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In a precedent-setting victory for fracking opponents, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal of the U.S. District Court in San Jose ruled on March 31 that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold the leases without properly assessing the threat that fracking could pose to water, fish and wildlife. Some of these leases are within the Salinas River watershed, a habitat for endangered Central Coast steelhead.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. Many Delta advocates believe that the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used to deliver water to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas.
The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club that challenged a September 2011 BLM decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in southern Monterey County to oil companies. “This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to California’s air, water and wildlife that government agencies can’t ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “This is a watershed moment — the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the monumental dangers of fracking.”
Protesters mobilized to greet President Barack Obama who was in town for a series of fundraisers in San Francisco and Atherton on April 3 and 4. Approximately 1,000 demonstrators opposing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would extend from Canada to Texas, gathered outside the mansion of Ann and Gordon Getty in San Francisco the evening of April 3. The next day about 100 environmentalists, including many elderly, lay in wait along the President's route after a fundraiser in Atherton.
Rain meant the deployment of dozens of umbrellas in the tiny town on the San Francisco peninsula. President Obama's arrival in Atherton via military helicopter created disappointment among the demonstrators, some of whom had arrived before 8am. After two hours of waiting in rain, however, the protesters found out that the President would leave the fundraiser via motorcade. They were able to make their protest known as the State Department vehicle carrying the President passed directly along the route where demonstrators held their placards high.
Environmentalists are worried that the XL pipeline's existence would contribute to global warming because of greenhouse gas emissions from the process of extracting bitumen from Canadian tar sands. Many said they have not forgotten the President's inaugural promise to fight climate change and insist that he should follow through on that promise by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Protest turns up heat on Keystone tar sands pipeline at Obama dinner |
"No XL Pipeline" Protest Near Obama Fundraiser on the Peninsula
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Bay Area Activists Prepare for Direct Action to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline
On March 30, defenders of Little Lake Valley in Mendocino County announced the establishment of an action camp to oppose the construction of a four-lane superhighway by CalTrans through Little Lake Valley in the town of Willits. Resistance to the project has taken the form of tree sits, and on March 28, the tree-sitter known as "Warbler" embarked on a hunger strike. On April 2, the tree-sitters were forcibly removed by the California Highway Patrol, but Warbler has become an icon in the fast-growing campaign in opposition to the Caltrans Bypass project, and her hunger strike continues.
On February 15, the Pit River Tribe unanimously affirmed a resolution opposing geothermal and other industrial developments in the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands. The resolution affirms that geothermal development would threaten the underlying aquifer and would result in the injection of toxins into the atmosphere and waters.
The Pit River Tribal resolution indicates that the new proposals are incompatible with the use of the Medicine Lake Highlands as a sacred area. The Tribe maintains that the construction and development of even a single geothermal power generation plant would result in irreversible impacts to the sensitive cultural resources of the highlands and devastate the habitats of plants and animals. The Tribal resolution calls upon the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service to reject all proposed geothermal development in the area.
The Pit River Tribe has been in court since 2002 over proposed development of geothermal energy in the Medicine Lake Highlands. The lease holder, Calpine Energy, must reapply for extensions of leases that the Tribe maintains were illegally issued by the BLM in 1988. The company has scrapped the original plan to build a 48 megawatt power plant and is reported to be leaning towards building several 100 megawatt plants in the sacred highlands.
Read More | Pit River Tribe | See Also: Sacred Medicine Lake Near Mt. Shasta Faces Destruction!
| Morning Star Gali (Pitt River Nation) on desecration of native lands
On February 17, individuals gathered in Monterey for an Idle No More flash mob held in solidarity with First Nations and Chief Theresa Spence. Organizers described the flash mob as an opportunity for "dance and prayer" and to educate the public. Groups represented at the gathering included the Ohlone and the Chumash, as well as a number of others.
Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the Tribe strongly opposes the tentative approval of genetically engineered salmon by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The Winnemem Wintu object to GE production, as it would certainly impact our obligation to salmon and would change the traditional responsibility to salmon and our relationship that exists for thousands of years," Sisk said.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, fishermen, and environmental groups are currently fighting federal government plans to raise Shasta Dam, as well as the FDA’s approval of genetically modified fish. They argue that the dam would result in the flooding of many of the Tribe’s sacred sites and it's expansion, planned in conjunction with the construction of Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels, would lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other imperiled fish species.
“It must be recognized as an inherent right of Indigenous Peoples for the Winnemem Wintu to hold the salmon as a relative that is so intrinsic to our culture," Sisk said. "There are complete eco systems based on the clarity, knowledge and health of the salmon."
Read More | Winnemem Wintu Tribe | See Also: Winnemem Wintu Tribe: Speak out against the raising of Shasta Dam
| Conservation groups, Winnemem Wintu appeal reduction of salmon protections
| Winnemem Wintu leader will speak on salmon at Fisheries Forum
| Winnemem Wintu hold salmon ceremony at Glen Cove
| Winnemem Wintu Leaders in New Zealand to Call McCloud Salmon Home
| Winnemem Wintu Tribe Urges Feinstein to Withdraw Salmon Killer Legislation
Students and workers gathered outside the Cowell Student Health Center on the UC Santa Cruz campus on February 13th in response to recent news that the UC system is planning to "exploit an Obamacare loophole" and cap student insurance coverage. The proposed plan would also increase the Student Health Insurance Plan fees by 25%. Rally organizers called the changes "financial mismanagement" on the part of UC administrators.
To show support for the Idle No More movement, on January 26th a statewide rally was held on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. On the 27th, Ohlone and other individuals of Californian Native American ancestry held a flash mob in San Francisco at the Westfield Mall, where activists asked, "What are you going to do, not to idle anymore?"
Davey D writes: Right now in LA there is a police officer named Christopher Jordan Dorner who is accused of killing 2 people. They were a couple, one a college basketball coach and the other the daughter of a man who repped him when he was fired from LAPD. He is believed to have shot 3 officers killing one and has threatened to return and do more major damage. He’s accused of killing a Riverside police officer. He is on the run as they have an all out manhunt....
So [in response] police in Southern California have shot two unarmed Asian women who were delivering newspapers. The women were driving a truck similar to what the wanted LAPD officer is reported to be driving.. They saw the women throwing papers out the window and got spooked and shot them. A short time later a white male also unarmed was driving a similar blue pick up truck. he too was shot by police who believed he was the suspect.
After committing fratricide on his fellow officers, Dorner released a manifesto
outlining corruption and entrenched racism within the LAPD.
On January 26, over 400 people from all over California descended on the rural Central Valley town of Chowchilla to protest the horrendous conditions in the notorious prison, Central California Women’s Facility. Close to 4,000 women are currently warehoused in the facility designed for 2,000.
On December 6, 2012, a jury found Linda Lemaster guilty of "unlawful lodging" during Peacecamp 2010 in Santa Cruz
, and she was sentenced to community service and probation by Judge Rebecca Connolly. Lemaster believes now, even more than when she left the trial, that her being cited for lodging was about breaking up a political protest that relied on a law enforcement strategy that is anti-homeless and has a homeland security agenda. "I don't think that trial had much if anything to do with justice," Lemaster said.
"One of my goals is to get rid of this law," she said, referring to California Penal Code 647(e), or unlawful lodging. "The law seems to be used entirely against homeless people and demonstrators right now in California. We haven't been able to find another recent example of its use."
Now that her trial is over, Lemaster plans to continue raising awareness about the laws that outlaw sleep in Santa Cruz. In addition to filing an appeal in her case, she wants to make a presentation before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors that outlines "missteps" on the county's part in relation to how sheriff's dealt with Peacecamp 2010. She also plans to begin a campaign that she hopes will achieve statewide participation of "homeless friendly" groups and supporters to, "take the lodging law 647(e) off the books."
Read More and View Photos | On Dreams of Sleep and Linda Lemaster: A Short Essay | Appeals Judge Upholds Anti-Homeless "Lodging" Law Against "Lighthouse" Linda Lemaster | Linda's Hearth | See Also:Linda Lemaster, City Hall
On December 12th, dozens of protesters rallied outside a federal auction in Sacramento against plans to lease more than 17,000 acres of California public land to oil companies for drilling and fracking. Demonstrators fear that opening up thousands of acres of public land to oil and gas exploration would directly undercut the state's commitment to clean and renewable energy and endanger an already threatened water supply. Land spanning Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties lies on what is known as the Monterey Shale, a formation of underground minerals. Oil and gas companies are targeting this expanse for their use.
Fracking, a popular shortened name for hydraulic fracturing, is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction. Environmentalists are acting across the country to stop the sale and lease of land, including federally owned land, to prevent irreparable harm to air, water and climate. On a national day of action in September, dozens of protests from coast to coast raised community awareness. In Palo Alto, demonstrators handed out fliers and led an anti-fracking sing-along in the city's downtown plaza.
Read more |
Fracking California: The State's Best Kept Secret
Valerie Leveroni Corral writes:
"10 years ago at the break of dawn, awakened by the stomp of heavy booted agents, WAMM was raided by 30 DEA agents. Mike and I were taken into custody; chainsaw wielding agents cut the entire garden down, WAMM members blocked the gate, locking agents behind, and WAMM members and supporters bargaining for our release. What followed changed the course of medical marijuana, circumventing the government’s strategy to eliminate patient service organizations, legal under California state law. Santa Cruz City and County enjoined WAMM members in a lawsuit that resulted in a settlement, allowing WAMM to continue our service as the only collective sanctioned by the federal government."
Six months ago, local Occupy movements arrived at one of Monsanto corporation's Davis facilities at 6 a.m. Monsanto sent a message to their plant's workers to not come into work. The protest educated the public and initiated a conversation as a general assembly brainstormed solutions to Monsanto's corrupt ties with the government, unethical business practices, destruction of the environment, as well as the production of unhealthy food. Local activist groups plan to shutdown the Davis Monsanto plant once again on Monday, September 17th
On August 24, supporters of GMO-Free Santa Cruz and Proposition 37 on the California ballot, marched and sang along Pacific Avenue to raise awareness about the proposition, and encourage people to vote in favor of it. Throughout the United States, people currently eat genetically engineered food, but they generally are not aware of it. The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, Prop 37 on the November ballot, would simply require food sold in retail outlets in California, such as grocery stores, to be labeled if it is produced with genetic engineering.
Joshua Hart reports:
"If the California Coastal Commission’s August 10 decision is any indication, no endangered species, viewshed, or habitat is safe from a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) 4G cell tower popping up right next door. It’s open season, as smart phone addictions drive a kind of selective blindness toward wireless damage to life itself. Those groups who are meant to protect remaining wilderness areas have grown silent, awkward, in denial. We cannot count on the traditional defenders of nature to protect us from the threats of the 21st century."
The historic building at 1449 Miller Avenue was unveiled on the morning of August 13th as the Victor Martinez Community Library. Originally, it was part of a Carnegie Foundation endowment of four libraries given to the city of Oakland between 1916 and 1918. Oakland’s librarian at the time, Charles S. Greene, believed that the city’s people would benefit most from libraries placed within their communities. Despite this vision, the building was one of seven branch casualties of budget cuts in the late seventies. In 1978, the Emiliano Zapata Street Academy merged with the East Oakland Street Academy and moved to the Miller Library location until 1988 when the Street Academy moved to a new location. Since then, the “Latin American Branch” library has mostly sat empty
The building has been renamed after recently deceased author, Victor Martinez, who overcame a young life of hard agricultural work in the Central Valley to become a successful writer in the Bay Area. His semi-autobiographical novel, "Parrot in the Oven", has become a seminal work of the Latino experience. Martinez died last year at 56 of an illness caused by his work in the fields.
On the first day, as garbage was cleared from the grounds and the building was cleaned, donations of books poured in and area children helped to start a community garden in a side lot. Occupy Oakland sponsored a potluck dinner before a speak-out in the evening.
In less than 15 hours after it's grand opening, however, OPD and the City Administrators Office deemed the occupation illegal and promptly raided the Community Library. During the raid, city workers and more than 30 police officers boarded up the entrance and sealed the fence; leaving activists and onlookers with piles of books, food, and cleaning supplies.
The next morning, activists re-opened the library on the sidewalk in front of the building. It has been growing since and includes a garden created by neighborhood children.
Read More |
Audio Report from the Victor Martínez Popular Library in Oakland |
Photos and coverage from the late night raid |
Update on the People’s Library in Fruitvale (Aug 16th)
UPDATE 8/7: Ankah was bonded out of jail just before 6pm. Her friends report that she will still need continued support.
Anna Karewicz, who is known to her friends as Ankah, is a puppeteer, artist, and avid community gardener who lives in Oakland. On Thursday, August 2nd, the group with which she was bicycle touring in Northern California mistakenly rode on the wrong side of the street on a city block in Arcata. The group was stopped by police. The other riders received traffic infraction citations and were allowed to go on their way. Ankah, however, was taken into custody with an ICE hold, and she could be deported at any time. Ankah's friends are requesting that people sign an online petition and contact the Humboldt County Sheriff's department and other officials to demand that she be set free.
Several hundred nurses demonstrated in front of the Alta Bates Medical Center which is operated by Sutter Health on July 3rd. The Berkeley hospital was one of seven Sutter hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area where nurses held a one-day strike. The strike was organized by the California Nurses Association (CNA) .
The CNA Medicare for All bus tour is crisscrossing the state with stops in nearly two dozen sites ending ending July 12. It features basic health screenings and town hall meetings where community members are invited to tell their healthcare stories. The focus of the healthcare tour is a call to step up the drive for guaranteed, universal, cost-effective health reform once and for all by expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone regardless of age.
California Nurses Association