Ohio Supreme Court Overturns Ban On Cities Preventing Them From Voting Against Fracking

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By Ruth Milka for Nation of Change – In a great victory for environmentalists and the people of Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down a provision that restricted citizen’s efforts to vote locally on banning fracking. The ruling is a turn around from earlier rulings that prevented residents from placing county charters and a city ordinance to ban fracking from appearing on ballots. In 2015, after the movement against fracking had progressed enough to include new county charters to elevate the rights of local residents and ecosystems, the Supreme Court ruled that the state has “exclusive authority” over oil and gas drilling. This meant cities and counties no longer had the right to ban or regulate fracking through any restrictions. Ohio’s Secretary of State Jon Husted supported the ruling, claiming he had “unfettered authority” to remove county charters from ballots, even if the people had gathered enough signatures. And it’s no wonder, as Husted is deeply tied to the Ohio Oil & Gas Association, who fundraise for him. Since 2015, Husted and his team of appointed county boards of elections, along with the state Supreme Court, have removed 10 proposed fracking-related county charters from Ohio ballots. Earlier this year, the city of Youngstown, Ohio spent $185,000 promoting anti-hydraulic fracking ballot measures, regardless of the state’s law. Even though city lawyers deemed that any regulation or ban that was passed with a vote would “not be enforceable,” the environmentalist group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, are pushing on.

Coastal Town Banned Tar Sands And Sparked War With Oil Industry

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By Sabrina Shankman for Inside Climate Change – Hundreds of miles from the nearest oil field or fracking well, the answer to this question is playing out here, as a longrunning David-and-Goliath battle over plans to pipe tar sands oil from Canada to Maine for export nears a pivotal moment. On one side is South Portland, a picturesque waterfront city of 25,000, which approved an ordinance in 2014 to outlaw heavy crude exports from its harbor in an overwhelming City Council vote. On the other is the Portland Pipe Line Corporation, the company behind the project, and its allies, including the American Petroleum Institute, whose members include most major oil and gas companies. API spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat a ballot measure in 2013 that would have blocked the project. The City Council approved the ordinance a year later. The Portland Pipe Line Corporation is now suing the city, with support from API and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, arguing the ban was unconstitutional. A federal judge is expected to rule in the coming weeks. A decision in favor of the company could effectively open a gateway for the flow of carbon-heavy tar sands oil to one of the East Coast’s largest oil ports. For other cities seeking to restrict oil and gas activities, South Portland’s four-year fight to fend off the oil industry offers perhaps a cautionary tale.

Trump Adds Venezuela And North Korea To Travel Ban

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By Staff of Tele Sur – The addition of North Korea and Venezuela broadens the restrictions from the original, mostly Muslim-majority list. U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that Venezuela and North Korea will be added to the list of countries banned from traveling to the United States. The order outlines different restrictions for each country on the list. In the case of Venezuela, the new decree is aimed at “certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members,” according to the White House press office. The new directive prevents Venezuelan officials involved in state security, law enforcement and migration functions from entering the United States. Immediate family members’ ability to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants on business, tourist and tourist/business visas will also be suspended. The proclamation names ministries and state bodies involved in “screening and vetting procedures,” including the Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration; the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps; the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; and the Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations.

China Plans To Ban Sales Of Fossil Fuel Cars Entirely

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By Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch – China’s big electric vehicle push is about to get even bigger: The country is planning to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles entirely, with regulators working currently on a timetable of when the ban will ultimately take effect, according to Bloomberg. China is the world’s largest auto market, with 28.03 million vehicles sold last year, a boost in demand of 13.7 percent vs. 2015 sales numbers. The nation has already done a lot to incentivize manufacturers to develop and sell new EVs, including allowing foreign automakers to create a third joint venture with local automakers (a standard requirement for doing business in the country for auto OEMs) so long as it’s dedicated to the creation of EVs exclusively. The government has also created a number of incentive programs for OEMs, including subsidies. This will add to its positive efforts to drive more EV sales in China with the ultimate negative condition on the other side – at some point, automakers just won’t be able to do business at all in the country if they’re still selling a mix of fossil fuel and electrified vehicles. This isn’t the first time a governing body has said it would eventually phase out the sale of traditional fuel vehicles: France said it will stop selling fossil fuel cars by 2040 in July, and the UK has committed to the same timeline for sales of those vehicles.

