Archive for the 'Government' Category

Over 54 Groups Call For Independnt Inquiry into Pipeline Safety in Alberta

For Immediate Release

July 12, 2012

Redford faces mounting pressure for independent inquiry into pipeline safety

(Edmonton) Representatives of more than 50 provincial organizations today released an open letter calling on Premier Alison Redford to establish an independent inquiry into pipeline safety in Alberta. The organizations represent a broad cross-section of Alberta’s population, including farmer, landowner, labour, health, First Nations and environmental groups.

“The recent spate of pipeline spills has been a wake-up call for all Albertans,” said Don Bester, President of the Alberta Surface Rights Group. “We know that we have a problem with pipeline safety in this province, and we can’t afford to wait another year before starting to look at solutions or diagnosing the problem.”

The text of the open letter sent to the premier and opposition leaders reads:

Dear Premier Redford,

The recent series of major pipeline spills in the province has raised serious concerns for all Albertans about the integrity and oversight of the more than 300,000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines that crisscross the province. These spills have brought attention to an issue that affects the entire province. Albertans deserve assurances that our pipeline infrastructure is safe, and that appropriate regulations and oversight are in place.

For this reason, we are calling on you to initiate an immediate independent province-wide review of pipeline safety in Alberta, similar to the one which was recently conducted for the Auditor General of Saskatchewan’s 2012 report.

We are encouraged that you have indicated you are “not opposed” to such a review, but we believe that such a critical issue simply cannot wait, as you have indicated, for the conclusion of the ERCB investigation into the recent spills. The average ERCB investigation takes nine months to complete, with some investigations taking years, and broader concerns related to regulation and enforcement are unlikely to be addressed by these investigations. An independent review of regulations and enforcement can and must be conducted in a parallel time frame to any ERCB investigation into individual spills.

Albertans need to know that their families, communities and drinking water are safe from pipeline spills. The time for leadership on pipeline safety is now, and the first step must be an independent pipeline safety review.

Continue reading ‘Over 54 Groups Call For Independnt Inquiry into Pipeline Safety in Alberta’

Minneapolis Energy Options: Energy, Markets, and Democracy

Cross-posted from Solutionaries.net referencing a Minneapolis Star Tribune opinion piece published May 23: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/153296235.html

Last November, I sat down with a couple of long-time Environmental Justice organizers in Minnesota and had a conversation about Minneapolis’s energy future. I had been notified by an lawyer that the franchise agreements (20 year agreements that allow the major local utilities to use the public right of way to distribute electricity and natural gas to Minneapolis energy users in exchange for paying Minneapolis about $24 million annually) were expiring in 2014. In our conversation, we figured we should do something about it to ensure the next 20 years of energy development was founded on energy efficiency, clean energy, and community ownership of our energy system.

Fast forward six months and we have a coalition of a dozen groups leading the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign, support from many of our local elected officials, and insight into the many ways that state regulation partners with utilities to limit the options cities have taking steps towards more affordable, efficient, clean, and community-based energy development. We’ve learned of the work of dozens of other cities that have moved to take control of their energy purchasing, generation, and/or distribution, whether through innovative franchise agreements with cooperative utilities, community choice aggregation (which allows a local governments to choose what power they buy, distributed by the local utility), and forming new municipal energy utilities. We believe Minneapolis should keep its options open rather than locking in 20 more years of business as usual – we want to enable the city to explore the option of municipalizing while evaluating negotiations of the franchise with an eye towards enabling Minneapolis residents and businesses to take charge.

And recently, we opened that discussion in an Op Ed in the Star Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/153296235.html

Read more about what we could achieve and what this means for energy action, democracy, and how movements relate to markets:

Continue reading ‘Minneapolis Energy Options: Energy, Markets, and Democracy’

The Photos Rep Denny Rehberg Doesn’t Want You to See

One of the great things about the age of email, Twitter, and Facebook, is it theoretically allows ordinary people to connect quickly and easily with their elected officials, sharing their views about matters of concern to them.  In the perfect democracy, politicians would embrace the opportunity to host open and transparent discussions about big issues online.

