Tar Sands Blockade Stops Work at Keystone XL Site Near Saltillo, TX

The Tar Sands Blockade and Rising Tide North Texas Strikes Again! 

Watch their live blog for updates!

Landowner advocates lock selves to feller buncher machines in KXL easement’s path of destruction!

SALTILLO, TEXAS – September 5, 2012, 7AM – Three landowner advocates and climate justice organizers have locked themselves to feller buncher machines used for clearing large trees in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline. Today’s action has halted work on a segment of TransCanada’s illegitimate pipeline outside of Saltillo, TX. As promised, Tar Sands Blockade’s rolling campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience pushes forward.

Five blockaders total are currently risking arrest to stop work on this segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. Contractors discovered their presence early in the work day, and work at the site was called off shortly thereafter. Texas-born blockaders have united with neighbors from other states to support rural and neighboring communities threatened by the toxic pipeline’s diluted bitumen slurry.

Tar Sands Blockade’s landowner solidarity actions hit home with 22 year old Houston-born blockader, Sarah Reid. “This pipeline affects me, my friends and my family directly. The toxic contents threaten the water we drink, the air we breathe.” Reid, who traces her Texan ancestry back to Obedience Smith, the first female settler to own land in Texas, continues, “Out in East Texas, the landowners I’ve met are honest, hard working people who have been taken advantage of by TransCanada. They’re people who just want to protect themselves and their families.”

The sense that legal means have failed to curb the landowner abuse inherent in the current eminent domain process is palpable. Gary Lynn Stuard, 54, of Dallas is no longer willing to wait for regulatory reform or judicial intervention: “We have exhausted all of the traditional avenues, and it’s not enough. It’s unjust that a multinational company can seize people’s property by proclaiming themselves a “common carrier” – that’s eminent domain abuse. It’s theft, and these peoples’ homes and land shouldn’t be ruined while decisions on what to do are put off.”

Mikey Lowe, 24, traveled from California to raise awareness of the tar sands carrier’s deception. “I feel that eminent domain has really gone too far. I really want to show [the world] what’s going on,” he shared.

Former Quinlan resident, Beverly Luff, 23, is primarily motivated by the threat that tar sands surface mining and extraction pose to the future of a livable climate. “The more people ignore it, the worse it will get. There’s only one planet, and we can’t afford to let dirty business interests cheat to win in East Texas or elsewhere.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Today’s action comes on the heels of last week’s outside of Livingston, TX in which seven blockaders were arrested when four locked themselves to a truck delivering pipe segments to a Keystone XL construction site. Their successful nonviolent action stopped activity in the pipeyard for the day. In response, TransCanada claimed its pipeline was not to carry anything other than “crude oil,” which is factually inaccurate at best.

“TransCanada commits fraud when it lies about the substances in its toxic tar sands slurry pipeline,” explains Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “East Texans have been documenting TransCanada’s deceit for over four years now. Rural and neighboring families have been treated as nothing more than collateral damage by industry, political and regulatory leaders on all sides of the aisle. The truth is TransCanada will do or say anything to ram this pipeline through, regardless of who gets hurt along the way.”

Stay with our LiveBlog for updates throughout the day!

Seven Texans Blockade Truck Carrying Keystone XL Pipe In Livingston, TX

Press Contact: Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, ronseif@gmail.com

BREAKING: 4 Blockaders are Locked to Truck Carrying Keystone XL Pipeline in Livingston, TX!

Pipe truck stuck at entrance of yard, stopping construction on the Keystone XL pipeline

LIVINGSTON, TEXAS – August 28, 2012 – Just minutes ago four landowner advocates and climate justice organizers locked themselves to the underside of a massive truck carrying 36″ pipe intended for Keystone XL construction. The truck is parked, idled at the entrance of the pipeyard, rendering construction activity impossible. Seven blockaders total are onsite risking arrest. Blockaders from the Red River valley to the Gulf Coast and beyond have united to realize their collective vision of a world without toxic tar sands pipelines. Today’s message is clear: the people are rising up to defend their homes.

This act of peaceful civil disobedience comes in the wake of a recent court decision condoning TransCanada’s use of eminent domain for private gain. Last week Lamar County Judge Bill Harris ruled in a shockingly abbreviated fifteen-word summary judgment that Texas farmer Julia Trigg Crawford cannot challenge TransCanada’s claim that it is entitled to a piece of her home. The underwhelming ruling was emailed to Ms. Crawford’s attorney late in the evening of August 15 from the Judge’s iPhone.

