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Council Nurses Urge San Francisco To Divest from DAPL

By staff - California Nurses Association, March 15, 2017

Nurses from the San Francisco (SF) Metro Council attended an SF Board of Supervisors meeting to urge the city to divest from any banks and financial institutions who have investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The SF Metro Council nurses joined other activists present from the SF NoDAPL Coalition.

After 5 1/2 hours of other agenda items and public comment, The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass the resolution to direct the treasurer/tax collector to update the social responsibility investment matrix to include a screen for all DAPL related investments.  This is a significant victory for our ongoing fight to get San Francisco to fully divest from DAPL and pull out their $10 billion from Bank of America.

Kaiser SF RN, Julilynn Carter spoke during public comment about her role as a nurse and how nurses care about public health and the impact climate change has had on public welfare. She also spoke about our collective need to recognize indigenous rights.

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.

Why we must fight for a safe climate

By Zebedee Parkes - Green Left Weekly, February 17, 2017

My generation has never experienced a below average temperature. The last time the global temperature was below average was in February 1985.

The recent heatwaves across Australia ushered in a new record-breaking summer: every year for the past decade has been hotter than the last.

Meanwhile our political leaders — privileged white men in suits — brought coal into parliament and made jokes while they and their corporate mates continue to burn our collective future.

We are already getting a taste of what our future holds if we do not take urgent action.

Extreme bushfires have burnt down entire towns across Australia in the past couple of years. Pacific islands are already becoming uninhabitable due to rising sea levels. Climate change-induced droughts in Syria destroyed its agriculture and helped create the conditions that led to the civil war. Floods in Pakistan in 2011 affected 5.4 million people, destroying crops and leaving millions displaced, forced to live in makeshift shelters without access to safe drinking water. The Himalayan glaciers are already melting, potentially leaving 2 billion people across Asia without sufficient drinking water.

The consequences of climate change will only get worse if we do not make serious changes rapidly. Already the Artic Sea ice is melting, which could mean sea level rises of 3–5 metres, making many coastal cities uninhabitable.

This ecological crisis is the result of human activity. Because of a constant drive for profits, corporations are felling the Amazon rainforest at an alarming rate to create cattle pastures for beef production. The Amazon forest is one of the most crucial in the world in terms of soaking up carbon dioxide.

When we desperately need to reduce emissions, corporations, often backed and funded by governments, continue to build major fossil fuel projects, such as the Adani coalmine, poison our water and destroy farmland with gas fracking projects and pursue unsustainable projects that are destroying crucial ecosystems, such as the Beeliar Wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef.

No matter how urgent the need for action on climate change, corporations and their governments refuse to change. 

Solar power is now cheaper in some parts of the world than fossil fuels. In Australia, scientific studies show we have the capacity to have 100% renewables in 10 years. Yet the government continues to give billions a year in subsidies to fossil fuel corporations — money that could be going to renewable energy.

Since the international climate talks in Paris in December 2015, when the world cried out for serious climate action, Australia’s big four banks have poured $5.6 billion into fossil fuels. Governments and the fossil fuel industry are not going to change their destructive practices unless we force them to.

To do this and give ourselves a chance of a future we need to change our economic system. Right now eight men own more wealth — and all the privileges and power that go with it — than the poorest 50% of the Earth’s population.

For serious climate action to be a reality we need a society where the majority of people — workers, farmers, students, the poor, First Nations people and refugees, the victims of climate change — are making decisions in the interests of our collective future.  

To achieve this will take a gigantic struggle. But it also presents an opportunity to change the world. As Naomi Klein, author of Capitalism vs the Climate said: “I think climate change can be the catalyst we need … In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality.”

If we address climate change, we can begin to construct the kind of world we want to live in.

Memory, Fire and Hope: Five Lessons from Standing Rock

By Alnoor Ladha - Common Dreams, March 8, 2017

Last week, on February 22, 2017, water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the primary camp of Standing Rock, were evicted by the Army Corps of Engineers in a military style takeover. A peaceful resistance that began with a sacred fire lit on April 1, 2016, ended in a blaze as some of the protectors, in a final act of defiance, set some of the camp’s structures on fire.

The millions of people around the world who have stood in solidarity and empathy with Standing Rock now stand in disbelief and grief, but the forced closure of the encampment is simply the latest chapter in a violent, 500-year-old history of colonization against the First Nations. It is also the latest chapter in the battle between an extractive capitalist model and the possibility of a post-capitalist world.

Of course, the ongoing struggle will not go down in the flames at Oceti Sakowin. We should take this opportunity to remember the enduring lessons of this movement, and prepare ourselves for what is to come next.

Labor Must Embrace the Anti-Trump Resistance to Fight for the Working Class

By Jeremy Brecher and Joe Uehlein - In These Times, March 2, 2017

The Trump presidency presents organized labor with a dilemma.

On the one hand, Trump’s advocacy for fossil fuel, infrastructure and military expansion promises to provide jobs for some union workers. His proposals to end trade deals and put tariffs on manufacturing imports align with long-standing labor opposition to pro-corporate globalization.

On the other hand, Trump and his Republican allies in Congress propose tax, budget and social welfare policies that would impoverish most workers. His Cabinet nominees are proven enemies of organized labor and the rights of workers. And his executive policies, legislative priorities and likely Supreme Court appointments point towards catastrophic restrictions on organized labor.

A portent of the future: Vice-President Mike Pence recently discussed with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker how to go national with Wisconsin’s restrictions on collective bargaining and union rights. Union membership has dropped some 40 percent in the state since Walker’s collective bargaining law passed in 2011. Only 8 percent of Wisconsin’s workers were in unions last year.

Some in organized labor, especially in the buildings trades, have met with Trump, provided photo ops, and advocated that unions try to work with him, particularly on trade, energy and infrastructure. They know that many union members voted for him. Others have called for resistance to the entire Trump agenda.

The effort to embrace and work with Trump is short-sighted at best, and it may be short-lived. The survival of the labor movement depends on denying Trump the power to implement his agenda. The Trump presidency is likely to be catastrophic even for those unions that are currently seeking his favor. If the power of organized labor and its allies is further diminished, governments and corporations will be free to create a “union-free environment” for the building trades as for everybody else.

Trump’s infrastructure proposals are based on tax credits to private investors, private equity, and low-cost construction. The result is likely to be the banning of prevailing-wage rules and union security provisions for construction workers. Case in point: The Republican-led Kentucky legislature recently passed not only “right-to-work” and “paycheck protection” laws, but repealed the state’s prevailing wage law—a crucial support for building trades unions.

The attack by Trump and his Republican allies comes at a time when organized labor is already weakened. Less than 11 percent of all wage and salary workers are in unions, compared to some 20 percent in 1983. Less than 7 percent of private sector workers are in unions. Close to 35 percent of public sector workers are union members, but they are already under attack that will intensify under Trump.

While Trump’s actions will be devastating for organized labor, they may also have a silver lining. The Trump era is seeing the emergence of what has been called “social self-defense,” a massive self-organization of millions of Americans to resist Trump’s agenda. It has been manifested by the millions who participated in the Women’s March, the spontaneous actions against Trump’s Muslim ban, the mass demonstrations and community meetings in cities around the country, the millions of calls that have tied up politicians’ phone lines and myriad other forms of resistance.

The term “social self-defense” is borrowed from the struggle against the authoritarian regime in Poland 40 years ago. In the midst of harsh repression, Polish activists formed a loose network to provide financial, legal, medical and other help to people persecuted by police or unjustly dismissed from work. They organized free trade unions to defend the rights of workers and citizens, and nurtured many of the networks, strategies, and ideas that eventually helped topple the repressive regimes in Poland and other countries.

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."

Outcry Kills Anti-Protest Law in Arizona, But Troubling Trend Continues Nationwide

By Lauren McCauley - Common Dreams, February 28, 2017

Rash of anti-protest laws and effort to dismiss demonstrators as 'paid agitators' are 'standard operating procedure for movement opponents,' says expert.

An Arizona bill that sought to prosecute protest organizers like racketeers is officially dead after widespread outcry forced state lawmakers to put that effort to rest, marking a victory for the national resistance movement currently facing a rash of legislation aimed at stifling dissent.

Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard announced late Monday that the bill, SB 1142, would not move forward in the legislature.

"I haven't studied the issue or the bill itself, but the simple reality is that it created a lot of consternation about what the bill was trying to do," Mesnard, a Republican, told the Phoenix New Times. "People believed it was going to infringe on really fundamental rights. The best way to deal with that was to put it to bed."

Indeed, the legislation, which would have expanded state racketeering laws to allow police to arrest and seize the assets of suspected protest organizers, made national headlines last week after passing the GOP-led Senate.

However, according to The Arizona Republic, the bill's "fate was sealed over the weekend" as Mesnard "fielded phone calls from the public to complain about the bill. The House leader's personal cellphone number is listed on his personal website. As he listened to the callers, Mesnard realized their belief that the legislation was intended to curb free-speech rights outweighed any merits its supporters might put forward. He carefully read the legislation and by the time he returned Monday to his office, where there were more than 100 messages about the bill awaiting him, he decided he would kill the measure."

The so-called "Plan a Protest, Lose Your House Bill" was the most recent state-level attempt to crackdown on the growing protest movement and opponents celebrated its defeat.

"Thanks to everyone who spoke out against this terrible proposal!" the ACLU of Arizona wrote on Twitter. "Continue fighting for our civil liberties!"

A recent analysis by the Washington Post found that "Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced on voted on legislation to curb mass protests," which includes bills that would "increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, [and] indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars."

As Common Dreams has previously observed, most of these anti-protest bills have sprouted up in Republican-dominated states that have seen a flurry of demonstrations and civil disobedience.

Trump okays oil pipelines

By Marty Goodman - Socialist Action, February 25, 2017

In a move that surprised no one for its greed and arrogance, on Jan. 24 President Donald Trump reversed President Obama’s Executive Order impeding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The route of the pipeline goes across sacred Sioux land and under the Missouri River near Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Delivering on a promised one-two punch against climate sanity and Native American rights, climate change denier Trump also approved restarting the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, halted in November 2015 and stretching all the way from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

In order to stoke chauvinist rhetoric that attempts to address the burning desire of working families for good jobs at decent pay, Trump said that the pipelines must be “American made.” That might sound promising to some because the Democrats have done little to create good paying jobs. But here’s the kicker: Trump promises 28,000 jobs at Keystone XL, but a State Department review found that the project would yield only 35 permanent jobs! Trump invited Keystone to re-apply to start digging.

The fossil fuel industry’s blitzkrieg has outraged Native Americans who are vowing to take the fight to a new level. “We will fight back through the courts, protest in any means possible and necessary,” said Ariel Derenger of the Athabasca first nation.

After court challenges by the Sioux Nation, if what’s called an “easement” or permission to dig under the Missouri and Lake Oahe, a source of drinking water for the Sioux and millions downstream, is granted, and if the digging resumes, it is estimated it could take as little as two weeks to complete the pipeline. But that depends, again, on the courts and the mass movement. John Hasselman, an attorney for the Sioux Nation, says that stopping the oil in the pipes through the courts is still a possibility. He states that Trump “unlawfully and arbitrarily sidestepped” the findings of the Obama administration.

We will see if any justice in the capitalist courts is possible, but the experience of Native Americans in this country is 400 years of rape, murder, theft of resources and broken treaties!

The flashpoint of resistance at Standing Rock has ignited unprecedented mobilizations and unity among over 100 Native American nations. In December, crowds were said to peak at 10,000, including thousands of native and non-native American solidarity activists from across the US and Canada, 3000 of whom were veterans.

The largest numbers of water protectors were in camp around the time Barack Obama ordered an environmental review on Dec. 4, demonstrating the power of mass mobilization for Standing Rock across the world. About 500 remain at Standing Rock in the sub-zero North Dakota weather.

At the present time, the main camp at Standing Rock, Oceti Sakowin, is being relocated due to oncoming spring floods in the plain area and a unanimous decision by the Tribal Nation Council, reiterated on Jan. 21, to leave the camp. Cops and security goons are taking quick advantage of the situation.

Diné water protector and videographer Marcus Mitchell spoke with Pacifica’s “Democracy Now!” (Jan. 25) lost sight in one eye after a police attack. He described cops brutalizing water protectors: “After about five minutes on the bridge, my hands were raised, and I was saying, ‘I am an American citizen practicing my First Amendment right to freedom of speech. I’m unarmed, and I am in peaceful protest.’ I was then shot in the leg. I looked down. And as I looked up, a beanbag hit me. … And then, another round came in my face and hit me—hit my eye directly.

“I then turned around to run and was nearly shot in the back of the head. At this point, I became disoriented. In the chaos, another water protector pushed me to the ground to protect me.”

Donald Trump invested up to $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners (owner of the Dakota Access pipeline), but last year was reported to have divested his stock in the company. Nevertheless, he was the recipient of large campaign contributions from Energy Transfer Partners head Kelcy Warren—including a $100,000 check to the Trump Victory Fund.

