Teach-In and Fundraiser for Unis’tot’en Camp Thursday Jan 29


Support the Unis’tot’en indigenous pipeline blockade:

The Unist’ot’en, a clan of the Wet’suet’en Nation have built permanent camps that stand directly in the path of oil and gas pipelines currently proposed to run through Unist’ot’en territory in so-called BC Canada. As long as they stand, no pipelines can be built. There will be a video presentation by a member of Marcellus Shale Earth First! followed by a discussion about the eco-cidal expansion of tar sands and shale gas projects on turtle island.

All money raised will be sent to Unistoten camp for supplies!

Where:  Internationalist Books 101 Lloyd street Carrboro NC

When: Thursday, January 29th at 7pm

Suggested Donation: $1 – $1million

Could separation of powers lawsuit sink NC fracking?

Reposted from the Institute for Southern Studies

With North Carolina expected to begin issuing fracking permits as early as this spring, a conservation group and a landowner have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the constitutionality of the commission that regulates the controversial gas drilling technique.

The state legislature created the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) in 2012 as an administrative agency in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources but appointed the majority of MEC members. The suit claims this violates the state constitution, which says the “legislative, executive, and supreme judicial powers of the State government shall be forever separate and distinct from each other.”

The plaintiffs are the Haw River Assembly, a nonprofit citizens’ group based in Chatham County, and Keely Wood Puricz, whose property sits next to 100-acre tract leased for gas drilling in neighboring Lee County. The nonprofit Southern Environmental Law Center filed the suit on their behalf this week in Wake County Superior Court. It seeks to void the commission and its proposed rules.

“This attempt by the North Carolina legislature to expand its legislative power and usurp executive authority violates the separation of powers firmly established in our state constitution,” said Derb Carter, senior attorney and director of the SELC’s North Carolina offices. “As a result, we have a commission making important decisions about the future of North Carolina that is ultimately accountable to no one.”

This is not the first lawsuit to target such North Carolina commissions for violating the separations of power provision: In November, Gov. Pat McCrory joined with former governors Jim Martin (R) and Jim Hunt (D) to file a lawsuit over the constitutionality not only of the MEC but also of the Coal Ash Management Commission; the Oil and Gas Commission, which will oversee fracking once it gets underway; and a proposed Medicaid board.

Named as defendants in that suit, also filed in Wake County Superior Court, were six members of the coal ash commission appointed by the legislature; state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger; and former state House Speaker Thom Tillis, who was sworn into the U.S. Senate this week.

“These commissions make government less accountable to the will of the people,” McCrory said at the time. “Citizens and voters must be able to distinguish which branch of government is responsible for making the laws and which branch is responsible for carrying out the laws and operating state government.”

The State Board of Education is also suing the state and the Rules Review Commission over similar concerns.

But the separation of powers lawsuit is not the only problem facing pro-fracking forces in North Carolina: Questions are being raised about the basic economic viability of gas drilling in the state, which is believed to have only limited shale gas deposits.

Jim Womack, a member and former chair of the MEC, last month told the Triangle Business Journal that economic factors were stacked against gas drilling in North Carolina:

“I would say there’s a bit of trepidation right now with the way the international economic landscape is with oil and gas,” he says, pointing to OPEC “flooding the world markets” with crude oil. “Immature plains, like what we have in North Carolina, are really not being seriously looked at.”

An independent energy developer active in North Carolina recently told The News & Observer of Raleigh that getting the industry to look at operating in the state was like “pulling teeth.”

Among the factors discouraging drillers is the state’s proposed $1 million environmental accident bond — the highest in the country. Texas, for example, requires a bond of only $250,000.

Elaine Chiosso, the Haw Riverkeeper and executive director of the Haw River Assembly, said that if North Carolina is going to allow fracking, it needs to put strong regulations to protect communities and water supplies.

“That can only happen through an accountable and representative agency, and the citizens of North Carolina deserve no less,” she said.

