Fight or Flight Tour


For more info see:  Fight or Flight Tour

This summer, The Bunny Alliance, Resistance Ecology, and the Earth First! Journal present the Fight or Flight Tour, a collaborative nationwide tour with three distinct objectives: 1) to intensify The Bunny Alliance’s campaign against Delta Air Lines and the broader Gateway to Hell campaign to end the transport of animals to labs, 2) to share skills and build connections within the grassroots animal and ecological activist movements, and 3) to promote coalition building and solidarity with a diversity of movements and communities.

To increase the mounting pressure on Delta concerning the airline’s intimate relationship with Air France and the transport of animals to labs, the Fight or Flight Tour will hold protests at Delta airports, cargo offices, laboratories, and the houses of board members and executives. We will bring the campaign home to Delta with a large protest at their corporate headquarters, as well as work with local, national and independent media to place Delta’s involvement in animal testing in the public eye.

Tour stops will also include activism workshops, tailored to the needs and interests of each community. General workshop topics will include information about the international effort to end the transport of animal to labs, strategic and effective campaigning, protest tactics, and strengthening inner and cross-movement relationships. Through support from the Civil Liberties Defense Center, the workshops will also feature a collection of legal topics including “know your rights” trainings, security culture basics, tips for doing legal research, and legal observer trainings.

In addition to this tour being about the demonstrations and workshops hosted by the touring organizations, this tour was hatched from the desire to empower grassroots activism through meaningful cross-movement solidarity. We want to work with other groups involved in social justice work and provide support in the forms they desire; to build bridges between animal liberation and environmental activists; to start friendships that can grow into powerful alliances; to talk face-to-face with others and embrace what it means to build connections in real life rather than online; and exchange skills and stories of experience among activists.

We invite you to join us. Not to just support the work we are doing, but to work with us in turning grassroots activism into a force powerful enough to protect the earth and its inhabitants.    

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Monkey Wrenching the Frackers



by Cole Stangler / In These Times

“All right, motherfuckers! This is an unlawful assembly!”

A group of five “police” charge at a mob of milling “protesters,” throwing several to the ground and playfully beating them with rolled-up pieces of old newspaper—the “batons.” “Fucking hippies!” someone shouts from the tussle.

The make-believe cops have been supplied with blaze orange construction vests, plastic badges and faux police caps, which combine with their many tattoos and piercings to make them look like a punk version of the Village People.

This mock police ambush was part of a three-hour crash course in “Responsible Direct Action” held at last week’s Energy Exports Action Camp in Maryland’s Jug Bay Natural Area, a county park some 25 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. The week-long camp was designed to train, connect and energize activists gearing up to take direct action to stop Dominion Energy’s Cove Point project, a natural gas export terminal planned in Lusby, Md. Opponents say the plant will encourage more fracking, spur Maryland to drop its state-wide moratorium on the practice, and exacerbate global climate change.

The camp’s core organizers hail from Chesapeake Earth First!, a local chapter of the loosely organized national environmental group. They were joined by about 60 activists from around the mid-Atlantic region, including other Earth Firsters and non-aligned sympathizers. In keeping with their infamous slogan, “No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth,” Earth Firsters support what’s known as a “diversity of tactics”—code for a willingness to use force. Historically, their bag of tricks has included blockades, tree-sits, and in rare cases, acts of industrial sabotage, or “monkey-wrenching,” a term popularized by Edward Abbey’s classic 1975 novel.

Activists at the camp are encouraged to use “every tool in the toolbox,” according to Richelle Brown, one of the organizers, “from lawsuits to lock-downs.”

As Earth First! and its rabble-rousing sympathizers prepare to jump into the fray, they open a new chapter in the struggle to stop Cove Point. To date, protests against Cove Point, led mostly by the non-profit Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), have included a large rally in Baltimore, smaller rallies at the offices of elected officials, and a couple of civil disobedience actions at two different county courthouses—none of which has managed to seriously disturb Dominion’s dreams of becoming the first gas exporter on the East Coast. It’s hard to say what direct actions Earth First! is planning, since activists traditionally keep mum on any such plans. Nobody I asked told me of any specific plots. But Batty, a Baltimore-based activist who declined to provide her full name, says, “The protests have been very fluffy.  As we say, things need to get a bit spikier. Because spikier gets more attention.”

