Activists Confront Keystone XL Threat

May17AuburnWA03I recently joined hundreds of other activists on a video chat hosted by 350.org to discuss recent developments in the saga of the hotly debated and much delayed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. As you probably know by now, TransCanada wants to build the KXL pipeline to transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the tar sands of northern Alberta across the US Midwest heartland to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global oil market. TransCanada needs approval from the US State Department and President Obama to construct a pipeline across the US/Canada border. The approval process has been stalled for years due to persistent grassroots opposition and in recent months held up due to a lawsuit brought by landowners in Nebraska who successfully argued in lower courts that the planned route of the pipeline was illegally drawn and granted the builders improper use of eminent domain. While waiting for the Nebraska Supreme Court to decide whether to uphold the lower court’s decision, the permit for the pipeline’s path through South Dakota expired leaving the oil giant facing the dilemma of having no legal route for the pipeline while oil prices on the global market are plummeting cutting into their profit margin for a product that is the most expensive (and filthiest) fossil fuel to extract, transport and refine.

The most recent bit of political drama in this ongoing saga was played out in the lame duck Congress when Mary Landrieu, the embattled Democratic Senator from Louisiana, bet the catfish farm on a Hail Mary attempt to pass a bill that would have approved construction of the Keystone pipeline. The bill was defeated by a razor-thin margin of one vote, and Landrieu lost her seat in a December run-off to Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. 350.org credits this victory to citizen activists who made phone calls to fence-sitting senators as well as Occupy-style sit-ins at the offices of Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado at which 350 DC activists were arrested.

KleebOrganizer for 350.org Duncan Meisel introduced Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska. Kleeb informed listeners that the Nebraska Supreme Court decision could come soon, and expressed the belief that whatever the Court decides, the outcome will be bad for TransCanada. If the lower court decision is upheld, there is no legal route for the pipeline through Nebraska, but even if they strike down the lower court, the lawsuit has shone a light on risks to the environment that reveal shortcomings and omissions in the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement which could solidify grassroots opposition and give Obama some political cover for a decision to reject the pipeline. One other possibility is that the Supreme Court could decide that the landowners do not have standing as plaintiffs and that could cause more delays and uncertainly in a legal process that has already held up the pipeline for several months. Kleeb is encouraged that President Obama has recently stated that building the pipeline poses catastrophic environmental risks while offering few jobs or other economic benefit and takes these statements as an indication that the President is poised to reject the pipeline outright if it lands on his desk, as seems likely to happen in the near future.

GoodtoothNext to speak was Dallas Goldtooth, Keystone XL Campaigner at the Indigenous Environmental Network. He described the situation in South Dakota where indigenous Lakota, Dakota and Sioux have strong legal and moral standing in opposing the re-permitting of the pipeline route through their lands. A hearing on January 6, 2015 could see TransCanada’s appeal to extend the permit dismissed on the grounds that the tribes were not properly consulted in the permitting process, a right that is established in federal law and the importance of which was recently cited in a speech by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. If the permit is not extended, a lengthy new feasibility study would be required, giving both native and non-native landowners the opportunity to make their voices and opposition to the tar sands projects heard. Goldtooth and Meisel stressed that tar sands extraction is a vicious process that lays waste to pristine boreal wilderness, endangers wildlife, and is also destructive to human health and society as well. The increase in violence against women near the “man camps” similar projects have already created is a serious problem that bears consideration in the approval process.

Sara Shor, 350.org Keystone XL Campaign Manager, pointed out that Mitch McConnell, who will be Senate Majority Leader in 2015, has pledged to bring up another vote to approve the Keystone XL. We can expect such a bill to be tied to must-pass legislation in the manner seen with partisan give-away riders that were attached to the so-called CRomnibus bill in early December. Any such action, in addition to events unfolding in Nebraska and South Dakota, could trigger calls for activists to participate in anti-KXL actions all across the country and at very short notice. The NoKXL Pledge of Resistance, for instance, is prepared to engage in broadly distributed acts of civil disobedience as soon as the decision lands on the President’s desk. Asked what would happen if, despite all the efforts to oppose the Keystone XL, President Obama does approve the pipeline, Shor replied, “All hell will break loose. This pipeline is not getting built.”

Emboldened by the success of efforts to defeat Mary Landrieu’s last minute legislative maneuvers, opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline such as 350.org and their allies are confident that they have the know-how to handle whatever is thrown at them in the next 2 to 3 months, and they are calling on like-minded folks to join them and build their capacity for effective grassroots action. Visit any of the following websites for more information and to offer your support.

