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IWW Member Brenna Cain: Why I Am With Labor For Standing Rock

By Brenna Cain - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 3, 2016

Brenna Cain from IWW 610 talks about the importance of defending the human rights of Native Americans and supporting their efforts to protect the Missouri River.

IWW Member Liam Cain: Why I Am With Labor For Standing Rock

By Liam Cain - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 3, 2016

I Just got back from a brief but inspiring trip to North Dakota with Labor for Standing Rock. Here Liam Cain from LIUNA Local 1271 / IWW EUC talks about the importance of defending the human rights of Native Americans and supporting their efforts to protect the Missouri River. Mni Wiconi - Water is Life

Standing Rock and Beyond: Big Oil’s Corporate Dislocations and Extortions

By Wendell G Bradley - CounterPunch, November 4, 2016

If a corp (o’rat) wants to be criminally normal, here is how it must think/act:

Conceive of a project that is bigger than ever, yet still propagandizable as ‘in the public interest’.

Such capitalization, in the billions, makes it eligible for government-engineered (made-easy) credit access, and with regulatory approval already ‘play-booked’, for example, as with oil and gas.

Make the project as ‘venturesome’ (risky) as possible, thus bondable only in those high-yield categories the especially brave, free market entrepreneurs alone dare to inhabit, ostensibly creating benefits for everyone.

Big banks are anxious to use their tax-gifted, ever accumulating slush funds (already in the hundreds of billions) to financially ‘correct’ low interest environments.

Such projects are said to deserve their automatic (publicly guaranteed) insurance policies against any/all failures, given they are integral to ‘our’ economy, especially as general job creators.

‘Too big to fail’ projects are not subject to the free market, democratic process. They are not about ‘informed consumers making rational choices’. Foreign Trade Agreements, for example, are made in secret. Slick advertising of the effective kind, affordable only by big, corporate money, is highly successful in shaping public attitudes. The corporately touted basis for ‘free markets’ becomes undermined.

Indeed most risky, big project ideas (think internet) are developmentally funded by public money, at places like MIT. Upon corporate adoption, such tax-financed, highly promoted developments will yield insured, private profit, not free market trials under creative competition.

A particularly instructive ‘case in point’ is fracked oil and its delivery. At current and expected prices ($50/bbl), US oil is largely uneconomic to produce and pipeline to market. For example, the break-even price for both the Bakken (ND) and Niobrara (CO) oil fields has proven to be, on average, at least $75/ bbl (includes acquisition, leasing, capitalization, and transportation charges).

Of course some wells, a few percent in very localized ‘sweet spots’, can still yield profits. However, large scale projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), if based on total-formation output figures, will prove wholly unjustified–least of all for any public-benefit argument used to justify takings of private property, say by eminent domain proceedings.

For example, it simply does not make economic sense to justify DAPL’s $5 billion project cost on the basis of 400,000 bbl/day Bakken production if 90% of that oil, 360,000 bbls/day, is transported simply to recover some revenue from bad, initial investments at the wells.

The environmental degradations from the daily pipeline releases experienced across the US are huge. However, such costs do not figure into official economics. They are simply dismissed from accounting as ‘economic externalities’—another of the privileging violations of actual free market cost/benefit.

At current oil prices, the Bakken has few ‘economically recoverable’ reserves–the only ones that count in Securities Exchange calculations of legitimate investment. Accordingly, the future of legitimate oil development’s production/transport per the Bakken is highly speculative; too much so to establish any clear public benefit from DAPL. For example, if today’s proven oil reserves provided all US consumption, their depletion would fail energy independence in only 1.5 years.

Under a full accounting, DAPL’s justifications for forcible ‘takings/leasing’ finally evaporate altogether. For example, according to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of all oil reserves must stay in the ground if economically devastating climate change limits are to be heeded. DAPL approval is therefore a form of climate denial, one directly counter to Obama’s professed doctrine requiring special review for all additions of climate-influencing infrastructure.

So, why take oil’s public risks, such as its economic and environmental dislocations from pipeline ruptures, when clean, renewable solar is currently available, more economically. For example, solar produces utility-level electricity at less expense than does oil production’s natural gas complement, according to our National Energy Lab (Berkeley). Renewables are even replacing oil in production of plastics and clothing.

Clearly, the oil industry is experiencing a market-based decline known as ‘creative destruction’ under solar penetration. It can no longer compete, even though hugely subsidized. Exxon, the world’s leading oil company, experienced stock price declines (17%) apparently due to profit declines (17%) since 2014, and had a credit rating reduction to its lowest value in 17 years.

The smart money is ‘going solar’; divestments and bankruptcies in oil are increasing (105 filings since 2015; expecting around 200 overall).

Oil is rapidly becoming the dinosaur of energy, yet it continues to enjoy developmental subsidies, world-wide, of about a million dollars per day. Oil is not a rational-market operation.

Indeed, oil’s bigger-than-ever project justifications, such as DAPL, can only be entertained within a captive regulatory framework whose blatant defiance of rational, democratic choice is increasingly being understood as a form of Class Warfare, one enabling an economic elite to extort wealth from a 70% disenfranchised public (Princeton study.)

Witness the deep, gritty awareness at Standing Rock, ND where indigenous people are the first to make all of the above crystal clear in their direct resistance to Big Oil as Water Protectors. What can be more fundamental to well-being than that?

Labor For Standing Rock Announces Union Camp

By Cliff Willmeng, Michael Letwin, and Steve Ongerth - Labor for Standing Rock, October 28, 2016

October 29-30, 2016: Labor Mobilization in Support of Standing Rock, First Nations, in Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline

“We at Oceti Sakowin Camp welcome any and all support from our Union brothers and sisters. This camp stands to protect our sacred water and support a new energy paradigm, jobs and work in green energy fields. We welcome your support in any ways you feel appropriate, join us in paving a new road to a sustainable future for many future generations.”

--Message from Standing Rock Council to Labor for Standing Rock, 10/13/26.

In response to calls from Standing Rock, please join a coordinated labor mobilization on the weekend of October 29-30!

For more details, download this pamphlet (PDF).

Also, please donate to this campaign.

Water Protector Activists telling the story of the Pipeline Access Protest in Iowa!

How to support Standing Rock and confront what it means to live on stolen land

Berkley Carnine and Liza Minno Bloom - Waging Nonviolence, October 13, 2016

A month after President Obama told the Army Corps of Engineers to pause construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux and those supporting them still find themselves in a dire struggle to protect their water and land. With winter approaching, the 300 tribes that are now represented at the Camp of the Sacred Stone in North Dakota are preparing for a lengthy battle.

In their effort to protect water, life, ancestors and future generations, indigenous peoples are also demanding that corporations, the U.S. government, and settlers respect the treaties and indigenous self-determination. This is widening an existing dialogue and expanding ties of solidarity to include more of us who are of white European descent occupying indigenous land.

As support for those at Standing Rock grows, it is important that allies also confront the fundamental questions of what it means to live on stolen land and how to transform colonial relations in a way that creates a viable and just future for all communities and the planet. After almost a decade of engaging in request-based, volunteer solidarity organizing with indigenous groups fighting relocation in Black Mesa, Arizona due to coal mining, we have learned and honed a list of action steps for non-Native individuals just getting involved, as well as a set of best practices for activists already working on other organizing efforts.

As people of European descent who benefit from both white privilege and settler privilege, we understand that our work and writing is most effective when it is developing and acting upon a mutual stake in decolonization. This means focusing on the responsibilities specific to our position, which is inherently different from that of indigenous and non-Native people of color. Nevertheless, their organizing, along with much activist scholarship — some of which is linked to below — has helped inform this list of action steps and set of best practices.

The Power Behind the Pipeline

By Krystal Two Bulls, Red Warrior Camp, Scott Parkin, and Patrick Young - CounterPunch, October 13, 2016

The “Dakota Access” Pipeline (DAPL) is a $3.8 billion, 1,100 mile fracked-oil pipeline that is currently under construction running from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois. DAPL is slated to cross Lakota Treaty Territory at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where it would be laid underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the continent.

Construction of the DAPL would impact many sites that are sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and numerous other indigenous nations. DAPL would also, engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream.

This massive infrastructure project is being built and financed by a complex network of dozens of shady oil companies and banks with presences all over the world. Research into the pipeline’s ownership shows us that virtually every major bank in the world is financially connected to the companies involved in the project and numerous oil and gas companies will have ownership interests in the project. But who is driving the construction of the pipeline, and more importantly who has the power to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Climate Emergency: Global Insurgency

By Jeremy Brecher - Common Dreams, October 14, 2016

Note: The new, updated 2016 edition of Jeremy Brecher’s Climate Insurgency: A Strategy for Survival, from which the following is drawn, can be now be downloaded for free at the author's website here.)

The Lilliputian defenders of the earth’s climate have been winning some unlikely battles lately. The Standing Rock Sioux, supported by nearly two hundred Native American tribes and a lot of other people around the globe, have put a halt, at least for now, to completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project that threatens their sacred burial sites and the water supply for 17 million people—not to mention the world’s climate. Before that a seven-year struggle terminated the Keystone XL pipeline. Other fossil fuel extraction, transport, and burning facilities have been halted by actions around the world.

But as Bill McKibben has said, "Fighting one pipeline at a time, the industry will eventually prevail."[1] Is there a plausible strategy for escalating today’s campaigns against fossil fuel infrastructure to create an effective challenge to the escalating climate threat? How can we get the power we need to counter climate catastrophe? My book Climate Insurgency: A Strategy for Survival (download) grapples with that question and proposes a possible strategy: a global nonviolent constitutional insurgency. Now that strategy is being tried – and may even be overcoming some of the obstacles that have foiled climate protection heretofore.

Standing Rock Solid with the Frackers: Are the Trades Putting Labor’s Head in the Gas Oven?

By Sean Sweeney - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, October 14, 2016

This article first appeared in New Labor Forum. It has been updated to reflect the rising level of union opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

If anyone were looking for further evidence that the AFL-CIO remains unprepared to accept the science of climate change, and unwilling to join with the effort being made by all of the major labor federations of the world to address the crisis, the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) provides only the most recent case in point. Taking direction from the newly minted North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the American Petroleum Institute (API), the federation stood against the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations.

In a recent video interview, NABTU president Sean McGarvey dismissed those who oppose the expansion of fossil fuels infrastructure. “There is no way to satisfy them…no way for them to recognize that if we don’t want to lose our place in the world as the economic superpower, then we have to have this infrastructure and the ability to responsibly reap the benefits of what God has given this country in its natural resources.”[i] Although the leaders of NABTU no longer identify with the AFL-CIO and the letterhead does not mention the Federation, the Trades continue to determine the shape the AFL-CIO’s approach to energy and climate. This is despite the fact that a growing number of unions have opposed the DAPL, among them the Amalgamated Transit Union, Communication Workers of America, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Nurses United, New York State Nurses Association, Service Employees International Union (SEIU); SEIU 1199, and the United Electrical Workers. Union locals (branches or chapters) have also opposed the DAPL, among them, GEU UAW Local 6950 and Steelworkers Local 8751.

These unions have been joined by the Labor Coalition for Community Action, which represents well established AFL-CIO constituency groups like LCLAA, APALA, Pride at Work, CBTU, CLUW and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Reacting to the progressive unions’ solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux, NABTU’s president Sean McGarvey wrote a scathing letter to AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, copies of which were sent to the principal officers of all of the Federation’s affiliated unions. In a fashion reminiscent of the Keystone XL fight, McGarvey disparaged the unions that opposed DAPL. A day later, on September 15th, the AFL-CIO issued its own already infamous statement supporting DAPL. “Trying to make climate policy by attacking individual construction projects is neither effective nor fair to the workers involved” said the statement. “The AFL-CIO calls on the Obama Administration to allow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue.”[ii]

For the second time today, concerned citizens shut down Dakota Access Pipeline construction in Keokuk

By Aaron Murphy, Ruby Montoya, and Jim Arenz - Mississippi Stand Camp, October 10, 2016

Keokuk, IA - For the second time today concerned citizens stopped construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Jessica Garraway of Minneapolis, Minn., locked down to a construction vehicle blocking access to the Dakota Access boring site under the Mississippi River.

At approximately 7:30pm, citizens who had gathered around the entrance advised the truck driver that a human being was underneath the truck. It took several minutes for the truck driver to shut the vehicle off. Approximately 15 minutes passed until the truck was secure from rolling over her body.

During this time, pipeline security officers did not provide chocks for the truck’s wheels. Citizens at the construction site entrance placed rocks behind the wheels, securing the vehicle.

After police arrived, roads were blocked and views were obstructed. Witnesses sang and chanted in support of Garraway’s actions. Pipeline construction workers dismantled the truck’s axle and Garraway was arrested 45 minutes later.

Earlier today, several people locked arms and blocked construction access for at least one hour. One woman remained seated and the police appeared to use stress positions in an attempt to force compliance.

For weeks citizens have held an encampment on Mississippi River road in Keokuk, Iowa, called “Mississippi Stand” (http://www.mississippistand.com). Hundreds of people from the tri-state area have come to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the pipeline. Supporters continue to mobilize from across the country and more arrive each day.

Footage of this evening’s occurrence was livestreamed on Mississippi Stand’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/MississippiStandCamp/

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