Stop The Atlantic Coast Pipeline

April 28, 2017, the FERC in Washington — Beyond Extreme Energy once again used food and friendliness to communicate a serious message at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a $5 billion high pressure fracked gas pipeline proposed for WV, VA, and NC. Among its many potential harms, it would negatively impact farmland and farm families along its 550 mile route. BXE’s sweet potato action gave voice to impacted communities in all three states while focusing on the particular concerns of sweet potato farmers in NC (NC is the nation’s leading producer of sweet potatoes).

Opposition To Proposed Multi-Billion Dollar Fracked Gas Pipeline Enters A New Phase In North Carolina

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More than forty people walked the intended route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for nine miles(!) along back roads in Nash County, NC on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Their goal was to demonstrate local opposition and to educate neighbors.

 

By Greg Yost for NC PowerForward

Atlantic Coast Pipeline co-developers Dominion Resources and Duke Energy together are valued at one fifth of a trillion dollars—and friends, that’s trillion with a “t”. So the 550 mile, $5 billion fracked gas pipeline project they announced several years ago must be a done deal by now, right?

Wrong. As delays to the project mount, opposition to the energy companies’ plan continues to stiffen. In Natural Bridge, Virginia recently, nearly two hundred landowners, legal experts, property rights defenders, consumer advocates, and environmental activists assembled mid-November for a full day strategy session about how best to further their collaboration on their common goal of stopping the ACP. As an attendee from North Carolina, I was impressed by how advanced this organizing already is. From the beginning, Virginia has led the way in grassroots opposition to the pipeline.

But now my state is catching up. On Saturday, November 19, three impacted North Carolina counties staged coordinated, simultaneous marches to draw attention to the pipeline and to educate their communities about possibilities for resistance. As announced in a joint press conference held November 15, each march was planned and sponsored by a local community organization. In rural Nash County, the organizers were from a group called Nash Stop The Pipeline. In Cumberland County, home to Fayetteville and the Ft. Bragg military base, planners were a multi-racial group of landowners targeted by the pipeline calling themselves Cumberland County Caring Voices. And in Robeson County, itself an especially racially diverse community given its 38% indigenous peoples population, organizers were members of the group, Eco-Robeson.

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In Pembroke more than one hundred people rallied against the pipeline led by strong voices from the Lumbee Tribe which has served as the historical center of the movement for justice and dignity in Robeson County.

 

Of course, marching is nice, but it’s fair to ask what normal people like these can do in the real world against the combined might of behemoths like Dominion and Duke. The answer, I think, lies in pipeline opponents’ sense of their own strength and resolve. They believe that despite a monetary disadvantage, they have a clear set of diverse issues around which they can build a broad based coalition and a winning campaign. The misuse of the power of eminent domain, for example, is opposed by people from across the political spectrum. Similarly, organizers believe that an inevitable dramatic increase in energy bills for ratepayers is a winning issue once the public becomes educated about the enduring costs not only of the pipeline, but of the nearly twenty gas-fired plants which Duke Energy intends to build in the place of new sun and wind power generation. Organizers also believe that the role fracked gas plays in producing catastrophic new levels of flooding and climate change will be persuasive in an area like eastern North Carolina which experienced devastation only recently from Hurricane Matthew.

This pragmatic optimism about the fight ahead was captured for me Saturday in an offhand comment by Marvin Winstead, a Nash County farmer and leader in Nash Stop The Pipeline whose burgeoning skills as a community organizer are impressive. A heckler had just driven by our line of walkers late in the day to taunt us with the astonishingly unoriginal shout of “Get a job!” before speeding away. One bemused marcher was heard to ask, “It’s Saturday and I have a job–what’s so surprising about me spending a weekend afternoon doing something that I want to do?” I laughed and agreed.

