Aug 25

BREAKING: Protestors Lock Themselves to Pipeline Truck in Opposition of Enbridge Line 6B Pipeline Expansion

Update — Tuesday, 4pm – after spending probably about 6 hours waiting outside the jail and getting little to no reliable information throughout the day from the jail as to Duncan’s processing status, Duncan was finally freed a little after 3pm! Throughout the day jail house employees and police officers repeatedly approached us asking us why we were staying outside of the jail for so long, and after repeatedly mentioning Duncan and asking about his status, they must’ve realized we weren’t going to leave without him. :)

Like Dylan, Duncan was released without charges citing “pending investigation”. So, there are no legal costs just yet. However, if you’d like to support MICATS in future legal expenses associated with Dylan and Duncan’s arrests or in our organizing efforts generally, please donate! visit everribbon.com/micats

Update — Tuesday, 10am – Dylan and Duncan were both arrested by about 9:30am yesterday. Dylan was released by about 6pm with no bond or charges, having been told his charge is “pending investigation” (aka, we think, they don’t quite know what to charge these protestors with). Duncan, on the other hand, is still in jail and we’re working to get him out as soon as possible, probably sometime today.

Also, check out the video of yesterday’s pipeyard lockdown below!

Fox 2 in Detroit also gave us some awesome coverage, with videos from action and interviews from cats. We like how they choose to call Enbridge’s work on line 6b an “expansion” instead of repeating the Enbridge lie and calling it a replacement. Thanks Fox 2!

Fox 2 News Headlines

 

Check out some more pics from the protest and thereafter below! Thanks to Valerie Jean for most of these awesome photos.

MICATS supporters standing outside of jail waiting for Dylan and Duncan to come out!

MICATS supporters standing outside of jail waiting for Dylan and Duncan to come out!

micatss

 

girls

This is what a bottleneck looks like- pipeline workers delayed in getting to their worksites

This is what a bottleneck looks like- pipeline workers delayed in getting to their worksites

***

Duncan and Dylan are some brave cats!

Duncan and Dylan are some brave cats!

locking down to the truck

locking down to the truck

 

Standing in solidarity with all creatures impacted by tar sands spills

Standing in solidarity with all creatures impacted by tar sands spills

 

light brigade fun

light brigade fun

 

Oxford, Michigan – Monday, August 25, 2014 – at about 7:30am this morning, two men locked their necks with bicycle U-locks to a pipeline construction truck, immobilizing it, as it was exiting a Precision pipeline storage yard at 3565 East Lakeville Road. This action has resulted in a back-up of trucks that have been blocked from exiting the pipe yard. At the time of this writing, there is a police presence around the two persons locked to the truck as well as dozens of other supporting protestors.

Precision Pipeline, who runs the pipeline storage facility, is hired by Enbridge to expand Line 6B. In 2010, Line 6B ruptured in Marshall, MI spilling over 1 million gallons of toxic tar sands and diluents into Talmadge Creek, impacting 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River. Four years later, Enbridge states that the Kalamazoo River is the cleanest it has ever been while dragging its feet in clean-up efforts. Simultaneously, Enbridge states that the river will never be completely clean, and has meanwhile been expeditiously expanding the 6B pipeline system to carry a higher capacity of tar sands oil.

Acting to disrupt Precision Pipeline, 20-year-old Duncan Tarr and 21-year-old Dylan Ochala-Gorka, both Michigan residents and organizers with a group called the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS), demand a halt to Enbridge’s expansion of line 6B as well as restitution for those still suffering from effects of the 2010 tar sands disaster.

duncan

“At one time there were woods that no one owned. Now our planet has been bought up, torn apart, and exploited for the profit of a few,” said Tarr, a resident of Grand Rapids. “My act of defiance is an act against this machine, meant to slow and halt its destruction, and protect the earth.”

This is not the first time MICATS protestors have protested at this storage facility right-of-way. Last month, on July 24 2014 and in commemoration of the 4-year anniversary of the Kalamazoo tar sands disaster, about 20 protestors held signs, chanted and repeatedly crossed paths with vehicles entering and exiting the storage facility, and two protestors were arrested.