Yet in the real world, politicians all too often use tools like Facebook merely to have a one-sided conversation, projecting the image they want you to see while removing posts and comments they disagree with.  A case in point is Montana’s Congressman Denny Rehberg (who is running for the US Senate this year).

One week ago, after a weekend of action against coal exports in the Northwest, youth activists posted photos from a rally outside of Rehberg’s office on his Facebook page.  Since the action was on a Sunday, when no one was in the office, we wanted to make sure Rehberg still knew we had been there.  Some of us hoped he might even respond to our concerns about expanded coal mining, and explain why he continues to support the coal industry despite it’s record of health, safety, and environmental violations.

Instead, the photos were removed from Rehberg’s Facebook page almost immediately.  No comments, no explanation, nothing.

Continue reading ‘The Photos Rep Denny Rehberg Doesn’t Want You to See’

How the People Got Their Groove Back: What a Bunch of Farmers Can Teach a Bunch of Occupiers About How to Keep on Going

[Written by Ash Sanders. Originally published as a zine, which you can download and print (6 double-sided sheets folded into a 24 half-page booklet). Online version cross-posted from peacefuluprising.org]

Not so long ago, Americans witnessed the beginning of a mass democratic uprising. Thousands of average people, disgusted by greedy elites and corporate control of government, launched a movement that spread to almost every state in the nation. They did it to reject debt. They did it to fight foreclosures. They did it to topple a world where the 1 percent determined life for the other 99. And they did all of it against incredible odds, with a self-respect that stymied critics.

The year? 1877. The people? Dirt-poor farmers who would come to be known as Populists.

Now it’s 2011, and the People are stirring again. It’s been over two months since a few hundred dreamers pitched their tents in Zuccotti Park and stayed.

These people weren’t Populists, but they had the same complaints. They couldn’t make rent. They had no future. They lived in a nation with one price for the rich and another for the poor. And they knew that whatever anyone said that they didn’t have real democracy.

Okay, and so what? What do a bunch of century-dead farmers have to do with the Occupy movement? Well, quite a lot, actually.

You see, the Populists came within an inch of changing the entire corporate-capitalist system. They wanted a totally new world, and they had a plan to get it. But as you may have noticed, they didn’t. And now here we are, one hundred years later, occupying parks where fields once stood. We’re at a crucial phase in our movement, standing just now with the great Everything around us—everything to win or everything to lose. It’s our choice. And that’s good, because the choices we make next will echo, not just for scholars and bored kids in history class, but in the lives we do or don’t get to have. The good news is this: the Populists traveled in wagons and left us their wheels. We don’t have to reinvent them. We’re going in a new direction, but I have a feeling they can help us get there.

Occupy has done a lot of things right, and even more things beautifully. But strategy has not been our forte. That was okay at first, even good. We didn’t have one demand, because we wanted it all. So we let our anger grow, and our imagination with it. We were not partisan or monogamous to one creed. That ranging anger got 35,000 people on the Brooklyn Bridge after the Wall Street eviction, and hell if I’m not saying hallelujah. But winter is settling now, and cops are on the march. Each week we face new eviction orders, and wonder how to occupy limbo.

It’s time for a plan, then, some idea for going forward. This plan should in no way replace the rhizomatic-glorious, joyful-rip-roarious verve of the movement so far. It can occur in tandem. But we need a blueprint for the future, because strategy is the road resistance walks to freedom.

In that spirit, I sat down a few years ago and devoted myself to studying social movements of the past. I wanted to see what I could learn from them—where they went wrong, where they went right. I didn’t trust this exercise to random musings. No, like a good Type A kid, I made butcher paper lists of past movement features and mapped them onto current ones. I asked: What is the revolt of the guard for the climate movement? What’s the modern anti-corporate equivalent of the Boston Tea Party?

As I read, I learned a lot about the phases movements go through as they form, what common features they share, and what often breaks them apart.

I could name these phases myself, but it’s already been done. And no one has named them better than historian Lawrence Goodwyn, a thinking human if there ever was one and the author of The Populist Moment.

Goodwyn said that successful movements go through four stages:

Continue reading ‘How the People Got Their Groove Back: What a Bunch of Farmers Can Teach a Bunch of Occupiers About How to Keep on Going’

Power Shift West: Registration Open!

Across the country a bold movement is emerging to demand a clean and sustainable future. People of all ages and backgrounds are coming together to show industry and politicians that we will not let our country continue its dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and youth are at the forefront. Whether it is in DC resisting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, in Appalachia resisting the destructive process of mountaintop removal or in cities resisting the placement of toxic industries near low-income communities our generation is taking a crucial role in this process.

In the Pacific Northwest, we face numerous and complex problems. There is the export of coal to Asian markets, the expansion of clear cutting in ancient forests, the importation of tar sands equipment, unsustainable food systems, close ties between industry and politicians, and the ongoing inequity in the distribution of environmental harm in our own communities. Yet we also know how powerful we are when we come together as a movement. Youth environmental activists have been victorious in gradually phasing out coal plants, defeating LNG export terminals, and passing some of the boldest climate legislation in the country.

That is why on November 4th-6th, members of the youth environmental movement from up and down the west coast are going to Eugene for Power Shift West. The weekend long conference will have speakers, panels, skill building workshops and opportunities to network with other leaders of the youth climate movement. We gather to deepen our understanding of the systems that are destroying the environment and to develop tools to dismantle those systems and construct equitable and sustainable alternatives.

We demand a viable future where the health of our communities and our land is put above the profit of corporations. Come join us and be part of this growing movement.

Get involved today by registering to join us at Power Shift West.

Attend on Facebook & follow us on Twitter.

Outside, In.

I recently caught up with a once-and-forever youth climate leader who has since moved on to fill his days with other ways of building global community.  I asked what we needed to do to bring him back to the fold. He, in turn, confessed he wished he could borrow one of our own to further his new pursuits.  I gave him my blessing– but only if in four years, both of them would come back to us by running for elected office.
He laughed. I wasn’t joking.
Continue reading ‘Outside, In.’

President Obama Abandons Clean Air: Picks Polluters Over Sick and Dying American Kids.

Sierra Club Coal Ad - MiaIn a sickening (literally) move, President Obama has told the Environmental Protection Agency to abandon their plans to protect kids from toxic air pollution, siding with big polluters like Exxon, Koch Industries, and their sock-puppet the US Chamber of Commerce over the health and safety of America’s youth.

The EPA did their job, following scientific advice, hearing from impacted communities, environmental justice, and health organizations. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson worked to set new standards for communities, which would have helped protect kids and keep people working instead of out of work sick or in the ER taking care of their kids and likely spurred investments in scrubbers and pollution control equipment manufactured here in the United States.

Instead, the President sided with the US Chamber of Commerce, echoing the very language they used in their letter scrambling to find justifications for why these polluting corporations wanted to put off essential protections for the lives and health of kids and seniors exposed to toxic air pollutants. The Chamber of Commerce, reveling in the power they are exercising in a post-Citizens United world of unlimited corporate cash in US elections, said:

U.S. Chamber Praises White House Decision to Withdraw Potentially Disastrous Ozone Standards
Donohue Calls Move a ‘Big First Step in What Needs to be a Broader Regulatory Reform Effort’. Source

This is after over a thousand people have been arrested in front of the White House, desperately trying to get President Obama to halt the Keystone XL pipeline that the nation’s top climate scientist said would be ‘game over’ for the climate, if built. A White House conspicuously without solar panels, that the Administration had promised to install by this spring. Another in a string of promises broken and priorities downgraded on the environmental front. As the protestors outside the White House have been singing, “Pick a side Obama”, and it appears that he has.

