Archive for the 'LNG' Category

In Ohio, the People Push Back on Fracking

Tired of waiting for their leaders to ban the destructive drilling practice, citizens passed their own resolution—and took over the Statehouse to make it heard.

Originally published in Yes! Magazine

Last week an estimated 1,000 people took over the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio to protest the destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Joined by others from neighboring states facing similar issues, this “People’s Assembly” rallied and marched to the Capitol building—without a permit—to decide how they, the people, could end the practice in their state.

Jamie Frederick was one of them. She had been told by doctors that it was safe to drink her well water, despite the presence of gas wells surrounding her home. She later discovered the water was contaminated with chemicals used in the fracking process. As a result, she says, she has lost her gall bladder and can’t risk having children because of fatal health risks and potential birth defects.

“If there had been solar panels and wind turbines surrounding my home instead of gas wells, I never would have gotten sick, and I would be called ‘Mom’,” she told the crowd. These days, she said, her mouth bleeds and it’s difficult to talk: “I am losing my voice more all the time. But I seem to have found it today.”

As the Assembly convened, the rotunda, filled to capacity, thundered with stomping, clapping, and chanting that was hushed when families shared experiences of being devastated by the side effects of fracking, as Frederick was. Some had been invited to testify at the Statehouse in the past, only to find empty rooms and legislators who, they felt, did not respect their concerns.

These stories had been shared throughout the lead-up to the action, with three full days committed to workshops, trainings, and cross-movement strategy sessions. Teri Blanton, of Appalachia, connected fracking to another highly destructive extraction process she has been fighting in her own neighborhood: mountaintop coal removal. “They’re trying to do to you what they’ve done to us,” she said. “‘Regulation’ just gives them permission to do it. If you think regulation works, take a look at the West Virginia strip mining.”

The Ohio Assembly ended with the passage of a “people’s legislation” to ban fracking. Though no actual law backs this resolution, it signifies a commitment by many in the state to oppose further development of fracking wells.

This July will see thousands more mobilize in Washington, D.C. for the Don’t Stop the Frack Attack rally. Grassroots communities across New York State are already speaking out against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to turn the Southern Tier of New York into a sacrifice zone for fracking. This creative, nonviolent action bubbling across the United States may turn out to be the most powerful way of halting extreme energy development at the expense of both people and the planet.

Celebrate Earth Day with the 4 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Resist

Dear Diary,

Today I went to Dundas Square, one of the busiest intersections in Toronto to join Rhytms of Resistance-Toronto,“a political samba-inspired band that plays for environmental and social justice.” The band was raising awareness about some of the tar sands pipelines that will threaten forests, waterways, fish habitat, and communities along and near the pipelines. What a way to spend Earth Day, eh?

ImageThey were also letting people know how to plug into the resistance against the pipelines! The band’s groupies, who I gladly joined, were letting people know about a rally happening at the Enbridge Annual General Meeting in Toronto on May 9th. I learned about the Yinka Dene Alliance, one of the leading groups of First Nations opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline, who will be in Toronto on May 8th and 9th to say “No” to the proposed pipeline.

Members of the YDA are traveling from BC to Toronto for the Enbridge AGM and they will be stopping in Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg along the way. Once I am done writing this diary entry, I am going to invite all my friends in those cities. It is Earth Day after all—great excuse to spread the word on how to resist environmentally destructive projects.

I am so glad that so many people are piping up (pun intended) about these pipelines. These pipelines would contaminate water, fish sources, and human health. Communities would be put at risk for the profit of a few greedy oil and gas corporations. Diary, that just isn’t fair!

I mentioned the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would bring dirty tar sands to the west coast of British Columbia for export; but I still haven’t mentioned the tankers that would come to collect that oil. They would have to travel through ecologically sensitive areas and through waters which are known to be rough because of the high winds and waves. Do we really want to repeat some of the horrible oil spills which have destroyed fishing communities and continue to impact human health and livelihoods? This sounds just too risky!

