Archive for the ‘The Environment’ Category
Sierra Club to Engage in Civil Disobedience for First Time in Organization’s History to Stop Tar SandsPosted in Alternative Media, Big Business, No To War, Opinion, Politics, Take Action, The Environment on 01/23/2013 12:56 pm by admin
If you could do it nonstop, it would take you six days to walk from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond to President Barack Obama’s White House. For the Sierra Club, that journey has taken much longer. For 120 years, we have remained committed to using every “lawful means” to achieve our objectives. Now, for the first time in our history, we are prepared to go further.
Next month, the Sierra Club will officially participate in an act of peaceful civil resistance. We’ll be following in the hallowed footsteps of Thoreau, who first articulated the principles of civil disobedience 44 years before John Muir founded the Sierra Club.
Some of you might wonder what took us so long. Others might wonder whether John Muir is sitting up in his grave. In fact, John Muir had both a deep appreciation for Thoreau and a powerful sense of right and wrong. And it’s the issue of right versus wrong that has brought the Sierra Club to this unprecedented decision.
For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism. For Thoreau, the wrongs were slavery and the invasion of Mexico. For Martin Luther King, Jr., it was the brutal, institutionalized racism of the Jim Crow South. For us, it is the possibility that the U.S. might surrender any hope of stabilizing our planet’s climate.
As President Obama eloquently said during his inaugural address, “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time, not only with the votes we cast, but the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideas.”
As citizens, for us to give up on stopping runaway global temperatures would be all the more tragic if it happened at the very moment when we are seeing both tremendous growth in clean energy and firsthand evidence of what extreme weather can do. Last year, record heat and drought across the nation wiped out half of our corn crop and 60 percent of our pasturelands. Wildfires in Colorado, Texas, and elsewhere burned nearly nine million acres. And superstorm Sandy brought devastation beyond anyone’s imagining to the Eastern Seaboard.
We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen—even though we know how to stop it—would be unconscionable. As the president said on Monday, “to do so would betray our children and future generations.” It couldn’t be simpler: Either we leave at least two-thirds of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, or we destroy our planet as we know it. That’s our choice, if you can call it that.
The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. We’ve worked hard and brought all of our traditional tactics of lobbying, electoral work, litigation, grassroots organizing and public education to bear on this crisis. And we have had great success—stopping more than 170 coal plants from being built, securing the retirement of another 129 existing plants and helping grow a clean energy economy. But time is running out, and there is so much more to do. The stakes are enormous. At this point, we can’t afford to lose a single major battle. That’s why the Sierra Club’s board of directors has for the first time endorsed an act of peaceful civil disobedience.
In doing so, we’re issuing a challenge to President Obama, who spoke stirringly in his inaugural address about how America must lead the world on the transition to clean energy. Welcome as those words were, we need the president to match them with strong action and use the first 100 days of his second term to begin building a bold and lasting legacy of clean energy and climate stability.
That means rejecting the dangerous tar sands pipeline that would transport some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, and other reckless fossil fuel projects from Northwest coal exports to Arctic drilling. It means following through on his pledge to double down again on clean energy, and cut carbon pollution from smokestacks across the country. And, perhaps most of all, it means standing up to the fossil fuel corporations that would drive us over the climate cliff without so much as a backward glance.
One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King, Jr., although it has its roots in the writings of Theodore Parker (an acquaintance of Henry David Thoreau): “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
I believe that, given sufficient time, our government would certainly follow the moral arc that leads to decisive action on this crisis. We have a democracy, and the tide of public opinion has shifted decisively. What’s more, I doubt that even the most ardent climate denier actually wants to destroy our world.
We have a clear understanding of the crisis. We have solutions. What we don’t have is time. We cannot afford to wait, and neither can President Obama.
Massey official sent to jail for cover-up
The former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in a federal prison for conspiring to cover up mine safety violations before the 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.
Gary May, 43, of Bloomingrose, W.Va., had faced up to five years in prison on a felony charge that he conspired to impede the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement efforts at the mine between February 2008 and the fatal explosion on April 5, 2010. He pleaded guilty in March 2012 and cooperated with the investigation into the tragedy, the nation’s worst mine disaster in four decades.
