“These green hills and silver waters, are my home, they belong to me,
and to all the sons and daughters, may they be strong, and forever free.”
My eldest son sang the Vermont state song in his 3rd grade chorus this spring. The other day as we talked about the impacts of the fracked gas pipeline on Geprags Park and the yellow-winged warbler habitat, he came up with a new version: “these black hills and polluted waters are my home, they belong to Vermont Gas.” He laughed with a 9 year old’s take on dark humor. My son is privileged to live in a community where the hills are intact, not annihilated by mountaintop removal, and waters are drinkable and swimmable, unlike many places on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction.
Source: Energy Justice Network
Mother Up! invites you and your family to join us on an important trip this summer to bear witness to the impacts of fracking. We will travel to Dimock, PA, the epicenter of fracking in the Marcellus Shale, and the town prominently featured in the films Gasland and Gasland 2. Energy Justice Network will be our host, as we meet with families and individuals who face polluted waters and seized land.
Our four-day trip (August 11 – 14, 2016) will be an opportunity to see the effects of fracking first hand, to build friendships and solidarity with families on the frontlines, and to have our children experience both nature’s beauty and the suffering caused by extreme extraction of fossil fuels and extreme greed. As Joanna Macy implores us, we will look straight at the tough stuff, so that we are awakened to our own most creative selves, to respond to the climate crisis in a deeply meaningful and committed way.
Here are some logistical details for the trip:
-This is a family-friendly, family-oriented, family-paced trip! Dimock, PA is approximately a 6-hour drive. We will take a full day for travel to and from PA. We will plan an extended rest stop about midway.
-We will travel by 12-person van(s), leaving from Burlington, VT. (Experienced drivers needed!)
-In Pennsylvania, we will camp at Salt Springs Park for three nights. Simple meals will be provided by Energy Justice Network.
-This is co-operative group trip with an expectation that all participants share responsibilities and leadership. We need song leaders, naturalists, writers, child whisperers, drivers, etc.
-A financial contribution is requested on a sliding-scale basis. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We ask that everyone participate in a mini-crowdfunding campaign to support our exchange.
-We ask that every family brings an intention to share their experience with their friends, family, and community. The means for that sharing will vary, but might include a photo essay, documenting the trip on social media, a blog or written narrative, or a presentation to a community group or school. Stories from the trip will be shared with other families in the Mother Up! network.
Our usual Western view of the world teaches us separation. Medically, we’re taught to believe that each organ is separate from the others and that the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of our lives are distinct. We’re also encouraged to see ourselves as separate from the people and the world around us. The long history of Chinese medicine offers us a different view—one of interconnection.
From an Eastern view, all of our organs are connected and the different parts of our lives are woven together into a whole. Likewise, we are part of the human and ecological communities surrounding us. For several thousand years, Chinese medicine has understood that what happens on a large scale is a reflection of what occurs on a smaller scale, and vice versa. Similar to a modern Western understanding of holograms, where each small part of the picture contains the entire image, Eastern medicine recognizes that what happens within us is reflected in what happens in nature.
Though we’re encouraged to see it as two distinct issues, Chinese medicine can help us recognize that what’s happening with the climate is being mirrored in our internal environment. In particular, the rapid heating and destabilizing of the climate is mirrored in the rapid increase of Lyme disease.
The Center for Disease Control reports 300,000 new cases diagnosed annually in the US, a dramatic increase over the past 20 years.1 Due to the inaccuracy of Western diagnostic tests and that many symptoms of Lyme manifest similarly to other conditions, many patient groups and heath organizations maintain that this estimate is very low, possibly by a magnitude of several factors.2
There’s a long list of possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, including joint and muscle pain; headaches; fatigue; insomnia; a wide range of digestive issues; and neurological conditions including confusion, dizziness, and loss of balance. The usual Western medical approach is the use of antibiotics to attempt to kill the bacteria responsible for the condition. While this can help some people, my clinical experience indicates clearly that it is not always effective and can in fact contribute to the worsening of existing symptoms and the creation of others.
