Pages tagged "fracking"


Demand BLM Protect Chaco's Sacred Sites From Fracking

New Mexico’s beautiful Chaco Canyon region is home to ancient ruins that are sacred to the Pueblo and Navajo people. Now, the government wants to let fossil fuel companies frack millions of acres of land in the area—putting this priceless cultural heritage at grave risk. The next four days are a crucial window to tell the Bureau of Land Management that's unacceptable. Send a message: don’t frack near Chaco Canyon! More than a thousand years ago, Chaco Canyon was the spiritual, economic and political center of a vast civilization that stretched across much of the American southwest. Without modern tools or wheels, the ancient Anasazi people built huge ceremonial Great Houses in and around Chaco Canyon and connected them to spiritually significant places with massive roads, astonishingly straight and as wide as two-lane highways. Chacoan civilization left no written texts, so these feats of architecture and engineering are a uniquely valuable inheritance from that vanished culture, considered sacred to this day by the Pueblo—the descendents of the Chacoans—and Navajo. GFC_Chaco_300x200

Now that priceless legacy is under threat.

Fossil fuel companies are moving in around Chaco Canyon, as risky new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology makes it increasingly possible to exploit shale deposits throughout the San Juan Basin. It’s bad enough that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) already allows extraction in the region—but now it's moving toward approving hundreds of new permits for oil and gas companies to frack and drill millions of acres. The area threatened by fracking includes 35 Chaco Great Houses and a vast network of ancient roads. Tell the BLM: that’s an outrage. The BLM is currently revising its land use plan for the Chaco region. They could greatly strengthen protections for these invaluable cultural treasures—if enough of us speak up.

In the next few days, we have a valuable window: the BLM is taking public comments on environmental impact until next Wednesday, May 28. Rainforest Action Network is part of a coalition of groups—including the Solstice Project, Earthworks and CREDO Action—fighting to protect Chaco from fracking. Together, let’s tell the BLM that fracking in the Chaco Canyon region is one extraction project that the public won’t just rubber-stamp. The legacy of Chacoan civilization is a national and world treasure—Chaco Canyon is an official National Historical Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If we won’t protect the Chacoan inheritance, then nothing is sacred. Will you add your voice?

P.S. Our friends at the Solstice Project are working on a beautiful new PBS documentary about the archaeological riches of Chaco Canyon. In response to the fracking threat, they’ve released a four-minute excerpt of this work in progress. See just how important it is to protect Chaco here: Fracking Threatens Chaco's Sacred American Heritage (WOTL) from matt dibble on Vimeo.