Seattle To Ban Plastic Straws, Utensils At Restaurants Next Year

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By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – Starting next year, Seattle restaurants will no longer provide plastic straws and plastic utensils to its patrons after a 2010 ordinance finally takes effect. “As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils,” Sego Jackson, the strategic advisor for Waste Prevention and Product Stewardship for Seattle Public Utilities, told Q13 FOX. “What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. But they also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether,” he added. Jackson said the city’s effort to ban disposal plastic food service ware had been in the books since 2010 but was stalled because compostable alternatives were not viable yet. “Early on there weren’t many compostable options,” he explained. “And some of the options didn’t perform well or compost well. That’s all changed now.” The exemption that allowed eateries to dispense plastic straws and utensils is set to expire and will not be renewed. The ban only applies to restaurants serving food, as plastic straws and utensils can still be purchased at city grocery stores. Restaurants that do not comply will be warned and eventually fined but eateries will be given assistance with the transition.

NY's Fracking Ban Was Supposed To Set A Precedent -- But Gov. Cuomo Is Going Back On His Word

Anti-fracking protesters gather outside of the auditorium before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his fourth State of the State address on January 8, 2014, in Albany, New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

By Ellen Cantarow and Dennis Higgins for Truthout – New York banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) two years ago, in a victory for persistent anti-fracking activists and a potential precedent for other states. Now, however, the state is poised to begin operating a power plant that will make fracking infrastructure fully operational throughout the state, completely undermining the ban. The $900 million power plant planned by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) in Orange County, New York, requires permits for only two short pipelines before it may begin operating. CPV will be among the largest of New York’s nearly 500 gas- and oil-fired power plants. Like more than half of currently proposed electricity generation in the state, this power plant will burn fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Opponents charge that the plant is not needed and serves only to further push a warming world to the tipping point of climate-change catastrophe. On October 8, 2015, speaking with former Vice President Al Gore, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next 13 years, but climate scientists and engineers tell us CPV will emit 7 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent pollution annually and add a full 10 percent from power generation to the state’s current greenhouse gas inventory.

Swift Backlash Meets President’s Tweet Declaring Ban On Transgender Military Service

Veterans and hundreds of LGBTQ supporters mobilized with hits of the President’s tweet announcing a ban on transgender military service members. Photo: John Zangas

By John Zangas for DC Media Group – Washington, DC– A tweet issued by President Trump Wednesday morning appeared to rescind a Department of Defense policy which allows transgender men and women to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. Activists were quick to react and staged a protest outside the White House within hours. “I am shocked, angry and feel betrayed,” said Kara Zajak, a U.S. Navy Submariner, who identified as a transgender woman. “We had all this going through, it was passed, we had the [military] instructions and we were following them,” she said. Trump’s tweet caught the Pentagon flat-footed, and its website showed the policy was still in effect as of Thursday. The president apparently did not directly order military leaders to change policy in any documented form. According to a letter seen by Reuters, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the military that no changes would be implemented until a presidential directive. In June 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced implementation of the policy paving the way for transgender people to serve in the military.

Big Oil Overturns Portland’s Landmark Fossil Fuel Ban

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By Nick Caleb for The Real News Network – Sharmini Peries: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Back in December last year, we all hailed the city of Portland for taking a remarkable step by banning new fossil fuel infrastructure projects within city limits. With this move, it became the first city in the US to take such a bold step forward. Portland mayor, Charlie Hales at the time, said this is the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast. Then the zoning ordinance drew a challenge from the oil industry and the Portland Business Alliance. This week, the fossil fuel expansion ban got overturned by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. With us to discuss the fossil fuel interest behind this and what’s next for the city, we are going to speak with Nicholas Caleb. He is from Portland, Oregon. He is an attorney with the Center for Sustainable Economy, the organization that intervened in the recent appeals case. Thanks for joining us, Nick. Nicholas Caleb: Nice to be here. Sharmini Peries: Nick, the city of Portland had already decided what was good for the city and its citizens, so who was behind overturning the decision and will the decision stand?