“If you’ll get out and give me a half an hour chance to talk with you right here, right now on the side of this road, I bet you’ll change your mind about what we’re doing.”  –Marvin Winstead

 

Marvin’s own response a moment later, however, made me stop and think. He simply said, “I wish that I could have spoken with him. I would have said, If you’ll get out and give me a half an hour chance to talk with you right here, right now on the side of this road, I bet you’ll change your mind about what we’re doing.” And as I reflected on Marvin’s attitude, I saw in it a source of strength for this campaign. In the competition for minds and hearts across the region, state, and nation on this issue of building yet more expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure, corporations like Duke and Dominion are at a distinct disadvantage. By telling the truth about this pipeline in persistently courageous and creative ways, we will build the necessary power to deny Duke and Dominion what they need but do not yet have despite all of their money:  the support of local communities and the land upon which to build. As Marvin and his friends understand, this story is far from over. In fact, in light of the unprecedented level of coordination of local and state opponents on this issue, it’s only now just begun.

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Nash County opposition leader Marvin Winstead explains to a gathered group of walkers and reporters on Saturday morning that “rural lives matter”.

 

To be sure, #NoACP promises to be a struggle every bit as epic as #NoDAPL. But the cooperation, vision, and the growing strength which these North Carolina communities of resistance are now demonstrating augurs well for their upcoming battles. The fight to wrest control of our clean energy future from abusive, domineering corporate power is on!

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What’s next? Organizers point to the expansion of the number of local groups opposing the ACP in NC’s eight directly impacted counties–and to a possible walk along the entire ACP route in North Carolina in early spring.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet BXE, the climate hiker along the Appalachian Trail

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Greg Yost, with his banner, in Harpers Ferry. Follow his progress here.

By Elisabeth Hoffman

Not many people accidentally walk 30 miles in a day.

But that’s what Greg Yost has done on occasion as he heads south along the Appalachian Trail. More than halfway now, he should reach Springer Mountain in Georgia before year’s end. He walks with a sense of urgency, not only to get back to his family near Asheville, NC, but to talk to people about the climate crisis.

Most thru-hikers, those who walk the full 2,190 miles in one continuous journey, take on this arduous yet stunningly scenic trip as a personal challenge. Greg did that sort of walk in 1989.  The inspiration for that hike occurred in the summer of 1987 when he was working at Habitat for Humanity in Americus, GA. That February, National Geographic had published a fascinating article on the Appalachian Trail.

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Thru-hikers have their picture taken and record their start date, trail name and contact information for notebooks kept at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry. Greg fills in his information next to the 1989 notebook with his image.

“It was soooo hot,” he remembered during his recent stop in Harpers Ferry, WV. “I was sweating and dying down there in that south Georgia heat in July, but at night I would read that National Geographic article over and over and over. That article was so well-written and so well-photographed, it in and of itself led to this huge spike in thru-hiker numbers, and I was part of that in ‘89.”

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Greg, at left, in 1989.

This time, however, Greg talks with anyone who will listen about fracked gas, climate change, methane leakage, and the dangerous buildout of fracked-gas infrastructure.

As he puts it, he wants to “educate and to incite rebellion.”

The Greg this trip is a different person, he says.

“We just don’t have the time or the money to build out all this new infrastructure that’s going to be in place for 30 years and expect to slow or even put a dent in our global warming problem,” he tells other hikers. “This is a real emergency and requires real tough decisions to be made. Incremental steps are not going to be enough here. We need to absolutely say no to building out this fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Greg’s daughter, Anna Farlessyost, proposed the walk. The last-minute – less than three weeks to prepare – father-daughter adventure was to be part of Anna’s gap year. After numerous injuries in Maine and many “0-mile” days, Anna reluctantly decided to take a bus home Aug. 10, less than a month into the trip. She’ll resume her walk in the spring. Greg carried on alone.

Trail names are usually bestowed on hikers. Cinderella, for example, got her trail name when one of her camp shoes fell off of her backpack. Three Prince Charmings came to her rescue and hike-shuttled it back to her. Anna earned hers after forgetting to pack her glasses, retainer and sleeping pad. “That’s a lot of forgetting,” Greg wrote in his Facebook blog, Preservation, Not Pipelines. That’s how Anna earned the trail name Dory, the blue tang that suffers from memory loss in the Disney film “Finding Nemo.”

