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Originally posted at AcronymTV
Jeremy Hammond, speaking to Guardian reporter Ed Pilkington just one day before he was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 10 years for exposing the spying of StratFor, a private corporate spying firm that often works with US intelligence agencies said:
“I knew when I started out with Anonymous that being put in jail and having a lengthy sentence was a possibility. Given the nature of the targets I was going after I knew I would upset a lot of powerful people.”
WHO: Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] have been active in challenging U.S. invasions and attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. Most recently, NCNR has been expressing a grave concern against the use of drone strikes to assassinate people in various countries. On October 22, five members of NCNR were convicted of trespass at the Central Intelligence Agency on June 29 while seeking a meeting to discuss drone strikes.
WHAT: As part of the CodePink Global Summit on Drones, citizen activists have come to Washington to raise the issue of killer drone strikes. NCNR organized a planning session, and it was decided to write to Senator Chuck Schumer, a noted proponent of the unconstitutional drone strikes, to demand that he speak out against this assassination program. Now NCNR representatives intend to visit his office to seek a meeting.
WHEN: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM
WHERE: 322 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510
WHY: On August 7, 2013 HADAS GOLD reported that Sen. Chuck Schumer promoted the drone war: “’On terrorism, the president has been tougher than anybody else,’” ‘the New York Democrat said on CNN’s “New Day.’” “’Remember, George Bush wouldn’t let the drones go into Pakistan, and Al Qaeda flourished. The president did, and terrorism is way down. He’s pursuing the tactic in Yemen, and I think it’s working.’”
The NCNR citizen activists disagree. No declaration of war has been declared against Yemen, and civilian casualties are rampant. And it can be argued that drone strikes are just breeding more terrorists. In fact, Malala Yousafzai, when meeting with the Obama family, raised concerns about the administration’s use of drones, saying they are “fueling terrorism.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a recent report speculating that U.S. drone strikes may be war crimes.
The activists will try to convince Se. Schumer to support the termination of the assassination program. This would be an opportunity to instead use f reconciliation and diplomacy rather than pernicious killer drone strikes. A U.S. policy of endless wars must be placed in the dustbin of history.
The real criminal, our government, jails the real hero: The Hero and the Villains: the Jeremy Hammond Sentence
By Alfredo Lopez
This past Friday, Internet activist Jeremy Hammond stood in a federal courtroom and told Judge Loretta A. Preska why he released a trove of emails and other information uncovering the possibly illegal and certainly immoral collaboration of a major surveillance corporation called Stratfor with our government.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is supposed to begin pumping up to 700,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day through the Cushing, OK to Port Arthur, TX route within weeks. But is it ready to operate safely?
Public Citizen has released a chilling report revealing that the 485-mile KXL southern line is plagued by dents, faulty welding, exterior damage that was patched up poorly and misshapen bends, among other troubling anomalies.
In conducting its investigative report, "Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline," Public Citizen worked on the ground to examine 250 miles of the 485 mile pipeline's route. The group and its citizen sources uncovered over 125 anomalies in that half of the line alone. These findings moved Public Citizen to conclude the southern half of the pipeline shouldn't begin service until the anomalies are taken care of, and ponders if the issues can ever be resolved sufficiently.
Originally Posted at AcronymTV
A Slideshow of 37 photos by Bill Hughes, re: Million Mask March Looking to Shake D.C. & Wake-Up the People
Here are the Nov. 2013 Appearances/ Protest of War Criminals around the United States. Please hook up or organize a protest in your area. We will help you with publicity and more if you get in touch with us. Leaflets and posters are available at our website.
Originally posted at AcroynmTV
In this Resistance Report segment, Pamela Brown examines the lessons learned from Occupy Sandy in the context of the long history of race-based housing policies that have led to class based economic opportunities and asks, can these issues be addressed by localized organizing alone?
Sunday, December 8, 2013, at 7 p.m.
