Tribe says no to fracking



The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has joined other governments in the mountains of western North Carolina in opposing the practice known as fracking.   But, being a sovereign nation, the Tribe, unlike area counties and municipalities, can actually prohibit the practice on tribal lands.

Tribal Council unanimously passed Res. No. 340 (2014) last month that states in part “the Eastern Band of Cherokees will not permit or authorize any person, corporation or other legal entity to engage in hydraulic fracturing on Tribal trust lands.”

The resolution, submitted by Tribal Council as a whole, was signed into law by Principal Chief Michell Hicks on Sept. 10.

“Our tribe has taken a strong stand with the resolution against hydraulic fracturing commonly known as fracking,” said Chief Hicks.  “I signed the resolution because I believe our environmental protection is paramount to the survival of our people.”

Tribal Council Chairperson Terri Henry commented, “Of importance to the Tribe is the impact on the health of our people who utilize many of the products of the forests and habitat surrounding our Trust Lands.”

The resolution also states, “Hydraulic fracturing is a method of extracting natural gas that involves the injecting, at an extremely high pressure, a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals to break up shale or other rock formations otherwise impermeable to the flow of natural gas; and the State of North Carolina is without legal authority to permit hydraulic fracturing on Tribal trust lands.”

An amendment was made to the original resolution which states, “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians supports the ban of fracking in the State of North Carolina, specifically in National Forests.”

The EBCI joins other tribes who have passed resolutions in opposition to fracking such as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation (SB 786) in May that will allow the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) to issue permits for fracking in spring 2015.  That legislation was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in June.

Piedmont Natural Gas Protest Saturday

Global Frackdown

Join us for the Global Frackdown this Saturday in Durham or Charlotte! On this day international day of action, communities across the world are coming together for a global protest to call for a ban on fracking, a dangerous method of drilling for natural gas that puts our air, water, climate and communities at risk.

Durham’s Global Frackdown Getdown will include local bands, local brews and local food. This event is made possible by Environment North Carolina and Food and Water Watch NC.

When: Saturday, October 11, 2014

Where: Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC 27701

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Follow NCWARN on Twitter     Visit NC WARN on Facebook

RSVP by contacting Liz Kazal (, 228-209-4564) or Renée Maas (, 919-593-7752).

Charlotte’s Global Frackdown will be a protest in front of the Piedmont Natural Gas Corporate Office.

When: Saturday, October 11, 2014

Where: Piedmont Natural Gas
4720 Piedmont Row Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28210

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Click here and find Charlotte on the map to learn more or email Bill Gupton (

Red Wolves Under Threat In North Carolina

Contact Fish & Wildlife Services in support of red wolf recovery:

Consider contacting Fish and Wildlife Services in support of wolf reintroduction in North Carolina.  They have extended the public comment period which may directly affect whether they decide to end the program and send the remainder of wolves left into captivity.

Tom MacKenzie, USFWS
404-679-7291 and

Red Wolves: A Future In Doubt

Hank, one of two captive red wolves, managed by the Red Wolf Coalition.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Hank and Betty seem like they’re in a pretty good mood today. It’s stopped raining, and the sun is poised to peak out between the loblolly pines that surround their den. And their caretaker, Kim Wheeler, has brought them a snack.

As the director of the Red Wolf Coalition, Wheeler cares for these two captive red wolves at their enclosure just south of Columbia. She often brings groups of tourists here to see the mating pair and learn more about how the species behaves.

“She’s certainly more active than he is, but just to watch and sit here quietly – the way they move here through their enclosure is so quiet – you can just imagine them in the wild, and how they move around undetected,” said Wheeler.

In 1987, the red wolf made history in eastern North Carolina, when four mating pairs were released into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. It was the first species determined to be extinct in the wild to be reintroduced outside of captivity.

One hundred or so wild red wolves now roam across five counties in eastern North Carolina, including three wildlife refuges, a naval bombing range, and private farms. It’s an area larger than the state of Delaware.

