Albany protest: 5 arrested after oil train delayed

Environmental activists from around the region march down Pearl Street to the Port of Albany on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. The demonstration delayed oil train traffic at the Port of Albany to raise awareness for the region's opposition to all fossil fuels. The event was part of a weeklong global effort called Break Free From Fossil Fuels. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union) Photo: Cindy Schultz / Albany Times Union

Environmental activists from around the region march down Pearl Street to the Port of Albany on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. The demonstration delayed oil train traffic at the Port of Albany to raise awareness for the region’s opposition to all fossil fuels. The event was part of a weeklong global effort called Break Free From Fossil Fuels. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union) 
Hundreds oppose oil trains at the Port of Albany
ALBANY — A daylong effort to block crude oil trains brought hundreds of people near the Port of Albany, where they sat on train tracks and listened to speeches, sang and discussed nationwide and local environmental issues.

The Albany event on Saturday, organized by the coalition Break Free From Fossil Fuels, was one of several around the country and world this month.

More than 400 of the 1,500 people registered said they would be willing to be arrested for physically blocking the trains, a Break Free spokeswoman said.

 Oil trains did not come to the area where activists sat throughout the day, but five people were arrested after a demonstration near the Watervliet Reservoir in Guilderland.

There, at about 1 p.m., activists Marissa Shea and Maeve McBride delayed an oil train coming from North Dakota into the Port of Albany by rappelling off a railroad bridge that crosses the reservoir, Break Free spokeswoman Aly Johnson-Kurts said.

Guilderland police said they charged Shea, 30, of Lowell Mass., McBride, 40, of Burlington, Vermont, and team members Rachel Kijewski, 31, Lakw Worth, Fla.,Alexander Lundberg, 32, of Minneapolis, Minn. and Jordan Davis, 27, of New Windsor N.Y., with unlawful interference with a railroad train, fifth-degree conspiracy and third-degree criminal trespass. Shea was also charged with reckless endangerment.

They were all released on their own recognizance, police said.

During the incident CSX railway stopped all train traffic for over two hours.Guilderland Center and Selkirk firefighters responded to help rescue a person who refused to come to the ground, police said. One firefighter had a minor injury during the course of the rescue.

Shea and McBride are “core organizers” of the Albany Break Free action, Johnson-Kurts said. The train proceeded after the activists’ arrest, she said.

The central action Saturday consisted of sitting at train tracks in the South End. Hundreds from around the country listened to speeches in Lincoln Park before walking down Morton Avenue and Green Street to tracks near Church Street.

Chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go,” mixed with drum beats and other music, rang out as activists walked toward the tracks with signs, wind turbine replicas and megaphones.

Albany Common Council member Dorcey Applyrs, who represents Ward 1, said in an interview that the day’s energy was an inspiring moment in the long-standing fight against oil trains.

“This is the spinach we need to keep fighting,” she said before the march, adding that residents of the Ezra Prentice Homes, who live close to the trains, are “impacted every day.”

Albany Common Council member Vivian Kornegay, who represents Ward 2, said at Lincoln Park that oil trains should not be in the “backyard” of city playgrounds.

“We assume 100 percent of the risk and see minuscule benefits,” she said.

As the sunny morning faded into a cloudy and windy afternoon, some people sat in metal folding chairs that straddled the tracks, while others sprawled out on nearby grass. Colorful chalk marked up the concrete between rail lines with slogans and drawings.

At about 3 p.m., Break Free began collecting money for tarps and line so that people could stay the night, as it became clear that trains would likely not pass through that afternoon. About 80 people expressed interest in staying overnight, a Break Free organizer said.

The Rev. Marc Johnson, associate pastor at Greater St. John’s Church of God in Christ in the South End and an outspoken opponent of oil trains in Albany, spoke throughout the demonstration.

“We want clean air, we want clean water, we want a great quality of life,” he said in Lincoln Park. “We all deserve clean air.”

Johnson criticized energy company Global Partners LLC in a prepared statement. The company has facilities at the Port of Albany.

“I’ve seen the damage first hand, so I’m saying ‘no’ to the oil trains, and ‘no’ to the pipelines, not just for myself and my community, but for all humankind,” Johnson said in a statement.

Global Partners Chief Operating Officer Mark Romaine said in a statement that the company’s employees “turn our commitment to safety into a reality” and emphasized employees’ contributions to the city. “They live and work in your neighborhoods, send their kids to local schools, and shop in local stores,” he said. “In the last three years, we’ve been inspected more than 270 times, resulting in a handful of minor infractions that were promptly corrected.”

