By Chris Paulus for Occupy.com. Yet even amid the companies' growing use of scare tactics and secret maneuvers, citizens are ramping up direct action. People have braved the elements and matched the energy giants with their own brand of force, as residents nationwide turn to a mix of creative and traditional tactics to halt as many projects as they can. For example, in late September, people participated in a "Hold the Line" rally in the Minnesota State Capitol to protest the Line 3 project. Among them was 70-year-old Minnesotan David Johnson, who said he would stand firm against large energy companies despoiling their state. Also in September, angry residents in Superior, WI, took more drastic and visible measures through direct action. Unicorn Riot reported that citizens overturned cars to block the way to the pipeline construction site, and chained themselves to the cars. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, four residents filed a federal lawsuit against Energy Transfer Partners . . .
Oil & Gas
By Shannan Stoll for The Nation - Last December, calls to defund the Dakota Access pipeline and “Stand with Standing Rock” led individuals to divest millions of dollars from banks extending credit to that project. As cities and tribes got involved, that amount increased to now more than $4 billion. Seattle was the first, then more cities followed, and the movement to defund Big Oil is still growing. In May, Indigenous leaders launched a new campaign, the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, targeting four proposed tar sands pipelines. The strategy is to stop banks’ financial commitment before ground is broken. One of these projects – TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline – was terminated earlier this month. Now, the movement that began at Standing Rock has gone global, since much of the DAPL funding came from overseas banks. Some European banks such as BNP Paribas have taken steps to stop funding fossil fuel projects that trample Native peoples’ rights. Others such as Norway’s DNB and ING have done some divesting. Last week, a delegation of Indigenous women returned from a trip to Europe where they met with leaders of financial institutions in Norway, Switzerland, and Germany, the “home bases for several of the world’s largest financial and insurance institutions supporting dangerous extraction developments,” according to the delegation’s news release.
By Mazaska Talks. On October 23rd, ninety-two of the world's largest banks will meet in São Paolo, Brazil to discuss policies on the climate and Indigenous People's rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). These banks include Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) financiers such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and many more. Mazaska Talks is calling on indigenous people and allies everywhere to join us for 3 days of mass global action that make it clear to the banks: Financing climate disaster and the abuse of Indigenous Peoples will result in a massive global divestment movement.
By Fabio Benedetti Valentini and Russell Ward for Bloomberg - BNP Paribas SA pledged to stop financing shale and oil sands projects, expanding earlier commitments in support of global efforts to tackle climate change. France’s largest bank will no longer do business with companies whose main activity stems from oil and natural gas obtained from shale or oil sands, it said in a statementWednesday. The policy covers companies involved in activities ranging from exploration to marketing and trading. The company also won’t fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic region. BNP Paribas said it’s committed to bringing its financing and investment activities in line with international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Achieving that goal relies on reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, starting with energy from shale and oil sands, the bank said. Echoing environmentalists on a disputed subject, the bank said the extraction of fuel from these sources emits high levels of greenhouse gases and harms the environment in other ways. BNP Paribas may be the first large bank to blacklist shale oil, which has enabled the U.S. to curb oil imports and pushed down energy prices. The lender’s financing for tar sands, Arctic oil and other carbon-intensive fuels totaled $1.94 billion last year, ranking it 17th among international banks, according to a report by the Rainforest Action Network and other environmental groups. That’s down from $3.74 billion in 2014.
By Mike Ludwig for Truthout. The protesters are growing in numbers, and their actions are becoming more direct, as they set their sights on opposing both existing oil and gas infrastructure as well as blocking new pipelines and plants from being constructed. For environmentalists in the Gulf, where sea levels are rising and precious wetlands that protect against floods and storm surges are rapidly melting into the sea, this resistance is becoming a matter of survival. Cherri Foytlin said one of the big concerns among people showing up from Port Arthur was whether cancerous chemicals like benzene were floating in the floodwaters they waded through to get to and from their homes. The health effects of chemicals leaching from damaged refineries and flaring into the air may not become apparent until years down the road. "Most of those refineries, if not all of them, went underwater, and there were a lot of concerns about what was actually in the water, and we don't know because it's proprietary information," Foytlin
By Alison Rose Levy for Truthout. Obama clearly signaled his pro-gas and oil industry policy intentions during his 2012 re-election campaign. At a stop in Cushing, Oklahoma, the president famously stood before massive pipes, and signed an executive order to expedite permitting for pipelines and other related infrastructure. "Obama's Worst Speech Ever," was how Joe Romm, founding editor of Climate Progress, characterized the speech. He quotes the former president: "Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore". We've quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some. . . It is becoming ever clearer that protecting the climate will require holding elected officials on both sides of the aisle accountable.
By the Sugar Shack Alliance. Massachusetts - It was a beautiful day for picnics in Otis State Forest on Saturday, as the non-violent direct action group Sugar Shack Alliance hosted a large public rally at Lower Spectacle Pond in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. As the rally was happening, an entirely different kind of picnic, a well-coordinated act of civil disobedience was unfolding along the construction easement of the $93 million Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion pipeline project, culminating in 22 arrests. Despite the temporary police closure of Cold Spring Road, about 80 people gathered at 10:00 a.m. at the glistening Lower Spectacle Pond to reaffirm the need for solidarity against fossil fuel infrastructure across the country. Speakers included Susan Baxter, an affected Sandisfield land-owner; Anthony Melting Tallow and Karyn Redwolf; Martha Klein from the CT Sierra Club; and Ian Jackson of the Green Party.