Greg, however, chose for his trail name BXE, the abbreviation for Beyond Extreme Energy, a nonviolent climate group that uses direct action to try to stop dirty energy projects – for oil, coal and fracked gas – and to promote clean energy from the sun and wind. BXE focuses on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which approves nearly every fracked-gas project that comes before it. The group also supports front-line struggles, such as in Lusby, Md., where a fracked-gas export facility is being built at Cove Point; in North Dakota, where Native Americans and their allies are trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline; and a host of communities battling pipelines and compressors, particularly in the Northeast.  He’s also seeking sponsors (21 so far), who will pledge to donate a cent a mile ($21.89, or more is welcome) to Beyond Extreme Energy at the conclusion of his walk.

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Greg posted this photo on Facebook at mile 1000.1 on Oct. 3.

When he introduces himself, the question invariably arises: What does BXE mean? And that’s how Greg starts these conversations. By Day 53, he posted on Facebook, he had already had at least a couple hundred face-to-face conversations.

Not many hikers are thinking about these issues, he says. “What I think’s valuable,” he says, “is that they meet somebody who has this passion. And beyond the particulars, a nice guy considers this important enough to talk about. The next time they have an opportunity to learn something, they will take it in.”

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Greg posted this image of a “sweet little AT blaze” on Sept. 12

He approaches the Facebook blog posts the same way. He knows that many, perhaps most, of his followers – nearly 300 – want to hear about his hiking adventures. They also know him as a high school math teacher, a position that garners him some respect. “So what I want to do is not just to give the facts and figures about the climate stuff,” he said “I want to normalize the idea that paying attention to this is not being weird or nerdy or abnormal. It’s normal to pay attention when your home and your lives are threatened. In fact, it’s normal to resist.”

Many view protesters as “whiners,” he said, so they are not inclined to be sympathetic to the direct action he thinks is critical: “I want them to understand [that] when a system is broken, when all the civil institutions that you would normally trust to take care of you and make good decisions, when they are all broken, what do you have left? What you’ve got is citizen action. I want people to consider this as an option. Not even an option. A necessity.”

“I’ve done a lot over the last seven years including risking arrest many times and putting my own body in the way of fossil fuel polluters. As much as I swim in these waters now, I know that for some of you I am something entirely different. You may not know anyone else personally who speaks openly and knowledgeably about carbon pollution and the climate. Through this blog – its tone, its humor, and hopefully its humanity – I hope to catalyze a resistance reaction within you so that you decide, as I have, to protect what you love. It’s your trust I hope to earn.” – Day 53, Friday, September 2

Last week, he wrote about an encounter with about 15 students, ages 11 to 14, and their adult counselors. When the question came about BXE, he was ready. After describing FERC and noting that its office near Union Station was blocks from the youths’ school, he laid out the planetary dilemma:

“FERC won’t stop saying yes to dirty energy projects that hurt people and make the planet get hotter. So they have to be pushed to do what’s right. And that’s what we do. We get up in their face so that they have to listen to us people and not just the dirty energy companies. They don’t like it, but we don’t ever stop. We interrupt them, we sometimes block their doors, we talk to their employees, and we generally make a scene. Sometimes we even get arrested for what we do. But we definitely won’t stop until they change and do better.”

And then it happened. A 12 year old girl made my day. Maybe even made this whole trip worthwhile for me. Eyes alight, she threw her fist in the air in an act of spontaneous, irrepressible emotion. Eye contact was total. She got what we are doing. They all did, really, in that moment. What they saw: We have power. And it’s right when we use it.

This girl’s enthusiasm, though, however personally encouraging it was for me, nonetheless prompts some uncomfortable questions for her elders. To wit, what is wrong with us? Why aren’t we stopping people who want to dig the hole of global warming and environmental degradation ever deeper? Why can 12 year olds understand this stuff, but we seemingly cannot? Year after year after year, why have we allowed the folly of new billion dollar investments in fossil fuels to continue? Where is our courage, our intelligence, our conviction? Don’t children deserve action, not apathy, from us? – Day 99, Tuesday, October 18

On Sept. 11, Greg turned 50 on the trail. “I am appreciative of the best birthday present ever, the chance to hike long distance again,” he wrote on his Facebook blog. “I want to add that this is more than just a masochistic dream vacation for me. It’s also preparation. I’m reminding myself of places, feelings, plants, animals, communities, clean water, clean air, health, and sanity that I’ll fight like hell for. I’m banking this time away now, building up some spiritual resources that I’ll need to draw upon soon. For I mean to spend myself completely in my second half century.”

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Greg reached what was formerly the halfway spot Oct. 8; the trail is frequently rerouted, so his halfway point was still ahead.

Sometimes he meets “courageous folks fighting pipelines, compressor stations.” Tom Denny, for example, is fighting a 650-megawatt gas plant being built near his home and is mere miles from the controversial Minisink, NY, compressor station that was completed a few years ago. Denny’s “point of entry,” Greg wrote, was not a public meeting. It was severe headaches that his doctor couldn’t explain.

Those of us who haven’t suffered the misfortune of having fossil fuel companies invade our homes and our lives will not easily understand the sense of desperation that comes from having no choices available other than fighting against long odds or just plain rolling over. Thanks, Tom, for not rolling over. You deserve real, tangible support from all of the rest of us. Your fight is our fight whether or not we yet understand that like we should. – Day 72, Wednesday, September 21

Greg has decided that hiking south is by far the better way to go. It’s harder at first: “You encounter the toughest parts right away, when you are not in shape. The trail is instantly hard,” he says. It took him about six weeks to acclimate, including “the matter of losing 30 pounds – any extra weight makes you more miserable than you need to be.” The benefits of going south, starting in late July, are that he avoided the northbound “mob” – there are about 15 or 20 northbounders for every southbounder – and, for the most part, the black flies that greet northbound hikers in New England over summer.

“Walking this trail is like getting to open lots of presents on Christmas morning. Each new hiker I meet is a gift and seeing old friends … is just that much better.” – Day 99, Tuesday, October 18

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“Trail angels” leave water for hikers

His hardest days came in early September in Connecticut, during days of drought and high humidity. Places he expected to be able to find water were sometimes dry. One day, he had to hike 6 or 7 miles without water. “My clothes were drenched from my own sweat, yet I had nothing to drink. This went on for hours, my strength gradually leaving me, literally dripping away,” he wrote on Facebook. Fortunately, at the summit, a water spigot was working. Other days, he relied on “trail angels” who leave water jugs at road crossings for hikers.

Most days, he wakes at 5 a.m., sometimes even 4 a.m., and walks until late afternoon, has dinner, and then resumes hiking. As the days shorten, he’s had to turn on his headlamp as darkness falls. When he’s had enough, he looks for a flat spot, rolls out the sleeping bag, writes his blog entry and sleeps in the open. He’ll pull out the tent only if it rains and he can’t reach a shelter. It was also useful for keeping out bugs in August. Nights are getting cold, but the mummy sleeping bag has kept him warm. He doesn’t sleep that well, mainly because his feet are so painful. Not from blisters but from metatarsalgia. His knees also hurt: “That’s not just me, that’s every hiker,” he says.

The mathematician in him loves creating spreadsheets on his smartphone. Every night, he logs his miles. He’s written crude formulas that anticipate what date he will arrive at certain places. His average is picking up – especially given that he logged many days of zero miles while Anna was trying to heal on the trail. So now he knows he’ll arrive in Georgia in 2016.

The journey offers Greg much time for reflection, particularly about how best to seize the crisis of our time, to create a new community and to move forward. He wrote this on his birthday:

There’s a chant I’ve heard at many protests and demonstrations: ‘We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.’ It’s a chant that gives voice to hope that wells up in people, especially young people, when they lose their sense of isolation for a moment in the joy of taking the street with others who share their deep hope and longing.