Romaine also praised law enforcement officials and public officials for their efforts to manage Break Free events this week.

But throughout the day, memories of the catastrophic Lac-Megantic, Quebec, accident were apparent. In 2013, 47 people died and a large portion of the town was destroyed when an unattended freight train carrying Bakken crude rolled into the center of town, derailed, exploded and caught fire.

Jay O’Hara, a founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, read a written statement from Marilaine Savard of Lac-Megantic to close the speeches on Saturday.

“Our old downtown is now totally razed to the ground,” she wrote, later adding that even three years later, the “community needs healing.”

lellis@timesunion.com518-454-5018 @lindsayaellis

Round River Rendezvous 2016

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Come Get Smitten in the Mitten!

Want watch the sunset over an endless body of fresh water on top of a sand dune while you consider the conversations, workshops, and experiences of an Earth First! Rendezvous? This is a possibility as organizing for the 37th Annual Earth First! Round River Rendezvous is currently underway! Folks affiliated with Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands, along with other regional eco-defenders have joined Fen Valley Earth First! to plan for next year’s Rondy. We will continue working hard through July to create space for everyone who attends to have a great experience at the 2016 EF! Rendezvous. As this organizing body contains many new faces to the Earth First! movement, we are seeking to use this as an opportunity to strengthen our movement here and abroad; as well as deepen our connections with each of you and the Great Lakes Basin.

These peninsulas were once widely inhabited by people of the Ojibwe (Chippewa in English), Odawa, and Potowatami nations, or the People of Three Fires. As occupation of European settlers became dominant, the two peninsulas dissolved into the current industrialized State called Michigan; which continues to be populated and controlled by those who refer to each other as Trolls and Yoopers. A myriad of ecological and hydrological catastrophes followed, and have continued to devastate this region over the course of colonization.

As Earth First! continues to find a focus on colonization’s effect on indigenous communities of people, we feel it is also important to understand the ecological effects of colonization. The two peninsulas surrounded by the Great Lakes saw the real and devastating effects of the developing settler culture.

Whether they are marshes, swamps, bogs, or fens – wetlands help control flooding, filter pollutants from water, create atmospheric gases (including oxygen), re-up groundwater supplies, create nutrients, and provide crucial habitats for plants, insects, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Prior to European colonization over 11 million acres of wetlands existed within the modern political borders of Michigan. 8 million acres of wetlands have been “lost” through the times of European exploration, settlement, and industrialization. This pattern continues to escalate under capitalism’s need for growth in order to survive. Commercial, industrial, and residential expansions into wetlands have more recently slowed due to government regulation, the work of conservation groups, and the realization that wetlands can benefit the human economy.

Additionally, it is critical that we recognize the industrial impact to the forests. Prior to colonization, Michigan was almost completely covered in forests. A tragic story in the forests began to unfold, as the era of industrialization’s demand for timber grew more and more aggressive. In the 1880’s and 1890’s, (right after the great Chicago Fire)the upper Midwest, and Michigan in particular, became the number one place large clear-cut operations. By the turn of the century the pine forests of the northern Lower Peninsula had been reduced to what is described as “barren waste land”.  Economically, the amount of pine harvested from this area was worth more than all of the gold mined in California. After total resource depletion, logging focus turned to the Upper Peninsula for pine, and the southern Lower Peninsula for hardwoods. Mammal populations such as the fisher, the woodland caribou, and the american marten disappeared with the forests.  The threats to the forests, waterways, and wetlands continue to evolve with the technology that drives progress.
Development persists. In a sea of concrete, rust, and superfund sites- we seek sanctuary in many small oases that dot our landscape. The lush forests, rivers, and wetlands continue to be ravaged by an escalating pattern of profitable “oopsies” and “now we knows”. These fragmented areas are facing a rapid encroachment of urban/suburban development, as wells as the monocultural Roundup Ready expansion of two massive GMO seed corn operations. The implementation of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing threatens forests down south and the active expansion up north continues despite the copious amount of fresh water this industry exploits. The Great Lakes are lined with outdated nuclear power plants and bisected with a tar sands pipeline– it’s only a matter of time before the beds and shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron resemble the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

With just a brief look at two of the several different types of ecosystems in Michigan, we can easily determine that the culture and economy developed by colonial interests continues to fuck up the land bases in between the Great Lakes.

We encourage you to consider water in the months leading up to the Rendezvous. Access to, contention over, intrinsic rights, and contamination of water will all be recurring topics in and out of workshops. Upon arrival, you will never be more than 6 miles from a body of water, or more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.