From an Eastern perspective, the use of antibiotics is an attempt to treat the infection from the initial tick bite. For Chinese medicine, this inflammation corresponds to the diagnosis of heat, which is an excess of Yang. But rather than being a complete diagnosis, what Western medicine calls infection and what Chinese medicine calls heat is only one part of the progression of Lyme disease.
After the first stage of inflammation, the second is what Chinese medicine calls Yin deficiency, which is a loss of coolant. When things become hot, the ability of the body to keep things cool can be cooked off, indicating a decrease in Yin. At this second stage, the infection that comes from the initial bite is compounded by the decrease of coolant.
The third stage is a response to the second, where a lack of fluids causes the body to create and retain unhealthy fluids, which Chinese medicine calls dampness. This sticky, heavy fluid is an attempt to replace the healthy, thinner fluid being cooked off from the heat. For Chinese medicine, this dampness can create digestive issues, tiredness, and the fuzzy thinking associated with Lyme disease.
The fourth, final stage is a response to the third, where the body tries to move the dampness by creating wind. As with wind in nature, internal wind blows things around and is associated with symptoms that move around the body. It’s also responsible for all neurological symptoms, including the tremors, twitches, vertigo, and cognitive issues associated with late-stage Lyme disease.3 In looking at this development of Lyme disease internally—heat creating dryness which creates dampness which creates wind—we can see this very same progression in the warming of our planet.
Many decades of climate data indicate conclusively that the planet is warming. More recently, climate research also shows that the ability of the planet to hold greenhouse gases is decreasing. Trees hold onto the emissions we’ve been creating and deforestation decreases this sequestration. Melting permafrost releases the potent greenhouse gas methane, which is also bubbling to the surface from the floor of northern oceans. Together, these effects indicate a loss of the planet’s ability to maintain coolant, which is a decrease of Yin.
Along with the increasing heat and decreasing Yin, there is also an increase of floods globally. This excess of water closely matches the idea of dampness, where the fluids of the planet transform from a state of balance to imbalance. The last stage of climate change progression is wind, which corresponds to more storms globally. As has been extensively documented, there is a dramatic increase of storms in general and severe storms in particular, including hurricanes and typhoons.4
The warming of the planet and the increasing number of Lyme diagnoses follows a similar pattern and starts with the same issue: heat. Heat within us makes us susceptible to inflammatory conditions like Lyme. And the heat from emissions that we in the U.S. are creating is warming the planet rapidly. A balance of Yin and Yang—a balance of coolant and heat—is good medicine not only for our health but also for the wellbeing of the planet.
About Brendan Kelly: Brendan is the author of The Yin and Yang of Climate Crisis, which looks at the bigger and deeper issues of climate change through the lens of Chinese medicine. The co-founder and co-owner of Jade Mountain Wellness, where he currently practices acupuncture and herbalism, he has also been actively involved with environmental issues for 25 years. For more information about Brendan, his book, recent articles, and classes visit personalasecological.com.
It has been 4 months since I left Vermont to Ghana after completing my 4 months Community Solutions Program (CSP) Fellowship with 350Vermont in December 2015. Considering it is the same length of time I spent in Burlington brings to heart memories etched on my mind. Not only did my time with 350VT shaped my experiences and activism, 4 months later, that relationship is shaping my vision.
Some months ago, when the foliage had put on their best possible color in the Green Mountain State, I shared a vision with friends who had grown to become my family. The vision was to eradicate kerosene lanterns in Ghana by replacing them with solar lamps. The motivation behind this was my attempt at seeing energy poverty in Ghana as a climate justice issue.
Indeed 350VT embraced the idea, not just because we were running climate justice workshops in schools with the Change Maker curriculum. Their motivation was beyond that– they perceived their support as an opportunity to make a change and to also build lasting relationships across continents to explore the common values in different cultures. This was a great inspiration.
According to a Lighting Africa Report of 2012, 72% of people in rural Ghana depend on kerosene as the main source of lighting. Kerosene lanterns are expensive to fuel, injurious to health and likely to cause household fires. At the other side of the page are solar lamps– gives 15x more illumination than kerosene lanterns, are cost effective and double the number of study hours available to school children. These staggering energy poverty statistics gave urgency to my vision and set me on a path to give a solution with support from friends in Vermont.
