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April 23, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Campaigners have disrupted Drax Plc’s AGM in London today, calling for the power station to be closed down because of the environmental and social impacts of the biomass and coal that it is burning. Three campaigners were removed from the meeting after unfurling a banner reading “No to biomass and coal – shut down Drax” and accusing company directors of misleading the public over claims that their biomass conversion is low-carbon, renewable energy. The protest happened against a backdrop of falling company share prices as the UK Government announced that it would not be awarding a lucrative new subsidy scheme, a Contract for Difference, to Drax’s second converted unit, sparking investment uncertainty.

Biofuelwatch campaigner Duncan Law was one of the campaigners removed from the AGM today. He said:

“Drax is calling itself the world’s biggest renewable energy power station, but looking past the shiny green façade you see it’s actually still a giant incinerator, only now fed on ancient wetland forests as well as opencast coal. And what’s more, it will be pumping out more CO2 than ever despite company claims that it’s doing the opposite.

It is clear that Drax and the UK government aren’t listening to evidence that big biomass power stations in the UK are fuelling forest destruction in the southern US and increasing carbon emissions. We feel we have no choice but to take this further action to highlight how, in the name of renewable energy, energy companies and their allies in government are causing yet another environmental disaster.”

Biofuelwatch and supporting organisations also held a demonstration outside Drax Plc’s AGM for a second year running. 40 people held banners reading “Big Biomass fuels Deforestation, Landgrabbing and Climate Change” and chanting slogans such as “Drax, Drax, what do you say? How many trees have you killed today?”

Recent evidence has shown that Drax is sourcing wood pellets for its partial biomass conversion that have come from the destruction of some of the world’s most biodiverse temperate forests.  Campaigners are also challenging claims that biomass reduces carbon emissions, as recent studies show that it can be more carbon intensive than coal.  Demand for biomass is set to sky-rocket over the coming years.

Since its last AGM Drax has converted and opened one unit and burned some 5 million tonnes of mostly imported, green wood – a figure equivalent to half of the UK’s annual wood production. At full capacity this unit alone could have received £190 million in subsidies.

“Drax is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Oliver Munnion, campaigner with Biofuelwatch and the Coal Action Network, outside the Drax AGM today. “In the UK alone, current anticipated demand for wood because of biomass electricity is 7 times the UK’s current annual wood production. This won’t come from renewable, clean or green sources, but largely from imports and at the expense of vital forest ecosystems.”

“Drax’s conversion actually allows it to burn more coal long into the future. Even after the conversion they’ll be burning some 3.7 million tonnes of coal every year from opencast mines in the UK and imported from places like Colombia, where communities have been forced off their land for expanding mines. Biomass isn’t about renewable energy, it’s about keeping old, polluting power stations running, when they should be closing down.”

Drax’s biomass plans will require pellets made from more than 15 million tonnes of wood each year, making it the biggest biomass-burning power station in the world. By comparison, the UK’s total annual wood production is only 10 million tonnes. A growing number of scientific studies show that burning biomass actually produces more emissions than the coal it replaces for decades. Serious environmental concerns have already been raised about the destruction of highly biodiverse forests in the Southern US which are being exacerbated by Drax’s growing demand for wood pellets.

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

April 23, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Campaigners have disrupted Drax Plc’s AGM in London today, calling for the power station to be closed down because of the environmental and social impacts of the biomass and coal that it is burning. Three campaigners were removed from the meeting after unfurling a banner reading “No to biomass and coal – shut down Drax” and accusing company directors of misleading the public over claims that their biomass conversion is low-carbon, renewable energy. The protest happened against a backdrop of falling company share prices as the UK Government announced that it would not be awarding a lucrative new subsidy scheme, a Contract for Difference, to Drax’s second converted unit, sparking investment uncertainty.

Biofuelwatch campaigner Duncan Law was one of the campaigners removed from the AGM today. He said:

“Drax is calling itself the world’s biggest renewable energy power station, but looking past the shiny green façade you see it’s actually still a giant incinerator, only now fed on ancient wetland forests as well as opencast coal. And what’s more, it will be pumping out more CO2 than ever despite company claims that it’s doing the opposite.

It is clear that Drax and the UK government aren’t listening to evidence that big biomass power stations in the UK are fuelling forest destruction in the southern US and increasing carbon emissions. We feel we have no choice but to take this further action to highlight how, in the name of renewable energy, energy companies and their allies in government are causing yet another environmental disaster.”

Biofuelwatch and supporting organisations also held a demonstration outside Drax Plc’s AGM for a second year running. 40 people held banners reading “Big Biomass fuels Deforestation, Landgrabbing and Climate Change” and chanting slogans such as “Drax, Drax, what do you say? How many trees have you killed today?”

Recent evidence has shown that Drax is sourcing wood pellets for its partial biomass conversion that have come from the destruction of some of the world’s most biodiverse temperate forests.  Campaigners are also challenging claims that biomass reduces carbon emissions, as recent studies show that it can be more carbon intensive than coal.  Demand for biomass is set to sky-rocket over the coming years.

Since its last AGM Drax has converted and opened one unit and burned some 5 million tonnes of mostly imported, green wood – a figure equivalent to half of the UK’s annual wood production. At full capacity this unit alone could have received £190 million in subsidies.

“Drax is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Oliver Munnion, campaigner with Biofuelwatch and the Coal Action Network, outside the Drax AGM today. “In the UK alone, current anticipated demand for wood because of biomass electricity is 7 times the UK’s current annual wood production. This won’t come from renewable, clean or green sources, but largely from imports and at the expense of vital forest ecosystems.”