We would love to hear from you, contact us and we will continue posting updates and Michigan news here and on the EF! News Wire. We look forward to seeing ya’ll! If you want to get in the Great Lakes spirit before July try jumping in some cold water. Then warm up by making pasties (pronounced past-eees), a savory hand pie that’s localized to northern Michigan. Mix flour, shortening, and a little bit of water to make the crust. For the filling chop up rutabagas, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and other roots. If ya like, add some ground venison, preferably road kill. Season the whole mix with salt ‘n pepper. Roll out a circle of crust, put a small handful of filling on one side, fold over, and crimp closed. The pasty should be a little bigger than your hand. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Enjoy with gravy, ketchup, hot sauce, and a strong Michigan accent!

See Ya Soon!

-Fen Valley Earth First!

r r r 2 0 1 6 @ r i s e u p . n e t

Pennsylvania Township Legalizes “Nonviolent Direct Action” in Defense Against Fracking

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from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

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Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”

Grant Township Supervisor Stacy Long explained, “We’re tired of being told by corporations and our so-called environmental regulatory agencies that we can’t stop this injection well! This isn’t a game. We’re being threatened by a corporation with a history of permit violations, and that corporation wants to dump toxic frack wastewater into our Township.”
Long continued, “I live here, and I was also elected to protect the health and safety of this Township. I will do whatever it takes to provide our residents with the tools and protections they need to nonviolently resist aggressions like those being proposed by PGE.”

In 2013, residents in Grant Township learned that PGE was applying for permits that would legalize the injection well. Despite hearings, public comments, and permit appeals demonstrating the residents’ opposition to the project, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit to PGE.

Finding themselves with no other options, residents requested the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Grant Township Supervisors, with broad community support, passed a CELDF-drafted Community Bill of Rights ordinance in June 2014. The ordinance established rights to clean air and water, the right to local community self-government, and the rights of nature. The proposed injection well is prohibited as a violation of those rights.

PGE promptly sued the Township, claiming that it had a “right” to inject within the Township.

The case is ongoing. Last year, in October 2015, the judge invalidated parts of the ordinance, stating that the Township lacked authority to ban injection wells. Three weeks later, in November 2015, residents voted in a new Home Rule Charter. The rights-based Charter reinstated the ban on injection wells by a 2-to-1 vote, overriding the judge’s decision.

CELDF assisted the community with the drafting of the Charter and is representing the Township in the ongoing litigation with PGE.

Grant Township Supervisor and Chairman Jon Perry summed up the situation by saying, “Sides need to be picked. Should a polluting corporation have the right to inject toxic waste, or should a community have the right to protect itself?”

Perry continued, “I was elected to serve this community, and to protect the rights in our Charter voted in by the people I represent. If we have to physically and nonviolently stop the trucks from coming in because the courts fail us, we will do so. And we invite others to stand with us.”

Those others are showing up. Tim DeChristopher, co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, stated, “I’m encouraged to see an entire community and its elected officials asserting their rights to defend their community from the assaults of the fossil fuel industry, and I know there are plenty of folks in the climate movement ready to stand with Grant Township.”

CELDF community organizer Chad Nicholson has been working with the community since 2014. He added, “In our country’s history, we celebrate people standing up to challenge unjust laws. The American Revolution, abolition, women’s suffrage, the labor and civil rights movements, marriage equality – all required people to take action resisting illegitimate laws. All required creating new and more just laws in their place. We applaud the people of Grant Township for taking action as their community is threatened, and asserting their rights. It is an honor to stand with them.”

If you are interested in supporting the efforts in Grant Township, please contact Stacy Long, lemonphone28@gmail.com or 724.840.7214.

CPV wants plant plans to be secret, fears eco-terrorists

Several demonstrations have taken place at the construction site for Competitive Power Ventures' natural gas-fired power plant on Route 6 in Wawayanda.Several demonstrations have taken place at the construction site for Competitive Power Ventures’ natural gas-fired power plant on Route 6 in Wawayanda. ERIK GLIEDMAN/THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD

WAWAYANDA Warning of the potential of “eco-terrorism,” attorneys for Competitive Power Ventures’ Valley Energy Center are asking that structural plans for its natural gas-fired power plant be kept secret because opponents could use them “to plan attacks at the site.”

In a letter last month to the state Public Service Commission, Ruth Leistensnider, a partner at the Albany law firm Nixon Peabody, asks that drawings for the $900 million power plant being built in Wawayanda be treated as confidential because of ongoing opposition to the project. Normally the drawings would be public via the state Freedom of Information Law.

