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By Brandon Keim, June 26, 2014. Source: Wired

Photo by Fishhawk/Flickr

Photo by Fishhawk/Flickr

The first of a new generation of genetically modified crops is poised to win government approval in the United States, igniting a controversy that may continue for years, and foreshadowing the future of genetically modified crops.

The agribusiness industry says the plants—soy and corn engineered to tolerate two herbicides, rather than one—are a safe, necessary tool to help farmers fight so-called superweeds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture appear to agree.

However, many health and environmental groups say the crops represent yet another step on what they call a pesticide treadmill: an approach to farming that relies on ever-larger amounts of chemical use, threatening to create even more superweeds and flood America’s landscapes with potentially harmful compounds.

Public comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft review of the crops will be accepted until June 30. As of now, both the EPA and USDA’s reviews favor approval. Their final decisions are expected later this summer.

“We’re at a crossroads here,” said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group. “With these, we’re dramatically increasing farmer dependence on herbicides.” In a letter to the USDA, the Center and 143 other public-interest and environmental groups warned of a “chemical arms race with weeds,” in which the new crops offer “at best temporary relief.”

The crops under consideration were engineered by Dow AgroSciences, a Dow Chemical Company subsidiary. They’re part of what Dow calls the Enlist Weed Control System: Enlist, a proprietary mixture of glyphosate and 2,4-D herbicides, and the plants onto which Enlist can be sprayed without causing them harm as it kills surrounding weeds.

A similar approach to designing solely glyphosate-tolerant crops—Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait—has made glyphosate the most widely-used herbicide in the United States. Those crops now account for more than 80 percent of U.S. corn and cotton, and 93 percent of all American soybeans.

When Roundup Ready crops were first introduced in the 1990s, some scientists warned that weeds would eventually evolve tolerance to glyphosate: After all, any herbicide-hardy weed would have an enormous reproductive advantage. Monsanto said that wouldn’t happen. It did, sooner rather than later. Such weeds are now an enormous problem, infesting roughly 75 million acres of fields, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Arizona.

Farmers have been sent scrambling for solutions, and products like Enlist and similar multiple herbicide-resistant crops developed by other companies are the agriculture industry’s solution. “Enlist Duo herbicide will help solve the tremendous weed control challenges growers are facing,” said Damon Palmer, the U.S. commercial leader for Enlist, in a press release accompanying the EPA’s draft announcement.

According to Dow, weed resistance can be forestalled this time around. But critics say it’s inevitable, and that applying 2,4-D at the anticipated landscape scales could harm both humans and the natural environment. The companies consider those fears to be overblown and based on a biased interpretation of the science. That is also what critics say of them.

If there’s any common ground, it’s this: If the Enlist system is approved, much more herbicide will be used in the United States. According to the USDA, somewhere between 78 and 176 million pounds of additional 2,4-D could be used on U.S. crops by 2020, up from 26 million in 2011.

Herbicides and Health

Among the galaxy of chemicals found in agriculture and everyday modern life, 2,4-D is comparatively well-researched. Scores of studies over the last several decades have looked for population-level patterns linking exposures to human health problems, or described the effects on animals experimentally exposed to 2,4-D.

Considerable disagreement exists, however, on how to interpret that research. Critics of the 2,4-D resistant crops emphasize the population-level epidemiology, which raises cause for concern. Dow and the EPA place much more weight on results from laboratory animal exposures, from which the effects of anticipated human exposures are extrapolated.

Based on the animal research, “we have looked at the possibility that Enlist could be used on every acre of corn and soybeans and concluded there would be no human health risk from such use,” the EPA said in a statement provided to WIRED.

Their evaluation fits with the state of the science as described by Dow toxicologist and former Society of Toxicology president James Bus, who said that even farm workers who handle 2,4-D on a daily basis are exposed to levels “that are 1,000-fold below doses which in animals cause no effect.”

“Almost all the key toxicology studies are in the peer-reviewed public literature. They’re not hidden in company files,” said Bus, who described the misgivings of Enlist’s critics as resulting from a lack of familiarity with the literature, or giving too much credence to findings of harm that involved unrealistically high doses or impure 2,4-D formulations.

In turn, the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group, said in a June 4 letter to the EPA that the agency’s health reviews were flawed, incomplete and “significantly underestimate the real harm to human health.”

Broadly speaking, health concerns fall into two categories: whether 2,4-d might cause cancer, and whether 2,4-D might disrupt the human endocrine system, perhaps causing reproductive or neurological damage. On a possible link to cancer, most research suggests otherwise: Both the EPA and World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research have previously declared that 2,4-D does not appear to be carcinogenic to humans.

A more recent review of the epidemiology by two WHO cancer researchers did find a significant link between 2,4-D exposures and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Dow’s own review of the epidemiology, published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, found no connection.

On the risk of endocrine disruption, however, the science is more ambiguous. The EPA acknowledged in a 2005 evaluation of 2,4-D that, based on experimental effects on animal thyroids and gonads, “there is concern regarding its endocrine disruption potential.” But Bus pointed to a recent Dow-run study of rat exposures that figured prominently in the EPA’s evaluation and was published last September in the journal Toxicological Sciences. In those experiments, damage arose only at exposure levels far higher than is found in real-world settings.

Some research has pointed in a different direction, though. In a 2012 letter to the EPA, a group of 70 public health scientists and health professionals cited several population-level epidemiological studies that linked 2,4-D exposures and birth defects in several midwestern states.

Epidemiology shows statistical correlations, not cause-and-effect, and is necessarily messy: It can be hard to isolate one chemical’s signal from a sea of variable factors. On the other hand, epidemiology deals with real-world dynamics, and for 2,4-D resonates with some experimental observations. In a 2008 Environmental Health article researchers wrote that “even though the evidence is sparse, some chlorophenoxy herbicides, in particular 2,4-D, have neurotoxic potentials and may cause developmental neurotoxicity.”

One of the study’s authors was environmental health professor Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health. Asked whether he still stood by that claim, Grandjean said that he does. “We know too little about the risks of developmental neurotoxicity” to dismiss concerns, he said.

A 2009 Archives of Neurology study also found suggestions of a link between 2,4-D exposures and Parkinson’s disease, though the number of cases was small. According to EPA, such reports will continue to be monitored as Enlist use is periodically reviewed, but may have resulted from older 2,4-D formulations that were contaminated by dioxin, an extremely toxic compound generated as a byproduct of 2,4-D manufacture.

Dioxin contamination is “no longer a factor in the modern manufacturing processes for 2,4-D,” said the EPA in its draft review. Again, critics are not reassured. “When you’re cooking it up, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with dioxins being formed,” said Lynn Carroll, senior scientist at the nonprofit Endocrine Disruption Exchange.

A 2010 Environmental Science Technology study by Australian toxicologists of dioxin contamination in 2,4-D found it to be an ongoing concern, though Enlist was not among the formulations evaluated. While buyers of Enlist seeds will be contractually obligated to use Dow’s reportedly cleaner formulations, Freese worries that farmers will evade those restrictions. “Based on general knowledge of enforcement of regulations in the field, it seems extremely likely that a lot of 2,4-D use will involve generic versions,” he said.

Environmental Impacts

In addition to possible human health impacts, many questions remain about the effects of 2,4-D on ecological health. In its statement to WIRED, the EPA said, “We are confident that there will be no off-site exposure to the choline salt of 2,4-D”—Dow’s new formulation—”that would be of concern for effects to plant or animals.”

But the agency’s own ecological risk assessment strikes a more uncertain tone: While stating that 2,4-D poses no direct poisoning threat to birds, fish, aquatic plants or insects, it noted a lack of empirical information about risks to mammals and terrestrial plants. “There is insufficient information to determine how the proposed new uses of 2,4-D choline salt will directly affect mammals … and terrestrial plants, and indirectly affect all taxonomic groups,” wrote the EPA’s ecologists.

That plants in areas adjacent to farm fields, or receiving soil-runoff water expected to contain 2,4-D, could be at risk seems self-evident: After all, 2,4-D is a herbicide, toxic to most plants that don’t have needles for leaves. “There are more and more concerns being raised about the drift problem,” said agroecologist Bruce Maxwell of Montana State University.

“These field edges are some of the last remaining harbors” of biodiversity in the midwestern United States, Maxwell said. They provide vital habitat and forage to many animals, in particular pollinators such as bees and butterflies, populations of which are in precipitous decline. The collapse of monarch butterflies has already been tied to the rise of glyphosate use.

The EPA’s draft review of Enlist, which emphasized the “practically non-toxic” direct effect of 2,4-D on bees, gave little weight to indirect effects, in part because the agency assumes farmers will use Enlist in ways that minimize its accidental spread beyond field edges. “If this product is used according to the label directions, no unreasonable adverse effects would result,” said the EPA in its statement.

It may be unreasonable, though, to expect farmers to always follow those directions, which include recommendations that Enlist not be sprayed closer than 30 feet to field edges, when wind is blowing above 2 and below 10 miles per hour, or when it’s too hot and dry. “Everyone knows these assumptions are unreal,” said Freese.

The Future of Superweeds

Such tensions between intentions and expediency are also evident in arguments over the potential for weeds to evolve in response to heavy 2,4-D and glyphosate use, just as they did in response to glyphosate alone.

