Trump is a Ticking Bomb. But Our Worse Threat is Likely Climate Change

Frightening reports on climate change, as Energy Transfer Partners has just spilled two million gallons of drilling materials in Ohio using the same technique planned for the Missouri River, the Antarctic glacier is rapidly melting & PNM continues to stall with a major PNM shareholder revolt possible. Read on as we include an update on our path to fascism.

Trump Update

First an update on Thursday’s post where I described the Trump administration’s not-so-slow move toward fascism. In the past week:

  • A North Carolina reporter was arrested for asking a question of the Health & Human Services Secretary, arrested for doing his job. Click here for a full report;
  • A Code Pink activist was not just arrested, but also convicted of disorderly conduct for laughing at the confirmation hearing for Attorney General Sessions. Click here to read the story.
  • A myriad of reports on the days and weeks before Comey’s firing that undermine all of Trump’s claims and point to a very clear effort to stall the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for its increasingly likely illegal relationship with Russia. Click here for details about a scary 24 hour;

As the video in Thursday’s post suggested, the move to fascism may not mirror Europe in 1930 (click here to review Thursday’s post and at the bottom, the video being referenced). It will be far more subtle, no huge military parades, just the slow erosion of civil rights and the last vestiges of what we call democracy. The arrest of reporters, the arrest and conviction of people for laughing (at the laughable), and the firing of FBI director overseeing investigations of the President’s administration are pretty stark evidence of erosion. And when you combine it with the entirely false claims Trump continues to make: “Thank you for three times telling me my administration is not under investigation,” it sure seems like the creep toward fascism is accelerating.  Or perhaps the mental disintegration of our President is accelerating. Threatening the former FBI director with tweets. This is some strange dude.

I expect a national call to action any day. We will keep you posted. And while we await such a call, click here as there are actions called for here in Santa Fe at the start of the special session (May 24, noon, Roundhouse) and in Albuquerque to protest at the PNM shareholder’s meeting. But now we turn to leaking pipelines, melting glaciers, and our very own PNM resisting progress yet again. But at least here a group of Santa Feans are mounting an important challenge.

Ice Cap Update, #NoDaPL was Right to Worry about Drilling under the Missouri & PNM Shareholders Revolt

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) Leaks 2 Million Gallons. The Texas company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project in North Dakota, has spilled about two million gallons of drilling materials in two separate accidents into two of Ohio’s few remaining wetlands in a rush to complete its Rover natural gas pipeline. The accidents occurred on April 13 and 14 as workers employed the same drilling technique to be used to bore beneath the Missouri River to place pipeline for the DAPL. This is precisely what NoDaPL Standing Rock protesters were afraid of. From Indian Country Today:

“Joy Braun, Cheyenne River Lakota, of the Indigenous Environmental Network and one of the principal organizers of the water protector camps stated: ‘We wanted them to take the Mni Wiconi cry home with them,” she said, adding that the Ohio accident underscores ETP’s lack of concern for the environment. ETP is once again showing its true colors and is a danger not only to people but also to one of the last remaining wetlands in Ohio.” And, “The spilled drilling fluid is designed to keep the pipeline in place as workers bore under waterways; the thick fluid or mud is composed mainly of bentonite, which is nontoxic but can smother plants and wildlife such as fish and invertebrates.” So the folks who can’t lay the pipeline without spilling 2 million gallons of fluid are supposed to be trusted ensuring the pipeline never leaks? But wait, ETP has bigger plans and those plans involve utterly trampling on the property rights of many people who have been sympathetic to gas and oil and have likely been Trump voters: “ETP is making extensive use of eminent domain to clear a path for the pipeline. There are so many defendants among Ohio landowners alone that the first 258 pages of the ETP’s eminent domain lawsuit filing is devoted to identifying them, according to The Intelligencer. Landowner Larry Helmick is one of them.“I support natural gas. I support workers. I support America,” Helmick told The Intelligencer. “Why can they not figure out a better way to do this than to just run over people?” 258 pages of names whose property rights will be violated in the interest of “progress” and profit. Click here to read the full report from Indian Country Today.

The wanton disregard for our planet’s delicate balance is coming home to roost. The video at the bottom of this post includes commentary and video from native leaders whose wisdom so outstrips our science. We think we know so much, but our hubris prevents us from seeing truths so much more permanent and so much deeper than our shallow science even considers. And as long as the goal is profit, not sustaining life, we are simply never going to get anywhere and we can’t keep this up.  As the next piece describes, the earth has no interest in our hubris and evolves with utter indifference to the consequences for mankind.