Leistensnider cites weekly protests that have occurred near the site and the December arrests of six people who tried to block the construction entrance. Those arrested included actor James Cromwell.

“Other projects in New York (and elsewhere) involving natural gas infrastructure have been the subject of similar protests, acts of civil disobedience and potentially, eco-terrorism,” Leistensnider writes.”These drawings, if disclosed, could be used by project opponents to plan attacks at the site, which could endanger the safety of construction personnel and others in the vicinity of the site.”

Pramilla Malick, another of those arrested in December, said the plant’s opponents are entirely peaceful. She said the reason CPV doesn’t want to share its plans is because they differ from what’s previously been submitted.

“We’re just mothers and concerned citizens,” Malick said. “They don’t want public scrutiny on these documents.”

The plant, which is under construction on Route 6, has been the target of protesters who maintain it will emit toxins, cause cancer and asthma and lower property values. They say it might affect threatened species like the bog turtle and the northern long-eared bat as well.

Whether the PSC will answer the letter, dated April 25, is unclear. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week instructed his administration to halt regulatory communication with CPV because of an ongoing federal probe into one of Cuomo’s former top aides, Joseph Percoco.

According to news reports, Percoco’s wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, received income from Chris Pitts LLC, a mysterious company with alleged tied to CPV.

jnani@th-record.com

 

Foundations poured, but Cuomo says plant in probe still needs approvals

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A view of the construction as of January 2016. (cpvvally.com)

By Scott Waldman 5:08 a.m. | May. 4, 2016

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a power plant that is at the center of a federal corruption probe still needs more approvals from the state, even though construction crews are now pouring its foundation.

Competitive Power Ventures already is at work on a proposed $1 billion 650-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, Orange County. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is looking into ties between the plant and Cuomo administration figures. The governor’s office has now cut off contact with CPV.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters on Monday for the first time since the scandal broke last Friday, tried to downplay the state’s action on CPV’s gas plant. He said permits issued by the state were “conditional,” though the plant began construction months ago.

“The CPV plant has not been approved, so it’s not like the plant is operating,” he told reporters. “There was a conditional early approval, they have to do a final agreement, which has never been done.”

 

For years, environmental and community groups have raised concerns about the plant, and the administration dismissed all of them, said Pramilla Malick, who runs a group called Protect Orange County that opposes the plant. Some of the numerous questions raised by local citizens over the years include whether trees were improperly cleared, whether the plant encroached upon the habitat of an endangered bat and whether it destroyed wetlands. They have also questioned why the Cuomo administration was pushing forward with a natural gas-fired power plant at a time when it was implementing climate policies, such as a fracking ban, that turned the state away from fossil fuel reliance.

“On multiple levels this project was inconsistent and incoherent with his public policies, which is why we were so bewildered with the approvals this project kept getting,” she said.

The environmental groups will hold a rally in front of Bharara’s Manhattan office on Wednesday to call for a probe into the permitting of the plant.

The plant also had a number of connections with the Cuomo administration.

Over the years, CPV has spent more than $220,000 on lobbying and donations to Cuomo’s campaign or to those of state lawmakers.

The wife of former Cuomo aide Joe Percoco received up to $120,000 from CPV, financial disclosures show. Some of the payments to Lisa Toscano-Percoco, who was a teacher in the New York City school system the year before she was employed by a consultancy firm, Chris Pitts LLC, that did work for CPV. Todd Howe, a lobbyist and longtime Cuomo friend who is also at the center of the investigation, has also done work for CPV.

On Tuesday, CPV spokesman Tom Rumsey said the company was cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“CPV has been contacted by the US Attorney’s office to provide information related to past engagements with a small number of consultants,” he wrote in a statement. “We are complying with these requests.”

Records show the state PSC signed off on a key final permit for the plant in May 2014, at a time when Percoco briefly left state employment to run Cuomo’s reelection campaign. On Tuesday, a PSC spokesman confirmed the plant did not require any more permitting from that agency. The state allowed the local town board to conduct the required environmental review for the facility.

Cuomo, on Monday, said Percoco told him he was doing consultant work while also running the campaign, but did not specify what it was for. He said he did not ask Percoco if he was still consulting upon his return to state government.

“Joe left state service and went into the private sector,” he said. “He consulted for my campaign. I knew he might be accepting consulting arrangements with other companies.”

The plant has sought a state contract that would guarantee the purchase of power from CPV, but that was not ultimately granted. The Cuomo administration considers CPV a key part of its plan to replace the Indian Point nuclear center.

Last year, the state delayed a major part of Cuomo’s Energy Highway initiative to bring more power downstate to accommodate for CPV’s entrance into the energy market. The AC transmission line plan was reworked to allow for CPV.