U.S., UK And France Denounce Nuclear Ban Treaty

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By David Krieger for Counter Punch – The U.S., UK and France have never shown enthusiasm for banning and eliminating nuclear weapons. It is not surprising, therefore, that they did not participate in the United Nations negotiations leading to the recent adoption of the nuclear ban treaty, or that they joined together in expressing their outright defiance of the newly-adopted treaty. In a joint press statement, issued on July 7, 2017, the day the treaty was adopted, the U.S., UK and France stated, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” Seriously? Rather than supporting the countries that came together and hammered out the treaty, the three countries argued: “This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.” Rather than taking a leadership role in the negotiations, they protested the talks and the resulting treaty banning nuclear weapons. They chose hubris over wisdom, might over right. They based their opposition on their belief that the treaty is “incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.”

The United Nations Prohibits Nuclear Weapons

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By Staff of ICAN – On 7 July 2017, the United Nations adopted a landmark agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Here we answer some frequently asked questions about how the treaty will operate. + What activities does the treaty prohibit? The treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of those activities. In addition, nations must not allow nuclear weapons to be stationed or deployed on their territory. + Is the treaty legally binding? Yes. The treaty is legally binding on those nations that join it. + How many nations must join before it enters into force? Fifty nations must sign and ratify the treaty before it can enter into legal force. Signing is a relatively simple act performed by the executive branch of a government. Ratifying typically involves a legislative process. Once the treaty has entered force, further nations can join it at any stage.

Federal Judge In Hawaii Extends Court Order Blocking Trump Travel Ban

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By Staff of Reuters – “The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has.” “Where the ‘historical context and “the specific sequence of events leading up to”‘ the adoption of the challenged Executive Order are as full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext as is the record here, it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context. The Court, however, declines to do so. … The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has.” “The Court recognizes that it is not the case that the Administration’s past conduct must forever taint any effort by it to address the security concerns of the nation.

Fracking Banned In Maryland

Beyond Extreme Energy protests Fracking at FERC in 2015 with an 80 foot banner. Photo: John Zangas

By John Zangas for DC Media Group – Annapolis, MD–The Maryland Senate voted 35-10 for a state-wide fracking ban late Monday. The state legislation marks a turning point against oil and gas industry plans to build fracking wells and feeder pipelines across Maryland. The vote came ten days after Republican Governor Larry Hogan came out opposed to the fossil energy extraction process. The Maryland Legislature had enacted a three-year moratorium on fracking in 2014. But tonight’s vote enshrined the ban as a permanent major environmental victory. Maryland is the first state to legislatively ban the process. It joins New York which banned fracking by executive order in 2015, and Vermont which banned it in 2012.

Trump Travel Ban: US States Launch Legal Challenges

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By Staff of BBC News – Several US states have launched legal challenges against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. Mr Trump signed an executive order placing a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim countries on Monday. New York maintains the new directive is a ban on Muslims while Washington says it is harmful to the state. Oregon and Massachusetts later also joined. The ban begins on 16 March, with the White House saying it is “very confident” of winning in court. Mr Trump’s original order was more expansive but it was defeated after a legal challenge initially mounted by Washington and Minnesota. Lawyers for those states say their original complaint applies to the revised order and are pursuing their cases.

The New Travel Ban You Didn’t Hear About Is Against U.S. Citizens

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By Shaun Bradley for Activist Post – As emotions intensify over Trump’s recent immigration ban, the State Department and IRS have quietly used it as a smokescreen to roll out a new policy that targets U.S. citizens for unpaid taxes. The passports of these individuals can now be revoked and their citizenship status undermined at the behest of one of the government’s most corrupt agencies. By granting the Internal Revenue Service control over passports, due process has been significantly undermined. The shield of protection that U.S. citizenship used to represent has transformed into an inescapable brand of ownership. The desperate financial condition of the federal government will only worsen in the future…

Trump Immigration Ban Still In Place Despite Court Ruling, Says DHS

Protesters occupy part of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, to demonstrate against President Trump's executive order restricting immigration refugees. Associated Press / Associated Press

By Mark Hanrahan for NBC News – Hours after a federal judge issued a stay on President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a senior White House adviser issued robust responses, emphasizing that the order remains in force. In a statement issued in the early hours of Sunday, the Department said: “President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place — prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”