Activist Malpractice

From the Tar Pits of Alberta to the Blasted Hills of Appalachia to the Stump-strewn Mountains of Oregon

by Michael Donnely / Counterpunch

“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

Alberta tar sands extraction zone.

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’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.

Mountain-top removal coal mining zone.

Mountain-top removal coal mining zone.

Climate Ground Zero

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.

Read the rest of Michael Donnelly’s article here (including the section, “Where do we go from here?”)


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