What Does It Look Like to Be An Environmentalist in Prison?

 by Panagioti Tsolkas / Fight Toxic Prisons

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In the fall of 2015 the Prison Ecology Project (PEP) received an anonymous letter from a prisoner at the federal prison in Dublin, California explaining how the extreme over-use of rat poison was killing wildlife all around the prison and putting prisoners at risk of exposure to the toxic substance. Communications with the group Californians for Alternatives to Toxics confirmed that they have found the overuse of both pesticides and herbicides to be a common practice at prisons across the state.

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After discussing this issue with other environmentalists in the region around the prison, which is just east of the San Francisco Bay Area, PEP found that the Dublin prison was already on the radar for some because, at the time, it was the residency of a well-known eco-activist, Rebecca Rubin, who was sentenced to seven years for underground actions against genetic engineering in the late ‘90s. Rubin was released earlier this month.

The reality of environmentalists in prison moved from the fringes to mainstream with the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher for his infamous interference as “Bidder 70” in a Utah oil and gas auction which paved the way for the first tar sands operation in the country. While his action could be viewed as sabotage-lite in comparison to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arsons that Rubin was implicated in, the federal government’s response would put them into similar categories.

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As a result of cases like that of DeChristopher and Rubin, the contemporary environmental movement gained some first-hand experiences of its own with prison life. Like the labor movement at the turn of the century and the civil rights movement 50 years later, the environmental movement was getting a glimpse of how our government often deals with dissent. We also got a closer look at how toxic the prison system could be for prisoners and surrounding communities—what the Human Rights Defense Center coined as prison ecology.

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Along with Rubin, several other activists also became environmental prisoners as a result of ELF actions in the Pacific Northwest during the ‘90s. Daniel McGowan, for example, served time in a federal prison located on a notorious military Superfund site adjacent to the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge in Illinois. The prison, known as Marion, was also home to a Communication Management Unit, where Daniel was housed due to his political activism. McGowan was accused of domestic terrorism, though now one was physically injured by his actions. His story was featured in an Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary film If a Tree Falls.

 

Another former eco-prisoner, Eric McDavid, who was accused of plotting attacks on the Nimbus dam and cell phone towers (spurred on by an FBI provocateur) ended up doing time in Victorville FCI, a federal prison built on a military Superfund site. While the most severe of his charges were eventually thrown out in 2015 due to evidence being wrongly suppressed by the prosecution, he had already spent ten years in the pen… much of it on contaminated soil.

Marius Mason is an anarchist and an environmental and animal rights prisoner serving nearly 22 years in federal prison for acts of sabotage carried out in defense of the planet.

Additionally, there’s Marius Mason, a transgender prisoner at the federal women’s prison in near Fort Worth, Texas on the Carswell military base. Carswell is home to at least two superfund sites within a mile of the prison. One is a 760-acre plant that has manufactured military planes since 1942 resulting in soil and water contaminated with hazardous chemicals. The U.S. Air Force currently owns the facility; Lockheed Martin Corporation operates it. The other is located at “Building 1215.” The EPA considers this to be an active site, with contamination continuing to impact the area. Mason is serving a 22-year sentence for his underground actions against logging and genetic engineering, again in which no one was injured. Carswell was also home to other prominent political prisoners, including anti-nuke activist Helen Woodson and activist-lawyer Lynne Stewart, both of whom were released in recent years.

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More recently, hacker activist Jeremy Hammond was incarcerated for releasing information from security firm StratFor on their surveillance of environmental groups, among others. For this he was sentenced to 10 years in the Appalachian coalfields of Eastern Kentucky, in a federal prison called FCI Manchester.

In a March 2016 letter to the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (a group fighting a proposed prison on a mountaintop removal coal mine site in Letcher County, KY), Hammond wrote: “They say [FCI Manchester] was also a former coal strip mine site…and has two Superfund sites.”

He continued, “I wish there was a way to get the water tested. The medical here is terrible—basically you got nothing coming unless it’s life-threatening.”

The following are excerpts from McDavid and McGowan reflecting on their incarceration, and specifically, what it looked like to be an environmentalist behind bars.

From Eric McDavid

 The judge in McDavid’s case expressed astonishment and dismay that game-changing documents had not been shown at 2007 trial, adding McDavid’s treatment was ‘not fair’. Photograph: Jose Luis Villegas/AP

“It felt like there was a lot for me to share with other folks, and to surprisingly find my ideas well accepted…. There was that cultural shift of people trying to find healthier ways of being in their bodies and in their environment, so I was utilized as a source of information and ideas of different ways of eating and being healthy.  Everybody in there appreciated nature and knew how fucked up it was to be held in prisons built on superfund sites, drinking water laden in heavy metals, breathing in toxic dust and forced to consume GMO saturated foods. There was the points of connection around just wanting to be outside, no longer held in the cells and buildings which were so tangibly oppressive. The classic part was that being out on the rec yard is one of the most dangerous places to be—where there was the highest chance of a fight spreading into a riot, where it was so wide open that it was a challenge to get your back up against a wall and have a fight come at you from only the front and flanks.”

On connections to nature

“My connection to nature played a huge role in being able to maintain my heart and mind while in custody.  While in Sacramento county [jail], those four 4″ X 70″ plates of plexiglass and the fencing of the rec-yard were like windows back into the real world for me.  To watch the crows and other winged friends fly by, the people walking on the street, the Sun light, clouds, wind and rain, they were all a constant reminder of what I was doing and why.  While at the Victorville Medium II facility I was forced to take solace in the quiet of the high desert. It’s sage covered landscapes and distant mountains with varying hews of browns and greys, the powerful winds of Winter (so strong I could smell the snow on the mountains they just gusted over to try and cut through to my bones); and the stark heat of Summer which dried the air and everything in it, scorching stone, sand and skin alike; and feeling the downpours of the August monsoons soak and rinse me to the core. Then to the low security at terminal island, which sticks out into the port of Long Beach, where there is a dog run on the way to the rec. yard that is about fifteen feet to the water’s edge. The first time I heard the waves on the rocks from a passing boat a stone’s toss away I nearly jumped out of my skin. The sounds of gulls, the sight of storm swells breaching the distant barrier wall, the fog rolling in so thick I couldn’t see 25 feet away, and the brisk Winter mornings to walk around the track as the sun slowly rose.  All these things kept me close to myself, close to who I am…”

On Superfund sites

“There was wide knowledge of the fact that we were being held on a superfund site at Victorville. Just across from the prison was ample evidence in the dilapidated military housing that stood vacant and in eye-shot of the rec-yard. People knew the water was contaminated and that the air was full of toxic particles swept up by the perpetual winds that tore over the surrounding mountains. There was constant talk about it without any effort to find ways of addressing it, I think because folks were so wrapped up in dealing with the stresses that came from dealing with their cases and doing their time in such an oppressive environment.”

From Daniel McGowan

“It is actually quite difficult. On one level, you realize you are living in what used to be a wooded area. Every prison I had been in was surrounded by woods or farmland. The prison then is a rather ugly blight on that land and you are reminded of this reality every time you walk the yard. The other thing that always hit me was how much the prison wasted, whether it was the sheer amount of garbage created or the electricity and water used to power such an institution. Having mostly lived in cities and being a fastidious recycler etc, I was always pained by having no choice but throwing things out in prison. Obviously, there was no recycling but also, reuse was difficult as the cops have strict rules about stuff in your cells. People are inventive of course and find ways around this. I wrote my letters on scrap paper, paper bags, old flyers, whatever I could find…. [K]nowing that having a radio meant I would be contributing a very large share of dead batteries to some landfill somewhere. An interesting thing about being an environmentalist is how when people would find out, invariably, they would ask, ‘What, like Greenpeace?’”

Is it possible to keep a connection to nature from behind bars?

“To the extent you are not in solitary and have access to the yard, I think there are moments in which you can maintain some connection to nature. It’s not like you are ever going to camp or have real quiet time, but i often walked many laps around the track and during the winter, there were only a few of us.  At times, due to the poor shoveling, this certainly felt like hiking! One of the only pleasant things about rural prisons is having the chance to see the wildlife that comes up to the fence. I saw deer, rabbits and frogs often but the coolest thing I ever saw were the bats every single night at Sandstone (northern Minnestoa) as the sun set. At Terre Haute, we often fed raccoon tiny hot dogs that were scavenged and most people fed the feral cats and birds at every spot I was at.”

Does it feel to you like there is potential for an environmental movement to grow inside the prison system? If so, how would you envision it? (If no, why not?)

“I am unsure how that would look. I mean, on one level, from inside, you are often hamstrung in what you can do and what it would look like. I think one way is by talking to people about environmental issues in the news. I don’t know if the goal should be to grow the environmental movement in prisons as much as having ‘eco’s fight prisons for what they are.

“There is the danger of myopia on this issue. Just look at how green LEED certified prisons are being lauded for how much energy and money they save. I don’t want prisons to be showcases of green architecture. I want them gone!”