According to Dow, this is unlikely, both because 2,4-D resistance is a relatively difficult trait for plants to acquire and because the company is committed to promoting growing practices—such as crop rotations and non-chemical weed control measures—that reduce selection pressures favoring herbicide-tolerant weeds.

Yet tolerance to 2,4-D has already been documented in several weed species that have elsewhere become glyphosate-resistant superweeds, including waterhemp and horseweed. Particularly troubling, said Maxwell, is the existence of mutations that confer broad-spectrum herbicide tolerance. These could spread through weed populations much more rapidly than constellations of several mutations, each conferring a piecemeal defense.

Weeds that can survive doses of multiple herbicides have already been found—not 2,4-D and glyphosate, at least not yet, but the potential is clearly there. “Stacking up tolerance traits may delay the appearance of resistant weeds, but probably not for long,” concluded a recent Nature editorial, which also argued that real-world practicalities may preclude good intentions.

“A farmer making good money in the age of biofuel crop subsidies may be loath to switch to a different crop,” wrote Nature‘s editors. “And farmers may be hesitant to invest the money needed to properly manage weeds, when their farms could end up infested with weeds from less-assiduous neighbours.”

Herbicide resistance expert Pat Tranel of the University of Illinois said that multiple herbicide-resistant crops like Enlist could be useful tools for farmers, “but we’re concerned that, as with any new tool, it will be overused.”

Ideally, said Tranel, “we’d be using herbicides as part of a system, and using other strategies such as crop rotation and more-diversified cropping.” Indeed, research by Tranel’s colleague Adam Davis has demonstrated the industrial-scale potential of such a balanced approach. But for now, said Tranel, “that’s not perceived as an economic alternative.”

The EPA’s draft assessment does not require farmers to rotate Enlist and non-Enlist crops. Instead, responsibility for slowing the rise of future superweeds is given largely to Dow. Farmers will be asked to scout their fields, reporting signs of Enlist-resistant weeds to Dow, which will investigate and decide whether to notify the EPA.

That raises obvious conflict-of-interest concerns, said Freese, citing as precedent Monsanto’s poor track record in monitoring the evolution of rootworm tolerance to genetically-engineered Bt corn. That was ultimately verified by independent academic researchers, not industry investigators. And even if Dow’s monitoring system is thorough, it may be insufficient.

“You can have the best surveillance system in the world, and the numbers are going to get you,” said Maxwell. “Resistance is going to be there. It will escape notice. And once it occurs at even a low, recognizable level, it’s going to continue to be there.”

Should that happen, the next logical step—at least from a commercial perspective—is to develop crops resistant to even more herbicides. Another of Dow’s soybean varieties, now being reviewed by the USDA, tolerates three herbicides; also in the regulatory pipeline are multiple herbicide-resistant crops from Monsanto and Syngenta, as well as crops that tolerate both herbicides and pesticides.

Freese pointed one of Dow’s patents, for a mechanism that would allow up to nine types of herbicide resistance to be engineered into a single plant. A patent claim is no guarantee that a technology will be used, but it may be an apt symbol for the near future of agricultural biotechnology.

“In the end, we’re going to render most of our chemical solutions obsolete,” said Maxwell. “In the meantime, unfortunately, we’re going to do some damage.”

 

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By Peter Rugh, June 19, 2014. Source: VICE

fracking

Leanne and Robert Baum used to take their children sledding in the field across the road from their house in Minisink, New York. But these days, Leanne, who drives a school bus for a local Christian academy, and Robert, who runs a hardware store, say they’re afraid to even let their kids play in the front yard. The couple’s small township in Orange County has for decades supplied fresh organic and heirloom produce to the restaurants and farmers’ markets in New York City, 60 miles south. Now, it is the site of a growing health crisis. Property values are plummeting and locals are complaining of chronic nosebleeds, rashes, migraines, and dizzy spells. The smell in the air can range from rotten eggs to burning paint.

The Baums, along with many of their neighbors, believe Minisink’s nosedive in quality of life to be the handiwork of the Millennium Pipeline Company, who run two 6,000-horse power natural gas compressors in town limits—both located in the field right across from the Baum’s home.

Business has been good for Millennium and other fossil fuel transporters, thanks to fracking—a process of retrieving gas or oil by fissuring shale rock beneath the Earth’s surface. Studies show that fracking can potentially poison the water, soil, and air, contaminate the food supply, and even cause earthquakes—basically everything short of awakening a giant, prehistoric lizard. With these negative effects in mind, fracking is under a moratorium in New York State. Yet even though New York has so far prohibited fracking, Leanne and Robert Baum are still suffering its consequences—and it is threatening to stomp out their country way of life. Just 15 miles across the border from Minisink, where New York’s fracking restrictions are not in place, the state of Pennsylvania’s been cashing in on a frack-zilla invasion.

In 2013, Pennsylvania exported 3.3 trillion cubic feet of gas from nearly 5,000 wells. Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research estimates that by 2015, 4.5 trillion cubic feet worth of gas will be fracked out of the state’s shale formations. Much of that fuel will go through Minisink, which has emerged as a nexus point for the expanding spider web of natural gas transmission lines that started spreading up and down the Eastern Seaboard when federal restrictions on fracking were lifted in 2005.

The compressing site across from the Baum’s home pressurizes the natural gas to increase the amount Millennium can carry and optimize the speed with which it is transported. However, compressors and the pipelines that feed them tend to blow up. Last year, fires broke out at compressors in Williams, New JerseyBradford County, Pennsylvania, and Tyler County, West Virginia. All the more disconcerting for locals: Minisink does not have a professional fire department, but relies on an all volunteer force instead.

When they are not exploding, compressors also emit volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons that can stick around in the surrounding environment and cause respiratory illnesses, cancer, and chronic skin disease.

“They told us the only emissions at the station would be from ‘water vapors,’” Leanne said to me, the eyes narrowing knife-thin on the 38-year-old mother’s face as she recalled the day Millennium first proposed the compressor station back in August 2011. The company held what they called an “open house” for the proposed project, handing out free bottles of water and donuts while glad-handing locals at Town Hall. Leanne had just delivered her fourth child. That day, with her new born in her arms, she cornered one of Millennium’s executives. “I asked if he would let his family live beside a compressor station,” Leanne remembered. “He admitted that no, he wouldn’t.”

Two and half years later on Christmas morning, 2013, Robert Baum was chopping wood for the family’s stove when he caught a strong whiff of natural gas in the air. “He came inside and tells me, ‘You’ve got to smell this,’” Leanne recounted. “I went out there and it just reeked.” Two days of what Leanne describes as “debilitating headaches” followed for the couple.

Doug Burd

The Baums aren’t the only ones impacted by the gas in the air. Doug Burd, age 41, lives about two miles from the compressor station but he commutes past it five days a week on his way to the body shop in New Jersey where he works. He gets sick sometimes, too. “I come home late at night and drive up in the area and I can smell it,” he said. “I’ve got no choice. Within a couple of hours, my nose is bleeding. My eyes are watering. It never happened before and I’ve lived up here going on 11 years.”

The heaviest emissions from Millennium’s Minisink Compressor occur when the company performs “blow down” operations, which vent natural gas in order to reduce pressure in the pipeline system. These usually occur at night, although the toxic emissions linger in the air well into the next day.

Until recently, the blow downs were accompanied by a loud combustive racket from the site. This year, however, Millennium installed silencers at the station. On the one hand, the silencers have reduced noise. On the other, Asha Canalos told me, she now has no clue when she is going to get sick. Asha lives about a mile from the compressor. The former Brooklyn-based artist and art dealer, whose short cropped pigtails are reminiscent of a young Bjork, had recently moved into her dream home in Minisink—a cabin with high ceilings and plenty of acreage surrounding it for her to take up farming full-time—when Millennium announced plans to build. Since then, Asha’s dream of escaping the bustle of the city and devoting herself to the land has turned into a nightmare. Since the compressor has been installed, she’s suffered a dizzy spell that caused her to walk into a wall after a stint in the field behind her house. A rash later broke out over her body. This year she has opted out of farming completely.

Instead, Asha has concentrated her efforts on an ongoing lawsuit she and her neighbors have launched against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over its approval of the Minisink compressor. By her estimation, she and her neighbors filed thousands of written public comments on the compressor station and have traveled to Washington 20 times since Millennium first sought a permit for the compressors in 2011.

The public is prohibited from speaking when the federal energy commissioners meet publically and the gatherings are typically jargon-infused snooze affairs during which FERC bureaucrats discuss how the nation’s electrical grid is holding up. Individual permit applications, like Millennium’s Minisink compressors, are rarely discussed. Those decisions are made behind closed doors. Minisink residents attended the meetings regularly nonetheless, chatting with federal regulators before and after they took the podium.

“We thought that if the commissioners could meet us, meet people’s kids, that if we could put a face to this thing, they would rule in our favor,” Asha said.

Asha Canalos

As Minisink residents sought to put a human face on the project for FERC, Millennium Pipeline was also in touch with the commission, monitoring the activities of the “Stop the Minisink Compressor Station” Facebook group and alerting the government body of the group’s activities.

“It looks like several landowners plan to attend the Commission’s Open Meeting this Thursday,” Ryan Collins, an attorney for Millennium wrote on February 13, 2012—one of two “FYI” messages left for FERC employees that extensively quoted Asha and her neighbors’ Facebook posts. Asha later obtained the email communications through a Freedom of Information Act request to FERC.