Earlier this year, I embarked on a journey to the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana to visit off-grid communities and learn about the lighting needs of school going children. The visit broke my heart as I met the sheer number of children in villages like Hobor, Sosu and Opintin who were relying on kerosene lanterns to study at night. But it also put a smile on my face, out of the abundance of the hope in their beautiful eyes.
Today as I write this post we have been able to replace kerosene lanterns in the homes of 21 school children with solar lamps. What a big change! The benefits of these lamps are immense: primary school grades can jump from mere 50% to 100%, burn risks and carbon emissions are reduced to zero, income generating capacity increases dramatically, livelihood improves dramatically and off-grid families extend their day by more than 3 extra hours.
But above all these benefits is one thing that puts everything into perspective; the fruits that a relationship I shared within 4 months with friends in Vermont is bearing. To me, the second leg of this relationship has just started in Ghana and you can guess the many more fruits it will bear in the near future.
“Whenever we spend a dollar, we are saying ‘yes’ to something.” Those wise words have stuck with me and haunt some people every time they make a purchase of something they’d rather not be affirming. You probably try to buy local food, buy clothes and furniture second-hand, and maybe even buy solar power (or at least buy less fossil fuel). But have you thought about your investments? Your mutual funds and 401K may be invested in the same companies which are destroying our planet, and you may not even know what you’re saying “yes” to. Divesting your portfolio from these dirty stocks is the ticket. But how to begin?
Get the help you need to take the influential step of divesting from fossil fuel stocks, and ensure that you have other viable options to invest your money. You’ll be able to take the information to your place of employment and to your friends and family to encourage them to divest as well.
Topics we’ll cover include–
Start by checking out Central Vermont Climate Action’s Personal Divestment Workshop. Topics will include:
Defining fossil fuel free investing
How to know if you have fossil fuel stocks in your portfolio
Fossil fuel free investment choices and past performance
Divesting intelligently: how to avoid making costly general investment mistakes
When: Saturday, May 21, 2016 10:00 am-noon
Where: Capstone Community Action (20 Gable Place Barre, VT 05641)
50 teens attended, bouncing from workshop to workshop, pizza party to ice cream social, silk-screening to the healing arts space, there was something inspiring for everyone. Teens learned skills of observation, communication and transformation as in a Theatre of the Oppressed embodiment activity about racial justice. To lift up the importance of creativity in the struggle for justice we created an art space which was constantly full of young people creating their own stencils, banners for the march, and silk-screening tee-shirts. To center the importance of self-care in our movement work we created a healing arts space where participants could come and get massages, herbal teas, tarot readings, make fire cider and more. We had two packed days of games, singing, discussions and workshops. The workshops were generative and diverse and encompassed everything from gender and sexuality to archery, from bike mechanics to free trade. One highlight was the climate justice workshop which joined forces with the with best of Solidarity School workshop led by the Vermont Workers Center and got youth excited to participate in the upcoming Break Free Action in Albany, NY. As the weekend culminated we rallied before marching off into the rain and the Youth Summit teens called out to the crowd: “In the world we are creating there is…. racial justice, peace and unity, no discrimination, healthy soil and healthy water, equality…!” We intend that this weekend sparks the fire of resistance in all who participated and that we can more fully build an intergenerational movement for justice!
Break Free: Stop the Bomb Trains On May 14, people from across the Northeast will stand in the way of the fossil fuel industry in one of the largest actions in a coordinated, global wave of escalation. In Albany, NY, local groups have been fighting oil trains—which bring explosive fracked oil from the Bakken shale of North Dakota to the Port of Albany—for about four years. May 14th will be the first mass direct action, an escalation welcomed by the local community. This is one person’s call to action.
If I asked you to be part of a huge global day of civil disobedience for the Climate, you might well ask me “Why?” Why should I spend time and energy travelling to the distant city of Albany to shut down operation of a rail yard for a day, and then go home and back to business-as-climate-destroying-usual?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The truth is that we citizens and activists have been doing a really decent job fighting new fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s actually pretty hard for companies to build new pipelines, because of strident and sustained public opposition to them. But, I think the fossil fuel industry might be a bit confused. It seems they didn’t quite understand that it’s not just the pipelines that bother us. Transporting explosive fracked oil through our cities and towns on rickety railways bothers us too. It’s fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s the opposite end of “keeping it in the ground.” It’s more like “Frack it, transport it, refine it, send it half way around the world, burn it. Repeat.”
