#MillionMaskMarch Ruins Former NSA Director’s Visit to Dallas

PicMonkey Collage

Dallas Hyatt Regency Hotel, November 5, 2014 – Students spoiled a $70/plate UNT luncheon featuring former NSA director Keith Alexander by showing up with a banner quoting Edward Snowden, whose whisteblowing led to Alexander’s resignation last year. The banner read: “Every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, friend you keep, site you visit, subject line you type is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited, -Edward Snowden.”

After the students with the banner had been removed from the hotel, lunch was served and Keith Alexander started his speech on “terrorism” and the need for “cybersecurity”. At that point, another protester stood up from a table, yelling that Alexander is the real terrorist, that unlimited surveillance is terrorism and that UNT shouldn’t welcome war criminals.


Over a hundred people attended the luncheon, which was held at the Dallas Hyatt Regency hotel.

The protester, who preferred to remain anonymous, later explained, “Keith Alexander should be booed off stage anywhere he goes. He’s a terrorist and a criminal who broke every rule of decency and democracy, presiding over torture at Abu Ghraib and lying to all of us about the NSA’s illegal pursuit of total surveillance. My skin crawled just being in the same room as such a disgusting war criminal – not to mention all the wannabe war profiteers and corporate crooks who showed up to hear him speak.”

The event was part of the University of North Texas’s Kuehne Speaker Series on National Security. It was also the fourth time that UNT students have disrupted university-hosted speaking events by Bush-era war criminals, including George W. Bush himself, Robert Gates, and Condaleeza Rice.

“Students don’t want our money being spent to host warmongers like Keith Alexander. UNT needs to stop giving these Bush-era criminals a platform,” said UNT student Jon Adams.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/nsanov5/

Pipeline Spill Reaches Only Natural Lake in Texas, Despite EPA and Sunoco Claims

oil sheenOn October 13th Sunoco Logistics’ Mid-Valley pipeline leaked at least 4,000 barrels of crude oil into Tete Bayou, a tributary that feeds Caddo Lake. For the last two weeks Sunoco has maintained that no oil has reached the lake itself, claiming that the spill was fully contained within the tributary. The EPA is also covering for Sunoco, insisting no oil has reached Caddo Lake, which is a major source of drinking water for thousands. Surprise! Sunoco and the EPA are wrong. Again.

“We’ve had reconnaissance on the spill pathway by foot, by boat and by air,” Bill Rhotenberry, area EPA investigator, said. “The oil has not reached the lake. The oil is approximately four tenths to five tenths of a mile upstream.”

It is almost always the case that whenever oil spills the corporation responsible lies about the harmful impacts and unfortunately our regulators often do very little to shine a light on the realities of the damage. The Caddo Lake spill is no exception. When Tar Sands Blockade heard the claim that “no oil had reached the lake,” we found that very hard to believe. We sent a small team to check it out for ourselves and as you can see, oil has very clearly reached the lake itself.

The amount of oil that has reached Caddo Lake is hard for us to estimate, suffice it to say it’s enough to burn the nostrils and cause headaches. The stench was overwhelming at times, and the oil thick enough to coat the sides of our canoe.

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photo credit KSLA News 12

It needs to be said that Sunoco and the EPA must be aware of this fact and both seem to be intentionally misleading the public. This overhead photo of where Tete Bayou meets Caddo Lake shows containment booms across most of bayou inlet; however, the booms DO NOT completely encircle the mouth of Tete Bayou and oil is freely flowing around them. Close up photos of the cloth booms reveal that some oil is being captured in the lake itself, yet nowhere in any news reports has this information been made public.

The Mid-Valley pipeline has spilled 40 times in the last 8 years. The law firm helping impacted residents reports that, “Property damages caused by these spills and leaks total at least $7.5 million. In 2000, 63,000 gallons of oil spilled into Campit Lake in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, due to pipeline corrosion. About 260,000 gallons spilled into the Kentucky River due to a rupture caused by girth weld failure in a pipe laid in 1950. Construction crews struck the pipeline in Burlington, Kentucky, causing 115,000 gallons to spill, 80 homes to be evacuated, and oil contaminating the sanitary sewer system and a creek. Approximately 20,000 gallons leaked into a nature reserve near Cincinnati in March, 2014 through a bottom-side dent that contained a five-inch through-wall crack in the pipeline. The spill was only discovered when public complaints came in about the odor. Remediation efforts are still underway over seven months later.”

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Cloth boom on Caddo Lake, evidence oil has reached the lake itself

To add insult to injury, federal pipeline regulators (PHMSA) have already given the green light for Sunoco to restart the Mid-Valley pipeline despite an admission by Sunoco spokesman Jeffrey P. Shields that “The cause of the failure is undetermined.”  The Mid-Valley pipeline is 65 years old! Evidently it is not fit for operation, since over the span of the last eight years it has spilled an average of once every 10 weeks. Nonetheless, PHMSA can find no reason to prevent Sunoco from resuming regular operations.  The pipeline delivers crude oil from Longview, Texas to Midwestern refineries and terminates near Detroit.

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Contaminated water flowing around Sunoco’s containment area. Evidence that oil is able to flow out into Caddo Lake.

Sunoco now claims that it has recovered over 3000 out of the roughly 4000 barrels that spilled, yet it also admits that is does not know exactly how many barrels spilled, it can only estimate. So far over 400 dead animals have been found by work crews, and by all accounts there is still a lot of area where remediation has not yet even started. In the area we investigated, the lack of marine life was noticeable. We spent hours in the bayou and never saw so much as a frog. The water surface, usually dancing with insects, was devoid of life.

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View of perimeter of containment area. Once again, oil is moving around the absorbent booms out into Caddo Lake.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/caddolake/

Landmark Keystone XL Trial Underway in Oklahoma

UPDATE: 11:30am– The six jurors have been selected! When it comes time to deliberate, only a simple majority (4 of 6) is required to reach a verdict in this case. Court in now in recess for Lunch. Will resume at 12:45

UPDATE: 10:45am– Jury selection still ongoing. Alec’s lawyer has asked the jury pool questions about who they think is responsible for protecting the public commons that we all depend on (the government? the people? corporations?), and how they feel about climate change.  Can humans influence climate long term? He has also asked if they have ever been so concerned about an issue that they took action to do something about it. What kinds of actions would be justified?

UPDATE: 9:15am, jury selection has begun.


Tar Sands Blockader Alec, “Climate hawk” Johnson argues threats of climate change and environmental harm justify his actions  

 ATOKA, OK –Thursday, October 23, 2014, 9:00AM— Alec Johnson, a 62 year old man arrested last year for disrupting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, attempts to make US history today by becoming the first to argue before a jury that he was justified in breaking the law to prevent the urgent threat of climate change. His defense is introducing a commanding consensus of climate science, including that of renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen who has prepared written testimony for the consideration of the court, and will make clear that effective action to address the climate crisis is urgent, imminently harmful to living things, and can no longer be delayed.

 “The Keystone XL pipeline is a clear threat to our children’s future,” Mr. Johnson stated while addressing a crowd of supporters before entering the courthouse. “The fact that the southern leg of KXL was approved in Oklahoma and Texas represents a stark failure by federal, state, and local government to protect the atmosphere that belongs in common to the world’s people. Today I am defending our right to life, which depends on a habitable atmosphere, and in doing so I’m acting to protect that right for future generations.”

climate_hawk_locked_downOn April 22, 2013, Alec Johnson disrupted construction of the Keystone XL pipeline near Tushka, Oklahoma by chaining himself to heavy equipment and effectively halting work. Eventually the police were called and he was removed from the site and arrested. Now, more than a year after his arrest, Mr. Johnson presents his defense to an Atoka County jury. If convicted he faces up to two years in prison. To avoid that fate Mr. Johnson must convince the jury that enforcing future generation’s rights to a stable climate and livable environment is not a crime. This kind of ‘necessity’ defense rooted in climate justice could have national implications for the growing movement of resistance to the fossil fuel industry across the US.

“The necessity defense allows the defendant to inform the jury of the reasons he risked his liberty and faced arrest in order to prevent a greater harm to the public interest,” explains attorney Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. “As more and more Americans feel compelled to take action to prevent catastrophic climate disaster, the Courts will likely see this defense with increasing frequency.”

Trial proceedings are expected to carry on throughout most of today and potentially continue tomorrow. Mr. Johnson is facing two counts of a misdemeanor obstruction charge. A six person jury will deliberate on the two charges, requiring only a simple majority (at least four votes) to reach a verdict.

“As the father of two daughters, the threat that climate change poses to their future has become a defining commitment in my life,” said Mr. Johnson. “The debt we owe our ancestors we repay by looking after our children; it’s a sacred obligation.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/kxltrial/

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