Resisting Exxon and Peabody's Dark Age

Forget the reign of Tywin Lannister and his bloodthirsty brood of children, grandchildren and henchmen raping and pillaging their way through the fantastical land of Westeros while hapless Starks are beheaded and scattered to the winds. Our own world’s fate is similarly imperiled by the fossil fuel empire's own game of thrones, power and profit at the expense of the "smallfolk," eco-systems and the climate itself. The Lannisters have nothing on Rex Tillerson and Greg Boyce. These dark lords of the carbon economy are raping and pillaging their way through our planet’s vital life systems and climate. Companies like Exxon and Peabody Coal have created a dark age that has been marked by the extraction, transportation and combustion of oil, coal and natural gas. The Lannisters may have dropped “the big one” on Catelyn Stark, Robb Stark and Robb’s beloved dire wolf Grey Wind at the Red Wedding, but Big Oil and Big Coal perpetrate the slaughter of a thousand Red Weddings every day. three kings Examples include:
  •  Coal Mining. For over forty years, coal companies have strip-mined Appalachia for the last remaining seams of coal while ending the power of organized labor by reducing workforces through mechanization. The regulation of strip-mining opened up loopholes that allowed coal companies to literally explode the tops off of mountains. To date over 500 mountains have been destroyed by mountaintop removal. Countless creeks, rivers and other water sources have been poisoned. And thousands of people have been exposed to the worst effects of dirty air and dirty water from mountaintop removal. In the interior west, Big Coal is further mining huge coal reserves in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming.
  •  Natural gas and fracking. For the past decade we've seen the proliferation of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), which stimulates wells drilled into gas and coal-bed methane. This process has had a huge human impact and created a toxic legacy on the environmental landscape as well as local community health. Large-scale fracking operations are spreading across North America.
  •  Oil infrastructure. The biggest environmental fight since the forest wars of the 1990s has manifested around the Keystone XL pipeline. But Keystone XL is only the beginning as Big Oil is building a network of pipelines throughout Canada and the United States. Spills and leaks are growing concerns as Big Oil weaves this spider web of death and destruction across the continent.
  •  Fossil fuel exports. The coasts are also becoming hot spots of attention as dozens of oil, gas and coal proposals are on the table in the Pacific Northwest and a fight is growing over a fracked-gas export terminal on Chesapeake Bay. Industry doesn’t just want to use mined and fracked fossil fuels for domestic energy production, they also want to export dirty fuels for big profits to Europe and Asia.
Finally, top scientists with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) released the mother of all climate reports. It included dire warnings around drought, famine, social unrest and melting icebergs. While the House of Lannister’s wars may have left Westeros in a shambles, the Houses of Exxon and Peabody, with the compliance of craven politicians, are leaving our world in a world of shit. [caption id="attachment_23623" align="alignright" width="300"]robb Robb Stark and Grey Wind[/caption] But don’t despair! As Jon Snow and Arya Stark are discovering in “Game of Thrones,” direct action is the antidote to the gloom and doom crushing down on us. People realizing the true weight of fossil fuel extraction’s impact on the climate, the land and communities have become a thousand flowers blooming new resistance from Alaska to Appalachia. In our world, bold and effective organizing replaces sword play and barrels of wildfire to fight back against the dark lords of the fossil fuel economy. In 2012, an alliance of climate activists and Texas landowners launched the Tar Sands Blockade, which organized a number of daring actions up and down the route of the southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. This included an 80-day tree blockade that stood directly in the path of pipeline construction. Tar Sand Blockade activists faced brutal police violence, felony charges for non-violent actions and civil suits from TransCanada. In 2013, the Michigan Coalition against Tar Sands, or MICATS, organized similar actions against Enbridge pipeline and tar sands processing operations in Detroit. Three of the MICATS spent over a month in jail while awaiting sentencing. And things aren’t slowing down in 2014. The heartland and both coasts are fighting back against the robber barons of coal, oil and gas. In southern Illinois and St. Louis, Peabody Coal is feeling the heat. Not only has a ballot initiative trying to get a $60 million tax break in the city of St. Louis revoked been putting pressure on Peabody, but students at Washington University at St. Louis have begun a sustained occupation of their campus calling for Peabody CEO Greg Boyce to be removed from the Board of Trustees.  At coal mines in the Shawnee Hills in southern Illinois, a community has begun fighting back against Peabody’s pillaging of the land. In South Dakota, native bands are establishing camps along the route of the northern leg of Keystone XL. To date, at least three camps have been established. Lakota leaders have vowed that TransCanada will only build that pipeline if they are “dead or in prison.” In the Marcellus Shale, Earth Firsters have joined with local farmers and landowners in campaigns against natural gas extraction. In the west, Rising Tide activists in Oregon, Idaho and Montana are supporting Indigenous allies and local communities against the tar sands megaloads. The megaloads are house-sized shipments of tar sands refining equipment bound for Alberta. Finally, the growing fight against a proposed fracked-gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, aka Cove Point, has started waves of grassroots organizing and civil disobedience to prevent its construction. Potentially a huge fight led by local communities, small environmental organizations and grassroots direct action groups, Cove Point is a choke point for overseas natural gas exports. Closing it down could have huge impacts on the viability of gas markets domestically and abroad. More fights are brewing this year against fossil fuel terminals in the Pacific Northwest, against the Energy East tar sands pipeline in eastern Canada and New England, against continued mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia and against the final decision of the Keystone XL pipeline. Like the heroes and heroines of Game of Thrones, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Playing Nice In The Sandbox: Feds Try To Inimidate Texas Climate Activists

