Nestle: A Defeat and a Victory

On May 12 after a nearly 4 year battle, Fryeburg, Maine lost its appeal in the Maine Supreme Court to Nestle Waters North America, confirming the Maine Public Utility Commission’s initial approval of a 45 year contract for the bottled water giant to mine water from the small White Mountain community, despite overwhelming opposition among area residents.

For more information on this battle and the court case, follow‪#‎WaterJustice‬ ‪#‎WaterIsLife‬ ‪#‎Nestle‬ #Water, like Community Water Justice on Facebook,

and check out these articles:

Maine high court allows Nestle’s Fryeburg water deal to stand

Nestlé Just Gained Control Over This Town’s Water for the Next 45 Years

On the other side of the country, Hood River County, Oregon, handily defeated Nestle’s proposal for a bottling plant.  Here is the press release from David Delk, President of the Alliance for Democracy, Portland, OR and co-chair of the national Alliance for Democracy:

 

Oregon voters Tuesday in Hood River County delivered a stunning defeat to Nestle.

In the epic battle between Nestle and people around the world to protect their access to water, little Hood River County in Oregon just achieved a major and unique victory. And Alliance for Democracy was a part of that, having provided volunteers and financial support over the course of eight years.

Nestle had proposed building a bottled water plant in the Columbia River gouge town of Cascade Locks, using over 100 million gallons of publicly-owned water a year, and creating more than approximately 1.6 billion plastic water bottles each year. Cascade Locks, hoping to develop its tourist industry, would have suffered over 200 daily truck trips on their roads. Cascade Locks is located at the western edge of the nationally renowned and protected Columbia River Gouge. Opponents to Nestle’s plans also stressed the detrimental effects extracting this pure cold spring water would have on salmon, considered a bellwether species by Native Americans.

 

Nestle promised up to 50 low-tech jobs and an increase in the town’s tax base.

 

But a coalition of residents, farmers and Native Americans organized in opposition and today were successful in saying “No to Nestle, the water belongs to the people, not a water privateer.”

 

On an initiative question, Hood River county voters were asked to approve a novel measure to ban the commercial bottling and transport of water in quantities greater than 1000 gallons daily. And today they voted 69-31% to approve the initiative measure.

 

“Today victory at the ballot shows that when the people organize to stop corporate domination, we can win,” said David Delk, President of the Alliance for Democracy, Portland, OR and co-chair of the national Alliance for Democracy.

 

 

 

 

In Maine, More Hipsters Choosing Life on the Farm

LINCOLNVILLE, Maine – The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 – a number that’s been steadily ticking upward for more than 30 years.

The graying of America’s heartland is one indicator that farming isn’t a go-to career: Fewer kids are choosing a life on the land. But in some places, like Maine, the trend may be reversing.

Thanks to an availability of land and a cultural shift toward slow foods, hipsters are giving farming more than a passing glance.

It’s 10 degrees. The snow is crunching underfoot on this windy hillside in Lincolnville, just a few miles from the coast.  A trio of hairy highland cattle munch on flakes of hay, seemingly impervious to the bitter wind.  Nearby, a native breed of white sheep known as the Katahdin, are mustered just outside the fence. Heritage chickens scuttle about a mobile poultry house that looks a bit like a Conestoga wagon. Josh Gerritsen, a New York City photographer-turned-farmer, has created a small, agrarian ecosystem.

“The cows move through the pasture first,” he says. “They take the grass height from maybe 8 inches down to 4 inches. The sheep follow two days later, and then after that, the laying hens come in.  They spread out the cow patties, they clean up the parasites, and they get additional protein from the bugs.”

Gerritsen’s classic backyard farm supplies a small, loyal consumer base. He says his generation has found a niche market that doesn’t have to compete with agribusiness in the supermarket. It’s a hipster generation whose outlook has been shaped by the backdrop of climate change, who’ve come to embrace facial hair, the farmers’ market, craft beer, and artisan cheeses.

The focus, Gerritsen says, is on locally-produced goods of superior quality.  But it’s not a particularly easy or lucrative life. So why cash in an expensive college education to raise poultry?

“Just a few years ago, if you’d told me that I was going to be a farmer, I would have probably laughed at you,” says Marya Gelvosa, Gerritsen’s partner. She’s 29, majored in English literature, and had never lived in the country before. But she and Gerritsen have thrown all their resources into this fledgling farm in Maine, a career move which came as something of a surprise to her urban family.

“They definitely had their raised eyebrows, like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” she says. “Because, I mean, I grew up in the city. It’s just, I got the bug and I wanted to have this life where it gives back to the community and it’s very fulfilling work. And noble work.”

“I think that we want to be reconnected with the fundamentals of life,” Gerritsen says, “with growing food, with producing things with our own hands. Living in the city, you commute by subway, you buy your food at the supermarket, you work in a cubicle all day. You’re not intimately tied to anything.”

But how typical is this young couple in the farming landscape? It turns out, pretty typical for some areas of the country, not so typical for others, says John Rebar, executive director of University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

“Certainly in Maine, farmers under the age of 35 have increased 40 percent, when nationally that increase is 1.5 percent,” Rebar says. “So, in our state, we are way ahead of that national trend.”

And there may be several reasons why, he says. A big one is that relatively undeveloped states like Maine still have affordable land to offer – a luxury not seen in many other parts of the country. Farmland has become so expensive across the the Midwestern breadbasket, and in California’s Central Valley, that some financial experts have hinted at an actual “farmland bubble.”

And, says Rebar, Maine, which was a hotbed of activity during the first back-to-the-land movement in the 70’s, has many knowledgeable people working in the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, or MOFGA, which offers a training program for new farmers in how to do it old school in a new age.

“I think one big difference is a lot of the young people that are going into farming now are going into it looking at it very much as a profession, rather than a home-steading, self-sufficiency type of thing,” says 31-year-old Gene Ripley of Dover-Foxcroft.

Ripley’s parents were part of that earlier back-to-the-land movement, but even he didn’t consider farming as a career until a college trip to Thailand, where he visited a rice farm and realized that, not only could he live the good life, but he could help others live it as well.  Now, he and his wife Mary Margaret have put their political science educations from Bates College in Lewiston aside.

“We just finished our fifth season here on this farm, and it’s our sixth season farming on our own,” Gene says. “We farmed on leased land in Waldo County for one year before we found a property to buy.”

Jennifer Mitchell: “How many acres?”

“We have up there about five acres in production,” says Mary Margaret. “And so that includes the cash crops and the cover crops. And we did about two-and-a-half acres of cash crops this year.”

“We are getting to the point where demand is outstripping our supply,” Gene says, “and so this year we cleared a one-acre section of woods right here. And just last week, which is really exciting, we just hired our first full-time employee who is going to be starting in the spring.”

John Rebar, with Cooperative Extension, says that’s an accomplishment that should not be overlooked. If young farmers like the Ripleys can become successful in a 21st century economy, they’ll also become employers, and that’s especially important in places like Piscataquis County, which has seen its mill industry gutted.

There’s no doubt in Rebar’s mind that there is an agrarian Renaissance happening.

“I was called farmer by my classmates in high school. That was OK with me, but you could tell it wasn’t a term of endearment,” Rebar says.

But there’s been a cultural shift in attitude, he says. People are starting to understand the value of farms, the products they produce, and the role farms can play. Long-term success, he says, will come as people embrace the culture and support this new generation of producers.

And meanwhile? The hipsters are making it all look pretty cool.

End Violence Together event draws crowd in Bangor

One week after hundreds of thousands took part in the People’s Climate Change demonstration in New York City, Mainers came together for a rally and march to connect the dots between climate destruction, poverty and war.

Defending Water for Life in Maine was one of 38 Maine cosponsors for the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine’s “End Violence Together” event that was held on Saturday, September 27 on the Bangor waterfront as part of the national Campaign Nonviolence.

Chris and others marching with DWFL banner made by ARRT!

Chris and others marching with DWFL banner made by ARRT!

This public action featuring drumming, speakers, music and a march was one of more than 170 being held across the country. It was designed to raise awareness of the interrelationship of war, poverty and environmental destruction. Participants demonstrated a commitment to work collaboratively to build a culture of peace and nonviolence. 

Speakers included Mary Ellen Quinn, social worker and co-chair of Pax Christi Maine; Marc Cryer, Veterans for Peace, Jim Harney Chapter  and Chris Buchanan of Defending Water for Life.   Doug Allen of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine emceed.

A short performance by Voices for Peace set the tone for the event.  
To view Chris’s speech, click here.
Visit http://www.CampaignNonviolence.org to make a national connection.

 

South Portland Tar Sands Ban Enacted

Maine Public Broadcasting Network | July 22, 2014

The South Portland City Council has voted to ban the export of Canadian tar-sands crude through the city, effectively ending any attempt to bring the crude from western Canada through a pipeline into the city. While there are no such plans in the work, Portland Pipeline Corporation Vice-President Tom Hardison spoke against the proposal.

“I continue to be concerned about the clearly intended consequences the passage of this ordinance will have on the energy industry in South Portland and the industry’s ability to adapt to and meet the needs of a dynamic industry and the energy needs of the region and North America,” Hardison said.

Crude from the tar sands of western Canada is fueling a surge in North American production, but environmentalists say tar sands oil is difficult to clean if spilled and dangerous to ship.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment,” says Emily Figdor of Environment Maine. “It really gives me hope that other communities that also are dealing with serious local impacts from tar sands infrastructure can come together and similarly protect what is so dear to them.”

South Portland councilor Michael Pock was the only “no” vote, as he was two weeks ago. Opponents of the new ordinance say the referendum could hurt the city’s economic future, though the ordinance was crafted to allow existing petroleum handling in the city to continue.

An attorney for Portland Pipeline Corp., Matt Manahan, warned the ordinance would be found to be pre-empted by federal and state law. But Sean Mahoney of the Conservation Law Foundation challenged that and said his organization will support South Portland if the city faces suit to overturn the anti-tar-sands ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance will have 20 days to collect some 900 signatures to force a vote on the ordinance.

 

In Stand Against Big Oil, Small Maine City Moves to Ban Tar Sands

Link to original article from Common Dreams.

Coastal Maine residents are pushing to formally prohibit tar sands from being shipped from their port

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Standing ovation for the South Portland Draft Ordinance Committee as it unveils plan to block tar sands Wednesday, June 25. (Photo: Environment Maine)

Residents of a small city in coastal Maine are pushing to formally ban Big Oil’s plans to pump tar sands through their community, and they’re pretty sure they’re going to win.

Over 200 people wearing matching sky-blue tee-shirts flooded a city council meeting in South Portland on Wednesday night to cheer a presentation on a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the bulk loading of crude oil—including tar sands—as well as new infrastructure for such purposes within city limits.

Backers of the legislation, known as the Clear Skies Ordinance, say tar sands transport through their city would devastate their waterfront, unleash toxic air pollution, and risk dangerous spills.

And they have reason to worry.

South Portland is the starting point for the 236-mile long “Portland-Montreal Pipeline” which is majority-owned by Exxon-Mobil. The pipeline is critical to move Canadian tar sands to a major port for loading on oil tankers for export. Canadian pipeline company Enbridgeappears to be moving forward with plans to pump tar sands, via their Canadian Line 9 pipeline, through New England to South Portland’s Casco Bay, where the oil would then be exported to global markets.

According to Environment Maine, the Portland-Montreal Pipeline is also central to the Energy East pipeline, proposed by Canadian company Transcanada, that would pump 1.1 million barrels of tar sands daily from Quebec to New Brunswick,

“The threat is not abstract,” said Taryn Hallweaver of Environment Maine in an interview with Common Dreams. “Tar sands oil will flow to Montreal as early as this summer for the first time ever, right at New England’s doorstep.”

Oil extracted from tar sands, also referred to as bitumen, is one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, producing up to five times more carbon than conventional crude oil. The extraction process is extremely energy-intensive and destructive to ecosystems and creates large reservoirs of dangerous waste.

The Clear Skies Ordinance to block tar sands emerged from a six-month-long public process launched by South Portland’s City Council. It was drafted by a committee of appointed land-use experts and is slated for further consideration by the city council and planning board, with a vote slated for late-July.

It follows the narrow defeat last year of a South Portland effort to block a future tar sands terminal after the oil industry poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign to squash the protective measure.

Robert Selling of Protect South Portland told Common Dreams that he is “extremely hopeful” that this ordinance. He emphasized that the draft ordinance was met with “enthusiastic response” and “standing ovations” at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I think it’s going to be a model for other communities,” he said.

Pipeline map Image courtesy of EcoWatch

 

Federal report gauges U.S. impacts of global warming

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY 12:06 p.m. EDT May 6, 2014

Link to original article and video

Global warming is affecting where and how Americans live and work, and evidence is mounting that burning fossil fuels has made extreme weather such as heat waves and heavy precipitation much more likely in the USA, according to a massive federal report released Tuesday at the White House.

 

“Climate change is here and now, and not in some distant time or place,” said Texas Tech University climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, one of the authors of the 1,100-page National Climate Assessment (NCA), the largest, most comprehensive U.S.-focused climate change report ever produced.

 

“The choices we’re making today will have a significant impact on our future,” Hayhoe said.

 

The assessment was prepared by hundreds of the USA’s top scientists. It agreed with a recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the planet is warming, mostly because of human activity.

 

The assessment provides “the loudest and clearest alarm bell to date” for immediate and aggressive climate action, said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday.

 

“All Americans will find things that matter to them in this report,” added Jerry Melillo, chair of the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee.

 

“Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington state and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience,” the U.S. report stated. “So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid Southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York and native peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska.”

 

MORE: Stories on weathering the change

 

SPECIAL REPORT: Why you should sweat climate change

 

While scientists continue to refine projections of the future climate, observations unequivocally show that the climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. These emissions come mainly from the burning of coal, oil and gas, the report states.

 

“If people took the time to read the report, they would see that it is not necessarily about polar bears, whales or butterflies,” said meteorologist Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia. “I care about all of those, but the NCA is about our kids, dinner table issues, and our well being.”

 

 

The colors on the map show temperature changes over the past 22 years (1991-2012) compared with the 1901-1960 average for the contiguous U.S.(Photo: NOAA)

“We’re already seeing extreme weather and it’s happening now,” said study co-author Donald Wuebbles, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois. “We’re seeing more heat waves, particularly in the West and in the South.”

 

Specifically, the three most significant threats from climate change in the USA are sea level rise along the coasts, droughts and fires in the Southwest and extreme precipitation events across the country.

 

The assessment was written by 300 scientists and other experts from academia; local, state and federal governments; the private sector; private citizens; and the non-profit sector. Representatives from oil companies such as ConocoPhillips and Chevron and environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy endorsed the assessment’s findings.

 

“The National Climate Assessment brings to light new and stronger evidence of how climate change is already having widespread impacts across the United States,” according to Kevin Kennedy of the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C.- based environmental group.

 

“Chevron recognizes and shares the concerns of governments and the public about climate change,” said Chevron spokesperson Justin Higgs. “Chevron’s Arthur Lee was one of 60 committee members and 240 authors to assist in the compilation of this report. We recognize the importance of this issue and are committed to continued research and understanding.”

 

A vast majority of climate scientists — generally pegged at 97% — concur with the basics of the science behind climate change, though some still find flaws in the details. A report last week, for instance, in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change found that the impacts of extreme heat are often exaggerated.

 

The assessment is a federally mandated report prepared by the nation’s top scientists every four years for the president and Congress to review. This is the third report produced.

 

ORIGINAL SOURCE: National Climate Assessment

 

The United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinated the development of the NCA, which is exclusively focused on climate impacts to the United States, according to the requirements of the Global Change Research Act of 1990.

 

Contributing: Associated Press

 

 

Ten indicators of a warming world: These are just some of the indicators measured globally over many decades that show that the Earth’s climate is warming. White arrows indicate increasing trends; black arrows indicate decreasing trends.(Photo: NOAA)

NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It’s Not Looking Good for Us

Tom McKay  March 18, 2014 , PolicyMic  

Civilization was pretty great while it lasted, wasn’t it? Too bad it’s not going to for much longer. According to a new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, we only have a few decades left before everything we know and hold dear collapses.

The report, written by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center along with a team of natural and social scientists, explains that modern civilization is doomed. And there’s not just one particular group to blame, but the entire fundamental structure and nature of our society.  Read more:

http://policymic.com/articles/85541/nasa-study-concludes-when-civilization-will-end-and-it-s-not-looking-good-for-us