Editor’s Note: With the ineffectiveness of the current environmental movement becoming more and more apparent, people are turning to other means to save the natural world. DGR believes in the use of any technique to save the natural world. However, we also believe that caution should be expanded towards the so called “renewable” energy as well. Also care should be taken in what actions would happen in declaring a climate emergency.
By Chuck Collins/Common Dreams
The 1960s folk singer Malvina Reynolds wrote a song: “It Isn’t Nice,” singing, “It isn’t nice to block the doorway. It isn’t nice to go to jail. There are nicer ways to do it. But the nice ways always fail.”
Keep Malvina in mind as you read about the climate protests next week and in the days to come, including Climate Defiance blocking the doors to Citigroup because of their financing of new oil and gas projects. Prepare to witness a militant escalation of tactics aimed at the fossil fuel industry and their role in delaying society’s response to climate change.
After a summer of floods, fires, droughts, record heat, and weather disruption, we are clearly moving into the “new abnormal,” fueled by increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet even President Biden can’t seem to mouth the words “climate emergency.” As part of the June budget deficit deal, Biden approved an expedited Mountain Valley gas pipeline project along with an unprecedented legal shield against delaying lawsuits.
There are still avenues and pressure points for humanity to avert the worst outcome of climate disruption, which is an extinction event. But this will require bold action in what scientists call the critical decade ahead.
A new United Nations global climate report card finds countries need to catch up in meeting their Paris Agreement goals in reducing emissions. We would be making more progress if an unrepentant fossil fuel industry wasn’t using its considerable clout to block the transition to a clean energy future.
As global leaders gather in New York City for Climate Week and other United Nations meetings, hundreds of thousands will join the March to End Fossil Fuels. Some of them will be “blocking the doorways.”
Actions in Europe presage US coming attractions. Extinction Rebellion UK has blocked roads and building entrances, Just Stop Oil activists threw soup at paintings and disrupted cultural events, while other European activists blocked private jet runways.
Their focus on fossil fuel corporations makes sense. Investigative reporting has revealed that the largest fossil fuel companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, have known about the dangerous repercussions of burning coal, gas and oil for decades. And this week The Wall Street Journal offered its own expose about Exxon’s internal strategy to downplay climate risk.
If governments and the public had known what these corporate leaders knew four decades ago, we could have moved more quickly to a safe energy transition. Instead, the industry has “run out the clock”—making low-hanging fruit adjustments impossible and putting our planet on a trajectory towards ecosystem collapse right up until the present moment.
The leaders of a couple dozen global energy corporations are making conscious decisions to build new infrastructure to extract and burn billions of tons of carbon and methane presently sequestered. A Guardian expose identified 195 carbon bomb projects that would each burn a billion tons of carbon over their lifetime. Private airports are making plans to expand capacity for private jet travel, one of the least defensible forms of luxury excess.
In this context, more people are abandoning our political system as the arena for making change, focusing on private sector responses such as carbon capture technologies, and using militant direct actions to block new oil, gas, and coal infrastructure.
Disruptive direct action, such as efforts by Extinction Rebellion and Climate Defiance, are critical to drawing attention to the fight, an urgency that will only grow as ecological stability unravels. On Earth Day last year, a Colorado activist, Wynn Bruce self-immolated himself on the steps of the Supreme Court as they handed down a decision undermining climate protections.
The collision course between ecological realities and our insufficient societal responses will only intensify. The coming decade will see more Wynn Bruce acts of desperation and eco-sabotage, like that depicted in the dramatic new film, How to Blow Up a Pipeline and the nonfiction book by Andreas Malm with the same name.
Works of future fiction may be preparing us for what may lay ahead. In Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson depicts a murky “black ops” group that leads to private jets falling from the sky and hostage-taking.
In my novel, Altar to an Erupting Sun, a group of terminally-ill grandmothers calling themselves the Good Ancestors self-immolate themselves in the lobby of ExxonMobil, a wake-up call that mobilizes humanity. Other fictional activists focus on preparing their New England communities to face a disrupted future by building local food resilience, mutual aid, and the capacity to welcome climate refugees. In The Deluge, author Stephen Markley describes the radicalization of right and left-wing activists to rising sea level rise and economic collapse.
There are still avenues and pressure points for humanity to avert the worst outcome of climate disruption, which is an extinction event. But this will require bold action in what scientists call the critical decade ahead. What we need is a bold “just transition” program that ends fossil fuels as soon as possible, including a declaration of a climate emergency, a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure, and the elimination of government subsidies for oil, gas, and coal, and its timely phase-out.
Until this program can move forward, be prepared to find people blocking the doorways.
“Direct action is all we have left. Save the world. #Melbourneclimatestrike IMG_5249” by John Englart (Takver) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Editor’s Note: Protests and demands by the mainstream environmental movement has yet failed to make any substantial changes in the ecological health of the natural world. Day by day, the situation is getting worse. Ecosabotage, on the other hand, deals directly with the problem and stops the powerful’s ability to control nature. The following is a communique submitted anonymously to, and originally published by, Unsalted Counter Info.
