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Leaked TPP ‘Environment Chapter’ Shows ‘Corporate Agenda Wins’ January 15, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Trade Agreements.
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Roger’s note: I have always found international trade issues and documents to be dull and boring.  Time to wake up, Roger.  The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is NAFTA on steroids.  Consider this: when governments turn over authority to private corporations, the distinction between private and pubic disappears.  Government and corporations become indistinguishable.  This is rightly called National Socialism.  Another word for it is Nazi-ism.  You don’t need Brown Shirts, goose-stepping and a dictator with an absurd looking moustache to have genuine fascism.  A president and Congress, backed by a compliant Supreme Court, wholly sold out and owned by the private corporate world (backed by the military and Homeland Security supplied local police forces) will do.

Published on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by Common Dreams

US called main ‘outlier’ when it comes to strong protections; Leak comes as Obama tries to ram trade deal through Congress

– Jon Queally, staff writer

Confirming the suspicions and fears of environmental campaigners and concerned individuals across the globe, Wikileaks on Wednesday released a draft version of the ‘Environment Chapter’from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), exposing most of the so-called “environmental protections” as toothless policies that serve to protect corporate profit not Mother Earth.

In its review of the chapter—which covers environmental issues related to trade, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in ‘environmental’ goods and services—Wikileaks described the chapter as functioning like “a public relations exercise” and saying the text is most notable “for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures.”

“Today’s WikiLeaks release shows that the public sweetner in the TPP is just media sugar water,” said Wikileaks’ publisher Julian Assange in a statement. “The fabled TPP environmental chapter turns out to be a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism.”

The draft chapter, which was presented at the Salt Lake City, Utah round of negotiations that took places in November, contains language from the participating nations describing their positions on environmental protections that would be included in the final deal.

According to Jane Kelsey, a professor of environmental law at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the leaked text of the agreement shows no balance between commercial interests and those of the environment.

“Instead of a 21st century standard of protection, the leaked text shows that the obligations are weak and compliance with them is unenforceable… The corporate agenda wins both ways.” –Jane Kelsey, Univ. of Auckland

“Instead of a 21st century standard of protection, the leaked text shows that the obligations are weak and compliance with them is unenforceable,” she writes in apublic statement (pdf) Wednesday. “Contrast that to other chapters that subordinate the environment, natural resources and indigenous rights to commercial objectives and business interests. The corporate agenda wins both ways.”

Kelsey’s review of the draft also points out that the main outlier on environmental protections is the United States. She also notes that because the protections included in the draft fall short even of those contained in previous trade agreements backed by the US, passage of the deal will create a “particular political dilemma” for President Obama and other backers. She writes:

The text falls far below the standards it has insisted are included in all US free trade agreements since May 2007, which resulted from a deal reached between the Democrat-­‐controlled Congress and President George W Bush.

The most fundamental problem for the US is the refusal of all the other countries to agree that the chapter should be subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism as the rest of the agreement. It provides for consultation at officials and ministerial levels, leading to arbitration and agreement to a plan of action, but there are no penalties if the state does not implement the plan.

Obama is going to find this a very hard sell to domestic constituencies. The timing of the leak could hardly be worse. On 9 January 2014 a Bill seeking fast track authority was presented to the Congress. The controversial fast track process requires the Congress to accept or reject the deal as a whole and imposes a strict time limit on debate. The numbers were already stacking up against the Bill, with Democrats especially critical of the erosion of their powers and the secrecy of the negotiations, as well as the reported content. This leaked environment chapter will further erode support among Democratic members of the House of Representatives who are up for re-election later this year.

Obama is going to have to rely heavily on unfriendly Republicans.

Read Wikileaks’ full press statement here and view the complete draft version here (pdf).

The secretive TPP trade deal between the United States and 11 other Pacific rim nations that has been negotiated with the backing of corporate interests but kept secret from the general public and even most lawmakers from the participating countries.

Ilana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, responded to the leaked draft by telling the New York Times on Wednesday that the language in the deal omits crucial protections against increased environmental destruction caused by globalized trade practices.

“It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,” Ms. Solomon said.

