Forty Blockaders Walk Onto TransCanada Worksite Near Nacogdoches, Launch Ground & Aerial Blockades

Nearly 40 People Stop Keystone XL Construction: Four Lock to Machinery, Nacogdoches Student and Two Others Launch a New Tree Blockade

Day of Action Sees Dozens Walk On to Work Site as the Nacogdoches Community Rallies with Affected Landowners at Lake Nacogdoches to Protect Fresh Water Supply from Toxic Tar Sands

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*NACOGDOCHES, TX – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2012 8:00AM –* Today, four people locked themselves to heavy machinery used along the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline route. They were joined by several others forming a human chain to block the movement of heavy machinery onsite, while more than 30 people walked onto the same construction site to halt work early this morning. Meanwhile, three others launched a new tree blockade at a crossing of the
Angelina River, suspending themselves from 50 foot pine trees with life lines anchored to heavy machinery, effectively blocking the entirety of Keystone XL’s path. Today’s Day of Action is in solidarity with local landowners struggling to protect their water and land from TransCanada’s toxic tar sands pipeline.

Keystone XL would cross 16 large rivers in Texas, including the site of today’s latest tree blockade, the scenic Angelina River. Nestled amongst 50 foot pine trees in forested bottomlands, the tree blockaders have settled in for a long standoff in protection of their fresh drinking and agricultural water. The waters downstream feed into the popular Sam Rayburn Reservoir, the largest lake entirely within the state of Texas, renowned for its angling opportunities and competitions.

“Tar Sands Blockade stands with all communities affected by the Canadian tar sands. From indigenous nations in Alberta, Canada to the besieged refinery neighborhoods of the American Gulf Coast where the tar sands will be refined, there’s a groundswell of resistance demanding an end to toxic tar sands exploitation. Today’s events simply mark the latest in our sustained, community-based civil disobedience campaign, and many more communities are destined to rise up to defend their homes from TransCanada’s fraud, bullying, and reckless endangerment of their lives and fresh water,” insisted Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson.

Included amongst the Angelina tree sitters is local Stephen F. Austin State University student, Lizzy Alvarado, 21, an Austin-born, third-year cinematography major. Leading outdoor excursions for other local youth and having helped found the Nacogdoches Rat Skulls, an all female cycling-advocacy organization, Alvarado is an active member of the Nacogdoches community.

“I climbed this tree in honor of all the landowners who have been bullied mercilessly into signing easement contracts and who were then silenced
through fear by TransCanada’s threat of endless litigation. That’s not what this country stands for in my mind, and if we don’t take a stand here to
secure our rights now, then it will keep happening to everyone,” proclaimed Alvarado. “What’s happening isn’t just threatening my community’s drinking water but it will threaten that of all communities along the pipeline’s path.“

While these multi-site actions halted Keystone XL construction this morning, local community members rallied at Lake Nacogdoches to further highlight
the threats Keystone XL poses to the community’s watershed and public health. These events around the Nacogdoches area coincide with a week’s worth of events in solidarity with Tar Sands Blockade. Scheduled to occur in over 40 communities around the world, these actions highlight the urgent need to address the climate crisis.

Some actions have targeted policy makers or financial institutions bankrolling dirty energy projects while others rallied to address the damage done by Hurricane Sandy through community organizing and connecting extreme weather to extreme extraction. Yesterday in Washington, DC, more than 3,000 gathered at the White House to call on President Obama to reject the permit for the northern segment of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Other actions are scheduled to happen today and later this week.

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“From the Sandy-decimated streets of New York City to these piney woods here in East Texas, communities are resisting dangerous corporations like
TransCanada. These solidarity actions are part of a burgeoning movement of ordinary folks coming together in their neighborhoods, schools, and community centers to draw the connections between extreme extraction like tar sands exploitation and extreme weather like the droughts devastating
farmers and ranchers all over Texas and the Midwest. Today we rally to build a future where all people and the planet are healthy and thriving,” said Kim Huynh, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade.
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Climate change is about corporate power

This article was originally posted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Climate change is about corporate power

By Jeff Ordower

The sense of urgency is palpable.

Last week, 50 strangers turned out for a meeting on climate change at Central Reform Congregation. The Post-Dispatch played a critical role in that organizing through its use of the editorial page.

There is motion starting, but I worry about the where and the how. Many in the movement argue this is simply a matter of lifestyle changes. We will never be able, though, to change the behavior for the 3 million people in the region. More importantly, not all of those people will be able to buy local or drive less. While low-income folks might want to save gas, their driving to a job far away is necessary to providing an income for their household. As we are seeing this summer, senior citizens are simply not able to live without air conditioning. And to be perfectly honest, most of us (myself included) like some decadent components of our lifestyles and will never give up our creature comforts of good food or travel.

None of us can make lasting changes in our lives out of guilt. We should not feel guilt over the emissions that are causing global warming. Powerful corporations made it this way.

