Category Archives: Mining

Report Reveals Indigenous Resistance Disrupts Quarter of US and Canadian Emissions

“The numbers don’t lie. Indigenous peoples have long led the fight to protect Mother Earth and the only way forward is to center Indigenous knowledge and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-1-2021

Water protectors stop construction of Energy Transfers Partners’ Bayou Bridge Pipeline in 2017. (Photo:Indigenous Environmental Network)

Indigenous resistance to fossil fuel projects in the United States and Canada over a recent decade has stopped or delayed nearly a quarter of the nations’ annual planet-heating pollution, according to a report released Wednesday.

The greenhouse gas pollution for Turtle Island, the land now known to settler nation-states as North America, totaled 6.56 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019—5.83 billion metric tons CO2e for the U.S. and 727.43 million metric tons CO2e for Canada. Continue reading

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If we lose the Amazon, our world will lose its future

Brazil is voting to legalize the destruction of the Amazon forest and the extermination of Indigenous peoples, the forest’s last line of defense

By Vanessa Andreotti   Published 8-25-2021 by openDemocracy

A group of Huni Kui youth ready to join the protest in Brasilia | Elvis Huni Kui

It is not just the people of Brazil who will suffer in the face of their government’s smartly coordinated attack on humanity’s future. All of us, across the world, are set to suffer the consequences of the tragedy unfolding before us in the Amazon.

You may be asking, ‘Why should I care?’ In a world of competing crises, it’s certainly a fair question. But the future of the Amazon rainforest must be a priority – if we lose it, we lose our future. Continue reading

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‘Out of Control’: Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Hits Highest Level in a Decade

“At this rate, we will not be able to keep global warming below 1.5ºC, a target defined in the Paris agreement,” said the conservation institute Imazon.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2021

Kayapó Mekragnotire people blockading the BR-163 highway in Pará – 2020. Photo: Avispa Midia

Encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged to its highest annual level in a decade over the past year, with researchers warning that the accelerated destruction of the critical carbon sink is imperiling the ability to keep planetary heating below the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5ºC target.

Imazon, a Brazilian research institute whose mission is to promote conservation and sustainable development, reported Thursday that from August 2020 to July 2021, 10,476 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed, a 57% increase over the previous 12-month period. Continue reading

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The global implications of the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan

The Taliban is expected to take control of Afghanistan within weeks or even days. This would be the most important political development of 2021

By Paul Rogers.  Published 8-13-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Jim Roberts/Twitter

Two weeks ago, there was still a belief that the Taliban might take months to take control of Afghanistan and that they might even agree to a peace deal, perhaps viewing one as a useful step on their way to power.

That has now changed dramatically. Last week, the US called a desperate, last-ditch meeting with Taliban negotiators in Doha, the Qatari capital, involving countries in the region, as well as Russia and China. The aim was to convince the Taliban that they would be treated as a pariah state if they seized power by force. In parallel, the Afghan government offered a share of power in return for a ceasefire. Negotiations have since ended with both endeavours failing. Continue reading

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Leaving Parts of Trump’s Pro-Polluter Legacy Intact, Biden Gets C- on Environmental Report Card

Biden’s “limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” said the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2021

Photo: Eric Haynes/CC

Expressing alarm over President Joe Biden’s support for a number of pipeline projects and his failure to reverse the vast majority of environmental regulatory rollbacks introduced by his predecessor, the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund on Tuesday gave the president a grade of C-minus and said he “needs improvement” on its Environmental Report Card.

Six months into his presidency, Biden has fully met five out of 25 “concrete and achievable environmental promises” he made on the campaign trail, and has only reversed three of former President Donald Trump’s rollbacks.

CBD Action Fund noted in the report card (pdf) that the president signed an “unprecedented” 17 executive orders on his first day in office in January, including three that fulfilled “Day One” promises he had made: “formally beginning the reentry process to the Paris climate agreement, permanently rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, and directing all federal agencies to elevate addressing environmental justice to protect frontline communities.”

The group emphasized, however, that during Biden’s first six months in office the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented drought” and “record-shattering heatwaves” which climate scientists have long warned about.

“Thus, even as his administration is evaluated at the six-month mark, its limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” the report card reads.

“President Biden got off to a strong start right when he took office, but his environmental agenda appears to be stalling out,” said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the CBD Action Fund. “He has to light a fire under his Cabinet and the federal agencies to complete his campaign promises without foot-dragging, because the climate and extinction crises are getting more urgent every day.”

Overall, the group credited Biden with fulfilling five campaign promises so far, including holding a global climate summit in his first 100 days in office and reinstating federal flood-protection standards that assess climate change risks.

The administration has taken steps to fulfill 13 other campaign pledges, including:
  • Ending financing for overseas coal projects;
  • Installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations; and
  • Requiring that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of benefits from climate spending.

“For other campaign promises, the Biden administration has yet to initiate efforts to achieve them,” the report card says. “For example, Biden spoke numerous times during the campaign about addressing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. He proposed a $20 billion conservation fund to address deforestation. However, this initiative was not part of his fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, and it is unclear what other steps the administration will take to address deforestation.”

CBD Action Fund identified just three Trump-era environmental rollbacks that Biden has reversed, including the so-called “secret science” rule restricting data the EPA can use to enact regulations; eliminating the use of the “social cost of carbon” in environmental reviews; and curtailing categories of industrial polluters subjected to greenhouse gas regulations.

Biden was also credited with taking steps to restore protections to the Tongass National Forest and the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, and with announcing recently that officials will “begin the process of undoing additional Trump-era rollbacks,” the report reads.