Long sought by journalists, green activists, and environmental advocacy organizations the trade deal’s chapter on the environment will be hotly reviewed throughout the day. Follow reactions and updates on Twitter:

Canada’s real international shame — and it’s not Ford November 23, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Canada petroleum, Canadian Mining, Environment.
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Roger’s note: the author ends this article by lamenting the damage done by the Harper government to “Canada’s global reputation.”  What needs to be added to this are the damages themselves done not only to our environment but to the thousands of human beings who suffer at the policies of this mean-spirited and imperious government.

 

Canada has become the target of unprecedented international condemnation as one of the world’s worst polluters.

big_trucks.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

 

The international community is unimpressed with Canada’s environmental record, which for some includes the oilsands industry in Alberta.

 

Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

 

When will this horrid scandal end? Can someone please turn the channel? Shamed on the world stage and ridiculed by many, Canada has been exposed in recent days as a country with political leadership that is greedy, self-indulgent, incompetent and dismissive of our children, as well as woefully captive of special interests.

And I’m not referring to Rob Ford. His 15 seconds of fame — as “The Crack-smoking Mayor Who Knocked Down Granny,” as London’s tabloids described him — will end one day. Just keep breathing deeply.

 

I mean, in tabloid terms, another story: “The Short-Sighted Canadian Government That Robbed Our Children.” And, sadly, its legacy may never end.

 

What makes it worse is that this comes at a time when the government of Stephen Harper faces criticism for blackening Canada’s reputation in foreign policy in other areas as well.

 

Although it hasn’t received the media attention of the Ford soap opera, Canada in the past week has been the target of unprecedented international condemnation as one of the world’s worst polluters. These reports have coincided with a major UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland.

 

One after another, accusations have been directed at the Harper government for being an international deadbeat when it comes to climate change and the environment.

 

The Washington-based Center for Global Development ranked Canada dead last among the 27 wealthy nations it assessed in terms of environmental protection. Every other country has made progress except Canada, according to the group.

 

A report issued this week by the Europe-based Germanwatch and Climate Action Network placed Canada at the bottom of an international list of countries in tackling greenhouse-gas emissions, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

 

By any measurement, this is not how most Canadians want their country to be seen internationally in an area so crucial to Canada as the environment. This challenges the conventional wisdom — often reflected in current political debate and media coverage — that Canadians have tired of the environment and climate change as public policy issues.

 

According to a new survey released last Monday, Canadians increasingly believe — six in 10 — that climate change is real and caused by human activity, which is the highest level since 2007. But they are losing faith in government to address the issue. The survey was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research and the David Suzuki Foundation.

 

These results were broadly consistent with another national survey released in early November that showed that three out of four Canadians were concerned about climate change but many were critical of how the federal government handled the issue. The poll was sponsored by the Canada 2020 think tank and the University of Montreal, and was conducted by Leger Marketing.

 

The Canadian government’s handling of climate change is part of a pattern. Domestic political calculations here in Canada — rather than any high-minded sense of Canada’s international obligations — seem to drive the Harper government’s foreign policy decisions.

 

How else to explain Canada’s unquestioning support of the Israeli government? The price of that has been to relegate Canada to irrelevance in the Middle East.

 

How else to explain Canada’s abrupt decision a year ago to pull its embassy out of Iran? The price of that has been to eliminate any possibility Canada can be a factor in the current nuclear negotiations. Even Britain is now taking steps to reconcile with Iran.

 

How else to explain Harper’s decision to boycott the recent Commonwealth conference in Sri Lanka in response to pressure from Canada’s Tamil community? The price of that was to sideline Canada from the human rights debate at the conference. In contrast, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who attended the conference, was able to challenge directly the Sri Lankan government for its handling of the Tamil minority.

 

The Rob Ford scandal has been a genuine black eye for Canada. His continuing presence on the political scene is as mystifying to foreigners as it is embarrassing to Canadians. But one day, thankfully, Ford will be gone.

 

In a variety of areas including climate change, the damage being done by the Harper government to Canada’s global reputation is a stain that will stay with us for much longer.

 

Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News, teaches journalism at Ryerson University. (tony.burman@gmail.com )

Noam Chomsky: Canada on Fast-Speed Race ‘to Destroy the Environment’ November 2, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Canada petroleum, Energy, Environment.
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Noted linguist tells the Guardian ‘the most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction’

 

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Canada is on a race “to destroy the environment as fast as possible,” said noted linguist and intellectual Noam Chomsky in an interview with the Guardian published Friday.