“Drax’s conversion actually allows it to burn more coal long into the future. Even after the conversion they’ll be burning some 3.7 million tonnes of coal every year from opencast mines in the UK and imported from places like Colombia, where communities have been forced off their land for expanding mines. Biomass isn’t about renewable energy, it’s about keeping old, polluting power stations running, when they should be closing down.”

Drax’s biomass plans will require pellets made from more than 15 million tonnes of wood each year, making it the biggest biomass-burning power station in the world. By comparison, the UK’s total annual wood production is only 10 million tonnes. A growing number of scientific studies show that burning biomass actually produces more emissions than the coal it replaces for decades. Serious environmental concerns have already been raised about the destruction of highly biodiverse forests in the Southern US which are being exacerbated by Drax’s growing demand for wood pellets.

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April 24, 2014. Source: Idle No More

Photo: CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES

Washington DC – Northern Plains Tribal leaders and land owners representing the Cowboy and Indian Alliance joined in cross-border solidarity yesterday with their First Nations counterparts on the steps of the Canadian embassy. Their aim was to send a clear message to the Canadian and US governments to Honor the Treaties. Representatives of the Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, Ponca, Ojibway, and Cree Nations stood alongside ranchers and farmers to hold up huge letters spelling out “Honor The Treaties” and blown-up images of Treaty 8, Treaty 6, and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which cover Indigenous people’s lands affected by the controversial Canadian tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.

It’s time for our people to start developing our own policies and enforcing our inherent Treaty rights. It is time for us to start defining what that relationship looks like for our visitors and remind our visitors that they came here and we are the ones, as Indigenous people, that gave them the permission to settle here on Turtle Island,” said Crystal Lameman, member of Beaver Lake Cree Nation.

The Beaver Lake Cree Nation is currently engaged in a landmark constitutional Treaty rights challenge in the Supreme Court of Canada that has named tens of thousands of Treaty rights violations of Treaty 6 by the provincial government of Alberta, the federal government of Canada, and dozens of oil companies operating in the controversial Canadian tar sands. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation case represents a growing understanding that through Aboriginal Title and Inherent and Treaty Rights, the Native rights-based strategic framework is the strongest legally binding strategy to stop the expansion of the tar sands at the source, including all of the associated pipeline infrastructure coming out of Alberta to bring this land-locked resource to international markets.

Oglala Sioux Nation President Brewer and Rosebud Sioux Nation Tribal President Scott were both present and reiterated their sovereign nations official position that their governments and peoples would not allow for this “Black Oily Serpent Pipeline” to cross sacred Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota lands. Faith Spotted Eagle of Protect the Sacred, a grassroots movement based out of Yankton Sioux Nation stated, “Half of the state of South Dakota was given by one of our grandfathers because these homeless people had come to our lands. We gave them homes and this is what we get in return. Enough is enough. This is our stand into the future that no more of these Treaties are going to be violated.”

Oklahoma-based Ponca Nation member, actor, and American Indian Movement activist, Casey Camp-Hornik, who was in attendance with her sons, stated, “We are demanding that the United States government and the government of Canada understand that we have the right to air. We have the right to breathe. We have the right to eat food that is nutritious; the food has the right to grow. The four legs has a right to live, to breathe, and drink, and eat. The wings have a right to fly in clean air. The creepy crawlers have a right to live in balance. We have the right to stop climate change on behalf of all our relatives in all directions.”

Lower Sioux Nation member and activist Dallas Goldtooth stated, “We are here to remind that we are not just small ethnic groups, we are sovereign nations. We have a relationship that supersedes states and corporations as sovereign nations.”

Heather Milton Lightening, co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands campaign of the Polaris Institute, stated, “We need to stop tar sands at the source. We are going to do that as a solid movement from coast to coast from east to west. We are going to shut down the tar sands. We are going to stop it!”

The Canadian government is currently spending 20 million taxpayers’ dollars in a public relations campaign in the United States aimed at attracting investment into Canada’s tar sands and other harmful developments in Native lands titled Connect2Canada. Yesterday’s direct action at the Canadian embassy marked a launch of the #Connect2Truth twitter campaign to counter this propaganda.

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

By Amelia Woodside, April 23, 2014. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has launched an internal investigation into a complaint lodged against the institution for investing in a Vietnamese rubber firm accused of illegal logging and land grabbing in Ratanakkiri, an NGO and villager said yesterday.

Earlier this month, representatives of the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) met with leaders from 17 indigenous communities in Andong Meas and O’Chum districts, along with representatives of Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which operates rubber plantations on economic land concessions in the Kingdom’s northeast, according to Eang Vuthy, executive director at NGO Equitable Cambodia.

“This was a preliminary visit . . . the IFC met with community leaders [and] government officials at the company.

We’re very hopeful a resolution between the parties will be reached. They say the company HAGL is willing to negotiate, so we’re hoping for a positive course of action once the IFC releases their report,” Vuthy told the Post yesterday.

Sal Hnuey, 59, a community spokesman for villagers living in Andong Meas, confirmed yesterday that a team of international experts started visiting the affected areas in late March.

On February 10, villagers lodged a complaint with the CAO, the internal watchdog of the IFC, which is the World Bank’s private lending arm.

The company’s allotted assessment period is limited to 120 working days following the submission of the complaint, “but may be completed more quickly”, CAO’s operation guidelines say.

The IFC is accused of supporting HAGL’s actions by investing millions of dollars through an intermediary fund called Dragon Capital Group since 2002.

Last year, HAGL came under fire after UK-based NGO Global Witness published a report accusing the rubber giant of illegally logging outside concession areas and being in possession of at least 47,000 hectares of economic land concessions – almost five times the legal limit.

