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Environmental Justice

Forest Defenders Declare Victory After 22-Day Tree Sit

Josephine County, OR – Environmentalists are declaring victory after occupying a stand of old growth forest for three weeks to prevent trees from being logged. Forest defenders launched a tree sit on April 1 to prevent Boise Cascade Wood Products, the timber company who bought the logging rights, from cutting a stand of mature trees which represents some of the last remaining intact old growth in the region. For 22 days, community members occupied a patch of old growth forest that sits inside the boundaries of the Poor Windy Forest Management Plan.

Biden’s So-Called LNG Export Freeze Sacrifices Gulf South Communities

In late March, Texas joined a 15-state federal lawsuit led by Louisiana to block the Biden administration’s executive order pausing new permits for terminals that export fracked gas, or so-called liquefied natural gas (LNG). Separately, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan created a special committee to investigate President Joe Biden’s permitting freeze, a move that has not only drawn backlash from the oil industry and Texas GOP, but also Republicans on Capitol Hill. Texas’s moves follow House Republicans’ February passage of House Resolution 7176, a bill that would reverse President Biden’s permitting pause by stripping the Department of Energy (DOE) of the power to approve LNG exports to non-free trade agreement countries

Thacker Pass Protectors File First-Ever ‘Biodiversity Necessity Defense’

Winnemuca, Nevada — In a first for the American legal system, the lawyers for six people sued by Lithium Nevada Corporation for protesting the Thacker Pass mine are arguing a ‘biodiversity necessity defense.’ The necessity defense is a legal argument used to justify breaking the law when a greater harm is being prevented; for example, breaking a car window to save an infant locked inside on a stifling hot day, or breaking down a door to help someone screaming inside a locked home. In these cases, trespassing is justified to save a life.

Ecocide Movement Aims To Criminalize Long-Term Environmental Harm

Jojo Mehta co-founded Stop Ecocide in 2017, alongside legal pioneer the late Polly Higgins, to support the recognition and establishment of ecocide as a crime at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. She’ll be at COP28 in Dubai to push for an ecocide law. Ecocide is generally defined as mass damage and destruction of ecosystems — severe harm to nature that is widespread or long-term. Stop Ecocide generates collaborations around the globe at every level of society, from diplomats and politicians to lawyers and academics, from corporate influencers to indigenous and faith leaders. 

Environmental Pollution Lawsuit May Pump The Brakes On Cop City

Earlier this month, the South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA) filed a civil rights complaint against the city of Atlanta, saying the rapid construction of a police training facility, locally known as Cop City, has caused environmental destruction to the surrounding community. The SRWA filed the complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and says the project’s location constitutes environmental racism. The facility’s construction is planned for a predominantly Black residential area, despite the investors and organizers of the project hailing from mostly white residential areas, and a proposed 43% of police trainees at the facility are expected to come from outside of the state of Georgia.

Fighting Industrial Development In Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’

Wallace, Louisiana - There are only a handful of homes situated on Alexis Court, but there are a whole lot of memories. At one end of the short street, facing the Mississippi River, is Fee-Fo-Lay Café, run by twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner. The Fifolet, according to local lore, is a spirit that haunts the swamps and guards the treasures of pirate Jean Lafitte. Growing up, the Banner sisters heard a variation of the myth from their grandmother, and the café bears its name as an homage to their grandparents’ stories. Inside, the walls hold the stories and pictures of at least four generations. Many of their family members live around Fee-Fo-Lay — the family has been in the town of Wallace since its beginnings.

How A Utility Giant Tried (And Failed) To Build A Pipeline Under Brooklyn

In February 2016, small advertisements appeared in the back pages of a Brooklyn newspaper notifying the public of a coming rate hike in energy bills — to the tune of $245 million over a year-long period. Crammed beneath movie listings and accompanied by a table of decimals, small print and legal jargon, the ads said nothing about how British utility giant National Grid would use these millions. By November 2019, when Brooklyn residents learned the hike would pay for seven miles of a new fracked gas transmission pipeline beneath their neighborhoods, construction was two years along; large portions of the Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure Project had been quietly laid under the streets from Brownsville to East Williamsburg.

The Two-Sided Uprising Sweeping France

On June 27, Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old French boy of North African descent was murdered by a white police officer in a Parisian suburb. Since then, anger has erupted almost everywhere in the country, especially in poor neighborhoods. Young people are taking to the streets to protest against police violence and state racism. Their anger is eruptive. Recently, I helped organize support and solidarity for another uprising in France: Soulèvements de la terre, or Earth’s uprising. This movement, created in 2021, is fighting against large and useless infrastructure (like highways and giant tunnels under the Alps), transnational corporations and other sources of pollution and environmental destruction.

Upcoming National Day Of Action Demands Housing For ‘Need Not Greed’

In March 2023, we reported on a new activist group called Housing Rebellion. Now, it will be making itself known to even more people on Saturday 8 July when it takes part in a national Day of Action. The event seeks to draw attention to the housing crisis and the many issues around it. The Canary wrote of Housing Rebellion in March: Housing Rebellion is a new offshoot of Extinction Rebellion (XR). The group exists to highlight the fact that many of the anti-tenant policies that landlords get away with are also having an enormous impact on the environment. Now, and in a press release for the upcoming action, it states: On Saturday July 8th 2023, residents and housing campaigners across the UK are organising a day of local actions and protests, to highlight the links between the climate crisis and the UK’s broken housing system.

Why Tortuguita’s Murder Is Only The Tip Of The Iceberg

Few people outside of Atlanta knew about the police training facility nicknamed “Cop City” when plans were approved in 2021, but all that changed in January when Manual Esteban Páez Terán, known as “Tortuguita,” was murdered by police. Their death launched a torrent of news coverage, including an article by NBC stating that police had never killed an environmental activist in the U.S. before Tortuguita. That may be true, but the U.S. has long been complicit in the death of activists abroad through its involvement in resource extraction and training police and military personnel. One such country is Honduras, which had the highest number of killings of land defenders per capita in the world in 2019.

Parliament Adds Ecocide To EU’s Draft List Of Environmental Crimes

“This is historical! The European Parliament unanimously supports my proposal to enshrine ecocide in European law,” said French MEP Marie Toussaint, who is leading the EU’s environmental crime directive for the Greens in the European Parliament. According to the French MEP, “the issue of ecocide has resurfaced” in recent years since the Erika oil tanker sank off the Brittany coast in 1999, bringing the issue to the EU’s attention. “The litigation cases that we have taken, for the climate or for the rights of nature, have contributed to reviving the urgency of dealing with attacks on living beings in and through the law,” she said.

Fossil Fuel Firms Fast-track LNG Export Projects Near Black Communities

Years before Hurricane Katrina levee failures flooded New Orleans, a Louisiana hurricane expert warned federal officials of the potential for the levees to break. Now, Ivor van Heerden, the former deputy director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center, is concerned about the disastrous and potentially lethal consequences of a hurricane hitting a liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal under construction south of New Orleans. “Once again we’ve got politicians and state agencies ignoring the facts, just like they did with Hurricane Katrina,” van Heerden said. “We’re going to have another catastrophe.”

Black Residents Of Cancer Alley Sue Local Government

A discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Louisiana alleges that the St. James Parish Council steered polluting facilities into Black neighborhoods along the Mississippi River. As a result, Black residents there are forced to breathe in more pollution and face a higher risk of related health problems, according to the suit filed by Inclusive Louisiana, Mount Triumph Baptist Church, and RISE St. James. “We’re being ignored and we have to do whatever we have to do to stop it,” said Myrtle Felton, a lifelong resident of St. James Parish and co-founder of Inclusive Louisiana, a community group focused on environmental injustices.

Minneapolis: Battle Against City Plans To Spread Arsenic Contamination

Minneapolis, Minnesota - Roughly 100 East Phillips residents and supporters rallied at the Hennepin County courthouse, December 15, protest the city’s East Phillips demolition plan and long legacy of systemic racism. For generations, East Phillips residents have suffered from multiple sources of concentrated pollution, including toxic deposits of arsenic from a former pesticide factory. When the vacant Roof Depot warehouse came up for sale, the neighborhood developed plans to renovate the building into an urban farm and community hub. But, despite proclamations of environmental justice, the city of Minneapolis plans to demolish the building - exposing a bed of untreated, arsenic-laden soil underneath - and replace it with a public works truck yard, where 888 city vehicles would further concentrate toxic fumes in one of the city’s most polluted neighborhoods.

How Vanguard Funds Harm And Fuels Extractive Industry

Pennsylvania based asset manager, Vanguard, is the world’s second largest asset manager, with over $8 trillion in assets under management. Vanguard is referred to as a “universal owner,” with ownership stake in over 10,000 corporations. The financial institution dominates market environments and consequently has the ability to set industry norms. Asset managers have largely ignored calls for divestment from extractive industries. Asset managers, like Vanguard, have failed to include a robust racial and environmental justice orientation in their business practices. In turn, they flood extractive industries with capital. Industries like the carceral and fossil fuel industries use those investments to extract from low-income and BIPOC communities.
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