Hundreds March in Pittsburgh Saying “No Fracking in Allegheny County Parks”

protest our parksHundreds march, tell Rich Fitzgerald “No fracking in Allegheny county parks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2013
Contact: Ashley Bittner 412-370-2310

Saturday October 19 – Pittsburgh – At 2pm this afternoon Protect Our Parks
will lead a march from the David Lawrence Convention Center to the
Allegheny County Courthouse demanding that Rich Fitzgerald revoke the
Request for Proposals for fracking in Deer Lakes Park and stop all efforts
to open county parks up for fossil fuel extraction.

The march is intended as a celebration of the parks which make one of the
nations largest county parks systems with over 12,000 acres of protected
area.  Participants will bring beach balls, fishing poles and other
equipment they use to enjoy the parks.   “We're here to show Fitzgerald who
the parks belong to and what they are really for,” said Ashley Bittner,
Protect Our Parks member and life-long Allegheny County resident.  “These
are public lands for residents and visitors of Allegheny county, and we
will not allow them to be exploited for private profit.”

Polls from the Post-Gazette and Tribune review show that a majority of
county residents oppose fracking in the parks.

“The County Council has an opportunity to show that they actually have the
interest of the public at heart and distinguish themselves Mr. Fitzgerald
who has so blatantly sold out to the gas industry,” continued Bittner.

The March coincides with Power Shift 2013 a youth climate conference
happening at the David Lawrence Convention Center throughout the weekend.
Over 5,000 young people will come to Pittsburgh for a weekend of workshops,
trainings, and actions to build the movement to stop climate change.
Conference organizers are working to help highlight the work being done
locally against fossil fuel extraction and many conference attendees will
be joining the march.

Keith Brunner of Rising Tide Vermont came to Pittsburgh for the conference,
“We stand in solidarity with the Protect Our Parks campaign, knowing that
this fight is part of a much larger movement against all forms of fossil
fuel extraction which are devastating local communities and the climate.”

Power Shift will culminate with a day of action on Monday, October 21 with
several actions planned across the city targeting key institutions which
are standing in the way of a clean energy future.

Today's march will feature a giant puppet show starring a marionette of
Rich Fitzgerald controlled by his gas industry manipulators.  It will
conclude with a rally at the County Courthouse.  Speakers will include
Protect Our Parks organizers, community members living near county parks,
and residents who have been impacted by fracking in other parts of the
region.  The march is also part of the Global Frackdown, an international
day of action against fracking organized by Food and Water Watch.

###

RTNA Analysis: The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation

Originally posted in Earth Island Journal

The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation

Yes, Keystone XL is horrible – but so are plenty of other fossil fuel infrastructure plans

By Arielle Klagsbrun, David Osborn, Kirby Spangler and Maryam Adrangi

Architecturally, a keystone is the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place. Without the keystone, the building blocks of an archway will tumble and fall, with no support system for the weight of the arch. Much of the United States climate movement right now is structured like an archway, with all of its blocks resting on a keystone – President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

This is a dangerous place to be. Once Barack Obama makes his decision on the pipeline, be it approval or rejection, the keystone will disappear. Without this piece, we could see the weight of the arch tumble down, potentially losing throngs of newly inspired climate activists. As members of Rising Tide North America, a continental network of grassroots groups taking direct action and finding community-based solutions to the root causes of the climate crisis, we believe that to build the climate justice movement we need, we can have no keystone – no singular solution, campaign, project, or decision maker.

The Keystone XL fight was constructed around picking one proposed project to focus on with a clear elected decider, who had campaigned on addressing climate change. The strategy of DC-focused green groups has been to pressure President Obama to say “no” to Keystone by raising as many controversies as possible about the pipeline and by bringing increased scrutiny to Keystone XL through arrestable demonstrations. Similarly, in Canada, the fight over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline has unfolded in much the same way, with green groups appealing to politicians to reject Northern Gateway.

However, the mainstream Keystone XL and Northern Gateway campaigns operate on a flawed assumption that the climate movement can compel our elected leaders to respond to the climate crisis with nothing more than an effective communications strategy. Mainstream political parties in both the US and Canada are tied to and dependent on the fossil fuel industry and corporate capitalism. As seen in similar campaigns in 2009 to pass a climate bill in the United States and to ratify an international climate treaty in Copenhagen, the system is rigged against us. Putting Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the keystone of the archway creates a flawed narrative that if we, as grassroots groups, work hard enough to stack the building blocks correctly to support them, then elected officials will do what we want. Social change happens when local communities lead, and only then will politicians follow. While we must name and acknowledge power holders like Obama, our movement must empower local communities to make decisions and take action on the causes of the climate crisis in their backyards.