[caption id="attachment_18767" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ben Kessler at the Tar Sands Action last August; via We Are Powershift"][/caption] I’ve been organizing campaigns and non-violent direct actions for a long time. Over ten years now. Most of the time, I hear stories about the screwed up things our government and corporations do and I take it in stride. Every once in a while, something pops and it gets under my skin. A lot. Case in point. This week, the Ft. Worth Weekly (Ft. Worth’s alt weekly) posted a follow up story to last month’s Washington Post expose about the FBI investigating Rising Tide North Texas, anti-fracking activists in Denton, TX, my friend and comrade Ben Kessler and his professor at the University of North Texas Adam Briggle. The reporter, Andrew McLemore, provided more details about the FBI and Dallas Police Dept.’s conversations with Briggle: "The law enforcement officers asked Briggle about his involvement with the Denton Stakeholder Drilling Advisory Group, a group of residents lobbying the city council to stop issuing permits for gas drilling until potential environmental impacts are studied. The agent and police officer also asked the professor about Kessler, who took his ethical theory course, and about some of his assigned readings. Oh, and they also asked him about IEDs, improvised explosive devices of the sort used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. “A question like that is so out of left field, it just sort of stuns you,” Briggle said. “It seemed like this was about Ben, not me. ...  The Dallas police guy said they just wanted to make sure everyone was ‘playing nice in the sandbox.’ ” Briggle said the officers seemed mainly to want him to contact them if he observed the potential for violent behavior by a student or activist. The professor described Kessler as an intelligent leader of nonviolent student protests. “There’s a concern, not just that I get written off as a nutty ideologue, but that Ben and other protesters are written off as crazy, violent terrorists,” he said." Ben is marine veteran. He served in Afghanistan. Our government sends people off to participate in these wars. When they return and see how screwed up the government and corporations have made our country and world and begin to speak out about it, they are investigated as “criminals” and “terrorists.” Adam Briggle is right. Ben is an intelligent leader of a non-violent group of students and environmentalists fighting for a safer cleaner world. It’s the FBI agent and the Dallas police officer that are conducting this “investigation” that carry guns and work for the people dropping bombs, not Rising Tide North Texas. Here’s McLemore’s article if you want to read it in full.

Breaking: Dept of Interior Drops Charges Against 21 Arrested At Reclaim Power March

Reclaim Power march occupies Dept. of Interior
via Shadia Fayne Wood
Update from Washington D.C.: The Department of Interior has dropped the charges against the 21 activists arrested during the Reclaim Power March on April 18th. About one thousand people marched to the Dept. of Interior in an unpermitted march organized by Rising Tide North America and Peaceful Uprising, singing "We Shall Overcome." Hundreds of activists then stormed the building's lobby for an occupation that lasted several hours and resulted in 21 arrests. Today, all 21 were in court for their arraignment. Some planned on going to trial. But then there was a strange turn. The Dept of Interior essentially dropped all charges. Here's a firsthand account from one of the DOI 21:
The court called us up front and, one by one, called us up to the clerk who gave us a paper which said, in part, "The US Attorney's office for the District of Columbia or the office of the Attorney General for the D. of C. has declined to proceed with prosecution against you for the incident that led to your arrest for the offense of UNLAWFUL ENTRY. This means that your arrest has been NO PAPERED. However, the prosecuting attorney could seek to proceed with prosecution at a later date.
An activist arrested at Dept. of Interior following occupation by Reclaim Power march
via Shadia Fayne Wood
Our lawyer afterwards said that in 20 years of experience he knows of only one case where someone who was "no papered" was later prosecuted for the charge. The 21 of us went outside the courthouse and after exchanging hugs we sang "If I Had a Hammer" together. We also talked about the next big action for many of us, the March on Blair Mountain. We were all juiced!"
Was it the threat of taking it to court, the sheer number of arrestees, or the upcoming presidential election that swayed them? Maybe all three.

What is "Clean" Energy Anyways?

Not natural gas. Researchers at Cornell University just released a study (pdf) that argues that using natural gas for energy actually causes more, not less, greenhouse gas emissions than coal. The reason that natural gas is so greenhouse gas-intensive is because of "fracking," or hydraulic fracturing, the process required to extract natural gas from far underground. The study's authors found that during the fracking process, enough methane is released from underground to make natural gas actually dirtier than coal. No FrackingAccording to the study: "Compared to coal, the [climate] footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years." This news is especially distressing because coal plants across the United States are converting to natural gas in response to upcoming EPA air pollution regulations. Instead of switching from one dirty fuel to another, communities need to replace dirty power plants with truly clean, green energy — and banks need to stop financing false solutions like natural gas and instead invest in the renewable energy solutions that will replace fossil fuels once and for all. For more information about natural gas extraction and fracking, check out RAN's official position statement on hydrofracking, or get involved with Earthworks, a great organization working to protect communities from the devastating effects of gas development.

