Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WE ENDORSE the Tar Sands Blockade's Week of Action! March 16-23

We at Occupy the Pipeline are proud to endorse the Tar Sands Blockade's week of action. This week of action will take place from March 16 to 23, and will signal to all who support the Keystone XL Pipeline that we will not stop until they do. Tar Sands Blockade is encouraging folks to target local Trans Canada offices (locations available on the TSB website) and to draw attention to other targets who are providing support to this project.

We support the week of action because we recognize that the development of the Tar Sands and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline represent an unacceptable hazard to our health, our communities and our ecosystem. We stand in solidarity against the sociopathic business model of the fossil fuel industry in all of its incarnations, whether fracked gas, tar sands oil or coal from beneath the mountains. We will be planning our own actions and encourage you to keep checking in if you would like to join us!

If your group would like to endorse the week of action as well, click here:

Monday, February 25, 2013

from EE News


Death on the gas field illustrates high risks of the rush to drill

The ground was like a sponge and the men's legs sank, in places up to their calves. A rumble of diesel engines filled the air. Then, there was a cry: "Back! Go back!"
Charles "C.J." Bevins, a 23-year-old roughneck, was pinned against a trailer by a forklift. The vehicle was partially sunk into the ground. C.J.'s legs dangled like a rag doll's.
The driver hurriedly backed up, and C.J. crumpled to the ground. As the men milled around, unsure how to help, C.J.'s face went white, his lips blue. He looked up at his friend and colleague Steve Riffle, whom he called "Dad."
"Dad, I ain't going to die, am I? I ain't going to die, am I?"
"No, you will be back to work tomorrow," Riffle said. "You will be all right."
C.J. died hours later at a hospital near the rig site in Smyrna, N.Y.
Oil and gas sites are among the most dangerous workplaces in the country, according to federal labor statistics and an ongoing EnergyWire investigation. Multiple pressures weigh on the people who work in this high-risk, high-reward industry, including the need to produce on schedule and keep costs down. The company men and their workers have a "get 'er done" attitude that sometimes leads to safety compromises that go unnoticed and undocumented.
Sometimes events tilt toward tragedy.
It has been more than a year since the accident. C.J.'s sister, Charlotte Bevins, 26, keeps her brother's blue safety helmet in the back seat of her car.
Since C.J.'s death on May 1, 2011, Charlotte has been driving a few of her brother's old co-workers to their rig jobs. Along the way, she quizzes them about the company's safety culture to piece together why, exactly, her brother died.
When a roughneck dies, the local newspaper runs a short obituary. The company pays for a funeral service. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts an investigation and fines the company. In C.J.'s case, the fine was $4,900. Under the state's workers' compensation program, family members get a percentage of the victim's monthly salary.
The process is designed for an efficient cleanup. The company pays its share, and it moves on to drilling the next well.
Moving on is a lot harder for families left behind. No one tells them exactly why their brother, father or husband died. They get a letter from OSHA briefly laying out its findings, but they don't get a copy of the investigation report without filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act. To prove willful negligence in court, a high legal bar in most states, survivors assemble cases based on patchy eyewitness accounts in a notoriously opaque industry. Claims against leaseholders or site operators often drag on, before leading to undisclosed settlements that shed little light on what went wrong and how to prevent other tragedies.
"All this time has gone by, and I still don't know really what happened," Charlotte said in the fall at her home in Buckhannon, W.Va. "You know, I lost my brother. I was on my way to see him, and he was gone. I didn't get to say goodbye."
C.J. was 19 and supporting his girlfriend and her 1-year-old daughter, Reagan Page, when he got his first job on a drilling rig. The Bevinses were homesteaders; they had moved to West Virginia in 1998, bought 42 acres in Upshur County and home-schooled the kids. Without a high school diploma, C.J.'s skills were limited. The highest-paying jobs were in the oil fields or the mines.
On a drizzly autumn day, Charlotte drove along Buckhannon's narrow streets. She pulled up at a small house with white siding and a porch littered with a girl's pink playthings. Justin Shelley, 27, gestured her in.
Shelley had the portly shape of a guy who has been confined to a wheelchair for a year. He was relearning to walk after he and two co-workers smashed their pickup truck into a tree at 60 miles an hour. They had been drinking and driving after a long workday on the rig. One-third of all deaths in the industry are due to motor vehicle accidents.
"I mean, it's a dangerous job, working on a rig is dangerous, it is a risk you take," Shelley said. Young men without a college education view the industry as a way out of a life flipping burgers at McDonald's. The jobs can pay up to $100,000 a year, depending on the position on a rig. The average drilling job involves working 12-hour shifts at 14-day stretches before getting some days off. It pays around $20 an hour and a $200 per diem, plus perks like a late-model Dodge Ram pickup.
Shelley's 4-year-old daughter, Riley, just back from school, clambered onto his lap. He hugged her and said, "This is why I do it.
"I'm not going to let my kids grow up like I did."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kansas City Gas Explosion