Steve Sullivan, with the public relations firm Power Communications, responded to my inquiries on behalf of both Millennium and Ryan Collins in writing. “Like all companies, Millennium monitors media, both traditional and social, about the company and the industry in general,” he wrote.

In July 2012, the commissioners approved Millennium’s permit, albeit in a rare, split three-two decision. Residents appealed the ruling and, when that failed, filed their suit. While this extended legal process was underway, Millennium simply went ahead and built their compressors.

In “approving the project, FERC considered all factors bearing on the public interest, including those raised by the Petitioners before the Court of Appeals,” Steve told me. FERC declined to comment on the matter for itself, since it is still before judges.

The ruling came as no surprise to Carolyn Elefant, an attorney representing Minisink citizens before the Court of Appeals. She estimates that the commission “rubber stamps” approximately 98 percent of the projects that come before it, raising the stakes for the legal confrontation she is engaged in.

“If the community does not win here,” she said, “when they’ve got a compressor station across the street from their homes, I don’t think anybody will be able to defeat any type of gas infrastructure in this country.”

Not everybody in Minisink is against the compressor station, however. The plaintiffs in the suit told me they’ve had “Stop the Minisink Compressor Station” signs ripped from their lawns by neighbors worried that if too much of a stink is made it will harm the reputation of the agricultural industry the town’s economy depends on and depreciate the value of their homes. But home values are already going down—“because we’ve got an industrial facility in our backyard,” Asha told me.

As an alternative, the plaintiffs want the court to consider a proposal that would force Millennium to dismantle the compressors and build one the next town over. Yet, the citizenry of Deer Park are not too jazzed at the prospect of Minisink pawning their fracking problems off on them and the town’s board passed a resolution rejecting the proposal. Another possibility, one that is not on the table at all, is that New York could scrap natural gas altogether.

The stuff has been hailed as a “transition fuel” with significantly less of an impact on global warming than traditional oil. But the growing health crisis in Minisink illustrates that fracked gas is not exactly Polar Springs. Some research suggests that it is worse than coal for our climate, due to the frequency with which frack wells leak methane. At the same time, a widely cited study from Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson argues that, with investment and political will, New York State could derive the bulk of its electricity from wind farms and photovoltaic cells.

While new technology exists that could render fracked gas obsolete, Minisink is a town firmly rooted in the past. There are no Jamba Juices and box stores dominating the scenery. Peach and apple orchards, barns, and old stone houses lay dispersed across a verdant landscape.

Standing near the Baum’s house this May, I could see Millennium was doing its best conceal its machinery. About the size of an aircraft hanger, the compressor station barely rose above the grove of trees surrounding it. It almost blended in, but vague refractions of light—like a horizon seen from a distance in the desert—rippled in the air above the station. That was the only sign that it was running, mutely emitting toxins for the people of Minisink to inhale.

Connecting Millennium’s compressor to the strange symptoms striking Minisink residents could prove difficult, particularly in the short term. But locals are conducting their own health impact surveys which they hope will lay out the evidence scientifically rather than anecdotally.

In a 2012 study investigating the connection between fracking, dead livestock, and sick humans, veterinarians Dr. Michelle Bamberger and Dr. Robert Oswald argued for a precautionary approach toward fracking. The drilling industry has approached recriminations against fracking “in a manner similar to the tobacco industry that for many years rejected the link between smoking and cancer,” they wrote. “That is, if one cannot prove beyond a shadow of doubt that an environmental impact is due to drilling, then a link is rejected. This approach by the tobacco companies had a devastating and long-lasting effect on public health from which we have still not recovered, and we believe that a similar approach to the impacts of gas drilling may have equally negative consequences.”

“It is hard to tell which of the symptoms are directly from the compressor station and what is caused by the stress of living near the compressors,” Asha told me. Fighting the federal government and the pipeline company takes “an insane amount of work.” Then there’s the risk of the compressors blowing up and the fear of “knowing that you are exposed to toxins all the time.” Fracking itself is like a sickness, she said. “It moves into your town and infects everyone around you.”

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Note: I took many trips to the Bosawas Rainforest in Nicaragua from 1997 to 2002.   During those six years I documented and helped report on the tremendous devastation of the Bosawas and the illegal encroachment on sovereign indigenous Mayangna territory.

Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaraguas North Atlantic Autonomous Region. -  PhotoLangelle.org

Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region. – PhotoLangelle.org

After my first trip there as the Eastern North American representative of the Native Forest Network, many of my photos were used globally and the NFN issued an International Day of Action on 10 November 1997 stating:

“The central government of Nicaragua has granted logging concessions to SOLCARSA, a subsidiary of the Korean multinational corporation Kum Kyung. SOLCARSA has begun the process to cut into Central America’s largest rainforest. Roads are being built and SOLCARSA already forcibly evicted one indigenous community from their communal land. SOLCARSA will cut their way through many other communities in their attempt to cut the rainforest. In the process they will destroy traditional cultures and steal the rainforest denying the indigenous peoples a future in their homeland. Please join us to help prevent this disaster.”

The result of the actions–protests in Nicaragua as well as lawsuits–was the saving of 62,000 hectares ( nearly 160,000 acres) of rainforest and indigenous community lands.

While the US – based Nicaragua Network,  England’s Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA) and the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign - Ymgyrch Cefnogi Nicaragua Cymru, still continue to support the peoples’ and rainforest,  it borders on the criminal that the Big Green NGOs have done nothing to help the plight of the people and the rainforest in the years that followed. As you can see by the article below, the situation in the Bosawas is nearing total disaster. – Orin Langelle, GJEP Board Chair and Strategic Consultant

Source: Inter Press Service’s TIERRAMÉRICA

By José Adán Silva

Troops from the special military battalion set up to protect Nicaraguas forests confiscate an ilegal shipment of logs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Credit: Jos Garth Medina/IPS

Troops from the special military battalion set up to protect Nicaragua’s forests confiscate an ilegal shipment of logs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Credit: José Garth Medina/IPS

MANAGUA, Jun 19 2014 (IPS) - More than 30,000 members of the Mayagna indigenous community are in danger of disappearing, along with the rainforest which is their home in Nicaragua, if the state fails to take immediate action to curb the destruction of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, the largest forest reserve in Central America and the third-largest in the world.

Arisio Genaro, president of the Mayagna nation, travelled over 300 km from his community on the outskirts of the reserve in May to protest in Managua that the area where his people have lived for centuries is being invaded and destroyed by settlers from the country’s Pacific coastal and central regions.

In early June, Genaro returned to the capital to participate in several academic activities aimed at raising awareness on the environment among university students in Managua and to protest to whoever would listen that their ancestral territory is being destroyed by farmers determined to expand the agricultural frontier by invading the protected area, which covers 21,000 sq km.

The Mayagna chief told Tierramérica that in 1987 the nucleus of what is now the biosphere reserve had a total area of 1,170,210 hectares of virgin forest and an estimated population of fewer than 7,000 indigenous people.

In 1997, when it was declared a Word Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the reserve covered more than two million hectares of tropical rainforest, including the buffer zone.

By 2010, when the indigenous people living in the reserve numbered around 25,000, the jungle area had been reduced to 832,237 hectares, according to figures cited by Genaro. The presence of non-indigenous settlers within the borders of the reserve had climbed from an estimated 5,000 in 1990 to over 40,000 in 2013.

“The y are burning everything, to plant crops. They cut down forests to raise cattle, they log the big trees to sell the wood, they shoot the animals and dry up riverbeds to put in roads,” Genaro told Tierramérica.

Antonia Gámez, a 66-year-old Mayagna chief, also made the trek from her community to speak out in towns and cities along the Pacific coast about the situation faced by her people in Bosawas, whose name comes from the first syllables of the main geographical features that delimit the reserve: the Bocay river, the Salaya mountain, and the Waspuk river.

“All of our families used to live on what nature provides; the forest is our home and our father, it has given us food, water and shelter,” she told Tierramérica in her native tongue, with the help of an interpreter. “Now the youngest ones are looking for work on the new farms created where there was once forest, and the oldest of us don’t have anywhere to go, because everything is disappearing.”

Gámez said that in the forest, her people planted grains and grew and harvested fruit, and hunted what they needed for food with bows and arrows. She added that there were abundant crabs and fish in the rivers and wild boars, tapirs and deer in the forests.

“Now the animals have gone. With each bang from a gun or mountain that is cleared, they either die or move deeper into the jungle. There aren’t many left to hunt,” she complained on her visit to Managua.

Part of the reserve is also inhabited by Miskitos, the largest indigenous group in this Central American country, where by law native people have the right to collectively own and use the lands where they live.

The complaints by the indigenous people were corroborated by Tierramérica in conversations with independent academics and activists as well as government officials.

Anthropologist Esther Melba McLean with the Atlantic Coast Centre for Research and Development at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University has led studies that warn that if the invasion by outsiders and destruction of the forest are not brought to a halt, both the Mayagna people and the native flora and fauna of Bosawas could disappear in two decades.

“The destruction of the forest would mean more than the end of an ethnic group; it would mean the end of the site where 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found,” she told Tierramérica.

The reserve is home to endemic species like the Nototriton saslaya salamander and the crested eagle, which are listed as endangered by local environmental organisations that point out that there are still many species that have not even been documented.