My parents can talk about the vast network of streetcars that existed around St. Louis. What happened to these streetcars across the U.S.? Automobile companies lobbied to eliminate streetcar tracks and privilege the roads and cars. The advantages accrued by unsustainable extractive companies continue to grow. Oil companies receive billions in subsidies while renewable energy providers receive almost nothing. There are huge tax breaks going for natural gas hydrofracturing (fracking) extraction, but nothing for commercial weatherization. Banks and global finance capital help perpetuate this system and make huge bets on coal extraction, yet a start-up solar company requires government assistance. Even the food we eat is traded by hedge funds on the secondary market as commodities produced by agribusiness.

The system is doing its job. It tells us that global warming is about our choices as consumers, rather than going after the root cause of our predicament. Here in St. Louis, we have an incredible opportunity to tackle corporate power head on. The largest private sector coal company in the world, Peabody Coal, is headquartered here in St. Louis, as is Monsanto, the largest agribusiness giant. In addition to Peabody, there are four other coal companies in the St. Louis area.

You would think that when trying to attack global warming here, people would want to challenge these local corporations. The corporations, though, play local politics pretty smart. Rather than paying its fair share of taxes, Peabody spends millions on the sponsorship of civic activities, including chairing this year’s United Way appeal. Who can argue with such a “charitable” corporation?

When we talk about building a movement, this is no movement in the abstract. This is about the coal companies, and their interest in garnering profits, rather than creating sustainable jobs. This is about the banks, and their interest in funding the extractive industries rather than adopting a path towards sustainability. And most importantly, this is about a corporate and institutional culture in the St. Louis region that considers the largest climate destroyers the most important engines of our region’s economic growth, rewarding them with plum positions on the RCGA, the United Way and on the board of Washington University, our most prestigious local university. Those whose behavior we must change are people who we can name — Greg Boyce, Hugh Grant, Mark Wrighton, Gary Dollar, Stephen Leer, Joe Reagan.

The people writing in to the Post-Dispatch are right. We need a movement. We need direct action. We need civil disobedience in a Selma-Montgomery-style movement. History shows that power structures do not change without bold, courageous and mass action. We ask those who are interested to join us in building a movement that compels our civic leaders and corporations to build a sustainable region for all of us, and most importantly for our future generations.

Jeff Ordower is the executive director of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, organizes with Rising Tide North America and has been a community or labor organizer for the past 20 years.

Rising Tide Chicago Disrupts Heartland Institute’s Climate Denial Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Contact:  Josh Trost, 312 343-8259 email:thisperfectworld@yahoo.com

Rising Tide Chicago Action Video

“HEARTLAND’S LIES DESTROY OUR PLANET,” CLIMATE ACTIVISTS SAY
Activists protest “climate denier” mis-information at Heartland
Institute’s annual climate change conference

CHICAGO—Today, two climate action advocates with the group Rising Tide
Chicago challenged the nation’s biggest climate denier organization on its
home-turf – a national conference taking place in Chicago organized by the
now infamous Heartland Institute. The two activists displayed a banner
during the Conference which read “Heartland’s Lies Destroy Our Planet.”
The Protesters were escorted out of the building by security while
chanting.

The action came at the end of the second day of Heartlands “6th Annual
Climate Conference.” The fossil-fuel industry-funded Heartland Institute
is a self-proclaimed “think tank” fueling the climate change denial
industry to work against the public interest.

“I’m willing to risk my arrest, because if Heartland Institute gets its
way, it could be the end of civilization as we know it,” stated Alice
Coffey an activist who risked arrest at today’s event.

“Anyone who can deny climate change has never been to Texas where there is
an historic record drought caused by the climate crisis,  or Arizona,
where we no longer have monsoon season, but haboob season – just wind, and
dirt and heat, but no rain,” said Ian Fecke-Stoudt, who also participated
in the climate confrontation.

A second group held a rally outside the event earlier in the day.  Scores
of activists demonstrated outside the Hilton Hotel protesting the
Institute and the Conference while a banner was dropped from a hotel
window.

“The Heartland Institute exists to spread climate disinformation to
protect the profits of the few,” said Josh Trost of Rising Tide Chicago.
“Climate Deniers have no right participating in policy discussions.
Daily, the global scientific consensus strengthens as planetary health
indicators decline. Each lie is a theft from the remaining time we have to
act to limit escalating climate chaos.

“For the sake of the future of humanity, we demand the Heartland Institute
to respect the global scientific consensus and stop disseminating climate
lies,” Trost said.

James Hansen quoted in The Guardian said, “[Climate change] can’t be fixed
by individual specific changes; it has to be an across-the-board rising
fee on carbon emissions,” said Hansen. “We can’t simply say that there’s a
climate problem, and leave it to the politicians. They’re so clearly under
the influence of the fossil fuel industry that they’re coming up with
cockamamie solutions which aren’t solutions. That is the bottom line.”

In May 2012, DeSmog Blog reported that the Heartland Institute had added
the Illinois Coal Association (ICA) as a new “Gold Sponsor” for its 2012
ICCC-7 climate conference. ICA joined following the Heartland’s leaked
documents and Unabomber billboard campaign. In Heartland’s leaked 2012
Fundraising plan, Murray Energy gave $100,000 in 2010 and was expected to
give $40,000 in 2012; the company’s subsidiary, The American Coal Company,
is a member of the ICA.

