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Holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” activists formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day. Members of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including ”We got to fight for our right to water,” “Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and “¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente.” The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.
The only oil company to sue San Benito County over a local ban on fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations announced on April 6 it has dropped its lawsuit, leaving the voter-approved ordinance in place. Citadel Exploration’s decision to dismiss its own case means that local fracking bans in California face no remaining active legal challenges, despite threats from the oil industry.
A newly completed assessment has found that monarch butterflies in North America are vulnerable to extinction. The assessment was undertaken by NatureServe and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and results were published in a report released by the U.S. Forest Service on March 9. “The time is now to intensify continent-wide efforts to reduce the threats to this iconic species and prevent it from succumbing to the fate that has befallen far too many other species,” said Bruce Young, NatureServe’s Director of Species Science.
On March 14, farmers and neighbors of the Gill Tract turned out to disrupt business as usual at a local Sprouts supermarket. Activists, a brass band, and a large delegation of workers from the Fast Food Workers Union converged on Sprouts in Walnut Creek, holding a sit-in to block the main entrance to the store and rallying around a 600-pound stump that had been recently cut down by contractors preparing for the construction of Sprouts at the Gill Tract. One week later, Sprouts management sent protestors legal documents suggesting that the parking lot in front of their Petaluma store was not a "free speech" zone.
On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration. The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as “Saht Tit Lah," an area that has been used for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.
Early in the morning on February 26, sixty trees were cut down on the southern acreage of the Gill Tract. The UC’s move to begin clearing the way for their proposed housing and shopping complex came as a shock to farmers and neighbors, as there is an active lawsuit on appeal in the county courts, contesting the development’s detrimental environmental impact. Knowing the community would mobilize to defend the trees, the UC cut down the trees with lightening speed. The last trees were in the process of being destroyed at 9am, as farm supporters arrived.
Flowback fluid from fracked oil wells in California commonly contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals, a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity has found. Benzene levels over 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water were found in fracking flowback fluid tests dating back to April 2014 obtained and analyzed by the Center. Benzene in excess of federal limits was found in 320 tests, and chromium-6 was detected 118 times. Both chemicals can cause cancer.