Just over two years ago when lockdowns were being declared like dominoes around the world, there was a brief moment when the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to hold the potential for much-needed reflection. Could it lead to a reversal away from the profit-driven ecological and socio-economic dead end we’ve been propelling toward? Arundhati Roy’s call to critical reflection was published in early April 2020. At the time, she was observing the early evidence, on one hand, of the devastating toll of the pandemic as a result of extraordinary inequality, the privatized health care system, and the rule of big business in the U.S., which continued to play out along lines of class and race.
In 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that, in order to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, no new oil and gas fields or coal mines could be developed. Now, a study published in Environmental Research Letters Tuesday goes even further: In order to meet the 1.5 goal, we will have to abandon nearly 40 percent of “developed reserves” of fossil fuels. “Going beyond recent warnings by the International Energy Agency, our results suggest that staying below 1.5°C may require governments and companies not only to cease licensing and development of new fields and mines, but also to prematurely decommission a significant portion of those already developed,” the study authors wrote.
On April 10, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted in what is believed to be a US-backed soft coup. One of the likely reasons for the coup is that Khan was taking action to end excessive corporate power bestowed by bilateral trade agreements. Clearing the FOG speaks with Manuel Perez Rocha of the Institute for Policy Studies about Khan and how trade agreements function to force countries into allowing corporations to exploit their workers and devastate their environment. Perez Rocha explains why ending corporate abuse is essential to addressing the climate crisis and how trade could be structured to uphold human rights and protection of the planet. He also speaks about the risks of extraction for minerals that are required for a green economy.
The DPA is the wrong instrument for increasing domestic supplies of minerals for clean energy development. In the U.S., a new mine will take an average of 10 years to receive its permits because of the extensive investigations needed to prove safety. Even if minerals are extracted, they need to be shipped abroad for processing since there are no facilities in the U.S. to process these minerals. New mines and processing facilities simply cannot come online fast enough to address an urgent need for minerals. And, the Biden Administration has already supported the mining industry through the recent infrastructure law. The 2020 Energy Act also directed the Department of Energy to invest $740 million in research and development for the industry.
The growing movement for regeneration offers a much needed reframe of how to fully show up in our humanity at this critical moment in our planet’s history. We need to move beyond incremental change and a narrowed fixation on reducing our carbon footprint. We cannot treat social injustices and ecological crises as separate, unrelated phenomena. Nor can we surrender to despair and distraction, or waste time on projects that make us feel good but lack deeper impact. The task at hand—our great calling—is to simultaneously regenerate our ecosystems AND integrate the design of new social and economic systems that can truly center and support life. At a foundational level, this ambitious project of regeneration requires us to RESIST or stop destruction, repair harm, and reimagine our world, our communities, and the systems upon which we depend.
Members of a Peruvian community have promised to restart a road blockade against a prominent copper mine, even as a second community promised a 45-day truce in the dispute. The planned disruption is the latest in a series of protests along the road leading to the Las Bambas mine, which is owned by MMG Ltd and produces 2 percent of the world’s copper supply. Dozens of impoverished Andean communities live along the 400km (248 miles) dirt road. They have regularly complained that the trucks transiting to the mine pollute the environment while failing to increase the quality of life for residents. Since opening in 2016, the mining road has been blocked for more than 400 days by different groups.
The people of the southern Argentinian province of Chubut are celebrating more than just the holidays this December. After a fierce struggle against a recently enacted zoning law that would have opened the province up to large-scale silver, copper, and lead mining by multinational corporations like Canadian Pan American Silver, the governor was ultimately forced to backtrack. The law in question, which was approved on December 15, was repealed last Tuesday, just five days later. From the night of the approval until the afternoon of December 21, the movement against the law spread rapidly throughout the province. In a context of growing austerity, unemployment, and poverty, thousands took to the streets to make their voices heard.
For two weekends in a row, thousands of demonstrators across Serbia have blocked major roads and brought the country to a standstill, concerned their land, water and air risk being exploited. They're angry over what they're calling a looming ecological disaster, and accusing the government of attempting to pass laws that would allow foreign investors to seize land, and disregard environmental regulations. The most famous name among those investors is Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto, which plans to build Europe's largest lithium mine in the Jadar Valley near the western city of Loznica. The Serbian government decided on Wednesday to suspend two laws that would help Rio Tinto launch the mine, but tensions between it and protesters remain.
Around 900 workers walked off the job at mining conglomerate Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelting facility in Kitimat and power plant in Kemano, British Columbia early Sunday morning. The workers, for whom Unifor Local 2301 is the bargaining agent, are striking against the highly profitable company’s ever-expanding use of temporary contract labour and its refusal to grant workers hired since 2019 defined-benefit pensions. Talks between the Australia-based multinational, which is the third-largest mining corporation in the world, and union representatives began on June 7. Management immediately made clear its determination to enforce aggressive cost-cutting measures, even though the company raked in net profits of US $9.8 billion in 2020.
The Pueblo of Zuni would be remiss in this context to remain silent on the recent legal position taken by the Biden-Harris Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding Chi'chil Bildagoteel (i.e., Oak Flat) and the Resolution Copper mine in Arizona. The Administration's stated position is unfortunate and extremely troubling, as it is in fact little more than a continuation of a policy of containment and erasure of Native peoples that directly contradicts in substance, content, and spirit the Administration's own E.O. 13985. This position is a reinforcement and reproduction of racist legal legacies of Native dispossession in the United States that gives preference to and promotes resource extraction and environmental destruction to the detriment of the capacities Native people indelibly require for any advancement or support of equity.
Striking mine workers at Warrior Met Coal overwhelmingly voted down the tentative agreement reached earlier this week between UMWA and the company. Workers will continue the strike until the contract addresses the central demands for better wages and conditions that workers have been demanding. The results of the vote were overwhelming. A miner’s facebook group highlights that at one mine, the “no” votes were unanimous. In another, the vote was 256 No to 7 Yes. This is what a landslide looks like. The workers want to continue the strike until they get a better contract. These workers have been on the picket lines for over a week and show no signs of stopping. Their struggle is strong, their conviction is stronger and the strike has the strength to be victorious.
Lone Pine, CA - Perched high in the craggy Inyo Mountains, between the dusty Owens Valley floor and Death Valley National Park, looms a rugged, nearly roadless chunk of desert terrain teeming with wildlife and scarred by mining operations. Conglomerate Mesa’s charcoal smelters helped give birth 150 years ago to the nearby rip-roaring silver town of Cerro Gordo, where ingots were produced and shipped off to the small pueblo of Los Angeles by steamboat and a 20-mule team. Now, the 22,500-acre tableau of Joshua trees, piñon pines and limestone boulders bristling with fossil shells is turning to mining again. Spurred by the rising price of gold, K2 Gold Corp., of Vancouver, Canada, is drilling and trenching in hopes of selling its findings or partnering with a bigger company that would, perhaps, transform the public lands into an open pit cyanide heap leach mine, just a few miles from Death Valley.
Washington, DC - Citing the Presidential Memorandum signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 26 on tribal consultation and strengthening nation to nation relationships, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has put on hold the transfer of 5,439 acres of high-value conservation land in Arizona to Resolution Copper. The acres include Chich’il Bildagoteel, known as Oak Flat, which is the heart of several southwest tribal religious and cultural beliefs. During the last days of the Trump administration, federal officials attempted to speed up the transfer to Resolution Copper that would mine the land. On January 15, 2021, five days before Trump left the presidency, the Tonto National Forest released the Resolution Copper Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for objection.
In September, Kona Barreda, a teacher in the northern community of Air Ronge, was working on a lesson about “finding the courage” for her Grade 7 class when she came across a proposal from Quebec-based company Lambert Peat Moss Inc. The company had outlined its plan, with a timeline of 80 years, to mine peat in four designated areas south of nearby La Ronge, an area covering about 2,619 hectares. Shocked by the implications, Barreda, a Woodland Cree woman, started asking people in the community if they had heard about the project. Although Lambert claimed to have distributed letters among residents, no one Barreda spoke to had received one. Hoping to teach her students how to find the courage to fight for a cause, even when the opponent is a multimillion-dollar mining company, Barreda and the Grade 7 class launched a petition demanding that Lambert leave the northern Saskatchewan muskegs alone.
After a week of blockading an airstrip and road to an iron mine on north Baffin Island, a small group of protesters are packing up their tents. That’s according to protesters’ spokesperson Marie Naqitarvik, wife of protester Tom Naqitarvik. She sent out a news release late Feb. 10, announcing the group would be decamping and moving to an observation position at a nearby hunting cabin, before heading to Pond Inlet Saturday to prepare for face-to-face meetings with community leaders and Inuit organizations. The protesters call themselves the Nuluujaat Land Guardians, and they have been blocking access to Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River iron mine since the evening of Feb. 4.