Fracked oil from the Bakken Shale magically became available in the mid-2000s. (http://www.what-is-fracking.com/bakken-shale/). Funny, because that’s right about exactly the time (2005) when the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill passed, exempting fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act and exempting companies from disclosing the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. And of course, fracked oil and gas is not for the benefit of the communities where the stuff is fracked. It’s for the highest bidder in the global market. They can all take that “energy independence” argument and throw it right out in front of a bomb train.
But I know what you’re thinking: Please not another sign-holding, slogan-chanting protest march! And this is where I tell you the good news. This isn’t that. This time we’re actually putting our bodies in the way of the dirty, explosive oil-by-rail which sends a very different message: When it comes to fossil fuel infrastructure and global warming pollution, no means no. And yes, we can and will shut down operation at your rail yards just like we do your pipeline construction. It will take tactics that are gutsy to be effective, but we can and will break free from the dirty fossil fuels of yester-year.
We’re saying no, our cities and towns are not sacrifice zones. We’re saying yes, will remember the Lac Megantic disaster, when a train carrying Bakken crude derailed and caused an explosion that killed 47 people in the little Quebec town. It left roughly half of the downtown area destroyed, and contaminated an area so large that all but three of the remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished. We will remember, and we’ll make sure the fossil fuel companies don’t forget about it either.
And so we’re making some important connections. Why go to Albany on May 14? Because these bomb trains rumble by on tracks in the back yards of low income housing communities like the Ezra Prentice community. Residents there are victims of a botched assessment for environmental injustice by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. We’re standing with them because there are children and families in danger right now. And because our oil soaked economy is like a smoker who is going to quit, eventually…maybe after these last two packs.
Break Free is not just against one company like Exxon, Koch Industries, Halliburton, Kinder-Morgan, TransCanada (although any chance to stick it to them is reason enough for me to go). This is really an opportunity to stand against all climate crimes and all climate criminals. Against extreme methods of extraction. Against an unjust economic system that allows these atrocities to continue as somehow inevitable and ensures that the evil elite profit off the destruction of communities, planet, and future.
So why am I hopping a bus in May to go to Break Free Albany 2016? I’m not really going because of Dick Cheney, or Charles and David Koch. I’m going because I’ve been told we need technological and social mobilization of World War II scale if we want to solve this climate crisis. We need to start treating it like the global crisis it is. And I’m not currently seeing that vital mobilization underway. I’m going because a few years ago I didn’t think that it would come to this—to global mass action by the peoples’ climate movement—but it has.
You’re not alone if you feel powerless, overwhelmed, isolated, and even cynical. But they can’t ignore climate change just like they can’t ignore thousands of people blocking the train tracks at Albany. They can’t ignore millions of people all over the globe saying the same thing—“Keep it in the ground!”—and acting on it.
If you’ve done the chanting and the marching and the letter writing, this action is for you. If you haven’t done any of those things, this action is for you. If you have something to say, this is a big chance to say it in bold and effective non-violent direct action. I’m going because that’s the most important thing I can do.
Jane Pekol is an active member of Central Vermont Climate Action, a 350 Vermont Node group. For more information about this Saturday May 14, 2016 Break Free direct action and to get on the bus to Albany check out www.albany2016.org and http://www.albany2016.org/the-action/getting-to-albany/. Non-violent direct action training is strongly encouraged will be offered Friday night and early Saturday morning. Join the local movement to solve the global climate crisis by sending an email to email@example.com or checking out Central Vermont Climate Action on facebook.
Over the past few months, students and teachers from over a dozen Vermont high schools and colleges have given up their Sunday afternoons to plan a major day of action to promote greater political action on climate change.
They are calling this event the Youth Rally for the Planet, and hundreds of students have already signed up to attend! They could really use your help to make this day a reality! These students will march together in solidarity, learn more about climate change through educational booths on the Statehouse lawn, and stand together to listen to speakers and performers demand greater political action on climate change.
