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Wrong way! A climatic baby step forward beats a giant leap back

By Pete Dolack - The Ecologist, June 7, 2017

The world surely is approaching a danger point when the abrogation of an inadequate agreement is cursed as a disaster.

The Paris Climate Summit goals can't be characterized as anything significantly better than feel-good window dressing, but the argument that the world has to start somewhere is difficult to challenge.

Better to take a baby step forward than a giant leap backward!

As always, we must ask: Who profits? The Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord is due to factors beyond Donald Trump's astounding ignorance and his contempt for science or reality. There is a long history of energy company denial of global warming, a well-funded campaign.

Never mind that a widely cited 2015 study by the Stockholm Resilience Center, prepared by 18 scientists, found that the Earth is crossing several "planetary boundaries" that together will render the planet much less hospitable.

Or that two scientific studies issued in 2015 suggest that so much carbon dioxide already has been thrown into the air that humanity may have already committed itself to a six-meter rise in sea level.

Or that the oceans can't continue to act as shock absorbers - heat accumulated in them is not permanently stored, but can be released back into the atmosphere, potentially providing significant feedback that would accelerate global warming.

Trump spurns Paris Climate Accord

By Michael Schrieber - Socialist Action, June 5, 2017

“We’re getting out!” President Trump declared before the press and a knot of governmental officials who had gathered in the White House Rose Garden on June 1. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.”

Trump characterized the Accord as being “less about the climate and more about other countries’ gaining a financial advantage over the United States.”

He continued his xenophobic message: “The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris agreement—they went wild; they were so happy—for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”

Trump singled out in particular the “Green Climate Fund,” which he said has been siphoning billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy, “a massive re-distribution of United States wealth to other countries.” The fund was intended to help underdeveloped nations move to renewable energy and mitigate the effects of climate change. So far, the fund has raised a total of around $10 billion from wealthier capitalist countries, including $3 billion from the U.S. (about one-hundredth of one percent of the U.S. budget).

According to the precepts of the Paris Accord, it will take more than three years for the U.S. to formally withdraw from it. But Trump indicated in his speech that he believes his announcement can help dampen any legal challenge to the measures that his administration has already put into place that weaken environmental safeguards in order to ramp up oil, coal, and other extractive industries.

And what about the climate? That burning issue was scarcely apparent in Trump’s June 1 speech. Although his address was long, rambling, and repetitive, Trump never found a single moment to utter the words “climate change.”

Our Responsibility After Trump's Climate Withdrawal

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers - Popular Resistance, June 3, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement follows the path of previous presidents who have undermined international climate agreements. We disagree with Trump but it is important to understand his actions in the context of the history of the United States regarding previous climate agreements. Once again, the political problems in the US are bigger than Trump. His action brings greater clarity to the inability of the US government to confront the climate crisis and clarifies the tasks of people seeking smart climate policy.

The US Has Always Prevented Effective International Climate Agreements

The US has consistently blocked effective climate agreements because both parties in power have put the profits of big energy before the climate crisis when it comes to domestic and international policies. The Republicans proclaimed themselves the “drill baby drill” party while the Democrats are the “all of the above energy” party. Both slogans mean the parties seek to ensure US corporations profit from carbon energy. Both have supported massive oil and gas infrastructure and extreme energy excavation including the most dangerous forms, i.e. tar sands and fracking. Both parties have also supported wars for oil and gas. All of these positions will be viewed as extreme as the world confronts the great dangers of the climate crisis and the US will be deservedly blamed.

From the Ashes of Standing Rock, a Beautiful Resistance is Born

By staff - Earth First! Journal, March 15, 2017

If you’re like me, you are probably feeling a deep sorrow in your heart over the news that oil will soon flow through that black snake of death, the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite the largest gathering of tribes in over 100 years, despite the prayers and militant resistance, despite hundreds of water protectors facing trumped up felony charges, despite the occupations, blockades, lockdowns and sabotage; DAPL has prevailed. It is true, we lost the battle of Standing Rock, but there are signs that we are winning the war on fossil fuel infrastructure.

In the past year, as the resistance at Standing Rock grew from a trickle to a flood, at least seven new oil and gas pipelines have been defeated. These include: Pinion Pipeline – NM; Sandpiper Pipeline – MN; Enbridge Line 5 – WI, MI*; Northern Gateway Pipeline – Canada; Northeast Energy Direct – New England; Palmetto Pipeline – GA, SC; Constitution Pipeline – PA, NY. Many of these pipelines were defeated when, seeing the massive resistance at Standing Rock, companies simply withdrew their applications citing “market forces”. What is left unsaid in the corporate press releases is that our resistance to new energy infrastructure is now a major market force.

In addition to these victories, the past couple years have seen communities up and down the west coast defeat seven out of eight proposed coal export terminals and four proposed oil export terminals aimed at shipping Bakken crude from North Dakota to international markets.

It is important to understand that the fossil fuel industry needs these new infrastructure projects in order to expand. Without them they cannot. While it should have been clear under the Obama administration that the US government was never going to commit to any meaningful greenhouse gas reductions (the US became the #1 producer of oil and gas in the world on Obama’s watch), nobody is under any illusion of the government reigning in emissions under the Trump regime. It is plain to see that our only hope in defeating the fossil fuel industry will not be through government action, but concerted direct action campaigns against these fossil fuel projects.

The Struggle Against the Dakota Access Pipeline Has Linked Indigenous Communities Across the World

By Jeff Abbott - Truthout, March 2, 2017

The defense of water knows no borders, according to the Mayan Ancestral Authorities, the communal authorities and elders of Mayan towns across Guatemala. This reality has led the Mayan leaders to work in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux as they challenge the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The conflict in North Dakota between the Lakota Sioux and the company over the construction of the 3.6 billion dollar Dakota Access pipeline began in April 2016. The Sioux communities began their protest following the failure of the company to consult the tribe over the use of their tribal lands -- despite multiple requests by tribal leaders -- and a demand that the company preform an honest environmental impact report for the project.

On February 23, the National Guard and police raided the Oceti Sakowin camp, evicting the protesters. But despite the eviction, the example of Standing Rock continues to mobilize Indigenous activists across the world in defense of water. Thousands of supporters had traveled to the encampment to support the Sioux and their defense of water.

"When everybody showed up, including the clergymen of the world, I stood up on the bridge and I felt the meshing of all the religions, all the spirits, all the creators of all nations, and all the colors meshed as one people," Eddie P. Blackcloud Sr., a Sioux leader who was among the first to stand against the pipeline at Standing Rock, told Truthout. "This is more than just about Standing Rock; this is about the world."

The international support for the resistance will only strengthen as the United States Army has given the project the green light, despite the company's failure to consult the Indigenous populations impacted by the project's development.

Standing Rock and the struggle against Dakota Access pipeline have become the international example and rallying point for the defense of Indigenous territory. This resistance has brought Indigenous leaders together in solidarity from across the globe.

"Every community must arrive at its own means of struggle," Ana Lainez, an Ixil Maya spiritual guide and member of the Ixil Maya Ancestral Authorities told Truthout. "It is time for them to organize and move forward in the struggle."

Among those that traveled to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with the Sioux were five representatives from the National Council of Ancestral Authorities of Guatemala. It was raining on October 12, 2016, when the representatives of Mayan political and spiritual leaders arrived at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with the Sioux. The trip was organized by the International Mayan League, an advocacy group based in Washington, DC.

"We went primarily to stand in solidarity with the Sioux communities in resistance to the construction of the pipeline," Diego Cotiy of the Council of Indigenous Authorities of Maya, Xinca and Garifuna, told Truthout. "As members of the Ancestral Authorities of the Maya, Xinca and Garifuna, we are working to strengthen the movements and resistance against transnational companies that are violating the collective rights of our peoples, as well as violating our rights to land without any collective authorization to do so."

The leaders arrived to share experiences and have an interchange between the elders, which also included the sharing of different ceremonial performances and practices.

"When we arrived, a member of the tribe stood up and offered to sing for us in his language," Lainez told Truthout. "We felt incredibly welcomed."

The Maya of Guatemala have a long history of struggle, which they shared with their brethren at Standing Rock. Since the end of Guatemala's 36-year-long internal armed conflict in 1996, the Maya communities of the highlands have resisted the increased threat of the dispossession of Indigenous communal lands by transnational capital for the expansion of mining interests, the generation of hydro energy, and the expansion of export agriculture.

"We told them that they are united in the struggle, and that they are not the first or the last to be attacked," Lainez explained to Truthout. "They are defending the river. It is [a] point of unification of many Indigenous peoples in the United States, and the world, because the water is calling us."

"Without water, even the rich leaders of the United States cannot survive," Cotiy told Truthout. "We must respect water, and where it comes from. It is a spring of life. Water is the blood of our mother earth."

Others who have traveled to Standing Rock could feel this connection as well. Pamela Bond, the Fish and Wildlife coordinator for the Snohomish tribe, was present the nights of the visit by the Maya Ancestral Authorities of Guatemala, and pointed to the way in which the visitors brought the force of their own struggle to the NoDAPL camps.

"They all brought their songs and their prayers. It is like waiting for someone to come home, and to say, 'we support you,'" Bond explained to Truthout.  "There are no English words [that] can describe the feeling of your spirit, and the knowledge that people are uniting for a cause, for our first mother."

Updates from the Sabal Trail Resistance

By Sabal Trail Resistance - Earth First! Journal, February 16, 2017

Over the last month many of you responded to the call Sabal Trail Resistance (STR) put out to mobilize around the Suwannee River pipeline drilling site over the MLK Day weekend. Thousands helped to spread our calls to action, hundreds made the trek out to blockade construction and 48 organizations thus farfrom national to localvowed to lend their support to this effort.

Jan 14 was the largest mobilization to date against Sabal Trail and the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, and despite differences of opinion on strategy and tactics, we presented a unified front against the pipeline pushers that continues to be talked about, as people keep sharing stories, photos and videos from that weekend, a month later.

But successful displays of resistance don’t appear from thin air. Much organizing work goes into building moments like that. For example, in the lead up to the MLK Day weekend events, we:

  • hosted multiple workshops, where over a hundred people got training on the strategic use of direct action;
  • invited a founding organizer from the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota to give talks about the experience of watching the camp grow from ten people to ten thousand;
  • organized group hikes to the drill site;
  • coordinated with lawyers from Southern Legal Council for free speech protection and legal support;
  • assisted with email blasts to the memberships and social media base of large activist networks such as Rising Tide, Power Shift, Greenpeace, 350.org, and Food & Water Watch.
  • generated local/national/int’l media coverage about the pipeline and civil disobedience to stop it (Gainesville Sun, Jacksonville Times Union and Tallahassee Democrat, The Guardian, to name a few, as well as multiple TV stations in the region.);
  • kept a social media buzz about the MLK weekend of action, including the creation of a powerful short video through Nomad’s Land;

written or assisted with articles in multiple independent publications (printed and online), including Earth First! Journal, the Iguana, It’s Going Down and The Fine Print;

  • circulated over 3000 flyers across North/Central Florida; and
  • supported other groups in protests and outreach events all across the state, including the Dec 29 multi-city action and the die-in/banner-hang at the State Capitol.

We mention these things to illustrate the effort that goes into movement organizing. We built from the foundation of over three years of community organizing against this pipeline, and we continue to do so.

Keystone XL Opponents Promise Trump a Mass Mobilization 'On a Scale Never Seen'

By Deirdre Fulton - Common Dreams, January 30, 2017

With his order to revive the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, President Donald Trump "has declared war on Indigenous nations across the country," one Cheyenne River Sioux organizer said Monday. 

But he'll be met by a fierce native resistance movement that "will not back down," said the organizer, Joye Braun, on a press call organized by the Indigenous Environmental Movement (IEN). 

Trump signed executive orders last week advancing the controversial KXL and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines, prompting widespread outrage and vows of bold resistance from the Indigenous activists, climate campaigners, and countless others who have fought against both projects. What that opposition will look like came into sharper focus on Monday.

"Make no mistake: resistance to the toxic Keystone XL pipeline will only grow stronger," declared Dallas Goldtooth, IEN's Keep it in the Ground organizer. "We will mobilize, fight back, we will resist the Keystone XL pipeline. We plan to create camps along the Keystone XL pipeline route to fight this pipeline every step of the way."

A press release from his organization confirmed that Indigenous groups are "organizing spiritual camps to resist the Keystone XL pipeline up and down the pipeline route, in addition to reviving the Standing Rock camp" which sprang out of resistance to DAPL and at its height housed thousands of protesters. 

Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chippewayan First Nation added: "My nation is not taking Donald Trump's new memorandum on Keystone XL lightly—we will fight back through through the courts, protests, and any means available and necessary."

Following Trump's orders last week, IEN vowed to launch a "massive mobilization and civil disobedience on a scale never seen of a newly seated president of the United States." Or perhaps of any president who's ever faced an anti-pipeline protest.

The ZAD: an autonomous zone in the heart of France

By Martin Legall - ROARMag, January 26, 2017

It all started decades ago with the local resistance against the construction of a second airport near the city of Nantes in western France. Eight years ago, this resistance culminated in the establishment of a self-organized autonomous zone, commonly known as the ZAD (Zone à Défendre, or “Zone to Defend”). Since then, the ZAD has been under constant threat of eviction and has withstood multiple attacks by militarized police forces set on clearing the area. With the support of individuals and collectives across France and from abroad, the occupation continues to this day.

Half a century of planning and resistance

Plans to build a second airport in Nantes were first developed in the mid-1960s. The authorities wanted to decentralize economic activity away from Paris to other cities in France. In the 1970s, the regional council designated the town of Notre-Dames-des-Landes, north of Nantes, as the site for the construction of the airport. At the time, farmers and local producers started to organize to resist the construction and raise awareness.

The construction of a rail network for high-speed trains in the late 1980s pushed the plans to build an airport north of Nantes to the bottom of the agenda until 1994, when the government revitalized the project in order to reduce air traffic at the two Parisian airports of Roissy and Orly.

In the 2000s, the government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin reaffirmed aspirations to decentralize economic activity and to turn Nantes into an international hub. After being pushed by political elites at both state and regional levels, the project was recognized as “promoting the public interest” in 2008. Two years later, the multinational corporation Vinci was selected to build and run the airport.

As early as 2000, a network of groups and organizations was created to organize an awareness campaign and to undertake actions in the area. In 2009, local activists and residents invited the French climate action camp, resulting in hundreds of activists visiting the zone. They occupied buildings that had been left empty by the authorities and built their own yurts and shacks.

Little by little, self-organization and collective decision-making structures were put in practice. Soon, support collectives were set up in various cities across the country and beyond: it was the beginning of one of the longest struggles in the recent history of French social movements.

2017: Pipeline Resistance Gathers Steam From Dakota Access, Keystone Success

By Lisa Song - Inside Climate News, January 2, 2017

When President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month, his pro-drilling, anti-climate action energy policy will buoy the oil industry. But it will also face staunch resistance from a pipeline opposition movement that gathered momentum, particularly with this year's successful showdown over the Dakota Access pipeline, and shows no signs of slowing.

Local grassroots action, governments' environmental concerns and market forces have stopped or delayed dozens of fossil fuel projects since the high-profile Keystone XL pipeline was cancelled in November 2015, and activists are continuing to oppose at least a dozen oil and gas pipelines around the country.  

"There have been people fighting pipelines since pipelines first went into the ground," but awareness of the issue has grown due to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access, said Cherri Foytlin, director of the advocacy group Bold Louisiana.

Opposition to pipelines has united environmentalists, Native Americans and rural landowners of all political backgrounds, many of whom resent the pipeline companies' use of eminent domain to seize their land.

