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Mining And Fracking Whirl: April 9th 2015

By KateCA

Walking On Navajo Water, by Keanu Jones

“The water is precious”

A sense of urgency is developing around the issue of water. Indigenous people are increasingly engaging in this struggle at this key moment:

–14-year old filmmaker, Keanu Jones, Navajo, of Great Falls, Arizona is documenting his community’s fight for and use of sacred water. Navajo and Hopi people successfully defeated an effort in 2012 by Sens. John Kyle (R) and John McCain (R) to force a “swap” of water claims to the Little Colorado River for some infrastructure projects. This issue is not yet resolved, however. Keanu Jones’ “Walking on Navajo Water.”

–At Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, Debra White Plume (Wioweya Najin Win) has issued a “call to action … to prepare people to rise up and stand strong to protect our most precious commodity—sacred water.” Her efforts and message are captured in Suree Towfighnia’s film, “Crying Earth Rise Up,” which premiered at this year’s Sedona International Film Festival and is part of 2015’s Tour of Resistance to Protect Sacred Water.

–Last month, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California won a victory in their on-going, 20-year fight to secure water rights for “Native Americans who reside on federally reserved lands.” Next step in the legal process pertains to securing water rights for people and not just special interests.

Five of Turtle Islands’ great, endangered rivers: 1) The Colorado River, relentlessly tapped by urban areas, now also threatened by the tourist business and a uranium mine; 2) Washington-Oregon’s Columbia River, threatened by outdated dams, proposed oil and coal terminals; 3) Tennessee’s Holston River threatened by “harmful explosive” and toxic chemicals from the nearby Army Ammunition Plant; 4) Montana’s Smith River, in danger of copper mining at its very headwaters; 5) South Carolina’s Edisto River, threatened by permit-less and excessive “agricultural withdrawals.”

Other indigenous peoples’ struggles are ongoing as they try to protect themselves, their way of life and the earth:

The Nasa people of Cauca Valley, Colombia continue efforts hold the government to “its promise to return 15,600 hectares” to the tribe. Instead of honoring their commitment, the government has deployed “the army and riot police against [the Nasa] prompting fierce battles,” including gas grenades coated with marbles. Add to the conflict a third element, the paramilitary “Black Eagles,” and the Nasa’s struggle to save Mother Earth becomes even more intense. Gripping story.

Resistance to the Grand Interoceanic Canal continues, with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega—former revolutionary, now capitalist lackey—determined to build it. Farmers and other locals opposed to the Canal have banded together, regardless of whether they fought with or against each in the Sandanista-Contra struggles, against the threats the Canal poses to their way of life and livelihoods and to the environment.

Beaver Lake Cree Nation of Canada, their territory atop the infamous tarsands, has sued the federal and provincial governments for issuing leases to the oil industry “without … following due process in their duty to consult the local people.” They first sued in 2008, resulting in their being granted right to a trial. They are now preparing for that trial. Pollution of their water supply is involved.

Big Oil news

–At long long last, the National Transportation Safety Board has “issued a series of recommendations” pertaining to the bomb trains, full of highly volatile crude oil, cruising around the countryside, subject to derailments and conflagrations here and there. Will the Dept of Transportation listen and act, decisively and in the best interests of the public?

Two ships on the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana collided, resulting in an estimated 420 gallons of oil now floating around in the Mighty Missip. “Eight refineries along the Mississippi in that region account for about 12 percent of U.S. refining capacity.” Oil refineries along a major river—what could possibly go wrong?

BP’s saying its subsidiary, BP Exploration & Production, will simply go broke if forced to pay “more than $2.3 billion” for its negligence in the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The US Justice Department doesn’t seem too impressed.

–My, my, but times have changed. Citadel Exploration of Newport Beach has decided to drop its legal suit against California’s San Benito County’s ban on fracking.

United Steelworkers accepted Marathon Petroleum’s proposal at the Catlettsburg Refinery in West Virginia. And over in Oregon, the BO-Husky Toledo Refinery strike continues as United Steelworkers and management meet over safety issues (which management interprets as just wanting to add more workers).

TransCanada of Keystone XL fame has decided to postpone building its Energy East pipeline for at least a year while it seeks a different export site in Quebec. Seems they’ve become sensitive to the plight of the Beluga whales.

President Barack Obama (D) recommends that 12 million acres be added to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refugee, thus protecting it from oil and gas drilling. Republican opposition? Guaranteed.

–Don’t know quite how to react to this, but we now know that gas wells communicate.

ALEC vs. Global warming

–Stop sayin’ that! ALEC has sent cease and desist letters to certain organizations, e.g., Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters, informing them that ALEC is not a climate change denier as they have alleged.

Struggling to survive on Planet Earth

Homo sapiens been a busy species! But not busy enough at stopping its own destruction.

–And here’s another example of that: Phosphorus in corn fields is poisoning Lake Erie, similar to phosphorous run-off poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and Cheasapeake Bay. In Lake Erie, it results in green algae, as captured by satellite.

Fukushima radiation has now been detected off Vancouver Island. Meanwhile, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party wants more, approving a program boosting nuclear power to 20% of their energy mix. In sharp contrast, the Japanese people have repeatedly reported to pollsters they want nuclear power phased out.

Monsanto and the US Department of Agriculture are experiencing some discomfort. Scientists have filed a petition demanding an end to the clamp-down on publishing by “top agency managers” at Ag who allegedly are in close contact with industry. Currently, scientific work on neonicotinoids are the target of industry wrath.

Leave it in the ground!

The UK Guardian reviews the arguments made for working with the oil and gas industry toward some distant goal or simply divesting — quickly — with an eye toward “leaving it in the ground.”

Syracuse University says it’ll “drop all fossil fuel stocks.” The struggle for divestiture is on in King’s College, London, too. Watch for more, including perhaps the University of California. Video at link.

–Fascinating results of a survey of 50 corporations about the US EPA’s Clean Power Act, ranging from basically “no comment” (e.g., Carlyle, Harley-Davidson vrooom vrooom) to “no position” (e.g., Monsanto) to opposition (e.g., CSX), to pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by (e.g., DuPont) to a few actual supporters (e.g., Google, IBM). Do note which corporations have signed the Ceres Climate Declaration.

Old King Coal

–Barclays announced it’s “ended its financing of a controversial coal mining method known as mountaintop removal and said time is running out for the practice.” That includes mountaintop removal in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. Yay!

Duke Energy has agreed to pay the state of Virginia $2.5 million for all the coal ash spewed into the Dan River in February 2014 following a pipeline rupture.

2 ugly stories about mining

Barrick Gold Corp of Canada has agreed to “compensate” girls and women who were brutally gang-raped by security personnel at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea. 137 of the victims have accepted the $8,743 Barrick’s offered each of them. EarthRights International is representing the 11 women who refused Barrick’s offer. Arrests were made; no convictions.

–Many things we use and enjoy—such as computers and iphones—require rare earths. Bayan Obo mines near Baotu, Inner Mongolia account for 70% of world reserves of rare earths, and is home to a highly toxic lake specifically created as a giant tailings pond, the very sight and smells of which are shocking. Photos, video and link to google maps for the lake.

{Editor’s note: *whew* That’s a ton of links, Kate…! ;-)}

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