The IFC did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

A representative who identified himself as an employee of HAGL declined to comment yesterday.

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By Amelia Woodside, April 23, 2014. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has launched an internal investigation into a complaint lodged against the institution for investing in a Vietnamese rubber firm accused of illegal logging and land grabbing in Ratanakkiri, an NGO and villager said yesterday.

Earlier this month, representatives of the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) met with leaders from 17 indigenous communities in Andong Meas and O’Chum districts, along with representatives of Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which operates rubber plantations on economic land concessions in the Kingdom’s northeast, according to Eang Vuthy, executive director at NGO Equitable Cambodia.

“This was a preliminary visit . . . the IFC met with community leaders [and] government officials at the company.

We’re very hopeful a resolution between the parties will be reached. They say the company HAGL is willing to negotiate, so we’re hoping for a positive course of action once the IFC releases their report,” Vuthy told the Post yesterday.

Sal Hnuey, 59, a community spokesman for villagers living in Andong Meas, confirmed yesterday that a team of international experts started visiting the affected areas in late March.

On February 10, villagers lodged a complaint with the CAO, the internal watchdog of the IFC, which is the World Bank’s private lending arm.

The company’s allotted assessment period is limited to 120 working days following the submission of the complaint, “but may be completed more quickly”, CAO’s operation guidelines say.

The IFC is accused of supporting HAGL’s actions by investing millions of dollars through an intermediary fund called Dragon Capital Group since 2002.

Last year, HAGL came under fire after UK-based NGO Global Witness published a report accusing the rubber giant of illegally logging outside concession areas and being in possession of at least 47,000 hectares of economic land concessions – almost five times the legal limit.

The IFC did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

A representative who identified himself as an employee of HAGL declined to comment yesterday.

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By Steve Horn, April 22, 2014. Source: DeSmog Blog

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The political carnival that is the prelude to the Iowa caucuses has started over a year and a half early. At the center of it this time around: a game of political hot potato over the northern leg of TransCanada‘s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

American Petroleum Institute (API) deployed one of its paid consultants — former Obama Administration National Security Advisor General James “Jim” Jones — to deliver an Earth Day address in the home state of the presidential caucuses at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

James Jones used his time on the podium to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, which another James — retired NASA climatologist James Hansen — once called a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”

“General James Jones…will discuss the benefits of the pipeline initiative, including more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil, and cheaper energy costs for Americans,” explained an April 15 Drake University press release promoting the event.

Days after the Obama Administration decided to delay making a decision on Keystone XL North until after the 2014 mid-term elections, API went on the offensive, with Jones acting as the group’s surrogate.

API is using one of its numerous front groups that could factor most prominently during election season: the Iowa Energy Forum, chief sponsor and organizer of the event titled, “The Pipeline to National Security Discussion.”

Iowa Energy Forum is part of API‘s broader astroturf campaign called “America’s Energy Forum,” the privacy policy on its website reveals. In tiny print at the bottom of the Iowa Energy Forum website, it also says, “Sponsored by American Petroleum Institute.”

API paid the powerful Des Moines-based public relations (PR) firm LS2group to help them promote the Earth Day event.

An April 17 press release published in Des Moines’ Business Record lists Matt Bierl of LS2group as the contact person. And a glance at the guest list for the Facebook event page for Drake University event shows eight of the 22 attendees work atLS2group.

LS2group and the 2012 Elections

Mark Twain once quipped, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

In that vein, rewind back to 2012 and the activities by Iowa Energy Forum before the Iowa caucuses, with PR efforts overseen by LS2group.

Among other things, former Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty — who ran for president in the 2012 GOP primaries — had two campaign advisers that wore two hats, Charles Larson Jr. and Karen Slifka. Both of them also worked for LS2group in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, where they work full-time now.

Both Larson and Slifka denied they were coordinating Iowa Energy Forum’s agenda with the Pawlenty campaign in an interview with The Des Moines Register. But evidence suggests otherwise.

Pawlenty’s new ad features people wearing Iowa Energy Forum shirts even though the ad doesn’t even mention energy issues,” explained an August 2011 article published on The Iowa Republican. “The people featured in the Pawlenty ad are Jennifer Cantrick and Maddison Abboud, two summer interns that were hired to work for the Iowa Energy Forum by Larson and Slifka’s firm.”

Further, Iowa Energy Forum also made an appearance at the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll held in Ames, Iowa and did so in style.

“An air-conditioned ‘igloo’ paid for by the Iowa Energy Forum will rise up from the straw poll campus in Ames next month, an attraction meant to woo Iowans’ affection with free treats, kids’ rides and displays about energy technology,” explained an article in The Des Moines Register. “The Republican Party of Iowa has received $100,000 from the organization.”

Drake Students Protest Event

drakeIn response to Jones’ jaunt to campus, Drake University students held a protest outside of his speaking engagement.

“There is no Planet B, this project won’t create jobs, it will raise gas prices in the Midwest, and none of these other issues matter if catastrophic climate change destroys the ability of the Earth to sustain human, plant, and animal life,” Drake students Jade Suganuma and John Noble said in a statement provided to DeSmogBlog.

Activist group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement provided DeSmogBlog with some photos of the protest and The Des Moines Register produced a short video segment on it, too.

Political Hot Potato Begins Anew

As with the 2012 campaign cycle, it appears Keystone XL will be tossed around in 2014 by those candidates on the take of Big Oil as a political hot potato in the aftermath of the Obama Administration’s election-year punt.

The Drake University event featuring Gen. James Jones, then, likely just portends far more to come. After all, campaign season has really only just begun.

