Kauai, Hawaii - Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff arrived on Kauai for a vacation away from bustle of Washington. As their motorcade pulled up near the Kalihiwai Ridge home where the second couple are staying, they were met with people holding 'Shut Down Red Hill' signs. Some members of the Oahu Water Protectors made the trip to Kauai to meet the motorcade. While they said 'aloha' to welcome the Vice President on her trip, they also wanted to use the opportunity to put the issue on her radar. "To stand here and know that she's just 100 feet away from us I think it's important because we can't fly to DC but DC is here, so it's an opportunity for us to send a message to DC ," says Healani Sonoda-Pale.
Native nations and citizen watchdogs were prepared to take action against the permitting, because this is not the first time the federal agency has moved to allow the renewal of large-scale mining at these headwaters of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Four toxic Superfund sites are the result of water pollution from the mining over the past 70 years. Two generations of Lakota and settler descendants have worked across and through cultural differences to prevent any more of the same. Taxpayers already are footing the bill for the cleanup of hazardous heavy metals used in modern mining: cyanide, arsenic, chromium III and VI, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, thallium, and zinc. About $100 million of public money has been spent on runoff at just one of the sites, which generates approximately 95 million gallons of poisonous acid rock drainage a year.
In Central America, as in many other parts of the world today, communities are being thrust into life and death struggles up against powerful interests to ensure clean water and health for their future generations. This is often the case where mining companies seek to dig up gold, silver, iron ore or other metals and minerals, disrupting or destroying precious water supplies in the process, and leaving behind massive quantities of toxic waste on the land. With national and international laws designed to privilege such harmful activities in the name of so-called development and progress, it is vital to celebrate the milestones of people fighting against all odds to protect their lives and lands from such threats.
Two lawsuits filed on February 2, 2022 by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Department of Defense and the Department of Navy challenge the State of Hawaii’s emergency order to shut down and defuel the leaking 80-year-old jet fuel tanks. These lawsuits have created another public relations nightmare for the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense as residents of O’ahu have expressed their dismay and outrage to the continuing threat of jet fuel to their drinking water aquifer. In November 2021, the Red Hill tank system leaked jet fuel into the drinking water of 93,000 residents in military housing around Pearl Harbor Navy Base and Hickam Air Force base.
Washington, D.C. - The United States Attorney’s office has decided to not charge 33 Indigenous water protectors and their allies who were arrested while peacefully occupying the Bureau of Indian Affairs lobby in the US Department of Affairs building on October 14th, 2021. This was the first time since the 1972’s Trail of Broken Treaties that Indigenous leaders occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Indigenous leaders were met with extreme violence from the police leaving one Indigenous woman with a broken hand, others were hit with batons, two people were tazed and an Indigenous media reporter was assaulted with an officer kneeling on his neck and had his equipment damaged by the police during the attack on peaceful water protectors.
A World War II Era underground storage tank containing over 100 million gallons of jet fuel at the Red Hill Fuel Facility has been leaking into the aquifer that provides water to the people of Oahu. Until recently, the Navy denied there were leaks or that the water was unsafe despite multiple complaints of health problems and an oil sheen found in the tap water. Now, the Oahu Water Protectors have gained the Navy's attention and that of local and state elected officials. Wayne Tanaka of the Sierra Club of Hawaii speaks with Clearing the FOG about the fuel facility, what is at stake and how they are organizing to hold the US Navy accountable and shut the facility down. He also discusses the bigger picture of the environmental destruction caused by the US Military and its occupation of Hawai'i.
Upwards of 100 water protectors rallied outside the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Dec. 10. Their greatest fears had just come true. The U.S. Navy had kept decaying fuel storage tanks just 100 feet above a water aquifer that functioned as the main source of drinking water on the island of O’ahu. Those tanks recently leaked jet fuel into the aquifer, poisoning thousands of people and creating irreparable damage to O’ahu’s water supply.
Every few days, Jaike Spotted-Wolf walks over to a well near Camp Migizi to refill several five-gallon water containers. At the camp, where Spotted-Wolf is one of several matriarchs, there is no plumbing, no pipes and no faucets. Residents take turns getting water, which they need for basics such as cooking and showers. The camp was — and is — one of several resistance camps formed to oppose Enbridge’s now-completed Line 3 project, which replaced a corroding oil pipeline built in the 1960s with a new, larger pipeline. The pipeline runs through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin. Nearly a month and a half after oil-laden tar sands began flowing through the pipes, activists are still living at Camp Migizi and other sites.