A map of the range of the red wolf in North Carolina.
Credit Southern Environmental Law Center

The red wolves are top-level predators here on the isolated coastal plains, eating mostly rodents, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and wild turkey. And they are definitely stealthy – Kim Wheeler has been here nine years and only seen them twice in the wild, but she hears them quite a bit.

“I love their howl,” she said. “And to know that that sound would have gone extinct had the U.S Fish And Wildlife Service not stepped in to do something to restore this animal. It’s kind of an amazing thing to stand there and hear that and know that could have been erased from this planet.”

Keeping the red wolf howling in the wild has not been cheap. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has spent nearly $30 million since the start of the recovery program. For all of those 27 years it’s been a constant struggle to manage breeding and keep red wolves off of private lands.

Landowners have been skeptical of the recovery program almost from its inception. But lately, as both the wolf population and general anger with the federal government has grown, the situation has come to a head.

Landowners Speak Out

About 100 or so people crammed into the cafeteria at Mattamuskeet High School on a stretch of isolated highway in Hyde County – sitting around tables normally reserved for hungry teenagers.

They are here for a public comment session as part of the federal review that will determine the future of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

“I want the red wolf program done away with” said Wade Hubers, a local farmer. “I’m no biologist, but I know if you put ed wolves on the Refuge and there is no food supply, they are not going to stay there.”

Since the first wolves were introduced, roaming off of the refuge has been a problem. But another challenge is more recent: coyotes. As they have across the country, the coyote population in eastern North Carolina has exploded. Here, they have both fought with and bred with the red wolves.

A red wolf (left) and a coyote (right).
Credit B. Bartle/USFWS

There’s no hunting season on coyotes in North Carolina – they can be shot anytime, anywhere. And coyotes look similar to the protected red wolves, just a little smaller with different shaped ears and snouts. So accidental shootings are common. Sometimes they are reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service. More often, they aren’t. Since the beginning of 2013, eleven red wolves have been killed.

Earlier this year, the Southern Environmental Law Center sued to make coyote hunting illegal in Hyde, Beaufort, Washington, Dare, and Tyrell – the five counties in which red wolves roam. Last May, Judge Terence Boyle issued an injunction on coyote hunting while the case is pending.

That further infuriated landowners. Many make the claim that there is no such thing as a pure red wolf.

”You know the red wolf can not be full-blooded,” said Lynn Clayton from Hyde County, stepping to the microphone with a grin. “He must have at least a little bit of Mexican blood in him – he won’t stay on his side of the border.”

Many in the crowd applauded the insensitive comment, but not all of those who spoke were as outwardly prejudiced.

Roger Seale lives in Rocky Mount, but owns land in several areas, including one tract in Hyde County on which he hoped to cultivate wild turkey. By his estimate, he spent $8,000 a year over several years on food and clearing large trees and vegetation to try to build a wild turkey population he could hunt.

“But when I started checking my trail cameras,” he explained, “I’d see turkey, I’d see turkey, and then I’d see wolf.”

Within about a year after he spotted the first red wolf on his trail camera, the turkeys were gone. He blames the red wolves. Seale says hunting in the area is depleted, forcing recreational hunters to go elsewhere and having a negative impact on an area with very little economic activity.

“I don’t want any animal to go extinct, but I also don’t want the protection of an animal to affect the personal landowner,” Seale said.

The private firm leading the review of the Red Wolf Recovery Program will issue a report next month. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a final decision on the future of the wild red wolf sometime early next year.

Hambach Forest Blockade in Germany “Brutally Attacked”

from Hambach ForestNoname

Today, on Oc­to­ber 1st 2014, the de­mons­tra­ti­ons against the on­go­ing cle­aran­ce of the Ham­bach Fo­rest con­ti­nue at the gates of Eu­ro­pe’s big­gest open cast mine.

