No Climate for Reopening a Mine

Hi Friends, I published this post to support our local struggle to keep from reopening a gold mine in Grass Valley:

As we residents of Nevada County struggle to adapt to extreme drought, heat waves, water shortages, periodic power outages, and threat of forest fires, Rise Gold is trying to persuade us that reopening the Idaho-Maryland mine would do us good. Yet regardless of its recent flawed and deceptive survey, the mine would negatively affect the community in many ways, including in our ability to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In June, our region got a taste of a record-shattering heat wave which, further north, led to many deaths. We are in a historic “severe to exceptional drought,” resulting in depleted reservoirs and mandatory water restrictions. Fire insurance rates are skyrocketing and policies are being cancelled as fire season extends to almost year-round and as wildfires become ever-more ferocious, burning more acres. Even as we pack our go-bags and create fire safe spaces around our homes, we know that catastrophic forest fires could come at any time. Reopening the mine would only make these climate-related impacts worse.

The leaked report of the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of “progressively serious, centuries’ long and, in some cases, irreversible consequences” that will impact people around the world with multiple climate calamities at once: drought, heatwaves, cyclones, wildfires and flooding, leading to widespread hunger and disease. So far, the earth’s average global temperature has risen slightly over 1 degree Celsius, which is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.  Just imagine what it will be like if it rises to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius! The IPCC report warns, “Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems… humans cannot.”

Nevada County has had the foresight to respond proactively by adopting the Nevada County Energy Action Plan, which was developed by the Sierra Business Council, with support from PG&E, in collaboration with Nevada County and community members. The plan, based on scientific climate forecasts in the context of our region, states: “From record temperatures to proliferating wildfires and changing precipitation patterns, climate change poses an immediate and escalating threat to the region’s environment, economic strength, and public health.”

The plan is intended to “guide local government decisions that will help achieve greater efficiency, reduce costs, and demonstrate the County’s commitment to energy independence and community resilience” and to “inspire residents, businesses, and other public agencies in Nevada County to participate in community efforts and maximize energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water efficiency.”

This plan should guide analysis and decision-making about the mine as it relates to climate. It points to goals, strategies, and ways to implement policies that will enable us, as a community, to adapt to projected climatic changes and mitigate harm by lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But reopening the mine would take us in the opposite direction.

Adapting to climate change means developing resiliency so that we human beings, our fellow creatures, and coming generations can survive and thrive as much as possible. This means carefully preserving our region’s air, land, and water. The mine would further pollute our air, replace life-sustaining ecosystems with mine waste, and deplete our precious groundwater, putting wells at risk and sending millions of gallons of treated wastewater daily down Wolf Creek. Adaptation means generating sustainable forms of livelihood, housing, education, business, agriculture, and more—locally-based as much as possible—and moving away from fossil fuels to justly-sourced renewable power. Many community members, local businesses, and local nonprofits are working to attain just such a vision. Rise Gold’s extractive business model does not align with these goals. 

Because it is a global problem, we must also do our part to mitigate the harm of climate change by reducing our regional carbon footprint. The Nevada County Energy Action Plan calls for gradually reducing annual residential electric use by 12 percent. Rise Gold’s projected electrical use would cancel out this goal by annually using electricity equivalent to 5,000 new homes and could strain our already overburdened power grid.  

Even more significant would be the massive carbon emissions caused by diesel-powered heavy equipment used for: constant construction during the first year and half; ongoing continuous excavating, underground blasting, drilling, rock crushing, loading, hauling, unloading, spreading, and compacting to create engineered fill up to seven stories tall; continuous mine de-watering by pumping, treating, and sending millions of gallons of wastewater down Wolf Creek; increased new diesel truck traffic (up to 100 round trips a day, seven days a week, sixteen hours a day). This would result in significant increases of GHG emissions rather than decreases as outlined in the County’s Energy Action Plan.

Please, let’s put this debate to rest once and for all and not waste everyone’s time and energy by pretending we should seriously consider reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine every time another penny-stock company comes along to propose it. The County has taken a proactive approach with its plan to foster resiliency and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Let’s not turn back now.

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Other blog postings about climate change can be found here.   Order Sharon’s CD– Climate Change:  What Do We Know?  What Can We Do? or download a free MP3 version. 

Local Grandmothers Highlight Intergenerational Pipeline Struggle

In late May, I travelled to Minnesota by train with three other local grandmothers, Janie Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, and Joyce Banzhaf, to join a 31-member delegation of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. Our purpose was to highlight the intergenerational nature of the struggle to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 dirty tar sands oil pipeline. Together, we visited and helped out at the Water Protectors Camp which serves as a welcome center for visiting Line 3 activists, we hosted young Indigenous activists from a frontline camp for a memorial ceremony on the 1st anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and we held two public demonstrations, including one at the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul See video of that action here  and See pictures of the trip here.