Antarctic Meltdown.  As bad as this pipeline leak is and as scary as the prospects are of these same fools drilling under the Missouri and who knows where else, the meltdown of the Antarctic Thwaites glacier is accelerating at an alarming rate. From Rolling Stones Doomsday Glacier:  “The trouble with Thwaites, which is one of the largest glaciers on the planet, is that it’s also what scientists call “a threshold system.” That means instead of melting slowly like an ice cube on a summer day, it is more like a house of cards: It’s stable until it is pushed too far, then it collapses. When a chunk of ice the size of Pennsylvania falls apart, that’s a big problem.”

How big a problem?  Let’s put it this way: “West Antarctica could do to the coastlines of the world what Hurricane Sandy did in a few hours to New York City,” explains Richard Alley, a geologist at Penn State University and arguably the most respected ice scientist in the world. “Except when the water comes in, it doesn’t go away in a few hours – it stays.” More from the Rolling Stones article:  “With 10 to 13 feet of sea-level rise, most of South Florida is an underwater theme park, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s winter White House in West Palm Beach. In downtown Boston, about the only thing that’s not underwater are those nice old houses up on Beacon Hill. In the Bay Area, everything below Highway 101 is gone, including the Googleplex; the Oakland and San Francisco airports are submerged, as is much of downtown below Montgomery Street and the Marina District”  Click here to read the full report.

The combined urgency of our descent into fascism and our utter disregard for the clear signs of advancing climate change, could cause you to pull up the covers and just shrink away. But while you are shrinking under the covers, ask yourself what your kids and theirs are going to have to deal with because you were too traumatized to act. Every challenge is an opportunity and in tomorrow’s post, I will lay out some concrete things you can….no, concrete things you must do. A lot is at stake folks and if you want some inspiration…..read on.

 

PNM Shareholder Revolt.  Sometimes it is astonishing what a small group of people can do if they commit a bit of time and resources. Anyone who invests $2,000 in a publicly owned corporation can author a resolution that must then be presented for a vote to shareholders. And anyone who purchases $200 worth of shares in a corporation can attend the shareholder meeting, vote on resolutions, and speak on their behalf. There are torturous legal hoops that must be leapt through to get a resolution before shareholders, and many possible pratfalls where a tiny mistake could allow the corporation to dismiss the resolution. But a group of Santa Feans (Roxanne and I among them) met over two years ago to develop a strategy to force climate accountability on PNM. That original group of six or seven is now 17 members of PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future. The concept of using shareholder resolutions as a means of holding a corporation accountable is not new. It has been done in relation to tobacco, lumber, defense industry, banking, and other industries, and now with energy. So this local effort is part of a national effort. Click here for information on the evolution of this effort. Click here to get to our events and opportunities page and scroll down to the protest being staged by New Energy Economy, 350.org, the Sierra Club and other environmental activist organizations at the shareholder’s meeting on Tuesday, May 16 at 8:30am.

So the group bought shares in 2015 and attended the shareholders meeting in Albuquerque just to scope it out. But then in 2016, the group developed three resolutions and it definitely got PNM’s attention as they moved the shareholder meeting to Texas in response. Nonetheless, members of PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future went to Texas and introduced the resolutions with one of them almost passing. This year, two more resolutions are being presented and both may well pass. In a remarkable indication of the degree to which investors (not just climate change advocates) are beginning to understand the financial risks involved in coal industry investment, Institutional Shareholder Services, the largest industry advisor on how to vote on corporate resolutions, is recommending a yes vote on both resolutions. Institutional Shareholder Services issues reports to institutional shareholders such as Vanguard, who typically own millions of shares in many corporations and who can’t easily track all the resolutions, so they rely on an organization like this to advise them. To find out more about the resolutions and the tremendous effort involved in getting to this point, either listen to KSFR 101.1 FM at 11 today (Saturday) or click here in a day or two to listen to the podcast. I interview one of the founders of PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future, Charlotte Levinson, and Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy, also one of the founding members of the group.

And good news: Today the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the PRC has rejected PNM’s most recent request for a rate hike, saying that the hike would “place a heavy and unnecessary burden on rate payers.” New Energy Economy was the only advocacy group to oppose this rate hike.

In closing, a tremendous video providing the Native American perspective on a range of climate issues. It is very powerful both in visuals and the testimonials of Native speakers.

 

 

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