The consequences of Cove Point

After fracking and horizontal drilling took off in 2008, domestic prices of natural gas fell steeply. Aroused by the allure of new markets, U.S. gas producers are increasingly looking to take their goods abroad: most notably to Asia, where liquefied natural gas (LNG) fetches about triple its price stateside. In 2011, Dominion Energy started making moves to convert Cove Point—a seldom-used LNG import facility built in the 1970s to service gas from Algeria—into an export facility.

Unlike, say, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which is still awaiting State Department approval, Cove Point is breezing through the federal regulatory process for LNG export terminals. The Department of Energy (DOE) has already granted conditional approval—the first big step in the permitting process. Now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) appears to be on the verge of giving the thumbs up—the second major hurdle before construction can move forward. The other key permit-issuing agencies in this case, such as the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have until mid-August to weigh in. Meanwhile, a separate 30-day public comment period for the assessment ends June 16. By law, FERC needs only to wait for that public comment period to conclude before making a decision. But a negative response from one of the key permit-issuing agencies—the EPA, for instance—could cause further delays.

An agency spokesperson tells In These Times that FERC will take the time to carefully review the public comments before coming to judgment. But the radicals at Jug Bay have little faith FERC will reverse course.

“They are essentially a rubber-stamp for industry,” says Jesse Schultz, a Chesapeake Earth First!er and Industrial Workers of the World member who biked to the action camp from his house in D.C..

Among the crew’s many gripes with the agency is its unwillingness to acknowledge Cove Point’s full climate-change impact. Critics say that an environmental assessment issued last month by FERC glossed over the full cycle of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the terminal—that is, the cumulative methane and carbon emissions produced by drilling, transporting, liquefying, re-converting and shipping natural gas across the globe.

Another major grievance is FERC’s rejection of environmental advocates’ claims that Cove Point could lead to more fracking in the region—arguably, the single greatest rallying point for the opposition. “The specific details, including the timing, location, and number of additional production wells that may or may not be drilled, are speculative,” FERC’s assessment reads. “As such, impacts associated with the production of natural gas that may be sourced from various locations and methods for export by the Project are not reasonably foreseeable or quantifiable.”

Kelly Canavan, one of the camp’s organizers, says the agency’s claims are especially frustrating because publicly available information shows otherwise. Last December, Cabot Oil & Gas signed a20-year agreement to supply Cove Point with gas from the Marcellus Shale. The deal supplies almost half of the terminal’s capacity. Transco’s proposed expansion of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline will ensure that Pennsylvania-drilled gas flows to the terminal. Critics say that new infrastructure will help sustain affordable fracking in the region for the long run.

What is to be done?

On July 13, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN)—an environmental non-profit that has galvanized in-state opposition—will hold a mass protest march in Washington, D.C., calling on FERC to reject the project. The march comes on the heels of a February rally in Baltimore, deemed the largest environmental protest in city history.

But action camp participants believe that it’s going to take more than continued marches and appeals to public officials to put the brakes on Cove Point.

Environmentalist activism against the project and local advertising in its favor by Dominion have faced off to influence public opinion. But when it comes to the key regulators and politicians, the CCAN-led coalition of non-profits has struggled to land its punches. For months now, CCAN has unsuccessfully demanded that FERC conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) rather than the less thorough environmental assessment. FERC maintains an EIS is unnecessary since Cove Point already exists as an import facility and would not be built from scratch.

CCAN has also fruitlessly called on Maryland’s two U.S. Senators, Democrats Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, to demand an EIS. Meanwhile, on May 30, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved Dominion’s proposal to build a power generating station for Cove Point—in defiance of a CCAN-driven April petition delivery of more than 35,000 signatures against the plan as a whole.

So what’s it going to take?

Kelly Canavan, who also heads the Accokeek Mattawoman Piscataway Creeks Council, a local non-profit, says the key is delaying construction until it’s no longer profitable for Dominion to continue.

For one, that includes “paper-wrenching”—lawsuits that force Dominion to expend its team of highly paid corporate lawyers and experts to stamp out an array of legal challenges. Canavan pointed to two such lawsuits filed on behalf of the AMP Creeks Council: One alleges the Calvert County’s Board of Commissioners improperly used zoning text amendments to pave the way for Cove Point and another targets the County’s non-disclosure agreement with Dominion.