Because of the assumption that the climate movement can trust even “sympathetic” politicians like Obama, these campaigns rely on lifting up one project above all else. Certain language used has made it seem like Keystone XL is an extreme project, with unusual fraud and other injustices associated with it. Indeed the Keystone XL project is extreme and unjust, as is every fossil fuel project and every piece of the extraction economy. While, for example, the conflict of interests between the State Department, TransCanada and Environmental Resources Management in the United States, and Enbridge and federal politicians in Canada, must be publicized, it should be clear that this government/industry relationship is the norm, not the exception.

The “game over for climate” narrative is also problematic.  With both the Keystone and Northern Gateway campaigns, it automatically sets up a hierarchy of projects and extractive types that will inevitably pit communities against each other. Our movement can never question if Keystone XL is worse than Flanagan South (an Enbridge pipeline running from Illinois to Oklahoma), or whether tar sands, fracking or mountaintop removal coal mining is worse. We must reject all these forms of extreme energy for their effects on the climate and the injustices they bring to the people at every stage of the extraction process. Our work must be broad so as to connect fights across the continent into a movement that truly addresses the root causes of social, economic, and climate injustice. We must call for what we really need – the end to all new fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction. The pipeline placed yesterday in British Columbia, the most recent drag lines added in Wyoming, and the fracking wells built in Pennsylvania need to be the last ones ever built. And we should say that.

This narrative has additionally set up a make-or-break attitude about these pipeline fights that risks that the movement will contract and lose people regardless of the decision on them. The Keystone XL and Northern Gateway fights have engaged hundreds of thousands of people, with many embracing direct action and civil disobedience tactics for the first time. This escalation and level of engagement is inspiring. But the absolutist “game over” language chances to lose many of them. If Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, what’s to stop many from thinking that this is in fact “game over” for the climate? And if Obama rejects Keystone XL, what’s to stop many from thinking that the climate crisis is therefore solved? We need those using the “game over” rhetoric to lay out the climate crisis’ root causes – because just as one project is not the end of humanity, stopping one project will not stop runaway climate change.

The fights over Keystone XL and Northern Gateway have been undoubtedly inspiring. We are seeing the beginnings of the escalation necessary to end extreme energy extraction, stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis, and make a just transition to equitable societies. Grassroots groups engaging in and training for direct action such as the Tar Sands Blockade, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, the Unist’ot’en Camp, and Moccasins on the Ground have shown us how direct action can empower local communities and push establishment green groups to embrace bolder tactics. Our movement is indeed growing, and people are willing to put their bodies on the line; an April poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found one in eight Americans would engage in civil disobedience around global warming.

However, before the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway mainstream campaigns come to an end, we all must recognize the dangers of having an archway approach to movement building. It is the danger of relying on political power-holders, cutting too narrow campaigns, excluding a systemic analysis of root causes, and, ultimately, failing to create a broad-based movement. We must begin to discuss and develop our steps on how we should shift our strategy, realign priorities, escalate direct action, support local groups and campaigns, and keep as many new activists involved as possible.

We are up against the world’s largest corporations, who are attempting to extract, transport and burn fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate, all as the climate crisis spins out of control. The climate justice movement should have no keystone because we must match them everywhere they are – and they are everywhere. To match them, we need a movement of communities all across the continent and the world taking direct action to stop the extraction industry, finding community-based solutions, and addressing the root causes of the climate crisis.

Arielle Klagsbrun is an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and Rising Tide North America, and is a 2013 Brower Youth Award winner. David Osborn is climate organizer with Portland Rising Tide and Rising Tide North America. He is also a faculty member at Portland State University. Maryam Adrangi is a campaigner with the Council of Canadians and an organizer with Rising Tide Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. Kirby Spangler works with the Castle Mountain Coalition and Alaska Rising Ride.

Climate Activists Are The Real Super-Heroes

wired imageLast week, our world took a turn towards the surreal.

On Monday, Disney’s TV network, ABC, aired a spin-off of the popular Avengers movies called “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”  The show’s main antagonist is a shadowy hacktivist group called “The Rising Tide” with a logo that looks a lot like ours. The highly-rated first episode frames the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., protecting the government’s secrets and lies, as the heroes, while “The Rising Tide” are “a looming threat” for exposing the truth

Sign this petition demanding that Disney stop co-opting Rising Tide’s name and logo.

In reality, Rising Tide is not an underground group that undermines humanity, but a network of climate activists challenging the root causes of climate change. Rising Tide North America works in solidarity with communities that live on the frontline of fossil fuel extraction and climate change.

WIRTOur chapters and allies have stood with communities living next to coal mining sites and who have had their property seized for pipeline construction. Rising Tiders have been faced criminal and civil prosecution, been physically attacked for taking non-violent action and mocked by industry in the media.

Groups fighting for truth, justice and ecological sanity should not be portrayed as the bad guys on major network television shows.

Will you stand with us in demanding that Disney stop co-opting our name and logo on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Sign the petition now.

