Living On Ohlone Land

 

The feature I wrote for this week’s East Bay Express explores how indigenous people in California’s East Bay Area are working to reclaim land and protect sacred sites, with a focus on the Sogorea Te Land Trust and the struggle to protect the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site. The Sogorea Te Land Trust is the nation’s first urban indigenous, women-led land trust. Its founders dream of acquiring a patchwork of dozens or hundreds of parcels throughout the East Bay. The West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site is the oldest sacred site and site of human habitation along San Francisco Bay. Developer Blake/Griggs has proposed to construct a housing and retail development in the heart of this city-landmarked site and has applied for fast-track authority under a new state law, Senate Bill 54, to do so. Click here to keep reading. >>

Louisiana and Minnesota Introduce Anti-Protest Bills Amid Fights Over Bayou Bridge and Enbridge Pipelines (March 31, 2018)

In a story for The Intercept, Alleen Brown and I reported on the latest in a wave of state bills aimed at criminalizing resistance to fossil fuel installations in the US.  We focused, in particular, on a Louisiana bill to criminalize the activities of groups protesting the extraction, burning, and transport of oil and gas amid the fight over the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.  And we looked at a Minnesota bill that would create harsh new penalties for protesting such infrastructure just as the struggle against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline ramps up in the state. Click here to keep reading. >>

A TigerSwan Employee Quietly Registered a New Business in Louisiana After the State Denied the Security Firm a License to Operate (March 30, 2018)

TigerSwan, the private security company notorious for its work surveilling pipeline opponents at Standing Rock on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners, hit a roadblock last July in its effort to provide intelligence and security services in Louisiana. The Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners determined that TigerSwan was unfit to obtain a license to work in the state based on a lawsuit it is facing for unlicensed security operations in North Dakota.  But TigerSwan did not give up on its ambitions to work on another controversial Energy Transfer Partners project, Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge pipeline, as Alleen Brown and I reported in a piece for The Intercept.  Click here to keep reading. >>

Police Targeted Anti-Racists In Charlottesville Ahead of ‘Unite The Right’ Rally, Documents Show (March 7, 2018)

Last year, I got ahold of several hundred pages of police documents on anti-fascists, “black identity extremists,” and white supremacists via records request and built a story around them, along with other reporting, for Shadowproof.  Police agencies downplayed the threat of white supremacists leading up to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year to focus on “anarchist extremists” and other anti-racist counter-protesters. The police’s surveillance harassment of anti-racists in Charlottesville is also linked to a broader campaign of political repression targeting those who have squared off against white supremacists.

Also, check out my interview as part of a roundtable discussion partly related to this story on the It’s Going Down podcast.

Police Targeted Anti-Racists In Charlottesville Ahead of ‘Unite The Right’ Rally, Documents Show

University of Nuclear Bombs (Feb. 28, 2018)

The US is upgrading its entire nuclear arsenal, and the Trump administration has proposed the largest increase in nuclear warhead spending since the Cold War. The core physical package of these warheads, and every other nuclear warhead ever to enter the US arsenal, was developed by labs operated by the University of California. The UC is currently competing for a new contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the world’s scientific and ideological centers of nuclear weapons development. I wrote an in-depth feature for the East Bay Express drawing on years of research on this subject. Click here to keep reading. >>

Oil and Water — an 11-Part Series

Since last May, I’ve contributed to a series for The Intercept utilizing leaked documents and public records to reveal a troubling fusion of private security, public law enforcement, and corporate money in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline and other pipelines across the United States.  Intercept readers voted the first story in the series, “Leaked Documents Reveal Counter-Terrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies,” as the publication’s Most Essential Story of 2017. Check out the series timeline here.

You can also access the entire series here, or by clicking on the links below.

Part 1Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies”, May 27, 2017
Part 2: Standing Rock Documents Expose Inner Workings of “Surveillance-Industrial Complex”, June 2, 2017
Part 3: As Standing Rock Camps Cleared Out, TigerSwan Expanded Surveillance to Array of Progressive Causes, June 21, 2017
Part 4: Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvania’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline, June 21, 2017
Part 5: TigerSwan Faces Lawsuit Over Unlicensed Security Operations in North Dakota, June 28, 2017
Part 6: TigerSwan Responded to Pipeline Vandalism by Launching Multistate Dragnet, August 26, 2017
Part 7: Police Used Private Security Aircraft for Surveillance in Standing Rock No-Fly Zone, Sept. 29, 2017
Part 8: The Battle of Treaty Camp: Law Enforcement Descended on Standing Rock a Year Ago and Changed the NoDAPL Fight Forever, Oct. 27, 2017
Part 9: Dakota Access Pipeline Company Paid Mercenaries to Build Conspiracy Lawsuit Against Environmentalists, Nov. 15, 2017
Part 10: An Activist Stands Accused of Firing a Gun at Standing Rock. It Belonged to Her Lover — an FBI Informant., Dec. 11, 2017
Part 11: A Native American Activist Followed Her Mother’s Footsteps to Standing Rock. Now She Faces Years in Prison., Jan. 30, 2018

The Federal Government is Trying to Imprison These Six Water Protectors

In February, a federal grand jury issued indictments of four Standing Rock water protectors on charges of Federal Civil Disorder and Use of Fire to Commit a Federal Crime.

The federal investigators accused the four men—James White, Brennan Nastacio, Dion Ortiz, and Brandon Miller-Castillo—of involvement in setting three highway barricades on fire, which obstructed police during a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the “Front Line Camp” just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Another water protector, Michael Markus, was indicted on identical charges on January 24, and his case has been combined with those of the other four men. Prosecutors are also pursuing three federal felonies against a 38-year-old Oglala Sioux woman named Red Fawn Fallis. They accuse her of firing a gun during her arrest, even as multiple police officers had her pinned face-down on the ground. Fallis’ arrest also occurred on October 27.

These cases likely mark the first time that United States authorities have pursued felonies against individuals involved in demonstrations against fossil fuel infrastructure. Click here to keep reading @ Shadowproof

Brown Administration Supports Proposal That Would Block Increased Bay Area Tar Sands Refining

I co-authored this April 18th East Bay Express blog post with Jean Tepperman:

The California Air Resources Board has announced support for a proposal that would block the increasing use of Alberta tar sands and other extra-polluting crude oil at the Bay Area’s five major oil refineries. This proposed Bay Area Air Quality Management District limits, known as Rule 12-16, would likely make the Bay Area the first place in the world to limit oil refineries’ overall pollution levels. It would enforce caps on the refineries’ greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions, based on July 2016 levels. Click here to keep reading @eastbayexpress.com >>

Building Trades Union Asks Trump to Fast-Track First-Ever US Pacific Coast LNG Terminal, 25 Other Infrastructure Projects

In mid-February, representatives of North America’s Building Trades Unions presented President Donald Trump a list of 26 infrastructure projects for which they are requesting fast-track regulatory approval, McClatchey reported last week.  The list includes six major oil and gas pipelines, including at least two that have engendered major opposition from impacted local residents on grounds similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

One is Williams Co.’s Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania, an expansion of the Transco line — the US’ largest natural gas pipeline. It would carry 1.7 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas 199 miles from the Marcellus shale region, where gas is extracted using hydraulic fracturing. It would cross 388 water bodies and 263 acres of forest. The group Lancaster Against Pipelines is opening an encampment to create a focal point for nonviolent direct actions.

The second is Canadian company Veresen’s Jordan Cove Liquid Natural Gas Project in Oregon, which would consist of both the 233-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Coos Bay, OR. It would be the first liquefied natural gas terminal ever constructed on the US Pacific Coast (though there is one in Baja, CA, in Mexico). (more…)

How California’s Oil Refining Sector Became, Proportionately, the Most Carbon-Intensive in the World

[Check out my new story in East Bay Monthly…]

California is one of the world’s most important political arenas for climate change policy. In contrast to the Trump administration, which has begun to dismantle the federal government’s existing climate change regulations, California officials are plotting out how to achieve a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2030 and have established cooperative programs with countries and states throughout the world to reduce atmospheric pollution.

California is also home to a massive oil industry, which has waged a multi-faceted campaign that includes lobbying, arm-twisting, and record levels of election campaign spending to soften state and regional climate programs as much as possible.

In particular, California is a major hub of oil refining (along with a large oil extraction sector). Other than Louisiana and Texas, no US state processes more oil into gasoline, diesel, propane, or other petroleum products. Moreover, California’s oil refining sector actually probably releases more greenhouse gases on a proportionate basis than any other major regional oil refining sector on planet earth.

That’s according to Communities for a Better Environment Senior Scientist Greg Karras, who has studied oil refinery pollution emissions, including for a 2010 article in peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology. I talked to him extensively for my new story in East Bay Monthly called “Stopping a Tar Sands Invasion.”>>

(more…)