By Rachel Gray, Cobb Greens & Friends
Different administration, same poison. That’s the overwhelming feeling many environmental activists and Green Party progressives are facing as they once again hit the streets to fight against a president’s pro-business (at any cost) policy that places the planet and her people in peril. On January 29, those streets included downtown Atlanta, when hundreds of concerned citizens — including the boisterous Cobb Greens & Friends — made their voices heard in the Peaceful Walk To Protect Our Environment, spurring the online movement#ATLAgainstPipelines.
There is truly one reason and one reason only that America has not moved beyond the fuel fossil era: big oil buys politicians, who then ignore science and vilify efforts to place human health and environmental preservation first. The success of big oil is most apparent in the appointments of T-Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State and former Texas Governor, ‘Department of what,’ Rick Perry as head of the Energy Department.
In February, President Donald Trump resurrected what activists had hoped was a permanent death of both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines by signing orders to expand energy infrastructure, including sweeping directives to resurrect American-made steel and loosen the process for approving and regulating future dirty energy projects.
The day after trumpeting that his administration would be cozy with big oil, a pipeline rupture spilled 138,600 gallons of diesel fuel in northern Iowa. But this spill shouldn’t come as a shock, when more than 7 million gallons of oil were spilled across more than 1,000 pipeline leaks between 2010 and 2015, with 200 more significant spills in 2016. And, on January 30, 600,000 gallons of oil spewed out of Enbridge’s Seaway Pipeline in Blue Ridge, Texas, the second spill since the pipeline opened for business in mid-2016.
And, it’s not just oil pipelines Americans are fighting against. The battle to end fracking and stop natural gas pipeline construction has landed right in Georgia’s back door. If completed, the Sabal Trail will include approximately 515 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline (86 miles in Alabama, 162 miles in Georgia, 268 miles in Florida). The pipeline will be capable of transporting 1 billion cubic feet per day or more of natural gas, traipsing through nine counties in Georgia: Stewart, Webster, Lee, Dougherty, Mitchell, Colquitt, Lowndes and Brooks counties.
On February 26, Cobb Greens & Friends attended the in-person town hall of Georgia State Rep. Stacey Evans (D), representing House District 42 for the cities of Smyrna and Marietta. When asked about the Sabal Trail, and the use of imminent domain by a self-interested private corporation, Rep. Evans said she had limited knowledge about the project, and inaccurately stated the imminent domain is only used for public government projects. Other concerned residents, out of the more than 50 attendees, expressed their concerns about the corrupt encroachment of imminent domain, as well as fracking, in the state of Georgia with the representative and her staff. The Georgia Green Party will remain outspoken when it comes to environmental protection, public health and citizen rights.
The real impact on Georgia homeowners was recently covered by Alive 11, when a Bartow County family farmer expressed his sorrow over the condemnation of his land via eminent domain by Oklahoma-based Transco corporation. This gaseous project would embed 112 miles of natural gas pipeline from Murray to Coweta counties. This ‘heavy-handed’ authority jeopardizing 50 land owners is not a public state or federal project, and at least one Georgia resident claims he has yet to be compensated, and his requests for preservation of heirlooms disregarded.
An International Natural Disaster
Throughout Central America and South America, thousands of barrels worth of black crude have contaminated the Amazon, putting one of the most vital jungle river systems in the world at risk. Those affected the most are indigenous people in Peru, Ecuador Venezuela, whose daily lives are placed in peril with water sources and food supplies off limits for months or more. Even if lawsuits are filed and waged in courts for years, there is still little to no justice forced upon international corporations like Exxon, Shell and BP, who activists and reporters on the ground accuse of exploiting local children to help with clean up efforts without any protection, violating human rights and human decency.
Why should citizens in the Americas face hardship when across the pond sustainable energy is reshaping and strengthening communities? Also in January, the Irish Parliament passed historic legislation to divest their national treasury from coal, oil and gas investments. Meanwhile, The Netherlands is investing in vast solar parks and electric trains that run 100% on wind energy.
Industrious, pro-industry Germany is challenging itself to not only became self-sustaining, but also lead the way in energy storage pioneering. This energy transition revolution, called energiewende, also includes the drastic phasing out of nuclear energy production in the European country. The successful political and social effort has been led by Germany’s Green Party since its founding in 1980, based on one of the progressive party’s central tenants that sustainable, renewable energy is the only way to keep a country intact and healthy.
The solutions exist, now it takes the political will to enact them in America. The United States has fallen behind, and it will take a Green movement to become a leader again. Presidential candidate Jill Stein, along with her running mate and Georgia resident Ajamu Baraka, made their stance against dirty energy very clear on the campaign trail by leaving their marks in graffiti on Dakota Access’ machinery. As a national party, our stance is clear on Standing Rock. And, from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, Green Party members say NO FRACKING WAY to drilling. For years, some of the toughest fights have been waged by Green Floridians, and the Georgia Green Party will continue to support these efforts by our neighbors as we unite against the Sabal Trail.
Despite concerns over contamination from leaks into the water supply, the eventual emission from burning the fossil fuel and the destruction of sacred native lands, the DAPL permits were first granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July, under the watch (or voluntary blindness) of Obama. For months, natives, activists and veterans put life and limb on the line to stop the black snake, and their hard work amounted to a delay. A delay many progressives feel Obama created, so he could be ushered out of office with his supposed environmental stewardship intact, all while leaving a clear path for Trump to continue the destruction.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, it was the Green Party that told the truth: The constant drip of cheap fossil fuels has come to an end. That regulations are not enough, and it is time to dispel the pipe dream that coal and natural gas extraction and burning is, or ever will be, ‘clean energy.’ Dr. Stein even showed a balance is possible between protecting the planet and building a great economy to be proud of with The Green New Deal.
Greens want to stop runaway climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 40% by 2020 and 95% by 2050, over 1990 levels, through measures such as a carbon tax that interjects the environmental costs of fossil fuels into the ‘free’ market to eliminating subsidies for corporations pumping out fossil fuels and nuclear power to providing consumers market incentives and investment opportunities in Green sources.
With 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy. Even at a basic level, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other native protectors are already supporting a Green initiative that encourages the formation and operation of cooperatives, land trusts, co-housing and other forms of communal and public interest management of land and resources.
The Green Party demands this country invest in public transportation systems, in a way that has not been accomplished by either the Democrats or Republicans, while also improving energy efficiency in homes, businesses, public spaces and government buildings. This retrofitting with solar panels, wind turbines, hydroelectricity and geothermal technologies is a locally focused solution to a global epidemic that will create millions of jobs.
TURN YOUR PASSION INTO ACTION
Great news! Rachel Gray, organizer for Cobb Greens & Friends, made our party’s opposition to Sabal Trail very clear on the pages of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Now is the time for you to be heard!
Sample call script:
Local or State Governmental Affairs
Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC
My name is _________. I am calling on behalf the Georgia Green Party, to make it clear that our membership wants Sabal to get the frack out of Georgia. President Trump has filled the swamp with black crude, poisonous gas and destructive coal ash.
Sabal Trail is an egregious waste of government resources and tax dollars. Your dirty conglomerate is violating the rights of Georgia residents with the use of imminent domain to line the pockets of your private international benefactors.
Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein showed a balance is possible between protecting the planet and building a great economy to be proud of with The Green New Deal. Local-sourced, co-op owned, clean, renewable energy is not only safest for the environment and our citizens, but the only economically viable solution.