Noam Chomsky speaking in Trieste, Italy. (Photo: SISSA/cc/flickr)

Chomsky took aim at the conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which has pushed for increased exploitation of the tar sands, muzzled federal scientists, championed the Keystone XL pipeline and gutted environmental protections.

Harper’s pro-oil, anti-science policies have been the target vocal, widespread opposition, including recent sweeping mobilizations by Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation fighting fracking exploration in New Brunswick.

“It means taking every drop of hydrocarbon out of the ground, whether it’s shale gas in New Brunswick or tar sands in Alberta and trying to destroy the environment as fast as possible, with barely a question raised about what the world will look like as a result,” Chomsky told the British paper, referring to Harper’s energy policies.

Yet there is resistance, he said, and “it is pretty ironic that the so-called ‘least advanced’ people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction.”

His comments echo those he wrote this spring in a piece for TomDispatch entitled “Humanity Imperiled: The Path to Disaster.” He wrote: “[A]t one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster. At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible.”

To organize around climate change, Chomsky told the Guardian that progressives should not frame it as a “prophecy of doom,” but rather “a call to action” that can be “energizing.”

As the country continues what David Suzuki called a “systematic attack on science and democracy” and “we are facing an irreversible climate catastrophe like the tar sands,” Canada’s race to disaster shows no signs of abating.

___________________

Blood in the Amazon: Brazilian Activists Murdered as Deforestation Increases June 1, 2011

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Roger’s note: this article demonstrates the inadequacy of electing self-proclaimed left wing governments.  Once in power, Brazil’s Lula, and now his successor Dilma Rousseff come under tremendous pressures to advance “economic growth.”  Unfortunately such pressures a rarely resisted since counter pressures do not compare in strength to the massive media and corporate campaigns to promote such growth.  In the end, these governments, despite their campaign promises, end up with the same Neo-Liberal economic strategies as their right wing predecessors.  This is not to say that the election of such “leftist” governments in Latin America (Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, etc.) is insignificant.  It represents popular pressures from below to resist the reach of the US imperial tendrils.  But the election of such governments is not enough, it is only a first step toward a genuine liberation from the imperialist and capitalist destruction of the social and natural environments.  In  the case of the article below, we are talking about the Amazon Rainforest, the very lungs of the world.

 

Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

  by  Benjamin Dangl

Early in the morning on May 24, in the northern Brazilian Amazon, José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva got onto a motorcycle near the nature reserve they had worked on for over two decades. As the couple rode past the jungle they dedicated their lives to protecting, gunmen hiding near a bridge opened fire, killing them both.

Brazilian law enforcement officials said that the killing appeared to be the work of hired gunmen, due to the fact that an ear was cut off each of the victims. This is often done to prove to whoever paid for the killings that the job was carried out.

The murder took place the same day the Brazilian Congress passed a change to the forestry code that would allow agribusinesses and ranchers to clear even more land in the Amazon jungle. Deforestation rose 27 percent from August 2010 to April 2011 largely due to soybean plantations. The levels will likely rise if the changes to the forestry code are passed by the Senate.

Ribeiro knew he was in danger of being killed for his struggle against loggers, ranchers and large scale farmers who were deforesting the Amazon. In fact, just six months earlier, in November 2010 at an environmental conference in Manaus, Brazil, he told the audience “I could be here today talking to you and in one month you will get the news that I disappeared. I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment. … As long as I have the strength to walk I will denounce all of those who damage the forest.”

The life and death of Ribeiro has been rightly compared to that of Chico Mendes, a Brazilian rubber tapper, union leader and environmentalist who fought against logging and ranching, winning international attention for his successful campaigns against deforestation. In 1988, Mendes was murdered by gunmen hired by ranchers.

Just two weeks before he was killed, Mendes also spoke hauntingly about the likelihood that he would be murdered for his activism. “I don’t want flowers, because I know you are going to pull them up from the forest. The only thing I want is that my death helps to stop the murderers’ impunity…”

Yet since the murder of Mendes, impunity in the Brazilian countryside has become the norm. In the past 20 years, over 1,150 rural activists have been killed in conflicts related to land. Of these murders, less than 100 cases have gone to court, only 80 of the killers have been convicted, and just 15 of the people who hired the gunmen were found guilty, according to Catholic Land Pastoral, a group monitoring land conflicts. Impunity reigns in rural areas due to the corruption of judicial officials and police, and the wealth and power of the ranchers, farmers and loggers who are often the ones who order the killings.

The recent murder of Ribeiro and Santo combined with the danger posed by changes to the forestry code are devastating indications of the direction Brazil is heading in the Amazon. For some, the expansion of logging, ranching and soybean operations into the Amazon are inevitable steps toward economic progress. But for others, a different kind of progress is necessary if the planet is to survive. As Chico Mendes explained just days before his death in 1988, he wanted to “demonstrate that progress without destruction is possible.”

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Benjamin Dangl

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America and is the author of the new book, Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press). For more information, visit DancingwithDynamite.com. Email Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com

Greenpeace Claims Sweet Victory Over Nestle May 17, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Environment.
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(Roger’s note: Nestle has a long history of anti-social practices.  At one time they were actively promoting the use of their baby formula in third world countries where there was only access to contaminated water for mixing.  More recently, they have been in effect legally stealing ground water in Guelph, Canada.  It is good to see them get their comeuppance for a change.)

Published on Monday, May 17, 2010 by The Age (Australia)by Stuart Washington

Environment group Greenpeace has claimed social media led to its success in a campaign that linked global food giant Nestle’s chocolate bar KitKat to deforestation in Indonesian rainforests and the destruction of orang-utan habitats.

[A Greenpeace activist dressed as an orang-utan protests outside the Nestle head office in Sydney April 22, 2010. The activists were protesting Nestle's use of palm oil from Indonesia in their products, destroying the habitats of orang-utans. (REUTERS/Greenpeace/Dean Sewell/Handout) ]
A Greenpeace activist dressed as an orang-utan protests outside the Nestle head office in Sydney April 22, 2010. The activists were protesting Nestle’s use of palm oil from Indonesia in their products, destroying the habitats of orang-utans. (REUTERS/Greenpeace/Dean Sewell/Handout)

Today in Malaysia, Nestle announced a partnership with not-for-profit organisation The Forest Trust (TFT), promising to adhere to responsible sourcing guidelines for palm oil. 

In a Greenpeace report titled Caught Red-handed, launched on March 17, Greenpeace exposed Nestle’s use of Indonesian logging company Sinar Mas and subsidiaries including Asia Pulp and Paper to obtain palm oil.

Palm oil is used as an ingredient in Nestle chocolate products, including its well known KitKat chocolate bars.

Greenpeace said Sinar Mas was implicated in rainforest destruction and the destruction of orang-utan habitats as it planted plantations for palm oil and pulp.

An accompanying video posted on YouTube went on to record more than 1 million views – in part because Nestle had attempted to have it removed, Stephen Campbell, the head of campaigns for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said today.

“[Social media] played an enormous role,” Mr Campbell said. “Within 24 hours the campaign was global because of the web video.”

By March 31, Nestle had agreed to stop dealing directly with Sinar Mas and its subsidiaries.

Today’s announcement and the involvement of TFT marks a further step, in that it commits Nestle to no longer source Sinar Mas products indirectly through third-party suppliers.

Nestle said it would “focus on the systematic identification and exclusion of companies owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation”.

Mr Campbell said Nestle had shown a misunderstanding of the role of social media.

“It’s no longer about broadcasting, it’s about interaction,” he said.

Copyright © 2010 Fairfax Digital

Daryl Hannah: Why I Was Arrested in Coal River, West Virginia July 2, 2009

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Published on Thursday, July 2, 2009 by Huffington Post by Daryl Hannah

Why would I fly across the country on my own dime knowing I would most likely end up in jail in one of the poorest parts of America?

Well, have you ever heard of MTR?

Don’t feel bad, my friends are intelligent, well-read and informed people, but most of them had never heard of MTR (Mountain Top Removal) either.

So, I went to Coal River to help bring much needed attention to this hidden, criminal (but somehow legal) form of mining. I was honored to be joining an inspiringly brave group of concerned Americans, which included NASA climate scientist James Hansen who was among the first to sound the alarm on the climate crisis. The sharp, charismatic, 94 year old, former West Virginia U.S. Representative and Secretary of State Ken Hechler, who was the first congressman to introduce a Federal bill to abolish strip mining in 1971. (If passed the bill could have prevented this mess we find ourselves in.) And I was deeply moved to be arrested with those affected by MTR in Kentucky, and the many local residents fighting for their very lives, including a half dozen senior citizens, canes, walkers and all.