From the Village Voice:

As Gas Pipe Explosions Go, Yesterday's Giant Kansas City Blast is Small-Time

Categories: Explosions
This is what a fire from a two-inch gas distribution line can do.
In Kansas City yesterday evening, natural gas from a damaged pipe caught fire, producing an incredibly devastating explosion in the middle of a densely developed urban plaza.
The blast leveled a restaurant, producing a roaring jet of flame several stories high that took 100 firefighters about two hours to finally extinguish. The Kansas City Star's account gives some sense of the scale of the explosion:

"The force knocked out windows at least a half-block away and was felt nearly a mile away. Flames soared two-thirds higher than the building into the evening sky. Bricks and broken glass were strewn around, and nearby residents and office workers gathered outside and watched as the injured were carried away. The odor of gas remained in the air, causing apprehension about a possible additional explosion."
This afternoon it was announced that firefighters have located a body in the rubble of the restaurant.
We've been paying attention to natural gas explosions ever since last month, when we wrote about the Spectra Pipeline being built now to carry natural gas into the West Village. Residents of the neighborhood are worried about what would happen if the pipeline were to explode, as gas pipelines frequently do. So when the Kansas City explosion happened last night, we were curious how that pipe compared to the one being built into Manhattan.
As a point of reference, the Spectra pipeline running through Staten Island and Jersey City, under the Hudson River and down Gansevoort Street, is a 30-inch-diameter transmission line that will operate at pressures of 350 pounds per square inch -- more than that of a fire hose.
So what kind of pipe produced the explosion in Kansas City last night?
"As far as we've been told at this point, it was a two-inch plastic distribution pipeline," Kevin Gunn, the chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission told the Voice today. "That means it was operating at about 20 to 50 pounds of pressure."
In other words, the spectacular conflagration that lit up Kansas City last night was caused by a gas pipe about as small as they come, a line 225 times smaller than the Spectra transmission line and running at a pressure seven to seventeen times lower. You could see why the New York pipeline's neighbors might be nervous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

from waging non-violence

Pushing back to move climate forward

Van Jones addresses the crowd at the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C. (Flickr/Shadia Fayne Wood, Project Survival Media)
Van Jones addresses the crowd at the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C. (Flickr/Shadia Fayne Wood, Project Survival Media)
You have to exercise your core muscles. That’s what any physical trainer worth his or her salt will tell you. The same goes for your “moral core.” And Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club, assures us our president has a strong one.
What kind of morals Obama has, well that’s another matter, but he likes to exercise them everyday, whether it’s giving his kill list a good once over or playing golf with an oil and gas tycoon while climate protesters are ringing his doorbell. You know, the kind of not-so-hopie-changie stuff that would have made liberals livid if George W. Bush had pulled it.
Climate ForwardThe logo for Sunday’s innocuously titled Forward on Climate rally looked a lot like the emblem of the president’s 2008 campaign, back when he promised that we’d remember his election as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Showing just how far we’ve come since then, the swooping road leading to a rising sun — tacked to so many American lawns in ’08 — was replaced on Sunday by a swirl representing a hurricane.
Billionaire Tom Steyer spoke for the 1 percent at the rally. “The Keystone XL pipeline is a bad investment,” he told the mostly broke and debt straddled young people on hand, even as the hedge fund he manages has oil, coal, nuclear and fracking holdings.
Previously, Steyer pontificated to the Washington Post: “I feel like the guy in the movie who goes into the diner and says, ‘There are zombies in the woods and they’re eating our children.” As often happens in horror movies, those who you think are your friends turn out to be brain eaters.
Organizers of Sunday’s rally might do better to encourage their bases to use their brains, but it appears they’ve chosen to dumb down their politics in the interest of casting as wide a net as possible.
And then there was Van Jones. “I have had the honor of serving this president,” said the former White House green jobs adviser whom Obama fired at the first wiff of a right wing smear campaign months into his first term. Jones continued, “What I want to tell the next generation is this: Don’t be a chumps!” The phrase caught on. Chants of “Don’t be chumps” rippled through the crowd.
While a petition in the run up to the February 17 demonstration from the Public Interest Research Group urged signatories to let the president know they “have his back when it comes to tackling global warming,” former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein asks, “Why should we have Obama’s back when he keeps stabbing us in ours?”
The crowd on Sunday was truly an awesome sight. This is in large part because tote bag environmental groups (you send them money, they send you a tote) like the Sierra Club and the PIRGs encouraged their membership to attended the Forward on Climate rally — more evidence that simply lobbying the White House has gotten them no where. An estimated 35,000 to 50,000 people turned up. Meanwhile a recent poll found an estimated 64 percent of Americans believe it’s time we take action on climate change. Rather than guarding the president’s back, why not use these numbers to push back instead?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