At the Friends Meeting at 1104 Forest Street, Charlottesville, Va.
The Ghosts of Jeju is a shocking documentary about the struggle of the people of Jeju Island, S. Korea. Set in the context of the American presence in Korea after World War II, the film reveals horrible atrocities at the hands of the U.S. Military Government of Korea.
Using previously secret and classified photos, film, and documents, this is the first English-language documentary about the struggle of the brave people of Gangjeong Village who are opposing the military advance of the United States, just as their parents and relatives did in 1947. As then, they are being arrested, jailed, fined, and hospitalized for resisting the construction of a massive naval base that will accommodate America’s “pivot to Asia,” and will destroy their 400 year old village and their UNESCO protected environment.
And yet, the indomitable spirit of the villagers and their supporters, who have not lost hope in spite of overwhelming odds, will inspire and motivate everyone who believes there is a better way to live together on this planet.
Flyer to print and distribute: PDF.
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Read a review here.
Visit the film's website here.
Originally posted at AcronymTV
At an Affordable Care Act rally President Obama was delivering a speech defending ACA (Obamacare) protesters interrupted the proceeding by shouting “Mr. President! (Inaudible)! Stop climate change! For our generation! Stop the pipeline!”
“Okay, we’re talking about healthcare today, but we will,” Obama said, as the corwd started to boo the protestors. “No, no, no it’s okay,” Obama said. Before delivering a line that drew a huge laugh: “That is the wrong rally!”
Canada's War Crimes Section Reviews Lawyers’ Call to Prosecute Cheney for Torture While Activists Protest When Cheney Speaks @ Toronto Global Forum on Halloween. (Toronto) Torture and war crimes suspect Dick Cheney is scheduled as a keynote speaker at the October 31st luncheon of the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Forum of the Americas. Civil society groups will protest beginning at 11:00 am on Halloween, Oct. 31 outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Address by Mairead Maguire at the 13th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Warsaw, Poland, on October 2l-23rd, 2013.
REPLACING VIOLENCE, ARMED REBELLIONS, MILITARISM AND WAR WITH NONVIOLENCE AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
I believe the next stage of our evolution as the human family is to embrace nonviolence. This will mean rejecting violence in all its forms and solving our problems together through nonviolence, human rights and international law.
Replacing ‘armed’ rebellions, militarism and war, with international law, is not an impossible task and will happen when we humans reach the critical mass of people who know that each life is sacred, and say ‘no’ to killing, force and the threat of force, which is currently used by most governments and extremist groups around the world. We are challenged to stop killing each other, and instead use alternatives to violence in order to solve our problems.
There is nothing good or glorious about violence, armed rebellions, militarism, nuclear weapons and war. Suicide bombings, extrajudicial killings, renditioning, secret trials, and torturing other human beings is always wrong and we as world citizens have the power to stop such inhumanity by raising our voices against the use of such methods be they used by individuals, armed rebels, or governments. Torture should never be accepted and the current policies of many governments to ignore civil and human rights in the name of ‘war on terrorism’ is a denial of every world citizen's right to basic freedom, worked for so long and hard by many people. When basic freedoms are denied or removed by governments,or rebel groups, people have a moral and legal responsibility to demand the return of those rights, otherwise all we have is domination and fear, and freedom, democracy and peace are no longer part of the peoples rich identity and inheritance.
There is a great yearning for peace in the human family. We are tired of militarism and war and so much suffering, We know that we live in a rich world and yet with austerity cuts, and military spending higher than it has ever been, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We cannot tackle poverty and provide development, and representative democracy, unless we end militarism and war. Poverty and inequality will never change as long as we have policies which reward the rich and punish the poor. Things will never change as long as our gov. policies put invasion, occupations, and wars above their own citizens needs of education, health care, and taking care of the poor and marginalized in our societies. So why in the 2lst century and one hundred years after first world war, are we still allowing armies to train, kill and torture, other human beings and what can we do to change before it is too late?