This young climate leaders are also trying to organize a keynote performance by the world famous youth activist Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh. Xiuhtezcatl comes to us from Boulder, Colorado and these youth need to secure $4,500 to bring him, along with his brother and a chaperon. Xiuhtezcatl has already modified his schedule to allow this visit to happen, but needs to purchase plane tickets and pay for lodging.
Please Donate Whatever You Can to help bring Xiuhtezcatl to Vermont to inspire the next generation of climate change activists. It only takes a few minutes and any amount helps…$5, $10, $20, $100 – Whatever you can donate will get us that much closer to our goal.
350VT is collecting funds for the Youth Lobby Day. All donations will go directly to the Youth Lobby Organizing group and are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law; no goods or services were received in exchange for this donation.
Break Free Albany is a mass action for climate justice on May 14th where thousands of people will stand up against the fossil fuel industry in North America. Break Free Albany represents a coalition of communities and organizations gathering for a mass civil disobedience act against oil trains, gas pipelines, and other fossil fuel projects. It is time for the fossil fuel era to come to an end! Many people will participant in the direct action or come to rally and stand in solidarity.
This action is part of the 350.org initiated Break Free From Fossil Fuels global week of action – May 7 through 14. Albany 2016 is one of the actions in the United States, complementing other actions across the country and on five other continents. Sign up to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry here!
Check out this video, A Danger on Rails, about the dangers posed by trains that transport explosive oil across North America.
Read Patrick Mazza’s piece below on why we’re breaking free from fossil fuels!
The climate hour is late – Time to rapidly Break Free from fossil fuels
This is all that Typhoon Winston, the most powerful landfalling storm in Southern Hemisphere history, left Kalisi and her three-year-old son, Tuvosa, when it hit Fiji Feb. 20. Climate disruption created by the richest nations is hitting the poorest nations hardest. This compels us in the global North to rise up for climate justice.
The climate hour is late, too late for anything but the most sweeping and fundamental efforts to break free from fossil fuels. Lying oil companies have skewed our political system, blocking effective response for over 25 years. Now the Earth’s climate is severely twisting under the effects of fossil fuel carbon pollution. Never has the disruption been more visible than in recent months.
This is the first of a series of blog posts leading up the largest direct actions against the fossil fuel industry in history. From May 4-16 Break Free, staged by the global 350.org network and other groups, will mount actions at six U.S. locations and in 10 other countries around the world. Civil disobedience will play a leading role. That will definitely be the case for the Pacific Northwest action, taking place from May 13-15 at oil refineries in Anacortes, Washington and organized by a broad coalition of mainly grassroots groups and collectives from around the Northwest.
After many years of political system failure, we can rely only on a massive people power wave capable of making demands for fundamental and rapid system change. A political system corrupted by the greatest series of corporate crimes in history leaves no other option.
Investigative journalists recently uncovered how oil companies systemically lied about climate disruption, knowing the monstrous implications of their deceits. Journalists documented that Exxon scientists researched fossil-fuel-driven climate disruption in the 1970s and 1980s, and accurately predicted the outcomes. These revelations are now fueling fraud investigations by 20 state attorneys general across the country.
Exxon and its cohort of oil companies knew exactly what they were doing when in the late 1980s they began funding disinformation campaigns meant to cast doubt on climate science and stop regulations that would have reduced carbon pollution. Their tragic success already spells the death of millions of people and extinction of uncounted species. It is the absolutely pinnacle example of how powerful corporate institutions driven by the imperative to preserve profit and the value of capital assets will take our planet down if we let them.
Thus, to break free from fossil fuels, we need to break free from the institutional corruption that pervades our society, and prevents meaningful progress. To paraphrase John Lennon, we need to free our minds from the institutions that have held back our imagination of what this society could be if we decided to make a world fit for our children.
Make no mistake. Our generation is well on the way to leaving a legacy of utter desolation. Severe climate disruption is already upon us. We need to understand what this means. Climate is an abstract word, and that is part of the challenge in drawing people to respond to it. Climate is in essence the pattern of wind and ocean currents that drive weather patterns around the globe. It hits home in the amount and intensity of rain and snow a region receives, or does not, as well as extremes of heat and cold, and the way they lock in for extended periods. Wind and ocean currents are becoming seriously twisted.