By Julie Dermansky for DeSmog Blog. Pastor Harry Joseph of the Mount Triumph Baptist Church in St. James, Louisiana, is taking legal action to prevent the Bayou Bridge pipeline from being built in his community, roughly 50 miles west of New Orleans. He is named as a plaintiff in a case filed by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, petitioning the Parish Court to overturn the coastal permit that the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. The Bayou Bridge pipeline will be the last leg of the Dakota Access, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana. The final stretch of the project, if built, will span 162.5 miles from Lake Charles to St. James, cutting through the Atchafalaya Basin, a national heritage area and the country’s largest wetland. This pipeline will transport crude oil from the oil and gas hub in Nederland, Texas, to a terminal in St. James Parish’s Fifth District, a small, predominately low-income African-American community of fewer than 2,000 in a stretch of land along the Mississippi River known as Cancer Alley.
By Jimmy Betts for Beyond Extreme Energy. The week following Trump’s announcement that he will pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, three individuals representing a coalition of nearly 170 groups opposing Trump’s nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) disrupted a committee vote to advance the candidates. Three individuals were arrested during the committee vote. They stood up and spoke out about FERC’s abusive practices and disregard for the environment. Jess Rechtschaffer arrested at Senate hearing protesting FERC appointees June 6, 2017 by BXE. Jess Rechtschaffer arrested at Senate hearing protesting FERC appointees June 6, 2017 by BXE. The coalition, made up of local and national groups focused on various issues, is demanding that senators vote no on Trump’s nominations until the Senate holds investigations into FERC’s the abuses of power and law. The campaign has been building for more than five months and has included call-in’s, letter-writing drives, Twitter storms, lobby days, and civil resistance focused on educating senators and pressuring them to oppose the nominations.
By Alisa Barba and Leigh Paterson for Inside Energy - An Anadarko oil tank battery exploded in flames on Thursday afternoon, killing one worker and injuring three more, just 3.5 miles from the site of a deadly home explosion in Firestone, Colo., that killed two last month. “We felt like a shaking and the dishes shook. I asked my son and he said, ‘Mommy I think it’s thunder.’ Then we walked out to our breezeway and saw smoke,” Tiffany Kampmann, a Firestone resident said of the oil tank explosion. On the same day, state officials confirmed that two pockets of methane gas were discovered in the Oak Meadows community, in Firestone. Todd Hartman, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) noted that the elevated readings on the left side of the image below were likely related to the existence of a tank battery and so not necessarily abnormal. The second pocket of gas was located underneath Oak Meadows Boulevard. According to the DNR, a preliminary investigation indicates that a flowline heading towards that road may have been cut when a sewer was installed there.
By Steve Horn for Desmog - President Donald Trump's newly proposed budget calls for selling over half of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the 687 million barrels of federally owned oil stockpiled in Texas and Louisiana as an emergency energy supply. While most observers believe the budget will not pass through Congress in its current form, budgets depict an administration's priorities and vision for the country. Some within the oil industry have lobbied for years to drain the SPR, created in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis. Leading the way has been ExxonMobil, which lobbied for congressional bills in both 2012 and 2015 calling for SPR oil to be sold on the private sector market. The Trump administration says selling off oil from the national reserve could generate $16.58 billion in revenue for U.S. taxpayers over the next 10 years. But EnergyWire's Peter Behr reported that the Trump SPR budget proposal would potentially violate U.S. commitments as a member of the International Energy Agency.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News - The strongest earthquake in Oklahoma's history likely was caused by oil and gas operators injecting vastly increased amounts of toxic wastewater underground three years before it struck, a new study suggests. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed injection data from the most active disposal wells in the area where the 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit last September. They found that there had been a sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of wastewater injected in the first half of 2013 at some of the wells. That contributed "a fair amount of stress on the fault and would have accelerated the natural faulting process significantly," said Andrew Barbour, a USGS geophysicist who led the study. The research was published Tuesday in a special edition of the journal Seismological Research Letters that focused on the earthquake, which struck the town of Pawnee on Sept. 3, damaging dozens of buildings. The findings expand on the growing consensus among scientists that the earthquake spike rattling America's midsection is linked to the oil and gas drilling boom.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News - The new forecast also identified high risk in two other areas where oil and gas wastewater disposal takes place: a small area in northern Kansas, as well as an area called Raton Basin along the Colorado-New Mexico border, which experienced two earthquakes above magnitude 4.0 last year. The researchers identified a new area of risk of man-made quakes, in western Texas, compared to last year. Meanwhile, the risk of damaging events in northern Texas largely disappeared compared to 2016. The USGS scientists said at the recent press conference that they did not know why this was the case and that Texas officials are studying the issue. The threat of man-made earthquakes tied to oil and gas activities extends to states excluded from the forecast. For example, researchers have identified likely man-made earthquakes in multiple areas of oil and gas development in California. And state officials in Pennsylvania last month announced a series of four small earthquakes observed in April 2016 that they say was linked to a nearby fracking pad.
By Chris D’Angelo for The Huffington Post - A research scholar at New York University has resigned from Exxon Mobil Corp.’s External Citizenship Advisory Panel, citing what she calls the oil giant’s “targeted attacks” on environmental groups under former CEO Rex Tillerson’s watch. In a letter this week to Exxon Mobil Foundation president Ben Soraci, Sarah Labowitz expressed her disgust with the company’s continued assault on organizations investigating whether Exxon covered up the risks of climate change. Labowitz, a co-founder and co-director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, told The Huffington Post that she has studied many companies facing serious public criticism, often in her field of human rights.
By Sue Sturgis for Facing South - In the debate over construction of new oil and gas pipelines, industry representatives have long argued that pipelines are safer than other methods for moving fossil fuels over long distances. Take for example the recent statement a spokesperson for the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana — a project spearheaded by Energy Transfer Partners, the same Dallas-based company behind the highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline — made to The Advocate of Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline would carry oil from a terminal in Nederland, Texas, across South Louisiana to refineries and export terminals near New Orleans.