RAN's Position On Hydrofracking

Citizen protesting hydro fracking in NYWe have grown increasingly concerned about the prevalence of hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' a technique used to mine natural gas. We've watched movies like Split Estate and Gasland, which explain the serious health risks associated with fracking, and we've been hearing and reading about thousands of people across the US who are turning out to public meetings and hearings to say "No" to fracking in their community. Having taken a look at the issue, we developed the following policy position:
Rainforest Action Network believes that corporations should be allowed to extract and process mineral fuels only if they can do so without harming human health or contaminating the air, water, and soil, or failing to maintain ecological integrity,  with an eye on impacts at all levels: local, regional, and global. This means achieving the following goals: 1. No water pollution: Protecting public health, the environment, and the climate from toxic, hazardous, and carcinogenic chemicals used in the extraction of fossil fuel energy resources; 2. Low emissions: Protecting public health, the environment, and the climate from pollutants emitted during the drilling and ongoing production of energy resources; 3. No-go zones: Protecting sacred areas, fragile ecosystems, high conservation and high carbon value areas, neighborhoods, drinking watersheds, and densely populated areas targeted for energy development; 4.  Landowner Consent: Continuing to develop and then implementing laws and policies that make surface and mineral estates co-equal and ensure that landowners have essential rights to negotiate, including the right to say ‘no’ to energy development. 5.  Indigenous Rights: Honoring the unique right of Indigenous Communities to free, prior, informed consent as defined in the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Consent should be sought via a process that respects the traditional decision-making structures of the community. The process should be mutually agreed upon and recorded, while also complying with and building upon any applicable laws and regulations.
We would love to hear your feedback on this policy.

