Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it’s important to all people & living beings
Press Release: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges President to Immediately Halt Dakota Access Pipeline December 01, 2016
Washington, DC—In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) called on President Obama to immediately halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and announced plans to join thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota this weekend.
“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned the value of caring for our home, caring for our planet, and the basic principle that we are all connected in a great chain of cause and effect.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a threat to this great balance of life. Despite strong opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and serious concerns raised by the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other Federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers approved permits to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline without adequately consulting the tribes, and without fully evaluating the potential impacts to neighboring tribal lands, sacred sites, and their water supply. Just one spill near the tribe’s reservation could release thousands of barrels of crude oil, contaminating the tribe’s drinking water.
The impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline is clear. Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years alone—more than any of its competitors.
Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue that is important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. We cannot survive without it. Once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there is very little that can be done about it. This is why it is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.
Our Founding Fathers took great inspiration from Native American forms of governance, and the democratic principles that they were founded on. Their unique form of governance was built on an agreement called the Great Law of Peace, which states that before beginning their deliberations, the council shall be obliged, and I quote, “to express their gratitude to their cousins and greet them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.”
This recognition of our debt to the Creator and our responsibility to be responsible members of this great web of life was there from the beginning of Western democracy.
Freedom is not a buzzword. The freedom of our Founding Fathers was not the freedom to bulldoze wherever you like.
Our freedom is a freedom of mind, a freedom of heart, freedom to worship as we see fit, freedom from tyranny and freedom from terror. That’s the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom cultivated by America’s Native people, and the freedom the Standing Rock Sioux are now exercising.
This weekend I’m joining thousands of veterans from across the country at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters. Together we call on President Obama to immediately halt the construction of this pipeline, respect the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and respect their right to clean water. The truth is, whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaiʻi aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.
We can’t undo history, but we must learn lessons from the past and carry them forward—to encourage cooperation among free people, to protect the sacred, to care for the Earth and for our children, and our children’s children. What’s at stake is our shared heritage of freedom and democracy and our shared future on this Great Turtle Island, our great United States of America.”
— Standing Rock Sioux (@StandingRockST) December 1, 2016
As police are now using Facebook check-ins to target those in protest at Standing Rock, people are taking to social media to support the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline by checking in to the Standing Rock Reservation via Facebook to dilute the check-in system and stand in solidarity with those physically protesting at Standing Rock.
Internet activism is not particularly new, and it is far from perfect. It is not necessarily the best way to participate but it is the most accessible and in the end it is an incredibly effective means to raise awareness about issues and start conversations around them. It’s amazing to see people taking a public stance at the intersection of an environmental and human rights issue. Making climate change a tangible issue to the public can be difficult as its effects are not often seen immediately, but when factors of climate change are directly correlated to human rights as well I think it is easier for people to sympathize with and take action to fight the unjust. Issues such as the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Sioux reservation exhibit how human lives, particularly an indigenous tribe, are being displaced by actions of large corporations extremely similar to many of the articles we read last week concerning Monsanto and Dartmouth. This directly reflects how the U.S. government has continued to marginalize Native American communities. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline would carry over 570,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Not only would this harm the surrounding environment and jeopardize safe drinking water, but sacred burial grounds and cultural traditions would be destroyed in the process.
The gallery below is just a few of the increasing posts I saw when scrolling through Facebook in the last couple of days. If there is an issue that you believe in, there is always something you can do even if it is as simple as clicking a button and sharing a link:
After a long journey, filled with a lot of new information, not only about Indian Point Energy Center but also about nuclear power in general, Tucker and I have completed a cut of our documentary for the class. This cut is only five minutes long and our work is certainly not over. We have hours of information about Indian Point and the nuclear power process from a variety of experts including Dr. Irwin Redlener director of Columbia’s Center for Natural Disaster Preparedness, Arthur Ginsberg, an ex-engineer at Indian Point, and Physician’s for Social Responsibility board member Alfred Meyer. We would like to continue to work on building this documentary and adjusting it to fit the issue as the debate evolves. The issue of Indian Point remains to be a current issue locally and the debate over nuclear power as a resource remains contested nationally and globally.
Issues We Researched:
Some of the most interesting, and unexpected issues we learned about during our research and interview processes were
• The Algonquian Pipeline and the issues with its expansion so close to Indian Point.
• The effects of thermal-pollution on surrounding aquatic environments.
• In depth knowledge about the inner workings of nuclear power plants, including how they have evolved over time and the various safeguards installed.
• The history of Indian Point and the activist movement against it.
• Nuclear Power as compared to other forms of harnessing energy such as solar power, oil, and natural gas.
Arthur Ginsberg, an ex employee of Indian Point, drew Tucker and me a diagram of the closed circuits within a nuclear power point.
Tucker and I went to Peekskill to see Indian Point’s proximity to the Hudson river for ourselves. Tucker couldn’t resist the selfie.
We saw the power plant from pretty close up, our ability to reach the plant so easily sparked our curiosity about the possibility about Indian Point as a possible terrorist target.
Tucker attended and participated in a rally by the activist group SAPE (Stop Algonquian Pipeline Expansion) and noticed the very small amount of young individuals protesting.
Through our research, in particular our interview with Alfred Meyer, we discovered that Indian Point rests upon not one but two (Stamford-Peekskill and Ramapo) fault lines.
Initially Tucker and I were inspired to do our final project on the Indian Point Energy Center (Nuclear Power Plant) when Alfred Meyer came in to discuss the issue with our class. The more research we did on the power plant the more interested (and upset) Tucker and I became about the issue. After our interview with Alfred, Tucker and I were led to some interesting sources including the group SAPE. Through this exposure to activist groups we realized that we were not the only ones who were upset by this issue. But it would’ve been too easy to round up these activists and make a documentary arguing against Indian Point with their semi-credible knowledge.
So we looked for sources who could help us understand the multi-faceted debate surrounding Indian Point. I contacted several individuals from both the NYU Langone Medical Center and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. One source who was especially helpful in steering me in the right direction was Lorcan Folan, an engineer at Tandon who put me in touch with Dr. Redlener and Arthur Ginsberg. Dr. Redlener, director for Colombia’s Center for Natural Disaster Preparedness, gave me great insight as to how a problem at Indian Point could affect the entire surrounding community and coastal areas. Arthur Ginsberg was a very essential source as he spent 36 years of his life working for Indian Point in various positions from managing the control center to acting as one of the head engineers. He told Tucker and I about some of the inner workings of the plant such as their emergency plans and the training required to work at Indian Point. He also provided a counter-view that was in favor of the re-licensing of Indian Point and the continued use of nuclear power.
Tucker and I learned an incredible amount on this journey. But we do not plan to end the project here.
Arthur Ginsberg has discussed with us the possibility of visiting the facilities at Indian Point Energy Center, and we intend to take him up on this offer. We have an ample amount of footage to continue editing and we intend to stay informed on the still developing issues. We would like to eventually have a cut to send to film festivals and to organizations that could use our film to educate and empower others.
We hope that you join us in saying no to extractive industries and fighting for a cleaner, safer energy future!
As mentioned, Tucker and I’s interview with Alfred Meyer went very well. We have reviewed the footage and though we will have to cut it down considerably (we have almost 25 minutes of interview for our 5-10 minute documentary) we got a ton of great information. But unfortunately we did not take any production stills. Alfred did wear the same outfit as he did during his talk about Fukushima, so the photo below is good reference. Additionally the bookcase in the second photo is the same one in Alfred’s apartment which used for our interview backdrop.
Alfred Meyer at the “Global Health and Environment in the Post-2015 Agenda Talk.
Alfred Meyer’s reference photo for the Physicians for Social Responsibility webpage.
Additionally my wonderful partner Tucker Pearson was able to attend an event sponsored by Stop the Algonquin Pipeline (SAPE) where protestors addressed a variety of environmental issues. The event particularly revolved around the current implementation of a natural gas pipeline which will be installed less than 105 feet away from Indian Point infrastructure. Alfred Meyer touched briefly on this new development in Indian Point’s dangerous history. Today, concerned citizens and activists alike gathered to draw attention to this pipeline (which many experts have asserted could lead to a nuclear disaster equal to or greater than to Fukushima meltdown of 2011.) At the event Tucker shot B-roll of the Indian Point power plant itself, filmed some of the anti-nuclear power talks, and spoke to local activists. Here is some behind the scene footage of Tucker’s adventure:
The crowd at the SAPE2016 Event.
Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River.
This cute doggie calls for the shutdown of Indian Point.
For a rundown of the Flint water crisis, Vox posted an article describing the situation. While a large part of this problem comes from a lack of city funding and a questionable attempt to cut corners with low-income city residents, the Flint water crisis is drawing the attention it deserves. The ethical questions regarding Flint suggest a serious deficiency in government responsibility for low-income cities as well as egg on a serious concern for what to do next.
With the presidential debates in action, the problems in Flint are finally coming to light and getting proper attention. The Michigan political system is being scrutinized for its lack of transparency and honesty with its residents and the entire city is realizing that its unknowingly been poisoned despite complaining to city officials about the mysterious state of their water.
What surprised me most about this was the discovery that there is still a huge amount of lead pipes in the United States, completely dependent on filtration systems to make the water potable. What happens if these systems break ? Will it mean large quantities of the population have to start getting sick in order to draw government attention ?
In Flint’s case, it seems this is what would have to happen. The difference I see for Flint (and other cities that have had lead exposure issues in the past), is the economic dependence on government funding. The economies of most cities impacted by lead exposure are, quite simply, bad. Cities with less money seem to be paid less attention by their governments and suffer because of it. It also seems as though the priority is more politically based than health based. Lots of articles are floating around the internet about the various political implications this crisis has for Michigan state representatives. What doesn’t seem to be getting as much coverage are the efforts of companies and individuals around the world to help.
I came across the Divvy while reading news about Flint and discovered that the company Clearly Filtered has organized a donation campaign to send water filtration systems, pitchers, and bottles up to Flint in order to combat the lead poisoning in their water supply:
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/02/lead-exposure-gasoline-crime-increase-children-health — an article about the relationship between lead exposure and crime rates
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/09/lead-f09.html — other cities with lead poisoning
TedTalk about lead poisoning in Utica as well as remedies and prevention methods.