A Report from Tar Sands Blockade in Texas

From Earth Island Journal:  http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/a_report_from_tar_sands_blockade_in_texas

Behind the scenes with incredible people including Darryl Hannah and Eleanor Fairchild

by Julia Butterfly Hill
October 16, 2012

In January 2012, I, like many other people, thought the Keystone XL pipeline controversy was over. We had won a hard-fought victory in suspending the proposed tar sands pipeline from crossing the border from Canada into the USA. It seemed a major win for the environmental movement.

But shortly after reveling in the victory, I read the words of President Barack Obama (the same man who claimed he wanted to lead America away from dependence on oil) said during a March speech in Cushing, OK. “And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done,” the president said.

To my horror and disappointment, that is exactly what he did. Today TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, has already started construction on the southern leg of the pipeline that will potentially stretch from Montana all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

In this case, “cutting through the red tape” includes allowing eminent domain laws to be used to take land from families, farmers, and Indigenous people in order to push this extremely dangerous pipeline. If completed, the pipeline will be filled with highly corrosive and toxic tar sands oil that will be pumped through the heartland of America and then (some of it, at least) will be exported to other countries.

Some residents in Texas and other allies who have come from all over the country are trying to stop this from happening. Last week I visited the courageous landowners and blockaders in ruralEast Texas who are putting their bodies on the line to slow down and, hopefully, halt the pipeline construction.

I am honored and humbled to be able to share part of their story.

• • •

In April of last year, I went to Dallas, TX and met with one of the landowners, David Daniel and his family, who were facing imminent destruction of their land from TransCanada and standing against the taking of their land through eminent domain abuse.  He shared with me his story — how he and his wife had travelled to many places looking for their perfect place to buy a piece of property where they would care for and steward their little piece of “Heaven on Earth” and raise their child to feel connected to living with the Earth and not just on it.  They found exactly what they were looking for in East Texas.  A property that had beautiful woods, huge, old trees, and spring-fed creeks curving and meandering through 22 acres.  There was one, particularly large, very old tree right next to one of the creeks that had a magic to it, that both David and his wife both felt drawn to so powerfully. It was on that spot that they both knew they had found “their place.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/a_report_from_tar_sands_blockade_in_texas

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Why Is the FDA Inspecting So Little Imported Seafood?

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/fda-barely-inspects-imported-seafood

By Mon Oct. 22, 2012

If you eat a lot of fish, likely as not you’re eating something that was raised on a farm and hauled in from thousands of miles away. According to NOAA, we import about 86 percent of the seafood we consume, about half of which comes from from aquaculture. And just because you find it in a gleaming supermarket fish case or on a well-presented restaurant plate doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.

Over at BusinessWeek, there’s a pretty startling piece on the sanitary conditions on some of those farms. In Vietnam, farmed shrimp bound for the US market are kept fresh with heaps of ice made from tap water that teems with pathogenic bacteria, BusinessWeek reports. Tilapia in China’s fish farms, meanwhile, literally feed on pig manure—even though it contains salmonella and makes the tilapia “more susceptible to disease.” Why use hog shit as feed? Simple—it’s cheap, and China’s tilapia farms operate under intense pressure to slash costs and produce as much cheap tilapia as possible.

And, as Wired‘s Maryn McKenna showed in a post earlier this year, harmful bacteria like salmonella aren’t the only potential health problem associated with Asia’s fish and shrimp farms. There’s also the threat of residues from the chemicals farm operators use to control those pathogens. Like US meat farmers, Asia’s shrimp farmers rely heavily on antibiotics, traces of which can stay in the shrimp. And many of the antibiotics in use on Asia’s fish farms are banned for use in the US for public-health reasons.

Now, you might think that the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with overseeing the safety of the food supply, is protecting us from potential harm from these products. The agency is certainly aware of the problem. Testifying before Congress in 2008, then FDA deputy director of food safety Don Kraemer put it like this:

As the aquaculture industry continues to grow, concern about the use of unapproved drugs and unsafe chemicals in aquaculture operations has increased significantly. There is clear scientific evidence that the use of unapproved antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals, such as malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet, can result in the presence of residues in the edible portions of aquacultured seafood.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/fda-barely-inspects-imported-seafood

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Why I’m standing up to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in east Texas

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/17/daryl-hannah-transcanada-keystonexl-pipeline

Don’t buy the tale that this tar sands oil will make the US energy-independent. It’s export for profit, even as spills poison our water


guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 October 2012

On 4 October 2012, in rural east Texas, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, Eleanor Fairchild, was arrested for trespassing on her own property … and I was arrested standing beside her, as we held our ground in the path of earth-moving excavators constructing TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Seems there’s showdown in Texas – but, in fact, it’s a battle being waged all over the United States. It’s being fought by ordinary citizens of all colors, economic strata and political persuasions – against the world’s wealthiest multinational corporations, misinformation and deeply embedded fears. While I’m not a fan of war terminology, in these struggles, war analogies seem to highlight both the crisis at hand and perhaps the solution we seek.

Let’s face it, we are in times of great crisis: economic crisis, overpopulation crisis, climate crisis, extinction crisis, water crisis and a humanitarian crisis on so many levels. Energy, and how we create it, is a pivotal issue for many of these crises. It has become increasingly clear that we need to move in a different direction, yet as a species, we humans are uncomfortable with, and resist, change – though we know it is the very nature of life and not only essential, but inevitable.

Scientific findings warn us that a switch to renewable energy is essential if we are to avert disastrous climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. But since scientific findings and the climate crisis have been so successfully politicized – and I loathe politics – I’ll leave the horrifying ramifications of the global climate crisis out of this.

No matter what political rhetoric you choose to follow, or what course we choose to take with our energy options, there are things we all can agree on. As the second World Water Forum wisely stated:

Water is everybody’s business.”

Clean, regenerative energy could provide a way past peak oil and our detrimental fossil fuel addiction – if we collectively had the will to employ renewables, and addressed the change as urgently as the US did during the second world war when we unleashed our scientific creativity and industrial ingenuity to support the war effort. But there is no escape from peak water. We simply cannot live without uncontaminated water and food.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/17/daryl-hannah-transcanada-keystonexl-pipeline

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End Polluter Welfare

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/16-1

by Bernie Sanders
Published on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 by Common Dreams

The Big Energy industries (oil, coal and gas) along with their political allies like Mitt Romney are waging war against sustainable energy and the need to transform our energy system and reverse global warming. In many instances they are aided and abetted by the very powerful nuclear power industry.

One of their main lines of attack (used repeatedly by Romney in his first debate with President Obama) is that the federal government is picking energy “winners and losers.” In fact, Romney has said he will not invest in “chasing fads and picking winners and losers” among energy technologies and he will allow the free market to determine energy development.

Romney is right about one thing. The government does pick winners and losers in the energy sector. What Romney has not told the American people, however, is that the big winners of federal support are the already immensely profitable fossil fuel and nuclear industries, not sustainable energy.

As a member of both the Senate Energy and Environment committees, I am working to stop the handouts to the fossil fuel industry. I have introduced legislation called the End Polluter Welfare Act. Rep. Keith Ellison filed the companion bill in the House of Representatives. Our measure calls for the elimination for all subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries. Using the best available estimates from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation and other budget experts, we found more than $113 billion in federal subsidies will go to fossil fuel corporations over the next 10 years alone. These subsidies benefit some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, including the five largest oil corporations, which made a combined profit of $1 trillion over the last decade. Unlike sustainable energy incentives, many of these fossil fuel subsidies are written permanently into the tax code by industry lobbyists, which means they never expire.

Let me give you just a few examples of outrageously strong federal support for Big Energy companies:

  • BP, after committing one of the worst environmental disasters in the modern history of America, was able to take a large tax deduction on the money it spent cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Coal companies are able to sign single-bid sweetheart leases to mine on federal lands without paying fair value in royalties to the taxpayers of this country.
  • In 2009, Exxon-Mobil, one of the most profitable corporations in this country, paid no federal income taxes, and in fact received a rebate from the IRS. Many other large and very profitable oil companies also have managed to avoid paying federal income taxes in certain years.

But it is not just fossil fuel companies. The nuclear industry also benefits from massive corporate welfare. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service reports that the nuclear industry has received over $95 billion (in 2011 dollars) in federal research and development support in the last 65 years. Nuclear corporations currently have access to billions in federal loan guarantees to build new plants and enrich uranium. They also have federal tax incentives for mining uranium, producing nuclear electricity and even decommissioning a plant.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/16-1

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How Rural America Got Fracked: The Environmental Nightmare You Know Nothing About

From Michael Moore:  http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/how-rural-america-got-fracked-environmental-nightmare-you-know-nothing-about

By Ellen Cantarow
May 21st, 2012

If the world can be seen in a grain of sand, watch out.  As Wisconsinites are learning, there’s money (and misery) in sand — and if you’ve got the right kind, an oil company may soon be at your doorstep.

March in Wisconsin used to mean snow on the ground, temperatures so cold that farmers worried about their cows freezing to death. But as I traveled around rural townships and villages in early March to interview people about frac-sand mining, a little-known cousin of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” daytime temperatures soared to nearly 80 degrees — bizarre weather that seemed to be sending a meteorological message.

In this troubling spring, Wisconsin’s prairies and farmland fanned out to undulating hills that cradled the land and its people. Within their embrace, the rackety calls of geese echoed from ice-free ponds, bald eagles wheeled in the sky, and deer leaped in the brush. And for the first time in my life, I heard the thrilling warble of sandhill cranes.

Yet this peaceful rural landscape is swiftly becoming part of a vast assembly line in the corporate race for the last fossil fuels on the planet. The target: the sand in the land of the cranes.

Five hundred million years ago, an ocean surged here, shaping a unique wealth of hills and bluffs that, under mantles of greenery and trees, are sandstone. That sandstone contains a particularly pure form of crystalline silica.  Its grains, perfectly rounded, are strong enough to resist the extreme pressures of the technology called hydraulic fracturing, which pumps vast quantities of that sand, as well as water and chemicals, into ancient shale formations to force out methane and other forms of “natural gas.”

That sand, which props open fractures in the shale, has to come from somewhere.  Without it, the fracking industry would grind to a halt. So big multinational corporations are descending on this bucolic region to cart off its prehistoric sand, which will later be forcefully injected into the earth elsewhere across the country to produce more natural gas.  Geology that has taken millions of years to form is now being transformed into part of a system, a machine, helping to drive global climate change.

“The valleys will be filled… the mountains and hills made level”

Continue reading at:  http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/how-rural-america-got-fracked-environmental-nightmare-you-know-nothing-about

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Air Too Dangerous to Breathe: How Gas Drilling Can Turn Rural Communities Into Industrial Wastelands

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/153417/air_too_dangerous_to_breathe%3A_how_gas_drilling_can_turn_rural_communities_into_industrial_wastelands_%5Bwith_photos%5D/

Drilling is just the tip of the iceberg. Compressor stations have been associated with significant headaches, bloody noses, skin lesions, blisters, and rashes.

By Nina Berman
December 13, 2011

View a slideshow from award-winning photographer Nina Berman below. You can see more of Nina’s work at NOOR.

The exploding faucet may have launched the movement against fracking, but it’s the unsexy compressor station that is pushing it to maturity.

Last week, more than a hundred activists from Pennsylvania and New York, including actor Mark Ruffalo, brought thousands of gallons of drinking water to 11 families in Dimock, Pa., who had been left dry after Cabot Oil and Gas stopped their water deliveries.

The mess Cabot created in 2009 from shale gas drilling had now been cleaned, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which meant no more water for the Dimock 11, the holdout families in a long-running feud over water contamination and cleanup.

At issue was the safety of well water symbolized by a jug filled with brown fluid taken from Dimock resident Scott Ely’s well. Held aloft by Ruffalo, who was flanked by families and Gasland director Josh Fox, the crowd challenged officials to come and take a swig if the water was so safe. Paul Rubin, a hydrogeologist, painted a grim picture, laying out a future of continued water contamination. The Ely water had arsenic, manganese, aluminum, iron, and lead at several times the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for safe drinking water.

The visuals were dramatic, and the anti-frack action ended with supporters triumphantly holding a huge water line that snaked from a tanker truck on Carter Road to a family’s “water buffalo” — a large storage tank. The Dimock 11 were now supplied.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/story/153417/air_too_dangerous_to_breathe%3A_how_gas_drilling_can_turn_rural_communities_into_industrial_wastelands_%5Bwith_photos%5D/

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‘Gender bending’ chemical in food tins may cut male fertility

Wonderfully stupid Benny Hill phrasing aside (gender bending) I found this interesting article in The Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300402/Gender-bending-chemical-food-tins-cut-male-fertility.html

By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 10:34 AM on 5th August 2010

A ‘gender bending’ chemical in food and drinks containers could be behind rising male infertility, scientists say.

Men with high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies are more likely to have low sperm counts, according to a study.

BPA is widely used to harden plastics and is found in baby bottles, CD cases, plastic knives and forks and the lining of food and drink cans.

The chemical mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen and interferes with the way hormones are processed by the body.

Although some animal studies have shown it is safe, others have linked it to breast cancer, liver damage, obesity, diabetes and fertility problems.

Experts estimate BPA is detectable in more than 90 per cent of people.

Posted in Chemical Pollution, Ecology, Food, Intersex, Science/Biology. Comments Off on ‘Gender bending’ chemical in food tins may cut male fertility