What many of us have been hoping would happen, happened today. Activists, communities and water aficionados across the state are breathing a collective sigh of relief as they hear the news that the State Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Nirav R. Shah,  sent a letter to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens this afternoon stating, in part:

“As we have been reviewing the scope of these studies, I have determined — and prudence dictates — that the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues. My team and I will be in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York review. I have also extended the term of the DOH outside expert researchers to continue to assist my review. I anticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you within a few weeks, along with my recommendations.”
In other words, the review probably won’t be completed this month. This is great news, because without the DOH’s review the SGEIS can’t go forward, and if the SGEIS can’t go forward, the whole process resets and opens up for another public comment period. Long story short? This buys us a whole bunch of time. Martens takes pains to mention that the permits can still go forward ten days after the review is complete, assuming the review affirms the SGEIS’ position. One could almost hear Martens’ frustration in his press release, which he ended with the line: “In either event, the science, not emotion, will determine the outcome.”
(If only it were that simple - Martens himself probably has some significant emotions about this issue, as he is not only the Commissioner of the DEC but also sits on the board of the Hudson River Park Trust. Yes, that Hudson River Park Trust:

So yes, let’s celebrate. But let’s not be foolhardy. This is a delay, which is worlds away from a ban. We at Occupy the Pipeline are of the mind that this delay affords us more time to do the work needed to spread public awareness that there is no safe Fracking. We will not be satisfied until there is a complete Ban on Fracking in New York State.
We vehemently disagree with the position that prominent Environmental Orgs such as Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) have taken: “NRDC supports establishing a fully effective system of safeguards for hydraulic fracturing to protect our health and land and is committed to working with the federal government, states, communities and industry to put these safeguards into place right away.”
When the lawmakers themselves have a direct financial stake in the profits of industry, there can be no “effective system of safeguards” On Monday, seven environmental groups held a press conference in Albany calling for the Albany County District Attorney to conduct a General investigation of the Cuomo Administration. This was prompted by an independant investigation which revealed that Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff, Lawrence Schwartz has extensive stock holdings in major Gas & Oil industry giants such as Occidental Petroleum and Exxon Mobile. This reeks of insider trading and is definitely a major conflict of interest.
WE ARE the system of safeguards, the people, the only safeguard that has ever been effective or ever will be.There is no compromise when the health and safety of our watersheds, communities and  farms are concerned. Today’s news affirmed what we can accomplish when we work together. We hope you’ll join us in this work!
written by: Lopi LaRoe & Patrick Robbins

Thursday, February 7, 2013

As seen in this month's Chelsea Life magazine:

