BREAKING: Climate activists launch daring occupation of the California PUC, calling for agency to shut down all gas storage facilities

SAN FRANCISCO – Two Bay Area residents have occupied the ledge above the entrance to the headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today to protest the PUC’s failure to protect the Golden State from the climate and health impacts of methane from underground natural gas storage facilities.
A well blew out at SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon facility near Porter Ranch on October 23, 2015. Since then, 96,000 metric tons of methane have escaped into the atmosphere, the equivalent of an additional 505,000 cars on the road for a year. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more climate-intensive than carbon dioxide. While SoCalGas reported last week that the leak had been plugged, the Aliso Canyon leak has been responsible for 25% of the state’s daily greenhouse gas emissions.
Aliso Canyon is one of 12 underground natural gas storage facilities in California, and one of 326 nationwide that use depleted oil and gas wells for storage for urban customers.
“While plugging the leak at Aliso Canyon has been a good step, today we are demanding that the PUC shut down all gas storage facilities; until they do, we are occupying the PUC,” said Christy Tennery-Spalding from Diablo Rising Tide, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America.
The PUC is one of two agencies responsible for oversight of underground natural gas storage facilities. The leaking well had not been inspected since 1976. The CEO of SoCalGas reported to the LA Weekly that a safety valve on the well had been removed in 1979.
“It is unconscionable that these regulators are putting people at risk while giving companies a pass. The last time Aliso Canyon was inspected by the PUC was the last time Jerry Brown was governor,” said Kelsey Baker, from Occupy San Francisco Environmental Justice, currently occupying the ledge over the PUC’s headquarters entrance.
SoCalGas is a division of Sempra Energy and uses the Aliso Canyon facility to store natural gas for delivery to 12 natural gas power plants and 21 million consumers in Southern California. Since the blowout, 10,000 of Porter Ranch’s 30,000 residents have fled the community. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, requiring the several state agencies to take urgent action.
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Diablo Rising Tide is the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America. Rising Tide North America is an all-volunteer grassroots organizing network in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico who confronts the root causes of climate change with protests and events. You can find out more at www.diablorisingtide.org.

Cove Point Spring Break – March 6-14th

The Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gas export terminal is the centerpiece of the fracked-gas infrastructure build-out currently underway in the mid-Atlantic US. The gas industry is tying much of its financial future to exports, and Cove Point, Maryland, is the place it has selected to liquefy the gas, put it on tankers, and bring it around the world.

However, a broad movement has been fighting the gas industry every step of the way — to stop this export terminal at Cove Point, the tangled web of pipelines and compressor stations, export terminals in other places, and where the gas is pulled from the ground. And of course, how the gas industry is doing impacts coal and other fossil fuels, as well. This is all the same fight!

Built on the Mountain Justice Spring Break and Shalefield Justice Spring Break models, Cove Point Spring Break will be an alternative spring break for activists, college students, community members and anyone else wanting to learn more about the epic battle that’s being waged against the fracked gas industry in the mid-Atlantic region. The Atlantic Coast and the Atlantic Sunrise pipelines, specifically, are scheduled to come on-line around the same time as the Cove Point export terminal, enabling the industry to ship vast quantities of gas from the Marcellus Shale very quickly to Japan and India — unless we stop these projects first! This camp is intended to bolster our collective skills to take effective action and win!

Plan on workshops and panels to cover subjects that will include kayaktivism (taught by the people behind the incredible kayaktivism you saw in the northwest last year, the Backbone Campaign!), direct action tips and tricks, blockades, action climbing, creating protest art, indigenous history of the area, campaign planning and strategy, tactics to stay safe and secure, and — of course — learning all about why we’re working to put a stop to the gas industry’s plans for our area!

Hear impacted residents and activists from all over tell personal tales and share lessons learned. Plug in and network with representatives from numerous campaigns. Enjoy this water-based part of the world from the inside of a kayak.

Kids are welcome! Please leave your animal friends at home.

Camp will be as accessible as possible for all types of folks. Please get in touch if you have specific needs you want to make sure are addressed.

We can’t wait to see you there! Please register now to reserve your spot and help us plan — and please spread the word to anyone else who you think might be interested!

There is a Facebook event page to help you share this with your networks at https://www.facebook.com/events/1544556029189202/.

Write covepointspringbreak@gmail.com with any questions or thoughts.

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity With The Delta Five

San Francisco, CA– Rising Tide North America released this statement in response to the conclusion of the trial for the five climate activists charged for blockading an oil train in 2014 in Everett, WA:RisingTideSeaSept

“Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with our friends and allies Abby Brockway, Patrick Mazza, Michael Lapointe, Jackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri, ( the Delta Five), who had a decision rendered today by a Washington court on two counts. The Delta Five successfully blockaded a mile long oil train in the BNSF Delta railyard in Everett,WA for over eight hours in September, 2014.

“The first count of trespass, they were found “guilty.” On the second count of obstructing an oil train, they were found “not guilty.” The “necessity defense” which had been the cornerstone of their defense was thrown out by Judge Anthony Howard at the end of the trial when the judge instructed the jury to not consider whether the Delta Five acted out of necessity to stop climate change.

“We applaud their courageous action and for building a strong community response to the catastrophic climate change being perpetuated by Big Oil’s doomsday economy.

“The Delta Five’s action threatened Big Oil millions of dollars in lost profit.  One BNSF Railroad official said “One train can be millions in revenue. “When you have a backup on a system, this impacts yard activity, the ports are impacted from ships, then you have passenger and commuter (traffic) in the corridor. It’s a time-sensitive, very busy terminal area. We can’t tolerate it. They can voice their opinion, but we don’t want them on our property. We’re trying to conduct our business.” Corporations and the government don’t want a climate movement willing to take such risks to stop such abhorrent destruction costing them untold profits.

“Our democracy is broken. Our voices are not heard. Corporations own politicians in Washington D.C. and state capitols across the country making it impossible for ordinary people to have a voice on crucial issues such as global warming. Large environmental groups are also compromised as they pander to politicians and seek funding from corporate donors.  The Delta Five’s action is an example of a powerful and courageous direct action that is needed in our society.

“As we watch social justice and environmental uprisings across North America from ongoing fights against oil and gas infrastructure in places like Utah and Rhode Island to Black Lives Matter actions across the United States to the Indigenous resistance happening in response to fossil fuel infrastructure in Ontario and British Colombia, the actions and words of ordinary people are beginning to be heard more and more. The trial of the Delta Five only further pierces the veil our elected and corporate leaders have over the general public. The power in the Delta Five’s direct action and their willingness to go to trial, and possibly jail, to advance the climate movement gives us hope.

“Our fight is only beginning.”

Thanks for all your support.
Donate to the Delta 5 at www.Delta5.org

Press Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynwood, WA

Delta_5_Trial-1-of-1600x400-1cross-posted from the Climate Disobedience Center

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ahmed Gaya, adgaya@gmail.com, 773-960-2587

Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynwood, WA

Lynnwood, WA – Five community members who blocked the path of an explosive oil train in Everett last year will finally go to trial in Snohomish County on Monday. In a surprise ruling Judge Anthony E. Howard has allowed the defendants to argue that their actions were justified by the threat of climate change. This is the first time a U.S. court has heard a ‘necessity defense’ in a case relating to climate action.

The defendants, known to supporters as the Delta 5, will call expert witnesses including a co-author of the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change report and a rail safety expert, to convince the jury that the threat posed by climate change justifies their acts of civil disobedience. “There came a point where I could no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to act. I had to put my body on the line to demand not talk, but action on a massive scale to rapidly replace fossil fuels,” said Patrick Mazza, a member of the Delta 5 who has worked for years as an advocate for climate action.

Next week’s trial was moved to the Lynwood courtroom to accommodate a documentary crew and dozens of supporters who are expected to pack the courthouse. Some supporters have traveled across the country to attend, including Tim DeChristopher who gained national attention as ‘bidder 70’ after disrupting a 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction in Utah. DeChristopher spent two years in federal prison for his action.

The Delta 5 are receiving national support from the Climate Disobedience Center, a group co-founded by DeChristopher, whose founders call on their own experiences advancing the necessity defense in high profile cases to support others in bold acts of conscience. Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien has also expressed his support of the Delta 5.

Many supporters come from communities of faith who have rallied around the case. On Sunday Dec. 10th the Delta 5 will receive a pre-trial blessing at Woodland Park Presbyterian Church. “Before taking action I read the daily prayer from The Book of Common Prayer,” said Abby Brockway, a member of the Delta 5 who will be preaching at Sunday’s blessing. “I took the prayer with me as I climbed atop the tripod. I understood that climbing the tripod was my way of participating in the Book of Acts.”

While the Delta 5 defend themselves in court next week, Washington regulators are considering six new oil-by-rail facilities. In Vancouver regulators are holding hearings on the largest such terminal proposed in North America. With Congress’ recent decision to lift the oil-export ban more proposals are expected. Activists have pledged an increased campaign of direct action and civil disobedience until these terminals are rejected. The outcome of next week’s trial could set important precedent for future actions of this kind.

Note: Defendants will not be available to speak to media during the trial. If you wish to speak to a defendant before the trial please contact Ahmed Gaya at adgaya@gmail.com or 773-960-2587

For more information visit:

Delta5Trial.org

ClimateDisobedience.org

Expert Witnesses:

Dr. Richard Gammon Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry and Oceanography, and Adjunct Professor (Emeritus) of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Gammon was a co-author of the first Scientific Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1990).  As Chief of the Carbon Dioxide Program, he directed the US program to globally monitor atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories, Boulder, 1982-84).

Fred Millar an oil train safety expert

Dr. Frank Eugene James, M.D. speaking about the human health impacts of oil tankers.

Statements from defendants:

http://delta5trial.org/2015/12/18/patrick-mazza-why-i-moved-to-direct-action/

http://delta5trial.org/2015/12/18/obedience-to-what-abby-brockway-and-others-head-to-trial-in-washington/

http://www.climatedisobedience.org/liz_spoerri_political_reality_not_keeping_up_with_physical_reality

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0R3Il_FDPo

Key Dates:

1. Blessing and Climate Justice Sunday: Sunday January 10th @ 10:30 AM, Woodland Park Presbyterian Church, 225 N 70th St

More information at: http://delta5trial.org/2015/12/31/blessing-delta-5-trial-january-10th/

2. Trial: Monday January 11th – Wednesday January 15th, 8 AM – 3 PM each day. Snohomish County South District Court, 20520 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036. Meet outside of the courthouse on Monday, January 11th @ 8:00 AM