 

 

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By Steve Horn, April 22, 2014. Source: DeSmog Blog

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The political carnival that is the prelude to the Iowa caucuses has started over a year and a half early. At the center of it this time around: a game of political hot potato over the northern leg of TransCanada‘s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

American Petroleum Institute (API) deployed one of its paid consultants — former Obama Administration National Security Advisor General James “Jim” Jones — to deliver an Earth Day address in the home state of the presidential caucuses at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

James Jones used his time on the podium to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, which another James — retired NASA climatologist James Hansen — once called a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”

“General James Jones…will discuss the benefits of the pipeline initiative, including more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil, and cheaper energy costs for Americans,” explained an April 15 Drake University press release promoting the event.

Days after the Obama Administration decided to delay making a decision on Keystone XL North until after the 2014 mid-term elections, API went on the offensive, with Jones acting as the group’s surrogate.

API is using one of its numerous front groups that could factor most prominently during election season: the Iowa Energy Forum, chief sponsor and organizer of the event titled, “The Pipeline to National Security Discussion.”

Iowa Energy Forum is part of API‘s broader astroturf campaign called “America’s Energy Forum,” the privacy policy on its website reveals. In tiny print at the bottom of the Iowa Energy Forum website, it also says, “Sponsored by American Petroleum Institute.”

API paid the powerful Des Moines-based public relations (PR) firm LS2group to help them promote the Earth Day event.

An April 17 press release published in Des Moines’ Business Record lists Matt Bierl of LS2group as the contact person. And a glance at the guest list for the Facebook event page for Drake University event shows eight of the 22 attendees work atLS2group.

LS2group and the 2012 Elections

Mark Twain once quipped, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

In that vein, rewind back to 2012 and the activities by Iowa Energy Forum before the Iowa caucuses, with PR efforts overseen by LS2group.

Among other things, former Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty — who ran for president in the 2012 GOP primaries — had two campaign advisers that wore two hats, Charles Larson Jr. and Karen Slifka. Both of them also worked for LS2group in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, where they work full-time now.

Both Larson and Slifka denied they were coordinating Iowa Energy Forum’s agenda with the Pawlenty campaign in an interview with The Des Moines Register. But evidence suggests otherwise.

Pawlenty’s new ad features people wearing Iowa Energy Forum shirts even though the ad doesn’t even mention energy issues,” explained an August 2011 article published on The Iowa Republican. “The people featured in the Pawlenty ad are Jennifer Cantrick and Maddison Abboud, two summer interns that were hired to work for the Iowa Energy Forum by Larson and Slifka’s firm.”

Further, Iowa Energy Forum also made an appearance at the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll held in Ames, Iowa and did so in style.

“An air-conditioned ‘igloo’ paid for by the Iowa Energy Forum will rise up from the straw poll campus in Ames next month, an attraction meant to woo Iowans’ affection with free treats, kids’ rides and displays about energy technology,” explained an article in The Des Moines Register. “The Republican Party of Iowa has received $100,000 from the organization.”

Drake Students Protest Event

drakeIn response to Jones’ jaunt to campus, Drake University students held a protest outside of his speaking engagement.

“There is no Planet B, this project won’t create jobs, it will raise gas prices in the Midwest, and none of these other issues matter if catastrophic climate change destroys the ability of the Earth to sustain human, plant, and animal life,” Drake students Jade Suganuma and John Noble said in a statement provided to DeSmogBlog.

Activist group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement provided DeSmogBlog with some photos of the protest and The Des Moines Register produced a short video segment on it, too.

Political Hot Potato Begins Anew

As with the 2012 campaign cycle, it appears Keystone XL will be tossed around in 2014 by those candidates on the take of Big Oil as a political hot potato in the aftermath of the Obama Administration’s election-year punt.

The Drake University event featuring Gen. James Jones, then, likely just portends far more to come. After all, campaign season has really only just begun.

 

 

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By Steve Horn, April 22, 2014. Source: DeSmog Blog

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The political carnival that is the prelude to the Iowa caucuses has started over a year and a half early. At the center of it this time around: a game of political hot potato over the northern leg of TransCanada‘s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

American Petroleum Institute (API) deployed one of its paid consultants — former Obama Administration National Security Advisor General James “Jim” Jones — to deliver an Earth Day address in the home state of the presidential caucuses at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

James Jones used his time on the podium to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, which another James — retired NASA climatologist James Hansen — once called a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”

“General James Jones…will discuss the benefits of the pipeline initiative, including more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil, and cheaper energy costs for Americans,” explained an April 15 Drake University press release promoting the event.

Days after the Obama Administration decided to delay making a decision on Keystone XL North until after the 2014 mid-term elections, API went on the offensive, with Jones acting as the group’s surrogate.

API is using one of its numerous front groups that could factor most prominently during election season: the Iowa Energy Forum, chief sponsor and organizer of the event titled, “The Pipeline to National Security Discussion.”

Iowa Energy Forum is part of API‘s broader astroturf campaign called “America’s Energy Forum,” the privacy policy on its website reveals. In tiny print at the bottom of the Iowa Energy Forum website, it also says, “Sponsored by American Petroleum Institute.”

API paid the powerful Des Moines-based public relations (PR) firm LS2group to help them promote the Earth Day event.

An April 17 press release published in Des Moines’ Business Record lists Matt Bierl of LS2group as the contact person. And a glance at the guest list for the Facebook event page for Drake University event shows eight of the 22 attendees work atLS2group.

LS2group and the 2012 Elections

Mark Twain once quipped, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

In that vein, rewind back to 2012 and the activities by Iowa Energy Forum before the Iowa caucuses, with PR efforts overseen by LS2group.

