Tag Archives: project

Rise up Vermont!

3 Sep

A CALL TO JOIN THE ORGANIZING OF A REGIONAL CAMPAIGN OF NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION TO SHUT DOWN VERMONT YANKEE

Sunday, Sept 18, 2011—10 am – 4 pm

Bugbee Senior Center, White River Junction

262 North Main Street, White River Jct.,VT

(see directions below)

PURPOSE OF MEETING: to develop a people’s campaign of nonviolent direct action to shut down Vermont Yankee on schedule – by March 21st, 2012. Vermonters and our tri state community have worked for 20 years to shut down Vermont Yankee and are committed to a green energy future. Our voices were resoundingly heard when the Vermont Senate voted overwhelming to replace Vermont Yankee in 2012. Now Entergy is trying to undermine the will of the people and steal our vote away.

We support the state of Vermont in its efforts to fight this untrustworthy, corporation. However, the people must also make it clear to Entergy, the courts, the State of Vermont and the media, that it is unacceptable for Vermont Yankee to continue to operate after its license expires in March 2012. In the event that Entergy Corporation defies Vermont law and continues to operate Vermont Yankee or, that the courts, ruling on the lawsuit brought by the Entergy against the State of Vermont, refuse to uphold Vermont law, the democratic process, and the will of the majority of Vermonter’s and our neighbors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we will act. We must not allow this Louisiana, profit-driven corporation to subvert democracy and imperil the future of the New England region.

In the aftermath of Fukushima, there is no longer any doubt that nuclear power is an imminent threat to our lives, health, environment, and livelihoods. Vermont Yankee, approaching the end of its 40-year operating license, and running at 120% of its original design capacity, is an aging Mark-I reactor, identical in design and age to the reactors that exploded and melted down in Fukushima. The inadequacy of the Mark-I design has long been known, yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has allowed 23 of these reactors to continue to operate in America. It is time to close these dangerous reactors, starting here and now with Vermont Yankee.

September 18th will be a meeting, for those who want to commit the time necessary for organizing a non-violent direct action campaign with the goal of closing Vermont Yankee on schedule. The focus of this meeting will be on affirming a participatory organizational structure and an open decision making process and approving action guidelines. as well discussion of possible scenarios for a broad and sustained non-violent direct action campaign and a name for the organization will be chosen.

Informational sessions about Vermont Yankee, action camps and nonviolence training workshops will be scheduled for later dates.

WHO IS INVITED: Anyone who agrees with the purpose of this meeting and is willing to dedicate the time necessary to organize the campaign.

WHEN & WHERE: This founding assembly will take place on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011 from 10 – 4 pm pm at the Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction, VT. Please try to carpool, and to arrive early. Coffee, tea, etc. will be available. A small lunch will be provided; as well, potluck offerings would be appreciated (there may be up to 50 people at the meeting).

RATIONALE: We, the People, cannot allow a mega-corporation like Entergy to subvert democracy and continue irradiating our region while adding to the tons of high level nuclear waste stored high above the banks of the Connecticut River. The people of this region—by means of petitions, letters, public hearings as well as demonstrations, and votes by the Vermont legislature and annual town meetings—have long and repeatedly expressed their will to close Vermont Yankee and replace its power with safe, renewable alternatives. Many nations—including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Japan—are taking action to halt the continued use of nuclear power. Vermont has done the same.

Entergy is determined to keep the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant operating. In a last ditch effort, Entergy is suing in federal court to prevent the sovereign will of Vermont from prevailing in the shutdown of Vermont Yankee. If the courts rule against Vermont or if Entergy defies Vermont law we must take action for the sake of our lives, democracy, future generations, and the environment.

PLEASE JOIN US! In a People’s Campaign to Close Vermont Yankee

Signed by:

Randy Kehler, Bob Bady, Nancy Braus for Safe and Green Campaign; Debra Stoleroff, Chris Williams, Robin Cappuccino, David Detmold for the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance;

Deb Katz and Chris Williams for VT Citizens Awareness Network Hattie Nestel for the Shut it Down Affinity Group. Erik Gillard for Green Mountain EarthFirst!