BREAKING: Mobile Residents March to Draw the Line on Tar Sands on Mobile Bay

PRESS RELEASE * For Immediate Release

Press Contacts: Joe Womack, Kim McCuiston, 251-298-7952, mejacoalition@gmail.com

Mobile Residents Draw the Line on Tar Sands on Mobile Bay
New Coalition Marches on GM&O Rail Terminal Protesting Tar Sands Tanker Shipments

MOBILE, ALABAMA, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2013, 10AM – As multiple new tar sands infrastructure proposals on Mobile’s waterfront reveal themselves, the anti-tar sands movement of greater Mobile has set its sights on the question of how tar sands is entering the community to begin with. Plans for an expanded tar sands unloading depot by the Canadian National Railway (CN) in partnership with Houston-based corporations Plains South Cap, American Tank & Vessel (AT&V) and ARC Terminal have outraged Mobile residents. Fed up with the lack of consultation and led by the newly-formed Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJACoalition), affected residents and supporters marched to GM&O Terminal to “Draw the Line” on tar sands in Mobile.

“I may be a resident of Africatown, but today I’m marching for all residents of Mobile and our efforts to stop Plains South Cap, CN and the rest from bringing tar sands into or around Mobile County. We really don’t appreciate the way that they’ve done their business,” explained Joe Womack, resident of the Africatown Historic District, the sight of intense opposition to the proposed tar sands projects. “It should’ve been above board and the community should’ve been brought in from the beginning.”

The tar sands train depot, as described in City of Mobile planning documents dating from October 4, 2012, will expand the existing CN railyard adjacent to GM&O Terminal and pipe tar sands under the Mobile River to ARC Terminal tar sands storage tanks on Blakeley Island, formerly operated by Gulf Coast Asphalt Company but acquired earlier this year by ARC in February.

Currently, tar sands are brought in via rail through rural southwestern Alabama communities over the Escatawpa River where trains have derailed twice in the last decade. The CN tar sands tanker cars then wind their way through the hearts of Saraland, Chickasaw, Prichard, and Africatown to the existing CN railyard near GM&O Terminal. To unloaded the cars into tanker trucks the tar sands slurry is taken to ARC Terminal’s Chickasaw depot, formerly Mobile Asphalt. From there, they travel yet again through the heart of Africatown across the Cochrane Africatown USA Bridge to ARC Terminal’s Blakeley Island tar sands storage facilities. The new tar sands depot near GM&O Terminal and the Plains South Cap pipeline under the Mobile River would shorten the circuit and allow for a dramatic increase in the volume of tar sands coming through Mobile for export.

Carrying colorful signs and banners reading “Environmental Justice For All,” “No Tar Sands In Mobile,” and “Africatown Not Tank Farm Town” while symbolically wearing blue and black, the marchers gathered in Cathedral Square before shoving off to the GM&O Terminal where tar sands tankers remain nearby until their unloading at ARC’s Saraland depot.

Foley, Alabama resident Kimberly McCuiston described the symbology of the black and blue color coordination, “We’ve already been deeply bruised by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The illnesses, the damage to our waterfront, those things still haven’t been addressed appropriately, and I’m sick of living in a dirty energy sacrifice zone. At this point, certain underrepresented communities like our neighbors in Africatown, Prichard, and Chickasaw are necessarily organizing like Selma in ’63 and I’m here to help. I’m not gonna sit idly by while environmental injustices and human rights abuses on the part of these tar sands corporations are perpetrated on my neighbors.”

Joe Womack agreed, “These projects are hazardous to the entire Gulf Coast, especially Africatown which has been repeatedly dumped on already. It’s time to clean Africatown up and stop making it a dumping ground for hazardous waste and materials in this section of the world.”

Just weeks ago, AT&V unexpectedly pulled their proposal for a massive 32-tank tar sands tank farm to be sighted in historic Africatown across the street from the Mobile County Training School, Alabama’s oldest primarily African-American Middle School. And last week saw a lower Alabama court rule against Plains South Cap corporation’s bid to illegally expropriate private property through eminent domain. That decision affirmed the right of Mobile Area Water & Sewage System to turn down the pipeline corporation’s plans to install a tar sands pipeline through greater Mobile’s primary source of fresh water, the Big Creek Lake watershed.

MEJACoalition’s march coincides with a National Call to Action called “Draw the Line” by the climate justice organization 350.org. The day of action features scores of creative events across the country and the Gulf South, with large rallies planned in areas already affected by climate change and places at increased risk from climate chaos if strong action, such as limiting tar sands exploitation, is not taken. Other events focus primarily on the Presidential Permit required for the northern segment of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which has faced unprecedented pressures from adversely affected nearby residents, tar sands refinery communities, landowners, and climate justice organizers alike.

###

MEJACoalition is the greater Mobile area’s first environmental justice organization.