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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.
The CalTrans Bypass project would destroy some of the Valley's last remaining wetlands, draining 86 acres — the largest wetlands fill permit in Northern California in 50 years. It is in the process of destroying oak savannas and oak forests throughout the valley and on surrounding hillsides, and, in the process, generating a massive quantity of CO2 emissions. It would severely damage the local economy, while doing remarkably little to prevent traffic congestion.
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.
Read More |
Democrat Gov Brown sends CHP with rubber bullets against tree sitters |
Warbler’s Hunger Strike Continues! – Day 7 |
Save Little Lake Valley
On March 23, activists from across the Bay Area who want to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline converged on the Federal Building in San Francisco to hold group civil disobedience training exercises. The day began with an Idle No More Round Dance. Later individuals prepared for close contact with the police, and practiced interlocking arms as a method of holding physical ground.
Approximately 200-300 people were in attendance. Organizers were listed as Bay Area 350.org, Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More, and Rising Tide S.F.
for the event stated: "We have written letters, made phone calls, educated ourselves and others, demonstrated in the tens of thousands, participated in Idle No More flash mobs, and been arrested at the White House as we push President Obama to stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Yet we have no sign that Obama will walk his climate talk and reject the pipeline...It's time to organize ourselves to take nonviolent direct action where we live and to raise the social and political cost for approving what James Hansen calls 'Game Over' for the climate."
Read More with Video and Photos | Idle No More Supporters Protest Keystone XL Pipeline in San Francisco
Previous Coverage: Biggest Climate Change Rally in American History Brings Out Thousands in DC, San Francisco
Supporters of the Idle No More movement participated in a round dance during the final day of the Azteca Mexica New Year Ceremony and Celebration on March 17 at Emma Prusch Park in San Jose. "We have been using these round dances to call attention to our Earth, and to call for fighting the corporations, fighting our government, and to protect this Earth as indigenous people," Lakota Harden said to the group before the round dance began.
The theme of this year's Azteca Mexica New Year Celebration was Ce Calli, or "One House". Organizers of the Idle No More round dance noted in their event announcement that, "The Prophecy of the 'Eagle and Condor' is only becoming stronger."
"There is another way. We have lived another way for thousands of years, in harmony with our Mother Earth and all living things, and we do not need to destroy them to survive," speaker Paul Flores said before the round dance began.
Read More with Photos and Videos |
Idle No More
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 17th, while 350.org and the Sierra Club led the largest climate protest in US history in Washington, DC, their Bay Area chapters held a West Coast solidarity rally. In San Francisco 5,000 people surrounded the US Department of State building at 1 Market street, then marched to demonstrate at Bradley Manning Plaza.
More than 65 San Francisco Bay Area groups including World Can't Wait and Greenpeace took part in the march and rally, and there was an Idle No More gathering. Many artists donated their time and talent to create giant signs and puppets before the event while others performed musically during the march.
In San Francisco, one marcher commented that she enjoyed the fact that it was an all ages event with "lots of cute kids dressed as animals and old folks showing up as aging hippies." After the nationwide event, some participants were dismayed to find out that at the same time they were demonstrating for climate action, President Obama had been golfing with oil men in Florida.
SF Photos: 1 |
SF Videos: 1 |
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
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?"
Solidarity actions to coincide with the Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons were called for January 28th by the founders of the Idle No More movement in Canada, one of whom, Sylvia McAdam, spoke to the group at the capitol building via cell phone. "Our work is not done, because once the waters are contaminated here in my people's territory it will effect the waters of your people where you are because we all share the same water," she said.
"I hope that we will continue this until our indigenous sovereignty is respected and utilized every day, because that is what is going to protect our lands and our waters," McAdams said.
In San Francisco, Corrina Gould spoke after the Idle No More flash mob, asking, "How are we going to stand together not just for their treaty rights, but for ours as well. How do we become people that are recognized on our own land?"
Many California Tribes and Nations Represented at Capitol for Statewide Idle No More Rally | Ohlone Support Idle No More with Flash Mob at San Francisco Mall
On January 10th, IWW members and community allies staged an informational picket and rally to build energy towards what organizers think will be a protracted contract negotiation with Berkeley's Ecology Center. Management at the non-profit recycling center is looking to offer minor wage increases over the next two years, impose a wage freeze for the remaining three years of the new contract, and remove any employer-related benefit contributions. Negotiations were also planned on January 15th, and workers have vowed to continue fighting against any and all concessions proposed by management of the company.
Marc Norton writes:
The IWW has had a contract with the Ecology Center since 1989, but it looks like it might be a fight when that contract expires on February 1. The San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the IWW may not have the clout of the venerable AFL-CIO, but they ain’t pushovers either. According to Bruce Valde, the Branch Secretary, the Ecology Center contract is the “oldest existing IWW contract in the known universe."
Berkeley Ecology Center vs. the "oldest existing IWW contract in the known universe" | Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Previous Coverage: Berkeley curbside recyclers win IWW contract fight
|| Recylcing Workers say "NO!" to management's proposed cuts!
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
Occupy the Farm writes
: "On Friday November 16, 2012, the University of California (UC) razed all of the publicly planted crops on the Gill Tract. Occupy the Farm is disappointed that the UC has unnecessarily destroyed the hard work of the community and food that could have fed it. The weekly distribution and harvest events could have continued that, over the course of the summer and early fall, have yielded over one ton of food from the crops planted during the occupation last Spring.
Program managers delivered a $114 million cost estimate for construction of the proposed desal plant to the members of the Desalination Task Force at their October 17 meeting in Santa Cruz. The $114 million figure is to be considered a range, representing a possible cost of between $97 million and $143 million for the plant, and it does not include the millions spent already during the early phase of planning and promotion of the proposed water project.
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 and Occupy movements plan to shutdown the Davis Monsanto plant once again, as part of the international shutdown Monsanto action, on Monday, September 17th
at 6:00 a.m. at the corporation’s facility at 1920 5th Street in Davis. Guest speakers will include Cindy Sheehan and Al Rojas. Sandra McDougle and the Fresh Juice Party will perform original songs for the action. Education, music, art and food will be provided.
Read More | Over 60 Occupy Monsanto Actions Planned for the Week of Sept 17th
Previous Coverage: Mobilize Against Agriculture Privatization in Sacramento: June 2003
|| Reclaim the Commons in SF, June 2004
|| Biodemocracy 2005: Reclaim the Commons in Philadelphia
|| Global Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto, March 2012
|| Hundreds of Farmers Occupy UC Berkeley's Gill Tract in Albany
|| Yes on Prop 37 March in Santa Cruz to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
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.
"Though dozens of nearby residents had sent letters of opposition to the Commission, far outweighing those in support, and despite the project clearly violating several key sections of the Coastal Act and Local Coastal Plan, the Commission approved the project at the direction of the wireless industry, seemingly irritated by the large number of people who showed up to speak and defend Big Basin State Park and Santa Cruz County’s pristine North Coast.
"Although a wide range of problems with the project were brought to light by letters to the commission, as well as public testimony, the Commissioners seemed in a daze of apathy brought on- they said- by the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act (FTA) which prohibits local and state governments from rejecting cell infrastructure based on “environmental effects” which has also been interpreted as meaning human health.
"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. We need to establish new forms of resistance if we are to have any chance at protecting what remains- or even turning the tide on the decline of our liberties, our quality of life, and our biological diversity."
Read More | Previous Coverage: Verizon Wireless Cell Sites Threaten Santa Cruz County North Coast
Richmond, California residents have long battled with the massive oil company Chevron which maintains a large refinery on the city's western edge. Considering the enormous profits made by the corporate giant — a record year-end profit of $26.9 billion in 2011 — residents accuse the company of short-changing the city while it continues to spill dangerous pollution into the air that causes high rates of respiratory issues in the area, especially amongst children. On August 6th, a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond sent huge plumes of smoke into the air and hundreds of residents to local hospitals. Richmond residents and those in the East Bay hills nearby were told to not only close their doors and windows that night but to tape them shut to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals.
On August 7th, Urban Tilth, a Richmond resident-run and operated urban Agriculture non-profit that runs 11 different school and community gardens in Richmond, held a press conference and protest at the Richmond Civic Center. The event was called to hold Chevron accountable for the release of a myriad of dangerous contaminants into the air, as well as the potential loss of thousands of pounds of food grown by local school children and residents, intended to help alleviate problems of food scarcity. Later the same evening, Chevron itself, to appease area residents, held what it billed as a community town hall. Hundreds of Richmond residents showed up to protest Chevron's callous attitude toward the community. Produce that was likely ruined due to the fire was dumped on the stage where Chevron representatives sat.