Respond by email confirming you will come by September 16 to the following addresses:

Erock at : greenmountainearthfirst@hotmail.com

Bob Bady (Safe and Green) email: bobbady@gmail.com

Deb Katz (CAN) email: deb@nukebusters.org

Debra Stoleroff (VYDA) email: debra@vtlink.net

for DIRECTIONS email greenmountainearthfirst@hotmail.com

 

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Fracking debate heating up in New Zealand

12 Aug

Heated debate over fracking, the mining process which could be used to extract gas in western Southland, is raging in the gas heartland of Taranaki.

A protest group, Climate Justice Taranaki, has called for a ban or moratorium on the practice, which it believes threatens aquifiers with toxic chemicals.

The issue has become an environmental flashpoint across the globe, but Taranaki is the first New Zealand region where there have been anti-fracking protests.

“What we are seeing, especially in the United States and Australia, is groundwater aquifiers being depleted and poisoned by toxic chemicals,” Climate Justice spokeswoman Emily Bailey said. “The resource companies don’t seem to be telling us what’s going on.”

Fracking is conventionally used to improve the flow of oil and gas wells by injecting a water-chemical mix into a well and subjecting it to high pressure, which forces the rock surrounding the well to crack open, releasing more oil and gas. In Southland, it could be used to extract shale gas from potentially huge deposits recently discovered under the Waiau Basin.

Anti-frackers believe the practice uses toxic chemicals which can permeate underground aquifiers and contaminate water.

The panic over fracking for shale gas was ignited by a provocative film, Gasland by Josh Fox, which claimed to expose the huge environmental damage caused by fracking in parts of the United States.

Article by Alex Fensome. For more information and full article go to source of cross-posting here

For more recent articles on the anti-fracking movement in New Zealand visit here, here and here

Aung San Suu Kyi backs Burma dam protesters

11 Aug

Aung San Suu Kyi has urged the Myanmar and Chinese governments to re-examine the project on the Irrawaddy River

Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has joined forces with environmentalists and minority groups with an appeal for a rethink of a large dam project.

Suu Kyi urged the Myanmar and Chinese governments to re-examine the project on the Irrawaddy River in the interest of national and international harmony.

The Nobel peace prize winner called the waterway “the most significant geographical feature of our country.”

Environmental groups, members of the Kachin ethnic minority and other people living along the river say the Myanmar-China Myitsone Hydroelectric Project in northern Kachin state will displace villagers and upset the ecology of the important food source.

The 3.6 billion dollar (£3.1 billion) dam being built by China in the Kachin heartland is expected to flood an area the size of Singapore.

The Burmese government has not said how much of the energy will be sold to China.

In her appeal, Suu Kyi said some 12,000 people from 63 villages have been relocated and it is not clear whether they will be fairly compensated.

The government said only 2,146 people from five villages had been relocated.

For decades, several ethnic groups have waged guerrilla wars for greater autonomy, including more control over resources in their regions. In March, fighting broke out between the 8,000-strong Kachin militia and the government.

That fighting was related to dams and other large projects being built by China.

Cross-posted from here

Keystone XL Pipeline Protest set for site of 2007 Burnaby pipeline rupture ‎

5 Aug

 

A Vancouver-based environmental group intends to use the Burnaby site of a dramatic oil pipeline rupture four years ago to emphasize its opposition to a planned expansion by Kinder Morgan.

Wilderness Committee (WC) will hold a demonstration on Saturday, Aug. 27 beginning where Hastings Street turns into Inlet Drive. That’s the spot where Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline was ruptured by road construction crews working July 24, 2007. Oil spewed 12 metres in the air flowing downhill toward Burrard Inlet and hitting as many as 100 homes in the area.

The protest is scheduled to coincide with mass civil disobedience planned for Washington, D.C., to protest the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to carry crude oil from northern Alberta to American refineries.

Along with opposing Keystone XL, WC has set it sights on Kinder Morgan’s plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from the oil sands and its terminal in North Burnaby.

WC says the expansion will mean tankers bigger than the ones now using the dock will be sailing in Burrard Inlet. The current ones, claim the Wilderness Committe, carry more than three times the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in March 1989.

Sven Biggs, Wilderness Committee outreach director, said the event will start at 2 p.m. with protesters marching down the hill to the gates of Kinger Morgan’s Westridge Terminal.

For the full article go to source of cross-post here

Iron County mine proposal pits jobs against environment

3 Jul

Bill Heart of Trout Unlimited goes fly fishing on the Tyler Forks River. A proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin raises concerns about water pollution

Iron ore made this town, and many people believe an open-pit mine will help revive the fortunes of this once-bustling community.

“We need jobs now – not 10 years from now,” said hardware store owner Jack Giovanoni, who supports plans for a $1.5 billion mine 20 miles away.

But the project is emerging as a classic jobs-vs.-environment battle as opponents question how a large mine could influence another natural asset of the region – its water resources.

While the developer, Gogebic Taconite, hasn’t formally applied for a construction permit, the project is coming under fire from environmental groups and from a nearby Indian tribe.

The Bad River band of Lake Superior Chippewa voted to formally oppose the mine this spring.

And in a significant development, the tribe is poised to win new powers to govern water-quality standards that could affect the operations of the mine.

The tribe and the proposed mine are in the 1,000-square-mile Bad River watershed, a major tributary to Lake Superior.

The tribe, whose reservation is on the shore of Lake Superior, is close to receiving approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would allow it to set water standards on tribal properties.

This would enable the tribe to impose limitations on water users that operate upstream and outside the reservation, as well, state and federal officials said last week.

“The Bad River people stand to bear the environmental brunt of this mine,” Tribal Chief Michael Wiggins Jr. said at his office in Odanah.

Two of the tribe’s main concerns:

Will the water-intensive needs of an open pit mine and its processing plant reduce flows downstream and harm drinking water, fishing and wild rice beds on tribal lands?

Will sulfide chemicals in the waste rock seep into groundwater, streams and wetlands and harm water quality?

Gogebic Taconite says the company will avoid such problems.

Bill Williams, president of the company, said the processing plant will recycle its water. While there will be water loss in processing the ore, it won’t be sufficient to harm the watershed, he said.

As for the potential of sulfide pollution, early indications show that the region’s rock doesn’t have high concentrations. If it turns out the chemical content is higher, “there is no way that the mine will ever be permitted,” said Williams, who has worked on mines in Spain, Peru, Minnesota and Michigan.

Long-term project

Gogebic Taconite is owned by the Cline Group, a privately held mining company based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with coal interests in Illinois and other parts of Appalachia.

Gogebic has an option on the mineral rights for 22,000 acres covering 22 miles of a mountain range known as the Gogebic or Penokee that runs through northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Plans call for operating the first phase for 35 years, but officials say the deposit, 20% to 35% iron ore, is significant enough to continue mining for the next century.

The Gogebic range in these parts rises several hundred feet above Highway 77 in Iron and Ashland counties, and is used for logging, as well as hunting and other recreational uses.

Since Gogebic’s plans became known, Bill Heart of Ashland, past chair of Trout Unlimited in Wisconsin, has been making visits with his fly rod to the Tyler Forks River, the closest river to the mine.

Last Tuesday morning, he caught and released a steady succession of brook trout, nearly stomped on a wood turtle – a threatened species – and nibbled on his first wild strawberry of the season.

“This river – these little streams out here and what they carry – make a difference,” said Heart, who is worried the mine will harm the watershed.

“Everything flows downstream.”

Life will change considerably if the Department of Natural Resources and other regulatory agencies approve the project, which Gogebic hopes to start operating in about five years.

In the initial phase, miners would cut a 4-mile-plus swath between Ballou Creek in Ashland County and the Tyler Forks in Iron County, which flows through Copper Falls State Park.