I believe we have to change our thinking and our mindsets. Much of our thinking is being distorted as it is based on the emotion of fear of ‘otherness’. We see other people and countries, through the lens of fear which leads to hatred and demonization of others whom we see as separate and different, because of religion, race, class, etc., we have allowed fear to be our master. But there is another way to think and live and we are challenged to change both individually and collectively to bring about real change in our world. When we choose to let go of fear, choose forgiveness and to love both ourselves and all others, a transformative energy arises and we are faced with new possibilities. Letting go of our fear, both as individuals and countries, allows us to live fully alive in the moment as joyful, happy people, to reach out to others in fraternity and friendship which in the final analysis is the best form of human security. Spiritual Leaders in all faith traditions can help stop violence by ending all ambiguity and justification of violence, and working together with peopes of all faiths, and none, to end ethnic and religious conflict and war.
Governments need to change their policies which are often based on the threat and use of force. The US government needs to move away from its policy of ‘war on terrorism’ This flawed foreign policy, and Israels policy too, aroused the contempt and distrust of many people in the Middle East, and other places, who see these policies as divide and conquer. The bombing attacks by extremists are a drastic mode of revenge. I would like to appeal for sanity and leadership by a change of USA/Israeli policies from occupation and militarism to disarmament,to dialogue and negotiation, to reconciliation and peace, and working for fraternity amongst the nations, all so close to the heart of Alfred Nobel, and indeed stipulated in his will.
The terror tactics being used by extremists does not advance the struggle against hegemony, foreign intervention, or external aggression, but peaceful, nonviolent means can bring closer the fraternity, equality, and justice all men and women of goodwill seek for our world today. I appeal to all those who are using violence to reject such methods and take up the way of peaceful resistance, as Abdul Gaffer Kahn, Gandhi, King, Dorothy Day, and so many before have shown really does work.
Its seems the American people too are tired of their young men/women dying in foreign lands and war and militarism equals poverty for many people living in U.S. cities. Across Europe too we see people marching against re-armament, austerity cuts and unemployment. Many of us had high hopes when the European union brought us together as diverse countries to work for peace and against any more wars in Europe. Now we see the militarization of Europe through NATO when countries, facing severe austerity cuts, are being asked to fund the fighting and invasion and destruction of other countries, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc., much against the wishes of the people of the world. A recent study has shown that at a time of austerity EU military spending increased to 194 billion euro, equivalent to the annual deficits of Greece, Italy and Spain combined. The Stockholm International Peace Research states that in 2012 world military expenditure is estimated to have reached $l756 billion – the highest ever. It is time to abolish NATO, bring an end to the European battle groups and an end to the missile defence shield, and develop a nuclear weapons free zone, in an effort to end the militarization of the European Union to stop it developing in the wrong direction and contrary to the ideas and inspirations of its European citizens.
I thank you all for your work and encourage you to keep it up, as it is an important piece in this tapestry of love which will bring about an end to militarism and war and bring about peace for the human family.
Mairead Maguire www.peacepeople.com
Free Screening of Brand-New Film: Unmanned: America's Drone Wars
Originally posted at AcronymTV.com
Cross posted from Acronym TV
While watching Russell Brand's BBC interview, it is not hard to imagine two families in Middle America, neighbors, watching separately in the comfort of their own homes as Russell Brand does his bit and each nod in lonely agreement. "Yes!", they are likely to say- "this Russell Brand fellow is right." But family A has to work hard at a job they are made to feel they are lucky to have buying something, selling something, or processing something when, like their inner Lloyd Dobbler, they don't want to buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, they don't want to do that. And Family B is doing the same thing. Both are trying to keep up with the Joneses, as they the expression goes. Family B is competing to send their kids to better schools and than Family A; and Family A is competing just as hard to beat out family B. They are each other's Jones.
But there is NO Jones.