Deep in the Heart of Dirty Energy and False Solutions

[caption id="attachment_10441" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo from the Sierra Club"] [/caption] I just want Texas to be number one in something other than executions, toll roads and property taxes. -Kinky Friedman They say everything is bigger in Texas. And in the race to drive our environment and climate off a steep cliff, my home state of Texas is speeding ahead in a big ass Mack fucking Truck. Big Oil and King Coal have found kindred spirits in the land of rugged individualism and right wing politicians. George Dubya Bush’s political spawn might think bombing Iraqis and Afghans for oil is a good idea, but polluting and killing communities for big corporate profits in their own state with filthy water, dirty air, mercury poisoning, hydro-fracking, offshore drilling, oil refineries, nuclear plants, coal mines and coal plants is seen as a God-given right under their perverse interpretation of John Locke’s natural law. For starters, Texas is like the “Land Where Time Stood Still” when it comes to coal. Where we’ve seen frontline communities and national groups like Sierra Club successfully challenge and defeat existing and new coal-fired power plants all over the country, corporations and politicians in Texas keep marching forward towards the climate apocalypse. Currently there are at least 40 dirty coal burning boilers in Texas. Yeah, that’s right, four-zero! And they are some of the oldest dirtiest plants in the country. Furthermore, at least another 12 proposed coal plants are in the approval process to be built in the next few years. In 2006-2007, Dallas-based utility TXU tried to move 11 coal plants through an approval process that sparked massive resistance from all over the country (but especially inside Texas.) Now Luminant (formerly TXU, subsidiary of Energy Future Holding) owns four massive dirty plants in central and east Texas and have three others in various stages of approval and development. Other companies are proposing coal plants throughout the state as well. It's a dirty energy epidemic! According to the Environmental Integrity Project, Texas leads the country in mercury emissions. In fact, five of the worst mercury-emitting coal plants make their home in Texas. The Martin Lake Stream plant (owned and operated by Luminant) is the nation’s worst mercury polluter. You’ll also be surprised to find out that according to a March 2009 report by the NRDC, Texas is facing the largest increase in the production of toxic coal ash waste by power plants than any other state. Then we have the Oil-igarchy. When I organized in Houston, one of the many names my friends and I called our group was the “Belly of the Beast.” It’s because Houston, and Texas, are home to the all powerful Oil-igarchy, and those companies run the American empire. They have economies the size of mid-sized countries. They bring down governments with the stroke of a pen. They own politicians and fund climate denial front groups in the climate wars. Here’s some quick facts about Big Oil in Texas:
  • U.S. headquarters to Shell, CononcoPhillips, BP and Exxon.
  • Operational centers to many other oil companies and oil services companies, from Chevron to Halliburton.
  • Home of the largest oil refinery in North America (Exxon-owned Baytown Refinery, Baytown, TX).
  • Big Oil’s dominant paradigm is reinforced in Texas by its gas-guzzling car culture.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline is coming down right through Texas carrying Alberta tar sands oil from Alberta to Port Arthur on the Gulf Coast (because polluting the Gulf with offshore-drilled oil isn't quite enough.)
[caption id="attachment_10443" align="alignleft" width="233" caption="Photo from cleantechnica.com"][/caption] I can’t say enough about Big Oil and Texas. It’s a source of pride and cultural tradition throughout the state. Fictional oilman J. R. Ewing is a hero to many, and Texans will defend their right to drive their big trucks and drain the earth of fossil fuels to the bloody end. The other night, I saw a great lesson on fossil fuels on the new AMC show “The Walking Dead.” In a world destroyed by the Zombie Apocalypse, a scientist remarked (as power for their gasoline-fueled generators protecting them from the zombies was running out): “We based our whole society on fossil fuels, how stupid was that?” And Texas ain’t just full of out-and-out dirty fossil fuels, there are also plenty of False Solutions to climate change to go around as well. False Solutions are quick fixes that perpetuate inequities in our society and attempt to cash in on the climate crisis.  From nuclear power to “fracking” in north, central and south Texas to proposed “clean coal” plants, you don’t have to be burning oil and coal to be harming Texan communities. For instance, the coal and utility industries are hell-bent on selling us “clean coal” technology, a.k.a. carbon capture and storage (CCS), and they want Texas to be the lab rat for this unproven technology. According to CoalSwarm, the Summit Power Group is currently developing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in Texas called the Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP). TCEP, also refered to as “NowGen,” is a carbon capture facility that will incorporate CCS technology in what the company calls a "first-of-its kind commercial power plant." TCEP hopes to capture 90% of its carbon dioxide emissions. If accomplished, this would be more than any other power plant of commercial scale operating anywhere in the world. As a result, the company contends that TCEP’s carbon emissions will be far lower than those of any existing fossil-fueled power plant. Gas companies have also decided to rapidly expand natural gas extraction from underlying shales by using a relatively new technique called hydro fracturing, or “fracking.” This “bridge fuel” — as some of the Big Greens call it — may be less carbon-intensive than coal or oil, but it’s still just a fossil fuel with a smaller carbon footprint. But furthermore, the fracking extraction method is poisoning communities from New York to Pennsylsvania to different parts of Texas. Land owners are getting burned by eminent domain as gas companies are forcing their way onto their land to get to the gas and leaving lots of dirty byproducts. Everyone from suburban soccer moms to farmers are rising up against fracking in Texas. It doesn’t help that the Big Greens give a stamp of approval to its extraction. It does help when the soccer moms block the roads into the drilling sites with their mini-vans. Nukes often get a hall pass from some clean energy advocates. According to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service: “The nuclear power industry and its governmental allies are spending tens of millions of dollars annually to promote atomic power as a “clean air” energy source and to encourage the construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. and worldwide.” The industry is fighting to make Texas the site of a resurgence for the nuclear industry, with at least seven proposed nuclear plants plus a proposal to make Andrews County, Texas a nuclear waste dump. And the reason driving all these dirty energy and false solution projects in the great state of Texas? Greed, pure corporate greed. Unfortunately many Texan politicians are in the pocket of these greedy bastards, so it comes down to people power — and Texas has lots of it. Rising Tide chapters are sprouting up in Dallas and Houston. Suburban soccer moms are organizing against natural gas in North Texas. Local environmental coalitions and Sierra Club chapters are standing up to nukes and Big Coal. Texas-based direct action networks dating back to before the WTO shutdown in Seattle in 1999 have fought corporate and state power for over a decade. Texas is going to be the next big battleground over our energy future. Struggles over polluting fossil fuels as well as corporate green washing solutions are clearly going to be entering a new phase in 2011. Hopefully, we’ll see a new fierce resistance take hold.