Plans call for digging a pit 1,000 feet deep to extract rock. A processing plant on-site would crush and concentrate the ore, baking it into marble-sized pellets used to make steel. Two trainloads of pellets would lumber out of the mine each day.

The Gogebic range has been mined intermittently since the late 1800s; and in Hurley, mining is as much a part of the city’s legacy as the Packers are in Green Bay.

Many of the streets bear the names of minerals, including the infamous Silver St., Hurley’s main drag where bars and strip joints once catered to off-duty miners.

Silver St. is tamer these days – the last iron mined in this part of Wisconsin was the Cary mine, which closed in 1965.

“The range never recovered from the collapse of mining,” said Paul Sturgul, a Hurley attorney who is chairman of the local mining committee appointed by the Iron County Board.

Sturgul, whose father was a miner for 22 years, supports Gogebic’s proposal to mine the ore – if it can be done safely without harming the environment.

“This could be the last gasp for the Gogebic range,” he said.

To underscore the significance of the project, the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce last month collected 2,040 signatures in a week and a half and sent them to lawmakers, urging them to back the mine.

Economic boost

Supporters believe the mine would jump-start a troubled economy. Iron and Ashland counties are poorer, older and less educated than the state average.

Food stamp usage is higher here, Iron County figures show.

Median household income in Iron County in 2009 was $34,210, or 32% below the statewide average, according to the most recent U.S. census figures.

One quarter of the population is 65 or older, projected to rise to 38% by 2030, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. Wisconsin’s 65-and-older population is 14%.

As for education, 15% of the county’s population has a college degree. The statewide average is 26%.

“We are basically losing our young people to other places,” said Jeff Gulan, principal of Hurley’s K-12 school.

In fact, Iron County’s population is the lowest in at least 100 years. Census figures reported a population of 5,916 people in 2010. It reached its peak in 1920 at 10,261.

“I can’t see anything else that will bring this area back,” said Jack Giovanoni, owner of Giovanoni’s True Value Hardware, which has been in his family since 1941.

But business is at its lowest point ever. Gogebic’s 700 mining jobs – with average salaries and benefits of nearly $83,000 a year – would be a boon to the local economy, he said.

Gogebic’s own economic analysis estimates the mine would stimulate a total of 2,834 jobs during the first 35 years of operation as truckers, rail workers, professional people and businesses move into the area.

Like many in Hurley, Giovanoni is frustrated by the opponents and their claims that the mine will harm the environment.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said, gazing downtown from his driveway a few blocks away.

In a meeting with editors and reporters of the Journal Sentinel last week, Gov. Scott Walker said the mine is “something we should pursue,” but added the state can’t neglect its duty to enforce environmental regulations.

“If we can set a standard that shows we can be environmentally responsible, you’re talking about literally thousands of jobs that are generational,” Walker said.

Awaiting legislative action

Gogebic had planned to drill exploratory holes this year, but is putting the work on hold until lawmakers take up legislation that would ease the way to construct a mine. Staff, meanwhile, are evaluating other projects in the Midwest, according to the company.

This spring, legislators balked at fast-tracking a bill as they grappled with the budget deficit and collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Though never formally introduced, a draft bill heavily influenced by the company was widely circulated.

It would have required the DNR to act on an iron-mining permit within 300 days and eliminated an appeal process. Wetland protections would also have been weakened.

A bill could be back before the Legislature this fall.

“We need jobs and clean water, and we can’t live here without either one of them,” said Michele Wheeler, executive director of the Ashland-based Bad River Watershed Association.

“We are going to be the guinea pig for any legislation that comes out, so we really needed to understand what is going to happen.”

Wiggins, the tribal chief, opposes any changes to the state’s mining laws, and said that mining advocates’ talk of jobs tends to marginalize the value of tourism and the importance of clean water to indigenous people.

He sent Walker a letter in May complaining that the DNR authorized Gogebic to do exploratory drilling without soliciting comments from the tribe and others.

“If we didn’t stand up and exert ourselves, and sound our voices, we are going to be railroaded,” Wiggins said.

In June, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and executive assistant Scott Gunderson, a former Republican legislator, joined Wiggins to tour the sloughs and wild rice beds that surround the Bad River.

“It quickly became apparent – and I say this with all due respect – that Miss Stepp and Mr. Gunderson were not familiar with the negative environmental impacts of the iron mining process,” Wiggins said.

Stepp agreed she did not know of the specific examples Wiggins had mentioned. “But I am not unaware of the problems associated with mining and the issues in the industry,” she said.

“My job was to go up there and reassure him that we are going to be diligent protectors of the environment.”

James B. Nelson of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Cross posted from here

Global Protests Against Burmese Military Actions At Dams

1 Jul

By Katy Yan and Grace Mang

Cross-posted from here

Kachins protest at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco

Last Friday, hundreds of people in the US, Denmark, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and elsewhere gathered to protest the recent deadly clashes between Burmese authorities and ethnic militias in Burma’s northern Kachin State. Standing before Burmese and Chinese embassies, Kachins held up signs calling for an end to the violence and a halt to dam building by Chinese companies  in Kachin State.

Fighting broke out in early June between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) at the Dapein No. 1 and 2 dams, which are being constructed by China’s state-owned Datang Company, breaking a 17-year ceasefire. Scores of people have died and as many as 13,000 refugees have fled their homes, with many crossing into China. As of last Wednesday, about 18 women have been reported gang-raped by Burma Army soldiers in Kachin State, according to the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand.

 

Fishing on the Irrawaddy near the Myitsone Dam (Burma Rivers Network)

Chinese power companies and contractors are building a series of dams in northern Burma to supply electricity to China. The biggest and most controversial of these dams is the Myitsone Dam, a massive 3,600MW hydropower plant being built by China Power Investment and situated in an area of great cultural and ecological significance. The environmental impact assessment on this first dam on the Irrawaddy also expressed grave concerns.

In March, the KIO sent an open letter to the Chinese government calling for a halt to the project. It warned that, given the forced displacement, lack of transparency, and unequal distribution of benefits, this and other dam projects in Burma were likely to foster popular resentment, creating a risky situation for Chinese companies so close to its borders.

Chinese dams fueling conflicts in Kachin State (Kachins in California)

According to the Burma Rivers Network, the current conflict is “closely related to the dams. The government has sent in troops because it wants to gain control of a region that hosts major Chinese investments in hydropower.” Kachin State has till now been largely controlled by Kachin forces. 

Strong local resistance has also occurred in northern Shan State in an area where Burma, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and a number of Chinese companies (China’s Sinohydro, China Three Gorges Group Corporation, and China Southern Power Grid) are planning a series of dams for the Salween River.

China now finds itself caught in the middle due to its desire for secure energy supplies from Burma and its fear of escalating conflict around its hydropower projects so close to its borders.

 

People’s Tribunal against the Criminalization of Protest in Ecuador

29 Jun

Written by Sofía Jarrín

During three days in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, hundreds of representatives from several Latin American countries gathered to share experiences and strategies during the Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth. The event took place between June 17 and 23, and was organized as an act of resistance against development projects that threaten this vital resource, Yakumama, our mother water. A letter of intention by the organizers reads, “We hope this gathering will become a permanent process of fellowship to protect water and food sovereignty, to create a new social order in harmony with nature, with justice and equity.” 

 The conference began with a visit to sites where environmental conflicts have taken place, in Cochapata and San Bartolomé, more specifically, in the southern province of Azuay, both areas affected by mining companies. The delegation was composed of the Ombudsman, representatives of national indigenous organizations, the Inter-American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), Real World Radio, and a team of FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International. There they witnessed cases of abuse of power by developers, often in complicity with state agencies, that are laying out mining projects despite clear opposition from the communities where they plan to implement them.