Occupy the DEC

Yesterday, Wednesday February 6th, we staged a protest at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regional offices in Long Island City. We had about 40 or so protesters there. This is one of many protests happening in NYC and across the state in anticipation of the impending deadlines for the DEC to either put out the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) by February 13th, in order the then release fracking regulations on the 27th, or to miss those deadlines and have to restart the regulatory clock and take in more public comments. If Cuomo/DEC misses the deadline, it buys the anti-fracking movement many months. The more time we have, the more we convince people that fracking is a terrible, terrible idea (duh!) .
At Yesterdays rally, we chanted, showed our banners & were accompanied by our friends from the Rude Mechanical Orchestra who helped us make a joyful noise and a presence they couldn't ignore directly outside of the windows of the DEC. In addition to the usual rabble rousing, we had brought with us our signed copies of the Pledge of Resistance. All who were present yesterday had already joined the 6,500 other New Yorkers in committing to use civil disobedience--if necessary--to stop fracking and related activities from ruining our state. We have signed Don't Frack New York's Pledge of Resistance (see So today we decided to print and sign copies of the Pledge, enter the DEC's offices, and deliver these documents, preferably to Venetia Lannon, the Regional Director for NYC. 

security guard imitating a zombie as we attempted to access our public officials
The DEC wouldn't accommodate us. They barred us at the door, claiming at different times that the building was private property, then that we needed an appointment, then that we were causing a draft by keeping the door open. That's our transparent, democratic government agency at work. Still, we made our point--we delivered the seven-day ultimatum to not proceed with the deeply flawed SGEIS. The next step is to conduct similar actions at every DEC office across the state, to galvanize our forces and protect our communities.

this is what democracy doesn't look like.
after they shut the door in our face, we decided to read the pledge to them loud and clear

DEC. You've been served. We will be back next week. #BanFrackingNow!

(photos courtesy of @Lmnopie)

Monday, February 4, 2013

If you think Obama's "all of the above" energy policy needs desperately to be amended, and that our water, air, and soil are more important than quarterly profits, you are not alone:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Delaware River Basin Commission Reversal

Thanks to the work of activists from the Delaware River Keeper  backed by over 50 environmental groups, the Delaware River Basin Commission's executive director Carol R. Collier decided that two pipelines; interstate lines built by Columbia Gas Transmission and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co would trigger review by the DRBC before issuing permits. Thanks to Maya Van Rossum, who alerted the commission to the fact that the pipelines run through a public recreation area - the Delaware State Forest which is an exception to the loopholes that previously barred their review. These pipelines are already built.

Take heart, the fight is not over for the Spectra Pipeline or the Rockaway Lateral. 

Read more here: 

DRBC reverses itself, will review two gas-pipeline projects

Friday, February 1, 2013

The 11th Hour is Here

ariel view of drill pads every mile. do you want New York to look like this??



February 4th, 2013- Albany, NY It’s the 11th hour in the fight against fracking. We are faced with a February 13 do or die deadline when the revised Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) will or will not appear in the DEC’s Environmental Notice Bulletin. The SGEIS legally has to age 10 days in order to issue the final Findings Statement and final regulations (the ones we recently commented on) by Feb 27. We need to voice to the Governor that the power of our movement is growing and that allowing fracking in New York would be the fatal mistake of his political career. The health review currently underway has been done in secret with no public comment or transparency. The Governor needs to open up the review and allow for public participation. By opening up public participation of the health review, he must halt finalization of the SGEIS and subsequently let the proposed regulations expire - this is what needs to happen to allow science, facts, and public health to drive this decision. This is why we need you back in Albany on February 4th for the NYS Legislature’s Budget Hearing on Environmental Conservation, where the legislature will be able to question DEC Commissioner Martens on their secretive, dysfunctional and undemocratic process. We need to pack the room and be there when DEC Commissioner Martens testifies, starting at 9am and for the entirety of his remarks. Following the Commissioners testimony we will gather in the Million Dollar Staircase for a rally and a press conference to unite as a united front and demand that this fatally flawed process not move forward. We’re asking everyone to wear blue and bring a jar of the clean water from your tap to hold up as well as signs. Our message to Governor Cuomo is this – we are organized and we will not let up or give up. 


What: Rally to Stop Fracking Approval by Governor Cuomo NO SGEIS- NO REGS- NO FRACKING NY & Legislative Budget Hearing – Testimony by DEC Commissioner Joe Martens (Pack the Hearing Room!) 

When: Monday, February 4th Environmental Conservation Hearing- Pack the room during DEC Commissioner Martens Testimony at 9AM Rally in the Million Dollar Staircase at 12PM 

Where: The hearing is in the Legislative Office Building- Hearing Room B Albany, NY (9am) The Rally will be in the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capitol Building, Albany, NY (12pm) 

RSVP and Share the Facebook Event HERE