#Cascadia Forest Defenders: URGENT SUPPORT NEEDED: 16 Arrested Last Night Resisting Megaloads - #NOKXL
Thank you for support, we will keep updates coming.
Thank you for support, we will keep updates coming.
Rising Tide North America sent out this report today about the Shut Down the Corporations call to action: “#F29 is off to bang this morning with actions across the country. big props to our Rising Tide & Occupy comrades in Portland for initiating this great day of action.
The target of the day is the American Legislative Exchange Commission, or ALEC, & their member corporations. ALEC is the shadowy front group that has been pushing a right wing agenda on everything from labor to climate change.
Here’s some updates:
-OccupyLA is blockading a massive Wal-Mart Distro Center
-Occupy Wall Street had a teach-in with Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi & is seeing marches to Pfizer, blockades at Bank of America & lots of heavy handed police repression (shocking, we know)
-OccupyDC is blockading Monsanto’s offices
-Actions are stepping off in Arizona, Salt Lake City, Connecticut, Hattiesburg, MS, Fargo, ND, Lakeland, FL, Tampa, FL, and Winston-Salem, NC.
-Today at 1130, OccupyPortland has organized a mass march to visit all ALEC offices in the city.
…solidarity, RTNA News”
And check out this video of a blockade of G4S security company today in Tucson, AZ:
The White House is withholding documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by an environmental group that suspects the Obama administration of working with Monsanto-linked lobbyists to defend the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges across the country.
The information currently being withheld includes a portion of a January 2011 email that a top White House policy analyst received from a lobbyist with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which represents GE seed companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta.
According to legal filings, the White House withheld the portion of the email because it accidentally contained information on BIO’s lobbying strategy that, if released, would cause competitive harm to the group and the companies it represents.
“We suspect the reason an industry lobbyist so cavalierly shared strategy is that the White House is part of that strategy,” stated Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) staff counsel Kathryn Douglass, who is arguing the email should be a public record. “The White House’s legal posture is as credible as claiming Coca Cola’s secret formula was ‘inadvertently’ left in a duffel bag at the bus station.”
Last July, PEER released a number of internal emails revealing that Peter Schmeissner, a senior science policy analyst and member of the White House’s biotechnology working group, had corresponded with the BIO lobbyist about a legal challenge filed by PEER and its allies.
The PEER lawsuit had successfully halted GE crop plantings in wildlife refuges in northeastern states, and the group continues to challenge planned plantings in other regions across the country.
In the emails obtained by PEER, longtime biotech lobbyist Adrianne Massey asks Schmeissner if the “interagency working group” is addressing the PEER’s legal challenges. Massey also forwarded environmental assessments of proposed GE crop plots at wildlife refuges in other regions of the country. These assessments could protect future GE crop plots in refuges from legal challenges.
The emails prompted PEER to request further information under FOIA on the interagency group, known as the White House Agricultural Biotechnology Working Group. According to PEER, the quiet and informal group includes top-level officials from almost every agency under the Obama administration involved in agriculture and trade, including the State Department, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency.
PEER is currently suing the White House for information withheld from the FOIA request, including the Massey email and the working group’s schedule, agenda items and work related to GE crops.
An affidavit filed by a BIO attorney claims the portion of the Massey email withheld from PEER contains industry trade secrets that were “mistakenly” forwarded to Schmeissner and, if released, would cause competitive harm to companies BIO represents:
“BIO operates in an advocacy environment in which there are many organizations that oppose the use of biotechnology, particularly in the agricultural arena, and that seek to persuade federal, state and local agencies to restrict the technology’s use. If this information were released, competitors could imitate or seek to counteract BIO’s strategy and further their own contrary agendas at the expense of BIO and its members.”
In its own legal filings, the White House claims it rightfully withheld information under existing disclosure law.
PEER Director Jeff Ruch told Truthout that he suspects the Massey email details a effort by BIO lobbyists to have the White House ensure that environmental assessments of GE crops on wildlife refuges are strong enough to protect the projects from further legal challenges. Challenging these legally mandated assessments is a tactic often used by environmental groups like PEER to tie up controversial projects in court.
GE Crops in Refuges
Deborah Rocque, a US Fish and Wildlife official overseeing the wildlife refuge system, told Truthout in 2011 that the agency has allowed farming on refuges for years as part of habitat restoration efforts. Rocque said planting herbicide-resistant GE crops would allow conservationists to establish ground cover while killing unwanted weeds with herbicides.
PEER, however, claims the Obama administration is supporting the GE plots in wildlife refuges as part of an effort to boost exports. Several US trade partners, especially in Europe, are skeptical about GE crops, and some countries have banned certain GE seeds and exports. PEER contends that the White House working group’s involvement indicates high-level interest in showing trade partners that the US government considers GE crops to be so environmentally safe that Americans plant them in wildlife reserves.
The US has also has put heavy diplomatic pressure in recent years on countries such as France and Spain to accept exports and GE crop technology, as revealed by WikiLeaks and several Truthout reports.
PEER filed its first legal challenge after being contacted by Fish and Wildlife biologists who opposed growing GE crops in wildlife refuges. PEER later obtained an internal email among Fish and Wildlife officials that the group believes is evidence that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has put pressure on Fish and Wildlife to support GE agriculture.
In the January 14 email, Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Hayes told top Interior Department and Fish and Wildlife officials that Vilsack is “somewhat exercised that the Administration is not being consistent in supporting genetically engineered crops.”
Rocque told Truthout that she was unaware of any internal pressure from higher-ups in the Obama administration.
The very future of life on Earth is in danger. Human activities—from hunting to habitat destruction—have already driven countless species to extinction, and the process is only accelerating. The destruction of the Earth and its sustainable indigenous cultures has led to tragedy in every corner of the globe.
Meanwhile, scientists have confirmed what indigenous cultures have taught for thousands of years: all forms of life are vitally connected. Removing even a single strand from the web of life produces a widening ripple of catastrophe. On a more spiritual level, Earth First!ers understand that we can never be the healthy humans that we were meant to be in a world without wilderness, clean air and the howling of wolves under the moon.
It is not enough to ask politicians and corporations to destroy less wilderness. We need to preserve it all, to recreate lost habitats and reintroduce extirpated predators. We need to stop and reverse the poisoning of our air, water and soil, as well as the modification of life’s genetic code. It is not enough to oppose the construction of new dams and developments. It is time to free our shackled rivers and restore the land.
Earth First! formed in 1979, in response to an increasingly corporate, compromising and ineffective environmental community. It is not an organization, but a movement. There are no “members” of EF!, only Earth First!ers. We believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox, from grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching. When the law won’t fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!’s direct-action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives.
Guided by a philosophy of deep ecology, Earth First! does not accept a human-centered worldview of “nature for people’s sake.” Instead, we believe that life exists for its own sake, that industrial civilization and its philosophy are anti-Earth, anti-woman and anti-liberty. Our structure is non-hierarchical, and we reject highly paid “professional staff” and formal leadership.
To put it simply, the Earth must come first.
In a 25-page dissent, Judge Paez of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals explained why the Forest Service’s controversial old growth logging project in the Five Buttes area of the Deschutes National Forest should be stopped. The Forest Service proposes to authorize commercial logging in an old growth reserve within the Five Buttes.
In his dissent, Paez quotes one of our nation’s greatest conservationists, John Muir: “It took more than three thousand years to make some of these trees in the Western woods, — trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty …. God has cared for these trees … but he cannot save them from fools, — only Uncle Sam can do that.” Until recently, the 9th Circuit has been Uncle Sam’s voice of reason, protecting our old growth forests from arbitrary decisions by the Forest Service.
I am a conservation advocate for the group League of Wilderness Defenders – Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project. We challenged the proposal to log the Five Buttes old growth and won an injunction from Judge Hogan stopping the project. But two judges on a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed Judge Hogan, authorizing the project to go forward.
For citizens who value our National Forests, the law and the courts have been one of our strongest checks against government abuse. With the passage of the Northwest Forest Plan, the government set aside large forest reserves in western Oregon, Washington and California. Generally, the courts have sent a clear signal to the Forest Service regarding the management of these lands: disclose the best available science, consider alternatives to logging, limit commercial activity in old growth reserves, and disclose and avoid impacts on roadless areas.
But recently the court has split, and its message to the Forest Service regarding our National Forests is far from clear. The courts are in conflict over the scientific standards used by the Forest Service to justify its management actions in old growth forests. Does the agency have to act in accord with scientific reason and pursue what is in the best interest of the people and our forest ecosystems? Or is mere lip service to the scientific requirements of the law sufficient justification to log?
In its decision on Five Buttes project, the court decided that the agency could act on outdated and incomplete data. In his strongly worded dissent, Judge Paez explained that while the court usually defers to an agency’s scientific methodology, the Forest Service’s decision to log the Five Buttes was plainly, “nonsensical.”
In his earlier decision, Judge Hogan found that the agency’s logging plan would degrade the forest for decades and that the agency did not support its claim that logging would reduce fire risk with scientific evidence. And yet Paez’s collegues, Judges Tallman and Smith allowed the Forest Service to proceed.
The agency will aggressively log old growth forest and sensitive Spotted owl habitat in the name of forest preservation. The Forest Service claims that logging will save the owl habitat from wildfire, but admits that these logged forests will no longer provide suitable Spotted owl habitat.
Wildfire is a natural part of these ecosystems. Fire does not destroy these forests, and for Spotted owls, studies show that fire is beneficial, that burned forests make good hunting habitat for the owls. While the risk of a catastrophic fire in the Five Buttes is currently unknown, the effect of logging, is certain. The Forest Services logging plan will significantly degrade the Five Buttes old growth ecosystem.
Local citizens and volunteers with the Sierra Club, Cascadia Wildlands Project and the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project spent years field checking the sale. These groups worked with local citizens to approach the Forest Service and ask them to modify the controversial plan, but the agency moved ahead without compromise.
The Five Buttes is a majestic old growth forest near Davis Lake and Wickiup Reservoir, an area visited and enjoyed by many Oregonians. The logging project targets some of the most diverse old growth forests I have personally witnessed in the Pacific Northwest. This area is home to old growth Shasta Red fir, old growth Sugar pine, and old growth White pine as well as Douglas fir and Grand fir. Logging this forest will destroy the beauty of this area for our lifetimes and for those of our children and grandchildren.
Without the scientific justification required by law, the Forest Service will cut the Five Buttes old growth in an area where the Spotted owl has been in steady decline. The destruction of significant nesting and roosting habitat is likely to drive the species further towards extinction.
The protection of our old growth and endangered species ensures the viability of many other species with similar habitat needs. Ultimately, by protecting these forest ecosystems we are protecting ourselves, since forest reduction hastens climate change and makes its effects more catastrophic for biodiversity, community stability, and local economies. Mother nature does not suffer fools lightly.
Karen Coulter, Director
Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project
League of Wilderness Defenders v. Allen, 615 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir. 2010)