In Cochapata, for example, a community of about 7,800 people, there has been great resistance against the construction of a dam by the mining company Explorsur SA. Seven community leaders were accused of sabotage and terrorism for engaging in public protest, and were recently sentenced to eight years in prison. This occurred despite the fact that the Constituent Assembly had granted them amnesty in July 2008, recognizing their role as environmental defenders. Since then, all seven have been in hiding with serious financial and emotional consequences to their families. Unfortunately, like in many other cases, the courts favour private interests instead of communal decisions on how to manage land and water resources. Currently, there are more than 189 pending cases of terrorism and sabotage in Ecuador.

Back in 2007, at the beginning of his government, President Rafael Correa made a public statement setting the stage for what was to come. “Don’t believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist,” he said about the community of Dayuma, Orellana province, who at the was time protesting the environmental devastation in their territory that resulted from oil drilling in the region. The protest was met with police repression and 25 people were detained.
For this reason, one of the main objectives of this conference was to expose these kind of cases, thus exemplifying the ongoing criminalization of protest in Ecuador. An integral part of the conference was a Court of Ethics that analyzed “the criminalization of defenders of human rights and nature.” This people’s court took place on Wednesday, June 22, with the presence a jury of four international authorities: Elsie Monge (Ecumenical Commission of Human Rights, CEDHU, Ecuador), Raul Zibechi (writer and journalist, Uruguay), Leah Isabel Alvear (poet and academic, Colombia), and Mary Hamlin (International Movement for People’s Health). They listened to more than four hours of testimonies and 17 cases of people accused of terrorism.
“Democracy can only be guaranteed when citizens are guaranteed their rights to protest and resistance,” testified Ramiro Avila, a lawyer and professor at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. “These laws are being used to suppress protest and should be immediately repealed.” Avila explained that the law under which the right to protest is criminalized in Ecuador dates back to the early republic, based on the Penal Code of 1920.

The current government of Ecuador, under President Correa, is driving an aggressive development program that is fueling social conflicts all around the country, mostly around mining and oil industries and the control of water sources. Unlike other countries such as Peru and Bolivia, large-scale mining is new to Ecuador and it’s expected to have severe consequences to its many ecosystems. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, there are 1990 registered mining concessions in the country, causing serious concerns among civil society, particularly campesinos and indigenous people. “The social leaders are speaking out to defend their human rights, but instead of welcoming them the State is criminalizing their right to protest,” said Fernando Gutierrez, the National Ombudsman.
The most prominent case is that of four top indigenous leaders, all of them charged with terrorism and sabotage: Pepe Acacho, vice president of the National Confederation of Indigenous People (CONAIE), Marlon Santi, ex-president of CONAIE; Delfín Tenesaca, president of the Kichwa Conferedation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI); and Marco Guatemal, president of Indigenous and Campesino Federation of Imbabura (FICI). They were tried for participating in marches against the Water and Mining Acts during the ALBA Summit in Otavalo in June 2010.
“Is it a crime to defend the water? Is it a crime to defend Mother Earth?” said Carlos Perez, an indigenous leader of Azuay. “Ecuador was pioneer in recognizing the rights of nature, thus the Constitution should be above a criminal code created in times of a dictatorship.” Ecuador was the first country to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution of 2008.
The jury’s decision did not make itself wait. The verdict given was resolute, not only in acknowledging that people opposed to the government’s extractive activities are currently living in an atmosphere of fear and criminalization in Ecuador, but that the State is directly responsible for promoting and maintaining this situation. “These cases confirm that there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it,” reads the verdict. “While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature.”
It furthermore recommends that the President refrains from making public statements that “delegitimizes and stigmatizes” defenders of nature and human rights. To the judicial powers it recommends to comply with the amnesty granted by the Constituent Assembly in 2008 to all people prosecuted of crimes against the State under a ambiguous Penal Code that is largely considered obsolete.
Although this Court of Ethics does not have jurisdictional powers, it does hope to fill up the space created by the State’s omissions of abuses committed against peaceful social protesters and its exoneration of private companies “that operate in the country with impunity.” Correa´s government has yet to pronounce itself before the court’s decision.
Cross-posted from here