 

 

 

 

 

And neither is MICATS the only organization opposing Enbridge operations. Earlier this month, protestors under the banner “Dam Line 9” occupied a construction site for Enbridge Line 9 for a week, resulting in arrests and eviction. Line 9 is a natural gas pipeline which runs through Quebec and Ontario and connects with 6B at Sarnia, Ontario, and which is being reversed and adapted to pump tar sands oil.

dylan

“It is those who profit from the exploitation of environment and people who need the healing and love the most,” said Ochala-Gorka, a resident of Livonia, MI. “If putting my body between big oil and profits is necessary, I will continue to stand up between them and their meaningless money.”

I am a steward of this earth. I strive to live in harmony with our mother, with the trees, the bees, the mountains, rivers, with the precious water. One love, all life is interconnected, all things related, we must love all things unconditionally. I can not stand by and allow people and our environment to be exploited. I ask our mother to grant me the energy to steward this planet, to preserve and conserve and to send the love to all. It’s those who profit from the exploitation of environment and people who need the healing and love the most. If putting my body between big oil and profits is necessary, I will continue to stand up between them and their meaningless money. Love is the Answer.

We cannot rely on tar sands which are heavily dependent on cheap, fossil fuel energy to extract, refine and pump across thousands of watersheds risking complete contamination. Like the 2010 Kalamazoo spill. Water is life, water is all. No tar sands, no way!

–Dylan Ochala-Gorka

***

At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned. Now our planet has been bought up, torn apart, and exploited for the profit of a few individuals. My act of defiance is an act gainst the machine, meant to slow and halt its destruction, and protect the earth, and all life. Enbridge, and the pipelines they control, are a central part in the destruction of life. Their pipelines carry tar sands oil stolen from the first nation peoples through Turtle Island aka N. America to power the industries that are the vanguard of this destruction of life. Their spills, leaks, and presence in my area has caused the deaths of many humans and countless other creatures, trees, and plants. Let my act of defiance be a call to others, because this land that we are stnding on now is being killed. And we know exactly who the killers are. To end the destruction of life, in defense of all life, with the support of MICATS, from the woods of occupied Anishnabeg territory. –Duncan Tarr

Jul 25

Rally and Action to Mark Fourth Anniversary of Kalamazoo Tar Sands Oil Spill

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Rally and Action to Mark Fourth Anniversary of Kalamazoo Tar Sands Oil Spill

Community members gather at an Enbridge staging ground to mourn the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history as well as the expansion of this same pipeline despite an unfinished cleanup

Leonard, Mich. — Thursday afternoon, the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) rallied and marched to Enbridge’s staging ground outside of Leonard, Michigan.  Followed and immediately confronted by law enforcement and pushed around by Enbridge’s contracted security guards from Raven Security, the MI CATS stood strong and held space at the staging ground driveway for several hours.

“We are here on the fourth anniversary of the Kalamazoo spill to call out Enbridge for the death and destruction they’ve caused all over the world by exploiting tar sands,” said one of the demonstrators.  “Big industry is allowed to operate unchecked at the expense of all living things, so we must provide accountability.”

Despite a history of harmful spills and leaks, Enbridge is currently expanding the same pipeline that spilled in 2010 to double its capacity to bring tar sands oil across Michigan for export.   At this time, Enbridge has approximately 50 remaining miles of pipeline to place in the ground between Ortonville and Marysville, MI before this expansion is complete.  The expansion is occurring even though tar sands remain at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River four years after the initial spill.

“What happened in the Kalamazoo River was not an accident,” said a speaker at the rally.  “Rather it is a symptom of society crumbling under its own weight.  It was both a blast from the past and an omen of more to come if we don’t stop this exploitative tar sands madness.”

During the picket outside the staging grounds, two arrests after conflicting commands were given by multiple officers.  Protestors at the road were harassed by pipeline workers and a metal projectile was thrown at an outspoken spill victim.