At 09:25 am three bull­do­zers, one chain dredger and one truck were oc­cup­ied at the gate­way of the open cast mine Ham­bach.
The wor­kers of RWE and the hired se­cu­ri­ty re­ac­ted vio­lent­ly. They at­ta­cked the de­mons­tra­tors with metal pipes. Dig­gers which were oc­cup­ied by per­sons sit­ting on them con­ti­nu­ed to move, dis­re­gar­ding the fact that this was a se­rious threa[t] to the ac­tivists‘ lives.

Due to the vio­lence per­for­med by RWE’s wa­ge­wor­kers the ac­tivists were dis­pla­ced from the ter­ri­to­ry al­re­a­dy 15 mi­nu­tes later. They wi­th­drew to avoid fur­ther vio­lent esca­la­ti­on.

Is the pl­an­ned de­struc­tion of a fo­rest more im­portant than the health of human beings?

Fur­ther in­for­ma­ti­on on today’s events and pic­tu­res will fol­low soon!


De­s­pi­te the vio­lent be­ha­viour of the wor­kers no­bo­dy was in­ju­red se­rious­ly. Here are pic­tu­res show­ing the ac­tion: 01.​10. blo­cka­de ac­tion


One per­son was blo­cking the sho­vel of a chain dredger. The dri­ver star­ted the en­gi­ne anyhow and began to shake the sho­vel try­ing to throw down the per­son sit­ting in it. One of the truck dri­vers tried to re­mo­ve an ac­tivist from a ve­hi­cle vio­lent­ly using his hands. When this didn’t work he grab­bed a tool and at­ta­cked the ac­tivists.


The wor­kers at­a­cking the ac­tivists work for the de­con­struc­tion com­pa­ny H.B.-​Kai­ser Ab­bruch und Erd­ar­bei­ten. This com­pa­ny it at the mo­ment re­s­pon­si­ble for the de­con­struc­tion of the old Ham­bach Rail­way in the name of RWE. Se­ver­al ma­chi­nes were wor­king alt­hough peop­le were stan­ding close to them. The dri­vers de­clined to stop the en­gi­nes, even though they would have been ob­li­ged to do so for sa­fe­ty re­a­sons ac­cor­ding to Ger­man law.

The wor­kers at­ta­cked the ac­tivists not only with their fists but also using ham­mers and even a crow­bar. Hein Bert Kai­ser, the owner of the com­pa­ny, was on site as well. He was ac­tive­ly in­vol­ved in the vio­lence against the ac­tivists and even threa­tened them:  “Whoever da­ma­ges my dig­gers and cars is going to die.” Being asked, he con­fir­med: “This is a death thre­at.” Continue reading

New Earth First! Newsletter Released

Feel free to copy this and distribute online or out in the real world:

North America’s Key Birds Facing Extinction


314 species, including the bald eagle and 10 state birds of US at risk from climate change

Half of North America’s bird species, from common backyard visitors like the Baltimore oriole and the rufous hummingbird to wilderness dwellers like the common loon and bald eagle, are under threat from climate change and many could go extinct, an exhaustive new study has found published by the National Audubon Society.

Seven years of research found climate change to be the biggest threat to North America’s bird species. Some 314 species face dramatic declines in population, if present trends continue, with warming temperatures pushing the birds out of their traditional ranges. Ten states and Washington DC could lose their state birds.

The scale of disruption that is being projected means that many familiar sounds, and many familiar birds that people may see in their backyards and on their walks, that help them define a…

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Wildlife Populations Have Dropped by More Than Half


Vertebrate species populations have dropped by more than half over the course of 40 years, according to a new report from WWF, marking a larger decrease than ever previously documented.

The Living Plant Report measured more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish and found a 52% decline between 1970 and 2010. The facts are grimmer for some species: freshwater dwellers showed an average decline of 76%.

The study chalked up most of the decline to human impact. Habitat loss and hunting and fishing were the primary culprits, and climate change was the next largest threat, the report said.

“This latest edition of the Living Planet Report is not for the faint-hearted,” writes Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, says in a forward to the report.

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Scientists: Fracking Wastewater Poses Threat To Drinking Water

September 26th, 2014

by Emily Atkin / Think Progress


Every year, hundreds of billions of gallons of wastewater are produced by fracking operations across America. Some of that water gets stored in manmade ponds, some of it is injected underground, and some of it is treated and put back into rivers.

For the people whose drinking water systems are downstream of those rivers, scientists have some bad news.

New peer-reviewed research from Stanford and Duke University scientists shows that even when fracking wastewater goes through water treatment plants, and is disposed of in rivers that are not drinking water systems, the treated water still risks contaminating human drinking water. That’s because there are generally drinking water systems downstream of those rivers, and treatment plants aren’t doing a good job of removing contaminants called halides, which have the potential to harm human health. Continue reading

Oct 11 Global Frackdown event in Durham


MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Join us for the Global Frackdown Getdown! Be part of of an international day of action. The Global Frackdown Getdown will be on October 11, 2014 from 2:00 – 6:00 pm at Durham Central Park, Durham, North Carolina. Local Bands, Local Brews and Local Food. BE THERE!

On October 11, communities across the world are coming together for a global protest to call for a ban on fracking, a dangerous method of drilling for natural gas that puts our air, water, climate and communities at risk.

Why Won’t Our ‘Environmental President’ Stop Fracking on Public Land?

By Cole Stangler

Barack Obama is apparently down with fracking. Photo via Flickr user IREX

It has become increasingly fashionable in liberal circles to credit President Barack Obama for doing all he possibly can to combat climate change. Praise reached especially dizzying levels in the aftermath of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s proposal of new rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants this June.

The EPA plan is hard proof that our nation’s “environmental president” has “done everything within his power to fight the most urgent crisis of our time,” gushed New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait. Obama’s actions are “about as much as a president could do on climate change without Congress,” declared Slate’s Will Oremus. Even former President Jimmy Carter, never shy about launching the occasional barb at the White House, said as much at a recent energy conference in that most elite of hangouts, Aspen, Colorado.

One is free to bemoan the painfully slow rate of progress, the logic goes, but the blame lies squarely with Republican obstructionism.

The problem is that this is an awfully shortsighted (if not outright deceptive) way to measure Obama’s environmental legacy. It is no secret that major climate legislation—like a carbon tax—is dead on arrival in Congress, thanks to the pack of troglodytes controlling the House of Representatives. But as the president’s detractors and champions know all too well, some pretty significant environmental policy can be made directly by federal agencies. And on that front, the administration’s weak record speaks for itself.

Under Obama’s watch, coal exports have risen more than 50 percent. Federal officials have paved the way for oil and gas exports, too, rubberstamping massive liquefied natural gas export plant proposals and loosening the four-decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is in charge of administering public land, continues to lease millions of acres to coal companies at below-market rates.

But of the administration’s many climate sins—and there are many—one stands out in particular: ongoing tolerance, and even support, for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public land. No other energy policy seems to so brashly defy climate science, popular will, and rudimentary political wisdom at the same time.

Oil and gas production is booming nationwide thanks to fracking, a drilling technique that involves injecting chemically infused water miles underground to crack open energy-rich shale rock formations.

“Fracking is opening up millions of acres of lands that were once not economically viable to produce oil and gas,” says Dan Chu, senior campaign director at the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America initiative, which opposes fossil fuel extraction on public land.

A Halliburton fracking facility in North Dakota. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Most fracking right now takes place on private land, but the industry’s gaze increasingly extends to federal turf, too. Frackable land in the public domain stretches from California and New Mexico to Michigan and Virginia. National forests and parks are in the industry’s crosshairs as well. Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest, Utah’s Canyonlands National Park and Montana’s Glacier National Park all sit on mouth-watering shale formations.

In 2010, as it became apparent the shale boom showed no signs of slowing, the Obama administration moved to introduce new rules for fracking on federal and Native American lands. (The rules were last changed in 1983, well before fracking became commonplace.) Now, nearly four years after its first public forum on the topic, the feds are on the verge of finalizing new regulations. And they’re pretty disappointing: highlights include such bare-bones measures as new well integrity reporting requirements and a loose chemical disclosure mandate based on a model bill from the Koch Brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The rules will almost certainly not include an outright ban or moratorium on fracking.

This is very bad news.

The proposal also makes a mockery of the idea that President Obama has gone all-in to fight climate change. To be sure, the BLM crafts its own rules, but as part of the Department of the Interior, the bureau’s staff and leaders respond to the White House. As lobbyists and researchers from green groups stress, it is highly unlikely that the BLM would implement rules of this magnitude without clear approval from the president.

Growing evidence has linked fracking to water contamination and an uptick in seismic activity near wells. (Last year, the fracking hotbed of Oklahoma had tremors 5,000 percent above the typical rate.) These risks alone should have led the federal government to outlaw the practice. But just in case the possibility of drilling-induced earthquakes in national parks isn’t alarming enough, one need only look at the impact on our climate.

Industry likes to depict natural gas as a “bridge fuel”—a necessary evil in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. And gas does have a relatively modest carbon footprint. But that’s only part of the story. Shale drilling generates large amounts of methane—a greenhouse gas that’s up to 86 times more potent than carbon. A recent Cornell University study found that over a 20-year period, shale drilling has a larger greenhouse gas impact than either coal or oil.

When it comes to the future of the planet, swapping methane reliance for carbon addiction is like choosing the firing squad over the guillotine—it’s better to steer clear of both options.

The stakes are obvious. If you take the threat of manmade climate change seriously, then a nationwide ban (like the one just upheld in France by that country’s Supreme Court) makes the most sense. Since that requires congressional action, halting fracking on public land is the next best option. It would be a modest gesture, as drilling would continue unabated elsewhere. But it’s good politics. A limited fracking ban might serve as a launching pad for future attempts to rein in the fossil fuel industry.

“On this issue, we really need some bold leadership and vision and that’s not what’s being provided right now,” says Mark Schlosberg, national organizing director for Food and Water Watch, which supports a nationwide ban.

Activists protest the export of natural gas at the National Mall in Washington, DC. Photo via Flickr Stephen Melkisethian

In this case, Team Obama cannot blame its inaction on public opinion.

In contrast to their elected representatives, a majority of Americans are against fracking, or at least have their doubts. A September, 2013 Pew study found 49 percent of voters oppose the drilling technique—an 11 point reversal from another Pew poll taken just six months earlier (a Quinnipiac poll from late last year found more support for the practice). These numbers fly in the face of the fossil fuel industry’s most cherished trope: the upper-middle class, urban-dwelling, out-of-touch environmentalist. For every Mark Ruffalo and Yoko Ono, there are dozens of ranchers, retirees and working-class people pissed as hell at out-of-state companies invading their communities and wreaking havoc.

On the other hand, a ban would be sure to roil another key constituency.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, says a halt to fracking on public land—as harmless and common sense as it may sound—would amount to a “declaration of war” on the oil and gas industry. “You don’t want to go to war with them,” he says. “You want to sign a non-aggression pact.”

Of course, these pacts are easier to make when Washington’s leading bureaucrats already sympathize with the plight of their negotiating partners. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is a former oil and gas engineer. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz is a longtime champion of fracking, who famously conducted pro-gas research funded by industry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When the federal government’s new fracking rules are put in place, peaceful co-existence with America’s booming oil and gas business will still be the name of the game. Don’t let Obama’s apologists convince you otherwise.

Cole Stangler is an In These Times staff writer based in Washington, DC, covering labor and environmental issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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