Three separate investigations concluded the disaster was preventable but occurred because then-mine owner Massey Energy routinely circumvented numerous federally mandated safety requirements in order to reap higher profits.
May, the highest-ranking Massey official to be sentenced thus far, began working at Upper Big Branch as a foreman in February 2008 and became mine superintendent in October 2009. He admitted that he and others conspired to impede MSHA in administering and enforcing mine health and safety laws at Upper Big Branch mine.
May said he gave advance warning of MSHA inspections, often using code phrases to avoid detection. He admitted that when he knew inspections were imminent, he concealed health and safety violations such as poor airflow in the mine; piles of loose, combustible coal; and scarcities of rock dust, which prevents mine explosions. Furthermore, he acknowledged that he ordered the falsification of a mine examination book and told miners to rewire the methane gas detector on a piece of mine equipment so it could run illegally.
Separate investigations by MSHA, the United Mine Workers of America and an independent panel appointed by former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin concluded that the fatal blast occurred because Massey let highly explosive methane gas and coal dust accumulate inside Upper Big Branch, and that worn and broken cutting equipment created a spark that ignited the combustible materials. Because water sprayers were broken and clogged, what should have been a mere flare-up erupted into a deadly inferno that ripped through miles of underground tunnels, killing the men.
In addition to imposing the prison sentence in Beckley, W.Va., U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger ordered May to pay a $20,000 fine and sentenced him to three years of supervised release. In sentencing May, she emphasized that his actions risked catastrophic consequences and that mine business interests cannot be put ahead of mine safety laws.
“With this sentence, Judge Berger took the opportunity to send a powerful message to this mine manager and other mine managers who would put profits over safety: If you violate mine laws and put miners at risk you will go to jail,” said Booth Goodwin II, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.
Several other officials have been charged in the investigation of the mine tragedy. The highest-ranking among them is David Hughart, former president of Massey’s Green Valley Resource Group, who was charged in November with violating mine safety laws and conspiring to impede inspectors. Like May, he has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate in the continuing criminal probe by the FBI and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
The former security chief at the mine, Hughie Stover, was sentenced in February to three years in federal prison for lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy documents following the fatal blast. Former mine foreman Thomas Harrah pleaded guilty in October 2011 to making false statements and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
First Published January 18, 2013 12:01 am
A former key executive of the company that owned the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia where 29 miners were killed in an underground explosion in 2010 has been charged with violating mine safety laws and conspiring to impede federal mine inspectors.
David Hughart, 53, of Crab Orchard, W.Va., former president of Massey Energy Co.’s Green Valley Resource Group, was charged Wednesday in federal district court in Beckley, W.Va.
Federal prosecutors said Mr. Hughart, the highest-ranking official charged to date in an ongoing investigation, has agreed to plead guilty and is cooperating with the investigation spurred by the Upper Big Branch tragedy, the nation’s worst mining disaster in four decades.
Mr. Hughart’s plea agreement may indicate prosecutors are targeting officials higher on the Massey executive chain, possibly including controversial former CEO Don Blankenship, whose critics said valued profits at the expense of safety. He retired at the close of 2010. His Washington, D.C., attorney was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Four investigations into the Upper Big Branch disaster concluded that poorly maintained machines used to cut into sandstone caused a spark that ignited methane gas. Broken water sprayers then failed to stop the fire, which set off a series of explosions fueled by coal dust.
Those investigations concluded that Massey systematically covered up problems at the mine through an elaborate scheme that included sanitized safety-inspection books and a system providing advance warnings of surprise inspections by federal mine safety officials.
The wide-ranging probe of Massey has found that the company’s actions that compromised safety weren’t confined to Upper Big Branch.
“Mine safety and health laws were routinely violated [at coal mines] owned by Massey in part because of a belief that consistently following [mine safety] laws would decrease coal production,” according to the information filed against Mr. Hughart.
Authorities accuse Mr. Hughart of working with “known and unknown” co-conspirators to ensure that miners underground at Massey-owned operations received advance warning about surprise federal inspections “on many occasions and various dates” between 2000 and March 2010. The advance warnings provided them the time to conceal violations that could have led to citations, fines and costly production shutdowns.