“The timeline and scope of these efforts is unclear,” said the CBD Action Fund. “For example, the Department of the Interior announced in June that it would ‘revisit’ the Trump-era rollback of the regulations guiding consultations under the Endangered Species Act.”

“But the department signaled that it would only reverse one of over 20 changes made by the previous administration to the regulations—specifically restoring the earlier definition of ‘indirect effects’—and stated that this effort would not even begin until December 2021 at the earliest,” the group continued.

In addition to more than two dozen Trump-era rollbacks the administration has taken no action to reverse, the group expressed indignation at Biden’s decision to support some of Trump’s attacks on the environment.

The president has declined to block the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota or shut down operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as approving nearly 2,500 new drilling permits on public lands and waters—”roughly the same amount that the Trump administration approved during its first entire year in office,” the report card reads.

“Biden’s bold vision during the campaign won’t be met if his administration leaves large chunks of Trump’s pro-polluter legacy intact,” said Hartl.

Biden has also supported Trump’s weakened protections from pesticides for endangered species, an increased limit for Atrazine pollution in waterways, and the expanded use of antibiotics on citrus crops.

“If President Biden does not act boldly, right now, the impacts of climate change will be severe enough to make large swaths of our planet nearly uninhabitable,” CBD Action Fund said.

After a promising start, the group added, “complacency and inertia could stymy further progress on his climate and environmental goals. Without a continued and sustained effort in the next 12 to 18 months, any potential environmental legacy could easily be erased.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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UN Human Rights Chief Calls for ‘End to All Forms of Violence’ After Troops Deployed Over Colombian Protests

Dozens of people have died during the past month of demonstrations, which have been met with deadly attacks by the nation’s law enforcement.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-30-2021

Photo: Joshua Collins/Twitter

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet responded to the Colombian president’s decision to deploy thousands of troops after a month of protests by calling for an end to all violence and urging negotiations over key national policies, which had stalled but were set to resume Sunday.

Bachelet, in a statement Sunday, specifically expressed concern about reports that since Friday, at least 14 people have died and 98 people have been injured in the Colombian city of Cali—one of the primary protest sites over the past month—and that an off-duty judicial police officer and others have fired at demonstrators. Continue reading

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Oil exploitation is threatening the Ecuadorian rainforest – and the planet

‘No to Block 28!’ Indigenous and peasant communities are fighting to protect nature and their way of life in a remote corner of the Amazon

By Andrés Tapia.  Published 4-21-2021 by openDemocracy

Clear water coming down from the ‘blue mountains’ in Pastaza, Ecuador | Andrés Tapis

 

I grew up in the Ecuadorian countryside. My first memories are from around 1990, when my family and I were living on a 28-hectare farm, a pioneering conservation project in the tropical rainforest.

Often, I would sit with my sister on the front steps of our house, gazing at the “blue mountains”. It was my father who coined that phrase, after their distinctive colouration. Decades later, while studying field biology at university, I learned that these were the subtropical Andes. Specifically, the Abitahua Protected Forest of the Llanganates Sangay Ecological Corridor, a transition area (also known as an ecotone) that connects the eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes with the Amazonian lowlands. Continue reading

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‘Watershed Moment’ as Haaland Revokes Trump-Era Orders, Creates Climate Task Force

“Today’s orders make certain that the Interior Department is no longer going to serve as a rubber-stamp for the coal and oil and gas industries.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2021

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior)

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government’s federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

“Today is a watershed moment in the history of the U.S. Department of the Interior,” declared Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “With Secretary Haaland’s actions today, it’s clear the Interior Department is now working for communities, science, and justice. We are grateful for her leadership and bold action to put people over polluters.” Continue reading

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‘EPA Needs to Step In’: Florida Workers Race to Prevent Massive Spill of Radioactive Waste

“Federal officials need to clean up this mess the fertilizer industry has dumped on Florida communities and immediately halt further phosphogypsum production.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-5-2021

Florida’s Piney Point reservoir seen from an aerial view on Sunday, April 4, 2021. (Photo: 10 Tampa Bay/YouTube Screengrab)

Florida workers over the weekend rushed to prevent the collapse of a reservoir wall containing hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater from a defunct phosphate mine, a looming environmental catastrophe that prompted mandatory evacuation orders and a declaration of emergency by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

A leak in the Piney Point reservoir was first reported late last month, sparking fears of a complete breach and possible upending of stacks of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product of fertilizer manufacturing. During a briefing on Saturday, a public safety official for Florida’s Manatee County warned that “structural collapse” of the storage reservoir “could occur at any time.” Continue reading

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Biden Already Facing Pressure to Tackle Backlog of ‘Unfunded’ Toxic Waste Sites Threatened by Climate Crisis

More broadly, campaigners are calling on the incoming president to deliver on the environmental justice promises he made as a candidate.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-28-2020

Formerly an open pit copper mine, the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana is now part of the largest Superfund site in the United States. Photo: Kolopres/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A joint report on Monday highlighted the pressure that President-elect Joe Biden is already facing to deliver on his environmental justice campaign promises—particularly when it comes to the 34 Superfund sites nationwide for which there is no reliable cleanup funding—the largest backlog of “unfunded” sites in 15 years.

The federal Superfund program began with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), passed by Congress in 1980. While cleanup efforts were initially paid for by a trust fund created by taxing the chemical and petroleum industries, lawmakers let the tax expire 25 years ago. Continue reading

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