I think of these words often in the mornings on my hike. I recommend them to you, too, to use like a mantra. But I feel it’s important to distance ourselves emotionally, at first anyway, from any image of a crowd chanting exultantly and triumphantly. Rather, say the chant slow and low. Growl it. Get to know the truth of it for yourself. Another world is possible. Do you believe that? I feel myself being changed and prepared by that insistent meditation. And then, ‘We are unstoppable.’ Who are ‘we’, these people who will fight instead of watch or look away? I’ll tell you what, I’ve noticed that when I look for them, I find them. In fact, it’s sadly comical how easy it has been for me to find them.

So on today’s day of rest, given more to reflection than mileage, those are just a few thoughts about what my walk means to me. As always, I appreciate having you along. – Day 62, Sunday, September 11

 Where’s Greg? Follow along here

Old assumptions inadequate for climate crisis

BY TIM DeCHRISTOPHER : Reprinted from Institute for Public Accuracy

While our political leaders are pretending that being better than Trump is an adequate response to the climate crisis, the climate movement is boldly stepping up to the unprecedented challenge of climate change with courage and commitment. Just in the past few days since the presidential debate ignored climate change, there have been several bold acts of civil disobedience around the country. The sustained resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota had 29 people arrested on Monday for refusing to back down in the face of increasing repression and state violence. Four activists in New York spent all day Monday occupying the Spectra fracked gas pipeline that will run right next to the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant.

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On Indigenous People’s Day, four water protectors crawled inside Spectra’s fracked-gas AIM pipe that is being built under the Hudson River. They stayed in the pipe for  nearly 17 hours. // photo by Erik R. McGregor

 

Then Tuesday, activists in four states shut down all five tar sands pipelines entering the U.S. from Canada. Ten people involved in that action remain in jail right now with bails that range from $5,000 to $75,000.

Activists are seen attempting to cut chains after trespassing into a valve station for pipelines carrying crude from Canadian oils sands into the U.S. markets near Clearbrook

Activists cut chains at a valve station for pipelines carrying tar sands oil near Clearbrook, Minnesota. //Photo from Climate Direct Action and ShutItDown

 

There is a stark divide between the politicians who seem incapable of thinking about the climate crisis outside of the boundaries of old assumptions about political feasibility and the activists who are making real sacrifices to treat climate change like the unprecedented crisis it is.  Al Gore is campaigning for Hilary Clinton without questioning her extreme support for fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, while Al Gore’s own daughter, Karenna, is currently facing a potential two-and-half-year jail sentence for protesting fracked-gas pipeline construction in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Too many failed centrist attempts to address climate change without standing up to the fossil fuel industry have taught honest pragmatists that we simply can’t deal with climate change in a non-confrontational way. Those failures have brought us to this point of record-breaking climate impacts. As the climate crisis quickly intensifies, the climate movement is committing to intensifying our efforts to defend a livable future, as yesterday’s huge pipeline shutdown demonstrated. We hope that our political leaders will join us.

DeChristopher is the founder of the Climate Disobedience Center and is featured in the award-winning film “Bidder 70.”

Trespassing charges dropped for six We Are Seneca Lake protesters

wasl-meme-1Guilty verdict for disorderly conduct for four protesters to be appealed