The delegation included Lakota grandmothers from South Dakota, including Madonna Thunder Hawk and Mabel Ann Eagle Hunter, who have been activists struggling for Indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth for over 60 years; Alcatraz was in 1968, and was not their first big action! They were engaged in an ongoing way with the American Indian Movement (AIM).  Their daughters and niece, now also grandmothers, had also been involved with AIM as children and teens and were also part of this delegation. All of us were motivated by concerns for today’s children, for the natural world and our other-than-human relatives, and for future generations.

Our grandmothers’ trip was a precursor to the Treaty People Gathering that is taking place early in June in support of the Anishinaabe people, whose treaty rights are threatened by this pipeline. (See #TreatyPeopleGathering). Massive demonstrations are taking place along the route of pipeline construction. Thousands are participating, including Indigenous leaders, celebrities, climate justice activists, and others who understand what is at stake if the construction of oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure continues to extend the fossil-fuel era. People are engaging in major public actions, including nonviolent civil disobedience at pipeline construction sites.

The Nevada County contingent stayed an extra day and participated in an action led by Indigenous youth where two young people were arrested for trespassing and stopping workers from continuing construction by climbing onto the newly-laid pipeline. The four of us did not risk arrest and made it to the train for our return trip that night. We returned home grateful for being welcomed and included, sobered by all that we had learned and have yet to learn about the issues related to Line 3 and about respecting Indigenous leadership.

The Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline would run from Canada through the Mississippi headwaters and Minnesota’s lake country, threatening its pristine waters. It also runs through sacred ancient wild rice beds, traditionally harvested by the Anishinaabe people. This land is under treaty with the Anishinaabe, who have the rights to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice, all threatened by this pipeline. Treaty rights are the law of the land, with priority over federal or state laws.

Enbridge, a Canadian corporation, has a terrible safety record, with over 1068 pipeline spills before 2013, leaking 7.4 million gallons of oil. Disastrous spills continue. Enbridge calls the new Line 3 a “replacement pipeline” although it is constructing 300 miles of pipeline along a new route, abandoning the old pipeline to deteriorate in place, and doubling the quantity of dirty tar sands oil.

Climate activists make the case that long-lasting fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines locks us into increasing greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures for decades. This project alone would have the climate impact of 50 coal mines, counteracting Minnesota’s plans to reduce climate change by investing in renewable energy, green jobs, energy-efficient buildings, and electric cars.

Since 2011, the United States has been a net exporter of fossil fuels. Under the Paris Climate Accords, our exports of fossil fuel are not counted. So even if we reduce emissions nationally, by continuing to increase our exports of fossil fuels we cancel out our stated intentions to reduce global climate change. Stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines is a necessary step to addressing climate change.

Finally, solidarity with Indigenous peoples in their struggles for a livable world is a way to affirm indigenous wisdom and perspectives that move us from a worldview that promotes organizing society around the market to a worldview that promotes organizing around concern for the whole community of life. This lays a foundation for actions that impact the future in ways that further the good and heal the past.

For anyone who is convinced that the struggle against Line 3 is an important effort, there are many actions that we can take. Indigenous leaders are requesting that supporters call on President Biden to cancel this pipeline.  Find a petition here:  https://www.stopline3.org/take-action. Go to https://www.stopline3.org/biden for more information on how to contact Biden and make it clear to him that there is a large and diverse intergenerational movement to #StopLine3.

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https://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/enbridge_safety_record

The Struggle to Stop Line 3

Hello Friends,

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post, but I’m happy to report that I recently turned in a manuscript for a book that I have been working on all year, so here I am. I’ll tell you more about it when it gets closer to time for publication.

Next up: now that I am fully vaccinated, I am getting ready to take a train trip to Minnesota with three friends to join about 25 other members of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. We will be joining members of the Anishinaabe tribe who are resisting the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline that would go through their territory. We are going at their ,invitation. While we are there we will support their efforts however we can, when we get back we will share their story and how it ties in to the larger struggle for a livable future. 

Climate activists and others are joining together to support the Anishinaabe in their attempts to defeat Line 3. Public pressure led by Indigenous people and supported by environmental groups led to the defeat of the Keystone XL Pipeline, helped along by creative coalitions such as the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” that included ranchers along the pipeline route. Likewise, public action drew international attention to the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which a judge recently ruled as being illegal. Similar coalitions are now at work to stop Enbridge Line 3.

Where does stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines fit into the overall struggle for a livable future? Long-lasting oil and gas infrastructure such as pipelines not only vastly increase the capacity of fossil fuel development but lock in the extraction, transport, processing, sale, and burning of such fuels over decades, accelerating climate change into the future. Pipelines pollute lands and waters along their routes through their frequent spills.

The very definition of climate justice is that we need to listen to and serve as allies to those who are on the front lines and at most risk of harm related to fossil-fuel extraction and climate change: people in sacrifice zones where fossil fuels are extracted, transported, and processed, usually communities of color; people in poor countries and communities (often communities of color) where the impacts of climate change are often first and worst; children and young people whose futures will be made much harder because of policy choices made today; and yes, species that are struggling to survive as ecosystems are degraded and destroyed.

On Earth Day this year, the organization I work with, Earth Justice Ministries, published a commentary about The Rights of Indigenous People and the Rights of Mother Earth. Acknowledging the rights of Indigenous people and centering their voices about caring for creation is critical if our work to create a livable future is to bear fruit. This awareness is essential for anyone concerned about climate change and other environmental damage, for simply changing our lifestyles or working piecemeal on individual policies will not bring about the overall systemic change that is needed. It will also require a change of worldview and frontline communities taking nonviolent action to keep polluting fossil fuels in the ground.

To contribute to our travels, you can donate to the Go Fund Me account Send Grandmothers to Help Stop Line 3.

To find out more about the effort to halt construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, see the resources at Honor the Earth, Stop Line 3. Stay tuned for more!

To receive an email notification each time Sharon posts to her blog, click the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right.

Other blog postings about climate change can be found here.  A previous post that speaks more about Indigenous worldviews and front line community actions is at Conflicting Worldviews at the Global Climate Summit.

Seasonal Thoughts on Climate Justice

Progressive Christian Social Action

Seasonal Thoughts on Climate Justice

This post was published as A Seasonal Reflection on Climate Justice in the Grass Valley Union on December 19, 2020.

During this season, Christmas carols feature angels singing “peace on earth, goodwill to men” (meaning all) and choruses proclaiming, “Let heaven and nature sing.” These words express the universality of the divine intention for good, the hopeful spirit of the season, and humanity’s yearning for peace, goodwill, and the abundance of life on earth.

As part of the Union’s regular series on climate change, my article is appearing when people of the world’s many spiritual traditions celebrate hope as light breaks through the winter darkness and days begin to lengthen. These varied traditions offer comfort and renewal, even as we face an overwhelming surge of pandemic-related tragedies and needs. With so many other concerns, it’s hard to think about climate change, but rising global temperatures and intensifying weather-related disasters do not pause for the coronavirus and will bring ever-increasing harm if we ignore them. Climate change is violence against people and against the natural world. Our challenge is to achieve climate justice: justice for our human family, especially those most impacted and threatened by our changing climate, intergenerational justice for children and future generations, and justice for the earth that sustains us all.

It will take people of all religious, spiritual, and philosophical perspectives, working together, to bring about a world of climate justice. Yet instead of the unity we need to address today’s challenges, there is an extreme political and social divide. How can we effectively address climate change in this “climate” of division? Perhaps this season of goodwill can inspire us to reach out beyond the boundaries that separate us and build bridges that unite.

Especially concerning to me are divisions within my own faith tradition, Christianity. But the Christmas story foretells the good news of the compassionate, wise, inclusive, egalitarian, nonviolent Jesus of Nazareth, who challenged the Powers that be and was executed for doing so, and whose Spirit still animates those who seek to follow him. Even today, many pray and work for God’s compassionate will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven,” that is, for a world of peace, goodwill, and abundant life. For some, this includes a yearning for climate justice.

Many people look to the New Year and to the Biden Administration for strong climate action. Some hope to gain bipartisan Congressional support by proposing modest initiatives. But a modest approach would not ensure that the United States does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a scale that would help limit global temperatures to 1.5℃ (2.7℉) above pre-industrial temperatures, the internationally agreed-upon upper limit to prevent runaway climate change.

The only proposed legislation so far that would set annual, science-based emissions reduction targets while also addressing systemic injustice is the Green New Deal. Highlights include guaranteed living-wage jobs and a “just transition” for both workers and frontline communities. As the world has acknowledged since 1992, when the foundational climate treaty was signed at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (which I attended in Rio de Janeiro as part of the United Methodist delegation), the only way to effectively address climate change is to also tackle issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. This would increase goodwill among nations and reduce the violence of climate change.