Canavan also says the AMP Creeks Council will appeal the appeal the Public Service Commissions’ recent approval of the power station.

“We are absolutely in it to win every one of these fights,” she stresses.

Then there’s the direct action route: Unpredictable headline-generating actions at various pieces of Cove Point-related infrastructure could force Dominion to spend more money on public relations, beef up its security presence, and encourage more public scrutiny of the project.

“Part of the project’s success hinges on sticking to a timeline; [Dominion] has said that publicly several times,” Canavan says. “So every time we appeal something, every time we drag out a lawsuit, every time someone steps in and does some sort of direct action, it throws them off their timeline.”

Canavan even hinted at some potential targets.

“Dominion is starting to move forward with preliminary steps like clearing off ‘Site A’ [a parking and storage space a mile and a half away from the main site] and starting construction of their pier,” she says. “I fully expect to see autonomous direct action begin to take place.”

“What I would like to see?” asks Batty. “Maybe something a bit creative and a little bit cheeky—you can do [those actions] in a way that makes people feel really great, and those are always the most powerful.”

The gang

Of the 60 or so camp attendees, only a handful actually reside in Calvert County. Most travelled to Jug Bay from D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. Many had already met each other at similar action-oriented camps: Shalefield Justice Spring Break in central Pennsylvania, which focused on fracking, or Mountain Justice Spring Break, based this year in northern West Virginia, and geared toward the coal industry.

The roving band of mostly 20-somethings is driven by an intense love for the eco-system, an equal measure of hatred for extractive industries and a deep mistrust in state-led responses to the climate crisis.

Earth First!ers and their allies tend to practice an intense form of “security culture”—a set of organizing principles designed to minimize the risk of information leaks to hostile parties. While activists may all consider themselves part of the same cause, they often work in individual affinity groups, i.e. “cells,” that don’t share information with each other.

Keeping from being publicly identified was a major concern for some.. At one point, I was reprimanded by a few activists for taking photos of the mock direct action that Nadine Bloch facilitated (despite identifying myself as a journalist, warning that I planned to take photographs, and getting approval from Bloch) Some of the participants accused me of violating their consent and insisted that I delete every photo I took. When I photographed a different session, a handful of people moved in order to get out of the shot.

This struck me as a bit paranoid, but it’s not without basis. In Green Is The New Red, a book recommended to me by several different Jug Bay campers, journalist Will Potter chronicles the U.S. government’s post-9/11 crackdown on radical environmentalists and animal rights advocates. The period is often known as the “Green Scare.”

The Bush administration may be gone, but the federal government still has an unfortunate tendency to treat peaceful environmental activists like violent terrorists. Sometimes this takes the form of draconian charges: Last December, for example, anti-Keystone XL activists were charged with staging a “terrorism hoax” after unfurling a banner at the Oklahoma City headquarters of Devon Energy.

Oftentimes, it’s just surveillance: This February, the Columbus Free Press obtained a July 2013 report from an FBI-Pennsylvania State Police Joint Terrorism Task Force focused on “eco-terrorism.” The report mentioned Marcellus Shale Earth First, warning that Pennsylvania and New York Earth First chapters were engaged in “active training events related to civil disobedience.”

But it’s part of the game, says Gabriel Echeverri, an ethnobotany major at Frostburg State University. “If you fight these kinds of things, if you fight these corporations, if you fight these governments, and your movement has any teeth to it, they come after you,” he says.

And there’s no doubt it’s worth it, he says.

“It’s necessary to fight to be able to look myself in the eye, to be able to have any kind of interaction with this natural world that I consider to be home, to be able to hold my head high when I walk through the woods and interact with the rest of our brothers and sisters in creation. To be able to do that, I have to do this. I have to fight,” Echeverri continues. “And maybe there is a certain amount of self-satisfaction that comes from throwing a wrench in the gears. From just screwing with them.”

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Running from the Devil

An interview with grand jury resister Steve Jablonskiexilehigh-1024x662

by Doug Gilbert / CrimethInc.

If you were contacted by the FBI, what would you do? Do you know who you would call? Would you be able to find a lawyer? Would you quit your job? Would you talk to your partner, your comrades, your parents? More importantly, would you talk to the government? If the FBI informed you that you were being made to stand before a grand jury, at which you could not have a lawyer present and you might face jail time if you did not answer questions—what would you do?

