Report back: EPA Hearing on Oil and Injection Well Drilling in the Everglades, 04.11.14

By Sarah Cruz

Snowy White Egrets. Big Cypress National Preserve - Sweet Water Strand.

Snowy Egrets. Big Cypress National Preserve – Sweet Water Strand.

Porous limestone, pumping aquifers, crystal clear springs, estuaries, birds, turtles, fish, manatees, panthers, birds, BIRDS. A slow moving river of grass. Drinking water, life.  I really cannot articulate the magic, beauty, and life force that is Florida. Whether or not you’ve experienced the Everglades or other Florida wild lands, (it’s cool if you’re just the indoorsy type) you can definitely understand drinking water as vital to all forms of life, human and non-human.

The world over, land, water, life are being murdered by capitalists’ desperate need to expand markets.  In North America extraction, especially fracking, is exploding.  Pipelines are snaking their way from coast to coast.  In Florida, we know the Gulf of Mexico is littered with oil platforms, loaded with oil and Corexit, but never imagined that drilling could hit land.  We live on porous limestone, just feet above our water table and an amazing aquifer system (already facing several threats) that provides majority of the state’s drinking water.  Surprise.

 Extraction, Injection Wells & Pipelines for FL

In Florida “in the past five years, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has received 39 drilling applications and granted 37 of them. Sixteen of these have been applied for in the past year – 14 of which are in Collier and Hendry counties…” (Newsweek) (1). Much of Collier County is in the Big Cypress National Preserve, borders the Gulf of Mexico, and is home to incredible estuaries, rookeries, and panther habitat.  Hendry County borders Collier to the Northwest and is also part of the Everglades system, which should naturally flow from Lake Okeechobee (another mess).

Oil drilling has existed in the Everglades and in North Florida on a relatively small scale since the ‘40’s, but changes in technology, like horizontal drilling and acid fracking, coupled with the mad drive for new markets, are encouraging the industry to drill just about everywhere, especially in Florida’s Sunniland Trend, which stretches from Ft. Meyers (west coast) to Miami (east coast) (2).

Then, there are injection wells – drilled into the ground to store brine, a toxic mix of salinated water and chemicals – the byproduct of oil drilling and fracking.  We already have some injection wells in Florida.  “In South Florida, 20 of the nation’s most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers… ”  (3). Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington said, “In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” (3).

On March 11th, some members of One Struggle, including myself, attended an EPA hearing for a permit for exploratory drilling and an injection well in Golden Gate Estates, a community just Northeast of Naples, Florida in Collier County.  Dan A. Hughes, a Texas based oil company requested the permit.  Actually, the EPA already approved the permit.  They just failed to convene an advisory committee that is supposed to assess dangers to the Big Cypress Watershed, and then make recommendations to the EPA about permits within the region.  Because of legal efforts made by South Florida Wildlands Association, along with other organizations, the committee convened, after the fact.

The hearing was packed with around 300 people from across the state.  I stood in the back, angry, as we listened to the Big Cypress Swamp Advisory Committee drone on with bureaucratic proceedings and misinformation.  A comrade asked, “Should we disrupt this? This is maddening!”  A man standing next to me vented loudly, “This is a ring and circus!”  A Golden Gate resident demanded, “How could this committee, charged with making a recommendation to the EPA about this permit, know so little about the issue?”   Soon the room swelled with anger.  Shouts from the crowd quickly overcame the orderly proceedings.  Claims made by state and oil industry officials of minimal impacts to water and endangered panthers were met with cries of “bullshit!” Every attempt to quiet or pacify the crowd was met with combativeness.  It was awesome.

Eventually, the committee decided they couldn’t make a decision that day.  They scheduled another meeting for March 31st, where more people demanded they reject the permit.  Eventually they did.  But this is not quite a victory.  The Big Cypress Swamp Advisory Committee is only providing a recommendation to the EPA.  The EPA has yet to respond to this recommendation, and a judge in Tallahassee will ultimately make the decision to revoke the permit that was already granted, or to let Dan A. Hughes Company continue on.  So, that judge can take the advice to reject the permit, or leave it.

[Dona Knapp Speaking at Big Cypress Committee Meeting, March 31st 2014.]

Meanwhile, Spectra Energy and Florida Power & Light (a subsidiary of NextEra) have natural gas pipeline projects in the works for Florida.  The Southeast Market Pipeline would link lines from the Marcellus Shale region down to Alabama, Georgia, and Florida (4).  At the same time, FPL is also pushing for a 3,750-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Hendry County (5).

The fight for the Everglades, the fight against capital’s devastation of life, has always been a fierce one.  The intensity will only amplify.

 Resistance

We are facing a catastrophic situation, but this moment also presents an opportunity to organize.  Environmental crisis makes so clear the destructive and insane nature of capitalism.  It’s a literal dead end, as capitalists invest in our very destruction (6).

The struggle to defend our land and water must be directly tied to the death of this system.

We need a movement to do this, a broad one, filled with all kinds of people, all participating for varying reasons, but unified against one common enemy – capital.

Retirees, landowners, suburban housewives, fisher people, NGO’s, indigenous leaders, students, radicals, progressives – most everyone at the March 11th hearing was ready to fight for land and water.  This was really encouraging, but if our goal is a classless and sustainable society, we must go further.  We must connect the dots between ecocide and capitalism, so that our efforts are not co-opted and recycled back into the system.

We cannot afford to be derailed by voting, fighting for property rights, symbolic actions, allowing NGO’s to lead our fight, or false divisions.  Reformist struggles can play a positive role, but only when we engage in them strategically, with the larger objective of building a combative mass movement.

I’m grateful to folks who work within the legal system to slow the rate of destruction, but a mass of organized people in the streets can impose their demands… rather than jumping through bureaucratic hoops to ask nicely.

I admire the bravery of folks who shut down extraction sites… but what about the people who work those jobs?  They are not our enemies.  They are dominated by capitalism as well, compelled to work a job that destroys their children’s land, water, air.

This is why we need a broad movement, which goes beyond single issues, and that makes the connection that all of us, dominated and exploited by capitalism, must unite.

One Struggle is organized around this concept – uniting all who can be at this moment; growing organized relationships and networks of people who agree that capitalism must die; and determining how we can fight together.  This is why we attended this hearing.  Here is the leaflet we handed out (7).

We will all never agree about the exact details of what a new society should look like, nor how to get there (nor should we), but if we can unite against the cause of our destruction, we can be powerful in our work to defeat this system, to defend land, air, and water for human and non-human life.  We must.  It is so urgent.

1. http://www.newsweek.com/2014/02/28/oil-prospectors-seek-their-next-big-strike-south-floridas-everglades-245596.html

2. http://www.collierresources.com/About_CRC/Sunniland_Oil_Trend_Big_Cypress_Preserve

3. http://www.propublica.org/article/injection-wells-the-poison-beneath-us.

4. http://www.ogfj.com/articles/2014/01/miami-2017-marcellus-gas-heading-to-florida.html

5. http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/04/06/spectra-seeks-approval-to-send-gas-pipeline-into-the-southern-swamps/

6.  https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/31-6

7.  http://onestruggle.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/OSfracking.pdf

Posted in Capitalism, Commentary, Environment, Mass Movements | Leave a comment

Whistle the World – Whistleblowing and the Left

By David O’Connor

Russell Corn, the leader of major private intelligence firm Dilligence, believes that 1 in 4 activists at nonprofits are corporate spies. In the radical left, which idealogically holds more of a threat to corporations than reform-oriented non-profits, that number might actually be true. And this is without counting all the government spies that have infiltrated left movements.

The public-interest group Corporate Policy wrote a report in 2013 that states “many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations – including the US Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP… have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.” These undercover agents have worked to destroy many prominent anarchist and left-environmental campaigns.

What are we doing to these companies in return? Can a leftist spy on capitalists like they spy on him?

Salting, the practice of covertly joining a non-unionized workplace with the intention of instigating a union, has been around for at least 75 years. It is mostly done by mainstream unions not interested in necessary revolutions, but it a successful example of how leftists can spy and infiltrate capitalist institutions. In some cases, salts are the difference between winning and losing a union campaign. It would not be crazy to think it would be the same for radical unions, also.

Some say The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a reformist union, goes a step further and practices professional corporate espionage by doing “document reconaissance”, otherwise known as going through the trash or dumpsters of different employers. Though this is not considered an honorable practice, capitalists often do this to great success in finding out what the “enemy” is up to. It’s a simple tool leftists aren’t taking advantage of.

There are many great stories of covert radicals. In 1933, for example, a single anti-capitalist prevented the fascist overthrow of the US government. Smedley Butler, the highest-decorated and most popular member of the Marine Corps, was bribed upon retirement to lead a military plot to remove President Franklin D. Roosevelt from power and replace him with a corporatocracy. Instead of joining, he shared the revelations with Congress and a public hearing commenced, squashing whatever was left of the plot.

Daniel Ellsberg received guidance from prominent anarchist Howard Zinn before he released the Pentagon Papers, classified documents detailing the true history of the Vietnam War. He even stashed some of the documents at Zinn’s house before the FBI raided his own. It also rumored that Zinn managed his life while he was underground. The release of the Pentagon Papers significantly helped end the war.

Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are modern examples, though not leftists. Snowden gave top-secret NSA documents to the press that eventually led to Obama publicly saying he will be making major NSA reforms. And Manning released gigabytes of confidential military data known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Logs which led to a very unfavorable view of the wars for millions of people. The release of these documents have aided many radicals.

Leftists who are privy to secret knowledge have an obligation to expose information that could change things in the world. And they should organize as many of these potential people, too. You never know who the next Daniel Ellsberg or Smedley Butler will be.

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Capitalists Vampires Threaten Our Home

Capitalists want to frack the Everglades. One Struggle members will be attending a hearing put on by the EPA about the subject. The struggle against ecocide is a fight against Capitalism!

Click the image below to download the flyer we will be handing out.

Click the image to download the flyer

Click the image to download the flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Capitalism, Commentary, Environment, Events | Leave a comment

A few points on electoral politics.

A “corrupted” system?

There’s a misconception by Americans that the problem with elected representatives today is that they’re ‘corrupt’ and that the whole political system is corrupt, rigged, and/or broken. The job approval rating for Congress reached an all-time record low of 9% according to a November ‘13 gallup poll. In total, there is a strong dissatisfaction with elected policymakers in Washington D.C.

Is corruption rampant in the nation’s capital? Is the electoral and political system in the United States broken? The truth is that the system works perfectly fine since it was designed this way; to serve the interests of the ruling class. Laws are written by the upper echelons to serve their interests and not yours.

Your representative is banking!

Being elected into office is a post that brings power and prestige and all the trappings that come with being a Washington insider. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, analyzed reports from personal financial disclosure records show that for the first time, more than half of the 534 current members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more. 268 to be exact. The report shows that the median for a congressional Democrat is $1.04 million and for Republicans, $1 million even. In short, politicians -your ‘representatives’ – are banking. Ask yourself, why would a millionaire politician care about me? The voting booth is essentially a springboard to wealth and power.

The report breaks it down even further. The median net worth for all House members was $896,000 and for Senators $2.5 million. A politician’s net worth is measured by adding significant assets (corporate bonds and stocks) and subtracting them from major liabilities, such as property mortgages, credit card debt, loans, etc.

One method of acquiring wealth as a politician is insider trading. According to a 60 Minutes report, many elected representatives leave their post with more money in their pockets than when they first arrived (some don’t ever leave their post). This is because politicians are Washington insiders that have daily access to nonpublic market moving information before it reaches the masses. This gives them opportunities to trade on it. Lawmakers get a pass on insider trading because these laws are written in such a way that they don’t apply to themselves. This practice is common in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike. You can find more detailed information about this by watching the 60 minutes report below:

In short, there’s very little corruption within the Washington elite since their actions are perfectly legal. If a practice is legal, then it wouldn’t be corrupt or dishonest to practice it.

 The lesser of two evils

The notion of the lesser of two evils is constantly used to justify voting for a Republican or Democratic candidate. Consider Obama’s presidency.

In 2008, the economy was in freefall, millions of Americans were losing homes and jobs, and the United States was engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Could a Democratic President fix the damage done by a Republican President, surrounded by hawkish neocons?. Fast-forward into 2014 and we see that this hasn’t been the case.

The Obama administration has escalated involvement in Afghanistan, expanded the war on terror through the use of Drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Africa, – even assassinating American citizens without due process. Domestically, millions of immigrant families have been torn apart through deportations. The number of deportations have exceeded that of previous administrations (yet somehow the Democratic party has won Hispanic voters?)

This past December, the President signed a multi-year Farm bill law, which would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $900 million a year over the next ten years! These cuts are devastating to the 47 million Americans that depend on it. As a result, a household of three lost $29 in food aid per month, leaving each person to spend an average of $1.40 per meal.

Let’s not forget to mention secret trade negotiations (trans-pacific partnership) that can have a disastrous impact on workers and the environment and a pro-fracking energy policy that can exacerbate climate change.

Sequestration (a.k.a austerity) is eviscerating working families, students – drowning in debt – are entering a puny job market, and abroad, neoliberalism and imperialism are having devastating consequences.

Again, all of this under the lesser evil.

Evil is evil.

How about third parties?

Many are looking at third parties as a solution to our problems. A ‘first past the post’ voting model has left the American electorate no incentive to vote for any candidate other than those from the two dominant parties because they believe they are wasting their vote.  This is not untrue, in first past the post voting all losing parties receive no representation regardless of the ratio of the voting turnout.  This means that beyond making a third party vote a risky bet, the system actually works against smaller parties by making marginal political gains all but unattainable.  Furthermore, any political influence gained by a third party almost always comes at the expense of the larger party with which the third party has the most political unity.

This means that one slice of the political spectrum is essentially forced to cannibalize its own electorate just to be able to compete in entry level politics with a third party.  Our first past the post voting model is, by design, facilitating a two-party monopoly over our political system that forces the electorate to see-saw between two entrenched, self interested parties.  Once again we find that the system leaves the American voter powerless, not because it is broken, but because it is functioning exactly as designed.

Changing the system from within

What is the alternative then? Some will say that third parties are the answer and changing the system from within is our best hope of bringing change. There is so much capital invested in local, gubernatorial, and presidential elections that it’s impossible for these third parties to rise to the top. Consider this, it costed $2 billion to win the 2012 presidential election. In total, at least $4.2 billion was spent on the 2012 congressional and presidential races.

Let’s remember that President Obama did run on a platform of change. This change was by no means radical but it was ambitious and daring. Revamping the health care system in the U.S was an ambitious campaign promise that has been met with many shortcomings. Changing the climate and culture in Washington never happened. Guantanamo remains open. Is it possible that a young and ambitious Senator from Chicago -an outsider to the Washington elite – that ran on the promise of “change you can believe in” could have been our best chance of changing the system from within?

Some argue that overturning Citizens United (a Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to donate endless amounts to candidates) will bring back our democracy. Concerned voters and activists shout that money must be taken out of politics.

Edward McClellan, a writer for Salon Magazine, writes that inequality is one the nation’s founding principles, evident through the life and career of George Washington, America’s forefather. Washington  - leader of a bourgeois revolution and the richest man to hold the presidency- had a vision of an economic system in which ‘man enriches himself by skimming off the excess value of his underlings’ work. Washington built his fortune on the backs of his 277 slaves, enabling him to ascend to Commander-in-Chief and the first American President. Washington’s model has been emulated by capitalists such as Sam Walton – the founder of Walmart. By paying his employees the lowest wages, Sam Walton was able to make a fortune and build an empire. The Walmart brand now leads the industry. Other corporations are trying to compete, slashing wages and exploiting workers to the last drop.

Validating the capitalist system.

The system cannot be reformed and it must change. When you vote for a candidate, you validate and continue to maintain a political-economic system built on the exploitation of workers and the environment. By voting, you maintain the forces of neoliberalism that continue to sweep through the developing world, including pockets of indigenous territories.

Trying to work with the capitalist system is not the solution and using the system’s tool to defeat it is laughable. The voting booth is a state-sponsored form of dissent. In the words of Emma Goldman, “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”.

The solution

Simply not voting is not enough. If we want to envision a true democracy, we have to practice it everyday. Democracy cannot be a ritual you perform every two-to-four years. It starts in your community and starts right now.

We are living in troubling times and the political climate is toxic and divisive. The American people have been divided and conquered, thanks to sideshows and trivialities by the mainstream media. Many Americans from the same economic class are blaming one another for our problems. Immigrants and the indignant have become scapegoats. Economic inequality between the rich and poor have reach unprecedented levels in American and across the globe.

We have to organize in our communities and gradually build a combative mass movement to end inequality once and for all and form a more just and classless society. We have to support workers in their struggles to end wage theft and exploitation. We must identify the various forms the capitalist class keeps us suppressed, including voting booths and reformist tools like non-profits.

In total, our representatives can’t represent us. The only people that can represent us is ourselves.

cartoon strip

 

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One Struggle Progressive Open Mic – MIAMI

The One Struggle Progressive Open Mic happens the 1st Thursday of every month. Progressives of all stripes are invited to share their songs, beats, rhymes, rants, and to build progressive community in Miami. Entry is $5 and a $10 donation gets you two drinks. All donations go toward the production of the One Struggle newspaper, South Florida’s only homegrown radical newspaper.

Taking place at Veye Yo in Little Haiti.

Time slots for all artists will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. The earlier you get there the better your time slot!

RSVP HERE

Confirmed Artists:

Demmier
https://www.facebook.com/Demmier

Hissy K
https://www.facebook.com/hissykmia

Julia Young
https://www.facebook.com/julia.young.399?fref=ts

Maxine Cartwright
https://www.facebook.com/clouddburst?fref=ts

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A New Hope to the Empire Strikes Back: The Civil Rights Movement from Emmitt Till to Reagan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Thursday, Jim Sanders and Marc Luzietti lead a discussion on the rise and fall of the Civil Rights Movement and the movements to which it gave birth.

8 PM

Sunshine Cathedral MCC

1480 SW 9th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33315

RSVP HERE

 

 

Posted in Events - Fort Lauderdale area, Mass Movements | Leave a comment

Hanes: ensure workers are re-hired and paid 500 gourdes!

Here’s a link to a half-page leaflet (pdf) ready for printing & delivery to Hanes retail outlets and offices, in whatever geographic location you happen to be. Please let us know about your experiences, and Batay Ouvriye as well: batay@batayouvriye.org

RRNleafletHANES

And here’s a cartoon saying pretty much the same thing:

RRNonlineHANES

 

Posted in Haiti, Imperialism, Rapid Response Network, Solidarity | Leave a comment