The United Mine Workers of America, which consistently has criticized Massey’s safety record, was quick to react to Mr. Hughart’s charges.
“We’ve been saying for years that Massey Energy was a company that put production first, with safety being an afterthought,” UMWA International president Cecil E. Roberts said in a statement. “We look forward to the U.S. Attorney continuing his investigation, with a special emphasis on all Massey officials, regardless of title, who formulated and implemented criminal behavior, like Mr. Hughart.”
In December, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration officials announced a $209.5 million settlement agreement with Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, which took over Massey and the mine in a June 2011 merger. The firm has since announced it will seal the mine.
The settlement prevented criminal charges against the company, but did not preclude charges against individual employees. Federal authorities said the firm is assisting in the investigation, in which three former Massey employees have been charged thus far.
Gary May, the former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch mine, pleaded guilty in March to a federal fraud charge. Prosecutors said Mr. May manipulated the mine ventilation system during inspections to fool safety officials and disabled a methane monitor on a cutting machine a few months before the explosion.
In February, Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, the former security chief at Upper Big Branch mine, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy documents following the deadly explosion.
Help Defuse Utah’s Tar-sands Carbon Bomb
Utah is ground zero for Alberta-style tar-sands strip mining in the United States.
More than 140,000 acres of Utah’s eastern highlands are already open to tar-sands strip mining, and regulators have permitted mining on nearly 6,000 acres near the Book Cliffs; only a difficult court battle stands in the way of mining on the first of those lands.
Tar-sands mining would do tremendous damage, decimating wildlands, destroying sage grouse habitat and depleting and polluting Colorado River water needed by endangered fish — as well as millions of people. Once it begins, mining could set in motion a wildly inefficient cycle of energy and water use, igniting a carbon bomb that will further dry the Colorado River, melt the Arctic and acidify our oceans.
Please take a moment today to send Gov. Herbert a letter urging that he abandon his disastrous tar-sands mining plans.
(NaturalNews) Genetically engineered wheat contains an enzyme suppressor that, when consumed by humans, could cause permanent liver failure (and death). That’s the warning issued today by molecular biologist Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury in Australia.
Heinemann has published an eye-opening report that details this warning and calls for rigorous scientific testing on animals before this crop is ever consumed by humans. The enzyme suppressor in the wheat, he says, might also attack a human enzyme that produces glycogen. Consumers who eat genetically modified wheat would end up contaminating their bodies with this enzyme-destroying wheat, causing their own livers to be unable to produce glycogen, a hormone molecule that helps the body regulate blood sugar metabolism. This, in turn, would lead to liver failure.
“What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes,” said Heinemann in a press conference on the threat of GM wheat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI7n_caiTvE).
“We found over 770 pages of potential matches between these two genes in wheat and the human genome,” he continued. “We found over a dozen matches that are extensive and identical, and sufficient to cause silencing in experimental systems. The findings are absolutely assured. There’s no doubt that these matches exist. …from this information, we know that it’s plausible there will be an adverse effect and therefore that’s why we’re calling for a particular battery of experiments to be done before humans eat this wheat.”
Professor Judy Carman, biochemist and director of the IHER, Flinders University, Adelaide, added: “If this silences the same sort of gene in us — as it silences in the wheat — then, well, children who are born with this enzyme not working tend to die by the age of about five. And adults with this problem, just kind of get more and more sick, and more and more tired, until they get very very ill indeed.”
She continues, “Before this comes near any human feeding studies, you need to undertake thorough animal safety assessments, where you actually look to see if the animals get sick. So you need to see if this genetic modification survives digestion and gets into the bodies of the animals. You need to see what effect it has on them. You need to do proper long-term toxicology studies… you need to check for cancer, you need to see if there are any reproductive problems, and you need to check for allergies…”
CLARIFICATION: This note was added after initial publication to help clarify the status of GM wheat. Currently, GM wheat is not commercialized. It’s not yet found in everyday foods. But the GMO industry is trying to commercialize it while skipping any real safety testing and buying off regulators to declare it safe. GM corn, of course, is already widely used in foods, as is GM soy. But GM wheat is not yet in the food supply. If we don’t resist the domination of the biotech industry, however, it soon will be.