Mountain Top Removal is a devastatingly destructive form of mining and has already destroyed 2,000,000 acres in the Appalachian Mountains.

Coal companies have literally blown up over 500 mountain tops to access the coal seams and then dumped the refuse into the valleys below, killing over 3000 miles of headwater streams. The EPA just gave the go ahead for an additional 42 mountaintops to be blown off with another 6 permits pending.

Mountain Top Removal leaves behind a virtual hideous moonscape of devastated earth, billions of gallons of poisonous toxic sludge, and boarded up towns with dramatically high rates of cancer.

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for, and am deeply indebted to the miners working in coalmines and on MTR projects who risk their lives daily to bring power to our country. I understand they feel threatened by anything that might take away their jobs. And, I don’t want to see them lose more jobs, as 75% of mining jobs have already been lost to the machines and explosives of MTR.

While it takes fewer miners to remove coal with Mountain Top Removal, there are just as many dangers, accidents and fatalities! It is a cheaper way for the companies to mine and that’s why it’s becoming so pervasive.

Yesterday, I received this email from a woman in Virginia:

Dear Daryl,Thank you so much for coming to West Virginia and trying to save our mountains from Mountain top removal. I am a 9th generation Appalachian and it pains us to see what is happening. If it was not for the Internet I wouldn’t have known about your efforts. Massey has quite a bit of influence of the local media in the coalfields. I am sorry you were arrested but I thank you for standing up for what is right. We need to work on sustainable communities here in the mountains so that coal miners will have opportunities for jobs not so dangerous. My brother works, when he can’t find anything else, at the mines driving the large dump trucks that haul the coal out of the pits. It’s dangerous work even if you are not underground. You just wouldn’t believe the equipment they give them to work with. This one site he was in this massive huge dump truck that the floorboard was rusted out with open holes. Rocks would fly back into the cab from the tires. And when it rains, it’s a mudslide. One of his co -workers was killed when the dump truck went over an embankment last year. Reporting gets you fired. And yet these workers will defend the job because there is nothing else. So thank you for standing up with us. We do appreciate it.

Then there’s the sickness…

According to WVU’s institute for health policy research, coal county residents are more likely to suffer from chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases, cancers and generally suffer from excess numbers of premature death. There’s a high cancer risk for up to 1 out of every 50 Americans living near the more than 100 billion gallons of toxic sludge in the clay-lined and unlined (the majority unlined) coal ash landfills and slurry ponds, such as the TVA Kingston ash sludge landfill that collapsed into the Emory River in December.

Tennessee Valley Authority officials consistently have said the ash spilled in December from the utility’s Kingston Fossil Plant wet landfill in Harriman, Tenn., and in January from its Widows Creek pond in Stevenson, Ala., is non-hazardous… but after the spill, regulatory and independent testing have found high levels of toxicity in the spilled waste and raw water where the two spills occurred. Thirty-one of the landfills and slurry ponds in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are on or near major waterways!

The slurry pond above the Marsh fork elementary school where we held our protest holds 2.8 billion gallons (it’s one of the smallest ponds — one nearby in brushing fork holds 9 billion gallons) of sludge in unlined pits containing arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

Tragically but predictably in coal river valley, the children are often sick with headaches and asthma, and among the 200 students and teachers at Marsh Fork elementary school cancer rates are higher than average.

Three teachers have died from cancer and one is struggling with the disease now.

In 2005 one student died from ovarian cancer at age seventeen and another is still battling ovarian cancer.

Today I received this from a man in Raleigh County, West Virginia:

West Virginia. It is hell.Every morning a 6 am my cat starts coughing. My eyes burn, my nose burns (sometimes bleeds), I get ill, and my health continues to fall apart. I got two forms of cancer, I can’t drink the water… and we are 15 miles from Marsha Fork where they are making (was supposed to be shut down) a cyanide based pesticide that in an accident killed 1800 people in India. My kid is lead poisoned, my wife is- and in a mile radius 10 people have had heart attacks or died from whatever is here. The dust is full of arsenic and the Massey power plants create a blue haze which is really sulfuric acid. EPA won’t come near this place. It is owned by the coal industry. Thousands, who live here and are dying from 100 miles of rivers under coal sludge, Do the earth a favor and check on this and if you feel like improving our life send us a ticket out of here. I am sending you a picture of my son. He is being poisoned here. It breaks my heart. We cannot even get workman’s comp and have huge families. We are the poor of southern West Virginia..