According to environmentalist Jaime Incer, an adviser on environmental affairs to the office of the president, if the destruction of the indigenous territory continues, “in less than 25 years the jungle will have completely disappeared.”

A study published in 2012 by the German development cooperation agency, GIZ, Nicaragua’s National Union of Agricultural and Livestock Producers (UNAG), the European Union and the international development organisation Oxfam warned that it would take 24 years to lose the forest in Bosawas and 13 years to lose the buffer zone around the reserve, at the current rate of deforestation.

ncer told Tierramérica that in response to the indigenous community’s complaints and the backing they have received from environmentalists, the administration of President Daniel Ortega, who has governed since 2007, has begun to take measures against the destruction of the forest. “But they have been insufficient,” he acknowledged.

Ortega ordered the creation of a military battalion of more than 700 troops to guard the country’s forests and nature reserves. The government also organised a committee of national authorities aimed at coordinating actions and applying a zero tolerance approach towards people and organisations accused of destroying the environment.

Alberto Mercado, the technical coordinator of Bosawas in the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, said at the Central American University in Managua on Jun. 10 that the government has been carrying out actions to curb the destruction of the reserve.

He said the authorities had removed dozens of non-indigenous families from the nucleus of the reserve, and that they had brought people to trial who were dedicated to illegally selling land in Bosawas.

Mercado said dozens of lawyers have been investigated and suspended for allowing sales transactions involving indigenous property. In addition, he said, the authorities have been combating trafficking in local fauna and flora.

“But the struggle is huge…traffickers identify the ‘blind spots’ and that’s where they make their incursions into indigenous territory, fence it in, claim it is theirs, and that’s how the trafficking of land starts,” the official said, sounding discouraged.

The complaints of the indigenous community have gone beyond national borders, and have reached international human rights organisations. The non-governmental Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre also filed a complaint with the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Vilma Núñez, director of the Human Rights Centre, told Tierramérica that she had denounced the situation faced by the Mayagna people during the 44th OAS General Assembly, whose main theme was “development with social inclusion”, held Jun. 3-5 in Asunción, Paraguay.

“The state and the government should guarantee the right of the Mayagna and all indigenous people in this country to live on their own land, and defend them from extermination,” Núñez said.

Also see:  Indigenous Nicaraguans Fight to the Death for Their Last Forest

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Note: I took many trips to the Bosawas Rainforest in Nicaragua from 1997 to 2002.   During those six years I documented and helped report on the tremendous devastation of the Bosawas and the illegal encroachment on sovereign indigenous Mayangna territory.

Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaraguas North Atlantic Autonomous Region. -  PhotoLangelle.org

Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region. – PhotoLangelle.org

After my first trip there as the Eastern North American representative of the Native Forest Network, many of my photos were used globally and the NFN issued an International Day of Action on 10 November 1997 stating:

“The central government of Nicaragua has granted logging concessions to SOLCARSA, a subsidiary of the Korean multinational corporation Kum Kyung. SOLCARSA has begun the process to cut into Central America’s largest rainforest. Roads are being built and SOLCARSA already forcibly evicted one indigenous community from their communal land. SOLCARSA will cut their way through many other communities in their attempt to cut the rainforest. In the process they will destroy traditional cultures and steal the rainforest denying the indigenous peoples a future in their homeland. Please join us to help prevent this disaster.”

The result of the actions–protests in Nicaragua as well as lawsuits–was the saving of 62,000 hectares ( nearly 160,000 acres) of rainforest and indigenous community lands.

While the US – based Nicaragua Network,  England’s Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA) and the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign - Ymgyrch Cefnogi Nicaragua Cymru, still continue to support the peoples’ and rainforest,  it borders on the criminal that the Big Green NGOs have done nothing to help the plight of the people and the rainforest in the years that followed. As you can see by the article below, the situation in the Bosawas is nearing total disaster. – Orin Langelle, GJEP Board Chair and Strategic Consultant

Source: Inter Press Service’s TIERRAMÉRICA

By José Adán Silva

Troops from the special military battalion set up to protect Nicaraguas forests confiscate an ilegal shipment of logs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Credit: Jos Garth Medina/IPS

Troops from the special military battalion set up to protect Nicaragua’s forests confiscate an ilegal shipment of logs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Credit: José Garth Medina/IPS

MANAGUA, Jun 19 2014 (IPS) - More than 30,000 members of the Mayagna indigenous community are in danger of disappearing, along with the rainforest which is their home in Nicaragua, if the state fails to take immediate action to curb the destruction of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, the largest forest reserve in Central America and the third-largest in the world.

Arisio Genaro, president of the Mayagna nation, travelled over 300 km from his community on the outskirts of the reserve in May to protest in Managua that the area where his people have lived for centuries is being invaded and destroyed by settlers from the country’s Pacific coastal and central regions.

In early June, Genaro returned to the capital to participate in several academic activities aimed at raising awareness on the environment among university students in Managua and to protest to whoever would listen that their ancestral territory is being destroyed by farmers determined to expand the agricultural frontier by invading the protected area, which covers 21,000 sq km.

The Mayagna chief told Tierramérica that in 1987 the nucleus of what is now the biosphere reserve had a total area of 1,170,210 hectares of virgin forest and an estimated population of fewer than 7,000 indigenous people.

In 1997, when it was declared a Word Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the reserve covered more than two million hectares of tropical rainforest, including the buffer zone.

By 2010, when the indigenous people living in the reserve numbered around 25,000, the jungle area had been reduced to 832,237 hectares, according to figures cited by Genaro. The presence of non-indigenous settlers within the borders of the reserve had climbed from an estimated 5,000 in 1990 to over 40,000 in 2013.

“The y are burning everything, to plant crops. They cut down forests to raise cattle, they log the big trees to sell the wood, they shoot the animals and dry up riverbeds to put in roads,” Genaro told Tierramérica.

Antonia Gámez, a 66-year-old Mayagna chief, also made the trek from her community to speak out in towns and cities along the Pacific coast about the situation faced by her people in Bosawas, whose name comes from the first syllables of the main geographical features that delimit the reserve: the Bocay river, the Salaya mountain, and the Waspuk river.

“All of our families used to live on what nature provides; the forest is our home and our father, it has given us food, water and shelter,” she told Tierramérica in her native tongue, with the help of an interpreter. “Now the youngest ones are looking for work on the new farms created where there was once forest, and the oldest of us don’t have anywhere to go, because everything is disappearing.”

Gámez said that in the forest, her people planted grains and grew and harvested fruit, and hunted what they needed for food with bows and arrows. She added that there were abundant crabs and fish in the rivers and wild boars, tapirs and deer in the forests.

“Now the animals have gone. With each bang from a gun or mountain that is cleared, they either die or move deeper into the jungle. There aren’t many left to hunt,” she complained on her visit to Managua.

Part of the reserve is also inhabited by Miskitos, the largest indigenous group in this Central American country, where by law native people have the right to collectively own and use the lands where they live.

The complaints by the indigenous people were corroborated by Tierramérica in conversations with independent academics and activists as well as government officials.

Anthropologist Esther Melba McLean with the Atlantic Coast Centre for Research and Development at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University has led studies that warn that if the invasion by outsiders and destruction of the forest are not brought to a halt, both the Mayagna people and the native flora and fauna of Bosawas could disappear in two decades.

“The destruction of the forest would mean more than the end of an ethnic group; it would mean the end of the site where 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found,” she told Tierramérica.

The reserve is home to endemic species like the Nototriton saslaya salamander and the crested eagle, which are listed as endangered by local environmental organisations that point out that there are still many species that have not even been documented.

According to environmentalist Jaime Incer, an adviser on environmental affairs to the office of the president, if the destruction of the indigenous territory continues, “in less than 25 years the jungle will have completely disappeared.”

A study published in 2012 by the German development cooperation agency, GIZ, Nicaragua’s National Union of Agricultural and Livestock Producers (UNAG), the European Union and the international development organisation Oxfam warned that it would take 24 years to lose the forest in Bosawas and 13 years to lose the buffer zone around the reserve, at the current rate of deforestation.

ncer told Tierramérica that in response to the indigenous community’s complaints and the backing they have received from environmentalists, the administration of President Daniel Ortega, who has governed since 2007, has begun to take measures against the destruction of the forest. “But they have been insufficient,” he acknowledged.

Ortega ordered the creation of a military battalion of more than 700 troops to guard the country’s forests and nature reserves. The government also organised a committee of national authorities aimed at coordinating actions and applying a zero tolerance approach towards people and organisations accused of destroying the environment.

Alberto Mercado, the technical coordinator of Bosawas in the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, said at the Central American University in Managua on Jun. 10 that the government has been carrying out actions to curb the destruction of the reserve.

He said the authorities had removed dozens of non-indigenous families from the nucleus of the reserve, and that they had brought people to trial who were dedicated to illegally selling land in Bosawas.

Mercado said dozens of lawyers have been investigated and suspended for allowing sales transactions involving indigenous property. In addition, he said, the authorities have been combating trafficking in local fauna and flora.

“But the struggle is huge…traffickers identify the ‘blind spots’ and that’s where they make their incursions into indigenous territory, fence it in, claim it is theirs, and that’s how the trafficking of land starts,” the official said, sounding discouraged.

The complaints of the indigenous community have gone beyond national borders, and have reached international human rights organisations. The non-governmental Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre also filed a complaint with the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Vilma Núñez, director of the Human Rights Centre, told Tierramérica that she had denounced the situation faced by the Mayagna people during the 44th OAS General Assembly, whose main theme was “development with social inclusion”, held Jun. 3-5 in Asunción, Paraguay.

“The state and the government should guarantee the right of the Mayagna and all indigenous people in this country to live on their own land, and defend them from extermination,” Núñez said.

Also see:  Indigenous Nicaraguans Fight to the Death for Their Last Forest

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Note: I took many trips to the Bosawas Rainforest in Nicaragua from 1997 to 2002.   During those six years I documented and helped report on the tremendous devastation of the Bosawas and the illegal encroachment on sovereign indigenous Mayangna territory.

Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaraguas North Atlantic Autonomous Region. -  PhotoLangelle.org

Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region. – PhotoLangelle.org

After my first trip there as the Eastern North American representative of the Native Forest Network, many of my photos were used globally and the NFN issued an International Day of Action on 10 November 1997 stating:

“The central government of Nicaragua has granted logging concessions to SOLCARSA, a subsidiary of the Korean multinational corporation Kum Kyung. SOLCARSA has begun the process to cut into Central America’s largest rainforest. Roads are being built and SOLCARSA already forcibly evicted one indigenous community from their communal land. SOLCARSA will cut their way through many other communities in their attempt to cut the rainforest. In the process they will destroy traditional cultures and steal the rainforest denying the indigenous peoples a future in their homeland. Please join us to help prevent this disaster.”

The result of the actions–protests in Nicaragua as well as lawsuits–was the saving of 62,000 hectares ( nearly 160,000 acres) of rainforest and indigenous community lands.

While the US – based Nicaragua Network,  England’s Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA) and the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign - Ymgyrch Cefnogi Nicaragua Cymru, still continue to support the peoples’ and rainforest,  it borders on the criminal that the Big Green NGOs have done nothing to help the plight of the people and the rainforest in the years that followed. As you can see by the article below, the situation in the Bosawas is nearing total disaster. – Orin Langelle, GJEP Board Chair and Strategic Consultant

Source: Inter Press Service’s TIERRAMÉRICA

By José Adán Silva

Troops from the special military battalion set up to protect Nicaraguas forests confiscate an ilegal shipment of logs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Credit: Jos Garth Medina/IPS

Troops from the special military battalion set up to protect Nicaragua’s forests confiscate an ilegal shipment of logs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Credit: José Garth Medina/IPS

MANAGUA, Jun 19 2014 (IPS) - More than 30,000 members of the Mayagna indigenous community are in danger of disappearing, along with the rainforest which is their home in Nicaragua, if the state fails to take immediate action to curb the destruction of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, the largest forest reserve in Central America and the third-largest in the world.

Arisio Genaro, president of the Mayagna nation, travelled over 300 km from his community on the outskirts of the reserve in May to protest in Managua that the area where his people have lived for centuries is being invaded and destroyed by settlers from the country’s Pacific coastal and central regions.

In early June, Genaro returned to the capital to participate in several academic activities aimed at raising awareness on the environment among university students in Managua and to protest to whoever would listen that their ancestral territory is being destroyed by farmers determined to expand the agricultural frontier by invading the protected area, which covers 21,000 sq km.

The Mayagna chief told Tierramérica that in 1987 the nucleus of what is now the biosphere reserve had a total area of 1,170,210 hectares of virgin forest and an estimated population of fewer than 7,000 indigenous people.

In 1997, when it was declared a Word Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the reserve covered more than two million hectares of tropical rainforest, including the buffer zone.

By 2010, when the indigenous people living in the reserve numbered around 25,000, the jungle area had been reduced to 832,237 hectares, according to figures cited by Genaro. The presence of non-indigenous settlers within the borders of the reserve had climbed from an estimated 5,000 in 1990 to over 40,000 in 2013.

“The y are burning everything, to plant crops. They cut down forests to raise cattle, they log the big trees to sell the wood, they shoot the animals and dry up riverbeds to put in roads,” Genaro told Tierramérica.

Antonia Gámez, a 66-year-old Mayagna chief, also made the trek from her community to speak out in towns and cities along the Pacific coast about the situation faced by her people in Bosawas, whose name comes from the first syllables of the main geographical features that delimit the reserve: the Bocay river, the Salaya mountain, and the Waspuk river.

“All of our families used to live on what nature provides; the forest is our home and our father, it has given us food, water and shelter,” she told Tierramérica in her native tongue, with the help of an interpreter. “Now the youngest ones are looking for work on the new farms created where there was once forest, and the oldest of us don’t have anywhere to go, because everything is disappearing.”

Gámez said that in the forest, her people planted grains and grew and harvested fruit, and hunted what they needed for food with bows and arrows. She added that there were abundant crabs and fish in the rivers and wild boars, tapirs and deer in the forests.

“Now the animals have gone. With each bang from a gun or mountain that is cleared, they either die or move deeper into the jungle. There aren’t many left to hunt,” she complained on her visit to Managua.

Part of the reserve is also inhabited by Miskitos, the largest indigenous group in this Central American country, where by law native people have the right to collectively own and use the lands where they live.

The complaints by the indigenous people were corroborated by Tierramérica in conversations with independent academics and activists as well as government officials.

Anthropologist Esther Melba McLean with the Atlantic Coast Centre for Research and Development at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University has led studies that warn that if the invasion by outsiders and destruction of the forest are not brought to a halt, both the Mayagna people and the native flora and fauna of Bosawas could disappear in two decades.

“The destruction of the forest would mean more than the end of an ethnic group; it would mean the end of the site where 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found,” she told Tierramérica.

The reserve is home to endemic species like the Nototriton saslaya salamander and the crested eagle, which are listed as endangered by local environmental organisations that point out that there are still many species that have not even been documented.

According to environmentalist Jaime Incer, an adviser on environmental affairs to the office of the president, if the destruction of the indigenous territory continues, “in less than 25 years the jungle will have completely disappeared.”

A study published in 2012 by the German development cooperation agency, GIZ, Nicaragua’s National Union of Agricultural and Livestock Producers (UNAG), the European Union and the international development organisation Oxfam warned that it would take 24 years to lose the forest in Bosawas and 13 years to lose the buffer zone around the reserve, at the current rate of deforestation.

ncer told Tierramérica that in response to the indigenous community’s complaints and the backing they have received from environmentalists, the administration of President Daniel Ortega, who has governed since 2007, has begun to take measures against the destruction of the forest. “But they have been insufficient,” he acknowledged.

Ortega ordered the creation of a military battalion of more than 700 troops to guard the country’s forests and nature reserves. The government also organised a committee of national authorities aimed at coordinating actions and applying a zero tolerance approach towards people and organisations accused of destroying the environment.

Alberto Mercado, the technical coordinator of Bosawas in the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, said at the Central American University in Managua on Jun. 10 that the government has been carrying out actions to curb the destruction of the reserve.

He said the authorities had removed dozens of non-indigenous families from the nucleus of the reserve, and that they had brought people to trial who were dedicated to illegally selling land in Bosawas.

Mercado said dozens of lawyers have been investigated and suspended for allowing sales transactions involving indigenous property. In addition, he said, the authorities have been combating trafficking in local fauna and flora.

“But the struggle is huge…traffickers identify the ‘blind spots’ and that’s where they make their incursions into indigenous territory, fence it in, claim it is theirs, and that’s how the trafficking of land starts,” the official said, sounding discouraged.

The complaints of the indigenous community have gone beyond national borders, and have reached international human rights organisations. The non-governmental Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre also filed a complaint with the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Vilma Núñez, director of the Human Rights Centre, told Tierramérica that she had denounced the situation faced by the Mayagna people during the 44th OAS General Assembly, whose main theme was “development with social inclusion”, held Jun. 3-5 in Asunción, Paraguay.

“The state and the government should guarantee the right of the Mayagna and all indigenous people in this country to live on their own land, and defend them from extermination,” Núñez said.

Also see:  Indigenous Nicaraguans Fight to the Death for Their Last Forest

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June 22, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo from peruviantimes.com

Photo from peruviantimes.com

 

Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for “preventative” imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru’s Public Ministry for “illicit association” and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos’ support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)

Other regional presidents in Peru’s mineral-rich mountain spine also face corruption probes. Last month, César Álvarez, regional president of Áncash, was ordered under preventative detention while he is investigated on charges including criminal association and homicide. In contrast to Santos in Cajamarca, Álvarez has been a vigorous proponent of corporate mineral interests in Áncash. (RPP, May 17)

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June 22, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo from peruviantimes.com

Photo from peruviantimes.com

 

Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for “preventative” imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru’s Public Ministry for “illicit association” and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos’ support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)

Other regional presidents in Peru’s mineral-rich mountain spine also face corruption probes. Last month, César Álvarez, regional president of Áncash, was ordered under preventative detention while he is investigated on charges including criminal association and homicide. In contrast to Santos in Cajamarca, Álvarez has been a vigorous proponent of corporate mineral interests in Áncash. (RPP, May 17)

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

By Gerardo Cerdas Beverly Bell, June 17, 2014. Source: Toward Freedom

Photo from Towards Freedom

Photo from Towards Freedom

An interview with Gerardo Cerdas by Beverly Bell

Gerardo Cerdas is coordinator of the Latin American- and Caribbean-wide social movement Grito de los Excluidos, Cry of the Excluded. He is also a sociologist and researcher. A native of Costa Rica, Cerdas lives in Brazil.