About contamination surrounding Marion

“People wrote me to tell me that Crab Orchard is polluted and that the water at Marion was bad. What could I do with this info? I had to drink water.”

[Below is a clip from a documentary titled Around the Crab Orchard.]

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Get involved with the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, and come to D.C. June 11 – 13 for Convergence Against Toxic Prisons and In Support of EcoPrisoners.

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What a beautiful wedding! CPV Power Plant + local politicians just married!

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The past few days have seen a surge in activity against the CPV Power Plant out here in Orange County NY. Thursday the 21st kicked it off with a court appearance for the “Wawayanda Six” related to their blockade of the entrance to the CPV construction site on Route 6 this past December.

For the 22nd, Earth Day, residents and allies organized a special picket at the power Plant site, as well as a video message to Cuomo to stop the project. Later that evening, a creative group of CPV opponents gathered to put the final touches on some political theater being planned for Saturday the 23rd after the normal picket every saturday 11-12pm.

About 35 people gathered early Saturday, starting at 10am, and held signs for passerbys, shared stories and plans, while putting wedding decorations on their cars and figuring out logistics for at least a dozen cars for the Wedding caravan to Middletown at Thrall Park.

The wedding of CPV Power Plant & Local Politicians was captured on live stream and can be watched on the HVEF! facebook

 

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After the ceremony, the lively reception was surrounded with sounds of African Drummers, food for all and networking and conversations about next steps for stopping the plant.It was a beautiful day and a great way to round out the past few days of growing the movement to stop CPV. While, this plant is very serious and an urgent threat already underway, our response should be both militant and fun. Our creative juices are flowing and this is just the beginning of a new phase in the struggle. CPV, Millennium and others complicit in this project should expect continued resistance, confrontation and pressure to drop the project and fuck off!

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Earth Day Week(end) Events! – Stop CPV

Extra Special Events for the Week Coming

(Happy Earth Day Everyone!)

 

Thursday, April 21            5pm Wawayanda Six

Wawayanda Town Court, Ridgebury Hill Road

wear red and/or orange to show support, bring picket signs

 

Friday, April 22           5 – 6pm Special Earth Day Picket at CPV site – bring picket signs.

                                                We will be doing a public video and need a strong turn out.

7pm Bonfire Get Together for Earth Day (weather permitting)

in New Hampton, NY

– serving vegan gluten free stew, bring your own drink and/snacks                                                     Please RSVP!  We want to get an approx. number.

 

Saturday, April 23   10 – 12pm Picketing at CPV site

12- 2:30? Caravan Procession to location in Middletown.

Please RSVP!  We want to get an approx. number.

 

  • Picnic – bring a bagged lunch
  • Speak Out – all are welcome to prepare something for a “mic check”
  • “Just Married – Street Theater Caravan Wedding” – (CPV is getting married to our local politicians).  We need plenty of people to OBJECT to this wedding.  Please bring a friend.
  • Professional Drummers Leading Drum Circle – bring a drum or two or a megaphone.  This will be in a downtown area to create a good video to send to Gov. Cuomo.

 

Things needed:

  • looking for a few people with capabilities to videotape (even on an IPhone)
  • Bring empty soup/coffee cans to tie on the “wedding car”

 

These events need a strong presence.

Please RSVP as to whether you can make

the Friday or Saturday.

https://www.facebook.com/events/542967072495029/

Sunoco tree cutting crews back at Gerharts! Support Needed!

Sunoco received a variance and crews are back on the Gerhart property today cutting down more trees. We have confirmation that someone is in the trees again to prevent felling! Ellen Gerhart (property owner) has also just been arrested again on her property, as well 1 another person.

 

E-mail us if you are able to help! – hudsonvalleyearthfirst@riseup.net

 

Below is the emergency injunction Sunoco filed with the Huntingdon County Court two weeks ago to proceed with cutting the Gerharts’ trees before April 1st, granted to them March 28th by Judge Zanic.

In it, Sunoco claims:
“After March 31, 2016, Sunoco Pipeline will be prohibited by the seasonal restriction from removing any trees on the Property.”

And yet, Sunoco is cutting down trees on the property right now, April 7th.

 

Clean Air Council's photo.
Clean Air Council's photo.
Clean Air Council's photo.
Clean Air Council's photo.

Here is the emergency injunction Sunoco filed with the Huntingdon County Court two weeks ago to proceed with cutting the Gerharts’ trees before April 1st, granted to them March 28th by Judge Zanic.