In 2012, several anarchists in the Pacific Northwest had to answer these questions. They were brought before the court to determine if they knew anything or anyone that was connected to a riot that broke out on May Day of that year. Three people kept their mouths shut and did several months in jail. One other person talked and was released, and quickly vanished without telling her former friends what she had done.

What follows is the experience of another person, Steve Jablonski, who took another route. While standing in solidarity with other people in the Pacific Northwest who resisted the grand jury, Steve instead decided to leave the country in order to avoid spending time in jail. Steve, like his comrades, kept his mouth shut in the face of government repression, but also faced other obstacles. He had to contend with the police forces of another country, and continues to face the realities of political repression now that he has returned.

There are many ways to defy the powers that be. Sometimes, you keep your mouth shut and do a few months; other times, you flee the country. We leave it up to you, dear reader, to choose what is right for you.“Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”
–T-Bone Slim

Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you arrive in the Pacific Northwest and become an anarchist? Continue reading

Freedom Friday to fight repression

ALL OUT at the Durham Jail FRIDAY the 13th

June 12, 2014

durhamFrom Amplify Voices

Statement by Inside-Outside Alliance, June 2014

“Cause summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ in the streets.”
‑‑Martha and the Vandallas, 1964

“Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fightin’ in the streets.”
–The Rolling Stones, 1968

We endorse the call out for a demonstration at the Durham jail on Friday June 13th and invite anyone to join us in filling the heavy June evening air with the sounds of drums, shakers, kazoos, pots, pans, whistles and anything that makes noise. It is right to rebel, and it is always right to show solidarity with those who rebel in creative and courageous ways. So, we will stand strong for targeted eco-activists and longterm anarchist prisoners, along with prisoners poised to strike at Polk C.I. (in Butner, NC) and, of course, prisoners in the Durham jail.

Coinciding with international days of action in support of targeted radical environmental activists, we are taking the occasion of this lone Friday the 13th of 2014 to show support for the ongoing struggles of Durham jail prisoners and to register our disgust for the so-called protest rules introduced by Durham’s city council this winter.

Freedom Friday to fight repression

What do the cases of Marie Mason, Eric McDavid and other long-term eco-activist prisoners (see have in common with the situation faced by those organizing in the Durham jail against conditions and those on the outside in Durham who have been pulling back the curtain on police misconduct? Repression by state forces. This occurs and can be expected whenever there is a level of success and where official power deems that example must be snuffed out by any means necessary. To honor all prisoners in motion against their oppression, we must also fight what we face on the outside. To relight the flame of popular revolt, we must bring a good mix of Martha & the Vandallas and, if necessary,the Rolling Stones, as always we should.

Although we come in a festive mood to conjure images of a world without prisons and jails, cops, or borders, we also come in a militant mood, because Durham city council attempted this winter to straitjacket dissent and to sow the fear of resistance in the future. What more absurd thing could come from a council which in one breath in late January declares its ‘support’ of public dissent and in the other delivers its new rules of protest? The only thing more absurd is they are not new rules at all, but were only re-established after police actions and the council’s own missteps this winter.

While the fog of time may cloud some memories, it does not obscure the actual events of the winter and especially December 19, the night of the second of three vigil/demonstrations against the police. It was on that night that people, angry at the death of Jesus ‘Chuy’ Huerta and in support of his family, marched on the sidewalk to the police station in order for the family to erect a memorial, and kept to the sidewalk all the way back to CCB Plaza. Restraint and discipline were the order of the evening—and still this crowd, while dispersing, was attacked by the police, with riot cops teargassing and batoning anyone and everyone who stood in their way, and literally charging and attempting to arrest dispersed groups of young people for no reason whatsoever. City council covered for the cops’ incredible excesses that night by laying down rules for protest, specifically prohibiting night marches and the use of masks.

Interestingly, though not surprisingly, these rules were broken first not by anti-police radicals hellbent on justice, but by folks with presumably considerable disposable income at their disposal at a Mardi Gras celebration in March. Therefore, along with being a demonstration of solidarity with prisoners near and far, this noise demonstration is a clear and decisive “Piss off!” to Durham city council and its supporters. It is not time to make nice. As the poet T-Bone Slim said, “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.” We say, whenever you are presented with restrictions on protests, the only way to respond is to protest. And, we call for one that celebrates our creativity and existing struggles and points a way toward a new world.