Q: Why is it important to build transnational social movements?

Of course, there are specific issues and power structures in each country, but it’s important to overcome borders and make a transnational movement because the root causes of injustices, of exclusion, of the violence and discrimination we face are the same. They are systemic issues. They are global issues.

As social organizations and movements, we need to move forward beyond merely the national level and see the big picture. And to understand how the specific reality we live in is related to the reality of other countries and other communities. Inasmuch as we’re able to realize that, we’ll also be able to raise peoples’ hopes, to strengthen the struggles of each other and bring about transformation, on a much bigger scale than anything we could do at a merely national level.

It would do no good or very little good to bring about some great transformation in just one country if things remain exactly the same in other countries. Because that would just mean that exclusion, injustices and exploitation would keep taking place as usual in all those other places. And that would be a continuous threat to any progress that’s been made in one specific country. So we need to move beyond the local and national level. The sort of transformation we need can only be achieved if we unite our efforts and join forces together.

Q: So talk to us a little bit about Grito, please, and what it works on.

Grito de los Excluidos has this vision of connecting forces, connecting agendas, creating spaces for unity amidst the diversity of movements and peoples’ organizations across the continent. The organization was established in 1995 in Brazil, and we have several different focus areas. We’re working on everything related to the defense of the common good and of nature, on militarization, and on the criminalization of protest. We do a lot of political education. We also do a lot of work on the rights of migrants. For instance, we established the World Social Forum for Migration, along with other organizations, in 2004. This has been a very enriching experience for us; it’s allowed us to work with organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Q: For folks in the US who know nothing about this, what does it mean to have a continental social movement?

When we say “continental,” we’re primarily talking about Latin America and the Caribbean. But we’re aware that there is social, economic, and cultural exclusion in the US, even though there isn’t a group of people who are part of Grito de los Excluidos there.

Q: Gerardo, when you said “raise peoples’ hopes,” what did you mean by that?

I meant to really believe that transformation is possible. We are in a very tight spot – we’re screwed, you could say. There’s a great deal of poverty, a lot of exclusion, a lot of violence, a lot of injustice in our countries. Working people and our natural resources are being terribly exploited. We’re up against a huge monster, an economic, political machine of monstrous proportions. It would be very easy for us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up the struggle entirely and say “To hell with it. There’s no way we can overcome these massive forces, so let’s just go about our lives and forget about it.”

But we know that if we’re here today, it’s because our grandparents, our ancestors, didn’t give up the fight. They raised our hopes.

And we know that, sooner or later, things will start to change. Not just for us, but for humanity as a whole. This system that we all live in may continue to dominate us for a couple more centuries – who knows how long – but we believe in the transformative power that humans possess. Things weren’t always how they are today and things won’t always be this way in the future. Things change, they transform. Empires are born and they eventually die. Political and economic systems eventually fade away.

For now, we’re the ones in the thick of it. But then it will be up to our children, including those who aren’t born yet, to continue in the struggle. And if we don’t raise their hopes, give them hope, then what will happen in the future? Are we all just going to give up this struggle? No, we have to keep fighting, even if we aren’t the ones who are able to see the dawn break through the darkness. Economic systems take a lot longer to be transformed [than our lifespans]. It might be our children’s children who see it come about – who knows? But it will happen. We have to keep struggling and wait.

Q: But the powers that be, like the United States, are enormous. Why do you believe that people with no money, without institutionalized power of any sort, can change all of this?

First, like any other empire, the US is going to disappear because that’s just how history works. Sooner or later, all of the contradictions that exist in this economic-political system will cause it to fall. In the past, there were enormous empires that looked like they would last for all eternity. And all of them – all of them, with no exceptions – were transformed. Their economic and political foundations were transformed, their demographics were transformed. It’s just a matter of time.

A sector of people in the US are dyed-in-the-wool imperialists and capitalists, yes. But there is also a huge group of people there who are humanitarians, who are generous, good people, and full of love. You, for instance: you are from the US, and you are a person who has a different way of living, of thinking and feeling. The system wasn’t strong enough to overtake you. I’m sure there are many others in the US who are critical thinkers, who understand that there’s something wrong with the state of things in our world.

People in the US are victims of that same system that’s oppressing us here. It’s just that the way it oppresses us is different. I feel even more compassion for the people living in the US, because they’re even worse off than we are. They don’t have a lot of things that we have here, like our sense of community and our ancestral culture. We have a lot of things that they’ve already forgotten.

And it hurts me to see all those people working ridiculous hours to pay their grocery bills, to pay their rent. They don’t have access to good education, and they don’t have health insurance, if they get sick they don’t have access to health care, or they have to sell their house and lose all their savings and lose their dignity. And they want to tell me that this is the best possible system on earth?

So-called powerless people have the ability to make our bodies visible, so others will see what we stand for. I say so-called because all of us have power. If we decide to take over a highway in protest, for instance, we have the power of our speech.

We have achieved a lot. Working from the bottom up, the poor of this earth have brought about great change. And they didn’t have money, they didn’t have machinery or property or finances, and so on.

The powerless of the world have always been the ones to change it. The powerful of the world don’t change a single thing.

The [economic] system we’re living in right now has only been around for 300 or 400 years, whereas our species has been around for longer than 300,000 years. So we shouldn’t believe that this tiny 300-year stint we’re living in right now represents what humanity is really all about, that it represents our future. That’s a way of thinking that lacks historical perspective. We have to look behind us and ahead of us to not lose hope, to not lose perspective. And that’s the perspective we’re creating our movement from.

Translation by David Schmidt.

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance and Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s New Divide. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. You can access all of Other Worlds’ past articles regarding post-earthquake Haiti here.

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

By Gerardo Cerdas Beverly Bell, June 17, 2014. Source: Toward Freedom

Photo from Towards Freedom

Photo from Towards Freedom

An interview with Gerardo Cerdas by Beverly Bell

Gerardo Cerdas is coordinator of the Latin American- and Caribbean-wide social movement Grito de los Excluidos, Cry of the Excluded. He is also a sociologist and researcher. A native of Costa Rica, Cerdas lives in Brazil.

Q: Why is it important to build transnational social movements?

Of course, there are specific issues and power structures in each country, but it’s important to overcome borders and make a transnational movement because the root causes of injustices, of exclusion, of the violence and discrimination we face are the same. They are systemic issues. They are global issues.

As social organizations and movements, we need to move forward beyond merely the national level and see the big picture. And to understand how the specific reality we live in is related to the reality of other countries and other communities. Inasmuch as we’re able to realize that, we’ll also be able to raise peoples’ hopes, to strengthen the struggles of each other and bring about transformation, on a much bigger scale than anything we could do at a merely national level.

It would do no good or very little good to bring about some great transformation in just one country if things remain exactly the same in other countries. Because that would just mean that exclusion, injustices and exploitation would keep taking place as usual in all those other places. And that would be a continuous threat to any progress that’s been made in one specific country. So we need to move beyond the local and national level. The sort of transformation we need can only be achieved if we unite our efforts and join forces together.

Q: So talk to us a little bit about Grito, please, and what it works on.

Grito de los Excluidos has this vision of connecting forces, connecting agendas, creating spaces for unity amidst the diversity of movements and peoples’ organizations across the continent. The organization was established in 1995 in Brazil, and we have several different focus areas. We’re working on everything related to the defense of the common good and of nature, on militarization, and on the criminalization of protest. We do a lot of political education. We also do a lot of work on the rights of migrants. For instance, we established the World Social Forum for Migration, along with other organizations, in 2004. This has been a very enriching experience for us; it’s allowed us to work with organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Q: For folks in the US who know nothing about this, what does it mean to have a continental social movement?

When we say “continental,” we’re primarily talking about Latin America and the Caribbean. But we’re aware that there is social, economic, and cultural exclusion in the US, even though there isn’t a group of people who are part of Grito de los Excluidos there.

Q: Gerardo, when you said “raise peoples’ hopes,” what did you mean by that?

I meant to really believe that transformation is possible. We are in a very tight spot – we’re screwed, you could say. There’s a great deal of poverty, a lot of exclusion, a lot of violence, a lot of injustice in our countries. Working people and our natural resources are being terribly exploited. We’re up against a huge monster, an economic, political machine of monstrous proportions. It would be very easy for us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up the struggle entirely and say “To hell with it. There’s no way we can overcome these massive forces, so let’s just go about our lives and forget about it.”

But we know that if we’re here today, it’s because our grandparents, our ancestors, didn’t give up the fight. They raised our hopes.

And we know that, sooner or later, things will start to change. Not just for us, but for humanity as a whole. This system that we all live in may continue to dominate us for a couple more centuries – who knows how long – but we believe in the transformative power that humans possess. Things weren’t always how they are today and things won’t always be this way in the future. Things change, they transform. Empires are born and they eventually die. Political and economic systems eventually fade away.

For now, we’re the ones in the thick of it. But then it will be up to our children, including those who aren’t born yet, to continue in the struggle. And if we don’t raise their hopes, give them hope, then what will happen in the future? Are we all just going to give up this struggle? No, we have to keep fighting, even if we aren’t the ones who are able to see the dawn break through the darkness. Economic systems take a lot longer to be transformed [than our lifespans]. It might be our children’s children who see it come about – who knows? But it will happen. We have to keep struggling and wait.