350.org – Stop Keystone XL Team: http://350.org/kxlteam

 

Bold Nebraska: http://boldnebraska.org

 

Indigenous Environmental Network: http://nokxldakota.org

 

NoKXL Pledge of Resistance: http://nokxl.org

Scott Crow is in Olympia for a few days

Activist, anarchist, writer, organizer – Scott Crow – is going to be in Olympia for a few speaking engagements over the next few days. He will be at South Puget Sound Community College on Oct 25th at noon, Room 102, Building 26

Then he will be at Last Word Books on Friday, Oct 26th at 7:30 pm. and one more time in Oly on Monday, Oct 29th at Lecture Hall 2, The Evergreen State College at noon.

Want to understand anarchism? Learn more about it. It’s not what you may think.

Want to continue to misunderstand and misrepresent anarchism? As Bobby Dylan said, “you are going to have to serve somebody…” Choose today, who will you serve? You are going to have to serve somebody.

Black Flags and Radical Relief Efforts in New Orleans: An Interview with scott crow

Author and activist scott crow

“Solidarity not Charity” is a way of feeding people while addressing the underlying problems that cause hunger. The way this manifested itself in Common Ground was to immediately deliver and render aid where the state had failed, and then to leave structures in place so communities can continue to rebuild themselves as they see fit.”

Interview by Stevie Peace & Kevin Van Meter

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina both federal and local authorities failed the population of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. As a result, relief efforts from various sectors of American society flowed south. One of the first and most spectacular and aggressive efforts was Common Ground Relief — formed by strands of the anti-globalization and anarchist movements. scott crow documents these struggles in “Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective”, recently released by PM Press. In this interview, Crow describes the process of becoming an author after being an organizer, reviews the history and myths of Common Ground and explores possible lessons for future progressive and radical organizing. Visit crow’s website at http://scottcrow.org/.

Can you speak to the writing process behind “Black Flags and Windmillsand your shift from an organizer to an author?

One word: difficult. I don’t consider myself a writer; and while I have written a few pieces over the years, it has mostly been out of necessity. From my arrival in New Orleans I took copious notes. Every time I would get moments to get away, I would take notes about organizing and creating an organization to deal with the disaster following Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, I wrote communiqués from just days after the storm and continued for three years. I went back to all of those writings and began turning them into chapters. On a personal level it was healing to write: I came back with post-traumatic stress, couldn’t function in society and felt like the ghost in the machine a lot. The writing actually helped me to relive those traumas in a different way, to really dissect them. It was almost a five-year process; I feel so much better now than I did when I started the book. This is not to say that “Black Flags and Windmills” is a sorrow-filled book. There are lots of beautiful stories along the way and lots of really engaging organizing that was going on. The book describes the anarchist heyday of Common Ground, when the most self-identified anarchists came; this was early September 2005 until 2008. Afterward, the organization became much more structured in a traditional nonprofit way. This is not to denigrate it — just to say that the book focuses on this initial period of “black flags” at Common Ground.

Since memory is a tricky thing, I did outside research and revisited with people. I went back to news articles from grassroots media, reports and blogs to look at specific events and the way things unfolded. Then, I would ask key organizers and New Orleans residents, “Do you remember when this thing happened?” Sometimes it was completely different from how I remembered it. I don’t claim to speak for Common Ground, as I think that would do a disservice to the thousands of people who participated and the hundreds of key organizers that were there.

When I tell a story I want people to understand it and create common bonds. I wrote this book for people who might not have any understanding about radical or anarchist concepts. I always ask myself, “What would my mom think about this?” While I wrote it for people like her, my target audience was those who were coming into movements and might be inspired by what Common Ground was building. I used the stories in the book to give a primer on the theoretical background of anarchism in practice. Another part of the book is telling my own personal narrative. It’s not because I think my story is important, but I wanted to show that I am a regular person that was just caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Want to know more? Read the whole piece. Come sit in on one of the events.

Austin's Picks: Is Class Struggle Anarchism

Austin K sent this link along in an email this morning. It’s a couple of years old, but it’s still worth sharing and reading. The links go to interesting websites if you have an open mind about politics, which is to say, that you can imagine political positions that are broader than the republican and democratic party talking points. I am only posting two of the points that Nate pulls from Tom’s article. If you want to see the third point, you are going to have click on the link.  Fair use can look tyrannical.

Nate uses his What in the Hell …? website the way I use smallblueplanet.org, as a staging area to gather ideas, to store links and info, then to compose from that website for publication elsewhere. For me, that makes Nate’s What in the Hell… ? particularly interesting.

What in the Hell is Class Struggle Anarchism?

July 24, 2009

Austust another WordPress.com siteIt’s

Hat tip to Tom Wetzel for this fine article. Check it out. Full disclosure and a little bragging, I know Tom, we’re both involved in the Workers Solidarity Alliance, so I’m biased. Anyhow, read his piece.

My favorite three bits are quoted below. With these bits I was reading it and I was like “yeah, this is what I try to do in this kind
of work but I haven’t put it this clearly before,” which is a cool feeling, like the article put clearly into words what had been more of a gut feeling for me or stuff I’d fumbled and put badly before.