DOT: More than 1,600 trucks could be required for one NC fracking site

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A waste water tank truck passes on the main street of Waynesburg, PA on April 13, 2012. It is estimated that more than 500 trillion cubic feet of shale gas is contained in the Marcellus shale, a stretch of rock that runs through parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. Shale gas is natural gas stored deep underground in fine-grained sedimentary rocks. It can be extracted using a process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” which involves drilling long horizontal wells in shale rocks more than a kilometre below the surface. Massive quantities of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the wells at high pressure. This opens up fissures in the shale, which are held open by the sand, enabling the trapped gas to escape to the surface for collection.

MLADEN ANTONOV — AFP/Getty Images

More than 1,600 trucks could haul sand, water and equipment for a single fracking operation in North Carolina, chewing up country roads and causing millions of dollars in damage to roads and bridges, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The department is projecting nearly $11 million in maintenance and repairs in one example cited to the state legislature in an agency study of traffic impacts resulting from shale gas drilling.

The DOT study, dated Dec. 31, requests changes in state law to make it easier to require private industry to repair public roads damaged during fracking operations.

“The volume of traffic can and does cause significant damage to secondary roads over a relatively short period of time,” the report says. “The majority of this traffic occurs over a period of six weeks.”

Fracking remains under moratorium in North Carolina, but the first drilling permits could be issued as early as April.

Each drill site will require 1,290 to 1,650 trucks, DOT estimates, based on the experience with fracking in Bradford County, Pa.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation enacted a program posting roads with lower-than-usual weight and size limits so as to force the energy industry to agree to pay bonds and maintain local roads. The strict terms applied only to fracking operations and exempted other trucking companies.

North Carolina DOT engineers said in the report that Plank Road, which crosses the Deep River in Lee County, and Bridge #169 over the river would require $1.3 million just for upgrades to handle heavy hauling operations.

The total bond amount would be $10.8 million, but DOT said it would accept $6.6 million. The energy company could pay a surety bond to a bonding company to cover the expense at a fraction of the full bond amount.

Oil & Gas Interests May Not Be Interested in North Carolina

Fracking in North Carolina: Environmental factors a moot point if no one will come frack

Staff Writer- Triangle Business Journal

In 2015, unless the Legislature takes action otherwise, Lee County could serve as ground zero for a mining revival – this time through fracking.

Even as environmental groups rally for online support, those in the energy industry are preparing in-depth gas surveys to take stock of what North Carolina can offer in natural gas. Drilling could happen as early as April, experts say.

Poll: Should North Carolina allow fracking in 2015?

But that’s if all goes according to a plan two years in the making.

Even if environmentalist pleas against the practice go unheard, fracking can’t provide an economic infusion without the oil and gas industry – and, at least today, the oil and gas industry doesn’t seem interested in prioritizing North Carolina.

Lee County is no stranger to mining.

Oil and gas deposits there have been talked about for decades. And, at the turn of the century, the Sanford area was coal country.

After a methane gas leak and two fatal explosions, however, and the coal chapter ended in Lee County.

Two years ago, a new energy conversation crept into the Sanford vernacular.

Jim Womack, then a two-year veteran county commissioner, was called to Raleigh to be a part of the state’s Mining and Energy Commission, which he chaired for two years.

At the time, fracking seemed like an opportunity, he says.

About 9.8 percent of families in Lee County were living below the poverty line.

Fracking – at least to Womack – seemed like an opportunity for the whole community to profit. In addition to the service industries, including hotels and restaurants, supporting those working the fracking sector, the landowners themselves could profit, he pointed out.

But that was then.

Flash forward to 2014 and, while a moratorium expired on actual fracking, the state still isn’t issuing permits for the procedure. North Carolina was waiting for the commission to develop rules – rules it finalized earlier this year, giving way for a big change in 2015. Two months after the Legislature in Raleigh reconvenes in January, without evasive action, permits will finally be issued.

But, according to Womack, it won’t be the economic infusion he’d hoped for years ago. At least not initially.

“It takes time for that to happen,” he says. “It takes investment on behalf of the oil and gas companies. We’re a virgin area at this point.”

And the economic landscape isn’t working in fracking’s favor.

He points to gas prices as a factor.

“I would say there’s a bit of trepidation right now with the way the international economic landscape is with oil and gas,” he says, pointing to OPEC “flooding the world markets” with crude oil. “Immature plains, like what we have in North Carolina, are really not being seriously looked at.”

But there is interest in “qualifying” resources here, he says. That means more advanced surveying. He predicts that, when permits can be issued, “we’ll see a little more deliberate survey and analysis of what we have.”

To actually develop the area, oil and gas companies would need to get the holders of the mineral rights on board, bring in a drilling unit and then get a permit to penetrate.

Womack hoped that gas prices would be such “that a company would be willing to take on a financial risk and begin drilling early.”

But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“It could change, but at this juncture, we’re expecting more exploration work early on,” he says.

As Womack and team are pushing oil and gas companies to pay attention to North Carolina, they have some very loud critics calling for North Carolina to be left alone.

One of the loudest is the Sierra Club.

Spokesperson Molly Diggins points out what she feels is the biggest environmental side effect of fracking: waste water.

“There’s a significant amount of waste water that has all kinds of contaminates in it,” she says.

A method that’s been used in other states, groundwater injection, where waste water is injected back into the ground as a disposal method, is illegal in North Carolina.

“Efforts to allow it have failed in the legislature,” she says.

Womack says that, when wastewater is no longer suitable to be reused in the process, it could be transported to another state for injection or hauled to a licensed wastewater treatment facility in North Carolina.

“We already know there are several North Carolina companies interested in securing contracts to manage that kind of water recycling,” he says.

Womack is of the belief that fracking is environmentally sound, and a greener option than burning coal.

It’s an argument scoffed at by Diggins.

“There’s definitely greenhouse gas emissions associated with fracking,” she say

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Commonwealth Court: Governor not the decider on leasing public land

Originally posted on Marcellus Shale Earth First!:

Decisions to lease state park and forest land to natural gas drillers lies with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, not the Governor’s office, according to a decision issued today by the Commonwealth Court. The court also ruled that the General Assembly can decide how to spend the royalty money generated from current and future leases. Up until 2009, proceeds from oil and gas drilling on state land were funneled directly back into the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the oil and gas lease fund. But as Marcellus Shale drilling ramped up, and the money multiplied, the legislature used much of it to balance the budget.

Governor Corbett’s energy secretary Patrick Henderson called the decision a “resounding victory for the Commonwealth.”…

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Breathe Together:From some of the recent Black Lives Matter/FTP arrestees

Originally posted on tri-Ⓐ:

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reposted from breathetogether919.wordpress.com

Breathe Together.

From some of the recent Black Lives Matter/FTP arrestees

After recent Black Lives Matter/Fuck the Police demonstrations in Durham, the toll of those arrested and how they were arrested has taken on a life of its own. The narrative of the arrestee has drowned out the very reason we were in the streets, and debates centering on which kinds of police violence are acceptable for crowd control mirror the debates seen in mainstream media about which kinds of police murder are acceptable.

Let’s refocus on what our fight actually is. We don’t care about getting arrested, and we are not afraid. We are not afraid of police tactics, the city councilors’ or mayor’s words, or media scaremongering. We will not be intimidated out of the streets and away from each other. It is easy to back off, step down, and take the reasonable course set forward…

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Eric McDavid Released from Prison after 9 years! FBI witheld information for his defense

A man serving a 19-year prison sentence for environmental terrorism won an early release from prison on Thursday, with a California judge approving a settlement between defense lawyers and prosecutors. The defense said that the authorities had withheld evidence that could have bolstered his case at trial.