Q: But the powers that be, like the United States, are enormous. Why do you believe that people with no money, without institutionalized power of any sort, can change all of this?

First, like any other empire, the US is going to disappear because that’s just how history works. Sooner or later, all of the contradictions that exist in this economic-political system will cause it to fall. In the past, there were enormous empires that looked like they would last for all eternity. And all of them – all of them, with no exceptions – were transformed. Their economic and political foundations were transformed, their demographics were transformed. It’s just a matter of time.

A sector of people in the US are dyed-in-the-wool imperialists and capitalists, yes. But there is also a huge group of people there who are humanitarians, who are generous, good people, and full of love. You, for instance: you are from the US, and you are a person who has a different way of living, of thinking and feeling. The system wasn’t strong enough to overtake you. I’m sure there are many others in the US who are critical thinkers, who understand that there’s something wrong with the state of things in our world.

People in the US are victims of that same system that’s oppressing us here. It’s just that the way it oppresses us is different. I feel even more compassion for the people living in the US, because they’re even worse off than we are. They don’t have a lot of things that we have here, like our sense of community and our ancestral culture. We have a lot of things that they’ve already forgotten.

And it hurts me to see all those people working ridiculous hours to pay their grocery bills, to pay their rent. They don’t have access to good education, and they don’t have health insurance, if they get sick they don’t have access to health care, or they have to sell their house and lose all their savings and lose their dignity. And they want to tell me that this is the best possible system on earth?

So-called powerless people have the ability to make our bodies visible, so others will see what we stand for. I say so-called because all of us have power. If we decide to take over a highway in protest, for instance, we have the power of our speech.

We have achieved a lot. Working from the bottom up, the poor of this earth have brought about great change. And they didn’t have money, they didn’t have machinery or property or finances, and so on.

The powerless of the world have always been the ones to change it. The powerful of the world don’t change a single thing.

The [economic] system we’re living in right now has only been around for 300 or 400 years, whereas our species has been around for longer than 300,000 years. So we shouldn’t believe that this tiny 300-year stint we’re living in right now represents what humanity is really all about, that it represents our future. That’s a way of thinking that lacks historical perspective. We have to look behind us and ahead of us to not lose hope, to not lose perspective. And that’s the perspective we’re creating our movement from.

Translation by David Schmidt.

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance and Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s New Divide. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. You can access all of Other Worlds’ past articles regarding post-earthquake Haiti here.

By Pavol Stracansky, June 21, 2014.  Source: IPS

Climate change will cause the Siberian permafrost to thaw. Photo by Softpedia/Celsias

Climate change will cause the Siberian permafrost to thaw. Photo by Softpedia/Celsias

People in Siberia must prepare to face frequent repeats of recent devastating floods as well as other natural disasters, scientists and ecologists are warning, amid growing evidence of the effects of global warming on one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions.

More than 50,000 people were affected by floods in the Altai region and Khakassia and Altai republics in southern Siberia at the end of May and early June. These came just over half a year since the worst floods in Siberia in living memory.

But while floods caused by snowmelt are not uncommon to Siberia, these most recent ones were caused by excessive rainfall – a phenomenon global warming is expected to make much more frequent in future.

Vladimir Galakhov, a physical geography professor at Altai University in Siberia, told IPS: “Although many people think the recent floods were caused by snow melting, it was actually intense rainfall. We had two months’ rain in one week. Weather models for the next two decades forecast a 10 percent rise in rainfall volumes, so we can expect more flooding in the future.”

Siberia is home to some of the richest diversity of flora and fauna in the world, including endangered species such as the Amur tiger. It is also one of the coldest places on earth, with average temperatures in most parts just under zero degrees Celsius and often much lower.

But scientific studies in the last decade have shown that parts of Siberia are warming more quickly than any other part of the world – something pointed out again in the wake of the floods by local meteorologists.

Professor Valentin Meleshko, a meteorologist and former head of the St Petersburg-based Voyeikov Geophysical Observatory, told Russian media last month after the flooding that rapid temperature rises were having a “significant” impact on Siberia.

“All forecasts from complex [weather and climate change forecast] models show that Siberia will get more precipitation, mostly in winter, when more snow will accumulate.

“It will naturally melt in spring and this melting snow will put more water into rivers, and the floods in Siberia will be more intense than before.”

But warming is not only expected to increase flooding. According to experts such as Alexei Kokorin, head of the WWF Russia climate division, it poses other serious threats.

He told IPS that the size of Siberia meant that different areas will be affected in different ways: east and south-east Siberia in the area of the Amur River will see more frequent heavy rains and a monsoon climate while southern Siberia near Mongolia will see increasing desertification leading to water supply problems and disappearing pastures to provide feeding grounds for animals.

Meanwhile, in northern Siberia, the melting of permafrost will destroy existing infrastructure. This also threatens to drastically worsen climate change as vast amounts of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – are trapped in the frozen ground and if released into the atmosphere in large amounts would accelerate global warming.

“Siberia will maybe not be the very worst affected area in the world by global warming, but some parts of it will be heavily affected,” Kokorin told IPS.

Ecological groups have been warning of these risks for years and appealing to Russian authorities to take action.

But the Russian political response to global warming has been characterised largely by apparent ambivalence.

As the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas producer behind the United States, India and China, and with a fossil fuel-intensive economy which the government is desperate to boost, Russia has historically been far from the vanguard of global environmental policy reform.

But some experts believe that the general government ambivalence to climate change is driven by the fact that Russia potentially stands to be one of the biggest geopolitical gainers from climate change.

Although a highly resource-rich nation, vast reserves of fossil fuels in Russia are under either ice or frozen permafrost. Higher temperatures could make it easier to access these and other enormous quantities of valuable ores and minerals as well as changing huge areas of land from being uninhabitable to fit for agricultural production or other use.

Arctic ice melt driven by global warming is also expected to soon provide an almost year-round open sea passage north of the country which Russia could exploit, allowing tens of millions of tons more of goods to be transported annually.

Some officials have publicly said that they view global warming positively. In an interview last year, Rinat Gizatullin, an official at the Russian Natural Resources Ministry, told the BBC: “We are not panicking. Global warming is not as catastrophic for us as it might be for some other countries. If anything, we’ll be even better off.”

Against this backdrop, the Russian scientific community is divided on climate change. While some, including senior state meteorologists, have in the past spoken publically of the threat from climate change to Russia, others are more reticent on the issue and refuse to openly acknowledge global warming as a phenomenon.

Raisa Buzunova, a hydrometeorologist from Kemerovo in western Siberia, told IPS that while temperatures had been rising constantly for years in parts of Siberia, the result of which was now extended summers, this was not evidence of global warming.

She told IPS: “We are not talking about a sudden change in climate or global warming, but only periodic temperature fluctuations. A stabilisation of temperatures in Siberia is expected by 2020.”

Many others say that global warming has actually peaked and that world temperatures will actually begin falling in a few years and then stabilising.

However, local ecologists say that the evidence is irrefutable, pointing to events such as the record wildfire season in 2012 in Siberia amid an unusually warm summer, as well as the worst floods on record last autumn, an exceptionally mild winter just passed, as well as a record warm spring and the recent floods.

Mikhail Gunykin from the Moscow-based pan-Russian Ecodelo ecological network, told IPS: “In Russia, as in the rest of the world, what we have seen in recent years is increasingly frequent natural disasters as a result of the way humans treat ecosystems.”

 

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By Pavol Stracansky, June 21, 2014.  Source: IPS

Climate change will cause the Siberian permafrost to thaw. Photo by Softpedia/Celsias

Climate change will cause the Siberian permafrost to thaw. Photo by Softpedia/Celsias

People in Siberia must prepare to face frequent repeats of recent devastating floods as well as other natural disasters, scientists and ecologists are warning, amid growing evidence of the effects of global warming on one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions.

More than 50,000 people were affected by floods in the Altai region and Khakassia and Altai republics in southern Siberia at the end of May and early June. These came just over half a year since the worst floods in Siberia in living memory.

But while floods caused by snowmelt are not uncommon to Siberia, these most recent ones were caused by excessive rainfall – a phenomenon global warming is expected to make much more frequent in future.

Vladimir Galakhov, a physical geography professor at Altai University in Siberia, told IPS: “Although many people think the recent floods were caused by snow melting, it was actually intense rainfall. We had two months’ rain in one week. Weather models for the next two decades forecast a 10 percent rise in rainfall volumes, so we can expect more flooding in the future.”

Siberia is home to some of the richest diversity of flora and fauna in the world, including endangered species such as the Amur tiger. It is also one of the coldest places on earth, with average temperatures in most parts just under zero degrees Celsius and often much lower.

But scientific studies in the last decade have shown that parts of Siberia are warming more quickly than any other part of the world – something pointed out again in the wake of the floods by local meteorologists.

Professor Valentin Meleshko, a meteorologist and former head of the St Petersburg-based Voyeikov Geophysical Observatory, told Russian media last month after the flooding that rapid temperature rises were having a “significant” impact on Siberia.

“All forecasts from complex [weather and climate change forecast] models show that Siberia will get more precipitation, mostly in winter, when more snow will accumulate.

“It will naturally melt in spring and this melting snow will put more water into rivers, and the floods in Siberia will be more intense than before.”

But warming is not only expected to increase flooding. According to experts such as Alexei Kokorin, head of the WWF Russia climate division, it poses other serious threats.