Chevron-hosted Town Hall Mtg in Richmond |
Richmond Residents Hold Chevron Responsible for Fire, Toxic Release, & Food Contamination |
Chevron Rage - Richmond Community Demands Justice & Some Want Public Control Of Chevron
Previous Coverage: Direct Action and Rally at Chevron Richmond Refinery
|| Iraqi Oil Workers Tell Chevron "Hands Off Iraq"
|| Nigerian Direct Action Activists Put Chevron on Trial
|| Chevron Shareholders Protest
|| Mobilization: Chevron Killing People and the Planet for Profit
|| 31 Arrested in Protest at Chevron Headquarters in San Ramon
Thirty Earth First! activists protesting Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) logging practices rallied peacefully outside the gates of SPI’s Arcata mill on August 6th, demanding a stop to the company’s logging of old-growth. “We’re here to expose SPI’s destructive logging” said Jeremy Jensen. “They claim to be sustainable under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative label but SPI intensively clear-cuts and logs old-growth forests all over California.” Demonstrators blocked the logging truck entrance to the mill, holding banners reading “SFI is a scam” and “Stop old-growth logging.” They stood in front of a truck trying to enter the mill, disrupting logging traffic for over half an hour. Earlier in the day, an activist was handcuffed and detained by police in Arcata while hanging a banner on an overpass that read “Sierra Pacific Logs Old-growth”. He was later released with a warning.
The activists cite two examples of SPI’s clear-cutting and old-growth logging plans in Humboldt County. One, a 245 acre logging plan in the Mattole River and Bear River watersheds, and another in Redwood Creek totaling 241 acres.
Residents of Santa Cruz County concerned about health, privacy, and the environment, as well as those who enjoy the beaches of the north coast free of cell towers and other industrial equipment, demonstrated in front of Verizon Wireless's retail store on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz on Saturday, July 21st. The protest raised awareness of the company's plans, along with NextG corporation, to install six new cell sites along Highway 1 and Swanton Road in the county's remote north coast region.
Demonstrators say the North Coast Cell project is a threat to views, endangered species and resident safety. The California Coastal Commission is expected to decide whether to issue a coastal permit for the project at its meeting on Aug. 10
at the Santa Cruz County building. A large community presence is anticipated.
Read More and View Photos |
Public Comment Period for Big Basin Preliminary General Plan/Draft EIR Ends August 1st
The Right to Vote on Desal Coalition's Charter Amendment initiative has secured a place on the November ballot. Voters will decide whether to amend the City Charter in order to guarantee that the people of Santa Cruz determine the future of desalination in the city. The City Charter can be amended only by a vote of the people, unlike an ordinance, which can be amended or repealed simply by a vote of the City Council.
On June 27th, George Cadman interviewed local activist and best-selling author John Robbins about his latest book, No Happy Cows: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Food Revolution
. John and George talked about the revolving door between Big Ag and government agencies like the FDA, the rising cost of healthcare in the United States, the predatory ad campaigns that are directed at children by big fast food companies and the misleading "Happy Cows" advertising campaign of the California Milk Advisory Board.
The Cherán K’eri uprising on April 15, 2011 and the process of self-government now underway in that community is, for many, a source of inspiration, a strong show of resistance to be defended, and an experience to learn from. That’s why around 500 people from 15 cities in Mexico and 11 countries in the world set up camp just outside this Purépecha town in Michoacán on May 24-27, 2012, as part of the National Encounter of Autonomous Anti-Capitalist Resistance. The idea was to lend support to the Cherán community and share experiences of autonomy, options of self-organization, and ways of living in harmony with nature.
Guille, a Cherán woman, speaks:
“It was really early in the morning. A lot of people hadn’t gotten up yet. I was one of the first people to respond to the call for action. I was really worried because of all the fireworks set off in the area where the conflict began. Here, we use fireworks to communicate with each other when something important happens in the community. When people hear them, we unconsciously count how many have sounded. If there are more than three, we go out into the street to see what’s happening. That day it seemed like hundreds were set off. Then the church bells began to ring and that’s always a sign that something really big is happening. It’s like saying: Watch out, Cherán. We’re in deep trouble.
“When they heard the fireworks and the church bells, a group of young people joined in almost immediately, and then a lot more neighbors did, too. Seven trucks were burned and five men were detained. The rest got away with the help of our local police. From that time on, we stopped recognizing the authority of the police. Most of them weren’t even from here. And in fact, they were working with the organized crime group.
Read More and View Photos | Los caminos de la autonomía llevan a Cherán
11:30AM Friday May 24
Judi Bari Day Memorial
7:30PM Wednesday May 29