The arrogant disregard levied at landowners like Julia Trigg Crawford for simply not consenting to have a tar sands pipeline permanently bisect their homes is what motivated Houston businessman Ray Torgerson to take action with the Blockade. “The fact that this corporation can check a box on a form and steal someone’s land is insulting,” Ray says. “We are here to defend our homes and stand with landowners like Julia.

Further emblematic of the disrespect small town families like the Crawfords have faced throughout Keystone XL legal proceedings, Ms. Crawford received first notice of the ruling from a reporter seeking comment who had been blind carbon copied on the County Judge’s email ruling.

“It was heartbreaking to hear a generational family farm like the Crawford’s can be taken away by a multinational corporation,” exclaims blockader Audrey Steiner, a linguistic anthropologist from Austin. “I’m here to change the direction our country is taking.”

The concerns of the blockaders today go well beyond TransCanada’s appalling contempt for property rights. As Tammie Carson, a lifelong Texan living in Arlington explains, “I’m doing this for my grandchildren. I’m outraged that multinational corporations like TransCanada are wrecking our climate. The planet isn’t theirs to destroy, and I’m willing to take a risk to protect my grandchildren’s future.”

Denny Hook, a retired minister from Gainesville Texas, describes himself as “An environmentalist that happens to be a minister.” In taking action today, Hook hopes to inspire more people to join the movement. “Things are so dire that if all of us don’t rise up we won’t make it. This pipeline is the difference between Earth on the edge and Earth over the edge.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of Keystone XL.

“The blockade is an expression of people who have spent years using every available avenue afforded to them, and nothing has worked,” explains Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “The urgency of this crisis is galvanizing supporters who understand that doing nothing involves a greater risk than taking action.”

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Wild Idaho Rising Tide: Upcoming Megaloads Protests Hearings & Trial

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 26, 2012

 

Contact: Helen Yost, Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org & on facebook

208-301-8039

 

Megaload Protester/Monitor Hearings & Trial

On Monday, August 27, at 4 pm, in the Latah County Courthouse (522 South Adams Street, Moscow), Judge John Judge will preside over a jury pre-trial and motion hearing addressing pending charges against Helen Yost for allegedly throwing a protest sign at a vehicle and air-kicking (attempting assault or battery?) in the direction of a police officer, while the last ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands megaload crossed Moscow on March 6.  At a June 13 motion in limine hearing, attorney Ben Onosko representing Helen argued that the Moscow city laws under which she was cited for throwing an object at a highway vehicle do not define a module hauled on a vehicle but only describe vehicles and people in vehicles, suggesting that her charge be dropped.  Prosecutor Rod Hall and the judge countered that Idaho state law clearly delineates vehicles, loads carried on such conveyances, and persons in vehicles and that Moscow city codes are subordinate to state laws.

The court issued a decision denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the misdemeanor citation, but the prosecution re-opened a previously time-limited offer to drop the attempted battery charge if Helen would plead guilty to the sign-throwing violation.  (For more information about this June hearing and motion, listen to the KRFP Radio Free Moscow Evening Report on Wednesday, June 13, between 6:44 and 5:18 at http://radiofreemoscow.org/2012/06/20120613/.)  The case is scheduled for a jury trial on September 14, but Ben has negotiated a pre-trial change in terms and resolution.  At this Monday’s 4 pm hearing, Helen will plead guilty to disturbing the peace instead of throwing an object at a vehicle, and the court will dismiss her attempted battery citation.  Like Cass Davis and Jim Prall, she will present for court records a statement explaining her intentions for her actions and their context.  Please consider supporting Helen with your hearing attendance, as she affirms our shared community motivations for non-violent civil disobedience to obstruct the largest climate-wrecking industrial project on Earth.  She will also request a jail sentence rather than a fine for bouncing an assertive but harmless six-ounce foam-board sign reading “If one oil company is successful, many more will follow. ~Port of Lewiston” off a 425,000-pound aggressive and violent piece of tar sands processing equipment (see attached photo).  Whether David’s stone ultimately toppled Goliath on Highway 95 remains to be seen (with plenty of breaking information about this later!).