Anishinaabe Akiing, Minnesota - Today, defendants arrested while opposing the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline launched a campaign calling on Minnesota’s elected leadership to drop all criminal charges against over 700 water protectors. A Drop the Charges petition to MN Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison has already garnered over 13,000 signatures. Organizers of the campaign describe the charges as unjust based on the brutal policing tactics that the Enbridge corporation directly funded, the violation of Anishinaabe treaty rights, and the project’s contribution to catastrophic climate change. Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said about the campaign launch, “It's entirely wrong that Enbridge—a foreign oil corporation— has committed egregious crimes against the water and people, yet it’s us who are being prosecuted.
A medic walked around the circle of 50 people occupying the lobby of the Department of the Interior, squirting water into our eager mouths before the police hauled us away. At the time, I had no idea that I wouldn’t be released until midnight, 12.5 hours after the action began. I just knew it was smart to stay hydrated, so I accepted every squirt of water offered, grateful for the care our Indigenous-led group was showing each other in circumstances designed to dehumanize us. The Oct. 14 action occurred during the People vs. Fossil Fuels mobilization in Washington, D.C., a historic week of civil disobedience to pressure President Joe Biden to stop fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. For Indigenous people, the protection of Mother Earth is deeply intertwined with the long struggle for Indigenous sovereignty, as destructive fossil fuel projects — like Line 3 in northern Minnesota — continue to be built through their territories without their consent.
St. Paul, MN – Over 50 water protectors protesting Line 3 were arrested, some violently, outside the Minnesota Governor’s Residence in St. Paul on Saturday, August 28, 2021. Those arrested were among hundreds who marched from the Capitol to Governor Walz’ mansion attempting to speak to him about their opposition to the Line 3 pipeline construction in northern Minnesota that’s nearing completion. The march on August 28 was led by pipeline resistance camp Camp Migizi, who had three Indigenous water protectors lock down to the fencing of the mansion after unsuccessfully pursuing a meeting with the governor. Behind water protectors who formed a human blockade, Taysha Martineau, a prominent figure in the movement against Line 3, was one of those who locked down and was arrested.
The Menominee River forms Wisconsin’s Northeastern border with Michigan, winding for about 120 miles and opening into Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. About thirty-five miles from the mouth of the river sits the proposed location of the Back Forty Mine, a project by the Canadian mining company, Aquila Resources. The open pit mine that the company intends to dig out of land a mere 150 feet from the Menominee River in Michigan would be deeper than the height of the tallest building in Wisconsin, at 750 feet. The proposed mine will extract gold and sulfide from the banks of the river. Opponents of the mining project warn that sulfide wastes will pollute the Menominee River, which provides the spawning grounds for one of the largest populations of lake sturgeon in the Lake Michigan basin.
Bismarck, ND – On March 3, Steve Martinez was jailed at the Burleigh County Detention Center after refusing to testify before a secret federal grand jury investigating 2016 protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Martinez is now finally free as of April 12, according to a statement posed to social media by the ‘Support Steve Martinez’ campaign. Martinez has served over 60 in days in federal detention. He was previously been jailed for most of February 2021 for refusing to testify, but was briefly released after a judge found the magistrate who ordered him detained did not have the authority to do so. In March 2017, a similar summons to for a grand jury in the same investigation was served to Martinez but eventually withdrawn by the court after he made it clear he would face jail rather than testify.
Bismarck, North Dakota - Water Protector Steve Martinez is confined in Burleigh County Detention Center after refusing, on principle, to give testimony before a federal grand jury. This Grand Jury, like the one at which Martinez refused to testify three years ago, ostensibly involves a criminal investigation into events leading to the grievous injury of Water Protector Sophia Wilansky. It has been the position of Morton County, ND that Ms. Wilansky was not injured as a result of excessive force by law enforcement, but by the actions of Water Protectors. In a federal civil rights lawsuit against Morton County, however, Wilansky says she was shot in the arm with a concussion grenade by a...
Minnesota - Water protectors were arrested Thursday after halting construction at a Minnesota worksite for Enbridge's Line 3 project by locking themselves together inside a pipe segment. "After moving to Minnesota to attend college and study environmental science, I was excited to be in a place where people valued protecting the Earth and finding a viable future. What I found, however, was a state that had formed 'ambitious' climate goals yet endorsed one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, tar sands oil," water protector Abby Hornberger said in a statement. "I realized that Indigenous ways of knowing and practicing harmony with the environment are continuously ignored."