Among other things, former Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty — who ran for president in the 2012 GOP primaries — had two campaign advisers that wore two hats, Charles Larson Jr. and Karen Slifka. Both of them also worked for LS2group in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, where they work full-time now.

Both Larson and Slifka denied they were coordinating Iowa Energy Forum’s agenda with the Pawlenty campaign in an interview with The Des Moines Register. But evidence suggests otherwise.

Pawlenty’s new ad features people wearing Iowa Energy Forum shirts even though the ad doesn’t even mention energy issues,” explained an August 2011 article published on The Iowa Republican. “The people featured in the Pawlenty ad are Jennifer Cantrick and Maddison Abboud, two summer interns that were hired to work for the Iowa Energy Forum by Larson and Slifka’s firm.”

Further, Iowa Energy Forum also made an appearance at the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll held in Ames, Iowa and did so in style.

“An air-conditioned ‘igloo’ paid for by the Iowa Energy Forum will rise up from the straw poll campus in Ames next month, an attraction meant to woo Iowans’ affection with free treats, kids’ rides and displays about energy technology,” explained an article in The Des Moines Register. “The Republican Party of Iowa has received $100,000 from the organization.”

Drake Students Protest Event

drakeIn response to Jones’ jaunt to campus, Drake University students held a protest outside of his speaking engagement.

“There is no Planet B, this project won’t create jobs, it will raise gas prices in the Midwest, and none of these other issues matter if catastrophic climate change destroys the ability of the Earth to sustain human, plant, and animal life,” Drake students Jade Suganuma and John Noble said in a statement provided to DeSmogBlog.

Activist group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement provided DeSmogBlog with some photos of the protest and The Des Moines Register produced a short video segment on it, too.

Political Hot Potato Begins Anew

As with the 2012 campaign cycle, it appears Keystone XL will be tossed around in 2014 by those candidates on the take of Big Oil as a political hot potato in the aftermath of the Obama Administration’s election-year punt.

The Drake University event featuring Gen. James Jones, then, likely just portends far more to come. After all, campaign season has really only just begun.

 

 

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By Darren Goode, April 22, 2014. Source: Politico

Horses, Daryl Hannah, sacred fires and Neil Young — these are some of the things you’re likely to see on the National Mall starting Tuesday as part of the latest protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Keystone Pipeline Protest

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol. Photo: AP Photo

The “Reject and Protect” protest is a weeklong event hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a group of ranchers, farmers and leaders of seven Native American tribes. Protesters said activists also plan to project anti-pipeline messages onto the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday night, hold an interfaith ceremony outside the Georgetown home of Secretary of State John Kerry and stage an unspecified “bold and creative” bit of civil disobedience.

They’re estimating that as many as 5,000 activists will take part in a march past the Capitol on Saturday. The rest of the week is expected to be more intimate.

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol to a reserved area near the Reflecting Pool. The Indigo Girls will perform two songs as a ceremonial teepee is erected “that will have a clear message to the president on it,” promised Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, the state’s leading anti-pipeline group.

The teepee will bear the Indian names that President Barack Obama received from Montana’s Crow Nation and the Lakota tribe, the activists said, and will be painted with symbols created by tribal artists to symbolize land and water protection. Amid serenading by Young, who is expected to attend later this week, the teepee will be presented as a gift to the National Museum of the American Indian, which organizers say has agreed to house it in its collection.

Kleeb said the initial plan was to have participants stay and sleep in the teepees throughout the week, but they weren’t able to get a permit.

The fact they could get permits for such a long time on the National Mall is an accomplishment and at least partially tied to the religious undertones throughout.

They include a small “sacred fire” central to many tribal ceremonies that will be burning throughout the week, and traditional water ceremonies “that will highlight the threat Keystone XL poses to water sources, especially the Ogallala Aquifer, along the pipeline route,” according to a schedule provided by organizers.

“The spirituality and religious aspects of not only the sacred fire and teepees were incorporated into the permit,” Kleeb said.

But she added, “We’ve been very clear with the parks police and D.C. police that this is a protest about Keystone XL.”

The National Park Service permit, dated Friday, notes the event’s purpose as a “religious gathering by indigenous tribes to call attention to environmental impact of keystone XL Pipeline on tribal lands.”

Organizers promise a small civil disobedience event and arrests Thursday, the details of which aren’t yet announced. “It will not be at the White House, I will tell you that,” Kleeb said.

The civil disobedience won’t match the size of the hundreds of young anti-pipeline protesters arrested in early March outside the White House.

Most of this week’s activities will feature about 200 participants, with a larger 5,000 or so expected for a rally Saturday. The permit says the park service anticipates 150 participants.

But the week will showcase some acts not yet featured in the years of D.C. anti-Keystone protests.

An activist group called The Other 98% plans to use “a large-scale, high-intensity projector” Thursday night to “project messages rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline directly onto the Environmental Protection Agency,” organizers promise in their schedule of events. Kleeb wasn’t sure of the legality of projecting messages onto EPA’s headquarters, if that’s what the activists plan. That question also couldn’t be clarified with other organizers Monday.

On Friday, protesters will participate in “a traditional ceremony” outside Kerry’s house, “praying that the secretary listen to his conscience and the science and reject” the pipeline.

The protest comes amid some good news for pipeline critics: the State Department’s announcement last week that it will postpone a final decision on the project until after Nebraska’s Supreme Court settles a legal skirmish about the pipeline’s route inside the state.

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April 21, 2014. Source: Warrior Publications

klamath-protest-1U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin.  With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.”


But the “celebration” was not held without opposition.  Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.

Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.

klamath-protest-2-burn

“To me this is a violation of the code of ethics that the Tribal Council signed at the beginning of their term. They showed no moral principal with this act. I hope they can live with themselves after they have ignored their membership.” – Anonymous Klamath Tribal member

Tribal members also stated that this agreement does not reflect the cultural values that they would like to see included in any agreement that brings their Treaty rights into discussion. Tribal membership did not have any direct involvement in the negotiation process and feel that Klamath tribal elected officials do not retain the sovereign authority to make decisions on behalf of the entire tribal membership.

Those in opposition to the agreement held signs stating *“water is life”, *“no more KBRA lies” and “my council does not speak for me.”

As signatories took their place to sign the agreement, tribal members moved to the front of the crowd to deliver a written testimony and to publically state why they were not in agreement with the proposed piece of legislation.

klamath-protest-3

While the signing took place, a Klamath Tribes descendant burned a copy of the UKBCA to symbolize tribal membership’s disdain for the agreement.  Tribal members were not given adequate time to make an informed decision and less than one third of eligible voting membership cast a ballot to grant signatory authority to Klamath Chairman Don Gentry. Many believe as a result, the outcome of the referendum is not reflective of overall enrolled members’ opinions, and therefore is inconclusive.

A statement released by the Hupa Tribe from Northern California criticizes the agreement stating it “surrenders their tribal rights for water and fishing.” Commissioners from Klamath and Siskiyou County were not in attendance, though they will be impacted by any agreement on the Klamath River.   They say they consider this a “surrender” or a “sell-out.”

 

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April 21, 2014. Source: Warrior Publications

klamath-protest-1U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin.  With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.”


But the “celebration” was not held without opposition.  Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.

Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.

klamath-protest-2-burn

“To me this is a violation of the code of ethics that the Tribal Council signed at the beginning of their term. They showed no moral principal with this act. I hope they can live with themselves after they have ignored their membership.” – Anonymous Klamath Tribal member

Tribal members also stated that this agreement does not reflect the cultural values that they would like to see included in any agreement that brings their Treaty rights into discussion. Tribal membership did not have any direct involvement in the negotiation process and feel that Klamath tribal elected officials do not retain the sovereign authority to make decisions on behalf of the entire tribal membership.

Those in opposition to the agreement held signs stating *“water is life”, *“no more KBRA lies” and “my council does not speak for me.”

As signatories took their place to sign the agreement, tribal members moved to the front of the crowd to deliver a written testimony and to publically state why they were not in agreement with the proposed piece of legislation.

klamath-protest-3

While the signing took place, a Klamath Tribes descendant burned a copy of the UKBCA to symbolize tribal membership’s disdain for the agreement.  Tribal members were not given adequate time to make an informed decision and less than one third of eligible voting membership cast a ballot to grant signatory authority to Klamath Chairman Don Gentry. Many believe as a result, the outcome of the referendum is not reflective of overall enrolled members’ opinions, and therefore is inconclusive.

A statement released by the Hupa Tribe from Northern California criticizes the agreement stating it “surrenders their tribal rights for water and fishing.” Commissioners from Klamath and Siskiyou County were not in attendance, though they will be impacted by any agreement on the Klamath River.   They say they consider this a “surrender” or a “sell-out.”

 

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April 21, 2014. Source: Warrior Publications

klamath-protest-1U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin.  With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.”


But the “celebration” was not held without opposition.  Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.

Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.

klamath-protest-2-burn

“To me this is a violation of the code of ethics that the Tribal Council signed at the beginning of their term. They showed no moral principal with this act. I hope they can live with themselves after they have ignored their membership.” – Anonymous Klamath Tribal member

Tribal members also stated that this agreement does not reflect the cultural values that they would like to see included in any agreement that brings their Treaty rights into discussion. Tribal membership did not have any direct involvement in the negotiation process and feel that Klamath tribal elected officials do not retain the sovereign authority to make decisions on behalf of the entire tribal membership.

Those in opposition to the agreement held signs stating *“water is life”, *“no more KBRA lies” and “my council does not speak for me.”

As signatories took their place to sign the agreement, tribal members moved to the front of the crowd to deliver a written testimony and to publically state why they were not in agreement with the proposed piece of legislation.

klamath-protest-3

While the signing took place, a Klamath Tribes descendant burned a copy of the UKBCA to symbolize tribal membership’s disdain for the agreement.  Tribal members were not given adequate time to make an informed decision and less than one third of eligible voting membership cast a ballot to grant signatory authority to Klamath Chairman Don Gentry. Many believe as a result, the outcome of the referendum is not reflective of overall enrolled members’ opinions, and therefore is inconclusive.

A statement released by the Hupa Tribe from Northern California criticizes the agreement stating it “surrenders their tribal rights for water and fishing.” Commissioners from Klamath and Siskiyou County were not in attendance, though they will be impacted by any agreement on the Klamath River.   They say they consider this a “surrender” or a “sell-out.”

 

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April 21, 2014. Source: Warrior Publications

klamath-protest-1U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin.  With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.”


But the “celebration” was not held without opposition.  Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.

Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.

klamath-protest-2-burn

“To me this is a violation of the code of ethics that the Tribal Council signed at the beginning of their term. They showed no moral principal with this act. I hope they can live with themselves after they have ignored their membership.” – Anonymous Klamath Tribal member

Tribal members also stated that this agreement does not reflect the cultural values that they would like to see included in any agreement that brings their Treaty rights into discussion. Tribal membership did not have any direct involvement in the negotiation process and feel that Klamath tribal elected officials do not retain the sovereign authority to make decisions on behalf of the entire tribal membership.

Those in opposition to the agreement held signs stating *“water is life”, *“no more KBRA lies” and “my council does not speak for me.”