State regulators are telling the people that it’s an “improvement” to flatten a forested mountain, seed it with grass and hope that some shrubs will grow — and then allow hunters who have signed “the appropriate waivers of liability, indemnifications and assumptions of risks” to hunt whatever animals might choose to inhabit such barren fields.

As humorist Dave Barry says, we’re not making this up, although we wish we were.

Let me make one thing clear… there is no such thing as clean coal!!!

I wish President Obama would stop using the term and take CEQ chief Nancy Sutley and EPA head Lisa Jackson to visit these unfortunate mining sites under their jurisdiction.

When we flip the switch to turn our lights on, most of us have no idea where that power comes from.

According to the U.S. dept. of energy, more than 50% of our electricity comes from coal.

Coal emits much more carbon (CO2) per unit of energy than oil and natural gas. From the acid drainage of mines polluting rivers and streams, to the release of mercury and other toxins when its burned into the atmosphere, the fine particulates that wreak havoc on human health, and the colossal waste, coal pollutes every step of the way

“Clean coal” is the industry’s attempt to “clean up” its dirty image — the industry’s greenwash buzzword. It is not a new type of coal. “Clean coal” methods only move pollutants from one waste stream to another. Coal is a dirty business!

The good news is we have a solution! A study of the long-term benefits of infinite Wind Power versus finite coal MTR in Coal River Mountain, West Virginia already exists. They show “excellent potential” for efficiency, productivity and economic benefit. Though it doesn’t have short-term financial returns, wind promises to provide clean, inexpensive energy and offers scores of safe jobs for the long term. Just check out the staggering figures from a report released by the American Wind Energy Association: “wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year.” Renewable energy will continue to grow exponentially, whereas mining jobs have decreased or remained relatively stagnant at “81,000 workers” for over 20 years, according to the 2007 U.S. dept of energy report.

I can understand why those who live in coal towns are frustrated, because while we have this technology available to us now — it is still just “a promise” in these regions.

It’s imperative we let our president, our elected public servants and entrepreneurs know that this is where we want our investment to be directed.

Hopefully some wise, forward thinking heroes will step up the plate, build the wind farm and take this incredible win, win, wind, opportunity to bury the dirty dinosaur of Mountain Top Removal forever.

www.crmw.net

www.appvoices.org

ilovemountains.org © 2009 Huffington Post

Daryl Hannah is an actress and environmental activist.

Peru: Save the Amazon June 11, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Environment, First Nations, Human Rights, Latin America, Peru.
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Dear friends,

Peru’s government is clashing violently with indigenous groups protesting the rapid devastation of the Amazon rainforest by mining, oil and logging companies. The forest is a global treasure – let’s stand with the protesters and sign the petition to President Garcia to stop the violence and save the Amazon:

Sign the petition

The Peruvian government has pushed through legislation that could allow extractive and large-scale farming companies to rapidly destroy their Amazon rainforest.

Indigenous peoples have peacefully protested for two months demanding their lawful say in decrees that will contribute to the devastation of the Amazon’s ecology and peoples, and be disastrous for the global climate. But last weekend President Garcia responded: sending in special forces to suppress protests in violent clashes, and labelling the protesters as terrorists.

These indigenous groups are on the frontline of the struggle to protect our earth — Let’s stand with them and call on President Alan Garcia (who is widely known to be sensitive to his international reputation) to immediately stop the violence and open up dialogue. Click below to sign the urgent global petition and a prominent and well-respected Latin-American politician will deliver it to the government on our behalf.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/peru_stop_violence

More than 70 per cent of the Peruvian Amazon is now up for grabs. Giant oil and gas companies, like the Anglo-French Perenco and the North Americans ConocoPhillips and Talisman Energy, have already pledged multi-billionaire investments in the region. These extractive industries have a very poor record of bringing benefits to local people and preserving the environment in developing countries – which is why indigenous groups are asking for internationally-recognized rights to consultation on the new laws.

For decades the world and indigenous peoples have watched as extractive industries devastated the rainforest that is home to some and a vital treasure to us all (some climate scientists call the Amazon the “lungs of the planet” – breathing in the carbon emissions that cause global warming and producing oxygen).

