January 14, 2020
This week we regard the threats to our home, Earth. Can our civilization come to truly love it more than money and power? We present some instances of Industrial Civilization’s onslaught on its life, and some insights on its survival through the imaginations of several journalists, artists and writers.
But first the news.

But First Another Note about The Banner’s Table of Contents

If you like our Table of Contents but wish its features were available on your smart phone or tablet, it is! Just go to our website, thebanner.news. It is published at the same time the subscriber edition is emailed, 7:00AM, Tuesdays (though we have often been several days late the past few months due to pressures on our editor’s time). We have been considering strategies for helping readers view the emailed edition on mobile devices, neglecting to point out the advantages of viewing on the website —where there is also a full archive of past editions, searchable for your convenience!

Table of Contents

Activist News

Earth

Indigenous Peoples News

In Case You Missed It


Action Alert! Join PAUSE in planning for the 2020 Climate Resistance
Calling Both Veteran and New Activists

This Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 from 6-8pm
Albany Public Library, 
Large Meeting Room, Floor One: 
161 Washington Ave,

LIGHT REFRESHMENTS! 

PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy) is the local 350.org affiliate.

We invite you to explore our WORKING GROUPS:

  • Zero Waste Best Practices: Moving forward with waste reduction education & action.
  • CCA (Community Choice Aggregation) A way to transition our electricity systems to Renewable Energy.
  • SHARE (Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy): Renewable energy for state buildings in Albany, not fracked gas.
  • Public Policy Projects: Policy Agenda: CLCPA (Climate Legislation) and implementation, Halting Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, the Green New Deal and a Climate Emergency Declaration.
  • Seeds: New Campaign Ideas and looking toward the horizon at an Albany Pipeline Fight, Train issues, LNG transport, Preventing Garbage Incineration plants/emissions. Brainstorming your ideas.

“Don’t Like History? Come Make Some.”

Please RSVP: PAUSE Jan. 14th meeting

If your New Years resolution is to do something to help save the planet, this is your chance to make it happen this year.

For more info: PAUSE Facilitator, Diana Wright: comphomellc@gmail.com
or Tina Lieberman, PAUSE & Zero Waste Capital District: tlieberm1@gmail.com

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Another blow for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, an embattled fossil fuel behemoth that just won’t die, received yet another blow on Tuesday when a federal appeals court overturned one of its necessary permits. If built, the 600-mile pipeline would bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of West Virginia to the Atlantic Coast in southern North Carolina. And as Grist highlighted last month, it would pass through mostly lower-income neighborhoods — but residents and local activists are fighting back.

The rejected permit was for a compressor station that would be built in Union Hill, Virginia, a predominantly black community founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. Compressor stations are loud, earth-shaking facilities that emit formaldehyde and methane and also carry the risk of explosions. Last year, oil and gas lobbyists orchestrated a PR campaign to build support for the pipeline, but many residents saw through it. A local activist group, Friends of Buckingham, challenged the permit, and on Tuesday, the court sided with them.…—”Another blow for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Emily Pontecorvo, Grist, 1/9/20

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After 26 Months of Official Silence,
Seneca Falls Moves for Dismissal
of Landfill Suit Challenging 2025 Closing

SENECA FALLS, Jan. 9, 2020 — The Town of Seneca Falls and a neighbor of Seneca Meadows Inc. landfill have filed separate motions to dismiss an SMI lawsuit that seeks to overturn a town law requiring it to close by 2025.

Both filings argue that the landfill’s November 2017 lawsuit is disqualified by the statute of limitations, which they say ran out April 30, 2017, four months after Local Law 3 went into effect.

The dismissal motions also argue that SMI fails to make its case that the town board acted too quickly or arbitrarily, that then-board member Annette Lutz was unduly biased, or that the landfill’s vested interests were compromised.…—”After 26 Months of Official Silence, Seneca Falls Moves for Dismissal of Landfill Suit Challenging 2025 Closing,” Peter Mantius, Water Front, 1/9/20

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4th Circuit nixes key permit
for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline,
citing environmental justice concerns

  • The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday struck down a permit necessary for Dominion Energy to construct its Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), concluding Virginia regulators failed to consider issues of environmental justice when approving a new compressor station.
  • The court vacated the air quality permit and remanded it back to Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board for further review. Dominion officials said they will immediately begin to work with the state to resolve the issues identified by the court.
  • Opponents of the 600-mile pipeline called the latest setback for ACP a “huge victory” and noted the project has suffered a series of defeats. Last July, the court concluded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not sufficiently considered the project’s impacts under the Endangered Species Act.…—”4th Circuit nixes key permit for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, citing environmental justice concerns,” Robert Walton, Utility Dive,1/8/20

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NY DEC Allows Hakes Landfill to Expand;
Critics Say It’s Highly Radioactive and
a Health Threat to Communities Downwind

CORNING, NY, Jan. 7, 2020 — The Cuomo Administration has quietly granted a Steuben County landfill permission to expand from 57.9 acres to 78.9 acres despite scientific evidence that the dump’s leachate is laced with prohibited radioactive elements.