There is also another pipeline which would bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Kitimat as well: the Pacific Trails Pipeline. This LNG would be primarily from shale gas development in northeastern BC. This type of gas development involves injecting water and unidentified chemicals into underground shale rock formations at very high pressures in order to extract natural gas below the surface. This process uses up tons of water, while also contaminating groundwater and local drinking water.

But those aren’t the only pipelines blazing through British Columbia. Kinder Morgan is trying to increase the amount of tar sands crude that would be transported through the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a pipeline which brings tar sands to southwestern BC.  There has been local opposition to the pipeline expansion which would require twinning the pipeline and putting communities at significant risk.

Looking east, there is the Trailbreaker project which would bring tar sands across the Prairies, Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec, and finally to the coast of Maine, USA. The pipeline has faced growing opposition from communities across the route. And rightfully so. In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline leak put over a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River which flows into the Great Lakes. Enbridge may be okay with polluting the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, but I won’t sit by and just watch it happen.

And I am not the only one!

This Earth Day, there were over 10 communities that took action specifically against pipelines, tankers, and tar sands expansion. In Montreal, Quebec there was a march so huge that “more than two hours after it began, a large crowd was still waiting to begin at the starting point.” Right on!

Diary, I am so inspired that I am going to explore more ways to take collective action against environmentally destructive operations.

Happy Earth Day, -maryam

Natural Gas and Oil Frontlines: First Nations Lead the Way

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Population and Development Program, based in Amherst, MA, which works at the intersection of reproductive freedom, environmental justice and peace.

American environmentalists are declaring victory over the announcement that the United States will research alternate routes for the Keystone XL pipeline.  While Obama’s announcement was an encouraging gesture, U.S.-based activists are in danger of missing the forest for the trees.  We must look north, the source of tar sands oil, where First Nations people in Canada are directly confronting the accelerating fossil fuel expansion on their land, as we plan the next steps in our movement.

Indigenous Assembly Against Mining & Pipelines, November 2011

The Keystone XL pipeline is just one in a massive network of pipelines branching out from the oil fields of Alberta, illustrated by this map.  The trade magazine Pipelines International reports on this extensive infrastructure of, as they call them, “energy lifelines.”  While the tar sands (or oil sands) have received international attention since the protests against Keystone XL lit off this summer, pipeline expansion is occurring on many fronts in Canada: tar sands oil, conventional oil and natural gas which is being pumped out of Canadian soil. American activists have shown their mettle in facing down the importation of tar sands oil into the U.S., but where do they stand on the dozens of other pipelines that make up this spiderweb?

Traditional environmental leaders, Indigenous environmentalists and youth came together in unprecedented ways during the Keystone fight; now we must move forward with our eyes on the frontline. The untold story of fossil fuel expansion in Canada is its toll on Indigenous communities, or First Nations.  First Nations in Canada in active resistance show paths forward, as fossil fuel companies only intensify their development efforts.
On the same weekend that 12,000 protesters encircled the White House, the 2nd Indigenous Assembly on Pipelines and Mining took place in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories The Indigenous Assembly over the weekend of November 5th, issued this call to action:

Indigenous communities from across the province are gathering in Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories to oppose this conference and those corporations who profit off the destruction of the land. No mining, no pipelines, no resource extraction on unceded native lands! Defend the people, protect the land!

The Assembly hosted No Mining on Native Land!, a march through downtown Vancouver on November 6th. The pipelines, notably the Enbridge oil pipeline and the Kimimat Summit Lake gas pipeline (or Pacific Trails), endanger the lands of Indigenous people who are dependent on trapping and hunting for survival.

Tribe members block PTP from entering unceded land.

The Pacific Trails pipeline would lead to a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) port at Bish Cove, an ecologically pristine beach, on the Western cost. The Enbridge and Pacific Trails pipelines would run alongside each other near the Morice River.  The proximity of gas and oil pipelines to each other is particularly dangerous, though the companies have made no statement on this risk.  Many tribal councils and governments have approved one or both pipelines, in large part due to promises of jobs, but among Indigenous residents on the land, resistance is fierce.

The same week, Likhts’amisyu and Unist’ot’en clans of the Wet’swet’en nation confronted officials from Pacific Trails pipeline (PTP), who were attempting to illegally enter their territory to move drilling equipment.  This nation is one of many in Canada on land unceded to the Canadian government.  The nation owns the land and PTP was not authorized to enter.   Tribe members blockaded the access road, and formed an encampment until the company removed all equipment and vehicles several days later.

The Unist’hot’en clan has also built a cabin on Wet’suwet’en territory in the path of the Enbridge pipeline, PTP and one other pipeline, to prevent construction.  They intend to defend the cabin and halt illegal construction on their land.  Mel Bazil of the Lhe Lin Liyin (The Guardians), which support the Unist’hot’en Wet’suwet’en writes,

A delay could benefit their [Transcanada and other companies’] plans to assist in what we consider the systemic scope of the Tar Sands expansion activity. Tar sands may require offsets to operate, and proposed pipelines that acquire tenure through band chiefs and councils, and through treaty agencies … could make deals without the input or involvement of grassroots and indigenous peoples, who experience the environmental damage and pollution.

American activists must link to the struggle of First Nations people resisting Enbridge, PTP and other pipelines.  The Keystone XL pipeline, once considered a no-brainer for approval by industry and legislators, now stands in limbo.  That is a success for American activists.   However, fossil fuels are an international industry, and NAFTA and other treaties have deeply linked the American and Canadian economies.  The frontlines of fossil fuel in the U.S. are inherently connected to the struggle unfolding in Canada as part of a global supply chain.

As collaboration between major environmental NGOs and Indigenous environmental leaders deepens and expands, we must not allow Washington insiders to define the terms of victory.  There is no victory until Indigenous communities, and all frontline communities, are safe from the indignities of fossil fuels.

Read Martha’s previous coverage of Tar Sands oil extraction, activism to stop the Keystone pipeline, and Indigenous organizing in the US and Canada in Resisting the Tar Sands: Bridging Communities & Struggles, published in October, 2011.

Protecting Oregon from a New Palomar Pipeline

This morning a group of climate activists in Portland, Oregon gathered at the base of one of the city’s busiest bridges, to urge morning commuters to help put the final nail in the coffin of the Palomar natural gas pipeline.  The pipeline’s main backer, NW Natural Gas, is holding its annual shareholder meeting this afternoon.  This presents a great opportunity to call the company out on its support for a piece of fossil fuel infrastructure that would carve through stands of old growth in Mt Hood National Forest, cut across salmon-bearing streams, and add to the region’s dependence on fossil fuels.  As one of our banners proudly proclaimed, NW Natural must learn that Oregonians won’t let the Palomar project move forward – not now, and not ever.

You can help stop the Palomar Pipeline by sending a message to NW Natural’s board of directors right now.

Earlier this spring, climate activists in Oregon celebrated NW Natural Gas’ withdrawal of its original application to build the Palomar Pipeline.  This was and remains a major victory for our movement, but NW Natural is already plotting to bring back a scaled-down version of the pipeline.  Palomar was originally supposed to bring imported LNG (liquefied natural gas) to the western half of the US, by connecting a proposed LNG terminal on the Columbia River to existing gas pipelines.  Now the terminal associated with Palomar is dead, and NW Natural seems to have given up the western half of their project.  But the company is discussing submitting a new application for a shorter Palomar Pipeline as early as next year. Continue reading ‘Protecting Oregon from a New Palomar Pipeline’

Grassroots Power Defeats Dirty Gas Pipeline in Oregon

Amidst discouraging news that the Obama administration is expanding coal mining and investing in dangerous nuclear policies, I’m glad to report on an important victory against dirty energy in the Pacific Northwest.  Yesterday NW Natural Gas and other companies withdrew their permit application for the Palomar liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline project.  One of three proposed LNG pipelines in Oregon, Palomar would have transformed the Northwest into a gateway for a high-carbon fossil fuel not currently imported anywhere on the US west coast.  The defeat of Palomar marks the end of a years-long grassroots battle.

LNG is a fossil fuel with a carbon footprint much greater than ordinary natural gas, imported from regions of the world like the Middle East, Russia, and Peru.  LNG companies are trying to make inroads in Oregon, but grassroots activists have held them back so far.  Almost a year ago the Palomar pipeline application was indefinitely suspended – this happened shortly after the Bradwood LNG import terminal (which Palomar was supposed to connect to) was cancelled.  Now energy companies have officially given up on Palomar.  Should they try to resurrect the pipeline later, they would have to start from scratch and it would be treated as a completely new project.

There are still two proposals to build LNG infrastructure in Oregon: the Oregon LNG pipeline and terminal on the Columbia River, and the Jordan Cove project in southern Oregon.  But I believe the elimination of Palomar and the Bradwood terminal marks the beginning of the end for LNG.  Activists who have been fighting the Palomar pipeline for years can now channel their energy into defeating the remaining two LNG proposals and other fossil fuel projects.  Already both Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG are years behind schedule and struggling to obtain permits they need to begin construction. Continue reading ‘Grassroots Power Defeats Dirty Gas Pipeline in Oregon’

Day of Direct Action Against Extraction: April 20, 1 year anniversary of the BP oil spill


Communities around the world are under attack from extractive industries that poison our families, kill our loved ones on the job, and destroy the ecosystems we cherish. The BP oil spill was unfortunately just one of an endless string of disasters born of an economic system that must endlessly consume the Earth’s  resources.

Extraction is the act of taking without giving anything back. Extraction takes workers lives so  corporations can make a few more bucks. Extraction takes clean water and air and gives us blackened oceans and a climate in chaos. Extraction takes the natural wealth of communities and ecosystems and leaves behind poverty and ecological wastelands.

For a stable climate, clean air and water, we must stop the extraction of fossil fuels and other “resources.”  From the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, people are fighting back against the extractiveindustries  that have declared war on our planet. Rising Tide is calling for a day of direct action against extraction on the 1 year anniversary of the BP oil spill.

On April 20th take it to the point of production.  Shut down a well site, occupy a mine, take over an office, blockade a bank. Nobody’s community should be a sacrifice  zone.

For climate justice and a livable planet,

Rising Tide North America

[click for printable poster]


Pipeline for High-Carbon LNG Put on Hold in Northwest

After years of building the movement against liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure, challenging LNG projects in the courtroom, rallying, lobbying, and direct action, climate activists working on LNG in Oregon are at last seeing some big and tangible indications that the end is near for high-carbon LNG in the Northwest.  In May we finally defeated the Bradwood LNG terminal on the Columbia River – at least for the time being.  And just yesterday news came out that the Palomar LNG pipeline, originally supposed to deliver imported LNG from the Bradwood terminal to another pipeline bound southward for California, has been put on-hold for an indefinite period.

This is a testament to the hard work of activists who have been building up the pressure on policymakers and on companies involved in the Palomar pipeline, letting them know Oregonians have no interest in seeing another high carbon fuel (with a life cycle footprint nearly equal to that of coal) threaten our region’s clean energy economy.  As readers of this blog may remember, near the end of May close to 300 people rallied outside the shareholder’s meeting of NW Natural Gas, challenging the company to withdraw its support for Palomar.  Barely over a month later, the permitting process for Palomar has been put into a state of ”indefinite delay.”  Coincidence?  I think not.

Palomar is not dead yet, and it won’t be until the project is officially cancelled.  But until then Oregon activists will continue to keep up the pressure – and the delay of the permitting process is an encouraging sign that Palomar’s days are numbered. 

For more information about what yesterday’s announcement means for the fight against LNG in Oregon, please see my post that ran on this morning.  Now is a moment to celebrate this important milestone toward victory for one of the hardest-fought climate campaigns in the Northwest.

Liquefied Natural Gas Confronted at NW Natural’s Shareholder’s Meeting

Building on momentum from the successful defeat of the proposed Bradwood LNG terminal earlier this month, yesterday climate and clean energy activists turned up the pressure on a company that’s continued to push for twentieth-century solutions to the Northwest’s twenty-first-century energy problems: Northwest Natural Gas.  In case you haven’t heard, NW Natural – a company that greenwashes itself as an environmentally aware corporate citizen – is backing the proposed Palomar LNG Pipeline in Oregon.  If built, Palomar threatens to lock the western US into years of dependence on the high-carbon, imported fossil fuel liquefied natural gas. 

 Yesterday close to 300 Oregonians of all ages turned out to NW Natural’s shareholder’s meeting at the Oregon Convention Center to demand the company pull out of Palomar.  Yesterday I posted about the highly successful rally on the progressive blog BlueOregon

Originally, the Palomar Pipeline was supposed to connect to the Bradwood LNG terminal on the Columbia River.  Climate activists and community organizers defeated Bradwood earlier this month, but NW Natural is still trying to push Palomar forward by connecting it to other LNG projects.  We showed up Thursday to let the company know Palomar is a bad deal for Oregonians; not only is it a threat to the climate and Oregon’s natural landscape, it’s a bad investment as well.  NW Natural’s shareholders already lost money when Bradwood LNG went down, turning the company’s investment in that project sour.  Every day NW Natural stays committed to Palomar, the company is chalking up debts that have to be paid – either by shareholders or ratepayers.  Continue reading ‘Liquefied Natural Gas Confronted at NW Natural’s Shareholder’s Meeting’

Victory: High-Carbon LNG Project Suspended, Company files Bankruptcy

2007 Convergence for Climate Action at proposed Bradwood LNG site. The weeklong event, organized by Rising Tide with local communities was a critical moment for movement building.

By Nick Engelfried & Monica Vaughan.

After a five yearlong organizing effort by a diverse and passionate coalition of Oregonians and Southern Washingtonians, the grassroots No LNG coalition triumphed over Bradwood LNG.

Monday afternoon, the fight for the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy future achieved a long-awaited major milestone: the backer of the proposed Bradwood Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal announced suspension of their application for the project.  This renders Bradwood LNG essentially dead.  In a part of the country where there are new coal plants proposed (and where such projects are unlikely to be proposed anytime soon) LNG represents the cutting edge of the fossil fuel industry’s expansion.  Bradwood LNG’s defeat is a victory that should send a warning to fossil fuel projects across the region.

At word of the news, community members wept with joy and phones rang continuously to share the news. At a press conference, coalition members reflected on the complex and significant meaning of such a victory over the fossil fuel industry. As community leader and dedicated volunteer Cheryl Johnson put it, “They have money, but we have heart. In the end, heart always wins”.

Continue reading ‘Victory: High-Carbon LNG Project Suspended, Company files Bankruptcy’

Students Join Landowners to Protest Liquefied Natural Gas in Yamhill County

On Saturday, approximately twenty youth from Oregon’s climate and energy justice movement embarked on a 20-mile bicycle ride through the farmland of Yamhill County, to protest high-carbon liquefied natural gas (LNG) development and meet with landowners whose property and farming businesses are threatened by LNG pipelines. 

Building on the success of a similar LNG bike-protest that took place in Oregon’s Washington County one year ago, this year’s “Bike-the-Pipe” event took us along the approximate route of the Oregon LNG and Palomar Pipelines in Yamhill County.  If energy giants get their way these two LNG pipelines will cut right through some of Oregon’s most valuable farm and forestland, jeopardizing the businesses of countless landowners en route to delivering a carbon-intensive fuel to the California gas market.  Continue reading ‘Students Join Landowners to Protest Liquefied Natural Gas in Yamhill County’