President-elect Joe Biden has his work cut out for him. Restoring agencies, programs, and competent staff will be a huge task. Restoring international relations is another challenge. Biden is right in saying that rejoining the Paris Climate Accords is important but not enough. Building a world of climate justice will require a strong, diverse, and well-organized global movement that can exert power to demand justice for both people and the earth. Only “people power” will be able to move public officials here and elsewhere to take the strong and coordinated actions necessary to protect those most vulnerable to the ravages of pandemic, poverty, injustices, and climate change and to create a world of inclusion, equity, ecological healing, and peace. Fortunately, this movement for global justice is well underway; it is strong and growing. Its slogan is “Another world is possible.”

During this season, our songs, prayers, decorations, candle-lighting, charitable giving, feasting, exchanging gifts, and other rituals demonstrate and point to hope for the world. As we celebrate the dawning of light, may our varied spiritual traditions inspire us to join together in unity, not just to address climate change as an isolated issue but to work for climate justice and a world of peace, goodwill, and abundant life.

To receive an email notification each time Sharon posts to her blog, click the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right.

Her other blog postings about climate change can be found here.  

 

 

Resisting Banks that Fund Climate Change

Progressive Christian Social Action

 

Resisting Banks that Fund Climate Change

Re-posted here on United Methodist Insight e-magazine.

On September 25, 2019, during the week of the Global Climate Strike, I participated in an action in San Francisco that focused on big banks, in solidarity with the millions of children, young people, and their allies who are calling for emergency action on climate change. Since the Paris Climate Agreement’s adoption in 2016, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing fossil-fuel projects that emit greenhouse gases that induce climate change.  In our San Francisco action, I was one of about 500 people who gathered at the financial district, blocking the doors to banks that invest most heavily in finance fossil fuel projects, primarily the top four banks: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America, all based in the U.S. We also  created a two-block long series of murals that portrayed the world that we want to see. The action included song, dance, chanting, signs and banners, walking a labyrinth (one of the murals), clowning, and street theater.

These actions of creative imagining and resistance to the financial powers highlighted the systemic changes that need to be made if we are to effectively address the climate crisis, changes that go far beyond reducing our individual carbon footprints, investing in renewable energy, trying to convince others that climate change is real, or contacting our elected representatives and voting every four years. For instance, if we follow the money, we will see that there are powerful (embodied) forces at work that are invested in continuing the fossil fuel party until the last reserves of oil, gas, and coal are used up, even though this would result in absolute climate catastrophe and extinguish hope for an abundant future of life on earth.

These embodied institutional forces include fossil fuel companies, which have sown doubt about the reality of climate change despite knowing since the 1970s that their products warm the planet. They include transnational banks and other dominant financial institutions, which invest in fossil fuel projects and lobby government officials who are beholden to them to prevent strong climate action. They include the governments of the world, which (according to the IMF) subsidize fossil fuels at the rate of $10 million per minute.

In my book Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, I write, “The system is designed for the results it is getting, and it is paying off handsomely for those for whom the system is designed.” Published in 2007, with a revised version coming in January 2020, this is still true today.

Of course, we need to go through normal political channels to work for the changes that need to be made.  But there comes a point when we the people need to exercise more political muscle than is possible through so-called “normal” channels.  It becomes imperative for us to call for change in more dramatic ways, in ways that will shake the gates of hell and make a more hopeful future possible.  We must fully face the extremity of our situation. Creative nonviolent direct actions highlight the profound changes that will need to be made if we are to faithfully respond to the cries of the children and to the call of God in this time of climate emergency.

For more information:

See more photos of murals, close up:  San Francisco Climate Strike Street Murals Take Over Wall Street West.

See the report, Banking on Climate Change, which names the banks that have played the biggest role in funding fossil fuel projects. A half-dozen environmental groups — Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Sierra Club, Oil Change International, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Honor the Earth — authored the 2019 report, which was endorsed by 160 organizations worldwide. It tracked the financing for 1,800 companies involved in extracting, transporting, burning, or storing fossil fuels or fossil-generated electricity and examined the roles played by banks worldwide.

Act now:

  • Close your bank accounts in protest if you bank in any of the banks named in “Banking on Climate Change.” Transfer your money and business to a local bank or community credit union.
  • Speak to a manager and ask them to call their main branch to demand that they stop investing in fossil fuel projects and instead invest in clean solutions. You can take this action privately or do it publicly as part of a demonstration after contacting the media and organizing a support rally.
  • Demand that banks divest from fossil fuels.

See article by Sharon Kelly, Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact.

To receive an email notification each time Sharon posts to her blog, click the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right.

Other blog postings about climate change can be found here.