Rising Tide North America Statement in Response to “Citizens for Local Governance” Smear Campaign in North Texas

DRC_FLIER_50098751Rising Tide North America Statement in Response to “Citizens for Local Governance” Smear Campaign in North Texas

In response to the recent smear campaign on members of Blackland Prairie Rising Tide by “Citizens for Local Governance,” Rising Tide North America issued the following statement:

Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with our friends in Blackland Prairie Rising Tide and other like-minded individuals in Denton, TX.

A Political Action Committee (PAC) in Texas is targeting residents of Denton who have been organizing to unseat establishment, status-quo candidates in their local City Council elections next month. The PAC is trying to delegitimize all opposition to their crony candidates by falsely asserting that Blackland Prairie Rising Tide (BPRT) is behind it all.

BPRT is in no way involved with any electoral campaigning, though some of its members are being subjected to McCarthyistic attacks. The PAC is attempting to smear all Rising Tide organizing, silence legitimate dissent in Denton and stop the good work being done to end fracking in North Texas. These attacks have come in the form of a website full of inaccuracies about Rising Tide North America, Blackland Prairie Rising Tide and friends in Denton, and a postcard mailed to thousands of registered voters in Denton with similar information.

We condemn the efforts of the Citizens for Local Governance. The organization implies through its smear campaign that dissent and non-violent civil disobedience are wrong and deserve the scrutiny of federal authorities. Citizens for Local Governance includes conservative activists associated with the fossil fuel industry.

Citizens for Local Governance has a moneyed interest in stifling free speech and real liberty from the corporate state. Its members worship at the altar of money, power and status, and thus are directly threatened by Rising Tide North America. For that reason, we know we’re doing our work right when attacked by groups like this. Smear campaigns like this only embolden us in fighting for a just and stable climate.”

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Vermont Pipeline Opponents Scale Tree, Halt Land Clearing for Pipeline?

treevia Rising Tide Vermont

[UPDATE: Day 2 Press Release]

Monkton, Vt. – For the second time in less than a month, opponents of Vermont Gas Systems’ fracked gas pipeline have taken to the trees to prevent pipeline construction in Addison County. An individual is sitting in a platform thirty feet high, effectively stopping crews from clearing the pipeline route.

“As we’ve said before, this pipeline ends with us. We don’t see the state’s decision to support this polluting, expensive pipeline as a legitimate decision, and will continue to get in the way of construction as much as possible,” Addie Herbert of Rising Tide Vermont.

Vermonters from across the state have attempted to stop the pipeline for years, through testifying at public hearings, writing letters, appealing to elected officials and intervening in the controversial Public Service Board process. Many feel they are left with no recourse but to directly intervene in construction.

“The Public Service Board showed their true colors recently, when they proposed barring the public from pipeline hearings,” said Jane Palmer, who’s farm is less than half a mile from the tree sit. “It’s no surprise that people are putting their bodies on the line when the state is putting corporations above democracy.”

Vermont Gas Systems sources its gas from the Western Canada Shale Basin, one of the largest deposits of oil and gas in the world. If built, this pipeline will become a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. Opponents see the project as a direct link to the carbon and methane time bomb that scientists have warned

“We’re calling on all who are fighting to increase local control over energy projects in the state to join us in our effort to stop this undesirable pipeline,” Herbert said, in reference to recent legislation aimed at increasing town oversight in regards to renewable energy siting. “If we are to meet our energy needs in this state without wrecking the climate or landscapes of other communities, we need to end this system of unaccountable, corporate-owned energy and build a truly democratic energy system.”

Two Arrested, Two in Trees as Sunoco Logistics Continues to Clear Cut in Huntingdon, PA

Police Back Pipeline Despite Lack of Permits, Landowner Objections

Legal Funds Needed! Click HERE to donate to support the fight against the Mariner East 2 Pipeline!

Backed by Pennsylvania state police and Huntingdon County sheriff’s deputies, on March 29, Sunoco Logistics Partners’ chainsaws cut a swath through forest that the Gerhart family had protected for decades, clearing the way for the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

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Hundreds of Pennsylvania residents had called and emailed Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on March 28, requesting that they intervene to prevent Sunoco from felling trees in sensitive areas without the necessary water-crossing and erosion permits. But the DEP declined to stop Sunoco from felling trees, saying on March 29 that Sunoco “indicated” that it is not cutting trees near water bodies or in wetlands. On the same day, Sunoco’s crews were observed cutting trees on steep slopes and allowing them to fall across streambeds, trespassing outside the pipeline right-of-way and allowing trees to fall outside its boundaries. Some falling trees narrowly missed observers who were standing, legally, outside of the right-of-way.

By the end of the day’s cutting, multiple sections of streams and wetlands were filled with trees, branches and sawdust. In response to the near-misses and complaints of Sunoco tree-cutters trespassing, state troopers said that observers were responsible for their own safety and claimed they were not aware that pipeline workers had to stay inside the right-of-way.