MI CATS hopes that this action will shine a spotlight on the dangers of tar sands and Enbridge’s complicity as well as generate interest for the August action camp hosted by MI CATS to which anyone is invited.

A protestor being pushed by a Raven Security Guard.

A protestor being pushed by a Raven Security Guard.rally meme 724

Jul 10

New University of Michigan Animation Illustrates Danger of Oil Spill to Great Lakes

Straits of Mackinac ‘worst possible place’ for oil spill, says lead researcher.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – A new animated video by the University of Michigan and the National Wildlife Federation shows how devastating an oil spill beneath the Straits of Mackinac would be for the Great Lakes, wildlife, and communities. The animation shows that if an oil spill occurs, oil could reach popular tourist destinations like Mackinac Island, blanket 50 miles of Lake Huron shoreline, and reach Lake Michigan landmarks such as Beaver Island.

“If you were to pick the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, this would be it,” said David Schwab, Ph.D., research scientist at the University of Michigan Water Center, one of the foremost experts on Great Lakes water currents, and creator of the animation. “The currents are powerful and change directions frequently. In the event of an oil spill, these factors would lead to a big mess
that would be very difficult to contain.”

Read the University of Michigan study at http://graham.umich.edu/media/files/mackinac-report.pdf

View the pipeline spill animations at http://bit.ly/1r6smWb. The first of 6 scenarios, specifically if a 12-hour spill were to occur in August, depicting the center of the Straits, is below.

The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The 5-mile channel generates powerful currents that can create a flow of water that is more than 10 times greater than the flow over Niagara Falls.

Enbridge Inc., the company responsible for the largest inland oil disaster in U.S. history near Kalamazoo, Mich., operates a pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. The 61-year-old pipeline is older than the Enbridge Inc. pipeline that burst in Kalamazoo and carries 23 million gallons of oil a day through the Great Lakes. The flow through the pipeline was recently increased, placing further pressure on this pipeline.

“An oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would have devastating consequences for people, fish and wildlife, and the economy. It would be an unparalleled disaster for the Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “This old pipeline needs to be replaced so that we can protect the Great Lakes from future spills.”

In his study, Schwab simulated the release of contaminants at various locations and depths within the Straits of Mackinac. The simulations and video animation track an oil spill of 1 million gallons that would be released over a 12-hour period-a conservative estimate based on the size of the Mackinac pipeline and how quickly the spill would be detected and oil supply cut off. The animation shows where oil would
travel in the 20 days following a spill.

An oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would be especially devastating because of its potential effects on the local tourism industry and outdoor recreation economy. According to the animation, a spill could reach both Beaver Island in Lake Michigan and Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, popular destinations for thousands of people around the Great Lakes region and the world. Oil could also harm some of the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron fisheries hurting the region’s outdoor recreation economy and those who enjoy fishing and wildlife watching.

Oil and gas pipeline spills are not unusual, accounting for hundreds of explosions, fires, seeps, and spills in the United States every year. From 2000 to 2009, pipeline accidents accounted for 2,554 significant incidents, 161 fatalities, and 576 injuries in the United States. Enbridge Inc., according to the company’s own data, had 804 spills between 1999 and 2010 in the Unites States and Canada.

The National Wildlife Federation believes the best way to remedy this threat is to replace the pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

For more info contact:
Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, 734-904-1589, lubetkin@nwf.org
Jim Erickson, University of Michigan, (734) 647-1842, ericksn@umich.edu

***

MICATS notes: this excellent report and analysis by University of Michigan researchers highlights the extreme threat that Enbridge’s 61-year-old Line 5 oil pipeline poses to the Straits of Mackinac and both the environment and the economy of “Pure Michigan”. While the press release above concludes with the suggestion that the best solution is to replace line 5, and we agree that preventing a spill of crude oil into the Great Lakes should be a top priority, we do not feel that replacement of line 5 is the best way to go. Rather it must be decommissioned and removed so that future generations do not have to deal with the same constantly looming threats again. The future of the drinking water and livelihood of millions of people should not be left to a few pipeline welders and the “oversight” of Enbridge Inc.