The decision gives the Hakes C&D Landfill, located six miles northwest of Corning, the green light to continue accepting drill cuttings from Pennsylvania gas wells and burning off methane and other gases generated from the decomposition of waste.

That flaring of gasses poses a serious threat to residents living downwind, several experts have argued, because the landfill is generating “huge” amounts of Radon-222, the nation’s second leading cause of lung cancer.…—”Permit Allows Hakes Landfill to Expand; Critics Say It’s Highly Radioactive and a Health Threat to Communities Downwind,” Peter Mantius, Water Front, 1/7/20

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Virginia Landowners file constitutional case
against FERC & Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline project is nearly complete, but construction remains on hold for the winter and several environmental permits are still in limbo. Last week, landowners in the pipeline’s path filed a lawsuit against the company and the Federal Energy Regulatory commission, challenging the constitutionality of a practice known as ‘eminent domain.’

The lawsuit calls into question what the plaintiffs call ’eminent domain for private gain’ when private companies are granted the right to take private property for public use. The law requires “just” compensation to be given to the original owner.

“The question appears to be whether or not FERC actually has the constitutional authority to delegate that power.”

Russell Chisholm is co-chair of a group called the Powher Coailtion, based in Giles county, that fights to protect water and land rights.…—”Virginia Landowners file constitutional case against FERC & Mountain Valley Pipeline,” Robbie Harris, WVTF, 1/6/20

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Earth

Twenty Year Anniversary of Julia Butterfly Hill’s Forest Protest

Dear Friends and Supporters of Sanctuary Forest,

Thank you for all you do to protect, restore and respect our sacred forests. December 18, 2019 marks the 20-year anniversary of my return to terra firma after more than two years living aloft in the branches of our ancient elder, Luna, the 1,000-plus-year-old redwood tree at the top of the ridge above the tiny hamlet of Stafford, overlooking the winding Eel River.

As i reflect upon those two years and the 20 years since, much has changed in our forests and our world, yet much is, sadly, the same, or even more challenging than ever. Today, i write to remind us all of the power of standing together for what we love, even in the face of violence, destruction and separation.

Further reading: Luna Ancient Redwood Tree | Sanctuary Forest

On December 10th, 1997, i ascended Luna intending to stay two to four weeks (which was considered a long treesit at that time!); i did not touch the ground again for 738 days.…—”Twenty Year Anniversary of Julia Butterfly Hill’s Forest Protest,” Julia Butterfly Hill, Sanctuary Forest, 12/18/19

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Trump Accused of ‘Disgraceful Abdication’
of Duty to Protect Earth
for Proposal to Neuter Landmark Environmental Law

The reported plan targets the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which has been called the Magna Carta of environmental legislation, and could hasten approval of pipelines like the Keystone XL.

The Trump administration was again accused of moving to attack the environment and wildlife in response to reports that the White House is moving to gut a five decade-old law referred to as the Magna Carta of environmental legislation.

Further reading Trump Moves to Exempt Pipeline, Drilling Projects From Environmental Review
How Trump’s Environmental Policy Rollback Affects The Northwes

The proposal targets the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which was signed in to law by President Richard Nixon on January 1, 1970. It requires federal agencies to identify and consider the environmental and climate impacts of proposed actions including federal permits for infrastructure projects such as pipelines, and gives the public a chance to weigh in on the proposals.

“It’s shameful that the Trump administration is ripping apart America’s cornerstone environmental law on its 50th anniversary,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in statement Monday….—”Trump Accused of ‘Disgraceful Abdication’ of Duty to Protect Earth for Proposal to Neuter Landmark Environmental Law,” Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams News, 1/6/20

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DEQ, Duke Energy, community groups
strike deal on largest coal ash cleanup in US

Settlement requires utility to excavate 80 million tons of ash from remaining impoundments

In an historic agreement, Duke Energy will remove coal ash from unlined pits at its six plants – Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside/Rogers, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro – which will finally cut off this source of groundwater and surface water contamination near those communities.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality, Duke Energy and the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented community groups in litigation against the utility, all announced the details of the settlement today.

“North Carolina’s communities have lived with the threat of coal ash pollution for too long. They can now be certain that the clean-up of the last coal ash impoundments in our state will begin this year,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan in a prepared statement. “We are holding Duke accountable and will continue to hold them accountable for their actions as we protect public health, the environment and our natural resources.”…—”DEQ, Duke Energy, community groups strike deal on largest coal ash cleanup in US,” Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch, 1/2/20

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Indigenous Artists From the Amazon
Use Art for Environmental Advocacy

The image is striking: a cross representing the first Mass held in Brazil by the Portuguese colonizers stands over a pile of Guarani brand sugar bags spilling blood out onto the floor. Above the red pool, a sign reads, “Eu sou Guarani Kaiowá,” or “I am Guarani Kaiowá.”.