"Jones" is a construct, a shackle. And don't you know, Jones is like the show put on by the Wizard of OZ to scare you into submission. Time for us all to find our inner Dorothy's, click our heels together and build a new world called home. A new world called home. Stop the machine and build a new world called home.
By David Swanson and David Hartsough with input from George Lakey, Jan Passion, Mike Ferner, Colleen Kelly, Ruth Benn, Leah Bolger, Nathan Schneider, Hakim, Paul Chappell, Colin Archer, Kathy Kelly, et alia. (none of whom are to blame for shortcomings of this draft). Many groups and individuals are discussing a new project; if you have ideas, let us know.
If unnecessary suffering on an enormous scale is to be avoided, we must abolish war. Some 180 million people died in wars in the 20th century and, while we have not yet repeated a war on the scale of World War II, wars are not going away. Their enormous destruction continues, measured in terms of deaths, injuries, trauma, millions of people having to flee their homes, financial cost, environmental destruction, economic drain, and erosion of civil and political rights.
If humanity is going to survive, we must abolish war. Every war brings with it both massive destruction and the risk of uncontrolled escalation. We are facing a world of greater weapons proliferation, resource shortages, environmental pressures, and the largest human population the earth has seen. In such a turbulent world, we must abolish the organized violence by governments known as war, because its continuation risks our extinction.
If we abolish war, humanity can not only survive and better address the climate crisis and other dangers, but will find it far easier to prosper. The reallocation of resources away from war promises a world whose advantages are beyond easy imagination. Some $2 trillion a year, roughly half from the United States and half from the rest of the world, is devoted to war and war preparation. Those funds could transform global efforts to create sustainable energy, agricultural, economic, health, and education systems. Redirection of war funding could save many times the lives that are taken by spending it on war.
There is a need and an opportunity for a campaign/movement focused specifically on educating and organizing and developing momentum for the abolition of war. A great deal of organizing against particular wars, atrocities, weapons, tactics, and expenditures, could benefit from the existence of an abolition campaign, becoming seen as reasonable partial steps, and in the context of opposition to all war rather than as violations of proper norms of war. Some campaigns might, in fact, differ from what they would otherwise be; we might, for example, oppose the most effective weapons that kill most efficiently rather than the most defective weapons that expose the most corruption.
While abolition is a larger demand than partial disarmament, if the case for it is made convincingly it has the potential to create support for serious and even total disarmament among people who would otherwise favor the maintenance of a large military for defense -- something that we've learned generates pressure for offensive warmaking. The first step in such a campaign must be persuading people of the possibility of, and the urgent need for, abolishing war. Awareness of the effectiveness of nonviolent action, nonviolent movements, and peaceful resolution of conflicts is growing rapidly, creating the increased possibility of persuading people that there is an alternative to war. Anti-war sentiment, at least in some key parts of the world, is at a high point now, relative to other moments in recent decades. This sentiment should be channeled into an abolition movement that takes steps toward reduced warfare while creating an understanding of those steps, not as reforms to a flawed institution that will continue in an improved state, but as progress towards that institution's elimination.
The reduction and eventual elimination of war and of the military industrial complex could be of great benefit to sectors of the world economy and of public services to which that investment could be transferred. There exists the possibility of creating a broad coalition encompassing civilian industries and advocates for green energy, education, housing, healthcare, and other fields, including civil liberties, environmental protections, children's rights, and all over the world cities, counties, and states that have had to make major cuts in social programs for their people, and more. By making war's elimination imaginable, an abolition movement could develop the allies needed to make it a reality.
Resistance, including by those profiting financially from wars, will be intense. Such interests are, of course, not invincible. Raytheon's stock was soaring in the fall of 2013 as the White House planned to send missiles into Syria -- missiles that were not sent. But war abolition will require defeating the propaganda of war promoters and countering the economic interests of war promoters with alternative economic possibilities. A wide variety of support for "humanitarian" and other particular varieties, or imagined varieties, of war will have to be countered with persuasive arguments and alternatives. Creating a resource center that puts the best arguments against various types of war support at people's fingertips will itself be a significant contribution.