This "Keystone-ization" effect, along with low oil prices, has created a hostile environment for fossil fuel expansion projects. The election of Trump, who favors building the Keystone as well as the Dakota Access, will put advocates back on the defense—but they say they are ready for the challenge.

"I think the scope of what we are being asked to do might change," said Andy Pearson, Midwest tar sands coordinator for MN350, a Minnesota green group. He said activists will have to work to maintain the victories they've won in the past few years.

"I'll have to fight just as hard under a Trump administration as I'd have to under a Clinton administration," Foytlin said. Her main concern is that Trump will be "brazen enough" to condone the use of force against protesters, she said.

Environmentalists have prioritized stopping pipelines because every pipeline is a decades-long investment in fossil fuels, locking in demand and hampering a transition to cleaner fuels. Successfully blocking them limits companies' ability to move their product to market, which feeds into a strategy of "making life more difficult for the fossil fuel industry going forward," said Adam Rome, a history professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo who studies the environmental movement.

Many groups have used the national attention on the Dakota Access to publicize opposition to other pipeline projects. In Florida, activists fighting the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline have held #NoDAPL solidarity events and protests to slow the project, which is already under construction.

In Texas, advocates credit the Dakota Access movement for inspiring local action against the Trans-Pecos gas pipeline, and two activists were arrested in early December for blocking access to construction equipment.

Since the Dakota Access captured the spotlight, "there has been this outreach and outcry of people wishing to connect these battles into one," Foytlin said. "It's less about pipelines, and about the battle to win the hearts and minds of people."

New gas drilling sparks fracking showdown in the UK

By Martin Watters - Equal Times, October 26, 2016

A showdown looms over fracking in the UK after a landmark ruling opened the door to the first drilling in five years.

Controversial shale gas projects at several sites in the north of England have received government support, sparking protests from communities, activists and workers.

Earlier this month, the UK government overruled a local council’s decision to block oil and gas company Cuadrilla Resources from test drilling in Lancashire.

Opponents of the controversial practice – whereby shale gas is extracted by pumping chemical-filled liquids deep underground using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” – said it could result in water contamination and a higher risk of workplace injuries and deaths from accidents and explosions.

Fracking across England was suspended in 2011 after Cuadrilla admitted its drilling activities at a site near Blackpool caused minor earthquakes. The moratorium was lifted in 2012, but since then many drilling applications have been rejected by local councillors or delayed by legal appeals. Moratoria remain in Scotland and Wales, while fracking is banned in Northern Ireland.

The decision by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to overrule Lancashire council will allow Cuadrilla to drill the first horizontal wells in Britain, despite more than 18,000 objections from local people.

Echoing the former prime minister David Cameron, who said that the government was “going all out for shale”, Javid pledged: “We will take the big decisions that matter to the future of our country as we build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”

Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan sent a strong message to other shale gas companies struggling to convince communities and local councils.

“No doubt other people will be putting forward planning applications and this does demonstrate that they can and should be approved,” Egan said.

A week after the UK’s Labour Party vowed to ban all fracking if it came to power, the Shadow Minister for Energy Barry Gardiner said the decision “bulldozed” community wishes and risked locking Britain into old-fashioned fossil fuel energy.

“Cuadrilla’s own figures on jobs show they would be very temporary, and their claims that fracking will lower British energy bills have been discredited,” Gardiner said in a press statement.

Thousands of community objections were also swept aside earlier this year in May when North Yorkshire council approved fracking near Ryedale by the UK firm Third Energy.

Ninety-seven per cent of the fracking company is owned by multinational banking giant Barclays and this week activists are organising a series of protests targeting the bank for its involvement in fracking.

Meanwhile, the multinational petrochemical giant Ineos is planning 30 new drilling projects in the next 12 months with five mooted before Christmas. Ineos has faced criticism for planning to dump fracking wastewater in the sea and banning morning tea breaks for workers at its Scottish plant.

With more fracking on the horizon – and further petitions, marches and legal appeals almost exhausted – environmental protestors across the UK are calling for an “escalation in direct action tactics”.

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