1. “Dual organizational anarchists often say that the role of the anarchist political organization is to “win the battle of ideas,” that
is, to gain influence within movements and among the mass of the population by countering authoritarian or liberal or conservative ideas. Bakunin had said that the role of anarchist activists was a “leadership of ideas.”

But disseminating ideas isn’t the only form of influence. Working with others of diverse views in mass organizations and struggles, exhibiting a genuine commitment, and being a personable and supportive person in this context also builds personal connections, and makes it more likely one’s ideas will be taken seriously.”

2. “mass struggles and mass organizing as the process for changing society…because it is through the active participation of growing numbers of ordinary people, building and controlling their own movements, that they develop the capacity and aspirations for changing society.

From the point of view of “organized anarchism with a class struggle perspective,” two kinds of organization are needed: (1) forms of mass organization through which ordinary people can grow and develop their collective strength, and (2) political organizations of the anarchist or libertarian socialist minority, to have a more effective means to coordinate our activities, gain influence in working class communities, and disseminate our ideas. In the World War 1 era Italian anarchists coined the term “dual organization” for this perspective.

Read the whole piece if you have a couple of minutes.

Politics and Entertainment!

M & I are working on two campaigns for the regular election. The first is Thomas Bjorgen’s run for the Court of Appeals. Tom would simply make a superb judge and I think it’s going to happen. I am certainly going to work to make it happen.

The second campaign we are pounding on is the Thurston Public Power Initiative. This initiative will allow the existing Public Utility District to expand from water services to water and electricity. Thurston is the only county in SW Washington that does not have a public power option. We are going to fix that. This is a pretty simple matter of keeping electric rates low by allowing for competition. A private banking company from Australia purchased Puget Sound Energy a few years ago. PSE is not a local company and the Macquarie Group that owns PSE took 17 million dollars out of Thurston County last year in profits. These profits were offset by the power outages that occurred in Thurston County last winter with the ice storm. I am on PUD power in Lewis County, my power never blinked. Some PSE customers in Thurston County were without power for a week or more. Some advocates for the PSE power monopoly think the solution is that homeowners buy generator sets for back up power. Lots of us think the solution is local jobs trimming the trees and maintaining the lines, local power generation through a PUD that is rooted in the local community and has a commitment to local, sustainable power generation, and local accountability. The PUD commissioners get to face the voters on a regular basis. When do we get to vote on the management of the Macquarie Group or Goldman Sachs or other private financial institutions?

Public power or private profits? That is the choice.

Here is Jon Eppo Epstein sharing his thoughts on the matter:

Occupy Olympia!

We are underway in the WA State capitol city with an occupation that started back iWisconsin, workers out in the coldn the spring when we had a week of action to challenge the legislature to close loopholes and raise revenue instead of cutting essential services. The state has so far been unable and/or unwilling to challenge initiative-based mandates that hamstring revenue generation, but I think the occupation in Wisconsin inspired the WA activists to seize the rotunda for a day or two.

A lot has happened this year. The occupy Wall Street movement was planned from mid summer as fas as I can recall and appears to have picked up momentum. I would like to think that the oligarchs have overplayed their hand, that we have reached a national critical mass that is committed to leveling the playing field. If so, it’s bad news for the millionaires, your taxes are going up, business as usual is over. We understand that the United States has the best government that money can buy, but when the people show up in the street and start practicing democracy independent of the established political parties (dumb and dumber anyone?) maybe the game has changed. God, I hope so.

A couple of quotes for the day:

“The problem with capitalism is it puts a price tag on everything.” John Muir

“Terrorism is the war of the poor. War is the terrorism of the rich.”
— Leon Uris
(1924-2003) American novelist

Get out and take part in a general assembly somewhere. This is what democracy looks like.

Nice Edit and Video from Wall Street Occupation

There are reports of police assault on the occupation of Wall Street.   The first amendment grants us the right to assemble and speak out.  It’s a shame that this country has so little tolerance for first amendment rights.

I am reminded of the video I have seen from China when the military was streaming toward Tiananmen Square and the Chinese people flooded into the streets to slow the military, they pleaded with the soldiers to join the protest, to side with the people. The pleas were not heard.

It’s going to be hard for the protestors who occupy Wall Street to reach the police who are ordered to come in and disperse the crowds, but things change when the shock troops of the empire hear the message that peace, freedom, equality, justice are not always compatible with order.   We have to reach across the lines and ask the police to choose constitutional freedoms over order.

Live Feed from the Occupation of Wall Street

It’s a live feed, for as long as it lasts or as long as they loop the footage, so the activity and engagement level varies depending on what is going on at any given moment, but thought I would embed the video in case you want to plug in for a minute or two and “be present at this moment” in the Wall Street occupation.

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

I think it’s fair to say that the corporate media coverage of this real occupation is very slight, but they will jump and run to cover a tea party event funded by right wing plutocrats. Connect the dots, Kemosabe. Catapult the propaganda.