This is evidenced by the Pacific Ocean’s third monster El Nino in 34 years, affecting weather patterns across the Earth, and by warm winds blowing over the Arctic leaving the March 2016 maximum Arctic Ocean icepack tied for 2015 as the lowest ever recorded. Going into melt season, this could set up record low ice cover this summer, with expanded patches of blue water soaking solar heat that white ice would otherwise repel into space. Heating of the Arctic is likely slowing and stalling the jet stream, one of the world’s major weather generators, resulting in massive deluges and snowstorms in some places, scorching heat and drought in others. And, as much feared, it is now documented that Greenland icecap meltwater is interfering with North Atlantic currents that transport warm water from the tropics. While the world is seeing record warmth, the North Atlantic is witnessing record cold. The cold-warm contrast is already fueling more intense storms.
Underscoring the emergence of a climate emergency, scientific agencies reported that this January and February were by far the hottest ever recorded. It was the largest spike over average temperatures on record. At 1.35° Celsius, reported by NASA, it came perilously close to the 1.5°C limit set as an aspirational goal by the recent Paris climate summit, and regarded by many scientists as an absolute limit to prevent runaway climate catastrophe. In fact, with climate-twisting carbon emissions at a record, we are well on the way to a 4°C increase as early as this century. This represents a massive crime against climate justice.
“As the planet warms, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes which occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, and considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the ‘new climate normal’ as we approach 4°C – a frightening world of increased risks and global instability,” the World Bank recently reported. “The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise. Ending poverty, increasing global prosperity and reducing global inequality, already difficult, will be much harder with 2°C warming, but at 4°C there is serious doubt whether these goals can be achieved at all.”
The human face of this could be seen when the most powerful storm to make landfall in Southern Hemisphere history plowed into Fiji February 20, killing 42 and destroying the homes of 62,000. At seven percent of the nation’s population, that would equate to 23 million Americans being suddenly driven from their homes. Category 5 Typhoon Winston, with winds up to 185 mph, was the second most powerful tropical cyclone to hit land in the planet’s history after Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines in 2013. These storms underscore the tragic fact that the fossil fuel consumption, mostly by the richer countries, is taking from poor people of color what little they have.
In the face of all this, when the world should be taking desperate measures to reduce carbon emissions, 2015 saw record growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The Titanic is headed toward the iceberg and the captain is ordering the boilers stoked to speed the ship toward its destination.
The climate emergency is now staring us in the face, as is the bankruptcy of politics as usual. We must break free from fossil fuels, and relentlessly drive for a rapid and just transition to 100% renewable energy. The next post will detail how we must undertake this energy revolution, which is well within our grasp.
And check out Patrick’s blog for more great articles!
New Orleans, LA | March 23, 2016 | K.C. Whiteley reporting
As part of the national Keep it in the Ground campaign, the “No New Leases” action on March 23rd at the New Orleans Superdome represented an historic moment in the environmental movement here on the Gulf coast.
Hundreds of protesters from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia arrived in New Orleans on the morning of March 23rd to defend the waters and eco-life of the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf coast communities joined national and global partners to say no to the continued exploitation of the Gulf as a “sacrifice zone” for fossil fuel development.
At stake was 43 million new acres of federally controlled ocean for fossil fuel development, an area the size of the entire state of Louisiana and half of Mississippi, and the 8th largest carbon source remaining on the planet.
National partners 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Indigena, Rising Tide and the Center for Biological Diversity joined local groups, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 350LA, the New Orleans Healing Center and indigenous leaders Cherrie Foytlin and Monique Verdin to organize a week of workshops, water ceremonies, films, workshops, trainings and a huge art build thanks to the Radical Arts and Healing Collective.
Although the protest did not stop the auction, it sent a clear message that the days of burning dirty fossil fuels are coming to an end. Indigenous leaders and spokespeople from frontline communities of color like Houston’s Hilton Kelley spoke about the rampant sickness, air pollution and poisoned water that are dumped on poor communities that are standing up and demanding “shut it down!”