By organizing internationally, we can use progress made in one nation to encourage other nations to match or surpass it without fear. By educating people whose governments make war at a distance about the human costs of war (largely one-sided, civilian, and on a scale not widely understood) we can build a broad-based moral demand for an end to war. By presenting the case that militarism and wars make us all less safe and decrease our quality of life, we can strip war of much of its power. By creating awareness of the economic trade-offs, we can revive support for a peace dividend. By explaining the illegality, immorality, and terrible costs of war and the availability of legal, nonviolent and more effective means of defense and conflict resolution, we can build acceptance for what has only relatively recently been made into a radical proposal and ought to be viewed as a common sense initiative: the abolition of war.
While a global movement is needed, this movement cannot ignore or reverse the reality of where the greatest support for war originates. The United States builds, sells, buys, stockpiles, and uses the most weapons, engages in the most conflicts, stations the most troops in the most countries, and carries out the most deadly and destructive wars. By these and other measures, the U.S. government is the world's leading war-maker, and -- in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Ending U.S. militarism wouldn't eliminate war globally, but it would eliminate the pressure that is driving many other nations to increase their military spending. It would deprive NATO of its leading advocate for and greatest participant in wars. It would cut off the largest supply of weapons to the Middle East and other regions. It would remove the major barrier to a reunification of Korea, and the major barrier to legal consequences for Israeli war-making. It would create U.S. willingness to support arms treaties, join the International Criminal Court, and allow the United Nations to move in the direction of its stated purpose of eliminating war. It would create a world free of nations threatening the first-use of nuclear weaponry, and a world in which nuclear disarmament might proceed more rapidly. Gone would be the last major nation using cluster bombs or refusing to ban land mines. If the United States kicked the war habit, war itself would suffer a major and possibly fatal set-back. For this reason, the war abolition movement around the world will need to be directed at U.S. military bases as well as local governments, and major U.S. wars as much as local militarism.
The structure and funding of this campaign to abolish war is yet to be determined. It could be independent or aligned with or under the auspices of an existing organization or group of organizations. We envision it establishing a decentralized network of various organizations following a common, coordinated strategy. In large part this would consist of adjusting and supporting work that groups are already engaged in to form part of a united front that advances war abolition while advancing smaller steps in war reduction or amelioration, economic conversion or counter-recruitment, nonviolent conflict resolution or the prevention or halting of particular wars.
The establishment of this campaign would begin by exploring possibilities with key people and organizations, a process that might include conference calls and possibly in-person gathering(s). The goal would be to begin the work of building this movement immediately, and to plan an international conference to publicly launch the campaign on or around August 27th, the anniversary of the Kellogg-Briand Pact's signing. There are major peace gatherings planned for Sarajevo in June and South Africa in July that this campaign might soon want to propose to take part in. There is also the date of July 28, 2014, marking 100 years since the launch of the war that was to end all wars and instead brought more of them, a date that this campaign might want to make use of in some way.
The campaign would need a name, a website, an international advisory board, staff, and -- in one manner or another -- organizational and individual members. Such members might agree to a pledge to work for the abolition of war and never to support the waging of war. In developing the name and slogans for the campaign, careful thought and marketing research will be required.
Online and off, the campaign would develop a resource center on war abolition -- meaning, not every aspect of war, but specifically the case (moral, legal, economic, environmental, etc.) for total abolition, including how partial steps in war reduction or amelioration can lead toward abolition and not away from it, including how past wars can be best understood, and including effective peaceful alternatives to war and a peaceful vision of a post-war world. This resource center would eventually also include tools for petition gathering, local and organizational resolutions, legislation, materials for educational events including books and films, a speakers bureau, coordinated days of action, flyers, brochures, posters, creative action ideas, etc.