As signatories took their place to sign the agreement, tribal members moved to the front of the crowd to deliver a written testimony and to publically state why they were not in agreement with the proposed piece of legislation.

klamath-protest-3

While the signing took place, a Klamath Tribes descendant burned a copy of the UKBCA to symbolize tribal membership’s disdain for the agreement.  Tribal members were not given adequate time to make an informed decision and less than one third of eligible voting membership cast a ballot to grant signatory authority to Klamath Chairman Don Gentry. Many believe as a result, the outcome of the referendum is not reflective of overall enrolled members’ opinions, and therefore is inconclusive.

A statement released by the Hupa Tribe from Northern California criticizes the agreement stating it “surrenders their tribal rights for water and fishing.” Commissioners from Klamath and Siskiyou County were not in attendance, though they will be impacted by any agreement on the Klamath River.   They say they consider this a “surrender” or a “sell-out.”

 

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Note: Orin Langelle is the co-founder and Board Chair for Global Justice Ecology Project

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Buffalo, NY – Earth Day 2014–Orin Langelle today released a new photo essay Defending Earth/Stopping Injustice – Struggles for Justice: late 1980s to late 90s” on his Langelle Photography website.

38-forest-activist-on-tripodOver the last four decades, Orin Langelle, a photographer who formally trained at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, has uniquely woven together photojournalism and activism, with astonishing results. His newly released body of work covering more than fifteen years beautifully illustrates this accomplishment. The photos in this essay document direct action campaigns for both social, ecological and economic justice issues, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ struggles to protect their traditional lands. The fact that he is not just a photographer but also an activist has enabled him to gain access to these struggles in ways few others have.

Langelle explained the reason for this. “Because I approach my role as not merely documenting the struggle for social and ecological justice, but being an active part of it, I have been able to garner the trust of many of the people I have documented, allowing me access that would not have been possible otherwise. In this way, I have been able to expose the truth that is so often hidden by the powers of injustice.”

But, he points out, his photos are not meant just to expose injustice, they are meant to change it. “The photos in this essay document history. They counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer—especially with regard to the history of social and ecological struggles. But this photo essay is also a call out to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history.  For there has been no time when such a call has been so badly needed,” he said.

Aziz Choudry, Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University in Montreal explains why the combination of activism and photojournalism is so important,

“Langelle’s unique work documents hidden and forgotten histories of the resistance against the war on the planet and the majority of its population. His images provide glimpses of possibilities– when ordinary people act collectively to fight imperialism, war and colonialism, and confront ecological devastation, to build a different world.

“Combining the passionate eye of a seasoned photojournalist, an organizer’s sensibility, and an unwavering anti-capitalist perspective, Langelle’s inspiring photography simultaneously zooms in on the soul of the struggle, and zooms out to take us beyond the image in front of us, willing us to address the root causes at the heart of the matter, rather than offer band-aid solutions,” Choudry added.

On the question of photojournalism and objectivity, Langelle says, “I take my responsibility as a concerned photographer very seriously.  Great journalists like John Reed and photojournalists like Robert Capa told the truth, and did not worry about being ‘objective.’  The myth of objective journalism, where the truth must be counterbalanced by the untruth has no place in a just society, especially when corporate propaganda already dominates so much of the media.”

Many of the campaigns documented in this photo essay had successful outcomes, including the campaign that stopped the killing of dolphins by industrial tuna fishing, the succession of direct actions that helped rescind the death warrant for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a moratorium won against the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides on Vermont forests, the permanent cessation of all logging on Illinois state forests, and the campaign that stopped construction of hydroelectric dams on Cree territory near James Bay, Quebec.

The photos were taken all around the world, from the US, to Tasmania, Australia, to England, as well as on Indigenous Peoples’ territories in northern Quebec, Chiapas, Mexico and the remote reaches of Nicaragua.

Author and poet Diana Anholt explained what sets Langelle’s photos apart. “Few photographers possess the ability to convey the essence of a place with the authority and finesse of Orin Langelle. When I set out in search of an image for the cover of  ‘Lives of Straw,’ my collection of poetry which deals with the struggle for survival in Mexico—survival in every sense of that word— physical, spiritual and economic— it was all I could do to locate an image which didn’t include a piñata, a burro, mariachis…  By sheer accident I stumbled on the one that summed up the entire Mexican experience I was attempting to convey: A man bearing a burden. The graffiti on the wall behind him bore a political message: Libertad a Presuntos Zapatistas. (Liberty to Suspected Zapatistas)

“This was the Mexico I know and write about and Orin Langelle had captured more than an evocative image of the country.  He had captured its soul.”

Most recently Langelle became a part of the Critical Information Collective as a means to not only distribute his own historical photographs more widely, but to collect images from photographers covering struggles all over the world. Regarding his joining the collective, CIC Co-Director Ronnie Hall said, “Critical Information Collective is delighted to be joined by Orin Langelle, seasoned photojournalist and activist. He brings a wealth of communications and campaign skills and experience to the collective, and will help to launch and develop our new environmental and social justice image library.”

Orin Langelle may not be a combat photographer, but since 1972 he has risked his safety and well being to cover the war on communities and the land, sometimes in remote territories deep in the jungle or in communities imminently threatened by military or paramilitary invasion. There are few people who have been as dedicated to the movement for change or for as long as Orin Langelle. The photos in his new essay provide a powerful window into that lifetime of work.

