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Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests

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Under a new Wyoming law, could journalists or documentary filmmakers who might document any future protests be charged under “aids or abets” with any “favorable” coverage of the group protesting, like the Standing Rock Sioux?  What about new laws to charge oil companies who contaminate water with “ecoterrorism?”

Source:  desmogblog

By Steve Horn

On the heels of Iowa and Ohio, Wyoming has become the third state to introduce a bill criminalizing the type of activities undertaken by past oil and gas pipeline protesters.

One of the Wyoming bill’s co-sponsors even says it was inspired by the protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access pipeline, and a sheriff involved in policing those protests testified in support of the bill at a recent hearing. Wyoming’s bill is essentially a copy-paste version of template legislation produced by the conservative, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

At the organization’s December meeting, ALEC members voted on the model bill, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, which afterward was introduced in both Iowa and Ohio.

Like the ALEC version, Wyoming’s Senate File 74 makes “impeding critical infrastructure … a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), or both.” Two of the bill sponsors of SF 74, Republican Sens. Eli Bebout and Nathan Winters, are ALEC membersSF 74 has passed unanimously out of its Senate Judiciary Committee and now moves onto the full floor.

ALEC‘s model bill, in turn, was based on two Oklahoma bills, HB 1123 and HB 2128. The Sooner State bills, now official state law, likewise impose felony sentencing, 10 years in prison, and/or a $100,000 fine on individuals who “willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, or tamper with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility.” As DeSmog has reported, the Iowa bill has the lobbying support of Energy Transfer Partners — the owner of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) which runs through the state — as well as that of the American Petroleum Institute and other oil and gas industry companies.

ALEC brings together primarily Republican Party state legislators and lobbyists to enact and vote on “model” legislation at its meetings, which take place several times a year. Within different task forces at these meetings, corporate lobbyists can voice their support or critiques of bills, while also getting a vote. Those bills often then are introduced as legislation in statehouses nationwide, as in this latest example in Wyoming.

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in Wyoming has helped the state vastly increase its natural gas production and spurred pipeline build-out. However, multiple studies in recent years have also linked fracking-related activities around the small town of Pavilion to groundwater contamination.

Credit: Center for Media and Democracy        (click on image to enlarge)

Targeting ‘Ecoterrorism’

Wyoming’s bill, like the ALEC model bill and one of the Oklahoma bills, includes language implicating any organization “found to be a conspirator” and lobbing a $1 million fine on any group which “aids, abets, solicits, encourages, hires, conspires, commands, or procures a person to commit the crime of impeding critical infrastructure.”

State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leland Christensen, a Republican and one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said when he introduced the bill that legislative language was needed to hold accountable those “organizations that sponsor this kind of ecoterrorism.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

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Toxic Copper Mine Tailings Ponds to be Located Upstream from the St Louis River and Lake Superior

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Duty to Warn

 By Gary G. Kohls, MD

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Requesting honest information from the Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota PCA and the US Forest Service regarding the latest PolyMet project permit application:

Please respond to the concerned folks to which this email has been cc’ed, all the details of the permit that the foreign corporation Glencore has submitted to the MNDNR, MNPCA, or US Forest Service concerning the establishment and maintainance of their enormously dangerous, potentially catastrophic, toxic tailings lagoon, an entity that seems to have been conveniently ignored by the media cheerleaders and even you regulatory entities.

I don’t recall seeing any permit application published for the eventual 250 foot high earthen dams that will hold back for eternity the tens of millions of cubic meters of poisonous liquid sludge that the copper/nickel/sulfuric acid mine will inevitably produce (and need to be stored).

Anybody with any awareness of the risks of the toxic metal and sulfuric acid recognizes that the tailings lagoon MUST be the center of discussion. So far it is rarely mentioned in the occasional news bulletins.

Every copper/nickel liquid tailings pond holds the 99.8% mine waste plus the liquids that is used to pipe the dissolved powder from the processing plant to the pond.

Every copper/nickel sulfide mine in the history of mining has leaked/leached poisons into the groundwater, onto adjacent lands and into the downstream environment. This happens at all copper mine sites that are located in watery environments such as northern Minnesota. More

Sample Comments Regarding PolyMet’s Permit Application to Construct a Copper Mining Tailings Lagoon in Northern Minnesota

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Duty to Warn

By Gary G. Kohls, MD – 9-19-2017

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To the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), regarding PolyMet’s most recent permitting request: 

(Email address: NorthMetPermitting.DNR@state.mn.us):

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Here are my reasons that the DNR should reject PolyMet’s permit applications for their earthen tailings dam, their liquid slurry pipeline pumping operation and their open pit sulfide mine near the headwaters of the St Louis River:

For starters, it is critically important to understand that the foreign Penny Stock company called PolyMet has a current share price of $0.63 per share, down from $1.50 per share in 2014. PolyMet, a total amateur in the business, has never operated a single mine in its short corporate life nor has it earned a single penny from mining. Their only income comes from selling shares to speculators and borrowing money from investors to pay their executives and employees. In addition, PolyMet, being an inanimate money-making corporation (that by definition has no conscience), cannot be trusted to tell the public about all the risks to the environment (including wildlife, fish, water, soil and air) that their exploitation of the earth could generate.

Therefore PolyMet can be expected to hide the fact that their operations could easily cause a massive environmental catastrophe similar to what happened at Mount Polley, British Columbia in 2014 (carefully study the article further below for the frightening details). Mount Polley was a state of the art copper mining operation.

Every citizen stakeholder that is potentially adversely affected by PolyMet’s operatioin deserves to be fully informed by (theoretically) unbiased regulators such as the MN DNR about the potentially catastrophic risk to the water users who happen to live downstream from the massive tailings lagoon, whose (eventual) 250 foot high earthen dam is at a high risk of failing in some way or other sometime in the future, especially in the event of a large deluge of rain, an earthquake or a design flaw that could cause the earthen dam to dissolve, leak, over-top or structurally fail in some other way, including being damaged by sabotage. The risks will exist for eternity, since the toxic metals (see list below) in the lagoon will never degrade into non-toxic forms.

In addition, the vulnerable pipeline that will carry the toxic sludge from the processing plant to the slurry pond is at high risk of sabotage, with serious environmental contamination that could possibly be even worse than the bursting of a dirty frack oil pipeline such as could happen from the foreign pipeline company Enbridge as it transports dirty oil from the tar sands in Canada or from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. I don’t believe that PolyMet has dealt with the possibility of sabotage.

Up to this point, both PolyMet and Twin Metals (and all of the governmental agencies that have been involved in the approval process) have been seriously neglectful in educating the public about all the potential lethal dangers of either the pipeline or the massive amount of toxic liquids that will forever cause the deaths of any water bird that lands on the lake-like lagoon (a la Butte, Montana’s ever-lastingly poisonous mining tailings “pond” and the nearby defunct Berkeley open pit mine [now a toxic “lake”] that has had its water pumps shut down and is now nearly filled to the brim with poisonous water that has high levels of dissolved toxic metals and a pH approximating that of stomach acid!). More

Bonnie Gestring, Northwest Circuit Rider for Earthworks, to talk about mining contamination of U.S. waters, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 6/21/17)

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painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, June 21, 2017 More

Public Service Commission Hearing on Keystone XL in O’Neill

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After heeding our calls to provide more opportunities for the public to make our concerns heard about the Keystone XL tarsands export pipeline, the Nebraska Public Service Commission will hold a second “public meeting” tomorrow — Wednesday, June 7th (12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.) in O’Neill, Nebraska. More

How a Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict in Gas Drilling Lawsuit

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Source:  desmogblog.com

Ray Kemble

By Sharon Kelly and Steve Horn

For many residents of Carter Road in Dimock, Pennsylvania, it’s been nearly a decade since their lives were turned upside down by the arrival of Cabot Oil and Gas, a company whose Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) wells were plagued by a series of spills and other problems linked to the area’s contamination of drinking water supplies.

With a new federal court ruling handed down late last Friday, a judge unwound a unanimous eight-person jury which had ordered Cabot to pay a total of $4.24 million over the contamination of two of those families’ drinking water wells. In a 58 page ruling, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson discarded the jury’s verdict in Ely v. Cabot and ordered a new trial, extending the legal battle over one of the highest-profile and longest-running fracking-related water contamination cases in the country.

In his order, Judge Carlson chastised the plaintiff’s lawyers for “repeatedly inviting the jury to engage in unwarranted speculation” and wrote that, in his personal estimation, the plaintiffs had not presented enough evidence to warrant the jury’s $4.24 million in damages. The original complaint for the case was filed in November 2009.

Nonetheless, Judge Carlson declined to throw out the lawsuit entirely, ordering Cabot to re-start settlement talks with the Ely and Hubert families. If those talks fail, the trial process will begin anew, extending the already years-long legal battle into months or even years to come.

“The judge heard the same case that the jury heard and the jury was unanimous,” Nolan Scott Ely, the lead plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. “How can he take it upon himself to set aside their verdict? It’s outrageous.”

Retrials “Not as Rare”

Over time, Judge Carlson’s order noted, the plaintiffs’ legal complaints had been successfully winnowed down by Cabot, which was represented at trial by several lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright, the tenth highest-grossing law firm in the world in 2016. The case now centers around a nuisance complaint.

Ely, whose background is in construction work, and his family and neighbors were represented at trial by a solo practitioner, Leslie Lewis, assisted by one other attorney. During one brief stint in the years leading up to the trial, the two families had no lawyer at all, but represented themselves. When the case began, they had the assistance of the firms Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik & Associates and the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm (the former employer of Lewis), which ushered in a settlement agreement with some of the 44 original plaintiffs.

But Ely and others were not satisfied with the offer, which included a non-disclosure agreement, and decided to proceed with the lawsuit.

John-Mark Stensvaag, an environmental law professor at the University of Iowa, said that orders to re-try cases “are not as rare as one might think.”

“This does not mean that the plaintiffs have no case,” he added, “it only means that, in [Judge Carlson’s] opinion, they have not presented a case justifying the jury’s verdict and should be given a second opportunity to present an adequate case.”

The Ely family leaves the federal courthouse on the first day of trial in 2016. Credit: Laura Evangelisto © 2016

Carter Road Water Contamination

There’s little question that something is very wrong with the water on Carter Road, despite lingering questions in the legal battles centering around that contaminated water.

In 2016, shortly after the Elys and Huberts’ $4.24 million verdict, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report concluding that Dimock’s tainted waters carried dangerous levels of chemicals including arsenic, lithium, and 4-chlorophenyl phenyl ether (which is acutely toxic if swallowed). Further, the water was laced with enough methane that five of the homes on Carter Road had been at risk of exploding. Indeed, on New Year’s Day 2009, one of Dimock’s contaminated drinking water wells did explode.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Minnesota: The PolyMet Copper Mine Project and the Lethal Risks to Lake Superior

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new-logo251_002Gary G. Kohls, MD – 1-31-17

Duty to Warn

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“Northern Minnesotans, Native American Water Protectors ( like the heroes at Standing Rock), sportsmen, environmentalists, downstream businesses, wild rice harvesters, fish, game, birds and just plain working folks whose babies and other vulnerable beings with developing brains need non-toxic water to thrive or simply survive must understand that such relatively common catastrophes could destroy the aquifers in the BWCAW, Birch Lake, the Partridge River, the Embarrass River, the St. Louis River, the city of Duluth and ultimately, Lake Superior.”

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The PolyMet Project and the Lethal Risks to the St Louis River Watershed and Lake Superior

It’s an Acceptable Risk for Foreign Investors to Take, but What About Us?

ALL tailings “ponds” are a problem. If they don’t breach and spill massive amounts of toxic sludge into the environment like at Mount Polley, they leach that contamination slowly, poisoning the waters and lands around them.”  —

Last year, Duluth News-Tribune published a Local News article with the title “EPA signals its support for final PolyMet review”.

The article ended with what I regard as an intentionally deceptive and woefully insufficient sentence: “Critics say the project is likely to taint downstream waters with acidic runoff”. More

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