Environmental racism

Paul Street, Among the Pipeline Fighters in Central Iowa, September 8, 2016

“There is a time,” Mario Savio famously said just more than half a century ago, “when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”

That’s easier said than done, but you’ve got to make a start.

various, An Open Letter to the Labor Movement: Stand in Solidarity With #NoDAPL, September 8, 2016

Editor's Note: This appeal has been updated to address the attack on the demonstrators were attacked by private security led dogs.

Fellow Workers:

If you've not read or seen the news about the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the vast and growing opposition to it (#NoDAPL) by now, you've not been paying attention.

According to One Account,

Beneath the cover of the endless presidential election season, which in Iowa started a year and a half ago, the Texas-based company Dakota Access LLC (a division of the corporation Energy Transfer Partners [ETP]) has moved methodically ahead with its plan to build this ugly, winding, and ecocidal tube of death. The $4 billion, 1134-mile project would carry 540,000 barrels of largely fracked crude oil from North Dakota’s “Bakken oil patch” daily on a diagonal course through South Dakota, a Sioux Indian burial ground,18 Iowa counties, and a Native American reservation to Patoka, Illinois. It will link with another pipeline that will transport the black gold to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

Right now, several thousand indigenous tribal members (supported by over 160 tribes), land owners, environmentalists, climate justice activists, and supporters of #BlackLivesMatter have gathered together into two camps in rural North Dakota to organize nonviolent resistance to this massive project which will parallel and match the length of the infamous (but rejected by Presidential order) Keystone XL pipeline.  Several others have been protesting all along the pipeline's route over the past couple of weeks. These 1000s strong intrepid folks are supported nationally and internationally by 100,000s.

The leaders in this effort have done all they can working "within the system" to oppose this project to no avail:

Anti-pipeline activists have been playing by all the official local, state, and federal rules. They’ve gone through the established channels of law and procedure. They’ve worked the legal and regulatory machinery to the point of exhaustion. They’ve gone through all available avenues of reason and petition. They’ve written and delivered carefully worded petitions and given polite, fact-filled testimony to all the relevant public bodies. They’ve appealed to the IUB. They’ve appealed to the Army Corps of Engineers and to numerous other federal agencies and offices including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Advisory on Historic Preservation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. They’ve sued in court, defending farmers’ traditional American-as-apple-pie private property rights...And it’s all been for naught because the state is stuck in the deep pockets of Big Carbon. Last week a long-awaited district court ruling in Des Moines gave DA, ETP, Enbridge, and Marathon and their big financial backers what they wanted. DA is free to complete construction on fifteen parcels where the farm owners had challenged the state’s right to enforce eminent domain on behalf of the Bakken snake.

This project would represent a disaster for the world's climate. Already humanity is experiencing a climate emergency--as the increase in the Earth's average overall surface temperature has surpassed 1°C--brought on by fossil fuel capitalism. Every sensible scientific peer reviewed study dictates that in order to avoid the destruction of the ability of humanity (and much else living) to survive on our planet, the global increase must reach no higher than 2°C, at most (and most agree that an increase beyond 1.5°C would be bad enough). In order to do this, at least 80% of the known fossil fuel "reserves" must remain in the ground. This pipeline would make that prospect increasingly difficult, because it is designed to facilitate the continuing extraction of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

Worse than that, this pipeline represents the further colonization of indigenous lands, particularly that which lie adjacent to or solidly within the path of this project.

None of this is necessary. Studies show that all of the world's energy needs can be met by a combination of conservation, 100% renewable energy generation--which is entirely feasible using existing technology, and a reordering of the world's economic systems to facilitate production for need, not profit. The 100,000s of people who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline understand this.

In spite of this massive opposition however, one group, in particular, has remained disturbingly silent, and that's labor unions.

Rory Carroll, The Guardian, August 25, 2016

In one corner of the field, children plucked berries and mashed them into their mouths. In another they tugged carrots from the soil and waggled them in the air, squealing with delight. Others trundled around the grounds in a choo-choo train decorated as a bumble bee.

There was a cow bounce, a chicken show, an animal petting corral, a hay pyramid, a combine harvester slide, picnic tables and, depending on parental budgets, a choice of standard birthday party, deluxe birthday party and pony paddock birthday party.

Michael Gasser, Santa Cruz Ecological Justice, July 18, 2016

In Santa Cruz, California for the past year, a struggle has been brewing over the survival of a community garden. Although insignificant in the larger scheme of things, this small campaign has much to teach us about the way different forms of injustice converge, about the relationships among different forces within US cities in the 21st century, and about how to and how not to build a campaign to fight the environmental racism in our midst.

Robert Fletcher and Bram Büscher, aeon, March 4, 2016

Edward O Wilson is one of the world’s most revered, reviled and referenced conservation biologists. In his new book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, he comes out with all guns blazing, proclaiming the terrible fate of biodiversity, the need for radical conservation, and humanity’s centrality in both.

Sohara Mehroze Shachi, UNDP, November 23, 2015

With multiplying impacts of climate change - increasing floods, cyclones, and drought - thousands of climate refugees are migrating to Dhaka. And the city, well beyond its carrying capacity, is bursting at the seams.

The word most often associated with Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is perhaps, "overpopulated." Supporting more than 14 million people on less than 325 square kilometers (125 square miles) of land, the city's drainage, waste management and transportation infrastructure is on the brink of collapse.

Heather Rogers, The Intercept, November 5, 2015

ALLEN LEBLANC LED A VIGOROUS LIFE as a young man growing up in Mossville, Louisiana. He had a sheet-rocking business, drove trucks, and worked at the Conoco oil refinery. He helped his mother and stepfather run their nightclub, where Tina Turner and James Brown used to play. He also helped out at home with his five children, and he would paint, fix broken windows, and mow lawns for neighbors who couldn’t afford to maintain their houses. Now, at 71, LeBlanc is on disability, and for most of the last decade he has refused to leave his house.

Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams, October 20, 2015

Hoping to shed light on how Ecuadorian Indigenous and mestiza women are subject to systemic criminalization and repression for their work protecting the Amazon rainforest from fossil fuel exploitation and

Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby, The Conversation, September 24, 2015

In recent years there has been significant movement toward land acquisition in developing countries to establish forestry plantations for offsetting carbon pollution elsewhere in the world. This is often referred to as land grabbing.

These carbon trading initiatives work on the basis that forestry plantations absorb carbon dioxide and other polluting greenhouse gases. This helps to undo the environmental damage associated with modern western lifestyles.

Ruth Breech, Rainforest Action Network, August 24, 2015

“With the support of good people and the resilience of brave people, it seems like anything can be accomplished. Sustain the Nine.”
— the late Pamela Dashiell, climate justice leader based in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward

With the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina around the corner — August 29th — I’ve been thinking about justice. What do environmental justice, and climate justice, mean to me? Who are my environmental justice and climate justice (s)heroes?  

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