READING, NEW YORK —  In a decision likely to have broad implications for hundreds of We Are Seneca Lake defenders, Judge David Brockway dismissed trespassing charges against six local business owners due to insufficient evidence. The 12-hour trial took place in the Town of Reading Court on September 30.
In addition, four of the business owners were found guilty of disorderly conduct for preventing a vehicle from passing through the gates of Crestwood’s gas storage complex on Route 14 in Reading, NY. Attorney Gibson will appeal that decision.
“We saw in the testimony that the officers arrested these people without any direct knowledge that they actually were on private property,” said Sujata Gibson, defense attorney. “We are considering a federal lawsuit to ensure that this type of apparently politically motivated mass arrest and prosecution cannot continue to take place. The kind of behavior we saw here between law enforcement, the company, now recused members of the local justice courts and the prosecution has no place in a free democracy.”
The group of business owners included Anna Redmond and Asa Redmond of Regional Access, Julia Abernathy-Uticone of Swamp Road Baskets and Bluebird Botanicals, Jessica Thorpe of Glen Mountain Bakery, and Peggy Aker of Macro Mamas, who had formed a human blockade on November 19, 2014, at Crestwood’s gates. Asa Redmond and Peggy Aker were charged with trespassing, while the other four were charged with both trespassing and disorderly conduct.
wasl-meme-2They were protesting Crestwood’s plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the western shore of Seneca Lake. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) green-lighted the plan in 2014, but to date, construction has not begun. Opponents say the storage plan threatens drinking water for 100,000 people, and the regional economy based on farming, wineries and ecotourism. Thirty-two municipalities around Seneca Lake have passed resolutions denouncing Crestwood’s plans because of overwhelming public opposition citing grave geological and public health concerns. To date, there have been 657 arrests at peaceful protests. On Sept. 1, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer requested that FERC withdraw the permit.
Defendant Julia Abernathy-Uticone of Cayutaville pointed out that “people don’t plan vacations to look at a gas flare or swim in a polluted lake. We have been given this beautiful gift of where we live, the Finger Lakes. It is our job to protect it.”
Peggy Aker of Trumansburg added, “We should be focusing on clean, sustainable energy practices that will be supportive of the life-stream of this planet and all the recipients of its natural resources. Without an economy based on clean energy, the economic vitality of this area will greatly diminish.”
Asa Redmond of Trumansburg stated, “My sister Anna and I are owners of Regional Access, a local, organic and natural food distributor/ food hub. I know from first-hand experience how important the local food and wine economies are to this area. That is why I am standing up against the proposed expansion of gas storage.”
“What will happen when they have ruined our water?” asked Anna Redmond of Trumansburg. “What will the farmers do when there is no water to irrigate their crops? How will the wineries continue to attract tourism to our area when it becomes the next scene of a natural disaster?”
Contact: Stephanie Redmond (607) 592-0131, stephanieredmond@gmail or Mariah Plumlee (607) 592-2741, mmplumlee@gmail.com
For more information visit We Are Seneca Lake’s website: http://www.wearesenecalake.com 

#NoDAPL protesters shut down 2 TD Bank branches in DC

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Activists called out TD Bank today for its financing of a gigantic, $3.8 billion fracked-oil pipeline that would cross Lakota Treaty territory in North Dakota.

While drumming, chanting and carrying posters and banners, the protesters first walked from Lafayette Park in front of the White House to the TD Bank branch on 17th Street NW. They drew the attention and cameras of many tourists with their call-and-response, “One: We are the people. Two: You can’t ignore us. Three: We will not let you build this pipeline.”

Several of the activists walked into the branch to deliver a letter calling on TD Bank to stop lending its investors’ money to Energy Transfer Partners to build the 1,134-mile Dakota Access Pipeline that would run from North Dakota to Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri River near Standing Rock Reservation and threatening the tribe’s water supply and sacred and cultural lands.  TD Securities, the bank’s parent, is contributing $365 million to the project.

As the letter-deliverers rejoined the group outside, bank officials locked the doors as the protest continued on the sidewalk.

“I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win,” the group chanted. And “Stop funding this pipeline. Stop funding genocide.” And “White, black, yellow, red; without water, we’re all dead.”

fresh-graves-tapeProtesters strung yellow crime-scene tape that said “FRESH GRAVES KEEP OUT” across the bank’s doors.

“This is not just an assault on Mother Earth. This is an assault on Native Americans,” said Caro Gonzales of the International Indigenous Youth Council.  The pipeline originally was to cross under the Missouri River farther north, near Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital. “The white people there said, ‘We are afraid for our children,’ ” she said. So, they moved the pipeline route to “right above Native American territory – that has children. That is racism,” she said.

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 “This is not just an assault on Mother Earth. This is an assault on Native Americans,” said Caro Gonzalez, in town after a 23-hour drive from North Dakota. 

