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Fracking, Climate Change Stressing U.S. Energy Infrastructure

13 Jul

from Root Force

Power lines downed by Hurricane Sandy (Photo: Arlington County/cc/flickr)

Power lines downed by Hurricane Sandy (Photo: Arlington County/cc/flickr)

The combination of fracking and global warming-driven drought is placing an increasing strain on U.S. energy infrastructure, which depends on water for cooling power plants, the Department of Energy has warned. And that’s not all.

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Community Justice vs. Minas Conga Mine

30 Jun
Local indigenous farmers on horseback form part of a protest against the Minas Conga gold mine, June 17, 2013

Local indigenous farmers on horseback form part of a protest against the Minas Conga gold mine, June 17, 2013

From Root Force:

A recent Reuters article examines the role that community justice institutions have played in the struggle against the Minas Conga mine in Peru, which would be the country’s largest gold mine. The indigenous- and peasant-led resistance movement has already led to the project being placed on hold once and the President’s cabinet being reshuffled twice.

Although the article quotes several people who are obviously deeply uncomfortable with the traditional, indigenous-influenced rondero justice model due to its failure to place all authority in the hands of the state, it obviously strives to paint a fair picture. The article seems relevant not just for its relation to the Minas Conga struggle in particular, but also for expanding our frame of reference in regard to models of community justice and organizing.

For those of you who are skimmers, don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure of the article’s concluding quote:

Ronderos in Cajamarca say they stopped carrying guns years ago. Punishments they mete out draw on traditional Andean practices, ranging from push-ups to lashings with cow whips. [NOTE:  Peruvian cow whips are thick, not thin like the “Indiana Jones”-style whip that is designed to draw blood. Not that it necessarily feels good to be hit with one. —Root Force]

One of the most severe sentences is the “rondero chain” that requires offenders to toil in fields by day and parade barefoot through frigid villages by night, some ronderos said. It can go on for days or weeks as people are handed off from one village squad to another.

Referring to Mines and Energy Minister Jorge Merino, a laughing Ponce said: “We would make Merino carry out a rondero chain for three or four months. [Peruvian President Ollanta] Humala would get six months.”

Peru peasant squads rally against U.S. firm’s $5 billion gold mine

(Reuters) – Forty years ago, peasants in rural Peru banded together as “ronderos” – Spanish for “people who make the rounds” – to curb cattle rustling.

Today, squads of these ronderos are working toward a different aim – thwarting an American mining company’s planned $5 billion gold mining project that they contend would spoil lakes vital to the local population high in the Andes.

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Colombian Military Massacres Peasants in Oil-and-Coal Related Protests

27 Jun
catatumbo-protests-jun-2013-300x199

Police violently disperse unarmed peasant protesters in Catatumbo, Colombia, Jun 2013 (photo by Telesur)

from Root Force

The Colombian military has killed at least four peasant protesters in the region of Catatumbo, wounded dozens more (including 21 gunshot wounds) and arrested hundreds.

From Alliance for Global Justice:

In Catatumba, peasants have been holding protests, blocking roads and occupying facilities to protest to the government’s chemical spraying of Monsanto’s RoundUp Ultra herbicide as part of coca eradication efforts; and the refusal of the government to establish a Peasant Reserve Zone, as authorized by legislation in 1994 and 1996. That legislation would provide protected land for collective farming. Protesters say that they are being denied this in favor of concessions made to foreign coal [and oil] companies.

Learn more about the background of the protests here, then send a letter to Colombian officials demanding an end to the  violence.

Blockade Started on Enbridge’s Line 9

20 Jun

tumblr_moozqtju6v1swoxk6o1_500from Root Force

Hamilton, ON — As this statement is released, we are digging in and occupying Enbridge’s North Westover Pump Station in the Beverly Swamp. We have done this to stop construction in preparation for the reversal of their Line 9 Pipeline to carry toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands through our communities and watersheds, likely for export.

For the past year, we have organized in our communities across Southern Ontario to raise awareness of Enbridge’s plan to reverse Line 9. Increased awareness quickly lead to concern and to a desire from our communities to at the very least make our voices heard about our opposition to this project. What we found was a rigged game, where the political party most indebted to the oil industry had taken spectacular measures to remove the usual environmental oversights from Line 9 and other pipeline projects. The Line 9 reversal is, from the perspective of the powerful, a foregone conclusion and they have insultingly offered only the most meaningless opportunities for public engagement.

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Surprise, Surprise: Mexico Resurrecting La Parota Plans

18 Jun

CECOPby Root Force

Well, that didn’t take long. Less than a year after the government of the Mexican state of Guerrero made it clear that it would not approve any plans for La Parota dam, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has included the dam in its most recent report on its upcoming plans. The commission hopes to begin construction within the current six-year presidential term.

Maybe that’s why the government has started trying to introduce paramilitaries into the resisting communities.

Of course, the communities that would be flooded out by this dam (designed to provide electricity to the port of Acapulco and, eventually, hundreds of miles north into the southwest United States) have maintained a solid, no-compromise resistance and remain organized. And all the government’s attempts to expropriate their land have, thus far, been declared illegal and invalid.

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Watch Out for Big Infrastructure Push Following Bridge Collapse

27 May

from Root Force

I-5Bridgecollapse

Following the collapse of an I-5 highway bridge in Washington state (in which fortunately no one was killed), watch out for infrastructure apologists from liberals to energy companies to push for a massive increase in infrastructure spending.

Bloomberg’s coverage raises the issue in the fourth paragraph:

An interstate highway bridge in Washington state collapsed [Thursday], sending vehicles into the rushing waters of the Skagit River north of Seattle. Three people were rescued and none died, authorities said.

The bridge carried both north- and south-bound lanes of Interstate 5, which runs the length of the U.S. West Coast from Mexico to Canada. Investigators said a truck carrying an oversized load may have struck the span before it fell. [Note: it’s been confirmed that a megaload truck did indeed cause the collapse -Root Force]

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Fracking Ban Stands in New York Town; Victory for Local Communities

3 May

Cross Posted from Root Force

drydenALBANY, NY – May 2 – Local residents and elected leaders in Dryden, N.Y. are celebrating victory today in a closely watched case over local fracking bans. A state appeals court ruled in favor of the towns of Dryden and Middlefield, affirming lower court decisions upholding the towns’ right to ban oil and gas development activities—including the controversial technique of fracking—within town limits. The legal battle first began in 2011, and industry is widely expected to seek review of the ruling by New York’s high court (the Court of Appeals).

“I’m proud to represent the Town of Dryden and I’m especially proud today,” said Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner. “We stood up for what we knew was right. And we won. The people who live here and know the town best should be the ones deciding how our land is used, not some executive in a corporate office park thousands of miles away.”

The case in Dryden has taken on special significance. More than 20,000 people from across the country and globe sent messages to Sumner and her colleagues on the Town Board, expressing support for the town in its legal fight.

Dryden’s story began in 2009, after residents pressured by oil and gas company representatives to lease their land for gas development learned more about fracking, the technique companies planned to use to extract the gas. During fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the ground to break up rock deposits and force out the gas. Residents organized and educated for more than two years under the banner of the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition (DRAC), ultimately convincing the town board to amend its zoning ordinance in August 2011 to clarify that oil and gas development activities, including fracking, were prohibited.

“We love our town. We’re proud to be from a place that doesn’t back down from a tough fight. And we’re inspired by the outpouring of support we’ve received,” said DRAC member Deborah Cipolla-Dennis. “Now it’s our turn to support communities across New York, and in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, and elsewhere that are standing up to the oil and gas industry.”

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In Arizona and Peru: Why Reform Won’t Work

1 May

Cross Posted from Root Force:

Indigneous Quechua-speakers in Peru have been at the forefront of the battle against Newmont Mining Corp's Minas Conga gold mine.

Indigneous Quechua-speakers in Peru have been at the forefront of the battle against Newmont Mining Corp’s Minas Conga gold mine.

Two recent news stories highlight the fundamental problem with directing reformist efforts at a global economic system that is founded on colonialism, genocide and extinction. While of course it’s important to use a diversity of tactics to achieve our goals, and while it’s important to recognize and celebrate even partial victories, these stories remind us how the system reacts when we achieve victories that actually threaten its ongoing profits:

• Despite a 2012 ban on hard-rock mining in a one million acre area surrounding the Grand Canyon, the uranium mining firm Energy Fuels Resources has been given federal approval to reopen its Canyon Mine. The rationale? The company’s “rights” to extract a poisonous fuel by destroying the Grand Canyon, the surrounding watershed, and indigenous territory predate the ban.

• In Peru, the government is rolling back a landmark indigenous rights law at the behest of mining companies. Under the new policy, mining companies no longer need to even consult with the vast majority of Peru’s indigenous peoples before proceeding with plans to destroy their land.

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New Documentary Debunks Monster Dams

25 Apr

damocracy-logo

Cross posted from Root Force

Damocracy the movie has been released, chronicling the struggles of communities a world apart to defend their rivers from monster dams masquerading as “clean” energy: the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River in Brazil and the Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River in Turkey. Watch it here.

The 34-minute documentary is an excellent primer on the problems posed by mega-dam projects anywhere in the world, from their environmental and social impacts (including a greater global warming impacts than coal plants) to the way they are forced through over widespread opposition by affected communities, often by means of shady legal tactics.

Kayapo Dancers vow to defend their territory from Brazil’s plans for the Belo Monte Dam in 2008

Kayapo Dancers vow to defend their territory from Brazil’s plans for the Belo Monte Dam in 2008

The Belo Monte and Ilisu dams are classic examples of the type of globalized infrastructure that is meant to prop up the global economy and send resources flowing to the wealthy at the expense of all people and life on earth, with indigenous and other land-based cultures often the most affected.

Please watch the film and forward it around, or host screenings to help publicize these struggles. Both dams have already been canceled once before, and continue to face fierce opposition.  May they both go the way of La Parota!

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