On July 28, 2012 I joined thousands of other fractivists from across the country at the steps of the Capitol to tell oil and gas companies, the Administration, and anyone else who would listen, no fracking way.
Of course we haven’t stopped fracking, but we started a movement, we built a coalition.
On the first day of the National Days of Action starting July 25 I attended a Marshal and Lobby Day training at the Sierra Club Headquarters in DC. I had never marshaled an event or lobbied my Congress people before, but the issue of fracking is important to me, my friends, my coworkers and my neighbors. It felt good to be in the company of so many other passionate citizens who care about critical issues like safe drinking water and public health.
If you think things could get any more troubling in Congress, think again.
The House approved a bill (H.R. 4402) last week to exempt the mining industry from environmental review. Cloaked as a bill about increasing production of strategic minerals, this legislation is actually about ignoring the serious impacts that mining can have on public health, clean water and taxpayers.
It will exclude mines from one of our most important environmental laws that requires a thorough environmental impact study.
CAJAMARCA, PERU –– “Um, I think we have to find another place to meet,” I shouted into the phone on the morning of the Fourth of July. I was supposed to meet a local professor in the downtown Plaza de Armas here in Cajamarca, Peru, but at our designated meeting time, police were throwing tear gas into the plaza, and I saw them kicking and beating people who were slow (or too defiant) to move out of the way.
I’m here researching mining conflicts – reading, observing, and interviewing protestors, government officials, NGO staff, community members, and other stakeholders. On Tuesday night, July 3, a State of Emergency was declared here in the city of Cajamarca and two neighboring provinces of Celendín and Bambamarca after clashes between police and anti-mining protestors turned fatal. In Peru, a State of Emergency suspends certain constitutional rights such as freedom of assembly, gives police power to arrest without warrant, and gives the armed forces a frighteningly broad mandate to help the police maintain order. That evening, tear gas and violence swept through downtown Cajamarca, as described by OnEarth Magazine’s George Black. Many activists interpret the crackdown as a piece of a bigger puzzle: the criminalization of social protest in Peru.
What is going on in Peru?
On July 4, riot police in Peru surrounded Father Marco Arana, a Catholic priest and human rights and environmental activist, as he sat peacefully on a bench Cajamarca’s town square. The police officers proceeded to kick, punch and beat Father Marco, forcing him to the ground and surrounding him – all of which was captured on cell phone video cameras and immediately posted online. He was then arrested and forcibly taken to the police station, where we learned through his Twitter feed, he continued to be beaten and brutalized.