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tar sands

Linda McQuaig is Right: Keep the TarSands in the Ground!

By Elena Mora - Left Streamed, September 29, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

At the beginning of the federal election campaign, Toronto Centre NDP candidate and respected author Linda McQuaig stated a simple fact: “a lot of people recognize that a lot of the oil sands oil may need to stay in the ground if we're going to meet our climate change targets.” This sparked a corporate media backlash, accusing her of being ideologically-driven, anti-Alberta and anti-jobs.

The science is clear: if Canada continues to extract the tar sands, it will be game over for the climate. To avoid climate catastrophe we need to keep the vast majority of tar sands in the ground. In addition to their impact on the climate, the tar sands disproportionately affect Indigenous communities - from Dene, Cree, and Metis communities at ground zero of the tar sands mega project, to Aamjiwnaang First Nation surrounded by the tar sands refineries of Chemical Valley. The transport of tar sands bitumen through pipelines and by rail also threatens people, communities, and waterways right across the country. At a time of both an economic and ecological crises, investments in the tar sands waste resources that could be creating green jobs and infrastructure, and empowering local communities. While solutions to the climate and ecological crises exist, they have been all but absent in the federal election campaigns.

What the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know About Fracking

By Josh Fox and Lee Ziesche - EcoWatch, September 12, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

TRAILER FOR GASWORK THE FIGHT FOR CJ's Law A NEW SHORT FILM BY JOSH FOX from JFOX on Vimeo.

When we hear politicians and gas companies extoll the virtues of fracking, jobs created by drilling is usually high on their list of talking points. But the jobs created by fracking are not the kind of quality jobs American workers deserve.

They are not the kind of jobs American laborers have fought and died for throughout our country’s history.

They are extremely dangerous, exposing workers to chemicals whose long-term impacts on human health are yet unknown. In fact, the fatality rate of oil field jobs is seven times greater than the national average.

In our new short film, GASWORK: The Fight for C.J.’s Law, we conduct an investigation into worker safety and chemical risk. We follow Charlotte Bevins as she fights for CJ’s law—a bill to protect workers named for her brother CJ Bevins, who died at an unsafe drilling site.

We interview many workers who have been asked to clean drill sites, transport radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals, steam-clean the inside of condensate tanks which contain harmful volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals, and have been told to do so with no safety equipment.

Eviction of Mobile Home Park for Fracking Water

By Alex Lotorto - Energy Justice Network, September 2, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Riverdale Mobile Home Park was located on the Susquehanna River in Piatt Township, Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Residents were ordered to leave the park in March 2012 by Aqua PVR LLC, a project of Aqua America, a private water utility, and Penn Virginia Resources, a natural gas pipeline company.

The property was purchased in order to build a water withdrawal pump station and water line that would withdraw three million gallons per day for use in hydraulic fracturing by Range Resources, a Texas-based Marcellus shale drilling company. Each shale gas well requires five to nine million gallons of water to force open the rock, allowing the gas to flow out.

Aqua America's facility takes 6,000 water truck trips off the road each day, according to Aqua America, which displaced truck drivers, parts suppliers, fuel deliverers, mechanics, and service employees from their jobs in Lycoming County. The Marcellus shale industry hasn't proposed any relief, solution, or alternative to this loss of employment opportunities for Pennsylvania residents.

The facility's two permits were approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, a federal commission made up of Governors Corbett (R-PA), Cuomo (D-NY), O'Malley (D-MD), and President Obama.

The capacity of the park was 37 units and in March 2012, 32 families lived there. The initial offer from Aqua America included $2,500 for residents to move by April 1 and $1,200 for residents to move by May 1.

Immediately after the tragic story of Riverdale hit the press with the help of volunteers, Aqua America extended the deadline for $2,500 in compensation until June 1st.

A series of town halls, vigils, and picnics were organized by residents with some help from volunteers from around northeast and central Pennsylvania in opposition to the project. Residents and allies even held protests at Aqua America's headquarters in Bryn Mawr, at their shareholder meeting, and in front of Aqua's CEO Nick DeBenedictis' mansion in Ardmore.

Unfortunately, many residents felt forced to leave the park for reasons including fear of losing the $2,500 offer, uncertainty of what Aqua would do on June 1, and termination of their leases.

Breaking: Land Defenders Protest Mining Co. After River Poisoning

By Jesse Fruhwith - Peaceful Uprising, August 10, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

PR SPRINGS, UT –Several dozen climate justice land defenders will enforce a shut down at the US Oil Sands tar sands mine today in the Book Cliffs of Utah. The action comes just days after a century-old mine poured millions of gallons of toxic sludge into waterways that sustain 40 million Americans.

Calgary-based US Oil Sands is amidst an $80-million construction phase to assemble processing equipment, clear cut more land for more strip mine pits and ultimately to turn tar         sands rocks into liquid fuels. The company operates on land traditionally inhabited by Ute people and is now managed and leased to private corporations by the state of Utah.

The Animas River in nearby Colorado Wednesday was doused in toxic heavy metals from a long-abandoned gold mine–lead, arsenic and other poisons turned the river bright mustard yellow for several days. Many people risk drinking water contamination and water shortages. Thousands of mines across the region are in similarly dangerous condition.

Peaceful Uprising and other critics say tar sands and oil shale mining as well as oil and gas fracking open a new era of looming mining-related environmental disasters in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

“Thousands of mines like open wounds tell the story of a century of exploitation, destruction and violence–against the people of this land and the land and water themselves,” said Melanie Martin of Peaceful Uprising, on behalf of the crowd. “US Oil Sands continues that sick tradition by squandering precious water in a thirsty region and saddling future generations with a toxic legacy of climate catastrophe that there is no way to clean up.”

US EPA has attempted to intervene in construction of the tar sands mine in “Indian country,” but the company has stubbornly rebuffed the federal regulators. The state of Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining recently approved an expansion of the the US Oil Sands strip mine operation, but also demanded the company begin monitoring its toxic water emissions into the Colorado River watershed. That came after a University of Utah study found US Oil Sands mining plans are unsafe to the aquifers and water systems of the East Tavaputs Plateau.

The action comes on the heels of a week-long action training camp for about 80 people that the US Bureau of Land Management sought to stop.

People-enforced shut downs of operations have plagued the company for years and campaigners from Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Canyon Country Rising Tide, and others, vow some day to shut down the tar sands mine completely and forever.

EcoUnionist News #59

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, August 4, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Ongoing Mobilizations:

Bread and Roses:

Hoodwinked in the Hothouse

From the Introduction:

Desperate to avoid climate regulation that may affect profits, polluting corporations are working hand-in-hand with governments, presenting a dizzying array of false solutions that deepen inequalities in our societies. There is a clear agenda: Manage the climate crisis without compromising profits, the power structures or the economic system that got us here, even if that means exacerbating the problem. Wall Street financiers, the synthetic biology industry, “green” venture capitalists and a host of others are jumping on the “we care about the climate, too!” bandwagon.

These actors have reduced one of the clearest consequences of an unsustainable system into a mere technical problem that can be “efficiently” dealt with through market-based solutions. This market fundamentalism diverts attention away from the root causes of the problem, encouraging us to imagine a world with price tags on rivers, forests, biodiversity and communities’ territories, all in the name of “dealing with the climate crisis.” At the heart of all false solutions is an avoidance of the big picture: the root causes.

False solutions are constructed around the invisible scaffolding that maintains the dominant economic, cultural and political systems—the idea that economic growth is both desirable and inevitable; that progress means industrial development; that Western science and technology can solve any problem; that profits will motivate and the markets will innovate. Most of us in the Global North, whether sensitized to it or not, are participants and, at times, even take comfort in this world view. Sadly, many find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of a globalized economy built upon the unsteady legs of expanding empire, ecological erosion and exploitation of workers and communities.

We can take steps, large and small, to stop the climate crisis. What we cannot afford to do is go down the wrong road. Hoodwinked in the Hothouse is an easy and essential guide to navigating the landscape of false solutions—the cul-de-sacs on the route to a just and livable climate future.

--Gopal Dayaneni, Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project

PDF File

A world beyond tar sands: the fight for climate jobs

By Jesse McLaren - Socialist Worker, June 17, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The IPCC report from last year said that climate change would produce “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” if not reduced, and a report in the journal Nature this year showed that 85 per cent of tar sands must remain in the ground to avoid a 2 degree rise.

As the Globe and Mail explained, “Domestic estimates of Alberta’s oil reserves come in at about 168 billion barrels, with hundreds of billions more available for extraction if future oil prices make the resource more attractive. The study uses a more conservative estimate of 48 billion barrels as the current reserve and then finds that only 7.5 billion barrels of that, or about 15 per cent, can be used by 2050 as part of the global allotment of fossil-fuel use in a two-degree scenario." The Council of Canadians have done the math: “The proposed Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Energy East, Trans Mountain and Arctic Gateway pipelines. Together, those pipelines would move about 3.45 million barrels of oil per day or about 1.26 billion barrels a year. If all of these pipelines were to become operational, they would exceed the 7.5 billion barrel limit noted in this British study in less than six years.”

So this is an urgent question, and what happens in Canada will have a major impact on the global climate. As NASA scientist James Hansen explained: “If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.” But this risk is not evenly distributed. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans it disproportionately affected poor and racialized communities. Hurricane Sandy and typhoon Haiyan’s destruction in Haiti/Philippines is linked to the history of colonialism and imperialism in the region. Tar sands disproportionately affect indigenous communities, including the Athabasca Chippewyan First Nation at ground zero, Aamjiwnaang First Nation surrounded by refineries in Chemical Valley, and Chippewas of the Thames whose territory Line 9 crosses (and who are appealing its reversal).

Beyond teamsters and turtles: Jobs, justice, climate

By Judy Rebick - Rabble.Ca, June 29, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Jobs, Justice, Climate is the slogan of what we hope will be a massive march in Toronto on July 5 and Vancouver on July 4. To my knowledge it's the first action in Canada that has linked jobs with the battle for climate change in a context of social justice.  While turtles and teamsters have marched together in the past, it has usually been with a focus on social justice, against corporate globalization and trade deals.  This is not only the first time climate change is a focus in a march co-sponsored by the labour movement, it's the first time that the links are being made to the struggles of Indigenous peoples, immigrants, and people of colour and the first time our cross-sector movement is not just saying what we are against but what we are for. Check out the video promoting the march.

In May I attended a cross-country meeting called by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis to begin the work of building a broad movement to fight climate change by presenting a new vision where reversing climate change can be done in the context of increasing social justice and good jobs. A movement where Indigenous Peoples, the first defenders of the land, are in the lead. A movement that reaches out to immigrant communities whose countries are already drowning, baking, or collapsing in face of climate catastrophes. A movement where unions realize that climate change is as much a threat to their members as austerity and find ways to link both struggles. A movement where environmental activists understand that it is the peoples of the earth not the corporate overlords who will save the planet. 

There were divisions at that meeting and they continue.  Unions, for example, support certain pipelines that environmentalists oppose. 350.org, a key organizer of the march wants the bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands to stay in the ground. The unions don't agree yet. There remains deep scepticism among Indigenous activists about how solid is the solidarity expressed by settlers. There is concern from activists of colour that support for their issues is only present when their support is needed. There is still the gap of knowledge and sometimes solidarity between Quebec and the rest of Canada. All of these divisions were present in the May meeting and we talked about them. 

I pointed out another powerful movement where the differences were just as great. In the anti-Viet Nam War movement some of us supported the victory of the Viet Cong. We used to chant “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, the Viet Cong are gonna win;” while others were only in the demonstration because they didn't want their sons to be drafted.  In those days we didn't have facilitators to help us through negotiating those differences in a positive way.  We pretty well hated each other but we marched together because the stakes were high and we contributed to stopping that terrible war. This time the stakes are much higher.

As Naomi argues in her book, This Changes Everything, those of us who have been fighting for social justice all our lives now have an opportunity to create a new vision of a just and caring society. A society where caring for each other, the land and the creatures that share it with us is a powerful transformative idea that can appeal to a majority of people around the world. 

Join us on July 5 in Toronto at Queen's Park at 1 p.m. for the Jobs, Justice, Climate March or you can participate in actions sponsored by 350.org in various cities across the country .

In North Dakota’s Bakken oil boom, there will be blood

By Jennifer Gollan - Reveal News, June 13, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

In the early evening of Sept. 14, 2011, Jebadiah Stanfill was working near the top of an oil rig at a bend in the Missouri River in North Dakota. Jolted by a deafening boom in the distance, he swung around from his perch and saw a pillar of black smoke twisting into the sky.

Less than a mile away, another rig had exploded. “There’s men over there!” a worker below him shouted.

Stanfill, a compact and muscular man in his 30s, descended to the ground and hopped into the bed of a red pickup driven by a co-worker. Bruce Jorgenson, a manager overseeing the work of Stanfill and his crew, jumped into the passenger seat, and they raced to the explosion.

A few minutes later, they reached the burning rig and pulled up next to Doug Hysjulien, who was wandering in a valley and clutching the front of his underwear. The rest of his clothes were gone.

“They’re over there,” Hysjulien shouted, pointing toward the fiery rig. “Go help the other boys. They’re worse.”

Stanfill sprinted until he spotted Ray Hardy, who had been hurled into a patch of gravel. His skin was charred black and peeling. His nails were bent back, exposing the stark white bones of his fingers.

“How many people were on the rig?” Stanfill asked Hardy.

“He’s over there,” Hardy responded, gazing toward a field near the rig. Stanfill scrambled over a berm and waded through knee-high wheat until he found Michael Twinn, lying on his back naked and seared. His hair was singed and his work boots had curled up in the heat. He cried out in agony.

“The derrick man’s dead! The derrick man’s dead!” Twinn screamed.

“They were beyond burned,” Stanfill recalled. “Nothing but char. The smell of flesh burning. … It smelled of crude oil.”

Brendan Wegner, 21, had been scrambling down a derrick ladder when the well exploded, consuming him in a fiery tornado of oil and petroleum vapors. Rescuers found his body pinned under a heap of twisted steel pipes melted by the inferno. His charred hands were recovered later, still gripping the derrick ladder. It was his first day on the rig.

Hardy died the next day of his burns. Twinn had his lower legs amputated. Dogged by post-traumatic stress disorder, he killed himself in October 2013. Each left behind three children. Hysjulien suffered debilitating third-degree burns over half of his body. He is the lone survivor.

To this day, the explosion – pieced together from interviews, court documents and federal and local reports – remains the worst accident in the expansive Bakken oil fields since the boom began in 2006.

Beyond the human toll from that day, which continues to haunt Stanfill and others, the 2011 explosion offers a striking illustration of how big oil companies have largely written the rules governing their own accountability for accidents.

Read the entire article here.

EcoUnionist News #52

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, June 16, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Fracking the EPA:

Bread and Roses:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

1267-Watch:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC; Hashtags: #greenunionism #greensyndicalism

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