The man, Eric McDavid, 37, was convicted in 2007 of conspiring to bomb several targets near Sacramento as part of a radical environmental campaign. The government said he plotted attacks against government and commercial facilities that he believed were harming the environment, including cellphone towers and the Nimbus Dam in California. Mr. McDavid, who visited some sites and at one point tried to make homemade explosives, has served nine years in prison and will be released immediately, according to his lawyers.

His prosecution had become well known in environmental circles partly because of its star witness: a pink-haired informant who began covertly working for the F.B.I. at age 17 after writing a community college paper about infiltrating political protest groups.

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Eric McDavid in an undated photo. He was convicted in 2007 of conspiring to bomb several government and commercial targets that he believed were harmful to the environment. Credit McDavid Family

Mr. McDavid’s lawyers had asked that his conviction be vacated, citing the withheld information, including a request by officials for a polygraph examination of the informant, code-named Anna, and various messages between her and Mr. McDavid.

Federal prosecutors disputed the value of the material, writing that “none of the omitted items were even remotely exculpatory.” But in a settlement approved Thursday, both sides agreed to Mr. McDavid’s immediate release “to avoid the expenses and risks of further litigation and to advance the interests of justice.”

Under the agreement, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. of Federal District Court in Sacramento accepted a guilty plea by Mr. McDavid to a general charge of conspiracy, and then sentenced him to time served. Judge England also granted Mr. McDavid’s motion to vacate his original conviction and sentence of 235 months, allowing for his release. Mr. McDavid waived any future civil claims.

“Today we corrected one of the most egregious injustices I have ever encountered in my legal career, if you consider being released after nine years of wrongful incarceration justice,” said one of Mr. McDavid’s lawyers, Ben Rosenfeld.

A spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Sacramento did not immediately comment on the agreement.

Mr. McDavid’s conviction came as the F.B.I. carried out a sweeping investigation of arson attacks by a group called the Earth Liberation Front against a Vail ski resort, an S.U.V. dealership and a university botany lab, among other sites. Federal authorities said that Anna, who testified that Mr. McDavid had requested explosives recipes and once threatened her life, had helped thwart a dangerous plot to blow up targets like the United States Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, Calif., and cellphone towers in California.

“McDavid’s homegrown brand of eco-terrorism is just as dangerous and insidious as international terrorism,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Defense lawyers contended that Anna was an unreliable witness who had entrapped Mr. McDavid, manipulating his romantic attachment to her and pushing him and two co-defendants to brew homemade explosives while providing them with food and a place to live.

“She fomented the alleged conspiracy, literally herding defendants together from around the country for meetings, badgering them to form a plan, and mocking and berating them when they showed disinterest,” Mr. Rosenfeld and another lawyer, Mark R. Vermeulen, wrote last year, adding that the withheld material could have been used to challenge Anna’s credibility or examine her relationship with Mr. McDavid.

By many measures Anna was an unlikely spy. She was assigned by the F.B.I. to attend the 2004 national political conventions in Boston and New York, a global trade summit in Georgia and anarchist gatherings in Iowa and Indiana. Anna provided information in a dozen different cases, the authorities said, and stayed in touch with Mr. McDavid. In 2005 she reported that he was planning a bombing campaign, and the F.B.I. increased its monitoring of him.

At the time of his arrest in early 2006, Mr. McDavid was living with Anna and two co-defendants in a cabin in Dutch Flat, Calif., which the F.B.I. had provided and fitted with surveillance equipment that recorded the group discussing reconnaissance trips and the possibility of causing accidental deaths.

The co-defendants, Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson, both pleaded guilty in 2006 and testified against Mr. McDavid. Mr. Jenson has since said that he felt pressured to conform to a narrative embraced by the government, an assertion that prosecutors rejected.

After Mr. McDavid’s conviction, a Freedom of Information Act request yielded about 2,500 pages of substantially redacted F.B.I. reports connected to him. Defense lawyers said they thought those documents indicated the existence of material that should have been turned over at trial.