In it, Sunoco claims:
“After March 31, 2016, Sunoco Pipeline will be prohibited by the seasonal restriction from removing any trees on the Property.”

And yet, Sunoco is cutting down trees on the property right now, April 7th.

E-mail us if you are able to help! – marcellusef@riseup.net

 

Donate here: http://energyjusticesummer.org/donate-to-the-gerhart-fight-against-sunocos-mariner-2-pipeline/

https://www.facebook.com/events/216614882034778/

The family still has had no response from US DEP about Sunoco’s violations at their property.

For photos, video, and press links, see the Resources list below.

RESOURCES:

List of press coverage here: https://goo.gl/XjymaS.

Video of aftermath of Sunoco tree-cutting and damage to waterbodies on property: https://www.facebook.com/cleanaircouncil/videos/10153550201680893/

Flickr album of Sunoco violations at Gerhart property, including trespassing, felling trees into streambeds, felling trees towards observers and tree-sitter’s platform:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/backwards_dog/albums/72157666647316095

Tom Wolf
Phone: 717-787-2500
Fax: 717-772-8284
Twitter: @GovernorTomWolf

John Quigley
Phone: 717-787-2814
Fax: 717-705-4980
Email: jquigley@pa.gov
Twitter: @SecQuigley

DEP South-central Office:
Business Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Phone: 717-705-4700
In case of an environmental emergency anywhere in the South-central Region, please call 1-866-825-0208, 24 hours a day.

http://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Regional/SouthcentralRegion/Pages/default.aspx

DEP’s Report an Incident Page: http://www.dep.pa.gov/About/ReportanIncident/Pages/default.aspx#.VvwWA8kpDqA

Sunoco
Twitter: @SXLupdates
Twitter: @SunocoLogistic
Cashtag (use in tweets): $SXL

Tom Wolf
Phone: 717-787-2500
Fax: 717-772-8284
Twitter: @GovernorTomWolf

John Quigley
Phone: 717-787-2814
Fax: 717-705-4980
Email: jquigley@pa.gov
Twitter: @SecQuigley
@PennsylvaniaDEP

PRESS KIT: Please share this link with any local or national media contacts you have. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xyIH3_Jgpsw1nX4etGbB9KVeixWzhNg6rzG_lFNAtt4/edit?usp=sharing

DONATIONS: Tax-deductible donations for legal fees and logistical costs are being accepted and managed by Energy Justice Network. Donate here and please share the link!
http://energyjusticesummer.org/donate-to-the-gerhart-fight-against-sunocos-mariner-2-pipeline/
Checks to “Energy Justice Network” with “Mariner” in the memo can also be mailed to 1434 Elbridge St Philadelphia 19149.

For more local live updates: Juniata Watershed People Before Pipelines

Stay tuned to this page for updates and information on how you can help in person and from afar!

video/pictures of violations: https://www.facebook.com/cleanaircouncil/videos/10153550201680893/

SUNOCO Rapidly Cuts Trees on Mariner East 2 Pipeline, 2 arrested on $100,000 bail, 2 still in the trees!

Right now: Sunoco Logistics is clear-cutting trees on the Gerhart family’s property in Huntingdon County to make way for the Mariner East 2 pipelines. Sunoco’s claims to eminent domain are under appeal by the family and are currently being challenged by Clean Air Council, yet Sunoco is seizing land across Pennsylvania for its for-profit pipeline that would ship the gas overseas.

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Sunoco crews have been walking and cutting outside of the right-of-way and within close proximity to people observing their work. Sunoco still doesn’t have the erosion or watercrossing permits it needs, yet not only are crews cutting trees, they are cutting on steep slopes and into the streambed and wetlands.

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Two people were arrested yesterday, one student from Juniata College, who is alleged to have crossed into the claimed Mariner East 2 pipeline right-of-way to warn crews that a tree they were about to cut held a safety line for one of three tree-sitting protesters, and another protester who had been telling crews to stay in the right-of-way.

Both have been held at $100,000 bail for Contempt of the Judges Order. One of them has an additional disorderly conduct charge.  Please donate and share widely!

Urgent! – PLEASE DONATE

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Although Sunoco has already cut a lot of the trees along the right of way on their property, there are still several areas that they have not cut and cannot, since there are people sitting in trees to prevent felling. There are currently 2 tree-sits on opposite sides of their property, holding down some mature Oak and Pine trees, near wetlands, riparian areas and woodland ecosystems.

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For more info about the campaign go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/216614882034778/

For radio interview of Gerhart’s: https://soundcloud.com/ama-tierney/pennsylvania-landowners-resist-sunoco-pipeline-with-direct-action