Activists Follow Obama and White House Press Corps to Martha’s Vineyard

Obama Martha's vinyard tar sandsAs I sit on the ferry from Oaks Bluff, Martha’s Vineyard back to the mainland it is hard not to think of the people who are currently sacrificing their body and individual rights outside the White House at this very moment. We traveled out to the Vineyard to follow our President Barack Obama and hand-deliver press packets for the Tar Sands Action to the White House Press Corps that surround him in order to remind them the key role that the President can play in future of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Stopping the construction of this pipeline will halt a cascade of environmental impacts (“sure”?  sounds a bit awkward) and begin to fulfill the campaign promises that engaged so many in 2008.  Our mission to the Vineyard today was a simple but impacting way to support this growing movement to inspire the President to do the right thing.  I encourage you to find your way to contribute.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is Obama’s chance to turn tides and start to regain support from the many that voted him into office. The same people that slept on the floors of churches taking workshops on grassroots political campaigning are now using the same trainings to prepare to be arrested outside his front door in D.C. Continue reading ‘Activists Follow Obama and White House Press Corps to Martha’s Vineyard’

70 People Arrested in Opening Day of Tar Sands Action


Our Editor, Christine Irvine at Tar Sands Action. Source: Shadia Wood

70 people from across the US and Canada were arrested at the White House this morning for the first day of a two week sit-in aimed at pressuring President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline. Over 2,000 more people are expected to join the daily civil disobedience over the coming days.

At stake is what has quickly become the largest environmental test for President Obama before the 2012 election. The President must choose whether or not to grant a Canadian company a permit to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the gulf of mexico.

Environmentalists warn that the pipeline could cause a BP disaster right in America’s heartland, over the largest source of fresh drinking water in the country. The world’s top climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, has warned that if the Canadian tar sands are fully developed it could be “game over” for the climate.

“It’s not the easiest thing on earth for law-abiding folk to come risk arrest. But this pipeline has emerged as the single clear test of the president’s willingness to fight for the environment,” said environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protests and was arrested this morning. “So I wore my Obama ’08 button, and I carry a great deal of hope in my heart that we will see that old Obama emerge. It’s hot out here today, especially when you’re wearing a suit and tie. But it’s nowhere near as hot as it’s going to get if we lose this fight.”

McKibben was amongst those arrested today, along with the co-founder of NRDC and former White House official Gus Speth, gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi, author and activist Mike Tidwell, Firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher, and many others. Continue reading ’70 People Arrested in Opening Day of Tar Sands Action’

This is what LOVE looks like

(Cross posted from www.peacefuluprising.org)

Watching Tim speak in the courtroom, watching him utter words that would be echoed and transported across oceans, seeing him in all his candor and vulnerability, I realized that it’s the most powerful I’ve ever seen him. As he earnestly looked the judge straight in the eye asking him to join him — to join us — I simply could not ignore the eery yet deeply moving sensation that this statement would be one for the history books.

This is what hope looks like… This is what patriotism looks like… This is what love looks like.”
-Tim DeChristopher. July 26th 2011. Salt Lake City Federal Courthouse
(Read full statement here)

On that day, in that courtroom, his invitation fell on deaf ears. Judge Benson did not open up his heart to Tim’s plea and instead chose to respond with the inflexible “rule of law,” the systemic stance that an empowered citizen effectively challenging the status-quo should be contained and silenced.

In those initial nauseating and destabilizing moments, I simply could not process the judge’s words. 24 months of federal incarceration? To be taken into custody forthwith by US Marshals? Chained up like a dangerous criminal? All after making it crystal clear that the prison sentence was the result of Tim’s outspoken political views?

Crushed by the daunting realization that there would be no final good-bye, no last hug, I rushed down the courthouse steps, dizzy and in shock. Despite my personal trauma, the world needed to know, needed to hear Peaceful Uprising’s outrage and our call for a peaceful, directed, and sustained response. Continue reading ‘This is what LOVE looks like’


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