The Heartland Institute has lead many mis-information campaigns which have
included:

  • Denying the harmful effects of tobacco
  • In 2010 the Institute defended BP during its infamous oil spill in
    the Gulf of Mexico
  • The Institute opposes the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact,
    which was signed into effect in December of 2005 by the governors of eight
    states that border the great lakes, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois,
    Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, and the premiers of
    the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The compact was proposed in
    light of the unprecedented low levels of water in the lakes, which are now
    at the bottom end of the historical fluctuation range of 4-6 feet. In
    order to mitigate diminishing water levels, the compact will limit the
    consumption of water from the Great Lakes to areas within these eight
    states, or to areas outside of the boundary only by petition subject to
    strict regulation.

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Rising Tide is an international, all-volunteer, grassroots network of
groups and individuals who organize locally, promote community-based
solutions to the climate crisis and take direct action to confront the
root causes of climate change.

F.B.I. Targets Peaceful Anti-Fracking & Rising Tide Activists, Washington Post Reveals

March 11, 2012
For Immediate Release
Rising Tide Press Contact:
Scott Parkin, 415-235-0596 (mobile)
sparki@risingtidenorthamerica.org

F.B.I. targets peaceful anti-fracking and Rising Tide activists, Washington Post reveals

Rising Tide North Texas subject of intimidation campaign by federal government

In today’s Washington Post, it was revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating peaceful climate and anti-fracking activists as a threat. In response to anonymous complaints Rising Tide North Texas, a part of the Rising Tide North America network, has been the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. The FBI has visited and called for an interview Rising Tide organizer, University of North Texas (UNT) student and a marine veteran of the Afghan war Ben Kessler, as well as UNT philosophy professor Adam Briggle.

“If all I have done to be investigated as a threat is to peacefully express my opinions, then we are in serious trouble,” said Ben Kessler. “Activism is not terrorism. The only dangerous threat in North Texas is the threat that hydro-fracturing, or “fracking,” has on the health and lives of the residents of our communities.”

The article also revealed cooperation between the F.B.I. and local police in Moscow Idaho around repeated protests organized by Wild Idaho Rising Tide around the tar sands heavy haul truck shipments.

Here is the article:

As eco-terrorism wanes, governments still target activist groups seen as threat

By Juliet Eilperin, Updated: Saturday, March 10, 5:12 PM

Ben Kessler, a student at the University of North Texas and an environmental activist, was more than a little surprised that an FBI agent questioned his philosophy professor and acquaintances about his whereabouts and his sign-waving activities aimed at influencing local gas drilling rules.“It was scary,” said Kessler, who is a national organizer for the nonviolent environmental group Rising Tide North America. He said the agent approached him this past fall and said that the FBI had received an anonymous complaint and were looking into his opposition to hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” The bureau respected free speech, the agent told him, but was “worried about things being taken to an extreme level.”

Even as environmental and animal rights extremism in the United States is on the wane, officials at the federal, state and local level are continuing to target groups they have labeled a threat to national security, according to interviews with numerous activists, internal FBI documents and a survey of legislative initiatives across the country.

Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad (R) signed a law this month, backed by the farm lobby, that makes it a crime to pose as an employee or use other methods of misrepresentation to get access to operations in an attempt to expose animal cruelty. Utah passed a similar bill, nicknamed an “ag-gag” law, on Wednesday. Last month, Victor VanOrden, an activist in his mid-20s, received the maximum sentence of five years in prison under a separate Iowa law for attempting to free minks from one of the state’s fur farms.

At the same time, though, acts that might be defined as eco-terrorism are down. In recent years, the broad definition has included arson, setting mink free at fur farms, campaigns to financially bankrupt animal testing firms and protests in front of the homes of some of those firms’ executives.

Michael Whelan, executive director of Fur Commission USA, estimated that in the 1990s “there were close to 20 attacks per year on our farmers” and that since 2003 there have been fewer than two attacks a year on American mink farms.

“Overall we’ve seen a decline in activity, in terms of violent criminal activity,” FBI intelligence analyst Erin Weller said in an interview.

FBI officials say two factors contribute to the reduced threat.

One is their successful prosecutions of several activists, in particular the 15 convictions in 2007 for members of the Earth Liberation Front. The national sweep of radical environmentalists was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary “If a Tree Falls.” Not only did several ELF members get long prison sentences — Stanislas Meyerhoff got 13 years — but also many activists testified against others to get lighter punishments.

“That’s had an impact on the movement as a whole,” Weller said.

The second factor is that environmental and animal rights activists may view a Democratic administration as more sympathetic to their goals and be less inclined to take radical steps.

“Obviously if you think there is going to be support for your position, you’re going to use legal means rather than illegal means,” Weller said.

Despite the decline in activity, the level of scrutiny has continued, say several who track state and federal enforcement.“There’s been very little change under the Obama administration,” said Will Potter, author of the book “Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Movement Under Siege.” After factoring in several state initiatives on top of federal enforcement, Potter said, “The political climate as a whole has gotten a lot worse.”
Read the rest of the article here

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