Langelle’s photographs have appeared in numerous print and online publications including La Jornada, USA Today, Z Magazine, Race Poverty the Environment, New Internationalist, Time Magazine, The Progressive, Christian Science Monitor, Earth Island Journal, Seedling, Radical Anthropology, Earth First! Journal, Climate Connections, World War 4 Report, Toward Freedom, UpsideDown World, plus several books. In 2010 his photographs illustrated the book covers of  Learning from the Ground Up, Indigenous Knowledge And Learning In Asia/Pacific And Africa, Towards Climate Justice and most recently, Lives of Straw.

Over the last decade Langelle’s photography has been exhibited in New York City, Boston, Washington, DC, Madison (WI), San Francisco, Santa Cruz (CA), Eugene (OR), Hinesburg, Burlington and Plainfield (VT), Buffalo, NY, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Copenhagen, Denmark, Warsaw, Poland and Bali, Indonesia.

His work has also been displayed in the Ayoreo indigenous community, Campo Loro, in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay, and the indigenous community of Amador Hernandez, in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico.

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By Claudia Ciobanu, April 20, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

 Environmentalists protesting against coal outside the Polish Ministry of Economy. Photo: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

Environmentalists protesting against coal outside the Polish Ministry of Economy. Photo: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

A European ‘energy union’ plan proposed by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as an EU response to the crisis in Ukraine could be a Trojan horse for fossil fuels.

On account of Poland’s proximity and deep historical ties to Ukraine, the country’s centre-right government led by Donald Tusk has assumed a prominent position in attempts to ease the crisis in Ukraine. Notoriously, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski helped negotiate a February deal between then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders of Euromaidan, the name given to the pro-EU protests in Kiev.

“Not only is Civic Platform back in the lead, but also more Poles are ready to vote and vote for the government,” Lukasz Lipinski, an analyst at think tank Polityka Insight in Warsaw, told IPS. “All opposition parties now want to move the debate [ahead of the May 25 European elections] to domestic issues because on those it is much easier to criticise the Civic Platform after six years of government.”

Yet Tusk’s executive insists on Ukraine because of the benefits the topic can still bring. In the last weekend of March, the prime minister announced a Polish proposal for a European energy union that would make Europe resilient to crises like the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

“The experience of the last few weeks [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] shows that Europe must strive towards solidarity when it comes to energy,” said Tusk speaking in Tychy, a city in the southern coal-producing Silesia region.

He went on to outline the six dimensions of the ‘energy union’: the creation of an effective gas solidarity mechanism in case of supply crises; financing from the European Union’s funds for infrastructure ensuring energy solidarity in particular in the east of the EU; collective energy purchasing; rehabilitation of coal as a source of energy; shale gas extraction; and radical diversification of gas supply to the EU.

“It is very disappointing to note the total absence of energy efficiency measures from this vision, even though it featured centrally in the March European Council on Crimea conclusions,” Julia Michalak, EU climate policy officer at the NGO coalition Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, told IPS. “If the Crimea crisis did not make the government realise that energy efficiency is the easiest and cheapest way to achieve real energy security for Europe, I’m not sure what would.”

While some of the measures proposed by Tusk would indeed lead (assuming they could be implemented) to increased European solidarity in the energy sector, asking for a prominent role for coal and shale gas is mostly a Polish game.

At the moment, the EU has no common binding EU policies on shale gas – various EU countries such as France and Bulgaria even have moratoriums on exploration. And the EU’s long-term climate objectives, primarily the 2050 decarbonisation goal, make a true coal resurrection unlikely.

According to Michalak, the coal and shale gas elements of the Polish six-point plan must be understood, on the one hand, as aimed at domestic audiences who want to see their government play hard ball and, on the other, as a negotiating tool meant to draw some specific gains out of Brussels.

The Tusk government has made herculean efforts to persuade foreign companies interested in shale gas to stick to the country, including firing environment minister Marcin Korolec during the climate change talks COP19 last year for reportedly not being shale gas friendly enough. Nevertheless, in April this year, France’s TOTAL became the fourth company to announce dropping exploratory works in Poland, as shale gas here is proving more scarce than initially thought.

The Polish national consensus on coal too is starting to show minor cracks.

Nearly 90 percent of electricity used in Poland comes from coal, and the government’s long-term energy strategy envisages a core role for coal up to 2060. Tusk’s executive has been unsuccessfully trying to torpedo the EU’s adoption of decarbonisation targets, so at the moment it is unclear how authorities will reconcile EU commitments with a coal-dependent economy.

Last year, the chief executive of state energy company PGE resigned, arguing that an expansion by 1,800 MW of Opole coal plant in south-western Poland is unprofitable. The government chose to go ahead with expansion plans anyway.

Despite the generalised perception in Poland that coal is a cheap form of energy, this month saw leading newspapers (including the conservative Rzeczpospolita) discussing externalities of coal following a study by think tank Warsaw Institute for Economic Studies showing that, between 1990-2012, Polish subsidies for coal amounted to 170 bn PLN (40 billion euros).

In 2013, a series of international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, announced significant restrictions to their financing of coal – lending to Polish coal, for instance, would be impossible for these institutions under the new guidelines.

Poland also has to implement the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive which calls for stricter pollution standards at energy producing units as of 2016 or closure of plants which do not comply. And it is potentially in this space that some of the benefits of Poland’s tough game on coal in Brussels could be seen.

In February, the European Commission allowed Poland to exempt 73 of its energy producing units from the requirements of the Directive, including two outdated units at Belchatow coal plant in central Poland, Europe’s largest thermal coal plant (5,298 MW) and biggest CO2 emitter.

Additionally, it has emerged this month that Poland intends to use regional funds meant for tackling urban air pollution from the next EU budget (2014-2020) to finance modernisation measures at the country’s biggest coal and gas producers, both private and state-owned

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog