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Updated: 15 hours 41 min ago

Major News on Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota

April 24, 2018 - 6:44pm

Yesterday was a big moment in the fight against tar sands. A judge issued a recommendation to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which will decide on the final permits for the Line 3 pipeline this June.

The judge recommended strict conditions under which the agency should consider the project.1 This news puts many hurdles in Enbridge’s way, but we aren’t letting up. Everyday from now till June is a critical time to make our voices heard.

That’s why pipeline fighters and water protectors are joining together for 24 hours of resistance at the Block (Line 3) Party in St. Paul to urge the PUC to deny the Line 3 permits and protect our communities.

The judge laid out 17 conditions that would be necessary for the PUC to approve the project – including a recommendation to require Enbridge to build in the existing Line 3 route, instead of along their preferred route, something the company doesn’t want to do.

The existing pipeline crosses right through the middle of the Leech Lake and Fond Du Lac reservations, as well as other Indigenous treaty territory. Tribal nations have been clear that a new pipeline is not acceptable. Now it’s up to the PUC to respect tribal nations and protect future generations by denying the Line 3 permits.

If you’re in the area, join us on May 18-19 to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities and show the PUC that Minnesotans don’t want this dirty pipeline.

Monday’s administrative law judge report on Line 3 is “an affirmation that the tribes do have the right to say no.” — Andy Pearson, MN350’s Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator https://t.co/ToZQgEwAJQ #stopline3

— MN350 (@MN_350) April 24, 2018

The fossil fuel industry’s business model is at odds with a stable climate, and we can’t afford to let it continue. Fossil fuel billionaires are the first to profit from climate inaction and last to shoulder the risk. It’s up to us to stop this dirty industry in its tracks.

The facts are undeniable – there is no economic need for Line 3 or the risk it poses to Minnesota. We need a fast and just transition to a fossil free world – that means no new fossil fuel projects that threaten Indigenous lands, water, and the climate.

1 Judge: Need for proposed Enbridge pipeline but should not be built on proposed route – Star Tribune

Categories: International News

A date without stereotypes

April 19, 2018 - 9:37pm

April 19th. Indian’s Day in Brazil. The commemorative date was created in 1943 by President Getúlio Vargas and each year continues to be sustained by a series of stereotypes. The date is still an important landmark for reflection about the current situation of indigenous peoples; however, we must go further and look at more than the caricature of the Indian with a headdress, feathers, paintings and a naked body.

We must understand that in Brazil there are more than 300 ethnic groups in all regions of the country, who speak more than 200 different languages and have completely different realities. It is necessary to recognize the challenges of those who have to live in a constant struggle to defend their territory, culture and ancestry – in order to also ensure the survival of their communities and the natural resources.

Issues over territory and land are some of the most important indigenous fights in Brazil. This is a clash that most indigenous peoples face every day, and have for centuries.

Local resistance

Today, the indigenous peoples of Brazil are living the worst political situation of the last 30 years when we look at their constitutional rights. The government has taken a declared anti-indigenous policy – putting an end to the demarcation and protection of indigenous territories, and causing land invasions by governmental and private enterprises.

The lack of regulation of these territories threatens the people that live there and threatens their relationship to the land. The indigenous lands are fundamental for the physical, social and cultural protection of traditional peoples. They are also crucial for the climate and the sustainable development of the planet. Indigenous communities are at the forefront of protecting forests as well as keeping oil and gas companies from expanding their extractive efforts. Learn more here and here.

The importance of the cultural exchange

Evolution comes with knowledge. And for us to evolve our perception of the indigenous issue in Brazil and in the world, we need to look back at the mistakes and injustices committed in the past and we need to pay attention to what is being done right now. As an ally, opening our minds and creating empathy is indispensable if we want to respect and understand the importance of the cultural diversity, memory, history and present realities of the indigenous peoples.

Because of this, moments of exchange are valuable. A good example of this was the Indigenous Cultural Week in the Tupã Nhe’é Kretã Village, located in the municipality of Morretes, in the state of Paraná. The event happened on April 16th to 18th and was a space for the exchange of experiences, customs and traditional knowledge. 

For Kretã Kaingang, an indigenous leader from Paraná and a member of the executive coordination of the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib, in the acronym in Portuguese), the idea behind the Cultural Week is that people can come to know the village, but not as a “zoo”, where people observe passively, but as a participatory space of exchange. As I participant I got to know how the indigenous families arrived in that territory and how the village was formed; what is the meaning of indigenous dances; what is the importance of indigenous rituals; plus try the local cuisine.

It must be understood that the indigenous peoples are just as contemporary as we are, and that their cultures are renewed and updated as much as our own. And it is fundamental to understand that the struggle of indigenous peoples is the same as ours: struggle for a better, healthier, sustainable, fairer and more equitable planet.

Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Kretã Kaingang speaks at the opening of the Cultural Week of the Tupã Nhe’é Kretã Village. Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Kretã Kaingang and Nicole Oliveira, 350.org Latin America Director. Kretã explained about the meaning of indigenous paintings. Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Local cuisine includes foods such as cassava, sweet potatoes and corn, made straight to the fire. Photo: Caroline Kwasnicki/350.org Brasil

Categories: International News

This is our moment to stop Kinder Morgan — here’s how we think we can do it

April 19, 2018 - 7:12pm

Let’s start with three assumptions. The first: if you’re reading this, you, like us, want to stop the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline.

Read more here. 

Categories: International News

The Zad and the global crackdown on alternatives

April 18, 2018 - 3:53am

Guest blog by Hervé Kempf. A French version of this article was originally published on Reporterre.

The government’s offensive against the Zad, a decades-old occupation of the site, a precious wetland, where a huge airport was to be built close to Nantes in France, aims to destroy the possibility of alternative ways of living. The battle against the airport has grown into the most iconic fight of the French climate and social justice movement that regards the airport project as symptomatic for a system of unnecessary expansion that serves the economic interests of a minority at the expense of local communities, farmers’ livelihoods, the environment and the climate. After 50 years of opposition that saw hundreds of people occupying the site, the government shelved the project in January in an historic success for the French climate and environmental movement. The crackdown now is part of a global trend to maintain the climate-destroying status quo for the richest elites.

2,500 riot police, armoured vehicles, helicopters, trucks, livestock trucks and a few hundred state security police in Nantes and Rennes as back-ups… Since Monday, 9th April France appears to be at war. Against who? Against some two hundred people living in a grove where they make their own bread, beer, have a farmers’ market, tinker, discuss, read, come and go. The military apparatus of France, which intervenes in Mali, Syria and Iraq, has been deployed in the Zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes – without a debate in Parliament, which violates article 35 of the French Constitution.

After the government gave in to a popular struggle to abandon the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, it apparently now feels compelled to demonstrate its force by expelling “illegal occupiers”. The government neglects the procedures meant to rigorously supervise evictions and has refused to even enter into a dialogue about a proposal for collective management of the land that has for ten years been maintained by these occupants. There are no plans to use this ecologically unique area, which has been well preserved thanks to the very people that the French government now wants to drive out.

French president Macron, prime minister Philippe, interior minister Collomb and environment minister Hulot want to show the public that they will maintain ‘order’ and send a warning of what they can expect to the various movements that are bubbling in the country. They enjoy the support of the handful of billionaires that own the French media to complacently relay this message.


The mission of the 2,500 riot police is to destroy the possibility to live differently

However, this is not the only political impact Macron and his government seek. The disproportionate response is an indication that what is happening at the Zad threatens the currently predominant economic order: the possibility of different ways of life, seeking cooperation rather than competition, flat hierarchies between people, settling conflicts without the police or judiciary, sharing resources in harmony with nature, escaping from the rule of money… Has this kind of life become a reality at the Zad? It’s hard to say. But they try. There are many examples that give us a glimpse at alternative economies. The mission of the 2,500 riot police sent by the ex-banker French president is to shoot down the possibility of a different way of life.

Moreover, what is happening in Notre-Dame-des-Landes is part of a bigger crackdown by the world’s oligarchy against the people. Recent news of how the Israeli state kills demonstrators and journalists in the Gaza Strip are just the latest outburst of a global wave of authoritarianism by the ruling classes. Almost all of Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, …) has come under harsh austerity. In China, President Xi Jinping has recently grabbed even more power. In Russia, Putin reigns by stifling all opposition. In the United States, Trump continues his policy of financial and environmental deregulation dismantling real checks and balances. In the Philippines, Poland, India, in dozens of countries, we see a combination of concentrated power defending the interests of the oligarchy, destroying the environment in the name of economic growth. Europe is increasingly moving towards this model. There is a global civil war unfolding – a war waged by powerful elites against people that lose out with globalisation, and against those that put up opposition.

The real culprits – 80 tons of CO2 per year

This is more than a social struggle but one that will determine the future of humanity on a planet in an historic ecological crisis. A simple figure illustrates what’s at stake for the most privileged: the richest 1% in the world emit an average of 80t of CO2 each year. That is twelve times more than the average of the world’s population (6.2t). In other words, the richest of the rich pollute the most. Given the gravity of climate change and its foreseeable impacts, emitters of 80t CO2 per year are the real culprits.

What the oligarchies promote is to maintain a system in which they undermine the public interest. It’s at the heart of the public interest to address the ecological crisis of the twenty-first century. Its outcome will decide the conditions of humanity’s existence. It is almost ironic that the attack on the Zad is directed at a place where people seek to find ways to live in ways that don’t destabilise the climate.

This is why Messieurs Macron, Philippe, Collomb and Hulot, who preserve the interests of the members of the 80-tons-a-year club, are equally guilty. And that is why we must defend the Zad.

Categories: International News

Solidarity with ZAD

April 10, 2018 - 8:08am

Since early Monday morning, I’ve been watching with disgust as the police evicted activists from the ZAD (Zone to Defend) at Notre-Dames-des Landes in the west of France. This is a brutal demonstration of force against individuals who have stood up and protected this land from a climate-wrecking project.

Last night 80+ solidarity gatherings took place in towns and cities throughout France, and there are more to come.

Since 3am Monday April 9, more than 2,500 armed police were sent to the ZAD, where they started a wave of destruction targeting self-made houses and agricultural buildings. The police also banned journalists from entering the area, which means that the media will have to make do with images sent by the police headquarters.

This behaviour by the government, who originally said they’d manage the situation peacefully, is unjustifiable. It’s in direct contradiction with the logic of dialogue, which the government originally supported in a collective plan for ZAD inhabitants and their projects. On February 10, 2018, more than 30,000 people came together at the ZAD to anchor this hope and continue to support this space for experimentation, which shelters one of the largest wetlands in France.

“Beware, angry lambs.” ZAD occupants mock the use of force.

For almost 50 years, tens of thousands of people fought against the airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes and its proponents, and in January this year the French climate and environmental movement experienced a historic victory when the government announced that the project to build this new airport would be abandoned.

1st day of destruction in #ZAD #NDDL: Police has demolished 9 significant structures, among them the place called “100 names”, known for it’s large and productive garden as well as it’s warm and tender hosts. Here is before and after the cop’s disgraceful actions: pic.twitter.com/18taIs1Xtw

— Mᥑᥣtᥱ Mᥑ

Categories: International News

Keep in the ground, Brazil!

April 5, 2018 - 7:47pm

Brazil committed with the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% by 2025. But time is running out. Climate change continues to send signals of its strength and the Brazilian government continues to promote auctions for oil and gas exploration. A contradiction, that is far from being aligned with the Paris Agreement. We can see in Brazil that climate justice is losing to profit and big business.

The 15th Round of Bids organized by the National Petroleum and Gas Agency (ANP, in the acronym in Portuguese), took place on March 29 in Rio de Janeiro. This is when the government sells of blocks of land to oil companies. This time, 68 blocks were offered and 20 companies were registered to. Yes, the same old usual suspects were there, including BP, Exxon, Chevron and Shell – the same companies which are being sued by the New York government for their responsibility in perpetuating climate change.

The campaign against fossil fuels in Brazil is consistent and strong. Many local organizations including 350.org Brazil and COESUS – Non-Fracking Brazil Coalition for Climate, Water and Life –  have all been fighting for the end of the auctions and for the transition to 100% renewable energy for all. Throughout the years, many actions have been organized and many people mobilized. This auction wouldn’t be different, but we wanted to take our message even further. In February, members of 350.org Brazil and COESUS met with ANP and were able to guarantee the right to speak at the opening of the auction of the onshore blocks.

Members of 350.org Brazil and COESUS during the 15th Round of Bids in Rio de Janeiro

We had big expectations. Memories of the last two auctions came back to our minds. In the 14th Round, in September 2017, civil society was prevented from entering the room reserved for the auction. About 180 activists protested peacefully outside the auditorium. Even so, indigenous activists were assaulted by ANP’s security guards. Later, during another auction in  October 2017, even with the right to enter the auction guaranteed by the Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro, we were prohibited from participating.

The format of the auction was different this time. In the morning, the offshore blocks were offered: 47% were sold, yielding 8.14 billion BRL, in what the government classified as a great success. An incoherent celebration, since the Provisional Measure 795 gives to some of the biggest oil companies in the world a giant tax break worth $300 billion. To believe that this “bonus” comes to the benefit of the population is an illusion.

In the afternoon the onshore blocks would be offered, and the time for us to come face to face with investors and companies arrived. 7 representatives of 350.org Brazil and COESUS spoke at the opening of the afternoon round of bids. We were a set of common people, from a diversity of backgrounds and sectors, united for a more sustainable world.

After the intervention, the auction of the land blocks would begin. And no one imagined that it would end so fast. None of the 21 blocks were sold, because of “high investment risks” according to ANP. That represents 3.2 billion barrels of less oil equivalent and approximately 1.1 billion tons of carbon that will not be dumped into the atmosphere. A great victory! For the planet, for society and for a world free of fossil fuels.

For almost five years we have had a common goal: to ban fracking. So far, more than 380 cities in several states have already prohibited environmental licensing for fracking in their territories, thus joining the No Fracking Brazil campaign.

No fracking in our land!

We know that the fossil industry has an expiration date. And the government representatives know it too. The chief minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, Moreira Franco, himself said that “the era of oil will end, but certainly not because of the lack of oil”. And still, many others in the government insist on drilling for oil and gas – proof that the government’s continued interest in fracking and in further upcoming auction, scheduled for June.

But we won’t give up. The world needs to tackle global warming urgently, and to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, oil, gas and coal must remain on the ground – there is no other option.


To learn more go to https://zerofosseis.org 

Categories: International News

2018 is looking like the year of mass divestment

April 4, 2018 - 4:49am

It started on January 8th when, after 5 years of community pressure, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would divest its $189-billion pension funds from fossil fuel companies. It was huge, not just in dollars – $5 billion of fossil fuel industry funding retracted – but also in symbolic power.

By tagging on a lawsuit against 5 major oil companies for climate-related damages, the city sent a clear message: the fossil fuel industry is to blame for our warming climate, and to cool things down we must defund them and strip them of social licence to profit from that destruction.

We’re taking on Big Oil because it’s the right thing to do to protect the future of our city and our planet. pic.twitter.com/kezomaxKiL

— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 13, 2018

It’s a point the global movement for divestment has been making since 2012. Even though the total value of institutions who divested now surpasses $6 trillion, there’s no saying exactly how high that figure will go this year and beyond. Since the NYC announcement, a flurry of commitments has been coming in from around the world and picking up steam. And with each and every divestment win, we’re weakening the public acceptance that’s been enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry for decades.

Some of the fastest progress is happening in Europe, with a waterfall of wins in the past few weeks and months:

Freiburg, Leipzig and Oldenburg city councils in Germany and Derby and Monmouthshire councils in the UK have all made full divestment commitments. The student divestment movement in the UK has been using escalation as a powerful tactic, and has had some huge wins too, with Edinburgh, Sussex, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Huddersfield, Glasgow Caledonian, and Angela Ruskin Universities all joining the party. And in Germany, the University of Münster became the country’s first university to divest, with more local groups building public pressure for another big uni announcement in April.

3 Russell Group unis #divest in one week
63 UK unis with some kind of divestment commitment

Categories: International News

A battle for life and water in southern Louisiana

April 3, 2018 - 5:49pm

The energy at the L’eau Est La Vie camp is calm and serene, yet there’s also a palpable sense of urgency and seriousness. Through the trees and just around the corner – you can see the pipes on the ground and trenches where Energy Transfer Partners has begun construction on the Bayou Bridge pipeline. Private security drives up and down the road numerous times a day, and many people have been intimidated and targeted.

L’eau Est La Vie sits on 11 acres of private land about 2.5 hours west of New Orleans. Up until recently, it sat directly on the route of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, but Energy Transfer Partners elected to move the route just around the camp’s border. L’eau Est La Vie camp, which means “Water is Life” in French, has existed on this land since November 2017. Before moving to this site, it was a floating camp where people gathered on boats and barges to call attention to the project and the risks it brings to the Atchafalaya basin and surrounding bayous.

The purpose of the camp is to peacefully resist the pipeline, pray, inspire others to take action, and train and lead volunteers to do water monitoring to document violations by Energy Transfer Partners. In addition, the plan for the camp is to create a lasting community and space for people to learn and build the future we want to see for Louisiana and beyond.

Despite the very real and chilling realities — the intimidation, speed of construction, surveillance — the culture of the camp is positive, nurturing and replenishing. Whether it’s the beautiful budding garden that’s been planted, the colorful bouquet of flowers that sits on the table in the kitchen area, or the gorgeous art that lines the warehouse space — it is a hopeful, joyful place. The camp cat, “Puddles,” walks around greeting visitors as everyone works hard to complete projects, like building platforms for more tents as well as more permanent structures, that keep the camp running.

Last week, I joined together with people from across Louisiana and beyond to go door-to-door on a canvassing caravan, talking with communities along the pipeline route about the risks of the project and what can be done to stop it. Our group of canvassers was joined by the Black Hawk Revelators — a 7-person brass band who played in the streets as we walked around.

On the first day of the caravan, we departed from camp early and headed to Lake Charles where the pipeline begins. With clipboards loaded with flyers, stamped postcards to Governor Edwards, and sign-up sheets, we broke off in pairs down long streets with no sidewalks to let people know about the project and share ways to get involved.

I had many long conversations with community members, most of whom had never heard about the project. Sadly, many of them had come to expect projects like this in Louisiana which has been overrun with oil and gas for decades. Nearly everyone I spoke with was concerned about the project and signed a postcard to the Governor with a note about their concerns.

Some of the messages read: “we want clean water,” “let us live” and “please stop the pipeline.” We spoke with former employees of the industry who knew first hand what the risks are and how careless these companies are when it comes to leaks, spills, and permit violations.

While driving along the 163-mile pipeline route, the beauty of the landscape was breathtaking — green grasses, bright blue sky, and some of the warmest, welcoming people I’ve met. As we moved from Lake Charles, to Jennings, St. Martinville, Donaldsonville and St. James, the neighborhoods differed greatly in terms of race, income, and age but some things remained constant.