If the U.S. has any hope of meeting the terms of December’s Paris Agreement on climate change, drilling for new oil in the Gulf moves us in the opposite direction. Just six years after the ongoing devastation caused by the BP oil spill, new drilling in the Gulf is a guaranteed bad ending.
To the argument that we need jobs from the fossil fuel industry, Louisiana climate activist, Cherri Foytlin, responds that oil workers are being laid off by the hundreds. Instead we could be employing thousands of workers to repair the 27,000 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf, cleaning up what the oil companies are supposed to be doing themselves.
Foytlin declares the fossil fuel industry as a “carousel of death that we must get off.” We can make the Gulf 100% renewable if we choose to invest in that. And, as the banner says, “To Change Everything We Need Everyone.”
For more information about Keep it in the Ground actions in the Gulf, you can reach 350VT’s K.C. Whiteley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you all for your solidarity with the Gulf.
For photos and coverage of the No New Leases Action:
The following blog post is by Terence Cuneo, UVM professor, father, and resident of Williston, VT, who faces eminent domain. Terence and his family aren’t giving in. Please consider helping them in their legal battle with a donation.
It’s a big deal when the state decides to seize a family’s land. Yet, given its agreement with Vermont Gas (VGS), this is exactly what the state of Vermont is now doing to our family. I would be hard pressed to find the words to express our anger about this. The decision makes no sense.
The right to own and retain property is among the most fundamental rights that we enjoy as US citizens. I think everyone agrees to that. I think everyone also realizes that the right is not absolute. There are circumstances in which the state must appropriate land that belongs to others. But the circumstances are rare. And the reasons for doing so had better be extremely powerful. The bar they must clear is very high.
It is plainly obvious to me that the primary reason the state has offered for seizing our property is not powerful. It does not clear the bar. Here is the reason the state offers: providing natural gas to roughly 2600 customers over fifteen years is a public good. This public good, moreover, is of such importance that it entitles the state to seize the land of property-owners. Nobody denies that installing this pipeline has some benefits. But I strenuously deny that the good is of such importance that it justifies the state seizing our property.
In fact, the more I’ve learned about this pipeline, the more I’ve found myself baffled by how it could’ve seemed like a good idea. I’ve asked myself three questions when trying to think through this issues: First, does the project make financial sense? Second, does it make sense as state policy? And, third, does it make ethical sense?
As for the first question, many of you know that the original estimate of the cost of this project was $60-70 million. It is now $154 million. Who pays the additional $80 million? The customers of Vermont Gas do. Moreover, as of today, oil costs roughly $1.45 a gallon. Given the present price of oil and natural gas, customers will save no money by switching to natural gas. In fact, they would lose anywhere from $80 to over $300 per year by doing so. The project makes no financial sense.
As for the second question, the state of Vermont’s comprehensive energy plan states that it will achieve “90% of Vermont’s total energy needs from renewable sources by 2050“. Yet this project is estimated to operate in the red for over thirty years. By building the pipeline, the state virtually guarantees that it cannot meet is aims. As a matter of state policy, this project makes no sense.
Honestly, it’s the third question that most bothers me. The state of Vermont has banned fracking, for excellent reason. It is, by the state’s own admission, an environmental disaster. Yet the state is happy for Canada to provide fracked gas to Vermont citizens. This would be like abolishing slavery within our borders because it’s wrong but paying Canadian slave-owners to make what we want. This makes no ethical sense.
As I write this, I am listening to the buzz of chainsaws and wood chippers as VGS demolishes my neighbors’ trees. Against our will, VGS intends to do the same to our property. In doing so, it will violate our family’s rights. Not only will it violate our rights, it will also make it much more difficult for you and me to fulfill the obligations we have. These obligations are not what they were fifty or one hundred years ago. Back then, we didn’t know what the massive use of fossil fuels would do to our world. We now know and are experiencing what it does. Our obligation is to do better, to act in the interests of my children and yours. Installing a fracked gas pipeline is not doing better. It is not acting in their interests. It is going backward. It is a failure to provide for my children and yours what we owe them.
Terence Cuneo, Williston, VT
Please support the Cuneo’s in their legal fight against eminent domain: