Tree-Sit Launched in Burrillville, RI to Prevent Spectra’s Fracked-Gas Pipeline Construction

fangTree-Sit Launched in Burrillville, RI to Prevent Spectra’s Fracked-Gas Pipeline Construction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 19, 2015

Contact: Sherrie Anne Andre, 401-474-7666

Nick Katkevich, 401-572-8148, nick@fangtogether.org

Social Service Advocate Launches Tree-Sit to Prevent Pipeline Construction

BURRILLVILLE, RI – A local woman launched a tree sit at the edge of a gas compressor station in Burrillville this morning to prevent its proposed expansion. The station, owned and operated by Spectra Energy, pressurizes and moves gas along the “Algonquin” Pipeline. Spectra is planning to nearly double the capacity of the compressor station as part of the highly protested “AIM” pipeline expansion project.

Sherrie Anne Andre, a member of FANG (Fighting Against Naturals Gas), and a Rhode Island native is holding the tree-sit “indefinitely”. The sit is aimed at preventing the tree clearing necessary for constructing the addition to the compressor station.

Andre is occupying a platform that is suspended 60 feet high on a tree located just yards away from the existing gas compressor station. A banner hanging from the platform reads “Spectra’s Toxins are Trespassing on Our Bodies, #StopSpectra”, highlighting the health impacts that residents face during the extraction, transportation and burning of fracked-gas.

Citing her eight years of professional work as an advocate for survivors of sexual and domestic assault Andre relayed that, “Spectra’s proposed project would hurt families  along the pipeline route and in the areas where the gas is extracted. If I truly believe I am an advocate, then I am exactly where I need to be – participating in a nonviolent direct action to stop this harm.”

In her work with FANG, Andre researches the social impacts connected with the development of fossil fuel infrastructure. “From places of extraction like the Bakken oil fields that saw a 300% increase in sexual assault after industry moved in, to Pennsylvania’s shalefields where hard drug use rates have risen – the fossil fuel industry devastates communities.”

In March the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, charged with reviewing interstate gas pipeline projects, gave initial approval to the AIM pipeline project. Spectra has still has not received final approval from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.

Last month, protestors delivered a “final notice” to Spectra, giving the company forty days to either cancel the AIM project or face increased community resistance. A national “week of action” targeting Spectra Energy is scheduled to start on June 6th, marking the end of the forty day window.

Sherrie called for people to participate saying “if you also believe that what Spectra is doing is wrong, I ask you to join me in taking action to stop them.”

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Ft. Worth Weekly: Playing Nice? Alleged Tip Sends The FBI Out To Question Denton Drilling Activists

Playing Nice?
An alleged tip sends the FBI out to question Denton drilling activists.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 09:45 Photos and story by ANDREW MCLEMORE

North Texas environmental activists frequently feel as though local
officials ignore their protests against gas drilling, but it turns out
it’s easy enough to get the federal government’s attention — if the FBI
thinks you might be planning eco-terrorism.

That’s what happened to University of North Texas student Ben Kessler, a
Marine veteran and dedicated activist on fracking, who spent several
months last fall dodging FBI phone calls that he felt were attempts to
intimidate him and pump him for information about legitimate, peaceful
environmental groups. Kessler is an organizer with Rising Tide, an
international network of environmental groups that sometimes employ civil
disobedience as a protest tactic.

Kessler: “I thought they were going to invade my house.”
In early February, an FBI agent and Dallas police officer came to campus
to question one of Kessler’s professors as well. David Rogers, the FBI
agent who called Kessler repeatedly, told him the agency was following up
on an anonymous tip about environmental activism in the area.

“The first conversation we had, he was kind of lecturing me about
ecoterrorism,” Kessler said. “All of the following conversations were him
basically trying to convince me that I didn’t need a lawyer and should try
to come in as soon as possible.”

For Rising Tide leaders, the monitoring by federal law enforcement sends a
clear message: Back off. “We saw that as an act of intimidation,” said
Scott Parkins, a spokesman for Rising Tide North America.

Lydia Maese, the spokesperson for the FBI’s Dallas office, would not
confirm whether the agency was conducting an investigation. It’s FBI
policy to conduct at least a preliminary investigation of any tip, she
said, though she acknowledged that not every anonymous call results in an
agent spending months trying to contact a college student and his
associates.

“We do investigate any potential ecoterrorism violations that could
potentially cause harm to the public,” Maese said. “We do this hundreds of
times. We are obligated to resolve the matter.”

Continue reading the full article.

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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