Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon defines civil society as: “noun the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens; individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government”
The headline should have read, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Representative Jared Polis deny public vote on fracking with last minute deal giving backyard fracking the continued green light in Colorado. … [The media] has the tendency to turn political reporting into society page puffery, where all the political elite are portrayed in gauzy society colors, not as slaughter-house workers collecting floor renderings to feed a growingly rebellious, democracy-demanding public. - Coloradan Phillip Doe, who writes, “I am cosponsoring a public trust initiative that would be added to the state constitution requiring all levels of government to protect the public’s air, land, and water against substantial impairment, with the requirement that the best science available be employed in all permitting processes. It would also turn the tables on proof, the corporate trump card, by requiring petitioner’s to demonstrate their proposals would not unduly harm the environment, rather than the other way around, as is now the case.”
Let’s be clear – the BC Government has created and perpetuated a system that pits industry against First Nations. It divides communities and negatively impacts the investment climate in BC. … We will never let LNG pipelines or related activities onto our Territory, it is simply too destructive and short-sighted. The state of our Gitxsan nation has become very disheartening as people are desperately trying to protect what traditional territory we have left. … The voices of our hereditary Chiefs, matriarchs (mothers & grandmothers) are being told that they are not able to share what is weighing heavy on their hearts because they haven’t been given an opportunity or a platform to do so. … We may not have control of the world; but as a nation, community and as a House group with aboriginal rights and title, we can stand together to protect the natural resources and all that connects us. We are the caretakers of the Territory. It is not only our right to protect and gather our resources without damaging or destroying any lifecycle, it is our responsibility. - Gitxsan tribe protest leaders, contained within a published op/ed
I think in local elections, the debate should be between local candidate versus local candidate. It should not be candidates debating with giant Texas oil companies. - British Columbia NDP Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart
In other words, environmental non-profit groups better watch their step because they’re in the cross-hairs. Premier Clark is handing the legal hammer to Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, ExxonMobil, Koch, Encana, Chevron, Sinopec, Suncor and the entire B.C. LNG sector to tie non-profits up in court for years. - Sandy Garossino commenting/reporting on the British Columbia government’s proposed overhaul of the province’s Societies Act
Phillip Doe CounterPunch USA October 17-19, 2014
The headline should have read, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Representative Jared Polis deny public vote on fracking with last minute deal giving backyard fracking the continued green light in Colorado.
Instead Lynn Bartels, reporting in the hedge fund-owned Denver Post, gushed that a grand compromise had been struck. We were to believe from her front-page story that while the negotiating might not have been fully worthy of Talleyrand (a man once described as a turd wrapped in silk), it was surely ballpark, for all the political rainmakers in the state agreed. Something great had happened. The nasty, unwashed public with its concerns about backyard fracking had been silenced once again.
Bartels has the tendency to turn political reporting into society page puffery, where all the political elite are portrayed in gauzy society colors, not as slaughter-house workers collecting floor renderings to feed a growingly rebellious, democracy-demanding public. So, naturally, Bartels missed the real event.
In a nutshell, Polis, the 3rd richest man in the U.S. House, had agreed to pull two initiatives he had bankrolled. They were designed to offer some minimum controls on fracking. He did not think it necessary to seek consent from the more than 100,000 registered voters who had signed up to get the initiatives on the fall ballot. Neither did he deign to consult with the countless volunteers who had worked to get the required voter signatures. In return, the Governor agreed to establish a “blue ribbon” committee to study the fracking issues. Yep, that’s the grand compromise stripped to an irreducible minimum. As a friend of mine said, “Polis as negotiator makes Neville Chamberlain look like Attila the Hun.”
It is important to remind readers that the initiative process, or direct democracy as it’s sometimes called, is an important feature of Colorado’s constitution. It was adopted at the constitutional convention as the people’s protection against unresponsive or overreaching centralized government. It has been under assault by the ruling class ever since.
One of Polis’ initiatives would have required 2000-foot drilling setbacks from dwellings. This, the industry said, would make fracking impossible and cause the loss of thousands of jobs to state workers. When the going gets tough the industry always trots out the jobs gambit. But oil and gas development is a boom and bust business that brings its skilled workforce with it.
The second Polis initiative would have reasserted the rights of local communities to self-determination, or home rule, if you will. This right is already guaranteed explicitly in the state constitution. It states in part that “…the people of all municipalities” have “the full right of self-government in both local and municipal matters” and nothing shall ever be construed to deny them “any right or power essential or proper to the full exercise of such right.” Article XX, section 6h.
Is there anything more local than 8 to 16 oil wells in your backyard or in a park or school playground? Still, with regard to oil and gas development, the state legislature, apparently unable to read or reason, went rogue and took these rights away from the people and gave them to state government through legislation. The state supreme court lined up to back this legislation. Home rule is supreme except when it comes to oil reasoned they. The constitution must bow to the realities of oil, jobs, and money.
This ugly piece of Colorado political history is the source of much of the unrest in the Colorado cities threatened by the oil invasion.
As is well known, five Colorado front-range cities have passed bans or moratoria. Each is threatened by lawsuits, from both the state and the industry acting in tandem against the rights of the people. Collectively these cities, though among the larger in the state, represent a small fraction of the state’s land mass. In fact, if all of the incorporated cities and towns in the state were to enact bans through the initiative process, less than 2 percent of the state’s land base would be off limits to the industry.
As to Polis and Hickenlooper, Polis has done himself major damage. He is almost certain to face primary opposition in 2016 since cities with well over half the voting population in his district had already voted to ban or delay fracking within their city limits.
Hickenlooper seems to be coming progressively unhinged. Just the other day he said the public was wrong in voting for marijuana legalization since we couldn’t be sure yet of marijuana’s health consequences. What? The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the assertion that fracking is a health threat to local populations, and the planet itself, yet he forges on against moratoria that would allow for a reasoned assessment of fracking’s impact on the very people he has taken a constitutional oath to protect.
Note, for the past two years Joann Ginal, a state representative from Ft Collins has introduced legislation to conduct a survey of documented medical reports from people claiming adverse health effects from fracking. Though extremely modest in range and intent, it has twice failed, thanks to the governor’s lack of support and the surprising number of troglodytes in her own party who have been won over by the industry or the reporting in the Denver Post.
The ancient philosopher wrote that character is destiny. If this be true, Polis and Hickenlooper are destined to spend eternity together, voiceless in that mysterious place where even the sun is silent.
Related British Columbia content: Why Gitxsan built a camp to blockade an LNG pipeline in BC’s north
Mychaylo Prystupa Vancouver Observer British Columbia Canada September 15, 2014
In late August, an Aboriginal protest group with the Gitxsan tribe in northern B.C. constructed a permanent camp in their territory to oppose LNG pipelines that they say do not have their hereditary chiefs’ approval. They call it “Camp Madii Lii” and their members block all “LNG traffic and other unauthorized industrial activity.” TransCanada is proposing the $5-billion Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, to transport fracked gas from the northeast to B.C.’s coast.
What follows is an op/ed from the leaders of this camp.
Kinder Morgan TV ads attacked as influencing city elections in B.C.
Mychaylo Prystupa Vancouver Observer British Columbia Canada October 9, 2014
Multinational oil pipeline giant Kinder Morgan is being formally challenged with Elections BC as seeking to influence the outcome of November municipal elections in British Columbia with a new ad campaign – a charge, the company disputes.
The Texas-headquartered corporation is running TV, radio, online and print ads just six weeks before civic election races in cities and towns across the province.
NDP Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart filed the complaint Wednesday with Elections BC.
“I think in local elections, the debate should be between local candidate versus local candidate.”
“It should not be candidates debating with giant Texas oil companies,” said Stewart, outside the House of Commons in Ottawa Thursday.
Several city politicians up for re-election — including Vancouver’s and Burnaby’s mayors – have staked their political reputations on advancing strong positions against the $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Kinder Morgan said the timing of its ads is coincidental, and part of a PR campaign underway for two years, to win over citizens to the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline expansion proposal, to triple the flow of Alberta oil sands bitumen to the coast.
“These [advertising] efforts are really nothing to do with any election, and are in fact, spread across many B.C. communities,” said Ali Hounsell, spokesperson for Trans Mountain on Wednesday.
“They do not advocate for any policy, candidate or position. So, no, it’s part of our ongoing information and engagement efforts,” she added.
Hounsell also said Kinder Morgan does not fund any political campaigns in B.C.
Oil company interests in the U.S. are well known for funding candidates in city election races south of the border.
The billionaire Koch Brothers, who are big players in the Alberta oil sands, also fund the Americans for Prosperity – a group that spends millions on influencing elections.
The Washington Post reported that the Koch brothers have moved from funding oil-friendly candidates in federal and state election races — to those in “hyper local races” all across America.
Likewise, the New York Times found that the same two industrialists had helped back mayoral candidates in cities as small as Iowa’s Coralville, population 18,000.
Burnaby’s Mayor said at a recent B.C. municipalities convention in Whistler, Kinder Morgan was seen buying drinks and lobbying candidates for office.
Christy Clark’s proposed Societies Act overhaul is breathtakingly stupid
Sandy Garossino DeSmog Canada Canada October 14, 2014
Visit this page for its embedded links.
B.C.’s Christy Clark government is proposing to overhaul the Societies Act, and they’ve distributed a snoozer of a White Paper to let you know all about it.
If you’ve dozed off already, WAKE UP, because there’s a massive zinger quietly planted deep inside. You can do something about it — more on that at the end of this post. But unmentioned in any preamble or executive summary, Section 99 allows any person (including corporations) to take any registered society to court that they believe is acting contrary to the public interest — whatever that is.
Here it is:
In other words, environmental non-profit groups better watch their step because they’re in the cross-hairs. Premier Clark is handing the legal hammer to Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, ExxonMobil, Koch, Encana, Chevron, Sinopec, Suncor and the entire B.C. LNG sector to tie non-profits up in court for years.
Section 99 looks like Clark’s close advisor Gwyn Morgan drafted it up during half-time at last year’s Grey Cup. Not a single competent lawyer within the Ministry of Justice could say with a straight face that it’s constitutional. The clear intent is to silence and intimidate Canadian conservation and environmental non-profits with the threat of litigation. And if mere threat doesn’t work, this legislation enables the corporate sector to bludgeon them into lawsuit bankruptcy.
This proposal is one of the most ill-conceived and draconian initiatives to see the light of day in a modern democracy, and reveals the extent of Clark’s captivity by the oil and gas lobby. (And one more reason B.C. political leaders should be prevented from funding their election campaigns at the Petroleum Club in Calgary).
The real backdrop, of course, is that the Harper [federal] government has been on a tear against environmentalists for years, muzzling our scientists and attempting to discredit Canadian environmental NGOs.
The government has spent millions in fruitless CRA revenge audits hunting for a wholly imaginary conspiracy involving Canadian environmental organizations and U.S. scientific and charitable foundations. This vendetta has cost both the charitable sector and public purse untold funds in accounting and legal fees, over nothing.
Agree or disagree with the environmental movement, its members are entitled, as are all of us, to contribute vigorously to public debate over resource development. No one in a free and democratic society should be silenced or censored by fear of government-sanctioned reprisal. But that is precisely the purpose of this legislation.
Christy Clark would do well to remember that Canada is a free nation — our constitution says so. British Columbians, including non-profits, are free to do what we want, express ourselves freely and associate with whomever we choose to, unless it’s for an unlawful purpose.
If government wants to limit that freedom it must abide by the Charter of Rights, not force citizens to meet a vague test like “public interest,” which doesn’t mean the same thing to any two people in the province. That would be the same Charter of Rights that Justice Susan Griffin pounded the B.C. government with during the teachers’ dispute.