The spirited local action, organized by Beyond Extreme Energy, was one of many across the nation this month during Global Weeks of Solidarity, which was called by the Camp of the Sacred Stones and the Red Warrior Camp in North Dakota.  A day earlier, for example, hundreds rallied in front of the White House to call on President Obama to stop the pipeline. In response to the expanding protests, the Justice and Interior departments and the U.S. Army have called for a halt in construction until the pipeline can be reviewed.

After a 23-hour drive from the North Dakota resistance camps, Gonzalez and Lauren Howland had arrived in Washington late the night before. Their first stop: the White House.

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Lauren Howland says she has felt like “a tourist in my own land.”

“It’s funny how I felt like a tourist in my own land,” Howland said. “My ancestors died here. … Everywhere there’s a building built, my ancestors are underneath. … Everywhere in America is built on my ancestors’ [burial ground]. That is desecration.”

She said about 5,000 people are at the Sacred Stone and Red Warrior camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. “Money doesn’t exist at Standing Rock, and we are making it work very well,” she said. “To TD businessmen and women:  You have caused violence. … You cannot drink oil.”

Gonzalez and Howland plan to take their urgent message to President Obama and Congress. “They need to know that Native Americans are no longer expendable,” Howland said. She added that she is relearning her culture and Native ways:  “I am decolonizing my people.”

“We are living proof that we are not giving up,” she said. “A hundred million Native Americans died to make the United States what it is today. … It was stolen; it was genocide.”

After writing #NoDAPL messages in chalk on the sidewalk, the group headed for a second TD branch on 14th St. NW, where the doors had already been locked.

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Activists are sending a message to TD bank officials, customers and employees that they don’t approve of their investments, said Gabe Shapiro of BXE and Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “It is 2016. It is time for us to take a moral stand on these issues, whether or not it’s your job, whether or not it’s how you put food on the table for your kids,” he said. “This bank right now is funding the destruction of Indigenous sovereign land, land that was granted to be Native land. It was the concession to them – after we stole it from them and invaded this country violently.”

“Every person working for this bank is complicit,” he said. “This bank is profiting off of genocide of the Indigenous people in this country.  Is it not enough, everything that has been done? Is it not enough? When do we draw the line?” He called on the president to stop the pipeline or be prepared for more actions and arrests. “This pipeline is already history,” Shapiro said.

“The federal government has paused the pipeline, and its future is uncertain,” said BXE member Drew Hudson. “It would be prudent for TD’s customers, and for the planet, if they pulled the funding now and invested in clean energy instead.”

 Since April, Native Americans and their allies have flocked to the Sacred Stone and Red Warrior camps. The tribes are seeking supplies and preparing to stay until the pipeline is stopped permanently.

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New Haven, CT, action calls for TD Bank to stop funding Dakota Access pipeline

By MELINDA TUHUS

About 125 people came to New Haven, CT, on Sept. 7 for an action in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is  fighting to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline from invading its historic territory. The pipeline would cross the Missouri River just outside the reservation in North Dakota, threatening the tribe’s water supply. (More from at BXE’s blog post here.) “Water is Life,” many of our signs said.

Our target was TD Bank, conveniently located across from the New Haven Green and Yale University. Dozens of students joined community members in picketing outside the bank, since it is a financial backer of the pipeline to the tune of $365 million. After awhile, most of us entered the bank to deliver a letter asking the branch manager to pass on our demand to TD Securities that it cut off its line of credit to the pipeline company. We made a lot of noise and eventually left.

We crossed back and forth on Chapel Street – a main thoroughfare in town – between the bank and the Green, where several speakers gave their perspectives on the need to support the indigenous leadership of the Sacred Stones camp and the Red Warrior camp at Standing Rock.

Many people asked me, “What’s the next action?” One said she’s ready to go to North Dakota and would like to organize others to go with her. We collected 85 names and emails. Once the federal judge issues his ruling on the tribe’s request for a restraining order to stop construction until a more thorough assessment can be done of the pipeline route, I will send an update with information from many local groups that participated in the action, including 350CT, Black Lives Matter, SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and BXE.

(An article from the New Haven Register is here. )