Jul 02

Announcing the Fight or Flight Tour—To Protest Animal Testing and Build Grassroots Solidarity

MI CATS is excited to endorse the Fight or Flight Tour this summer! Check out this post/link to learn more about how you can support and help turn grassroots activism into a powerful force to protect earth and its inhabitants.

Read full post from the Earth First! Newswire here.

This summer, the Earth First! Journal is collaborating with The Bunny Alliance and Resistance Ecology to launch the Fight or Flight Tour, a nationwide tour with three distinct objectives: 1) to intensify The Bunny Alliance’s campaign against Delta Air Lines and the broader Gateway to Hell campaign to end the transport of animals to labs, 2) to share skills and build connections within the grassroots animal and ecological activist movements, and 3) to promote coalition building and solidarity with a diversity of movements and communities.

To increase the mounting pressure on Delta concerning the airline’s intimate relationship with Air France and the transport of animals to labs, the Fight or Flight Tour will hold protests at Delta airports, cargo offices, laboratories, and the houses of board members and executives. We will bring the campaign home to Delta with a large protest at their corporate headquarters, as well as work with local, national and independent media to place Delta’s involvement in animal testing in the public eye.

Tour stops will also include activism workshops, tailored to the needs and interests of each community. General workshop topics will include information about the international effort to end the transport of animal to labs, strategic and effective campaigning, protest tactics, and strengthening inner and cross-movement relationships. Through support from the Civil Liberties Defense Center, the workshops will also feature a collection of legal topics including “know your rights” trainings, security culture basics, tips for doing legal research, and legal observer trainings.

We are currently raising funds for the tour here. We have a goal of raising $5,000, and prizes for donating include tour posters, Bunny Alliance and Resistance Ecology merch, Earth First! Journal subscriptions, and more. We appreciate your donation!

In addition to this tour being about the demonstrations and workshops hosted by the touring organizations, this tour was hatched from the desire to empower grassroots activism through meaningful cross-movement solidarity. We want to work with other groups involved in social justice work and provide support in the forms they desire; to build bridges between animal liberation and environmental activists; to start friendships that can grow into powerful alliances; to talk face-to-face with others and embrace what it means to build connections in real life rather than online; and exchange skills and stories of experience among activists.

We invite you to join us. Not to just support the work we are doing, but to work with us in turning grassroots activism into a force powerful enough to protect the earth and its inhabitants.

Jun 27

Pipeline Symposium: Well Rehearsed, Dishonest, But the Crowd Wasn’t Buying It

Last Tuesday evening, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, an environmental advocacy organization in Northern Michigan, hosted representatives from Enbridge, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Coast Guard and several other agencies at a high school in Petoskey, Michigan to talk about Enbridge’s Line 5.

Pure Michigan? Protect the Great Lakes. Stop Line 5. Photo Credit: David Castleman

Pure Michigan? Protect the Great Lakes. Stop Line 5. Photo Credit: David Cassleman

Line 5 is probably the most noteworthy crude oil pipeline in Enbridge’s Lakehead system. It runs right underneath the Straights of Mackinac, which connects lakes Michigan and Huron. If line 5 were to spill into the Straights of Mackinac (and line 5 has spilled in the past in Michigan), it would devastate the water supplies of 30 million people in the US and Canada as well as essentially annihilate Michigan’s economy.

Map depicting line 5 rupture spill zones through the Straights and Lakes Michigan and Huron, hours after a spill would occur. (source: National Wildlife Federation, nwf.org)

Enbridge sent their best PR representatives to assuage the people of northern Michigan, to say that everything was alright, Enbridge has learned its lesson from Kalamazoo and that the pipes are now all safer. But they presented dubious claims which further cast doubt on their trustworthiness. Among some of the misleading things that Enbridge representatives said was that the portion of the line 5 that runs under the Mackinac Straits is comprised of seamless pipes. This ignores the fact that the 5-mile segments of line 5 under the Straits are obviously welded together, which Beth Wallace from Pipeline Safety Trust was quick to point out. In response the Enbridge representative gave a hurried reassurance that the welds are being regularly monitored.

Earlier, while running an information table, another Enbridge representative claimed that post-Kalamazoo, Enbridge’s pipeline monitoring systems have been changed so that drops in pressure don’t merely trigger an alarm in a control room, but lead to an automatic shut-off of the pipeline so that risks aren’t taken with extra fossil fuel spilling. Back in July 2010, one reason that so much tar sands spilled in Marshall was that when control room operators detected a pressure drop (a clear indication that a rupture may have occurred), instead of shutting down the line they increased pressure on that line thinking that that would clear issues the sensors were having. Instead of fixing anything, it just lead to more tar sands gushing out of the pipe. And now Enbridge is telling us that they’ve fixed their control room operational procedures so that this won’t happen again. Yeah, right, okay, we trust you Enbridge.

Credit: David Cassleman

Credit: David Cassleman

Regarding the structural integrity of the outside of line 5 under the Straits, Enbridge said that every 2 years they run an automated marine vehicle to survey that the pipe is properly supported with sand bags, screw type anchors and a ballast saddle. Enbridge promises that the pipeline is properly supported and fastened all along the Straits of Mackinac. This is despite independent video evidence taken by National Wildlife Federation last July (see below) revealing that portions of the pipeline are unsupported and covered in unidentified debris. In 2010, Enbridge hired divers to secure the pipeline with a newly innovated screw type of anchor. “We feel from an engineering standpoint, that the screw anchors are state of the art” Brad Shamla, Enbridge Vice president said Tuesday evening. These claims are questionable, especially given that Enbridge has remained quiet about what has actually been done to address the dangling braces you see in the quite recently taken video below.

Enbridge has not been transparent with their inspection methods. They said repeatedly that they are constantly inspecting, and constantly meeting many standards, yet Enbridge refuses to make public any proof of the stringent standards they are meeting. If Enbridge is so proud of their rigor in the inspection process, why aren’t they more transparent about it? We have been fed lip service time and time again, and its time to see some real documentation and evidence. In the pursuit of seeking information and transparency, the pipeline regulatory agency PHMSA hasn’t been much of a help either. PHMSA has been ignoring/stalling on FOIA requests, and is thus complicit in Enbridge’s lack of transparency. Both PHMSA and Enbridge are expecting people to believe them without concrete evidence.

Ralph Dollhopf of the EPA claimed that pipelines can last forever! “Steel doesn’t age,” Dollhopf said confidently. They just corrode on the inside, which is totally fine! Psyche. Tell that to the people of Marshall and Battle Creek. Corrosion causes thinness. Thinness causes pipelines to weaken. Weakened pipelines makes them more prone to bursting.

After being spoon fed lip service for around an hour, one member of Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands called out Enbridge and the 14 officials on the risk they are putting us all in.

Jun 25

Landing on Our Feet: Summer Action Camp!

The global movements for a just and resilient future build community power and momentum by the day. With every ecological devastation, we the people are resisting and rising. With every community displaced or exploited in the name of growth & “development” that only benefits a few, neighbors and communities are connecting and awakening to their power. For everyone and everything hurt by the economic and dirty energy systems that value profit over life, we the people are rising. Peacefully, passionately, powerfully.

Build, share, and vision with us at the MI-CATS Action Camp # 2

The MI CATS have been honored to learn, resist, love, and serve this movement alongside so many amazing folks like you. From skateboarding into pipes to tree-sits to the jailing of the #MICATS3, you could say we’ve fallen (or willingly jumped) many times this past year and we’re proud to say we have indeed always landed on our feet.

Cats Camp

And that’s why, in solidarity with all those fighting for a more just world, we’re hosting another action camp this summer from August 21 – August 24 in so-called “Pure Michigan”!  We’re inviting anyone and everyone to come out, learn, share, and grow alongside us! We can all be the “cat’s pajamas”!

All ages, abilities, beliefs, ethnicities, identities, and backgrounds are welcome!

Seize this moment with us to strengthen and amplify the local roots of peaceful resistance to dirty energy. Click Here to Get Registered & MI CATS organizers will follow up with you to share more info. including the location in Michigan.  

 

We’re excited to see you!

Questions may be directed to micats@riseup.net.

 

 

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Jun 18

Unist’ot’en Clan Refuse All Pipelines

Unist’ot’en peoples, an autonomous clan pledge to continue to build resistance against pipelines and other extractive methods in their territory. MI-CATS stand with all indigenous people defending their land against harsh extraction and colonialism. Asserting Indigenous Law Over Unceded Lands

May 23

MI CATS Stand with OWS Activist Cecily McMillan!

cecilyThe MI CATS family is heavy hearted and disconcerted at the May 19th decision by a NYC judge to sentence Cecily McMillan to spend 90 days in jail after she was assaulted by a police officer.

Cecily was a labor organizer, student, and OWS activist, at the time of the arrest on March 17th, 2012 when police violently cleared out the Occupy Camp in Zuccotti park in NYC, arresting 70 others. She was assaulted and groped by a police officer and was charged with assaulting an officer for allegedly elbowing an officer in the eye.

This verdict condones police violence and the ever growing police state.

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This was another case where it seems the judge influenced the jury by refusing to allow pertinent evidence into the court room. The MI CATS 3 experienced similar challenges in their trial.

Free thinkers are dangerous to the current pillars of power that depend on people to remain in the matrix of comfort. State and police repression against freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are continuing to escalate as people power challenges the unjust balance of power that currently exists.

We understand how difficult it is to make the conscious decision to reject the herd mentality that beckons us to accept what the media and our culture tell us is morality and reality; that authorities and our “justice system” are in place to protect people and keep us safe. This could be one of the main reasons the jury sided with a violent officer instead of the victim of sexual assault. If the average American has to acknowledge that many who are in positions of authority are not serving the interests of people, they would have to question many unexamined assumptions that a majority of people are not yet ready to ask themselves.

A common myth hidden by the slogan “the American Dream” is that if you just do what you’re told and try your hardest, everything will work out as it should. That blind trust woven into the matrix of comfort through consumption has failed multiple generations and caused the erosion of our basic rights. Furthermore, it has perpetuated systematic oppression of people and all species living alongside us. As more and more people awaken from this global nightmare of “growth at all costs” and start to speak out and act out against the injustices plaguing our communities and families, we are met with an iron fist.

Police and other people in positions of authority abusing their power are not the root of the problem. The systems that perpetuate and demand violence and oppression to maintain their stranglehold over the masses are. The reality is our legislative, judicial, and executive branches are serving and maximizing the profit and privilege of a few, at the expense of many.

It’s not a coincidence that no banker or institution was brought to justice for causing the 2007 financial crises. Or that our highest judicial body in the United States decided money is free speech and corporations are people (Citizens United & McCutecheson case) giving the ultra-rich the keys to open the floodgates of unlimited campaign spending to ensure that every shred of democracy is washed away. It’s becoming obvious that our justice and political systems are meant to serve and maintain the current power structures, not benefit common people.

People across the globe, but especially in America are taught to value things over people. We throw away “resources” and we throw away people. It’s time to say fuck that. Let’s end the “War on Drugs” that perpetuates the New Jim Crow. Let’s get to know the names of our neighbors. Let’s turn to one another more than we turn on the TV. When we question everything, and stand up to injustice, we step closer to each other and move closer to a vision of a future where community and the collective is able to thrive.

images (1)Organizing for Power puts it brilliantly, “People power understands that power is a fragile relationship that depends on the compliance of the people. Thus we have the power to alter that relationship at any time. The art of this process is to pull support away from the pillar, which means persuading those people inside that institution/pillar to leave, stop or change their behavior.  This means looking for strategies of mass noncooperation, corporate campaigns, creative direct action and community organizing.”

There will be push-back from those who hold power when we challenge their systems of oppression. When politicians and our government do the bidding of corporations at the expense of we the people, we must continue to expose the strings of the puppet masters and create zones of resilience in our communities that have the power to fight back. There will be state and police violence, and we will rise above it with love and visions for a better way. When the mainstream media calls us radical, we make our own media sharing the truth.

We will overcome the fear and material constraints that keeps us subservient. We will overcome the media and consumerist culture that keeps us competing, blaming, and fighting against each other instead of fighting alongside one another for a way of living and being where everyone and everything can thrive.

We lift up the story of Cecily and stand with all who are unjustly incarcerated, and the masses oppressed and marginalized by the systems that rule over us. Here is to the belief that another world is possible and inevitable.

May 19

Concerned Residents Stage Theatrical Rally in Opposition to HB 5205 at Capitol Building

Update: check out this video of our flash mob at the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing!

Here are a few pics from our demonstration yesterday! More pics and video coming hopefully soon. In the meantime, check out this awesome article about the protest and the Backbone Campaign’s Great Lakes Basin Action Camp that helped make it possible! And if you’d like to support their continued proliferation of artful and creative protest tactics, consider supporting them financially!

Flash mob in the Michigan Capitol Rotunda.  A line of students on a field trip crossed us as we sang.

Flash mob in the Michigan Capitol Rotunda. A line of students on a field trip crossed us as we sang.

Outdoor theater depicting Enbridge's destruction of the Kalamazoo river after the indoor flash mob.

Outdoor theater depicting Enbridge’s destruction of the Kalamazoo river after the indoor flash mob.

Rep. Nesbitt, right, and his toxic "pet" coke, left, as part of outdoor theatre.

Rep. Nesbitt, right, and his toxic “pet” coke, left, as part of outdoor theatre.

***

Lansing, MI – Monday, May 19th, 12:30pm – Dozens of Michigan residents and activists performed a flash mob on the state capitol today to express their distaste with HB 5205, an Orwellian proposal from Representative Aric Nesbitt that would reclassify toxic waste as “renewable energy”. Activists danced and sung multiple rounds of “Restore Pure Michigan”, an adaptation of Lorde’s “Royals” in the rotunda of the capitol. They then marched out and continued with an outdoor theater mocking and drawing attention to Nesbitt’s wreckless disregard for Michigan’s well-being. Prominently displayed in the background was a sign reading “Pure Michigan? Stop Nesbitt’s Toxic Plan, www.burnbill5205.org” to demonstrate the abhorrence of Nesbitt’s toxic proposed legislation.

Theatre Demonstration in front of sign reading "Pure Michigan? Stop Nesbitt's Toxic Plan"

Theatre Demonstration in front of sign reading “Pure Michigan? Stop Nesbitt’s Toxic Plan”

HB 5205, which activists call Nesbitt’s “Toxic Burn Bill”, threatens the clean air of all Michigan residents. Nesbitt’s proposal would severely broaden existing criteria as to what constitutes renewable energy. It would enable facilities to burn recyclables and petroleum coke, a controversial byproduct of refining tar sands, to generate fuel and receive tax incentives in return. By reclassifying waste products as renewable energy resources, HB 5205 would grant special favors to large polluters.

“Incentivizing waste incineration would be devastating to the health of Michigan residents,” said Jake McGraw, with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands. “These facilities aren’t green, they emit toxins like dioxin, mercury and PCBs.”

Representative Nesbitt has drawn significant criticism for his attacks on Michigan’s environment. Last year he received an approval rating of 26% from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Earlier this month governor Snyder received the same failing score from a Sierra Club evaluation.

HB 5205 is scheduled for a hearing in the Energy and Technology Committee on Tuesday, May 20th.

“This bill will undo over 20 years of environmental justice work in Michigan,” said Charity Hicks, an environmental justice advocate from Detroit.

The demonstration was held by the Backbone Campaign, an organization specializing in creative and artful protest tactics, in conjunction with organizers from the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands.

***

House Bill 5205 Is An Attack On Pure Michigan!

Under this bill sponsored by Rep. Nesbitt, corporate polluters would be allowed to burn various forms of municipal waste and be rewarded in turn with “renewable energy tax credits”. House Bill 5205 would change the definitions of “renewable” and “cleaner” energy to include fuel dubiously derived from:

  • coal
  • pet coke, a by-product of toxic tar sands
  • industrial waste
  • electronic waste

In short, this bill will let corporate polluters put our air, land and water at risk by burning our industrial and city waste, and in return they’ll be rewarded with our tax dollars! Crazy, isn’t it? Read about HB 5205 online here, or go to www.legislature.mi.gov

Members of the House are meeting Tuesday, May 20th at 8:30am in the Michigan Capitol Building. Let them know what you think about this bill in person! Or contact Nesbitt at (517) 373-0839, AricNesbitt@house.mi.gov, or call your own representative and urge them to vote HB 5205 down.

If HB 5205 passes, this infamous nuisance, a toxic 3-story pile of petroleum coke recently blocking views along the Detroit River, would essentially be reclassified as “cleaner” energy!

If HB 5205 passes, this infamous nuisance, a toxic 3-story pile of petroleum coke recently blocking views along the Detroit River, would essentially be reclassified as “cleaner” energy!

May 01

“Redefining Progress” – a Note from Our Jailed Feline Friend

Jessica’s coming out in less than 10 days! When that happens, we welcome you to join us to celebrate her freedom and Mother’s Day!

***


By Jessica Clark:

To the People of the Colonized World-

I wonder if our great, great, great grandparents knew about the climate disaster we are teetering on the brink of, in the midst of a mass extinction, would they have redefined progress? Would they have rode the remaining revolutionary energy and resisted industrialization? Maybe they would have stopped the white supremacist colonization of North America. Maybe they would have stopped the objectification of the natural world.

Our foreparents had no crystal ball, so we have inherited a bundle of problems. We have been handed systemic oppressions to untangle, even out, and banish. In order to stop carbon emissions it is also necessary to halt tar sands strip mining, transportation, and refinery. Poisoning millions of gallons of fresh water to obtain fracked gas cannot fly. Spewing radioactive chemicals into Lake Michigan and communities everywhere cannot continue. We must stop burdening our children with the management of nuclear waste. We must stop building pipelines that will force future generations to oversee them and deal w/ the inevitable spills. If we allow capitalism to continue it will destroy the Earth and we won’t be able to thrive.

Our world community is resilient and capable of changing! Let us overthrow colonialism and racism. Those among us who’ve long benefited from white/European privilege need to listen better and work to make amends. All people who fit in will need to listen to the oppressed and move to make the world safer. Let us implement restorative justice & get rid of the prison industrial complex. The prison industrial complex cannot continue to lock people up and throw away the key, especially when the policies that dictate this action are rooted in racism, classism, sexism, and colonialism. We need restorative justice for everyone, including the greedy ceos and the rapists. Our society is only as strong as our weakest member, which feels like a forgotten saying when you consider how our society actively tries to make some people weaker.

The thing I feel strongly about, that I have learned from the indigenous peoples whose land we have stolen,

From a recent "video visitation" with Jessica.

A recent “video visitation” with Jessica.

is the necessity of protecting water, to keep it fresh and in the commons. We have a huge amount of work to do, to ensure the Earth our children inherit is better off than the one we have been born into. In order to get there, I truly believe that we must consider all of the ways in which our society is fragmented and exclusionary. If we ever get to a point where we are protecting fresh water, who is it for? We have a long road to go in order to feel safe about the climate, but it will be a lonely road that won’t lead to change at the root cause if we don’t stop to consider how white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy still affect many people on this Earth.

Let us redefine progress.

Love, Jessica

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