Reportback from some valve turners
It is with a heavy heart and hazy skies we announce that 2 different pipeline valves were turned off along the Line 5 route on Anishinaabae land in the great lakes region.This was done on the 13th anniversary of the Kalamazoo River oil spill.This was the 2nd largest inland oil spill in amerikkkan history, dumping 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil into the river and causing untold damage to the water, land and those who live on it.
Currently, Enbridge is preparing to construct a concrete tunnel beneath the waters of the so-called Great Lakes to house a dual pipeline system in order to increase flow rates and carry even more tar sands from the lands of the north to refineries in the south. The Straits tunnel project is meant to replace a 70 year old pipe that is hastily secured to the bottom of the lake bed, even free floating in some areas.
Enbridge claims that the tunnel is safe, but a tunnel project beneath the straits is a resource intensive project. The tar sands would continue to be extracted, desecrating the land in northern geographies. The refineries in the south still pumping out toxic fumes that pollute nearby Black neighborhoods. The camps of workers near both the straits and the Bad River reroute still disappearing Indigenous women and relatives.The companies that rely on Enbridge oil still operating in the towns and cities, underpaying workers and enacting anti-Black and anti-Indigenous violence in nearby communities.The tunnel itself, bored through the bedrock beneath the water, containing two high-volume pipelines transporting millions of barrels of oil monthly, operated by a company with a long history of environmental catastrophe.
It’s easy to turn a valve. Every 10 or so miles along the pipeline route there is a pump station. Some of these pump stations are larger than others, some containing more of Enbridge’s infrastructure like work trucks, electrical stations, dynamic machinery, communication systems, and field offices. For us, we found pump stations that simply contained a valve and a small brick structure that contains basic comms and electrical components. Many of these places are remote, with response times that vary from 20 minutes to over an hour. Pump stations often contain a high-definition camera with a motion sensor mounted looking directly at the valve. When the motion sensor is triggered, the structure becomes heavily illuminated by flood lights and begins recording. Nothing some spray paint can’t fix! The structures are always surrounded by a fence and are positioned next to or on top of a service road. The pipeline route is easy to see from a satellite image, as it cuts a clear path through the forest. The valve itself sometimes has a nut that is fitted with a large wrench and turned clockwise until you hear a series of musical notes, indicating that the pressure in the pipe has changed. At some valves, there was actually a big red button that just said STOP, which stops flow immediately. For us, we found it incredibly important to call the emergency Enbridge number listed on the facility and tell them we were shutting off the valve. The engineer on the other side of the line sounded very panicked, and immediately shut off flow to the entirity of Line 5. We did this 5 minutes before actually turning the valve, to ensure that the shut down would happen safely, obviously oil spills aren’t something we want to happen as a result of our actions.
In order to protect the water, the land and all the relatives that live on it, companies like Enbridge must stop extractive projects like tar sands. They must stop the flow of oil, because all of our lives depend on it.
And if they don’t, we will.
Photo by Igal Ness on Unsplash
The 2023 DGR conference is scheduled for late August in northern California. This annual gathering is an opportunity for our community to share skills, reflect on our work, strengthen our connections, and plan for the future. While this conference is only open to DGR members, we do invite friends and allies on a case-by-case basis. If you’re interested in attending, please contact us, and if you’d like to donate to support the conference, click here.
Editor’s Note: A successful environmental movement will result from a coordination between aboveground political action and underground action against critical infrastructures. For security of the overall movement, DGR remains an aboveground organization. We do not have any links with any sort of underground groups. The following is a piece that is republished from Act for Freedom about three attacks against critical infrastructure in Chile.
Via Sans Nom (trans. by Act for Freedom)
Los Álamos (Chile), June 9, 2023. The pylon of the high-voltage power line failed to withstand the shock of the attack.
In the course of one long weekend, three explosive attacks hit various critical infrastructures in Chile. On Friday June 9, 2023, two high-voltage pylons were hit first. One at dawn in the municipality of Placilla, some ten kilometers east of Valparaíso, where Chile’s largest port and industrial facilities are located. The second, at around 11 p.m., took place in Los Álamos (Bío Bío region), home to the special forces bases of the Carabineros and the Navy, one of the centers of Chile’s repressive policies. While the first pylon, with two of its four support bars damaged, remained standing, the second collapsed to the ground, cutting off power between Cañete and Tirúa in the Los Álamos area.
The third attack occurred at around 3am on Tuesday June 13, on the railway bridge over the Itata river in the Ñuble region. The bridge, whose sleepers were blown up and rails shattered by the explosion, is used for freight trains, and in particular for the movement of raw materials such as the thousands of industrial eucalyptus trees destined to supply the Nueva Aldea pulp mill of the Arauco company (Angelini Group). Owned by Chile’s national railroad company (EFE), the line was operated by Ferrocarril del Pacífico (Fepasa), the main rail freight company in the south-central region of the country.
Following this series of coordinated attacks on strategic infrastructure in three different regions of Chile, (leftist) President Gabriel Boric took the opportunity to call an extraordinary meeting of all branches of government, at which he set the objective of making a reform proposal within 30 days, to simplify the Anti-Terrorism Act to facilitate prosecutions. As is always the case in such cases, the aim is on the one hand for the government to make an announcement to assert that it is not standing idly by, and on the other hand to reinforce the authoritarian face of the state by bringing out an old project that was already in its files. Finally, investigators from the Carabinieri’s OS-9 group announced that they would be studying footage of toll roads located near the attack sites, and that they were also in the process of collecting data on which phones were active near the affected infrastructures on the days and times of the attacks.
On June 14, 2023, in a communiqué sent to the press, these three consecutive attacks were claimed by a new coordination that had joined the panorama of diffuse guerrilla groups already present in Chile (notably in Mapuche territory): the Movimiento 18 de Octubre, or October 18 Movement, whose name is an explicit reference to the Chilean uprising that broke out on that day four years ago, following an increase in ticket prices. On October 18, 2019, the first day of the uprising, 77 of the capital’s 136 metro stations had been destroyed (20 of them completely burned), before it spread over several months.
In the communique, the October 18 Movement begins by taking responsibility for “three explosive attacks on capitalist infrastructures: the sabotage perpetrated in Valparaíso by Comando Mauricio Arenas Bejas, in Bío Bío by Comando Lafkenche Pilmaiquen and in Ñuble by Comando Luisa Toledo”.
One of these groups takes its name from Mapuche territory (the Pilmaiquen river flows through the territory of the coastal Mapuche, the Lafkenche). The second is named after Mauricio Arenas Bejas, one of those responsible for the attempted assassination of General-Dictator Pinochet on September 7, 1986, who was arrested and shot seven times in the body by the police the following year, then escaped from Púbica prison in 1990, before dying the following year at the age of 33. As for Luisa Toledo, who died in 2021 at the age of 82, she was a left-wing militant respected in many revolutionary milieus, notably for her struggle under the Pinochet dictatorship (but not only) for the memory of her two sons murdered by carabinieri in 1985 (they were members of the MIR), and also for her participation/defense of riotous demonstrations under democracy, including those of the October 2019 uprising.
As for the more precise content of this first claim of the October 18 Movement, which concludes with “Freedom for all political prisoners of the revolt, for the Mapuche, for the anarchists and for the subversives. A new ghost haunts Chile”, here is a longer excerpt translated from Spanish:
“The whole legal-political framework [that of drafting a new Constitution] undoubtedly seeks to consolidate the new process of capitalist accumulation through dispossession, where land and water have become the new commodities at the expense of the people under the pretext of economic growth. And here again, the government, which claims to be left-wing, has put its stamp of approval on the TPP11 [Free Trade Treaty between 11 countries in the Pacific zone signed in 2018], with the expansion of the Los Bronces mining company, the Quintero-Puchuncavi industrial pollution and its crude denial of the ecological disaster that the logging industry has generated in Wallmapu…. The new order conceived by the political and business classes seeks to annihilate the dignified Mapuche resistance that, day after day, confronts the logging companies and landowners who usurp their ancestral territory. In recent weeks, we’ve seen how the government and the right have orchestrated an operation to punish Mapuche political prisoners in Angol prison, dispersing them to different jails and removing them from their communities and families. We understand that Mapuche resistance upsets the capitalists, who have their interests in Mapuche territory, and that’s why they need to strike at their morale in an attempt to subdue them. But we also know that they won’t succeed despite the state of emergency, the unprecedented militarization and the legislative agenda of the political class that has passed the law against timber theft and will soon enact the Ley de usurpaciones, which aims to protect private property against land occupations [by lengthening the duration of sentences and making it easier to incarcerate illegal occupiers]. In this context, we send our fraternal greetings to the people of the Mapuche nation, its political prisoners on hunger strike and its communities in resistance, and may they count on us for future conspiracies.”
And finally, it would have been a shame to not mention the official statement by Chile’s Attorney General, Ángel Valencia, interviewed on Tuesday June 20 on T13 Radio, in which he commented on the triple attack: “Up to now, we have investigated incidents involving explosive devices located in urban areas. The fact that these were in rural areas presents us with an additional challenge in terms of evidence. In urban areas, we have surveillance cameras or Bip! cards [urban transport cards] and other electronic elements which help us to locate those responsible for the attacks. In the countryside, it’s much harder to find such clues. We’re talking here about attacks on critical infrastructure, and there’s no doubt that the situation is worrying.”
Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: The mainstream environmental movement has failed to save the natural world. A baby step in the right direction has been counterbalanced by a giant leap against Earth. DGR has been speaking up for sabotage of key infrastructures for the past decade. Now, more and more individuals and groups are waking up to the asymmetrical nature of our struggles and to the necessity to use any means that we can. The following piece from Truthout argues that ecosabotage of gas and oil pipelines has become a heroic action to save the planet.
By David Klein/Truthout
The environmental movement has offered waves of demonstrations, petition drives, lobbying and other forms of protest. Yet, despite all that, Earth and its inhabitants are losing the war waged against us by capitalism. It follows that a reevaluation of strategy and tactics of the environmental movement is in order, including a closer examination of how nonviolence should be understood and practiced.
Consider first the current trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions. Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, the three main greenhouse gases, continue to rise setting new records each year. Earth’s atmosphere now has carbon concentrations not encountered since 15 million years ago, about the time our ancestors became recognizably hominoid.
Alas, more is on the way. According to the International Monetary Fund: “Globally, fossil fuel subsidies were $5.9 trillion in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of GDP and are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025.” Moreover, global direct subsidies nearly doubled in 2021, and to facilitate fossil fuel transport, more than 24,000 kilometers of new oil pipelines are under development around the world.
While it is true that renewable energy systems are also expanding worldwide at a rapid pace, solar panels, wind turbines and the like neither help nor harm the climate. What matters for the climate are greenhouse gas concentrations, and, as noted above, those are on the rise. By its very nature, capitalism expands in all profitable directions, and fossil fuels continue to be profitable.
In this context, we need to ask ourselves whether the destruction of planet-killing machinery is necessarily an act of violence. The answer should be no, because it prevents violence against nature. But, as a whole, the environmental movement’s dedication to the strict avoidance of property destruction is extreme in comparison to virtually all other social justice movements.
As Andreas Malm ironically writes about the movement in his book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline “admittedly, violence occurred in the struggle against slavery, against male monopoly on the vote, against British and other colonial occupations, against apartheid, against the poll tax, but the struggle against fossil fuels is of a wholly different character and will succeed only on the condition of utter peacefulness.” Has nonviolence, even against the machinery of planetary ecocide, devolved from a tactic to a fetish?
The Example of Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya
Consider the case of Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya. In the summer of 2016, Jessica Reznicek, then a 35-year-old spiritual activist following the tradition of the Catholic Worker and the Plowshares movements, and Ruby Montoya, a 27-year-old former preschool teacher and Catholic Worker, carried out multiple acts of sabotage against pipelines and machinery used in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.
During the night Donald Trump was elected president, the two women trespassed onto the construction site of Energy Transfer, the conglomerate of companies behind the pipeline, and burned down five pieces of heavy machinery. Thereafter they learned how to use welding torches to destroy valves on steel pipes, and during the year 2017 managed to sabotage pipelines up and down the state of Iowa. They also successfully continued their arson attacks against the heavy machinery used in the construction of the pipeline. Both took great care to make sure that no people were ever harmed by their actions, and their campaign of sabotage was not precipitous. In a press release just after their arrests in 2017, Reznicek and Montoya wrote:
After having explored and exhausted all avenues of process, including attending public commentary hearings, gathering signatures for valid requests for Environmental Impact Statements, participating in Civil Disobedience, hunger strikes, marches and rallies, boycotts and encampments, we saw the clear deficiencies of our government to hear the people’s demands.
Instead, the courts and public officials allowed these corporations to steal permissions from landowners and brutalize the land, water, and people. Our conclusion is that the system is broken and it is up to us as individuals to take peaceful action and remedy it, and this we did, out of necessity…
If there are any regrets, it is that we did not act enough.
Please support and stand with us in this journey because we all need this pipeline stopped.
Water is Life, oil is death.
Both women had previously locked themselves to backhoes and had been arrested several times for nonviolent civil disobedience, but with little impact. By way of contrast, the organization Stop Fossil Fuels described Reznicek and Montoya’s eco-sabotage as “1000 times more efficient than the above ground campaigns,” resulting in a two-month delay of the pipeline completion, from their solo actions alone. Their destruction of heavy machinery and steel pipes was impressively effective, but their protection of Earth’s biosphere came at a high cost.
Following one of the most aggressive prosecutions of environmentalists in U.S. history, Reznicek and Montoya each faced a maximum of 110 years in prison. After accepting plea agreements, Reznicek expected to get four years, but Judge Rebecca Ebinger added a terrorism enhancement to her sentence which doubled her time in prison to eight years. Subsequently, Montoya was given a terrorism enhancement by the same judge resulting in a sentence of six years. Each has been ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution.
The severity of the sentences given to Reznicek and Montoya may be contrasted with sentences meted out to January 6, 2021, attackers of the U.S. Capitol. During the January 6 attack, defendant David Judd launched a lit object into a tunnel full of police and others in order to clear a path so that the mob could stop the transfer of power from Trump to Joe Biden. The judge, Trevor McFadden, sentenced Judd to 32 months, barely over a third of what prosecutors had requested, and declined to add a terrorism enhancement requested by prosecutors.
Another January 6 attacker, Guy Reffitt, was shown in court to have “carried a firearm, was a member of a right wing militia group and threatened a witness afterward.” The Judge, Dabney Freidrich, rejected a terrorism enhancement and sentenced Reffitt to 7.25 years, less time than Reznicek’s sentence.
Based on the decisions of the three federal judges involved in these cases, one may conclude that the U.S. legal system considers defending Earth in the manner of the Plowshares Movement as terrorism, whereas attempting to overthrow the U.S. government via a right-wing coup is not. This conclusion is reinforced by the recent charges of domestic terrorism of 42 forest defenders in Atlanta. Even legendary environmental activist Erin Brockovich has been linked to terrorist threats by Ohio police. The real purpose of lengthy prison terms and the “terrorism” designation is to defend the interests of capital above all else.
Certainly, Reznicek and Montoya are not the only activists who have made major personal sacrifices in the defense of nature. More than 1,700 environmental defenders from around the world have been murdered between 2012 and 2021 for that cause, and more recently, forest defender Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (Tortuguita) was killed by Georgia police. There are also other courageous U.S. activists, including “valve turners” facing prison terms, but they have largely been ignored and neglected by the U.S. environmental movement.
Using current technology, researchers have unequivocally demonstrated that renewable energy generation, electrified mass transportation, regenerative agriculture, and sustainable building structures are easily within the grasp of humanity. Alternative, eco-socialist systems of human relations that could replace the cancer of capitalism have also been discussed and proposed. Such a future is still possible, but barely so. It is time to put more emphasis on resistance, as opposed merely to protest. Ultimately, saving the planet from the worst effects of the climate crisis will require global working-class leadership and self-emancipation, together with broad support from the middle classes.
At the time of this writing, the environmental movement is losing the struggle to save the biosphere and losing badly. Punishments for civil disobedience are increasing and can be as severe as punishments for property destruction. Republican legislatures in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills in 2021 alone. These range from criminalizing protests and making blocking traffic on a highway a felony, to granting immunity to drivers who injure or kill protesters.
The kinds of actions carried out by Reznicek, Montoya and others have the potential to capture greater attention, galvanize a broader mobilization, and thus play a critical role in resisting the destruction of the planetary biosphere. As Malm puts it in How to Blow Up a Pipeline:
The immediate purpose of such a campaign against CO2 emitting property, then, would be twofold: establish a disincentive to invest in more of it and demonstrate that it can be put out of business. The first would not require that all new devices be disabled or dismantled, only enough to communicate the risk. Strict selectivity would need to be observed.
Not every environmental activist is willing to risk the long prison terms, or worse, that could result from such actions. Nor should they be expected to. That kind of commitment requires extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice, like that exhibited by Reznicek and Montoya. But the rest of us can at least honor and support those who do take those risks.
These two women, now languishing in prison, deserve more support from U.S. environmentalists than they have received so far (though an online petition is available). Demanding presidential pardons would be a first step. But beyond that, nominations for awards to recognize their sacrifices and contributions would be an important step forward. Nominating Reznicek and Montoya for awards such as the Right Livelihood Award, Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, or Presidential Medal of Freedom would go a long way in advancing the movement to save Mother Earth.
If climate justice activists are unable to recognize and offer full-throated support to the most selfless and courageous among us, what chance do we have to reverse the course of destruction of our planet?
Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission
Photo by SELİM ARDA ERYILMAZ on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: The Earth is dying and the industrial civilization is killing it. Decades of the environmental movement has not only failed to stop the ecocide, let alone even to slow it down. By the time you finish reading this article, a species will have gone extinct. We’ve tried peaceful negotiations. We’ve lobbied. We’ve protested. We’ve organized non violent direct action. Yet, what seems to be the most effective action is sabotage of infrastructures, be it the attack on Saudi oil wells or on the Niger Delta. DGR is an aboveground organization, yet believes that it is necessary to use any means necessary to bring down the industrial civilization. You can know the difference between an underground and an aboveground organization here.
The following is a communique from an underground group. It is posted from BC Counter Info.
Over the past few months, several sections of the coastal gaslink pipeline have been vandalized. Financially, the consequences of each act were minor: a few holes in the pipeline here, some corroded welding seams there, damaged concrete here. Our goal was to contribute to the small delays in a project that was already well over budget.
- We drilled holes less than a penny wide in a section of pipe that had not yet been lowered into the trench. We covered the holes with fiberglass film, which temporarily prevents leaks in the pipes, but only lasts a few months. We know that welded sections of coated pipe are assessed before being lowered into the trench. After the trench is backfilled, they are tested under pressure. The holes were sealed in the hope that they would pass the first pressure test, but will have to be excavated and repaired before the pipeline is completed. This occurred during the last week of October on section 8 of the pipeline, between Kilometers 610 and 613.
- Between 585 and 588 kilometers of the pipeline, we found a section of pipe that had been dug out, so we damaged the coating at the joints by chipping and sanding it off in less visible places. This coating is needed to protect the pipe from corrosion and rust. We did this in early November. We liked this approach because the damage is not visible, but can still have a significant long-term structural impact if corrosion and rust show up, so it will need to be fixed.
- We drilled very small holes and filled them this time with an epoxy putty, somewhere between Kilometers 605 and 608 of the pipeline route (that’s in section 8.) We did this in the second week of November. We weren’t sure if the sealant would withstand the pressure test, but decided it was worth a try since this sealant is easier to source and use than the fiberglass coating.
- At the end of November, we drilled and filled holes in the pipe string before it would be lowered into section 6 of the pipeline between Kilometers 486 and 489.
- In early December, we chipped and busted the welds on a section of pipe that had not yet been lowered into the trench between Kilometers 606 and 609.
- We damaged the protective coating on a section of pipe by chipping and grinding, and chipped a welded seam on several sections of pipe before they were backfilled between Kilometer 377 and 380 of section 5 of the pipeline. This work was performed in early January.
- Near Kilometer 27 of North Hirsch forestry road we damaged welds and coating on a pipe section in the middle of January.
- We poured hydrochloric acid on the concrete pipes we knew were meant for the tunnel under Wedzin Kwa and used a concrete drill inside the pipe to weaken them even further. The concrete pipes are designed to protect the pipe itself from the pressure of the surrounding soil. Given the heightened security and surveillance of concrete pipe storage, we can’t say when this happened.
- In early December, we grinded and chipped the coating on the welded seams of the pipe sections between Kilometers 598 to 601.
- In mid February, we scraped and chipped large portions of the pipe coating of the string between Kilometers 626 and 629.
Or is that in fact what happened? Only some of these activities have actually taken place. We waited to share this information all at once, complete with some additional false reports, so the only way to know where repairs are really needed is to excavate and re-examine all the above-mentioned pipes. Cracked concrete or rusted and patched pipes can lead to small leaks and large-scale spills, which is why every action, whether genuine or falsified, is being brought to the attention of the public long before the pipeline is operational.
While we would prefer to write only completely honest report backs, we also believe that we should be resourceful and use every means at our disposal to delay construction as best we can. We apologize to those involved in the struggle for not being able to give you an accurate picture of what we have really accomplished. CGL we wish you all the best in your treasure hunt.
Banner “construction of the gas pipeline” by npcaonline is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Editor’s note: Any movement, if effective in challenging the status quo, is bound to face persecution from the state. The persecution may come in many forms, from defamation, to legal action, to outright murder. The twenty year long COINTELPRO program was run by the FBI to destabilize many movements including African-American, Native Americans and communist movements across the United States. A variety of methods was used to achieve the goal.
The Green Scare is the set of tactics used by FBI in the early twenty-first century to discredit and persecute the radical environmental movement. The following article discusses the Green Scare, putting it in context of the recent demise of Dave Foreman, a found of Earth First! and an early target of Green Scare.
By Jeffrey St. Clair – Joshua Frank/CounterPunch
Dave Foreman, whose vision spawned a radical wave of the US environmental movement, passed away this week at the age of 74 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was controversial, he was stubborn, but he wasn’t one to compromise the fight to save wilderness and open space. The following piece on Foreman’s foray with federal law enforcement first appeared in our book, The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. – Jeffrey St. Clair & Joshua Frank
Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!, awoke at five in the morning on May 30, 1989, to the sound of three FBI agents shouting his name in his Tucson, Arizona home. Foreman’s wife Nancy answered the door frantically and was shoved aside by brawny FBI agents as they raced toward their master bedroom where her husband was sound asleep, naked under the sheets, with plugs jammed in his ears to drown out the noise of their neighbor’s barking Doberman pincher. By the time Foreman came to, the agents were surrounding his bed in bulletproof vests wielding .357 Magnums.
He immediately thought of the murder of Fred Hampton in Chicago, expecting to be shot in cold blood. But as Foreman put it, “Being a nice, middle-class honky male, they can’t get away with that stuff quite as easily as they could with Fred, or with all the Native people on the Pine Ridge Reservation back in the early 70s.”
So instead of firing off a few rounds, they jerked a dazed Foreman from his slumber, let him pull on a pair of shorts, and hauled him outside where they threw him in the back of an unmarked vehicle. It took over six hours before Foreman even knew why he had been accosted by Federal agents.
Foreman’s arrest was the culmination of three years and two million tax dollars spent in an attempt to frame a few Earth First! activists for conspiring to damage government and private property. The FBI infiltrated Earth First! groups in several states with informants and undercover agent-provocateurs. Over 500 hours of tape recordings of meetings, events, and casual conversations had been amassed. Phones had been tapped and homes were broken into. The FBI was doing its best to intimidate radical environmentalists across the country, marking them as a potential threat to national security.
It was the FBI’s first case of Green Scare.
The day before Foreman was yanked from bed and lugged into the warm Arizona morning, two so-called co-conspirators, biologist Marc Baker and antinuclear activist Mark Davis were arrested by some 50 agents on horseback and on foot, with a helicopter hovering above as they stood at the base of a power line tower in the middle of desert country in Wenden, Arizona, 200 miles northwest of Foreman’s home. The next day Peg Millet, a self-described “redneck woman for wilderness,” was arrested at a nearby Planned Parenthood where she worked. Millet earlier evaded the FBI’s dragnet.
Driven to the site by an undercover FBI agent, the entire episode, as Foreman put it, was the agent’s conception. Foreman, described by the bureau as the guru and financier of the operation, was also pegged for having thought up the whole elaborate scheme, despite the fact that their evidence was thin.
Back in the 1970s, the FBI issued a memo to their field offices stating that when attempting to break up dissident groups, the most effective route was to forget about hard intelligence or facts. Simply make a few arrests and hold a public press conference. Charges could later be dropped. It didn’t matter; by the time the news hit the airwaves and was printed up in the local newspapers, the damage had already been done.
It was the FBI’s assertion that the action stopped by the arrests under that Arizona power line in late May 1989, was to be a test run for a much grander plot involving Davis, Baker, Millet, and the group’s leader, Dave Foreman. The FBI charged the four with the intent to damage electrical transmission lines that lead to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado.
“The big lie that the FBI pushed at their press conference the day after the arrests were that we were a bunch of terrorists conspiring to cut the power lines into the Palo Verde and Diablo Canyon nuclear facilities in order to cause a nuclear meltdown and threaten public health and safety,” explained Foreman.
In the late 1980s, the FBI launched operation THERMCON in response to an act of sabotage of the Arizona Snowbowl ski lift near Flagstaff, Arizona that occurred in October 1987, allegedly by Davis, Millet, and Baker. Acting under the quirky name, Evan Mecham Eco-Terrorist International Conspiracy (EMETIC) — the eco-saboteurs wrecked several of the company’s ski lifts, claiming that structures were cutting into areas of significant biological importance.
This was not the first act the group claimed responsibility for. A year prior EMETIC sent a letter declaring they inflicted damage at the Fairfield Snow Bowl near Flagstaff. The group’s letter also included a jovial threat to “chain the Fairfield CEO to a tree at the 10,000-foot level and feed him shrubs and roots until he understands the suicidal folly of treating the planet primarily as a tool for making money.”
The group used an acetylene torch to cut bolts from several of the lift’s support towers, making them inoperable. Upon receiving the letter, the Arizona ski resort was forced to shut down the lift in order to do repairs, which rang up to over $50,000.
But the big allegations heaved at these eco-saboteurs weren’t for dislodging a few bolts at a quaint ski resort in the heart of the Arizona mountains, or for inconveniencing a few ski bums from their daily excursions. No, the big charges were levied at the group for allegedly plotting to disrupt the functions of the Rocky Flats nuclear facility hundreds of miles away. Ironically, at the moment of their arrests, the FBI was simultaneously looking into public health concerns due to an illegal radioactive waste leak at the nuclear power site, which led Earth First! activist Mike Roselle to quip, “ [the FBI] would have discharged its duty better by assisting in a conspiracy to cut power to Rocky Flats, instead of trying to stop one.”
Gerry Spence climbed into his private jet in Jackson, Wyoming estate almost immediately upon hearing about the FBI arrest of Dave Foreman in Arizona. Spence had made a name for himself among environmental activists in the late-1970s for his case against energy company Kerr-McGee, when he provided legal services to the family of former employee Karen Silkwood, who died suspiciously after she charged the company with environmental abuses at one of their most productive nuclear facilities. Silkwood, who made plutonium pellets for nuclear reactors, had been assigned by her union to investigate health and safety concerns at a Kerr-McGee plant near Crescent, Oklahoma. In her monitoring of the facility, Silkwood found dozens of evident regulatory violations, including faulty respiratory equipment as well as many cases of workers being exposed to radioactive material.
Silkwood went public after her employer ignored her and her union’s concerns, even going as far as to testify to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) about the issues, claiming that regulations were sidestepped in an attempt to up the speed of production. She also claimed that workers had been mishandling nuclear fuel rods, but the company has covered up the incidences by falsifying inspection reports.
On the night of November 13, 1974, Silkwood left a union meeting in Crescent with documents in hand to drive to Oklahoma City where she was to meet and discuss Kerr-McGee’s alleged violations with a union official and two New York Times reporters. She never made it. Silkwood’s body was found the next day in the driver’s seat of her car on the side of the road, stuck in a culvert. She was pronounced dead on the scene and no documents were found in her vehicle.
An independent private investigation revealed that Silkwood was in full control of her car when it was struck from behind and forced off to the side of the road. According to the private investigators, the steering wheel of her car was bent in a manner that showed conclusively that Silkwood was prepared for the blow of the accident as it occurred. She had not been asleep at the wheel as investigators initially thought. The coroner concluded she had not died as a result of the accident, but possibly from suffocation.
No arrests or charges were ever made. Silkwood’s children and father filed a lawsuit against Kerr-McGee on behalf of her estate. Gerry Spence was their lead attorney. An autopsy of Silkwood’s body showed extremely high levels of plutonium contamination. Lawyers for Kerr-McGee argued first that the levels found were in the normal range. but after evidence was presented to the contrary, they were forced to argue that Silkwood had likely poisoned herself.
Spence had been victorious. Kerr-McGee’s defense was caught in a series of unavoidable contradictions. Silkwood’s body was laden with poison as a result of her work at the nuclear facility. In her death, Spence vindicated her well-documented claims. The initial jury verdict was for the company to pay $505,000 in damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages. Kerr-McGee appealed and drastically reduced the jury’s verdict, but the initial ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court. On the way to a retrial, the company agreed to pay $1.38 million to the Silkwood estate.
Gerry Spence was not cowed by the antics of the Kerr-McGee Corporation, and when he agreed to take on Dave Foreman’s case pro-bono, justice seemed to be on the horizon for Earth First! activists as well.
“Picture a little guy out there hacking at a dead steel pole, an inanimate object, with a blowtorch. He’s considered a criminal,” said Spence, explaining how he planned to steer the narrative of Foreman’s pending trial. “Now see the image of a beautiful, living, 400-year-old-tree, with an inanimate object hacking away at it. This non-living thing is corporate America, but the corporate executives are not considered criminals at all.”
Like so many of the FBI charges brought against radical activists throughout the years, the case against Dave Foreman was less exciting than the investigation that led up to his arrest. The bureau had done its best to make Foreman and Earth First! out to be the most threatening activists in America.
Spence was not impressed and in fact argued as much, stating the scope of the FBI’s operation THERMCON was “very similar to the procedures the FBI used during the 1960s against dissident groups.” Spence was right. Similar to the movement disruption exemplified by COINTELPRO against Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers, and the American Indian Movement, the FBI’s crackdown on Earth First! in the late 1980s had many alarming parallels to the agency of old.
“Essentially what we need to understand is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was formed during the Palmer Raids in 1921, was set up from the very beginning to inhibit internal political dissent. They rarely go after criminals. They’re thought police,” said Foreman of the FBI’s motives for targeting environmentalists. “Let’s face it, that’s what the whole government is. Foreman’s first law of government reads that the purpose of the state, and all its constituent elements, is the defense of an entrenched economic elite and philosophical orthodoxy. Thankfully, there’s a corollary to that law—they aren’t always very smart and competent in carrying out their plans.”
The man who was paid to infiltrate Earth First! under the guise of THERMCON was anything but competent. Special agent Michael A. Fain, stationed in the FBI’s Phoenix office, befriended Peg Millet and began attending Earth First! meetings in the area. Fain, who went by the alias, Mike Tait, posed as a Vietnam vet who dabbled in construction and gave up booze after his military service. On more than one occasion, while wearing a wire, Fain had tried to entice members of Earth First! in different acts of vandalism. They repeatedly refused.
During pre-trial evidence discovery, the defense was allowed to listen to hours of Fain’s wire-tapings, when they found that the not-so-careful agent inadvertently forgot to turn off his recorder. Fain, while having a conversation with two other agents at a Burger King after a brief meeting with Foreman, spoke about the status of his investigation, exclaiming, “I don’t really look for them to be doing a lot of hurting people… [Dave Foreman] isn’t really the guy we need to pop — I mean in terms of an actual perpetrator. This is the guy we need to pop to send a message. And that’s all we’re really doing… Uh-oh! We don’t need that on tape! Hoo boy!”
Here the FBI was publicly vilifying these Earth First!ers, while privately admitting that they posed no real threat. “[The agency is acting] as if [its] dealing with the most dangerous, violent terrorists that the country’s ever known,” explained Spence at the time. “And what we are really dealing with is ordinary, decent human beings who are trying to call the attention of America to the fact that the Earth is dying.”
The FBI’s rationale for targeting Foreman was purely political as he was one of the most prominent and well-spoken radical environmentalists of the time. Despite their claims that they were not directly targeting Earth First! or Foreman, and were instead investigating threats of sabotage of power lines that led to a nuclear power plant — their public indictment painted quite a different story.
“Mr. Foreman is the worst of the group,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Dokken announced to the court. “He sneaks around in the background … I don’t like to use the analogy of a Mafia boss, but they never do anything either. They just sent their munchkins out to do it.”
But agent Michael Fain’s on-tape gaffes were simply too much for the prosecution to manage, and the case against Foreman, having been deferred almost seven years, was finally reduced in 1996 to a single misdemeanor and a meager $250 in fines. The $2 million the FBI wasted tracking Earth First! over the latter part of the 1980s had only been nominally successful. Yet the alleged ringleader was still free. Unfortunately, the FBI may have gotten exactly what they wanted all along. Dave Foreman later stepped down as spokesman to Earth First! and inherited quite a different role in the environmental movement — one of invisibility and near silence.
Peg Millet, Mark Davis, and Marc Baker were all sentenced separately in 1991 for their involvement in their group EMETIC’s acts of ecotage against the expansion of Arizona Snowbowl. Davis got 6 years and $19,821 in restitution. Millet only 3 years, with the same fine, while Baker only received 6 months and a $5,000 fine.
Little did these activists know that their capture and subsequent arraignments were only the beginning. THERMCON’s crackdown of Earth First! would prove to be a dry-run for the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and trolled on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch. Joshua Frank is managing editor of CounterPunch. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank.
Featured Image: by Robert J. Pleasants Papers, WWII 73, WWII Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.