Activism News Roundup #8

This month, we were particularly struck by a quote from an article about a public hearing in Charleston, WV regarding the repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The powers that be scheduled this meeting in the heart of coal country expecting local support. In fact, the vast majority of speakers spoke in favor of the Clean Power Plan. A former coal miner from Kentucky drove three hours to attend the meeting to speak out against the repeal, and told the Huffington Post: “Do I really think that this administration cares what this old, worn-out coal miner has to say? Well, I don’t know. I really doubt it. But I had to be here…as long as I can draw breath.”

As our protected lands, natural resources and clean air are threatened, this selection of articles shows that—despite how it may feel—Americans from all walks of life want to come together to protect our earth.

HOWEVER: that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop or rest. Climate change is progressing, and more people are paying attention because they have to. This is the time to dig into these issues and understand them, to look beyond the headlines and political divides: to prioritize what we can do together and effectively coming together to do it.

We hope that these updates spread an awareness: we are not alone, we are not as divided as we might feel, and now is the time to push hard.


PROTECTED LAND

’Theft of Our Heritage’: Thousands Protest Trump’s Cuts to Utah’s National Monuments

December 4, 2017 / EcoWatch

“President Donald Trump will visit Utah today to announce dramatic cuts to two national monuments in the state. Trump is expected to speak at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City at 12:30 p.m. According to reports, he will announce the gutting of the 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the slashing of the 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent. The move will be the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history.”


12 House Republicans Urge Congress to Cut ANWR Oil Drilling from Tax Bill

December 2, 2017 / Inside Climate News

“A group of 12 Congressional Republicans sent a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress Thursday, objecting to a provision in the tax bill that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

‘For decades, Congress has voted to prohibit oil and gas development in the refuge, with the overwhelming support of the American public,’ the group wrote. ‘Support for this protection remains strong today. After years of debate, the Arctic refuge stands as a symbol of our nation’s strong and enduring natural legacy.’”


Dakota Access Pipeline / Standing Rock

: Citing Recent Keystone Spill, Federal Court Orders Additional Measures to Reduce Spill Risks from Dakota Access Pipeline

December 4, 2017 / Common Dreams

“Today, citing the recent Keystone oil spill in South Dakota, a federal court imposed several interim measures over the ongoing operation of the Dakota Access pipeline.  
The decision follows a June finding from the Court that the Trump Administration had violated environmental laws when it reversed the previous administration’s plans to consider rerouting the pipeline and issued permits to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation. In October, the Court declined a request to shut down the pipeline completely, but expressed a willingness to consider alternative interim measures that would reduce risks pending the completion of a new environmental study.”


Keystone Pipeline (MONTANA, SOUTH DAKOTA, NEBRASKA, ILLINOIS, OKLAHOMA, TEXAS, KANSAS)

“3 Reasons This Isn’t a Decisive Win for the KXL Pipeline”

November 22, 2017 / Yes! Magazine

“…While it’s true that, technically, the Nebraska Commission did indeed clear the final regulatory hurdle for the Keystone XL—as news headlines have said— it’s also true that the path toward construction is less certain than those headlines might suggest. In fact, Monday’s news is not a decisive win for the KXL at all. Here’s why.”


Mountain Valley & Atlantic Coast Pipelines (VIRGINIA)

Hundreds Gather in Richmond to Protest Natural Gas Pipelines

December 2, 2017 / WTOP.com

“Hundreds of people from across Virginia have rallied in Richmond to protest two proposed natural gas pipelines that would cross the state.
Landowners, activists, a state lawmaker and two newly elected delegates were among those gathered at Capitol Square on Saturday to oppose the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. Speakers addressed the crowd before attendees marched peacefully to a theater for a concert.”


DIVESTMENT

NYU Divest Occupying Administrative Elevator in Bobst Until Demands Met

December 1, 2017 / Washington Square News

“Twelve members of NYU Divest are occupying the administrative elevator in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library until several demands are met by the university. This action comes in response to a letter the group delivered to President Andrew Hamilton last week, for which the group has not yet received a formal response. The group said it will remain in the elevator until three specific demands are met. Divest asked NYU to divest direct holdings in fossil fuel companies, hold a full board meeting open to the public that reconsiders university divestment and commit new funds to carbon-free screens.”


NYC’s Public Pensions Should Dump Fossil Fuels, Activists Say

November 29, 2017 / Patch.com

“New York City’s public pension funds should pull their investments from the fossil fuel industry and use that money to support renewable energy, environmental advocates said Wednesday.

At a hearing on climate change held by Public Advocate Letitia James, advocates argued it’s immoral and fiscally irresponsible to continue investing in companies that contribute to global climate change, which is increasingly threatening the city. At the end of the hearing, James said she supports divesting city pension money from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.”


LOCAL ACTIVISM

Overwhelming Number Turn Out to Support Clean Power Plan at Coal Country Hearing

November 30, 2017 / EcoWatch

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) only public hearing on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) featured many more people speaking in favor of the Obama-era effort to slash emissions from power plants.

Even though EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt purposely held the meeting in Charleston “in the heart of coal country,” West Virginia to allow more coal stakeholders to testify in person, the vast majority of the 250 speakers at the two-day meeting at the West Virginia Capitol Complex actually approve of the CPP, VICE News reported. Only 30 or so speakers voiced their support for the repeal.”


Inspired by Standing Rock, Activists Protest Fracking in Washington State Capital

November 30, 2017 / Nonprofit Quarterly

“Over one thousand miles from the Bakken oil sands in North Dakota, protestors in Olympia, Washington took a stand to protect the region from fracking by blocking the train tracks by which ceramic proppants—a substance used in the fracking process—are shipped.
The Olympia Stand protest, which was inspired by the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, is a repeat of a similar protest in the same spot at the same time last year. Twelve people were arrested at the site in 2016, but no arrests have been reported so far since this year’s camp was raided early Wednesday morning. According to the Washington Post, “the 2017 blockade [was] composed of a much more diverse range of players, from indigenous activists to anarchists to Libertarian Socialists.”


Blocked From Discussing Climate Change, Valve-Turner Faces 10 Years in Prison After Felony Conviction

November 22, 2017 / Common Dreams

“After a judge refused to allow him to share his reasons for shutting off a tar sands pipeline valve in a protest of fossil fuel mining, 65-year-old climate activist Leonard Higgins was found guilty of criminal mischief—a felony—and misdemeanor criminal trespass. Higgins faces up to 10 years in jail and as much as $50,000 in fines.
“I’m happy for the opportunity to share why I had to shut down this pipeline, and I really appreciate the time and dedication of the jury and the judge,” Higgins said. “I was disappointed and surprised by the verdict, but even more disappointed that I was not allowed a ‘necessity defense,’ and that I wasn’t allowed to talk about climate change as it related to my state of mind. When I tried to talk about why I did what I did I was silenced. I’m looking forward to an appeal.”


PIPELINE PERMITS

Washington Regulators Tell Inslee to Quash Vancouver Oil Terminal

November 28, 2017 / Portland Business Journal

“Four years after it was proposed, Washington state regulators on Tuesday unanimously recommended that Gov. Jay Inslee deny a permit for a giant oil terminal project at the Port of Vancouver.
The project has been fiercely opposed by environmentalists, climate-change activists and local residents, who earlier this month overwhelmingly elected a new port board commissioner who has vowed to end the project’s lease. On Tuesday, those opponents celebrated their win before the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, meeting in Olympia, and looked to Inslee to drive a final stake through the project’s heart.”


Standing Rock

New Documentary Remembers Standing Rock in Beauty and Catastrophe

October 23, 2017 / Yes! Magazine

“…As someone who believes in the importance of frontline storytelling, I appreciate Awake for what it uplifts. Despite my narrative disagreements with the film, I think it’s an important effort, that should be seen—especially for the film’s second section.
It is the hope of any movement moment that it be remembered, and carried by many voices, which will mean the offering of many perspectives. If the viewer understands Awake as a puzzle piece in a much larger picture, in which many complexities go untouched, it will aid in their understanding.”