The undisclosed material included several emails or letters between Mr. McDavid and Anna that had been given to the agency’s behavioral analysis unit for review and an F.B.I. document dated two months before Mr. McDavid’s arrest, asking for a polygraph examination to determine Anna’s “veracity” before “the expenditure of substantial efforts and money based on source’s reporting.” F.B.I. officials later said that examination ultimately did not take place.

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Abundant Clean Renewables? Think Again!

Sunday, 16 November 2014 00:00 By Almuth Ernsting, Truthout | News Analysis

Coal and wind power(Photo: Richard Brand / Flickr)

Although “renewable” energy is growing faster than ever before, it is neither carbon neutral, “clean” nor sustainable. We need to transform into low-energy societies that meet human – not corporate – needs.

Renewable energy is growing faster than ever before. Sure, some countries are lagging behind, but others are setting widely praised records.

Germany has installed over 24,000 wind turbines and 1.4 million solar panels, and renewables generate 31 percent of the country’s electricity on average – and as much as 74 percent on particularly windy or sunny days. According to the German government, 371,400 jobs have been created by renewable energy. Norway generates 99 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. Denmark already generates 43 percent of electricity from renewables and aims to phase out fossil fuel burning by 2050.

Many view such news as rays of hope in a rapidly destabilizing climate. We all need some good news – but is renewables expansion really the good news people like to think? Can we really put our hopes for stabilizing the climate into trying to simply replace the energy sources in a growth-focused economic and social model that was built on fossil fuels? Or do we need a far more fundamental transition towards a low-energy economy and society?

Here’s the first problem with celebratory headlines over renewables: Record renewable energy hasn’t stopped record fossil fuel burning, including record levels of coal burning. Coal use is growing so fast that the International Energy Authority expects it to surpass oil as the world’s top energy source by 2017.

Perhaps the 1,500 gigawatts of electricity produced from renewables worldwide have prevented a further 1,500 gigawatts of fossil fuel power stations? Nobody can tell. It’s just as possible that renewables have simply added 1,500 gigawatts of electricity to the global economy, fueled economic growth and ever-greater industrial resource use. In which case, far from limiting carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, renewables may simply have increased them because, as discussed below, no form of large-scale energy is carbon neutral.

As long as energy sources that are as carbon-intensive and destructive as fossil fuels are classed as “renewable,” boosting renewable energy around the world risks doing more harm than good.

Germany’s Energy Transition illustrates the problem: Wind turbines and solar panels have certainly become a widespread feature of Germany’s landscape. Yet if we look at Germany’s total energy use (including heating and transport), rather than just at electricity, energy classed as renewable accounts for just 11.5 percent. The majority, 87.8 percent, of Germany’s energy continues to come from fossil fuels and nuclear power (with waste incineration accounting for the difference of 0.7 percent). Coal consumption, which had been falling until 2008, has been rising again since then. Germany remains the European Union’s (EU) top coal consumer. Net electricity exports are being blamed for the rise in coal burning and carbon dioxide emissions, yet they account for just 5 percent of Germany’s electricity – and electricity accounts for less than half of the country’s energy use.

The picture looks even worse when one examines the mix of energy classed as renewable in Germany: Solar photovoltaic (PV) makes up 11.5 percent of renewables, wind, 16.8 percent. The bulk of it – 62 percent – comes from bioenergy, much of which is far from low carbon or sustainable. It includes biofuels, many of them made from imported soya and palm oil that are being expanded at the expense of tropical forests and peatlands and that destroy the livelihoods of small farmers, indigenous and other forest dependent peoples worldwide. It includes biogas made from 820,000 hectares of corn monocultures in Germany – a key driver for biodiversity loss in the country. And it includes wood pellets linked to forest degradation across Central Europe. On closer examination, therefore, 24,000 wind turbines and 1.4 million solar panels have scarcely made a dent in Germany’s fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions.

Norway’s situation is unique in that virtually all of the country’s electricity is generated from hydro dams, which were gradually expanded over the course of more than a century. Fossil fuels (mostly oil) still surpass renewable energy in Norway’s overall energy mix (with electricity accounting for less than half of the total), though only marginally so, and Norway’s economy remains heavily dependent on oil and gas exports.

Norway’s own hydro dams – many of them small-scale – have raised little controversy but the same cannot be said for Norway’s efforts to export this model to other countries. The Norwegian government and the state-owned energy company Statkraft have been at the forefront of financing controversial dams and associated infrastructure in Laos, India, Malaysian Borneo and elsewhere. One example is Statkraft’s joint venture investment in a new dam in Laos that has displaced 4,800 people and is causing flooding, erosion, and loss of fisheries and land on which people relied for growing rice.

Another example is Norwegian aid for transmission lines for mega-dams in Sarawak, a Malaysian province in Borneo which has seen vast areas of tropical rainforest – and the livelihoods of millions of indigenous peoples – sacrificed for palm oil, logging and also hydro power. One dam alone displaced 10,000 people and at least 10 more dams are planned, despite ongoing resistance from indigenous peoples. Far from being climate-friendly, hydro dams worldwide are associated with large methane emissions – with one study suggesting they are responsible for 25 percent of all human-caused methane emissions and over 4 percent of global warming. The disastrous consequences of Norway’s global hydro power investment illustrates the dangers of the simplistic view that anything classed as renewable energy must be climate-friendly and merits support.

What about the much-heralded renewable transition of Denmark? There coal use is falling and around 21 percent of total energy is sourced from renewables. Denmark holds the world record for wind energy capacity compared to population size. Unlike many other countries where wind energy is firmly controlled by large energy companies, Denmark has seen strong support for locally owned wind energy cooperatives, widely considered an inspiring example of clean, community-controlled energy. Nonetheless, wind energy in Denmark accounted for just 3.8 percent of Denmark’s total energy use in 2010.

Bioenergy accounts for a far greater percentage of Denmark’s “renewable energy” than does wind – and indeed for a greater share in the country’s overall energy mix than is the case in any other European country. As in Germany, Denmark’s bioenergy includes biofuels for transport, which studies show tend to be worse for the climate than equivalent quantities of oil once all the direct and indirect emissions from deforestation, peatland destruction and other land use change associated with them are accounted for. And it includes wood pellets, with Denmark being the EU’s, and likely the world’s, second biggest pellet importer after the United Kingdom. Most of those pellets come from the Baltic states and Russia, from countries where clear-cutting of highly biodiverse forests is rampant. Studies show that burning wood from whole trees can be worse for the climate than burning coal over a period of decades or even centuries.

Thus, on closer inspection, many of the “great renewable energy successes” don’t look so great after all.

Clearly, the current catch-all definition of “renewables” is a key problem: Defining methane-spewing mega-dams, biofuels, which are accelerating deforestation and other ecosystem destruction, or logging forests for bioenergy as “renewable” helps policy makers boost renewables statistics, while helping to further destabilize planetary support systems. As long as energy sources that are as carbon-intensive and destructive as fossil fuels are classed as “renewable,” boosting renewable energy around the world risks doing more harm than good.

A saner definition of “renewable energy” clearly is vital but would it open the door toward 100 percent clean and plentiful energy? Comparing the rate of wind energy expansion in Denmark and wind and solar power expansion in Germany with the tiny contribution they make to both countries’ total energy supply indicates otherwise.

Wind and solar power require far less land per unit of energy than biomass or biofuels, but the area of land needed to replace fossil fuel power stations with, say, wind turbines is vast nonetheless. According to a former scientific advisor to the UK government, for example, 15 offshore wind turbines installed on every kilometer of the UK coastline would supply just 13 percent of the country’s average daily energy use. And offshore turbines are more efficient than onshore ones.

Researchers agree that the life-cycle impacts of wind and solar power on the climate and environment are definitely smaller than those of fossil fuels, as long as turbines and panels are sensibly sited (not, for example, on deep peat). But this doesn’t mean that the impacts are benign. Generating that 13 percent of UK energy from offshore wind would require wind turbines made of 20 million tons of steel and concrete – more than all the steel that went into US shipbuilding during World War II. Steel manufacturing is heavily dependent on coal, not just as a fuel for the furnaces but because it is needed to enrich the raw material, iron ore, with carbon to make it stable. And concrete is hardly “carbon neutral” either – cement (a key component) accounts for 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Solar PV panels are up to four times as energy and carbon-intensive to produce as wind turbines: Aluminum – used to mount and construct solar panels – is about as carbon and energy-intensive as steel. Silicon needs to be smelted at 2,000 degrees Celsius and materials used to replace silicon have an even higher environmental footprint. Then there’s an array of highly toxic and corrosive chemicals used during manufacturing. Yet with regards to pollution, building wind and marine turbines is likely worse than making solar panels, because efficient and lasting turbine magnets rely on rare earth mining and refining. One 5-megawatt turbine requires a ton of rare earths, the mining and refining of which will leave behind 75 cubic meters of toxic acidic waste water and one ton of radioactive sludge. Two-thirds of the world’s rare earths are refined in one town in China, where people have become environmental refugees and virtually all who remain suffer from ill health associated with toxic chemicals and radiation. In the quest for “clean energy” rare earths mines are being sought and opened around the globe. The only US rare earths mine, Molycorp’s in California, has been reopened, after having been shut down due to a long history of repeated spills of toxic and radioactive waste. Since reopening, the operators have already been fined for spilling yet more hazardous waste.

Zero-carbon, clean energy? Well, no. And yet, there are no large-scale energy sources with lower carbon emissions and less harmful environmental impacts than wind and solar power. As one scientist argues from the perspective of thermodynamics: “To talk about ‘renewable energy’ or ‘sustainable energy’ is an oxymoron, as is ‘sustainable mining’ or ‘sustainable development.’ The more energy we use, the less sustainable is humanity.”

We certainly need to swiftly end fossil fuel burning and the destruction of ecosystems and that will require us to rely on the least harmful energy sources such as wind and solar power. But the myth of plentiful “clean” energy stops us from focusing on the far deeper changes needed – a transformation toward a low-energy society. A depressing conclusion? Not necessarily. As UK climate change campaigner and author George Marshall has pointed out, we could cut flights (and probably all transport emissions) and slash energy used for home heating by 80 percent overnight by going back to the way people used to live as short a time ago as 1972, provided we used home insulation and efficient boiler technology developed since then. Instead, 40 years of efficiency gains have been wiped out by ever-greater consumption. Yet UK “personal satisfaction” surveys show that people’s sense of satisfaction or happiness peaked in 1970. Once people’s basic needs for energy are met, rising energy use remains vital for corporate profits and economic growth, but not for people’s quality of life.

Most readers will have never lived in a low-energy society. Imagining what such a society might look like and how to move toward the transformation required to get there, and to overcome the corporate interests that depend on profits from ever rising energy use, must be priorities for anyone aware of the seriousness of climate change. Daunting no doubt, but once we’ve abandoned faith in plentiful “clean” energy, we can finally make a start.

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Forest Service Proposes Massive Logging Project in North Carolina’s Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest

Comment on the USFS Draft Forest Plan before December!

To comment on the proposed Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest plan, email NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us or mail hard copies of comments to National Forests in North Carolina, Nantahala-Pisgah Plan Revision, 160 Zillicoa St. Suite A, Asheville, NC 28801.

by Kathleen Sullivan / Southern Environmental Law Center

forest-plan-meetingsCHAPEL HILL, N.C.—In what conservation groups flag as a dramatic shift, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing industrial-scale logging in the vast majority of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina – about 700,000 acres, or an area bigger than the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – instead of protecting popular back-country recreation destinations and conserving the Blue Ridge landscapes treasured by residents and tourists from across the United States.

“Under the law and for everyone who enjoys America’s forests, the Forest Service’s first priority should be fixing the mistakes of the past – restoring the parts of the forest already damaged by prior logging,” said DJ Gerken, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “But the misguided logging plan proposed by the agency will repeat those old mistakes, causing more damage and putting the healthiest forests we have left on the chopping block. The people who use and love these forests won’t stand for cutting them down.”

The Forest’s new proposal would inevitably increase logging over the levels of recent years, though the precise amount has not been disclosed. “This increase would come from ramping up logging all over the forest, including backcountry areas like the South Mills River area, home to the popular Black Mountain Trail,” said Hugh Irwin, conservation planner for The Wilderness Society. According to Forest Service documents, such areas would be managed for “timber production,” which it interprets as “the purposeful growing and harvesting of crops of trees to be cut into logs.”

This industrial-style logging would also require cutting new roads for trucks and equipment into sensitive, unspoiled backcountry areas. “Not only is that destructive and disruptive, it’s also fiscally irresponsible,” added Irwin. “The agency shouldn’t be expanding its road system when it can’t even afford to maintain the roads it already has.” Agency reports confirm that the Forest has less than 13 percent of the funds needed to maintain its existing roads, leading to safety and water quality problems. Several popular roads remain closed due to unrepaired washouts.

“This proposal is absolutely the wrong direction for the forest,” said Ben Prater, director of conservation for Wild South. “Times have changed, and our mountain economy doesn’t depend just on logging anymore. We should be capitalizing on our wonderful Blue Ridge forests, not cutting them down. Treating practically the entire Pisgah-Nantahala as a ‘crop’ is simply irresponsible.”

The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest has become a tourism and recreation destination, and revenue generated by visitors is a major driver of the western North Carolina economy. The National Forests of North Carolina are the third most visited national forest in the country. Industrial logging not only damages scenery and natural features, which are the key draw for half of those visits, but also requires popular areas to be closed to the public for months at a time while trees are being cut. “They’re our public lands,” says Prater. “Where is the balance?”

Josh Kelly, public lands biologist for the Western North Carolina Alliance, calls the proposal a “missed opportunity.” According to Kelly, “the Forest Service could sell more timber, meet game wildlife goals for hunters, and fulfill its ecological responsibilities by focusing its limited budget on restoring degraded areas with existing road access. We have a historic opportunity to care for this forest like it deserves – a real win-win solution – but if the Plan is mired in conflict, none of that work will get done.”

Public participation is important to the planning process underway, in which the U.S. Forest Service will decide how to manage the Pisgah and National Forests for the next 15 years.

The latest updates on #UWMadison baby monkey experiments

Dr. Ruth Decker, M.D., J.D., M.B.A.
St Louis, MO

Oct 29, 2014 — Hello everyone. Just a couple of FYIs so you know what others are doing in addition to this petition.

On October 22, the national research watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), announced that the University of Wisconsin’s Primate Center has been cited by a federal agency for violations in their facility including 36 primate escapes, three monkey deaths, and burn injuries. These violations typically result in fines to the institution at a maximum of $10,000 per incident and attests to the incompetency of Wisconsin’s operations. How can anyone trust their PR soundbites when they have such a poor track record?

Link to SEAN press release http://www.saenonline.org/press-20141022.html

Also, earlier this month the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin to compel disclosure of committee records concerning the internal controversy over the baby monkey studies that the university has refused to make public. The legal document references my change.org petition as evidence of the public’s outcry over this horrific experimentation. YOUR VOICE COUNTS! Details can be found here:

Link to ALDF press release http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/aldf-sues-university-of-wisconsin-over-maternal-deprivation-experiments-on-baby-monkeys/

Link to TV coverage of ALDF suit http://www.wkow.com/story/26798590/2014/10/15/uw-madison-faces-lawsuit-over-records-regarding-animal-research

Again I am grateful for your support. Let’s keep the momentum and pressure up!

Best,
Dr. Decker

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