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Activist Malpractice

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

“I will say it again: the marketing of hope and change Obama is THE most brilliant ad campaign ever perpetrated on USians. And, like in many other ‘campaigns,’ desperate people cling to an illusion…cuz the reality is so seriously effed up that ‘seeing’ it demands either total melt down or revolution.”

— Martha Odom

Green Eggs and Spam

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Alberta tar sands extraction zone.

Not a day goes by without revelations of some new environmental rollback out of the Obama administration; all of them chickens-coming-home-to-roost results of the last few decades of what Michael Colby labeled Activist Malpractice back in 1994. The term has come into common use and recently was used by Dr. Guy McPherson to describe what has become the business-as-usual reality in the elite, Corporate Foundation-fed/pro-Democrat “green” circles.  McPherson took Bill McKibben, James Hansen and other “climate campaigners” (indeed, the entire Climate movement) to task for the all-eggs-in-one-basket absurdity of 350.org’s “Stop the Keystone Pipeline.”

If a doctor determines that you have a deadly disease and fails to fully inform you, that’s Medical Malpractice. If a green activist knows full well the seriousness of an issue and fails to address it head on and instead comes up with a plan that diverts movement energy to useless efforts that merely prop up bad politicians instead of noting, much less seriously challenging, the underlying causes of the eco-threats – all the while cashing substantial foundation grants and selling books – that’s Activist Malpractice.

“Bucket list item checked off: share a paddy wagon with Julian Bond. This is a broad movement,” Bill McKibben tweeted after his misdemeanor arrest for protesting the Keystone Pipeline outside the White House, February 13, 2013

While wasting the past few critical years spewing massive amounts of carbon traveling around the planet; collecting mailing lists; engaging in vanity protests ; sending out narcissistic tweets; endlessly spamming inboxes with “the sky is falling/send us money” missives; and, most importantly, never bringing up Northern Hemisphere consumption levels or challenging the true bad actors (especially, if Democrats), McKibben et al. intentionally avoided any mention, much less protested, Obama’s decision a week before reelection, to approve the construction of the Southern leg of the Keystone from Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas. That Obama also delayed any decision on the alternative, new Northern leg was all that mattered; keeping alive the true intent of the entire 350 campaign – to provide the Democrats with an election year “victory” when Obama cancels the Northern leg which is now made unnecessary given that the Southern link is complete and Tar Sands bitumen will flow all the way from Alberta to Texas any day now.

Given this, it was no surprise to me yesterday when Obama approved another major pipeline from Texas to Alberta’s Mordor-like landscape Tar Sands extraction zone. This pipeline will ship fracked natural gas to the pits-of-hell there as the gas will be mixed with the goo, and called “dilbit – diluted bitumen, which makes it more amenable to flowing thru pipes.

Climate Ground Zero

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Mountain-top removal coal mining zone.

It’s heartening that many folks are finally catching on to the Foundation/Dem/Big Green Keystone scam. As a result of this awareness, the hollow KXL “victory” next year will likely do little to burnish the tarnished Democrat green credibility.  And speaking of green cred, Big Green has been conspicuously AWOL in one of the most important climate/carbon/public health issues of all – Mountaintop Removal (MTR) coal extraction. That monumental insult has been left to be challenged by an underfunded grassroots collection of front-line (dragline?) Appalachian activists themselves.

A few years ago, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices and other green groups signed on and sent staff to help the locals win what they called the “iconic placed-based Coal River Campaign” to end MTR. They spent $50,000 on a meeting where they literally sang Kumbaya! Suddenly without telling anyone local, they simply packed up and left. They now have no offices or staff in the area. Yet, they continue to raise funds based on their “successful” MTR campaign while providing no funds whatsoever to send the under-siege “hillbilly” locals to lobby in DC. They continue to pump money and efforts into a clean water bill that doesn’t even end MTR!

As if blasting mountains away, extracting the coal and dumping the “overburden” waste into nearby streams killing species and poisoning the entire state isn’t criminal enough, the entire operation has led to massive cancer, asthma and other sickness. Climate Ground Zero (CGZ) teamed up with locals Bo Webb and Maria Gunnoe to push for and organize the first public health studies on the impacts of breathing the blasting dust below MTR sites on Cumberland Plateau. The results showed that this area has the highest mortality rate in the USA. Counties that don’t have MTR mines don’t have anywhere near the birth defects, lung disease, cancer and a host of other diseases, including the highest rates of mental depression in America.

CGZ and others have taken the studies’ results and responded to the public health catastrophe by pushing for the Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act or ACHE which was introduced in Congress by the heroic Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-KY). The ACHE would require the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct or support comprehensive studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on individuals in the surrounding communities.

In support of ACHE and an end to MTR, CGZ has mounted a vigil/fast at the West Virginia Capitol. Legendary activist Mike Roselle, co-founder of Earth First!, RAN and The Ruckus Society, who lives in Rock Creek, WV (Ground Zero) and another local, James Guin McGuiness have bundled up, dumped toxic coal blasting dust on the Capitol steps and vowed to remain on the Capitol steps until the issue is addressed –  a moratorium on the blasting and investigation of the Health Emergency being the essential demand . (Send monetary support to CGZ.)

Chainsaw Déjà Vu

If these green derelictions weren’t enough, in addition, it is another Democrat eco-assault that was trotted out yesterday on the steps of another Capitol; one that clearly shows that all the Administration’s talk Climate and Carbon is just that – “talk” and one  that should put an end to that Big Green/Democrat myth once and for all.

The renewed assault on our Northwest Ancient Forests announced yesterday at the Oregon Capitol by Democrat Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley is the ultimate chickens-home-to-roost. The Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 would double the cut on 1.6 million acres of O & C public-owned forest managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM – bovines, minerals and logs) over the next 20 years. It also purports to “permanently preserve 1 million acres” of O & C lands (though there are only 2.4 million acres total). The 1.6 million acres would be put in a Timber Trust (can’t make up) run by timber interests (maybe with a token or two pliable “greens,” of course) under the terms of Oregon’s shoddy Forest Practices Act, rather than the applicable more stringent Federal laws.

Roosting chickens? Well, the reality is that we were told by the Big Greens that Clinton “permanently preserved” these same acres back in 1993, when, in reality, he resumed old growth logging on NW Public forests which had been completely stopped by an Injunction during the Pappy Bush era. Big Greens crowed “our greatest victory;” cashed their grants checks and left it to the local grassroots folks who had raised the issue to national prominence in the first place to fight off the resulting decades of new timber sales in old growth habitat and quickly went on to setting up the next Democrat Greenwash – the 2000 election-year Roadless Rule scam. (How many times can the same forests be “saved?”)

And, now even the minimal protections of Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan are shown to be the mirage they always were. The plan is commonly known as Option 9, as the scientists who developed the plan first came up with eight options and none of them was rapacious enough, so Clinton sequestered them all in a Portland hotel until they came up with Options 9 and 10 which allowed for far more stumps.

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Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has also introduced similar legislation to Wyden’s in the House. DeFazio’s bill, which Obama has vowed to veto (right!), cuts even more. DeFazio, the Congress’ weakest/phoniest “progressive” was first elected 26 years ago with overwhelming environmentalist support. He even told a DC paper that he owed his election to forest activists! – (mainly the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC).  It didn’t take long for him to calculate that the biggest industry in his District was Big Timber and so he flipped. His predecessor, Jim Weaver, was never intimidated by Big Timber and challenged their hegemony all the time, introducing Wilderness bills I hios own District and generally calling them out on their self-serving lies all the time. DeFazio, on the other hand, has never gotten a single acre of designated Wilderness in his District and he even first opposed efforts to create the magnificent Opal Creek Wilderness Area. In exchange for his until now under-the-radar support, Big Timber does the usual corporate shadow dance a la the Right and Obama – savage DeFazio publicly, while regularly running an unelectable GOP nitwit against him.

Eugene, Oregon, the central town in DeFazio’s District, is famous as an activist hot-bed. Yet all the blow-hard Defazio has been able to bring home in 26 years is a foot bridge named after…himself. (Rep. Mike Kopetski from the adjacent District was in office but four years and he is the person most responsible for ending Nuclear Testing and he garnered Wilderness protection for nearby Opal Creek’s magnificent Ancient Forest watershed.) The continual free pass given DeFazio by Eugene residents amounts to Community-wide Activist Malpractice.

Wyden. DeFazio, Merkley et al. are all on board with the increased logging, as they note that southern Oregon counties that once wallowed in federal money from past massive, unsustainable timber cuts are now broke and forced to cut public services. They also claim that it’s, of course, a “jobs issue” as timber industry jobs have declined precipitously over time. The trend started long before any (temporary) logging rollbacks due to environmental protections. Automation and raw, unprocessed log exports have the largest hand in the job losses.

Big Timber cares about jobs so much that they are now behind an effort to roll back Public employee unions in the state. Rob Freres, heir of Freres Brothers Logging and the guy who vowed “to cut Opal Creek” sent $30,000 to the anti-union effort and astoundingly said, “I believe that if Oregon is going to be a place where our children and grandchildren can get a good education, it’s important that the public employees’ unions do not dominate the politics of this state.”

If Freres really cared about our children and grandchildren’s education, then he’d pay his taxes on an equitable basis with all other Oregon residents. The reality is that Big Timber always has and continues to “dominate the politics of this state.”

Passing the Bucks

Therein lays the truth here: the southern Oregon counties that are “broke” all are dominated by their largest land-owners – Big Timber. Big Timber has thus used their considerable clout to carve out preferential tax rates – the average tax rate in those counties is around $.70 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation (which itself is pegged at only around 60% of Real Market Value). In Eugene, Salem and Portland, the rate is closer to $2.00. On top of that, almost 100% of logs cut on Big Timber’s severely-undertaxed lands are exported unprocessed to Asia…again with little in the way of tax or tariff.

So, the Oregon Democrats (and we have had one-party rule here for decades) first hit up the Federal Treasury for billions over the past 20 years to the counties to make up for loss of timber revenue from Federal forests, while the counties systematically rejected any attempts to bring their tax rates into anything resembling equitable.

Finally, the rest of the country’s Representatives caught on and ended the subsidies. So, this latest logging scheme is the Democrats’ attempt to stick it to the federal ecosystems, as the Treasury is no longer in play. And why? Well, if said counties do go broke, the State has an obligation to step in and provide essential services, which means that the Democrats’ base in the Willamette Valley cities would end up seeing their taxes go up to pay for it all and that might shine a long-overdue light on it all. Oregon Governor-for-life John Kitzhaber, another corporate Democrat, has also pushed for and succeeded in upping the cut on State Forests for all the same false reasons.

Since the Democrats don’t have the backbone to take on Big Timber; end the ridiculous pro-timber tax rates or challenge raw log exports, they have calculated that the best way for them to deal with it is to up the cut rather than risk alienating their urban base, pure and simple. Since the foundation-dependent “greens” don’t have the courage to call out bad Democrats and are paid to not call them out, this is the result.

Where do we go from here?

“We fund reform; not revolution,” – Tom Wathan, Pew Charitable Trusts

Many of the same players who greenwashed Clinton’s Option 9  and cashed handsome six-figure foundation grants as their pay-off are still at it. They, directed – like McKibben – by what their Big Oil-based Foundation handlers (Pew, Rockefeller, et al.) demand, are seeking to merely minimize the damage of Wyden’s plan; instead of calling for complete rejection of it and mounting challenges to all of the proponents’ reelections. In fact, professional greens have been all in favor of the Democrat-produced many massive “thinning” projects and Biomass schemes that are already supposedly providing jobs, logs for local mills and “clean, renewable energy” to the grid. Wyden also has a green-blessed plan to thin over 7 million acres of Oregon’s dry eastside forests for Biomass for electricity generation, under the guise of creating/d fire-proofing “Healthy Forests” with chainsaws.

McKibben et al. are already on board for the Democrats’ 2104 campaigns; demanding that the entire 350 cabal never speak the truth about Obama; never speaking the truth about the many other pipelines, nor about Warren Buffett’s recent purchase of thousands of new rail tank cars to ship the tar sands crud across the continent.

Roselle, McGuiness and their allies have the right response to such threats: bring the fight to the centers of power and mount Direct Action campaigns at the Tar Pits, blasted mountains and the Stump Fields. No more mindless sycophantic indulging in the Hopium of the Democrats. No more sucking up to Big Oil foundations. No more narcissists self-selecting as representatives of the grassroots and cutting deals. Climate Ground Zero , the grassroots Tar Sands Blockade and local forest protection groups like the Cascadia Forest Defenders are leading the way.

The carbon from coal and Tar Sands must stay in the ground. The trees must remain standing; sequestering carbon. Northern hemisphere CONSUMPTION must drastically lower – already, sans the Keystone northern leg, 90% of all retail gasoline in the Midwest comes from Alberta’s tar sands.  100% of all jet fuel likewise comes from the same toxic source. “Renewables” are yet another dose of hopium. We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids.

The Democrats must get on board or support for them must end. The Big Green cabal of ineffective narcissists must be replaced or the entire Green lobby must go. Kick the Hopium. There are enough points on the data line. Us clever apes and numerous innocent species’ very survival is on the line. It’s now or never.

MICHAEL DONNELLY is one of the grassroots co-founders of the Ancient Forest movement and former VP of the ONRC. He was appalled when other activists proposed to trade off 55,000 acres of Ancient Forest for logging in exchange for protection of Opal Creek. He and others resisted the sell-out. But in the end, 5000 acres of stumps were the cost of Opal Creek’s 35,000 acres of protection. He, unlike those who self-selectively brokered to the deal, visited the now clearcut 5000 acres. He can be reached at Pahtoo@aol.com

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

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