December Update: Climate Action Rocks 2012, Get Ready For 2013!

December Update: Climate Action Rocks 2012, Get Ready For 2013

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Climate Justice Activists Launch Hunger Strike With Blockade At Houston Refinery
Bob Lindsey Jr. and Diane Wilson began a sustained hunger strike to demand that Valero divest entirely from the Keystone XL pipeline and invest that money into the health and well-being of the people of the neighborhood of Manchester (next to the refinery.) Hunger strikers began their protest in the Harris County Jail after blockading the refinery for several hours.
Read More Here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/13th-action/

Raising Resistance: Action Across North America in Solidarity with Unist’ot’en
Allies of the Unist’ot’en Camp held solidarity actions across North America, and around the world, warning industry and government to end their trespass against sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory. The camp is working to stop several proposed pipelines and shale gas projects in the Peace River Region.
Read More Here: http://unistotencamp.wordpress.com/

Rising Tide Vermont Disrupts Shell Oil Exec
In solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide Vermont interrupted a presentation by a Shell Oil executive.  After nine consecutive interruptions, during which members of RTVT read statements from the Ogoni and other people on the frontlines of Shell’s operations, the event was cancelled and police were called.
Read more here: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012311150032

Days of Action Against the Keystone XL Pipeline
Over 100 people in Nacogdoches, Texas rallied to defend their homes and protect their water from toxic tar sands. In solidarity, over 40 communities rallied across the country and the world against tar sands and deadly resource extraction everywhere.
Read More Here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/12th-action/

Keep Rising Tide North America Going in 2013
Climate action has rocked 2012. Rising Tide has been a central part of organizing it. Now we need you to join us and keep it going on 2013. Whether its $5, $50 or $500, please donate and help us build this movement.
Donate Here:https://www.wepay.com/xmmxkxl/donations/rising-tide-north-america

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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.

Support the Hobet 20! Anti-mountaintop removal activists held on $500,000 combined bail

Following Saturday’s historic shutdown of the Hobet mine — Appalachia’s largest mountaintop removal site– Dustin Steele and at least nineteen other Appalachians and allies are being held on $25,000 bail each — a combined $500,000.*  Most are being charged with trespass and obstruction.

Donate to the Hobet 20’s legal fund here.

While we believe that these bail amounts are unconstitutionally excessive and may ultimately be reduced, we need to raise as much money as we possibly can to support those brave individuals who have put their bodies on the line to put a halt to the injustice of mountaintop removal mining.  According to Dustin, he was taken into a room and beaten by law enforcement while in custody.  Witnesses have reported that other protesters were brutalized by law enforcement while being taken into custody.  We need to work to ensure that anyone who wants to get out of jail can do so as soon as possible.

Mountaintop removal is a crime against humanity that has left a legacy of poisoned air and water, high cancer rates, economic exploitation, and devastated communities and ecosystems throughout Appalachia.   Corrupted legislators and regulators at the state and federal levels have failed to take action to stop these atrocities, leaving direct action as the last resort for conscientious residents aiming to save the land and people of Appalachia.

Please check www.rampscampaign.org for updates as we receive additional information about our friends in custody.

Mountain Mobilization shuts down largest mountaintop removal mine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2012

Contact: Charles Suggs, 304-449-NVDA (6832), media@wg.rampscampaign.org
Talking Points document: http://rampscampaign.org/key-messages-of-mountain-mobilization/

“Mountain Mobilization” shuts down Logan Co. strip mine

Call for end to strip mining and a just transition for the region’s families

Charleston, W.Va.—More than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign have walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down.  Ten people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.”  At least three have been arrested, with another in a tree being threatened by miners with a chain saw.  Earlier in the day, two people were arrested at Kanawha State Forest before a group of protesters headed to the state capitol.

“The government has aided and abetted the coal industry in evading environmental and mine safety regulations. We are here today to demand that the government and coal industry end strip mining, repay their debt to Appalachia, and secure a just transition for this region,” Dustin Steele of Matewan, W.Va. said.  Steele was one of the people locked to the rock truck.

Mounting scientific evidence shows that strip mining negatively impacts community health and miner health.   Recent studies have found a 42 percent increase in risk of birth defects around strip mines, and miners who spend at least 20 years as strip-mine drillers have a 61 percent chance of contracting silicosis, a virulent form of black lung.  “The coal companies are poisoning our water and air, and they’re treating the workers no better than the land – fighting workplace health and safety protections to get the most out of labor as they can,” said Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va.

As coal production declines, protesters are concerned that the region will be left with only illness and environmental devastation as the industry pulls out of the region and companies file for bankruptcy to shed legacy costs.

Patriot Coal is currently going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which union contracts and pensions could be on the chopping block.  Both UMWA pensions and the state’s Special Reclamation Fund are funded through a per-ton tax on coal.  With Central Appalachian coal production in the middle of a projected six-year, 50 percent decline, this funding stream is increasingly unsustainable.  Protesters are calling on the coal industry and government to ensure that funding is available both to honor commitments to retired workers and to restore the land.

“Coal companies must employ their surface mine workers in reclaiming all disturbed land to the highest standards.  Instead of arguing about the ‘war on coal,’ political leaders should immediately allocate funds to retrain and re-employ laid off miners to secure a healthy future for the families of this region,” said R.A.M.P.S. spokesperson Mathew Louis-Rosenberg.

Appalachian communities, from union miners to the anti-strip mining activists of the 1960s, have a proud history of confronting the coal industry and demanding an end to its exploitive practices with direct civil disobedience. R.A.M.P.S. and other campaigns have returned to this tradition to eliminate strip mining once and for all. Since its founding in 2011, R.A.M.P.S. has organized a range of actions, from tree-sits to blockades of coal trucks.

Today’s protesters are among the hundreds of people across the country who are joining this summer’s National Uprising Against Extraction, using radical tactics to fight oppressive extractive industries and demand a transition to a sustainable economy.

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