He told IPS that the size of Siberia meant that different areas will be affected in different ways: east and south-east Siberia in the area of the Amur River will see more frequent heavy rains and a monsoon climate while southern Siberia near Mongolia will see increasing desertification leading to water supply problems and disappearing pastures to provide feeding grounds for animals.

Meanwhile, in northern Siberia, the melting of permafrost will destroy existing infrastructure. This also threatens to drastically worsen climate change as vast amounts of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – are trapped in the frozen ground and if released into the atmosphere in large amounts would accelerate global warming.

“Siberia will maybe not be the very worst affected area in the world by global warming, but some parts of it will be heavily affected,” Kokorin told IPS.

Ecological groups have been warning of these risks for years and appealing to Russian authorities to take action.

But the Russian political response to global warming has been characterised largely by apparent ambivalence.

As the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas producer behind the United States, India and China, and with a fossil fuel-intensive economy which the government is desperate to boost, Russia has historically been far from the vanguard of global environmental policy reform.

But some experts believe that the general government ambivalence to climate change is driven by the fact that Russia potentially stands to be one of the biggest geopolitical gainers from climate change.

Although a highly resource-rich nation, vast reserves of fossil fuels in Russia are under either ice or frozen permafrost. Higher temperatures could make it easier to access these and other enormous quantities of valuable ores and minerals as well as changing huge areas of land from being uninhabitable to fit for agricultural production or other use.

Arctic ice melt driven by global warming is also expected to soon provide an almost year-round open sea passage north of the country which Russia could exploit, allowing tens of millions of tons more of goods to be transported annually.

Some officials have publicly said that they view global warming positively. In an interview last year, Rinat Gizatullin, an official at the Russian Natural Resources Ministry, told the BBC: “We are not panicking. Global warming is not as catastrophic for us as it might be for some other countries. If anything, we’ll be even better off.”

Against this backdrop, the Russian scientific community is divided on climate change. While some, including senior state meteorologists, have in the past spoken publically of the threat from climate change to Russia, others are more reticent on the issue and refuse to openly acknowledge global warming as a phenomenon.

Raisa Buzunova, a hydrometeorologist from Kemerovo in western Siberia, told IPS that while temperatures had been rising constantly for years in parts of Siberia, the result of which was now extended summers, this was not evidence of global warming.

She told IPS: “We are not talking about a sudden change in climate or global warming, but only periodic temperature fluctuations. A stabilisation of temperatures in Siberia is expected by 2020.”

Many others say that global warming has actually peaked and that world temperatures will actually begin falling in a few years and then stabilising.

However, local ecologists say that the evidence is irrefutable, pointing to events such as the record wildfire season in 2012 in Siberia amid an unusually warm summer, as well as the worst floods on record last autumn, an exceptionally mild winter just passed, as well as a record warm spring and the recent floods.

Mikhail Gunykin from the Moscow-based pan-Russian Ecodelo ecological network, told IPS: “In Russia, as in the rest of the world, what we have seen in recent years is increasingly frequent natural disasters as a result of the way humans treat ecosystems.”

 

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By Miriam Katawazi, June 18, 2014. Source: Rabble.ca

Photo by Chris Yakimov

Photo by Chris Yakimov

On Tuesday night, numerous British Columbians rallied against the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

According to the Global News, protesters gathered in downtown Vancouver to show their disapproval by carrying signs and chanting, “No pipelines,” and “Defend Our Coast.”

Protesters stood across from the main Vancouver library and the CBC Vancouver building, reported the Huffington Post. Two other rallies also took place in Kitimat, where the 1,200km pipeline is expected to end. Another rally was also organized in downtown Victoria.

According to The Globe and Mail, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be met with protests if he ever visited the province. He told The Globe and Mail, “There’s been a lot of chatter about that today. Given the fact that, in our view, Harper has declared war on British Columbians and First Nations, he will absolutely not be welcome into this province in the future.”

The Toronto Star reports that many First Nations across the province, including the Unist’ot’en Clan who have refused all pipeline projects, disapprove of the pipeline on their territorial lands.

According to the CBC, the B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the provincial government has not changed its decision to say no to the pipeline. Polak said that the project has only met one out of the five conditions laid out by the premier of the province, Christy Clark. Just yesterday, the first condition was met, the recommendations by National Energy Board Joint Review Panel before the project proceeds.

The $7.9-billion project, between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast, is subject to 209 conditions by the National Energy Board. Regardless, of the federal government’s approval, the B.C government still has the ability to deny or grant permits necessary for its construction.

However, numerous activists, citizens, organizations and First Nations remain determined to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline through protest, court challenges, referendums and civil engagement.

 

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By Miriam Katawazi, June 18, 2014. Source: Rabble.ca

Photo by Chris Yakimov

Photo by Chris Yakimov

On Tuesday night, numerous British Columbians rallied against the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

According to the Global News, protesters gathered in downtown Vancouver to show their disapproval by carrying signs and chanting, “No pipelines,” and “Defend Our Coast.”

Protesters stood across from the main Vancouver library and the CBC Vancouver building, reported the Huffington Post. Two other rallies also took place in Kitimat, where the 1,200km pipeline is expected to end. Another rally was also organized in downtown Victoria.

According to The Globe and Mail, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be met with protests if he ever visited the province. He told The Globe and Mail, “There’s been a lot of chatter about that today. Given the fact that, in our view, Harper has declared war on British Columbians and First Nations, he will absolutely not be welcome into this province in the future.”

The Toronto Star reports that many First Nations across the province, including the Unist’ot’en Clan who have refused all pipeline projects, disapprove of the pipeline on their territorial lands.

According to the CBC, the B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the provincial government has not changed its decision to say no to the pipeline. Polak said that the project has only met one out of the five conditions laid out by the premier of the province, Christy Clark. Just yesterday, the first condition was met, the recommendations by National Energy Board Joint Review Panel before the project proceeds.

The $7.9-billion project, between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast, is subject to 209 conditions by the National Energy Board. Regardless, of the federal government’s approval, the B.C government still has the ability to deny or grant permits necessary for its construction.

However, numerous activists, citizens, organizations and First Nations remain determined to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline through protest, court challenges, referendums and civil engagement.

 

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

By Miriam Katawazi, June 18, 2014. Source: Rabble.ca

Photo by Chris Yakimov

Photo by Chris Yakimov

On Tuesday night, numerous British Columbians rallied against the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

According to the Global News, protesters gathered in downtown Vancouver to show their disapproval by carrying signs and chanting, “No pipelines,” and “Defend Our Coast.”

Protesters stood across from the main Vancouver library and the CBC Vancouver building, reported the Huffington Post. Two other rallies also took place in Kitimat, where the 1,200km pipeline is expected to end. Another rally was also organized in downtown Victoria.

According to The Globe and Mail, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be met with protests if he ever visited the province. He told The Globe and Mail, “There’s been a lot of chatter about that today. Given the fact that, in our view, Harper has declared war on British Columbians and First Nations, he will absolutely not be welcome into this province in the future.”

The Toronto Star reports that many First Nations across the province, including the Unist’ot’en Clan who have refused all pipeline projects, disapprove of the pipeline on their territorial lands.

According to the CBC, the B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the provincial government has not changed its decision to say no to the pipeline. Polak said that the project has only met one out of the five conditions laid out by the premier of the province, Christy Clark. Just yesterday, the first condition was met, the recommendations by National Energy Board Joint Review Panel before the project proceeds.

The $7.9-billion project, between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast, is subject to 209 conditions by the National Energy Board. Regardless, of the federal government’s approval, the B.C government still has the ability to deny or grant permits necessary for its construction.

However, numerous activists, citizens, organizations and First Nations remain determined to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline through protest, court challenges, referendums and civil engagement.

 

About these ads

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]]>

By Miriam Katawazi, June 18, 2014. Source: Rabble.ca

Photo by Chris Yakimov

Photo by Chris Yakimov

On Tuesday night, numerous British Columbians rallied against the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

According to the Global News, protesters gathered in downtown Vancouver to show their disapproval by carrying signs and chanting, “No pipelines,” and “Defend Our Coast.”

Protesters stood across from the main Vancouver library and the CBC Vancouver building, reported the Huffington Post. Two other rallies also took place in Kitimat, where the 1,200km pipeline is expected to end. Another rally was also organized in downtown Victoria.

According to The Globe and Mail, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be met with protests if he ever visited the province. He told The Globe and Mail, “There’s been a lot of chatter about that today. Given the fact that, in our view, Harper has declared war on British Columbians and First Nations, he will absolutely not be welcome into this province in the future.”

The Toronto Star reports that many First Nations across the province, including the Unist’ot’en Clan who have refused all pipeline projects, disapprove of the pipeline on their territorial lands.

According to the CBC, the B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the provincial government has not changed its decision to say no to the pipeline. Polak said that the project has only met one out of the five conditions laid out by the premier of the province, Christy Clark. Just yesterday, the first condition was met, the recommendations by National Energy Board Joint Review Panel before the project proceeds.

The $7.9-billion project, between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast, is subject to 209 conditions by the National Energy Board. Regardless, of the federal government’s approval, the B.C government still has the ability to deny or grant permits necessary for its construction.

However, numerous activists, citizens, organizations and First Nations remain determined to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline through protest, court challenges, referendums and civil engagement.

 

About these ads

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