The abolition movement would develop volunteer and training programs to train organizers to build and strengthen the campaign.
The movement would work on strategies for outreach to a wide variety of constituencies globally.*
The campaign would develop and coordinate with its allies and members a communications strategy including our own media production, efforts to gain coverage by media outlets, and possibly advertising, school text-book reform, and other means of communication and education. We would work to see our media productions used as educational tools. We would advance a vision of a transition to a renewable energy world in which there would be no "need" for wars over oil and in which we could end the danger of global warming and create a good life for every person on the planet.
The movement would work to coordinate with its members partial steps (and movement-building victories) toward abolition, including possibly such approaches as: economic conversion, disarmament, base closures, bans on particular weapons or tactics, promotion of diplomacy including possibly new structures such as Departments of Peace and reform and strengthening of the United Nations, expanding the development of peace teams and human shields into a global nonviolent peaceforce, promotion of nonmilitary foreign aid and crisis prevention, placing restrictions on military recruitment and providing potential soldiers with alternatives, legislation to redirect war taxes into peace work and meeting human needs, and/or promotion of international law. The campaign might work with key allies to develop concrete proposals for how to spend funding redirected from wars and militarism. All of these steps would be presented to the world, not as improvements in war or steps toward "smart wars" or "humanitarian wars" but as key steps in the direction of the end of all wars.
Steps in the direction of abolition that the movement might support include the development of a peace conversion taskforce to help communities make the transition from war making to working to meet human and environmental needs, and expanding the global nonviolent peaceforce of civilian, trained, international, nonviolent peacekeepers and peacemakers who could be available to protect civilians endangered by conflicts in all parts of the world and to help build peace where there is or has been violent conflict. These efforts would help the world to see that there are alternatives to war-making.
The movement would work with its allies or members to create a strategy for the legal abolition of war, possibly including the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Nuremberg Principles.
The movement would work with relevant members to develop direct action strategies, including vigils, blockades, demonstrations, etc., with global coordination.
Each step along the way cannot be foreseen in any detail, but progress will be somewhat measurable in victories against particular war proposals, in the creation of particular educational or counter-recruitment programs, in disarmament, etc., and in the extent to which these measures are presented and understood as steps toward abolition, as well is in any measurable shifts in public opinion, and in the growth of the campaign, the signers of its pledge or petition, the readers and viewers of its materials, etc. There are always victories and set-backs in the struggle against militarism. Viewing them as part of a process toward abolition may better allow us to see the forest for the trees and determine whether in fact the victories are outpacing the defeats.
*Such constituencies might include people in many parts of the world, key organizers, well-known leaders, peace groups, peace and justice groups, environmental groups, human rights groups, activist coalitions, lawyers, philosophers/moralists/ethicists, doctors, psychologists, religious groups, economists, labor unions, diplomats, towns and cities and states or provinces or regions, nations, international organizations, the United Nations, civil liberties groups, media reform groups, business groups and leaders, billionaires, teachers groups, student groups, education reform groups, government reform groups, journalists, historians, women's groups, senior citizens, immigrant and refugee rights groups, libertarians, socialists, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, veterans, student- and cultural-exchange groups, sister-cities groups, sports enthusiasts, and advocates for investment in children and healthcare and in human needs of every sort, as well as those working to oppose contributors to militarism in their societies, such as xenophobia, racism, machismo, extreme materialism, all forms of violence, lack of community, and war profiteering.
Activists in San Francisco, New York City and Miami paid visits to the Canadian Consulates to hand-deliver a letter from lawyers requesting Canadian officials to fulfill their legal obligations and either bar former Vice President Dick Cheney from entering their country or arrest and prosecute him for war crimes if he arrives to address the Toronto Global Forum on October 31, 2013. Other activists hand-delivered the same letter to the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC.
Below is a press release issued by the Florida delegation.