Everywhere I went, the role of water, industry, and flooding is omnipotent. The Bayou Bridge pipeline would cross 700 waterways, and I can understand how — rivers, bayous, and water are everywhere. They are the literal and cultural foundation in south Louisiana. This month marks the beginning of crawfish season, which means crawfish boils and economic opportunity for local fishermen. At nearly every bayou or river, I saw someone fishing, boating, hunting or enjoying a picnic with their family

Bayou Teche in St. Martinville, Louisiana a few miles north from where the pipeline would cross.

A related constant presence is the fear of what this rising water can and has done to communities. For nearly an hour, we drove alongside a levee and flood wall, and even during the less-wet month of March, there were light-up traffic signs along the road saying “Caution: Water on Road.” Seeing homes next to the river, I found myself thinking, “I hope those cinder block stilts are high enough to weather the next storm.” The legacy of Hurricane Katrina and more recent disasters, along with the rapid loss of land due to climate change and rising sea levels, are ever present for people living in southwest Louisiana.

Recent studies show that glacial melting is accelerating in Antarctica and Greenland, driving sea level rise on the Gulf Coast. According to the United States Geological Survey, a football field’s worth of wetlands vanishes every 100 minutes — one of the highest rates on the planet which makes communities even more vulnerable to major storms.

Lastly, industry and the role it plays is impossible to ignore. Upon arriving at St. James where the pipeline ends, I saw industrial facilities bigger than most city skylines. The plants are so massive and invasive, not even the roads are spared. We drove under and through pipeline labyrinths that connect from cargo ships coming down the Mississippi directly to massive industrial plants.

118 storage containers where the oil from Bayou Bridge would be stored. St. James, Louisiana

In a matter of minutes, we passed an ammonia plant, 118 oil storage tanks where Bayou Bridge oil will be stored, and other petrochemical plants that light up the sky orange with their fluorescent lights and flares. The economy and jobs in Louisiana revolve around these dirty industries — yet while Louisiana has opened itself up to dirty industries with open arms, it is the second poorest state in the country. The Bayou Bridge pipeline would only create 12 permanent jobs.

The campaign against the Bayou Bridge pipeline is not new. Resistance began as far back as 2016 with solidarity actions in Louisiana during the historic fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. Bayou Bridge was approved by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources in December, although it received little national attention at the time. The project was approved without an Environmental Impact Statement — a process required for most pipelines — and much of the focus of the #NoBBP campaign has been to urge the Governor to call for an environmental review.

Photo from On March 26 action which shut down construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Photo Credit: L’eau Est La Vie Camp

While actions at the camp and efforts to target the Governor continue, much of the fight to stop the pipeline lives in the courtroom. In January, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers for acting “arbitrarily and capriciously” in issuing a permit for the Bayou Bridge pipeline. On February 24, a U.S. District Judge granted a temporary injunction to prevent irreparable harm to the Atchafalaya basin — an environmentally sensitive National Heritage Area — until the lawsuit could be heard. While that temporary injunction was reversed, the lawsuit continues and the hearing on the final injunction will happen in May.

Meanwhile, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) — the same company behind the Dakota Access pipeline — continues to have the worst safety record of any pipeline company in the nation. In the first 11 weeks of 2018, ETP received 36 violations and $12.8 million in proposed fines. Recent accidents in Ohio and Pennsylvania show how careless this company is — and that their operations anywhere are inherently dangerous.

I’m grateful to all the local organizers and volunteers who are working every day to stop this pipeline — they deserve all of our appreciation. To win this fight, more attention and pressure on Governor Edwards is needed. The organizers on the ground also need financial support to keep the camp running. To get involved, visit nobbp.org and make a donation to the camp here.

Resisting Bayou Bridge is bigger than stopping one pipeline — it’s about challenging an industry that’s endangering the communities of Louisiana and the climate. We know we can do better, and we must.

Map of caravan:

Categories: International News