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Those opposing the cutting were treated differently. State police arrested an Altoona resident, who is alleged to have crossed into the right-of-way to warn crews that a tree they were about to cut held a safety line for one of three tree-sitting protesters, as well as another observer who had been telling crews to stay inside the right-of-way. The two were taken to Huntingdon County jail and charged with indirect contempt of court and disorderly conduct. Bail for both was set at $100,000. They face up to six months in jail for the charge of contempt of court, and at least one faces a year for an additional charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

On Monday, March 28th, Huntingdon County’s President Judge George N. Zanic had issued Sunoco an emergency injunction to allow tree-clearing to proceed. The family intended to appeal that decision, but the chainsaws arrived before they were able to do so.

Cutting is expected to continue on Wednesday, March 30.

 

BACKGROUND

Ellen and Stephen Gerhart purchased the property in 1982 and placed it in the Forest Stewardship Program, pledging never to develop it. Now they are fighting seizure of their property by eminent domain, in a case that is still in litigation. The Gerhart family refused a cash offer from the company, stating concern about the impact of the pipeline on the environment and on their community’s health, safety and well-being.

“We are living, breathing Pennsylvanians who have tried to preserve this land,” Stephen Gerhart, 85, wrote in a letter to Judge Zanic. “Sunoco is a billions of dollar, faceless entity, based in Texas. The products that they want to transport through our land are not needed in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the United States.”

“Our opposition to the project,” said Ellen Gerhart, “has to do with our rights as property owners and stewards of the environment. You would think that government officials who have sworn to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution would do so, but they’re ignoring their responsibility and allowing out-of-state companies to run over the rights of Pennsylvania citizens.”

In early March, the Gerharts hired Schmid & Company Consulting Ecologists to conduct an independent analysis of the waterbodies and wetlands on their property. Schmid & Company found that Sunoco had undercounted the number of wetlands on the property by a factor of seven. The Gerharts then asked the Pennsylvania DEP to put a stop to tree clearing for the pipeline until Sunoco secured the necessary erosion and water-crossing permits, a recommendation supported by Schmid & Company.

“I believe it is unwise public policy to allow private parties to damage the environment prior to any determination that the proposed impacts are either necessary or unavoidable,” James Schmid wrote in a letter to Judge Zanic before Monday’s hearing. “But that is what appears to be about to happen here.”

Before tree-clearing began, Dr. Mark Bonta, a member of the Environmental Studies faculty at Penn State Altoona, looked at the Gerhart’s property and said that “it appears to be a model for how to leave an upland woods and forested wetland alone to foster biodiversity.”

Sunoco Logistics Partners is a company controlled by Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas. It has contracts with European petrochemical companies for the export and sale of massive amounts of NGLs that would flow through the Mariner East 2 pipeline. On March 24, after a two-week journey from Marcus Hook, Pa., the first export shipment of ethane from Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 pipeline reached Norway on the Ineos Intrepid, the largest multi-gas carrier in the world; it would be one of eight ships in a planned “virtual pipeline” carrying Mariner East ethane to petrochemical depots in Europe.

Sunoco LP is embroiled in dozens of eminent domain cases across the state. Landowners and residents  are banding together to oppose its massive NGL export project, saying that it is unnecessary and is not for public use, while the company claims it is a public utility with eminent domain rights.

Breaking: Climate Justice Activists Occupy the Superdome, Calling for No New Leases!

Defenders of Land, Water and Climate Take Over Federal Oil Lease Sale at the New Orleans Superdome. Photo by Indigenous Environmental Network

Defenders of Land, Water and Climate Take Over Federal Oil Lease Sale at the New Orleans Superdome. Photo by Indigenous Environmental Network

Currently, hundreds of climate and social justice activists are occupying the Superdome in New Orleans in a mass protest calling to keep 43 million acres of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Today, the Obama administration is auctioning off those 43 million acres to the oil and gas industry. Courageous activists have taken a stand to say a resounding “NO” to further oil extraction by the same people that brought us the BP Oil Disaster in 2010 and continue to decimate communities and ecosystems along the Gulf Coast. Our friends aren’t demanding “kinder and gentler” version of drilling,   but a stop to new offshore leases and no more drilling.. They’re setting an example for how movements against climate change and social justice can take bigger, bolder action.

In 2005, the Superdome became a symbol of climate injustice during Hurricane Katrina. Now despite recent news about the Obama Administration ending offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic seaboard, the industry is cynically being allowed to widen its profit margins by continuing business as usual in the Gulf from the very location of so much pain and misery.

We remain on the edge of catastrophe. Crushed between the pincers of climate chaos and economic, social and political inequality, our global society is hurtling toward a breaking point.

It’s up to us to bend the arc of history toward survival. Now is our chance.