The protests in Peru are the biggest yet and the most desperate, we can’t afford to let them fail. Sign the petition, and encourage your friends and family to join us, so we can help bring justice to the indigenous peoples of Peru and prevent further acts of violence from all parties.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/peru_stop_violence

In solidarity,

Luis, Paula, Alice, Ricken, Graziela, Ben, Brett, Iain, Pascal, Raj, Taren and the entire Avaaz team.

Sources:

  • Civilians and police killed: Human rights lawyers accuse the government of a cover-up, BBC, 10 June:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8092453.stm
  • Civil Society Condemns Massacre of Indigenous People in Peru, 8 June:
    http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/765/en/global_witness_condems_violence_in_peru
  • On Peru’s rift over economic policy and the controversial free trade agreement with the US , Reuters, 9 June:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN09374943
  • Research Article: Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples, M. Finer et al:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0002932
  • Oil companies ‘should withdraw’ as Peru ‘faces its Tiananmen’, Survival International, 8 June:
    http://www.survival-international.org/news/4640
  • Peru’s Amazon oil deals denounced, BBC News, 3 February:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6326741.stm


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  • Obama Doesn’t Plan to Reopen Nafta Talks April 26, 2009

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Labor.
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    www.nytimes.com, Published: April 20, 2009

    WASHINGTON — The administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to add labor and environmental protections, as President Obama vowed to do during his campaign, the top trade official said on Monday.

    “The president has said we will look at all of our options, but I think they can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement,” said the official, Ronald Kirk, the United States trade representative. It was perhaps the clearest indication yet of the administration’s thinking on whether to reopen the core agreement to add labor and environmental rules.

    Mr. Kirk spoke in a conference call with reporters after returning from a regional summit meeting that Mr. Obama attended over the weekend in Trinidad. He said that Mr. Obama had conferred with the leaders of Mexico and Canada — the other parties to the trade agreement — and that “they are all of the mind we should look for opportunities to strengthen Nafta.”

    But while he said that a formal review of the 1992 pact had yet to be completed, Mr. Kirk noted that both Mr. Obama and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico had said that “they don’t believe we have to reopen the agreement now.”

    Mexico in particular, whose exports have exploded under Nafta, has little interest in such a renegotiation.

    Not only Mr. Obama but also one of his rivals for the presidency, Hillary Rodham Clinton, had promised during their campaigns to renegotiate the accord — a politically popular position in some electorally important Midwestern states that have lost thousands of manufacturing jobs.

    Thea Lee, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. policy director, said that the workers federation would have preferred “more definitive” language on addressing key labor concerns, but that it was understandable for a new administration to start its review with a less confrontational approach.

    “We were obviously very encouraged by what Obama the candidate was saying on the campaign trail in terms of needing to recognize the deficiencies of Nafta and to strengthen it,” said Margrete Strand Rangnes, a labor and trade specialist with the Sierra Club.

    Her group opposed Nafta from the start as lacking adequate environmental provisions, and contends that the side agreements added later have proved inadequate. “You have an environmental side agreement that doesn’t have as many teeth as the commercial provisions of the agreement,” she said. “You have an investment chapter that allows companies to basically file suit against common-sense environmental and public health measures.”

    But she said the Sierra Club recognized that change would not come easily, and added, “We’re eager to work with the administration in having that conversation.”

    Since the election, neither the president nor Mrs. Clinton, now secretary of state, has said much about trying to move side agreements on labor and the environment — which are subject to limited enforcement — into the main part of the trade pact, a potentially tangled and protracted process. As candidates in the Democratic presidential primaries last year, both said they would renegotiate or even opt out of Nafta, citing flaws in its labor and environmental provisions, while trading accusations over past support for the agreement.

    Mr. Kirk, who as mayor of Dallas was known as a strong advocate of free trade, also said the administration planned expeditious reviews of pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

    He said that Colombia had made “remarkable progress” in reducing violence — attacks against labor activists have been a key sticking point — but that other issues remained, and he vowed intensive consultation with Congress on the matter.

    The Bush administration signed the agreement with Colombia in November 2006. But Congressional Democrats and United States labor groups have said the Uribe government must do more to stop the antilabor violence and hold perpetrators accountable, a position Mr. Obama supported during his campaign.

    Regarding Panama, Mr. Kirk said that differences on labor standards, and the question of the country “possibly being a tax haven,” needed resolution.

    Mr. Obama and Mr. Kirk met with leaders of both countries during the Trinidad meeting.