The installation, a metaphor for the violence against indigenous Brazilians, was on exhibit for three months at the Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP) in São Paulo city, alongside a large banner reading “DECOLONIZE.” Both are references to the posture assumed by some anthropologists and advocates regarding indigenous peoples’ issues, indicating a transgression to the studies that hold the point of view of colonialism and the supposed supremacy of colonizing nations over First Nations.…—”Indigenous Artists From the Amazon Use Art for Environmental Advocacy,” Debora Menezes, Mongabay|Reader Supported News, 1/12/20

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‘A Paradise Built in Hell’ by Rebecca Solnit: A Review

The West Coast essayist and social critic Rebecca Solnit is the kind of rugged, off-road public intellectual America doesn’t produce often enough. It’s been fascinating to watch her zigzagging career unfold.

In her previous 10 books she has written about disparate topics like Eadweard Muybridge’s photography, San Francisco’s urban landscapes, the history of walking and the nature of political dissent, always stalking her mental prey from oblique angles.

Ms. Solnit’s writing, at its worst, can be dithering and self-serious, Joan Didion without the concision and laser-guided wit. At her best, however — and the best and worst in Ms. Solnit coexist in the same book and sometimes the same sentence — she has a rare gift: the ability to turn the act of cognition, of arriving at a coherent point of view, into compelling moral drama.…—”‘A Paradise Built in Hell’ by Rebecca Solnit,” Dwight Garner, The New York Times, 8/21/09

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‘Because Insects Are Key to Our Own Survival,’
73 Scientists Unveil Global Roadmap
to Battle Bugpocalypse

The immediate “no-regret” measures they propose include aggressively curbing planet-heating emissions and the use of synthetic pesticides.

Highlighting the “strong scientific consensus that the decline of insects, other arthropods, and biodiversity as a whole, is a very real and serious threat that society must urgently address,” 73 international scientists on Monday published a roadmap to battle the world’s “bugpocalypse.”

The roadmap, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, explains that a mounting body of research shows “a suite of anthropogenic stressors—habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, invasive species, climate change, and overharvesting—are seriously reducing insect and other invertebrate abundance, diversity, and biomass.”…—”‘Because Insects Are Key to Our Own Survival,’ 73 Scientists Unveil Global Roadmap to Battle Bugpocalypse,” Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams News, 1/6/20

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‘Earth’€™ Review: Humanity Is Digging Its Own Grave

In this sobering documentary, Nikolaus Geyrhalter looks at how humans are changing the planet one backhoe at a time.

…The movie opens with a fixed, perfectly framed shot of a dun-colored, gently sloping terrain. The place is somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, a huge swath just north of the Los Angeles basin. Centuries ago, the area was a prairie alive with people, flora and fauna, including the now-extinct California grizzly. Over time, much of this life was supplanted by non-native settlers, livestock, citrus groves, film studios, tract housing and that pop-culture cliché called the Valley Girl. In “Earth,” the area’s continued expansion is bleakly expressed by a parade of bulldozers and backhoes that, from a distance, appear to be engaged in a perverse, choreographed dance.

The men operating those machines are cutting mountains for a development, which is as mesmerizing to watch as it is appalling to think about. You grasp the enormous scale of this project from the long shots that the director Nikolaus Geyrhalter (“Our Daily Bread”) liberally uses. These shots tend either to render people invisible (when inside the machines they operate) or to turn them into undifferentiated specks. There’s a strangely paradoxical and dystopian quality to these visions, which are at once wholly human and inhuman. If this were science fiction, you could say the machines had already risen, which would be almost reassuring in its nihilistic finality.…—”‘Earth’ Review: Humanity Is Digging Its Own Grave,” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times, 1/8/20

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An inactive uranium mine
located on a sacred mountain
will finally close

Located just a half-mile from the Village of San Mateo, Mount Taylor can be seen rising from the San Mateo mountains 100 miles in any direction. The mountain, whose peak stretches nearly 12,000 feet upward, sits east of Grants and has long been considered a place of cultural and spiritual significance. Mount Taylor is a pilgrimage destination for at least 30 indigenous communities, including the Navajo Nation, the Hopi and Zuni peoples, and the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos.

The mountain is one of the four sacred mountains that make up the boundaries of the Dinétah land. It holds special significance for the Acoma people, where streams on the mountain feed into the Rio San Jose, one of the pueblo’s primary water sources. 

But Mount Taylor also sits atop one of the country’s largest uranium deposits, and was mined for decades. The mine once provided jobs for the surrounding communities, but a prolonged slump in the uranium market has left the operation inactive since 1990. Now, indigenous communities and environmental advocates are cheering a recent decision to close down the mine for good.…—”An inactive uranium mine located on a sacred mountain will finally close,” Kendra Chamberlain, The New Mexico Political Report, 1/10/20

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Sage grouse court order trims energy lease auction in Nevada

The Trump rules affected public land in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.

RENO, Nev. — Federal land managers have withdrawn more than 500 square miles of public land from a swath of eastern Nevada where oil and gas drilling leases go to auction this week after a judge blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to ease protection of sage grouse habitat.

The acreage pulled from Tuesday’s scheduled sale — more than half of what the Bureau of Land Management originally planned for auction — roughly corresponds to priority habitat designated in a 2015 federal sage-grouse plan completed under President Barack Obama for Nevada and northeastern California.…—”Sage grouse court order trims energy lease auction in Nevada,” Associated Press, OregonLive, 11/11/19

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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.