Why wait sixty days? with Travis Fisher writing it, the result is a foregone conclusion. […]
On Feb. 23, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cleared out Oceti Sakowin, an encampment of activists attempting to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Police had arrested over 50 people. But the Freshet Collective, an organization that connects demonstrators with legal resources, was ready.
From August to February, Tara Houska made Morton County, North Dakota, her home base. She’s stood on the frontlines and worked with the Freshet Collective to connect Dakota Access demonstrators facing charges with the legal support they need. A citizen of the Couchiching First Nation, Houska has engaged in activism around the country to fight alongside indigenous communities and advocates through her organization, Honor the Earth. Her work has also brought her to the halls of Congress to lobby for indigenous rights, to divestment rallies, and to the Bernie Sanders campaign, where she worked as an adviser on Native American affairs.
For Houska, progress will only come from working all of these channels, and then some. “It’s the ground fight, it’s the court fight,” she says. “We have to do everything we can.”
Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.
While everyone is focused on Neil Gorsuch, the Trump Administration may be about to deliver the coup de grace to the executive branch’s slow evisceration of the Senate’s constitutional competence over America’s international treaties. On 4 November 2016, the Paris Climate Agreement entered into force. Four days later, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. If President Trump follows through on his campaign promise to “cancel” U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement, such action threatens to permanently and decisively shift the balance of power between America’s legislative and executive branches, in favor of the latter. To understand why this is so, we need to begin in 1978, when the U.S. Congress first passed legislation declaring climate change to be a matter of national security, and establishing a “national climate program that will assist the Nation and the world to understand and respond to natural and man-induced climate processes and their implications.”In 1987, in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Congress elaborated on this commitment, stating that “the global nature of this problem will require vigorous efforts to achieve international cooperation aimed at minimizing and responding to adverse climate change;” that United States policy should “work towards multilateral agreements” to address the issue; and that “The Secretary of State shall be responsible to coordinate those aspects of United States policy requiring action through the channels of multilateral diplomacy, including the United Nations Environment Program and other international organizations.”Such “multilateral diplomacy” began formally in 1990, and delivered its first results in 1992, with the agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed for the U.S. by President George H.W. Bush (who said at the time the U.S […]
Nanette Barragán is used to facing off against polluters. Elected in 2013 to the city council of Hermosa Beach, California, she took on E&B Natural Resources, an oil and gas company looking to drill wells on the beach. Barragán, an attorney before going into politics, learned of the potential project and began campaigning for residents to vote against it. The project was eventually squashed. In November, she won a congressional seat in California’s 44th district.
To Barragán, making sure President Trump’s environmental rollbacks don’t affect communities is a matter of life or death. The district she represents, the same in which she grew up, encompasses heavily polluted parts of Los Angeles County — areas crisscrossed with freeways and dotted with oil and gas wells. Barragan says she grew up close to a major highway and suffered from allergies. “I now go back and wonder if it was related to living that close,” she says.
Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer that has polluted parts of southeast Los Angeles County with arsenic, lead, and other chemicals for years, sits just outside her district’s borders. Barragán’s district is also 69 percent Latino and 15 percent black. She has become acutely aware of the environmental injustices of the pollution plaguing the region. “People who are suffering are in communities of color,” she says.
Now in the nation’s capital, Barragán is chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s newly formed environmental task force and a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which considers legislation on topics like energy and public lands and is chaired by climate denier Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. She knows the next four years will be tough but says she’s up for the challenge. “I think it’s going to be, I hate to say it, a lot of defense.”
Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.
Feb. 18, 2017 | 2:50Reminiscent of last year’s campaign events, Mr. Trump on Saturday evening touched on familiar subjects such as a replacement for Obamacare, the “dishonest” media and his promises to strengthen the nation’s borders.Related: article: Trump Returns to Campaign Trail After a Month in Office […]
I live in West Virginia, one of the states where residents can now expect more toxic coal pollution in our streams and rivers thanks to a repeal of mining safeguards by the Republican-controlled Congress. A few short days after that disastrous decision, the White House cancelled an environmental review and then approved the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline, which threatens the drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux and millions more people downstream. The Standing Rock Sioux have long opposed the Dakota Access pipeline because of the risk to drinking water, and this week’s decision was one more painful demonstration of how quickly some political leaders will put profits over public health and tribal sovereignty. In December of 2016, the Obama administration had ordered an environmental review of the pipeline to study the effect it would have on the Standing Rock Sioux’s land and Lake Oahe, the body of water the pipeline would cut through, after thousands of tenacious, prayerful water protectors inspired the nation by resisting the pipeline with a simple message: water is life. Here in Appalachia, where our streams have been ravaged for decades by coal mining, we were eager for the same basic, common-sense water pollution protections that the rest of the country takes for granted. The Stream Protection Rule had been in the works for eight years, but in wiping it off the books last week using an arcane maneuver that the New York Times described as a “legislative cudgel that has rarely been used,” Trump and the GOP again chose to side with polluters over people. They didn’t just repeal the Stream Protection Rule ? House Speaker Paul Ryan bragged in a press release that it was “the first regulation repeal going to President Trump’s desk.” Frankly, that doesn’t surprise me, given Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and the GOP’s cozy relationships with their fossil fuel cronies. But thankfully, it’s also energizing millions of Americans, who are fighting back against the rollback of environmental protections. As I said in my recent column, the Stream Protection Rule sought to tackle the decades-old practice of coal companies dumping tons of dangerous mining waste from their mining operations into nearby waterways that were frequently used for drinking, farming, and fishing by local communities […]
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to withdraw $3 billion from the bank, in part because it is funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the city’s mayor said he would sign the measure.
The vote delivered a win for pipeline foes, albeit on a bleak day for the #NoDAPL movement. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will allow construction of the pipeline’s final leg and forgo an environmental impact statement.
Before the vote, many Native speakers took the floor in support of divestment, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tsimshian First Nation, and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.
Seattle will withdraw its $3 billion when the city’s current contract with Wells Fargo expires in 2018. Meanwhile, council members will seek out a more socially responsible bank. Unfortunately, the pickings are somewhat slim, as Bank of America, Chase, CitiBank, ING, and a dozen other banks have all invested in the pipeline.
While $3 billion is just a small sliver of Wells Fargo’s annual deposit collection of $1.3 trillion, the council hopes its vote will send a message to other banks. Activism like this has worked before — in November, Norway’s largest bank sold all of its assets connected to Dakota Access. With any luck, more will follow.