Meanwhile in Kootenai County Court in Coeur d’Alene, on November 18, 2011, a prosecutor dismissed Sharon Cousins’ August 27, 2011, infraction of parking a vehicle on a controlled-access highway, and Judge Robert Caldwell ruled during an April 11, 2011, infraction court trial against Helen’s citation of failure to use a vehicle safety restraint (seat belt).  Both charges resulted from Idaho State Police (ISP) officer Ronald Sutton approaching Sharon’s SUV stopped along Highway 95 about ten miles south of Coeur d’Alene, as four women monitored a megaload that had encountered a 150-person protest and six arrested blockaders on the previous night.  The ISP trooper requested IDs from all of the vehicle passengers and accused Helen Yost and Cici Claar of resisting or obstructing an officer and arrested and jailed them.

In a misdemeanor pre-trail hearing on February 17, Spokane attorney Karen Lindholdt presented a motion to suppress Claar’s and Yost’s obstruction charges, as the arresting officer had no lawful reason, besides unwarranted parking and seat belt infractions, to ask for the passengers’ IDs.  Idaho state troopers consequently violated both defendants’ Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.  Although Cici has since dropped her case and Kootenai County Judge Caldwell dismissed the suppression motion, Moscow lawyer Ben Onosko has substituted counsel on Helen’s lawsuit and, after numerous requests for discovery of the prosecution’s evidence, will propose at 10:30 am on September 5 that Judge Caldwell reconsider his decision to reject the defendant’s earlier motion to suppress and/or dismiss her obstruction charges.  If this pre-trial conference and trial does not attain success, megaload monitors and our regional resistance community anticipate plenty of prevailing arguments concerning civil liberties, constitutional case law, and corporate police states at Helen’s ensuing full jury trial in Coeur d’Alene at 8:30 am on September 17, the anniversary of Occupy (the megaload routes!).

Coal Export Action Media: Determined Anti-Coal Activists Occupy Montana Capitol

Determined Anti-Coal Activists Occupy Montana Capitol

Day one: Week of protest actions planned to halt coal exports

HELENA—In a bold action against coal exports, today 100 chanting climate activists marched inside Montana’s Capitol to deliver letters and launch an eight-day protest to prevent coal mining and international coal exports from Montana’s Powder River Basin. After a rally that featured Montana author and poet, Rick Bass, the group marched into the Capitol and announced plans to occupy the public space to draw attention to the issue.

The Coal Export Action protests, sponsored by the Montana-based Blue Skies Campaign, will stretch from today until August 20 and end with a Citizens’ Land Board meeting. The group intends to prevent the Montana Land Board from offering final approval to mine Otter Creek coal tracts, which would require the construction of the Tongue River Railroad (Tongue River 1) and prepare the region for further coal extraction. Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) expects a permit application this month from Arch Coal, leaseholder for the Otter Creek tracts, near Ashland.

“Today we are here to demonstrate mass citizen opposition to big coal corporations’ dirty plan to export millions of tons of Powder River basin coal each year to the international energy market,” said Lowell Chandler, a construction worker and volunteer with Blue Skies Campaign. “We’re here to pressure the state Land Board to stand with us against these massive coal export proposals.”

The economic, health and environmental impacts of coal exports from Montana have been the subject of recent controversy across the west, as new international terminals in Oregon and Washington would have to be built to accommodate the global energy trading scheme. As coal-fired power plants in the United States continue to be retired by the dozens each year, the demand for coal in the U.S. is in decline. Major coal companies like Arch Coal have indicated intentions to develop future markets in China, far outside of U.S. environmental regulations.

“As Montanan’s we have to ask ourselves what the future holds for the Last Best Place. We’ve already gone down the path of blind resource extraction, just look at Butte,” said Chandler. “We don’t want to be an Asian coal colony so the biggest coal companies in the world can reap massive profits.”

“We are confident that once the full environmental, health and long-term economic effects of coal exports are assessed, the negatives will far outweigh the positives,” said Nick Engelfried, an organizer with the Blue Skies Campaign. “Some Land Board members have voiced their support for the coal export developments before this review process has even began.”

The bold actions in Helena this week have attracted the support of several international rights groups, including 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America and Greenpeace. The groups understand that new coal mining operations in the Powder River Basin could open the floodgates to massive coal exports, which threaten water, public health, and climate stability.

“There are a few crucial chokepoints on this planet, where we have some cance of staunching the endless flow of carbon into the atmosphere,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.  “And on that list, none may be more important than Montana.”

Each of the eight days of action will highlight and inform the public by focusing on individual issue areas, spanning from regional economic impacts to public process and alternatives to coal energy for the future.

For more details, please contact Kerul Dyer at kdyer@ran.org or call (415) 866-0005.

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