Environmental dead-endism and prison society

“To be honest, the world is at its limit…the air is constantly polluted…This jail is not for me.” 
                                                                                                    –inmate at Durham County Jail

It may be natural for one who follows the amplify voices blog, or keeps tabs on Inside-Outside Alliance to ask, ‘Why are you making a point to support ecological activists or long-term anarchist prisoners?’ A natural question, perhaps, but one borne more out of the logic of our enemies, and the enemies of freedom everywhere. It is our enemies who seek to divide, to keep our struggles apart. In fact, the mainstream, middle-class environmental movement, which in 40-plus years has created for itself a business if nothing else, shows the fatal weakness of such an approach. In its attempts to ostensibly address serious problems—climate change, pollution, endangered species and extinction.–this moribund movement rarely acknowledges that the economic system by which we are organized–capitalism–is itself an ecocidal system. We live on a sinking ship of a planet, and the only way off—save zombie apocalypse or divine intervention—is through radical thinking and radical action, the kind for which Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and a number of others are being so severely punished.

Related to the city council’s so-called tolerance for dissent is the city’s cultivation of a label as being green and environmentally conscious, as it grabs for investment capital and burnishes its credentials as cool. Durham is full of environmentalists, and we, like so many cities, are nary the better for it. In a city largely being ‘redeveloped’ on the backs of the descendants of enslaved people and migrant laborers, and becoming more livable only by people with increasingly more money, ‘deep ecology’ is equated with individual actions such as riding one’s bicycle or ELF, composting or recycling, or with the enlightened policies of elected leaders and business elite, which result in something like the city’s monstrous embodiment of ‘green building,’ a symbol of both the bankrupt state of environmentalism and the city’s longtime marriage to white supremacy: The Durham Justice Center. A building which at every turn—even the bathrooms—heralds its energy use and sun-drenched corridors, but has less room inside its courtrooms for supporters and observers than the previous, still-standing courthouse. But what more would we expect from a building which only exists to criminalize and extract money from poor, mostly black and brown people? And whether they start out there before going to court or end up there, we must remember the next bed for a number of visitors to the “Justice Center” is a mat at the Durham County Jail.

It has been on such mats that a number of prisoners have awakened from the nightmare of existence, and sometimes dreamed of something new. That is why we endorse the noise demonstration June 13th. Just as anti-capitalist eco-warriors through their actions combat the logic of economic growth, we affirm that it’s not redevelopment or revitalization (a racial code word if there ever was one) that’s needed in Durham, it’s regeneration, nothing less than the creation of a free society. And regeneration can only come through a glorious interplay between struggle and participation, to make our dreams—not of condos and beer gardens for the few, but of bountiful gardens and beautiful music for all—a reality.

This is hell, nor are we out of it

 “Rather, the jails, like the high schools, like the swollen cities, like the polluted rivers, like the congested traffic, like the TV, like slow or quick violence, are taken for granted as the nature of things.” –Paul Goodman, 1971

Death can come in so many ways, and pondering all the ways our sick world can kill us can nearly paralyze us, but perhaps the scariest thought of all is that we live on a dying planet, one that is increasingly becoming less capable to sustain human and other animal life. It is scary because it is true. Sabotaging the system—be it destroying genetically modified crops, shutting down a plant where chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are produced, or any number of other actions—requires boldness, creativity, and an understanding that it may be necessary to destroy what we have in order to build something new. The activists behind bars who are remembered in actions and events around June 11 know that—in fact, they have lived it. They face long prison sentences, often on flimsy or manufactured evidence, or testimony by handsomely paid entrappers/informants. But there are also many in this city who recognize that the time for patience was never, and many of them are those left behind by the city’s planners—those in jail, or maybe headed toward it. Largely, these are black and brown youth, who have been ‘endangered species’ their whole lives, and for whom there actually are a ‘million ways to die’ in the city.’ Some of these youth were in the streets this winter, some of them will be the next time. All of them have the chance to be rebel workers/eco-warriors/freedom fighters in their own right.

We would like nothing better than to see the radical ecology movement to continue to learn and take initiative from those fighting for their survival in our cities, and those engaging in collective struggle from the inside, be it in a county jail or state or federal prison. An example to heed is that of West Virginia prisoners (and those outside in solidarity) resisting the state’s forced poisoning of them in the face of the coal slurry spill that despoiled the entire region’s water. Or, closer to home, the newly formed Brotherhood in N.C. prisons, as well as those coming together inside Durham jail. The slogan cannot be simply Earth First, because on a planet that’s dying it’s dying more quickly for some, and in this country, especially, it must be remembered that white supremacy and domination of the earth are two sides of the same coin.

One small but bold step. And open to leaps toward the liberation of humankind (and the rest of Earth, too)

“We were not able to choose the mess we have to live in – this collapse of a whole society – but we can choose our way out.”  –C.L.R. James

We urge anyone and everyone to join us at the jail to bring the noise and break down the walls of isolation for those inside and outside. This event is important, and not just another thing to do on a calendar, because Durham prisoners want people there; because it raises awareness of repression against radical activists; and because it is a retort to Durham city council’s attempts to shoot down the people’s power to raise serious questions and contend for space. Regardless of our individual affinities, we as a group in Inside-Outside Alliance are not especially interested in defending or raising awareness about anarchists or eco-activists being targeted. Although we think it is important to fight repression and the attempted isolation of radical activists, it is not in general what we do. This is to take nothing at all away from or diminish the principles and boldness of activists who find themselves behind bars, but we think it’s necessary to make the following assertion: all prisoners are political prisoners. We support all prisoners in motion to assert their humanity. We think these inside struggles, and those outside against police terrorism, will continue to pop off in small and large cities. It is no coincidence that this is happening and will happen in places with some of the worst air and water quality and access to healthy food, and in places that are being rapidly re-developed for the benefit of the few.

Like Marie Mason, Eric McDavid and others, we believe that a defense of the wild is urgent and necessary, but we think it must be materially connected to the destruction of what in many ways is its opposite: the penal system of cops, courts, jails and prisons. And these struggles need to be firmly connected to even more struggles, so that we may find a way not to live a little better, but to truly live. We come today as a group and with others as a modest effort to find each other in the cauldron of public protest and link struggles in the cause for freedom. We urge you to join us.

– Inside-Outside Alliance, June 2014

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Calling for Anti-Capitalist Bloc at the People’s Climate March in NYC

from AnarchistNews

black blocOn September 20, 2014, Bill McKibben’s and a host of other Green NGOs are calling for a massive march through New York City to demand “the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet. A world safe from the ravages of climate change. A world with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for everyone.”

They are expecting tens of thousands of people to arrive, and the current Facebook page already has 5000 confirmed attendees with three months until the actual event.

While we stand completely opposed to the Green Capitalist alternative that these NGOs and politicians are demanding, we do not want to let this golden opportunity pass us to once again spread anarchy through New York Fucking City and beyond. If you would of told us 3 years ago that Adbusters Magazine’s call to occupy Wall Street and produce one single coherent demand would be transformed into demand-less tent cities and months of unrest across most of the country, we would’ve mocked you openly. And yet with a extraordinary amount of anarchist intervention, we witnessed something unbelievable come to pass.

So. On September 20, we are quite simply calling for a large anti-capitalist bloc of the march to spread subversion and unrest throughout the City in ways that are as contagious and re-producable in the same way that pitching tents in parks was in 2011. Continue reading


Reset The Net: Protect Yourself from the NSA

Reset The Net: Protect Yourself from the NSA

NC to start test drilling for natural gas to lure energy industry

  • Robert Willett –
    Governor Pat McCrory, flanked, from left, by Sen. E.S. Newton, Sen. Bob Rucho, legislative staffer Jeff Warren, and Rep. Mike Hager applaud the governor after he signed a bill to allow fracking in North Carolina, at the N.C. State Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering on the Centennial Campus in Raleigh, N.C. on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.

RALEIGH Gov. Pat McCrory’s signing of major energy legislation into law Wednesday sets the stage for preliminary exploration of North Carolina’s shale gas potential, with the state government taking the lead where private industry has been reluctant to commit.

State-sponsored drilling is expected to get underway this fall in Eastern North Carolina as part of a $550,000 state effort approved last year to help the energy industry assess fracking prospects here.

Boosters of energy exploration want to expand the state’s drilling activities beyond the six counties designated last year. The Senate’s proposed budget would add more counties throughout the state and includes nearly $1.2 million to aid the energy sector by drilling, analysis and marketing. The governor’s budget includes $500,000 for drilling up to three test wells near Sanford in Lee County.

“It’s a great thing for the government to be willing to do that,” said Mark Miller, co-owner of Tar Heel Natural Gas, a Charlotte company interested in energy exploration here. “If the government can help the industry ascertain, that’s a huge hurdle to climb over to get industry to come into the state.”

The actual areas to be drilled will be determined after the state budget is finalized. The Senate passed its budget last week and sent it to the state House for consideration. The House is expected to discuss its own budget next week. While the two chambers differ on some budget provisions, the House is likely to endorse the test wells.

Critics of fracking want subsidies directed to promote solar power and wind energy, not a booming industry sector that is thriving on its own.

“It looks like a taxpayer subsidy going to the oil and gas industry,” said Cassie Gavin, lobbyist for the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club. “If they’re interested in the resource, then they should invest in exploring.”

State ready to help

But energy development has lagged here, and lawmakers eager to promote drilling in North Carolina want to send the industry a clear signal that the state is ready to help.

The Energy Modernization Act, enacted into law Wednesday, clears the way for issuing fracking permits 61 days after safety rules are adopted. Permits could be issued as early as March and almost certainly by the fall of 2015.

McCrory signed the law at N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus flanked by key lawmakers and Cabinet secretaries who are involved in developing an energy sector for the state. Security was tight with both campus and Raleigh police, but there were no protesters.

“Now for the first time North Carolina is getting into energy exploration,” McCrory said, who passed out the pens used to sign the legislation. “North Carolina has been sitting on the sidelines for too long.”

An inducement to industry

Still, energy companies are not likely to spend millions of dollars to explore here if their investment won’t pay off. Producing natural gas for commercial use would require drilling horizontally through several thousand feet of prehistoric shale rock and using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to release natural gas trapped in the rock formations.

North Carolina’s shale gas potential remains speculative and is based on about 15 core samples collected in past decades as well as a handful of test wells in Lee County that have struck gas, said State Geologist Kenneth Taylor. Lee, Moore and Chatham counties are believed to be the state’s epicenter for natural gas and related fossil fuels commonly called “wet” gas.

Pinpointing the best sources of the shale gas could require drilling several hundred test wells, Miller said. North Carolina’s offer to drill several more test wells would be an inducement for the industry to pick up the slack, he said, but no guarantee of success.

Bids from contractors are due June 21 for drilling the core samples in the Cumberland-Marlboro basin, approved by the legislature last year for a swath that includes Wayne, Sampson, Scotland and Hoke counties.

Drilling could start in fall

If the funds for drilling remain in the state budget, Taylor said, the core samples could also be drilled as early as this fall. He said the drilling locations haven’t been selected but they would be on state-owned property.

Drilling core samples doesn’t produce gas; instead, it provides cylinders of soil and rock that can be chemically analyzed for organic carbon, the common marker for natural gas, oil and other fuels.

Vertical core samples are also cheaper than drilling gas test wells, costing between $400,000 and $500,000 for a 4,000-foot core, versus more than $1 million per gas well, Taylor said. Drilling for gas is more complicated and requires “stimulating” the well by fracturing the surrounding rock with high-pressure water or nitrogen foam.

“It’ll get information that companies need to make a decision,” Taylor said of core samples. “We can get information if there’s gas there or not without going into the exploration business.”

Republican Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson, one of the advocates of shale gas exploration, said he has discussed the state’s energy prospects with several energy companies that have expressed interest in North Carolina.

Newton predicted that, by 2017, “the picture will become very clear for the industry as to the extent of the resources” in the state.

Murawski: 919-829-8932

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“Put Pittsboro First!” Rally, 6 p.m. • Before PBOC Meeting Chatham County Historic Courthouse, June 9

Reposted from

Address: US 64 and US 15-501, Pittsboro Pittsboro, NC 27312

US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sent comments to the Town of Pittsboro on May 22, 2014 expressing concerns about the need for protection of Chatham Park waters and lands that are habitats to endangered and threatened species. These comments on the revised PDD Master Plan are the third time that USFWS has weighed in on Chatham Park urging the Town of Pittsboro “to uphold their obligations under the Endangered Species Act”.

“The Service’s previous comments to the Town have encouraged the Chatham Park Investors to work with the Town staff to address issues of secondary and cumulative impacts, and we have offered assistance to the Town as considerations are made for protecting fish and wildlife resources in its jurisdiction. Our review of the revised PDD Master Plan Site Elements indicates that these measures have not been incorporated, and thus have not been adequately addressed. The Service is concerned that without detailed natural resource-focused planning and wildlife-friendly zoning, the secondary and cumulative impacts associated with increased development in this area (particularly Residential Areas l.I, 1.2, 1.3, and 1 .5 indicated on the Land Use Plan map) could result in significant degradation of aquatic habitats or extirpation of listed species. Again, we urge Chatham Park Investors to work with Town planning staff to address issues of secondary and cumulative impacts, especially since the Town has previously committed to protective measures in the watersheds draining to the Haw River.”

Specific concerns raised:

  • Concerns about how the magnitude of a project like Chatham Park will impact streams that drain directly to occupied habitat for the federally endangered Cape Fear shiner. “Because the Cape Fear shiner is present in low numbers and the range of surviving populations are restricted, this fish species is vulnerable to threats to its habitat such as land use changes,… the entire length of the Haw River flowing through Chatham County, ending at Jordan Lake) as necessary habitat for the recovery of the species”.
  • Several federal at-risk species (yellow lampmussel, brook floater and Septima’s clubtail dragonfly are also present in the project area. Federal goals for the conservation of trust resources depend explicitly on the sustained integrity of the Haw River ecosystem.
  • Many areas along the Haw River are recognized for their rarity, ecological function in the landscape, and unique natural resources that they support. The importance of the habitats these areas provide for fish and wildlife makes protection from habitat degradation essential.
  • On October 2, 2013, USFWS proposed the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis, or NLEB) for listing as endangered under the ESA. USFW Service has evidence that NLEB are found in Chatham County, near the project site.
  • USFWS points out that when the Town of Pittsboro got approval for its wastewater discharge (NPDES) permit on the Haw River “ committed to adopt several protective measures that were detailed in NCWRC’s Guidance Memorandum to Address and Mitigate Secondary and Cumulative Impacts to Aquatic and Terrestrial Wildlife Resources”. These measure specifically indicate that protective measures will be implemented , “including 200ft buffers on perennial streams and 100ft buffers on intermittent streams draining to the Haw River, 300ft buffers along the Haw River, and for new developments draining to the Haw River (i.e. Tract 1 in the EIS, which equates to areas 40,60, and 63 in the Chatham Park Investors Assemblage Map) exceeding 6%imperviousness, the Town requires the developer to include stormwater controls designed to replicate and maintain the hydrographic condition at the site prior to the change in landscape.”

To read the full letter from USFWS to the Town of Pittsboro go to: USFWS to PBO BoC_comments on revised Chatham Park PDD Master Plan

North Carolina governor signs law paving way for fracking

RALEIGH N.C. Wed Jun 4, 2014 1:28pm EDT

Republican Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina makes remarks during a ''Growth and Jobs in America'' discussion at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, February 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Republican Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina makes remarks during a ”Growth and Jobs in America” discussion at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, February 23, 2014.

(Reuters) – North Carolina’s governor signed a law on Wednesday that will lift a longtime state ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, allowing shale gas exploration to begin as early as next year.

The Republican-led state legislature moved quickly last week to fast-track permits for fracking, in which rock formations are cracked and infused with chemical-laced water to extract natural gas. Continue reading

Event with the Botanical Hiker: Plant Identification on the Mountains-To-Sea Trail

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella)




Adventures in Hiking, Wild Foods, Herbal Medicine, and Gratitude

Monday, June 9th  at 7:00pm

Discussion with Heather Houskeeper, author of A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Internationalist Bookstore 405 W. Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC

Internationalist Books has  the book in stock now! Come check it out, and join us for this informative conversation! The book is a backpacker’s practical guide to identifying and harvesting edible and medicinal plants found along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, complete with recipes to transform them into delicious backcountry meals and snacks.

For more info:

There will also be an event on Tuesday: Continue reading