GMO pushers want you and your children to be the guinea pigs
As you consider this information, keep in mind that GMO pushers want you and your children to eat GMOs that have never been safety tested on anyone! You are simply supposed to believe in the safety of GMOs, like a cult followers, without any scientific evidence proving it.
In today’s corporate-run quack science agricultural system, YOU are the human guinea pigs. There is no science behind the safety of GMOs, and in fact the real science shows that GMOs cause infertility, sickness and disease in the animal tests that have been done. GMOs are a threat to humanity, and those who promote them are junk science villains who have sold their souls to the criminal biotechnology industry.
The GMO industry is so evil that it doesn’t even want you to know you’re eating GMOs! That’s why industry giants are funneling tens of millions of dollars into a scheme to try to defeat Proposition 37 in California (www.CArighttoknow.org) which would legally mandate the labeling of GMOs on food products.
Even popular brands that “sound” natural are actually fighting against GMO labeling: Kashi, Larabar, Cascadian Farm, R.W. Knudsen, Silk and other brands have all betrayed consumers and are now the subject of a global Natural News boycott.
Australian regulators sell out to Monsanto
In commenting on all this, Dr Brian John of GM-Free Cymru said:
“What we see here is yet another example of a GM wheat variety released into the environment without any proper assessment of health and safety issues. CSIRO and the Australian and New Zealand regulators have long had a strategy of promoting GM crops which nobody actually wants, with a degree of enthusiasm that verges on criminal negligence. We see a very similar scenario in the UK, where GM wheat is being grown at Rothamsted in spite of strong public opposition and in spite of zero market demand, just to satisfy the whims of politicians and multinational corporations. It is high time for this absurd and dangerous experiment with GM technology to be stopped in its tracks, since new evidence of harm to health and the environment now seems to be appearing on a weekly basis.” (http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14181-gm-wheat-health-dange…)
See the background on CSIRO here:
It shows that CSIRO has financial ties to Monsanto and other biotech companies.
Read the expert scientific opinion reports
(Thanks due to GMwatch.org for this list.)
CSIRO = Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
FSANZ = Food Standards Australia New Zealand
OGTR = Office of the Gene Technology Regulator
Background on Jack Heinemann
I am a molecular biologist. I have been an academic at the University of Canterbury since 1994. Prior to that, I was employed by the US National Institutes of Health. My doctorate was conferred by the University of Oregon at Eugene (1989) and my Bachelor of Science (with honours) degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1985). I am involved in risk assessment research and participate in risk assessment through evaluation of assessments provided to regulatory bodies and through the development of international guidance documents for risk assessment. I have over 100 scholarly works published on the topic of molecular biology, genetics, risk assessment and other scientific matters within my expertise. I publish in leading international journals and my work has been recognised by prestigious professional organisations for its excellence.
Watch the Mike Adams video commentary on this breaking news story:
Watch the presentation of Jack Heinemann
A pesticide called Clothianidin is potentially killing bees and threatening our food supply. An EPA consultation on whether to suspend the use of these toxic pesticides closes on Tuesday. Let’s seize this opportunity to save the bees and flood the EPA with public support to stop these pesticides! Send an urgent message to the EPA now
More than four years ago, decked out in his trademark yellow cap and shirt, Larry Gibson famously waited his turn at a political rally in Beckley, W. Va., and finally got the chance to ask then-presidential candidate Barack Obama whether he would defend the land and people of central Appalachia.
Few people in our country were so fearless in the face of political pressure, bankers, Big Coal backlash and even death threats; and fewer people had the inspiring impact of this determined mountaineer, who had spent the last two decades crisscrossing the country, leading protests and beseeching power brokers to defend his Appalachian mountains from reckless strip mining operations.
His message was simple and to the point: Love them or leave them, just don’t destroy them.
Today, working on his beloved Kayford Mountain homeplace — the symbolic sky island surrounded by nearly 8,000 acres of mountaintop removal devastation that has served as an important training ground for a generation of activists, educators and chroniclers — 66-year-old Larry Gibson reportedly died from a heart attack, as committed as ever as one of the most indefatigable, cherished and courageous spokespeople in the movement to abolish mountaintop removal mining.
And still waiting for Washington, D.C. to end to one of the most egregious human rights and environmental crimes in the nation.
And still waiting for an uprising in the hills of Appalachia, and the halls of Congress and the White House to join him on the frontlines of social justice.
Larry Gibson, photo courtesy of Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
“I never wanted to become an activist, but I had to,” Gibson told interviewer Taylor Lee Kirkland in 2009. He continued:
If I hadn’t I would have been torn off this mountain a long time ago. There are thousands of people around the world who have heard me speak since I started this work, but honestly I wish to God no one knew my name. I wish I didn’t have to leave my home and talk to people about mountaintop removal. Last year I traveled eight months out of the year talking to people about this stuff. But I know I have to bring this message to the world and I’m gonna fight for justice in every way I can. We have to have an uprising. This isn’t an uprising that can be bought with money, but one that’s coming from the hearts of honest and hardworking people.
As the news of Gibson’s tragic loss spreads tonight, thousands of students, educators, activists, Washington wonks and policy analysts, and journalists and filmmakers from around the nation and world continue to release statements and post photos of how one mountaineer changed their lives in his pursuit for justice on Kayford Mountain, and his patience in greeting everyone at this homeplace.
“I spent the day with Larry on Thursday,” acclaimed photographer Paul Corbit Brown emailed me. “To say he had an enormous impact on all of our lives wouldn’t be enough. To say he was a hero wouldn’t be enough. To say he changed our lives wouldn’t be enough. To say has was deeply loved and will be missed wouldn’t be enough. But let me tell you what was on his heart just days ago. He stressed that this fight was never about him or his mountain alone. It was, and is, about all of us and our shared future. It is about the thousands of young people that he called his kids. It is about those not yet born. It wasn’t about Larry Gibson and a mountain. He wanted to be a voice for all people and the mountains and homes they love. He wanted to speak for Justice and to inspire those too frightened to speak. And even those who called Larry an enemy and wished to do him harm, he spoke of them, still, as “his People.” Rest in Peace, Larry. It was only appropriate that you should be on your mountain when you left this world. You can rest assured that we who you left behind will not rest until we finish the work you so passionately and courageously began.”
“Larry was one of the strongest, kindest, most dedicated peaceful warriors for justice I’ve ever known in my life,” said Rory McIlmoil, a West Virginia-based coal and clean energy analyst. “And that no matter who you were, or which side you were on, Larry’s smile, his laugh, and his compassion would remind you that we’re all human and that we should care and fight for each other. I’m definitely going to miss Larry Gibson.”
“The world is better for all Larry did to try to ensure a future hope for besieged and blasted generations of Appalachia,” said Bob Kincaid, president of the Coal River Mountain Watch board. “At Kayford Mountain, he was among the first to show the world the ravages of Mountaintop Removal, making real and immediate and undeniable the coal industry’s most dirty secret. Where I’m sure he is, I know the waters run clear and cool, and the air is no longer choked with dust, and Larry smiles in leisure well-earned.”
“For those who love mountains, Larry was a god,” wrote Rob Perks, with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. “There was no one like him, a man who literally put his life on the line to keep the coal industry from stealing our shared legacy. His spirit will live on in our continued fight to end The travesty of mountaintop removal.”
“Larry’s endlessly inspiring efforts and words are exemplary of a true hero,” noted Chelsea Marie Ritter-Soronen, a St. Louis-based artist who took part in Mountain Justice and direct action protests in West Virginia. “Like many, I’ll never forget the first time I heard him speak about mountaintop removal, it simply changed my life.”
Urge Secretary Clinton to conduct a new and rigorous review of the Keystone XL!
TransCanada has submitted a revised application for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but the State Department is signaling it will not conduct the kind of thorough environmental review that President Obama promised. Tell Secretary Clinton to undertake a review that reveals the true and far-reaching impacts of this disastrous project!
The Arctic ice we all depend on is disappearing. Fast. Soon it could be ice free for the first time since humans walked the Earth. This would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there – but for the rest of us too.
Learn more at SaveTheArctic.org