What’s more, in June 2015, Warren gave $5 million to a PAC that supported the presidential campaign of Ex-Governor Rick Perry, now Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Energy. Perry sat on the board of Energy Transfer Partners until Jan. 5 and also Sunoco—a corporation that also is involved the Standing Rock pipeline. During his time as Texas governor, Perry distributed hundreds of millions in “incentives” to corporations wishing to do business in Texas.

The nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is the longtime CEO of Exxon Mobil, the wealthiest corporation in the world and the biggest threat to the climate’s survival.

The Democrats hardly pose as an alternative to Trump’s fossil fuel madness. Hillary Clinton refused to speak out against rampant police brutality against peaceful protesters at Standing Rock, seen by millions in news broadcasts and YouTube videos across the world (which has continued), while she continued to pose natural gas as an alternative to coal. Senate Democratic Minority leader Chuck Schumer has been a big recipient of Wall Street donations, including from energy companies.

Donald Trump’s orders to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines sparked a number of emergency protests in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and other cities. Josh Fox, filmmaker and protest organizer, told “Democracy Now!” that “we had, we think, between 2000 and 5000 people last night in New York City in the freezing rain.”

Thousands of No DAPL protesters are expected at this #SuperSundayMarch in Pershing Square in Los Angeles. (Stay in touch with #NoDAPL and #NoKXL, Stand With Standing Rock and Labor for Standing Rock).

Troy Fairbanks, the sixth-generation grandson of Sitting Bull, told the British Guardian, “Have we as Native people ever been given a fair shake? Nah. But this time, the whole world is watching.”

Another method of resistance was shown by Local 10 of the International Longshore Workers Union, which carried out a one-day strike at Bay Area ports on Jan. 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. This points a way toward further labor action against Trump and his billionaires. Militant labor action, alongside oppressed communities within the working class, can ultimately take down the whole rotten system, now plunging headlong toward environmental disaster.

Black Snakes on the Move: U.S. Pipeline Expansion Out Of Control

By Teressa Rose Ezell - The Bullet, February 9, 2017

Lakota prophecy tells of a mythic Black Snake that will move underground and bring destruction to the Earth. The “seventh sign” in Hopi prophecy involves the ocean turning black and bringing death to many sea-dwelling creatures. It doesn't take an over-active imagination to make a connection between these images and oil pipelines and spills.

It's troubling enough that the growing “Black Snake” has branched out at an alarming rate, forming a massive subterranean coast-to-coast web. But to make matters worse, the nefarious reptile seems to suffer from leaky gut syndrome, so that it functions as a toxic underground sprinkler system, spreading gas, oil, and poisonous by-products everywhere it goes – including into waterways and drinking water sources.

Protest actions against major pipelines such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have called attention to the potentially devastating effects of pipelines, but much of the general public still doesn't understand the scope of the existing and proposed pipeline network in the U.S. and around the globe. Executive actions by Donald Trump just four days into his presidency practically guarantee expedited approval for DAPL, as well as for Keystone XL. This indicates, among other things, that the maze of oil and gas pipelines in the U.S. will continue to expand at an unprecedented and reckless pace.

A healthy planet for our children to inherit, or destroying the earth for jobs? Join Thousands of Workers in Saying: We Will No Longer Accept This Choice!

By Labor for Standing Rock - Labor for Standing Rock, February 2017

Dear Fellow Workers:

We are the people whose blood, sweat and tears built this country’s infrastructure. Our hard work keeps our families fed—and it should also protect the world our children will live in tomorrow.

We play a critical role in making America what it is, and what it will become. Now we have united as thousands of workers across the country to ask a tough question: “What kind of world are we building?”

President Trump recently cleared a path for the completion of the controversial Dakota Access (DAPL) and Keystone X-L (KXL) Pipelines, despite massive global protest against these projects. In violation of the right of all people to clean water, air and land - and in violation of Indigenous peoples’ Treaty Rights - the corporations behind these pipelines continue to dangle the promise of good paying jobs in front of people like us, who need work. In doing so, they force us to trade temporary pay—for the future health of everyone we care about.

As working people, of course we demand decent, well-paid jobs. There is no question about that. But we also demand long-term health and safety for our children and grandchildren. Corporations have been lying in order to profit off our lives and the healthy lives of future generations. They tell us pipelines are safe and that they do not fail, which is demonstrably not true. That leaves working people with a choice between one or the other: a job today or a livable planet tomorrow. We will no longer accept this choice.

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