Protest When Dick Cheney Speaks to International Economic Forum of the Americas -Oct.31, 2013 Metro Toronto Convention Center - Toronto, Canada
Cheney will keynote at the luncheon of this international organization.
Cheney had been scheduled to speak in the very same locale last April but canceled due to fear of demonstrations.This was subsequent to a strong protest naming him as a war criminal when he was in Vancouver promoting his memoir.
By Dave Lindorff
Talk about turnabout being fair play.
Protesting pot prohibition while black: Angered by Racist Prosecutions, Activist Makes Inflammatory Name Change Request
By Linn Washington Jr.
Ed Forchion, recognized as America’s foremost black marijuana legalization activist, freely admits that he “agitates” people – powerful people from prosecutors to politicians and even more mainstream anti-pot prohibition advocates who bristle at his antics.
The activism of Forchion, often outrageous like his March 2000 stunt of smoking a marijuana joint inside the New Jersey State Assembly chamber while dressed in bold black and white stripped jailhouse garb, has drawn praise and prison terms.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
In a major ruling that's flown under the radar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit - based in Denver, Colorado - decided not to grant the Sierra Club and Clean Energy Future Oklahoma a temporary injunction on the construction of the southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline.
The Court's decision hinged on an "injury" balancing test: Would Transcanada be hurt more financially from receiving an injunction? Had it lost, it would be stuck with one until Sierra Club, et al receive a U.S. District Court decision on the legality of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to grant Transcanada a Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for construction of what's now called the Gulf Coast Pipeline in February 2012.
Or would ecosystems suffer even greater and potentially incalculable damage from the 485-mile, 700,000 barrels per day pipeline crossing 2,227 streams?
In a 2-1 decision, the Court sided with Transcanada, and by extension, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Court ruled, "the threatened environmental injuries were outweighed by the financial harm that the injunction would cause Transcanada."
Commenting on the case brought by Sierra Club, et al, Judge Jerome A. Holmes and Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. - appointees of President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush, respectively - shot down the arguments sharply.
U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes; Photo Credit: The White House
Holmes and Kelly ruled that Sierra Club, et al failed to show how the pipeline will have a significant environmental impact despite the fact it's been deemed a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet" by retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen.
Construction of Keystone XL's southern half - subject of significant grassroots activism by the Tar Sands Blockade and others - is now nearly complete. Tar sands dilbit is slated to begin to flow through it in early 2014.
NWP 12: "New Normal" for Tar Sands Pipeline Approval
After protestors succeeded initially in delaying Keystone XL, Big Oil has chosen a "new normal" stealth approval method: the non-transparent NWP 12.
This avoids the more strenuous National Environmental Protection Act permitting process overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires public hearings and public comments for major federal pipeline projects. NEPA compels the EPA to take comments into account in response throughout the Environmental Impact Statement phase, allowing robust public participation in the process.
Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes explained in an interview with DeSmogBlog that NWP 12 is for utility projects with up to a half an acre of stream or wetland impacts, and has never been used for tar sands pipelines before Keystone XL's southern half.
The southern half of the pipeline was approved via Executive Order by President Barack Obama in March 2012, directly after Obama gave a speech in front of a Cushing, OK pipeyard.
President Barack Obama speaks in Cushing, OK in March 2013; Photo Credit: White House
"The Corps is abusing the nationwide permit program. Nationwide permits were intended to permit categories of projects with truly minimal impacts, not tar sands oil pipelines crossing several states," said Hayes.
Utilizing tricky legal loopholes, Transcanada used NWP 12 to push through Keystone XL's southern half in February 2012, calling each half acre segment of Keystone XL's southern half a "single and complete project." The Army Corps of Engineers agreed despite the fact that Transcanada refers to the pipeline at-large as the "Gulf Coast Pipeline project."
"What the Corps is doing is artificially dividing up these massive pipelines, treating them as thousands of individual projects to avoid environmental review," Hayes explained. "In this case, there were 2,227 crossings of federal waterways, so the Corps has treated the Gulf Coast Pipeline as 2,227 'single and complete projects,' each of which qualifies under NWP 12."
Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes; Photo Credit: Sierra Club
Why, I asked Hayes?
"The Corps artificially treats these massive pipelines as thousands of individual projects so as to qualify under NWP 12 and avoid NEPA compliance."
NWP 12 has also been utilized by Enbridge for the Flanagan South Pipeline, a 600-mile, 600,000 barrels per day pipeline set to shuttle tar sands crude from Flanagan, IL to Cushing, OK, crossing over 2,000 streams. That pipeline is scheduled to begin operations in mid-2014, demonstrating how NWP 12 is the "new normal" way to fast-track domestic tar sands pipelines.
Dissent: Laws Violated, Economic Harm Transcanada's Fault
Perhaps the biggest irony of the Appeals Court decision is that Judges Holmes and Kelly barely grappled with the central issue of the legal challenge to begin with: using NWP 12 rather than going through the NEPA process.
"The majority opinion avoided addressing the legal questions that are central to this lawsuit - whether the Corps violated the law in permitting this pipeline - and instead it was based on how much money a delay in construction would cost TransCanada," said Hayes.
Though Judges Holmes and Kelly stayed mum about these issues, dissenting U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez - an Obama appointee - did not, pulling no punches in doing so.
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez; Photo Credit: Judgepedia
"Given the totality of the circumstances...I believe the...Gulf Coast Pipeline required a comprehensive NEPA analysis," Martínez wrote.
"There are also no specific findings in support of the Corps' conclusion that the Gulf Coast Pipeline, as a whole, would have minimal cumulative impact. The failure to consider the cumulative effects of all of the water crossings involved in the Gulf Coast Pipeline violates the terms of NWP 12, and, therefore, the approval of the use of NWP 12 for construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline violated the law."
Though Judges Holmes and Kelly grappled with the issue of water crossings - belittling the amount of water Keystone XL's southern half would cross over - Martínez said it's about much more than just water.
There is "real and signifcant harm caused by the actual construction of the pipeline, including the clearing of trees and vegetation, removing topsoil, filling wetlands, building access roads, and clearing an eighty-five foot construction right-of-way for the length of the pipeline," he stated.
Hayes agreed with this assessment, pointing to examples of things the Judges simply ignored in their assessment.
"[T]he court's balancing test ignored the host of environmental impacts associated with this pipeline, including the risks of tar sands oil spills," said Hayes.
"Remember that the 2010 tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan is still being cleaned up, and so far has cost over a billion dollars. It's a bit of a Catch-22 to say that this is all just about a few acres of wetlands loss, when the whole point of this lawsuit is that the Corps avoided analyzing any of the pipeline's environmental impacts as required by NEPA."
Lastly, Martínez put the onus on Transcanada for its economic decision-making.
"Transcanada chose to incur its economic harm by entering into contracts for services before the Gulf Coast Pipeline was approved, even in light of the controversial nature of the Pipeline," said Martínez (emphasis his).
U.S. District Court Decision Forthcoming, Activism Persists
Sierra Club, et al now await a summary judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on whether Keystone XL failed the dictates of NEPA. It's a key decision, Hayes says, because "a ruling in our favor could prevent the Corps from doing this in the future."
While they await this lower court judgment, activists continue efforts to fend off these pipeline projects.
"This decision yet again demonstrates why direct action is necessary. The permitting process for Keystone XL's southern leg was illegal, yet regulators, inspectors, Obama, and the courts are failing to do what is necessary to protect the people and ecosystems threatened by this toxic pipeline," said Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesman.
"If all the branches of government are so helplessly captured by industry that they will do nothing to stave off climate change, then the people must rise up and take the defense of the environment into their own hands."