until our demands are met.—XR Melbourne Spring Rebellion: Day 5″Discobedience: Stayin’ Alive,” Facebook, 10/11/19

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Saving Aru: The epic battle to save the islands
that inspired the theory of evolution

Saving Aru: The epic battle to save the islands that inspired the theory of evolution

  • In the mid-1800s, the extraordinary biodiversity of the Aru Islands helped inspire the theory of evolution by natural selection.
  • Several years ago, however, a corrupt politician granted a single company permission to convert most of the islands’ rain-forests into a vast sugar plantation.
  • The people of Aru fought back. Today, the story of their grassroots campaign resonates across the world as a growing global movement seeks to force governments to act on climate change.

I. The movement begins

Late one rainy night in August 2013, a college student named Collin Leppuy arrived at the doorstep of Father Jacky Manuputty, a church minister in the coastal city of Ambon, Indonesia. He had come to ask for help; his homeland was under threat.

Collin, then 23, had grown up in the Aru Islands, a heavily forested archipelago in the eastern margins of the world’s largest island nation. He was studying social welfare policy at a university in Ambon, the capital of Maluku province. Collin had recently organized rallies in the city against a corrupt politician who had governed Aru for nearly a decade. Convicted of siphoning off millions of dollars in state funds, the politician had absconded before law enforcers finally caught up with him. Collin had felt proud of the outcome, but this gave way to a renewed sense of urgency when he discovered what else the politician had done before his arrest.

For decades, Aru had escaped the attention of the companies clearing Indonesia’s rain-forests. But as the jungles of Java, Sumatra and Borneo dwindled, those in search of timber and agricultural land began to look east. Aru now lay in the sights of a company called the Menara Group. Collin had learned that before he was ousted from office, the politician had secretly approved a plan by Menara to plant sugarcane across nearly two-thirds of Aru. If it went ahead, the firm would reap billions of dollars by logging Aru’s forests and replacing them with what could be the world’s biggest sugar plantation. But it would destroy the existing livelihoods and food supplies of tens of thousands of people, including Collin’s friends and family. It would ruin the habitats of Aru’s unique wildlife, of animals like the ethereal birds-of-paradise, and the natural world from which the Aruese drew their identity.…—The Gecko Project, “Saving Aru: The epic battle to save the islands that inspired the theory of evolution,” Mongabay, 10/9/19

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Climate and Energy Experts Debate
How to Respond to a Warming World

Climate and Energy Experts Debate How to Respond to a Warming World

Experts in energy and environmental fields weigh in on the need for an urgent transition to alternative energy.

As energy demand rises around the globe, so does concern about climate change. The science seems clear: Ninety-seven percent or more of scientists active in the field are convinced the climate has been warming over the past century, the pace of warming is accelerating and human activities — particularly the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels — are a primary cause.

Many of these scientists also concur that the best option to mitigate the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and speed up the transition to renewable forms of energy, such as solar and wind.

We asked experts in the energy and environmental fields whether they concur on the need for an urgent transition to alternative energy. And if so, how the energy industry can make that happen quickly enough to matter. We also asked energy executives how their companies would navigate such a fundamental change. The responses have been edited and condensed.…—Mark Stein, “Climate and Energy Experts Debate How to Respond to a Warming World,” The New York Times, 10/7/19

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The Great Turning
Bill Scarvie’s review

Bill Scarvie’s review of The Great Turning

This book changed my life. Before reading it, I was in despair over the likely future of my twelve grandchildren. Global climate change carries the threat of massive human dislocation, widespread drought and famine, and given the current condition of world politics, the prospect of violent conflict over land and water. Peak oil carries the threat of financial chaos and violent conflict over dwindling fossil fuel resources. Finally the official position of the Bush administration was to ignore climate change, use military force to encircle and protect US interests in fossil fuel supplies, and to broaden the economic inequities that are the root cause of terrorism and revolution.

The political tension is growing between the majority of the world’s people who seek to make a living and the minority who seek to make a financial killing.…—”A Great Turning: The Process,” David Korten

Korten’s lucid analysis of the organizing principles of Empire–relationships of dominance and submission, social Darwinism, social order through actual or threatened violence, economic stratification, and perpetual growth–were an eye-opener. Clearly written and well-organized, he demonstrates that, contrary to popular mythology, humans are capable of organizing themselves in many different ways. Dominance and hierarcy is one possibility. Cooperation and partnership is another.

Further reading: “When Corporations Rule the World,” David C. Korten

His analysis owes a great deal to the work of Rianne Eisler The Chalice and the Blade, which he readily acknowledges. His contribution lies in the recognition that culture, regardless of its organizing principles, is a product of the imagination: It is a human construct. All cultures depend on formational stories, i.e. myths, to validate and perpetuate themselves. It is through these stories, told repeatedly via the organs of cultural institutions, that a people transmits the values and principles of society to future generations. Knowing this, a stragey of change emerges: If we want to change the future, we must change the story. We must create and transmit new stories, validating and promoting an alternative to the culture of Empire; that is, a culture of Earth Community.Earth Community, according to Korten (and Eisler, who calls it the Partnership Society)is organized according to principles of partnership: cooperation, mutualism, and equity. Earth Community encourages people to achieve their full potential, and it supports their growth. It stikes a balance between individual and community interests, and it recognizes the dignity and worth of every living being..… —Bill Scarvie, “The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten,” Goodreads, 2/1/09

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Chevron’s Legal Thuggery Run Amok

Chevron’s Legal Thuggery Run Amok

Roger Waters on Chevron SLAPP suit against Donziger & Ecuadorians

When corporations and U.S. judges team up to silence human rights advocates, we’re all in danger

Chevron and U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan are teaming up to silence human rights lawyer Steven Donziger and those fighting for a cleanup of the oil giant’s environmental contamination in Ecuador.

On September 17th, I testified on behalf of Donziger at a formal bar licensing hearing in New York, where for the first time witnesses were able to address the facts of Chevron’s fraud in bringing its retaliatory civil RICO (“racketeering”) case designed to try to undermine the legitimate $9.5 billion judgment won by Ecuadorian communities in 2011.

Further reading: Chevron’s crimes in Ecuador — ChevronToxico

Donziger was a driving force behind that judgment, and Chevron has targeted him with likely the most well-financed corporate retaliation SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) campaign in history. Several witnesses at the hearing explained how Chevron and its lawyers at the infamous Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher firm – led by Randy Mastro, former deputy mayor to Rudy Guiliani – engaged in unethical and illegal acts to target Donziger based largely on the testimony of a corrupt witness who was paid at least $2 million by the company and who later admitted to lying under oath. Many respected lawyers, authors, and activists also testified on Donziger’s behalf. Without exception, all described Donziger as a man dedicated to justice in Ecuador on behalf of Chevron’s victims, who was framed by Chevron and its corrupt witness Alberto Guerra, who claimed without any corroborating evidence that Donziger had approved a bribe to a judge.

Despite this, all of us who testified at the hearing were left to wonder if any justice would be served, given the massive pressure Chevron is applying to the New York State Bar Association in a judicial system thoroughly weaponized to inflict as much harm as possible on Donziger.

Consider this recap:

  • In 2011, Chevron was found liable in Ecuador for the deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of toxic oil waste into the Amazon between 1964 and 1992, decimating indigenous groups and provoking an outbreak of cancer that has killed hundreds if not thousands of people.
  • Four levels of courts in Ecuador – including its supreme and constitutional courts – imposed damages on Chevron of at least $9.5 billion; most of the pollution, including an estimated 1,000 unlined toxic waste pits, continue to poison soils, rivers, and groundwater.
  • Having definitively lost the case in Ecuador, Chevron abruptly removed all of its assets from the country and never paid a dime to the affected communities.
  • In the RICO case, Chevron bribed its star witness Alberto Guerra and used false evidence to try to criminalize human rights lawyer Steven Donziger and the Ecuadorian communities fighting for cleanup.
  • Chevron had Donziger’s law license suspended in New York based on the allegation that he was “an immediate threat to the public interest” due to his litigation against Chevron.
  • With U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan as an ally, Chevron has demanded Donziger surrender his computer and cell phone for inspection by the company so that it can sue or target anybody Donziger has been in touch with, or anyone supporting the campaign for justice in Ecuador.
  • Judge Kaplan has held Donziger in civil contempt, seized his passport, and fined him an exorbitant $200,000 per day for refusing to turn over his computer and phone while an appeal is pending.
  • Judge Kaplan himself then filed criminal contempt charges against Donziger and asked the federal prosecutor in New York to prosecute him; the prosecutor refused.
  • Judge Kaplan then hired private lawyers from a corporate law firm and deputized them to act as “government prosecutors” to target Donziger. Pending trial, Donziger has been confined to home detention and required to wear an electronic monitoring device for the last two months.
  • Chevron has tried to undermine the very idea of corporate accountability with its unprecedented, unethical, and illegal attacks against Steven Donziger and those who stand up for a proper environmental cleanup in Ecuador.

The tactics Chevron deploys to suppress free speech are particularly vile.

First is its blatant attempt to end the legal career of the lawyer who beat them in court. Today, Steven Donziger is fighting to restore his right to practice law after his license was suspended last year without a hearing, based entirely on the retaliatory RICO suit and testimony by a bribed witness. Judge Kaplan’s findings are thoroughly discredited and have been rejected by 17 appellate judges in Ecuador. To strip Donziger of his law license, the New York bar association determined he was an “immediate threat” to the public order – a scary, Orwellian designation if there ever was one.…—Paul Paz y Miño, “AMAZON WATCH » Chevron’s Legal Thuggery Run Amok,” Amazon Watch, 10/1/19

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The Next Standing Rock Is Everywhere

The Next Standing Rock Is Everywhere

The fight to stave off pipeline projects across the country is being led by tribal nations and marginalized communities. It’s time to listen to them before it’s too late.

There won’t be another Standing Rock.

At its height, the mobilization against the Dakota Access Pipeline, beginning in 2016, was a historic Native-led movement against the same kind of land grabs Indigenous people have been fighting for centuries. The protests, on their own, were similar to hundreds of others; but the brutality of the private security response, the grassroots and social media campaigns led by Native youth, and the nation’s tense political climate in 2016 combined to temporarily break through the barrier between Native issues and the mainstream media. There was no turning away from the images of police tear-gassing and siccing dogs on Native bodies, because there was nowhere else to turn. This was America as it has always been, only now for all to see. It was a wake-up call that many might still like to mash the “Snooze” button on, while pretending it never happened.

In the past three years, numerous media outlets, The New Republic among them, have predicted a variety of similar pipeline controversies could be the “next Standing Rock.” But the exercise misses something fundamental about the new age of environmental justice.

Pipeline companies—and their lobbyists and ex-employees they’ve planted in the government—are learning. The pitch-to-pipeline process, so often practiced at the expense of marginalized communities, has been honed to perfection. Every day, energy companies participate in the political process that sets the rules of play. With each passing state legislative budget session and hurried community consultation town hall, their roots sink deeper—not just here, in America, but in Canada, in Europe, and in Asia. They are everywhere.

For those that see the latest fad of American natural gas pipeline projects for what they are—a last-gasp attempt by energy companies hoping to capitalize on juicy government subsidies as the planet careens into a climate crisis—it’s difficult to channel the necessary energy for opposition to a single project. Many Americans are also accustomed, whether consciously or unconsciously, to tuning out the environmental justice battles roiling communities of color and the underprivileged.

“All along the production line—from extraction, transportation, to production and export—you have marginalized communities.”

But Standing Rock was one node in a vast web. As the world’s carbon emissions approach the no-return threshold, as more black and Indigenous and poor communities are pushed into environmental catastrophe, that web is still expanding. There won’t be just one battle in which marginalized communities attempt to defend themselves against capitalists extracting the last bit of value from the fossil fuel economy. There will be many. And they’ve already started.

When the pipeline companies come to town, they promise jobs. Whatever the particulars of the presentation intended to persuade communities to support a pipeline, the jobs promise always makes an appearance.

Further reading Flawed environmental justice analyses
Big Oil, Small Jobs: A Look at the Oil Industry’s Dubious Job Claims

The process is simple. The companies set up a town hall and attempt to convince community members that their financial situation—typically one defined by an absence of decent jobs and economic stability—will be buoyed by the sudden influx of pipeline-related jobs. For the denizens of Robeson County in North Carolina, this is the lie they have been fed for the past five years.…—Nick Martin, “The Next Standing Rock Is Everywhere,” The New Republic, 10/7/19

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‘Indicative of a truly corrupt system’:
government investigation reveals
BC Timber Sales violating old-growth logging rules

‘Indicative of a truly corrupt system’: government investigation reveals BC Timber Sales violating old-growth logging rules | The Narwhal

Two investigations, released under Freedom of Information laws, show a government agency ignored best practices and available data when auctioning cutblocks in the Nahmint Valley — home to some of Vancouver Island’s last remaining stands of unlogged ancient forest — where clearcutting continues to this day

Some of you may have already seen the pictures.

Vast stands of old-growth Douglas firs and cedars, toppled. A grim-looking individual, perched atop a stump, staggering in size, its history harkening back to pre-colonial times, sap oozing beneath their feet.

British Columbians are near-immune to such images these days, with old-growth clearcutting a common sight and common practice. But something about the images coming out of Vancouver Island’s Nahmint Valley struck a chord.

A photo gallery posted by the Ancient Forest Alliance to Facebook in May of 2018 became a near-immediate viral sensation, being shared more than 4,800 times.

The organization, during an ancient forest expedition with the Port Alberni Watershed-Forest Alliance, found exceptionally large Douglas fir, including the fifth and ninth widest ever recorded in B.C., scattered among the remains of an extensive clearcutting operation.

The groups documented old-growth cedar stumps measuring a staggering 12 feet (3.7 metres) in diameter.

Something felt wrong about the scope and scale of the logging operations in the Nahmint Valley to the expeditioners.

And they were right.

Investigations point to government agency at heart of B.C.’s old-growth logging

Following their expedition, the Ancient Forest Alliance submitted a complaint to the compliance and enforcement branch at B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The findings of two subsequent investigations would confirm a deep-rooted suspicion that BC Timber Sales (BCTS), the government agency responsible for auctioning provincial logging permits, was thwarting protection rules and violating the principles of old-growth management plans.

Further reading: The government agency at the centre of B.C.’s old-growth logging showdown

The results of those investigations, obtained by the Ancient Forest Alliance through a Freedom of Information request, and reviewed by The Narwhal, show BC Timber Sales is not complying with rules designed to ensure sufficient old-growth forest is retained to avoid loss of biodiversity.…—Judith Lavoie, “‘Indicative of a truly corrupt system’: government investigation reveals BC Timber Sales violating old-growth logging rules,” The Narwhal, 10/7/19

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Conservation group to buy
argest private sequoia forest in the world

Conservation group to buy largest private sequoia forest in the world

The 530-acre forest has hundreds of ancient giant sequoia, including the fifth-largest tree known on the planet.

I have long mused that if I ever won the lottery, I would buy up as much forest as I could. Since my chance of winning the lottery is about one in a gazillion, I am deeply thrilled to see a new wave of creative ways in which concerned people are banding together to finance the planting of trees and purchase land for conservation.

A recent occurrence of this phenomenon involves California’s 530-acre Alder Creek forest. It is home to hundreds of ancient giant sequoia, nearly 500 of which boast a diameter of six feet or larger. It is also the home of the Stagg Tree, the largest tree in private possession and the fifth-largest tree known in the world – not surprising since giant sequoia are the most massive trees on the planet. They are also among the oldest, ringing in at thousands of years old.

Called the “Crown Jewel” of the remaining giant sequoia forests, Alder Creek has been privately owned, but now, the very very good people of Save the Redwoods League have announced an opportunity to purchase the land. In a deal that has been in the works for two decades, acquisition of this vital forest would come at the cost of $15.65 million, which must be raised by December 31, 2019.

Which is where we, the public, come in.

“Alder Creek is the most consequential giant sequoia conservation project of our lifetime. It’s the largest remaining giant sequoia property in private ownership, and a globally unique and extraordinarily beautiful landscape,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. “To fully protect this remarkable grove forever, we will need the public’s help in raising the required funds by December 31, 2019. I am pleased to announce that we have a challenge grant in place to help us achieve that goal.”

Hodder added, “Giant sequoia – the world’s most massive trees – inspired the national conservation movement more than 150 years ago beginning with the protection of Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. Today, Save the Redwoods League has the opportunity to continue this conservation legacy by permanently protecting Alder Creek and its hundreds of giant sequoia trees.”…—Melissa Breyer, “Conservation group to buy largest private sequoia forest in the world,” TreeHugger, 9/23/19

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