Quantcast
Energy

Tree-Sitter Opts for Jail Time to Highlight Injustice of Tar Sands Industry

Jessica Clark, Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) tree sitter, plead guilty to criminal trespass in a La Porte County courthouse yesterday and was sentenced to 26 days in prison for blocking construction of Enbridge’s Line 6B tar sands pipeline in the Great Lakes Basin.

Jessica Clark sitting, tree-sitting in protest of tar sands pipeline on Aug. 7. Photo credit: MI CATS

Jessica had the choice between two plea deals, one being a year of probation and the other 26 days in jail. Jessica chose to accept jail time in order to avoid a lengthy probationary period and to highlight the injustice of tar sands industry, while standing in solidarity with political prisoners across the globe.

On Aug. 7, 2013 Jessica spent several hours in a tree in order to prevent Enbridge from expanding its tar sands pipeline in the area. Despite having a written agreement with the police saying that she would not be arrested if she came down from the tree by 5 p.m., Jessica was eventually arrested and charged with a misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Shortly after her arrest and subsequent release from jail, Jessica took to the trees again on Sept. 16, 2013 in La Porte County, again preventing construction activities from occurring. Jessica was charged with two counts of trespass and one count of theft.

Both tree-sits were in opposition to Enbridge’s expansion activities on the same pipeline which burst July 2010, causing what is now regarded as the largest inland tar sands spill in U.S. history. The disaster led to 900 thousand gallons of diluted bitumen spilling into Talmadge Creek and eventually into more than 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River. To date, the spill has not been cleaned up, and Enbridge continues to prioritize the pipeline’s expansion over cleaning up the disastrous mess the pipeline left behind.

Jessica is going to jail for taking action against a company and an industry that is committing violent crimes across North America in order to make a profit from tar sands. The extraction of tar sands oil in Alberta, is destroying the Northern Boreal Forest, displacing First Nations peoples, perpetuating climate change and increasing cancer rates in indigenous communities and wildlife nearby.

When the tar sands oil reaches the Midwest via pipelines it creates sacrifice zones in the communities surrounding the refinery in places like Whiting, IN, and southwest Detroit. These refineries have recently upgraded to handle even more tar sands. This has contributed to a toxic environment for many people in the area due to the by-products that result in the refining process, such as petroleum coke.

Jessica made this statement in front of the Courthouse yesterday, just before being taken away:

I grew up a mile from Lake Michigan. I rode my bicycle there many mornings to watch the sunrise. BP just spilled 1,638 gallons of oil, probably tar sands, into Lake Michigan. This is the inevitability of the tar sands industry—it is sloppy and poorly regulated. There are unreported spills every hour, but it is well funded, and easy for companies like Enbridge to pay off governmental agencies to influence them to make statements like ‘No long-term health effects expected from 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill.’ I climbed that tree in September to highlight the injustice of tar sands, and to halt expansion of Enbridge pipeline 6B. As a resident of the greater Kalamazoo River basin, I am conscious of the ways in which corporations such as Enbridge, Marathon and BP turn ecosystems and communities into sacrifice zones in the name of profit. The people of Marshall and surrounding communities that endured the spill have been dealing with intense health implications such as kidney and liver failure, and cancer. July 27, 2010 when Enbridge spilled around a million gallons of tar sands into the Kalamazoo River, should have been the end of the line. Tar sands should no longer be pumping through the Great Lakes bio region. We have to leave tar sands in the ground. The governmental agencies need to stop valuing profit over health and safety of communities. 

Tar sands from Canada are actively killing indigenous people in the boreal forest as their water and land are polluted by around 39 companies that are active there. The concept of ‘infinite growth’ that underlines capitalism is not at all logical on a planet with finite resources. Enbridge, Marathon and BP, these ‘corporate people’, and the attitude of entitlement are actively enabling the apocalypse. Climate change is another main reason I climbed the tree—all reputable organizations of scientists endorse the statement ‘Most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.’ Our species will not continue this way. The jury is no longer out, there are things we can do about this fact. Halting the problem at the root is a viable solution. The greenhouse gas emissions must stop. Carbon emissions must stop. Stomping on the rights of indigenous people must stop.

I am calling for a revolution of values. As a society, we need to re-consider what happiness actually is. Happiness is not a comfortable middle class lifestyle at the cost of ecosystems, water and health, and comfort of others. Happiness is not getting so drunk or zonked out on television that you forget about the smog cloud of guilt in your gut from polluting neighborhoods and ecosystems. Happiness is not living next to a refinery, or downstream from tar sands strip mine. It is not living next to a rare Earth mineral mine. Happiness is building resilient communities, growing food in our own neighborhoods and fostering independence from global capitalism.

It is essential that we come together and organize ourselves in the spirit of resilience. We cannot live on a dead planet. We cannot drink their money. We need each other to stop these industries from threatening our livelihoods. It is essential we resist harsh extraction and the attitude of human entitlement, colonialism and patriarchy that enable the earth to be co modified. We need to grow organic, bio-dynamic food in our own communities to become independent, to soften the collapse that climate change will incur. We need to stop the movement of tar sands once and for all. Leave the tar sands in the ground.

--------

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

300+ Devoted Activists Rally in Minnesota Against Proposed Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion Project

Tar Sands Emissions Linked to Serious Health Problems in Alberta

800+ Rally Against Fracked Gas Export Terminal in Largest Environmental Protest in Baltimore History

--------

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Smallholder agriculture in southern Ethiopia. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Leah Samberg

How Climate Change and Wars Are Increasing World Hunger

By Leah Samberg

Around the globe, about 815 million people—11 percent of the world's population—went hungry in 2016, according to the latest data from the United Nations. This was the first increase in more than 15 years.

Between 1990 and 2015, due largely to a set of sweeping initiatives by the global community, the proportion of undernourished people in the world was cut in half. In 2015, UN member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which doubled down on this success by setting out to end hunger entirely by 2030. But a recent UN report shows that, after years of decline, hunger is on the rise again.

Keep reading... Show less
Pixabay

Two Graphs Explain Why California’s Wildfires Will Only Get Worse

By Molly Taft

The deadly wildfires ripping through Northern California are just the latest in a season of record-defying natural disasters in the U.S. As the death toll passes 40, reports of Californians hiding in pools as their houses burn and scenes of devastated homes and vineyards add to 2017's apocalyptic picture of how climate change is impacting America today.

As the Trump administration guts environmental protections and undermines science, California is one of the states leading the way on climate action. Ironically, experts agree the state can expect devastating fires like the ones in Napa to become the new normal. Drier and drier conditions and creeping temperatures in the American Southwest, definitively linked to climate change, serve to create tinderbox conditions for massive, catastrophic fires to explode.

Keep reading... Show less
Leonardo DiCaprio / Facebook

Leonardo DiCaprio Invests in Plant-Based Food Company

Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, but eating a burger doesn't have to come with a side of guilt.

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in Beyond Meat, the makers of the world's first vegan burger that's famously known to look, smell and even taste a lot like the real deal.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate activists Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein shut down Enbridge's tar sands pipelines 4 and 67 in Minnesota on Oct. 11, 2016. Shutitdown.today

Judge Allows Vital 'Necessity Defense' for Climate Activists

By Jessica Corbett

In a decision that is being called "groundbreaking" and "precedent-setting," a district court judge in Minnesota has ruled that he will allow oil pipeline protesters to present a "necessity defense" for charges related to a multi-state action by climate activists last October.

In his decision last week, Judge Robert Tiffany ruled that four activists who participated in the #ShutItDown action—in which pipelines across five states were temporarily disabled, halting the flow of tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S.—may present scientists and other expert witnesses to explain the immediate threat of climate change to justify their action.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
www.youtube.com

Why Are Incarcerated Women Battling California Wildfires for as Little as $1 a Day?

As raging wildfires in California scorch more than 200,000 acres—roughly the size of New York City—more than 11,000 firefighters are battling the blazes, and a number of them are prisoners, including many women inmates.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
www.youtube.com

World's First Floating Wind Farm Will Power 20,000 Homes

Scotland has officially switched on the Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm.

"Hywind will provide clean energy to over twenty thousand homes and will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets," First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Shocking Photo of Dehorned Black Rhino Wins Top Award

Africa loses an average of three rhinos a day to the ongoing poaching crisis and the illegal rhino horn trade. In 2016 alone, 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in South Africa, representing a loss in rhinos of approximately six percent. That's close to the birth rate, meaning the population remains perilously close to the tipping point.

This year, the Natural History Museum in London awarded photographer Brent Stirton the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year grand title for his grisly image of a black rhino with its two horns hacked off in South Africa's Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

Keep reading... Show less
www.facebook.com

Guard Dog Wouldn’t Leave Goat Flock During California Fires—And Lived to Tell the Story

By Andrew Amelinckx

The fire the Hendels barely escaped was part of the Northern California firestorm that has so far claimed 40 lives—including one of their neighbors, Lynne Powell—destroyed countless homes, and caused billions of dollars in damage.

"Later that morning when we had outrun the fires I cried, sure that I had sentenced Odie to death, along with our precious family of bottle-raised goats," Roland Hendel wrote in a recent Facebook post.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox