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On Monday, activists stormed PepsiCo's office in Manhattan to demand the snack food giant stop deforestation and exploitation. Watch the live stream of the action here.


Activists line up across the building lobby, holding signs and dressed as palm oil workers. Photo: Rae Breaux

For years, PepsiCo has sidestepped its massive Conflict Palm Oil problem. Time and time again, PepsiCo has been exposed for driving rainforest destruction, worker exploitation and climate pollution for the palm oil used to make its snack foods. Yet the company has failed to take the actions necessary to stop these devastating impacts to people and the planet.

That's why activists took action in Manhattan on Monday.


Activists hold a banner in front of the building. Photo: Rae Breaux

During the lunchtime rush, activists disrupted the flow of PepsiCo employees in their lobby, while holding signs and chanting. Anyone entering or exiting the building wouldn’t have been able to ignore the protesters.


Activists shout out palm oil worker stories of hazardous working conditions. Photo: Rae Breaux

Activists disrupted business as usual to stand in solidarity with palm oil workers — who work under exploitative conditions — by amplifying their harrowing stories. Taking turns, the activists shouted out descriptions of the harsh working conditions palm oil workers face. The specific stories shared were parts of testimonies given to RAN by workers on Indofood plantations, PepsiCo’s Indonesian business partner.

“This is the story of a woman named J who works on a palm oil plantation of PepsiCo's business partner, Indofood. J works spreading toxic pesticides but is not given the proper protective gear. Her skin burns, her lungs are irritated and some days she has trouble seeing at the end of a shift. This is hazardous working conditions!”

In response, the group shouted back:

“This Is How PepsiCo Profits!”

After police arrived, activists moved onto the sidewalk in front of the building to continue calling out PepsiCo for its ties to Conflict Palm Oil.


The protest continued in the front of the building. People walking past were given flyers explaining why protesters were there. Photo: Rae Breaux


The protest continued through the lunch hour, getting the attention of many people including the building owner. Photo: Rae Breaux

Everyday that PepsiCo fails to take adequate action to fix its Conflict Palm Oil problem is another day that vital rainforests fall and workers are exploited in the name of cheap snack foods. We won't let PepsiCo escape its responsibility.

As the world's largest globally distributed snack food company, it is time PepsiCo do what's right: break its ties to Conflict Palm Oil.

You can join the protest by calling PepsiCo now! Activists made noise on the outside, make sure PepsiCo gets our message inside.

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PepsiCo's Conflict Palm Oil problem is enormous, and we’re here to hold them accountable.

Today, PepsiCo announced yet another palm oil pet project that woefully fails to address the scope of its Conflict Palm Oil problem. Now PepsiCo is patting itself on the back despite the fact that it continues to source this destructive oil and do business with some of the dirtiest players in the industry like Indofood — only further driving rainforest destruction, worker exploitation, and land grabbing.

The company’s PR machine is making significant investments to convince PepsiCo’s consumers and investors that it is addressing its Conflict Palm Oil problem. But a closer look shows that the snack food giant’s actions fall very short from what’s needed to make change on the ground, where deforestation and exploitation continue.

For PepsiCo to adequately address its Conflict Palm Oil problem, it must take the following actions:

1 - Make substantial investments into ending the use of Conflict Palm Oil in its products sold worldwide, now. PepsiCo continues its attempts to greenwash its links to deforestation and human rights abuses with the announcement of pet projects but the fact is the company continues to cut costs by sourcing Conflict Palm Oil to make its products.

2 - Require its joint venture partner Indofood to align its policies and practices with the Free and Fair Labor Principles and ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ standards across all group and third-party operations, or cancel deals with the company if it does not. Acknowledging the exploitation found in Indofood’s operations is not enough and PepsiCo must set binding time-bound conditions that Indofood must meet to remain a joint venture partner.

3 - Advance respect for human rights by requiring all suppliers and business partners to uphold the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and provide remedy for stolen lands and livelihoods starting with Indofood and REPSA. PepsiCo can begin to take action by publicly listing its grievances, what actions have been taken to address them, and setting clear, public thresholds for exiting relationships with non-compliant suppliers and business partners like Indofood.

4 - Improve its own palm oil policy to set a clear deadline and implementation plan for achieving the ultimate goal of an independently verified ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ palm oil supply chains. PepsiCo has fallen behind its peers in raising its standards to the new global benchmark for responsible palm oil — it must go beyond sourcing RSPO oil and ensure that the implementation of its policy means that global PepsiCo products are free of Conflict Palm Oil.    

5 - Play a positive role in securing land rights, improving livelihoods and protecting forests and peatlands, including the critical Leuser Ecosystem. PepsiCo must enforce an immediate moratorium on the destruction of forests and peatlands for palm oil throughout its supply chains, or it will be complicit in the ongoing destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem and other critical forest and peat landscapes.

Only when these actions are taken by PepsiCo will tangible changes for workers, communities and forests be realized. Until it does so, pet projects, half-measures and greenwash will continue to fail to address the size and scope of the PepsiCo’s Conflict Palm Oil problem.

Tell PepsiCo you see through its false claims. Leave a message for PepsiCo on its Facebook page now. You could say something like:

PepsiCo, stop trying to sidestep your enormous Conflict Palm Oil problem. Rainforests continue to fall and workers continue to be exploited for the palm oil in your products and in the operations of your notorious business partner Indofood. Your half-measures are not enough. You must take robust action to end the destruction.

If you're not on social media you can also call the company at 1 (800) 433-2652.

 

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For a Climate-Stable Future, We Need to Keep Forests Standing

Left intact, the world’s forests act like a huge carbon sink - one that doesn’t need our bioengineering, artificial sequestration, or complicated offset schemes to function. All they need is for us to not cut them down, and they’ll carry on, acting as one of the best defenses we have against devastating climate change.

But that last part – the not cutting tropical rainforests down part - has seemed hard for the multinational corporations amongst us to get right. Over the past few decades, rampant logging and land conversion – often for industrial-scale plantations of palm oil or large tree farms for pulp and paper production – have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical rainforests.

A large portion of those rainforests used to stretch from coast to coast on the island countries of Indonesia and Malaysia, and what little remains of them is critical for both the global climate, as well as the thousands of Indigenous and local communities that rely on them for clean water and sustainable livelihoods, the hundreds of critical animal species like Sumatran orangutans and elephants that depend on their habitat for survival, and the countless plant species that make up their great biodiversity.

Rainforest Deforestation – What Can We Do?

Due to hard and strategic corporate campaigning, organizations like RAN and others have pressured some of the world’s worst rainforest destroyers to change their business models. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a sea change of “No Deforestation” commitments from companies in the palm oil and pulp and paper industries, committing to ending tropical rainforest clearance in their supply chains.

Even still, some companies have yet to make strong enough commitments to ending deforestation and we need your continued support in pressuring these laggard companies to get with the times.  

For the last four years, RAN and a coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people around the world, have been calling on PepsiCo – the largest globally traded snackfood company in the world – to make sure the palm oil it sources is not associated deforestation, labor abuses, or human rights violations.

One thing you can do today to help end tropical rainforest deforestation? Help us keep the pressure on PepsiCo.

Tell PepsiCo you aren’t buying its latest greenwash – leave a message for PepsiCo on its Facebook page now. You could say something like:

PepsiCo, your palm oil “progress” is a farce. The truth is that your company continues to make billions while rainforests fall and workers in your supply chain are exploited for Conflict Palm Oil. Instead of nice words, take real action to end the exploitation.

If you're not on social media you can also call the company at 1 (800) 433-2652.

Rainforest Deforestation – What Can Companies Do?

Even once a company has committed to “No Deforestation” in its supply chain, it must ensure that it upholds its commitments. The corporate promise must be worth the paper it is printed on. Now, after the initial wave of company commitments, many are wondering what good are they?

Perhaps most importantly, any commitment must be implemented in an effect manner. The leading tool to put “No Deforestation” promises into practice is called the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA)  – the first methodology that has been field tested and developed with a broad network of stakeholders. Perhaps most importantly, the HCSA respects local communities’ rights, as well as providing a process to determine what land needs to be set aside for conservation, and what land can be developed. Integrated with enhanced Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) practices, and respecting land use and livelihoods, the HCSA requires participatory, community-land use planning and management, so that local communities are ensured the final say when it comes to decisions about the protection of forests or agricultural development on their traditional or customary land.

Protecting Forests, Protecting Ourselves

A recent study found that protecting “high carbon” forests also protects the endangered species that depend on them  – meaning that tools like that HCSA that identify and conserve forest areas containing large amounts of carbon, are beneficial for biodiversity conservation as well. A strong, vital forest provides myriad benefits to the plants and animals that share its ecosystem, to the local communities that rely on its clean drinking water, and ultimately, to all of us that share this Earth.

Forests fight climate change, and we fight for forests. Won’t you help us?

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“According to this lawsuit, if you opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline, you’re a terrorist.”

That was the very accurate headline on Grist.com this past August, when Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, filed a broad legal assault against Greenpeace and many other organizations that opposed the highly controversial fossil fuel project.

Why should you care? Because this lawsuit represents a many-faceted and very real threat to everyone’s First Amendment rights to protest and organize in defense of people and planet.

As Robert Reich explains in this video, this is a clear example of a SLAPP suit, which stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” Speaking about this suit to Grist, Tara Houska, a tribal attorney and national campaigns director at the indigenous environmental nonprofit Honor the Earth, defined a SLAPP suit as “a way to try to silence free speech by trying to cost the defendant — organizations or movements or individuals, sometimes — money.”

But these types of lawsuits are far from the only threat. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 30 separate anti-protest bills have been introduced in the country since Nov. 8 last year.

The American tradition of dissent and protest is crucial to social progress — from the civil rights movement, to the women’s rights movement, to the LGBT rights movement and onward. And these actions are desperate attacks by desperate corporations and politicians looking to take down anyone who speaks the truth in this country — that includes Indigenous leaders fighting for their rights and to protect their water, supporting organizations like RAN and Greenpeace, or responsible journalists who report the facts.

But these attacks won't work. There is a broad and growing movement that is supporting Indigenous and grassroots leadership to stop disastrous pipelines like DAPL, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other projects that threaten clean water, destroy communities and slice through Indigenous lands. We are following the money and telling banks like JPMorgan Chase to stop backing these projects. We are working with partners from the Gulf Coast to Canada. We are witnessing greater support from people who are saying “Enough is Enough — it’s time for a clean energy future.”

We are standing firm against corporate greed, against human rights abuses, against governmental overreach, and against threats to our future.

They think they can stop us from fighting for people and planet.

But we are just getting started.

 

Anti-protest bills would 'attack right to speak out' under Donald Trump

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/08/donald-trump-anti-protest-bills

According to this lawsuit, if you opposed DAPL, you’re a terrorist

http://grist.org/article/according-to-this-lawsuit-if-you-opposed-dapl-youre-a-terrorist/

 

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Four years have passed since RAN hand delivered a report to PepsiCo’s headquarters that outlined how it, among other snack food brands, is contributing to the Conflict Palm Oil crisis. Since that time, RAN and allied organizations around the globe have called out PepsiCo for ongoing links to deforestation, species extinction, climate pollution, and human and labor rights violations.

Over the past four years, PepsiCo has been made aware of its Conflict Palm Oil problem countless times. Here is an overview of the major instances when PepsiCo was put on notice:

2013

PHOTO: Donte Tatum

In September 2013, RAN launched our Snack Food 20 campaign, calling on globally significant snack food manufacturing companies to use their purchasing power to drive a fundamental transformation of the way palm oil is traded and produced.

“Rainforest Action Network to PepsiCo...Stop killing orangutans” - LA Times, September 13, 2013

PHOTO: Rainforest Action Network

Strawberry the orangutan delivered RAN’s Conflict Palm Oil report [pdf] to a PepsiCo representative at its headquarters in Purchase, NY, in October 2013. The report outlined the problems with palm oil: rainforest destruction, species extinction, land grabbing, forced and child labor, and climate pollution, and how the supply chains of the Snack Food 20—including PepsiCo—have been driving this devastation. 

2014

The star-studded Showtime climate series, Years of Living Dangerously, premiered in April 2014, where Harrison Ford acted as a correspondent investigating the story of how industrial palm oil production is wreaking havoc on forests, peatlands and people in Indonesia, while contributing extreme carbon pollution to the atmosphere. Tens of thousands of concerned shoppers and Showtime viewers took action online to call on PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi to go on the record about her company’s continued use of Conflict Palm Oil.

At this same time, RAN also announced PepsiCo as our main focus of our Snack Food 20 campaign given the company’s position as the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world, consuming more than 450,000 metric tons of palm oil annually.

“PepsiCo has fallen behind its peers by failing to raise its standards to the new global benchmark that’s been set for responsible palm oil use.” - Ginger Cassady, RAN forest program director, April 21, 2014.

In May 2014, hundreds of events across the world called on PepsiCo to break ties to Conflict Palm Oil in a Global Day of Action. In the same month, Indonesian ally Ratri Kusumohartono, from Sawit Watch (Palm Oil Watch), attended PepsiCo’s Annual General Meeting where she spoke directly to Indra Nooyi about the impacts of Conflict Palm Oil on Indonesia’s rainforests, local communities, and workers.  

Under pressure, PepsiCo made its first public palm oil pledge in May of 2014, but the commitment had critical gaps that must be addressed before it meets the global benchmark for responsible palm oil procurement.

Online pressure on PepsiCo ramped up in November 2014 when activists from RAN and SumOfUs flooded the Amazon.com page used by PepsiCo to launch its new stevia drink, Pepsi True, with hundreds of 1-star negative reviews. Activists called out PepsiCo for is failure to address its irresponsible use of palm oil on review comments which made the company pull down the Amazon listing. The listing was later put back online.

2015

RAN friend SumOfUs started out 2015 with a bang when it launched a Doritos parody video calling out PepsiCo’s lax palm oil policy in January. PepsiCo responded by insisting it is committed to using sustainable palm oil; the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil scheme PepsiCo is reliant upon is widely known to fall woefully short of delivering truly sustainable and conflict-free palm oil to world markets.

In April 2015, hundreds of activists took part in a Week of Action in grocery stores and public spaces across the United States, engaging shoppers and rebranding grocery store shelves to warn customers that products from PepsiCo’s sub-brand Quaker may contain Conflict Palm Oil.

A few months later, in June 2015 RAN launched its Conflict Palm Oil progress report [pdf] and interactive Snack Food 20 scorecard, exposing how major snack food brands such as PepsiCo continue to lag behind on palm oil commitments.

A joint report released in September 2015 by RAN and Rainforest Foundation Norway presented cases showing the sole maker of PepsiCo branded products in Indonesia—a company called Indofood—is tied up in clearing and burning of rainforests and long-standing cases of social conflict and human rights violations. Following two years of escalating public outcry over its use of Conflict Palm Oil, PepsiCo released a new palm oil policy that same week. Environmental and human rights organizations immediately labeled it as both inadequate and incomplete, in large part because it specifically excludes joint venture partner Indofood from adhering to PepsiCo’s heightened social and environmental standards for palm oil.

2016

PHOTO: Daniel Feighery

Protesters scaled the iconic six story NYC Pepsi landmark in April 2016 to drop a 100 foot banner demanding the snack food giant cut Conflict Palm Oil. 

“Pepsi has known for over three years about major environmental and human rights violations in its palm oil supply chain, but the company has fallen short and continues to drag its feet instead of taking the kind of decisive action needed to address this urgent problem." - Robin Averbeck, senior campaigner at RAN, April 26, 2016

At PepsiCo’s Annual General Meeting in May 2016, RAN’s forest program director Ginger Cassady hand-delivered over 600 photo petitions to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, making sure she knows that we hold her accountable for PepsiCo’s flawed business model.

In June 2016, RAN, OPPUK—an Indonesian labor rights advocacy organization—and the International Labor Rights Forum, called out PepsiCo’s hidden link to worker exploitation in Indonesia in a video and joint report [pdf]. PepsiCo’s joint venture partner Indofood was exposed again in the report which revealed findings of child labor, poverty wages and worker exploitation on its own plantations.

Later that summer, in August 2016, we brought our campaign to PepsiCo’s doorstep—its Global Headquarters in Purchase, NY—and increased the pressure on the company to take responsibility for its global impact. We ran a billboard for several weeks in PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi’s hometown that called out PepsiCo for its part in driving orangutan extinction.

An international coalition of civil society groups including RAN, SumOfUs, Wildlife Asia, and the Oceanic Preservation Society, together with local supporters delivered a petition of a quarter million signatures to PepsiCo at its headquarters in Purchase, NY in September 2016.

2017

RAN released a report in April 2017 [pdf] revealing new connections between PepsiCo and the six biggest importers of palm oil into the US—each importer associated with environmental and social scandals, despite all having made commitments intended to address conflicts in their supply chains. This same month, activists crashed CEO Indra Nooyi’s speech at the Tate Lecture Series at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. As Ms. Nooyi was speaking, activists dropped a banner in the auditorium reading: “Indra, No Child Labor For Pepsi Profits. Cut #ConflictPalmOil”.

On May Day 2017, labor and human rights activists deployed a banner in front of CEO Indra Nooyi while she accepted the Beverage Forum’s lifetime achievement award. Other activists used an audio disruption of chainsaws and an audio demand for justice for plantation workers. This sent a powerful message to Indra and the crowd of conference goers.

That same month, Teamsters—the union representing PepsiCo workers—and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) both issued letters lending support to RAN’s campaign and calling out PepsiCo for its continued inaction around labor abuses in the operations of its joint venture partner Indofood’s operations.

In June 2017, students of Brown University protested an honorary degree that was awarded to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi for her company’s continued use of Conflict Palm Oil.

PHOTO: Nanang Sujana / RAN

In July 2017, a RAN field investigation showed PepsiCo was complicit in driving the destruction of critical elephant habitat in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most important areas of rainforest still standing in Southeast Asia. A rogue palm oil producer was exposed for illegally clearing forest and RAN identified that the palm oil from this plantation was sold to major suppliers of global brands, like PepsiCo. Without meaningful action on palm oil, PepsiCo risks this destruction entering its supply chain.

“Global brands like PepsiCo can no longer hide behind paper promises and simply blame their international partners for forest crimes. The Leuser ecosystem will die a death of a thousand cuts if brands don’t start taking urgent action to address the root cause of this crisis.” - Gemma Tillack, RAN agribusiness director, July 21, 2017.

We responded to PepsiCo’s release of a “Palm Oil Action Plan Progress Report” in August 2017, in which the food and beverage giant outlines the actions it is supposedly taking to address its use of Conflict Palm Oil in PepsiCo products. RAN called out the company’s corporate greenwashing of its attempts to address Conflict Palm Oil.

“PepsiCo palm oil progress report dismissed as ‘masterful window dressing’” - Food Navigator, August 9, 2017

What’s Next?

RAN and our partners won’t stop campaigning until PepsiCo either works with Indofood to reform its Conflict Palm Oil practices or until PepsiCo ends its relationship with the egregious company. This week, we’re releasing an open letter to PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi, signed by 46 groups, including Rainforest Action Network, International Labor Rights Forum, OPPUK, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs and many many more. Combined, these groups represent over 25.8 million members worldwide. PepsiCo must take robust action to be a leading global snack food company. RAN expects PepsiCo to:

  1. Make substantial investments into ending the use of Conflict Palm Oil in its products sold worldwide, now.

  2. Require Indofood to align its policies and practices with the Free and Fair Labor Principles now, or cancel deals with the company if it does not.

  3. Advance respect for human rights by requiring all suppliers and business partners to uphold the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and provide remedy for stolen lands and livelihoods starting with Indofood and REPSA.

  4. Enforce an immediate moratorium on the destruction of forests and peatlands for palm oil.

  5. Play a positive role in securing land rights, improving livelihoods and protecting forests and peatlands, including the critical Leuser Ecosystem.

Some campaigns are over in a matter of weeks or months, and some take persistence over many years. Thank you for being a part of this movement and speaking up for the world’s forests, climate, and the people and animals who depend on them!

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On October 23rd, ninety-two of the world's largest banks met in São Paolo, Brazil to discuss policies on the climate and Indigenous People's rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). These banks include financiers like JPMorgan Chase -- the #1 Wall Street funder of tar sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet.

 

Indigenous leadership is critical to the climate movement. That’s why Indigenous-led coalition Mazaska Talks called on allies EVERYWHERE to join in for 3 days of mass global action targeting the financial institutions funding climate chaos. The message was clear: banks need to know that financing climate disaster and abuse of Indigenous Peoples is not an acceptable business practice.  (In case you missed the action, RAN has a few different ways that you can get involved with the fight to #DefundTarSands--just keep reading).

 

With actions in over 60 cities, 10 countries and 4 continents, #DivestTheGlobe was the LARGEST protest of banks investment in fossil fuels.

 

RAN staff were on the ground in Oakland, California and Seattle, Washington. In Oakland, the Indigenous-led organization, Idle No More, started us off in prayer, connecting us to the land we were standing on, and called on gathered participants to continue the fight to divest banks from dirty fossil fuels. After several moving speakers, Idle No More led the crew on a Tour of Shame. First stop, Citibank. The Tour continued with divestment actions Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase -- THREE of the biggest climate disaster funders.

 

 

 

At RAN, we know the sure fire way to challenge corporate power, is to follow the money. That’s why we’ve launched a full scale campaign targeting JPMorgan Chase, demanding they end financing to tar sands pipelines, and the sector as a whole.

 

We asked our network of supporters and allies to take action and join in with the #DivestTheGlobe movement, and to specifically call out JPMorgan Chase, as the #1 Wall Street funder of tar sands. In Seattle, folks protested outside and inside over 100 banks across the state (including Chase bank branches)! In Oakland, folks divested their funds from the local Chase branch and in New York City, our Indigenous allies held an ‘art intervention’ and disrupted business as usual when they distributed “Out of Order” signs on ATM’s.





It was an incredible few days of actions that spanned the globe. We know that this type of action works -- just a few weeks ago, BNP Paribas (the 9th largest bank in the world) announced they would cut funding to tar sands, all tar sands pipelines, fracking, LNG, and Arctic oil projects.

 

This fight isn’t over. There are SO many ways for you to get involved and take action with us today:

 

  1. Check out and share the #DivestTheGlobe wrap-up video produced by Mazaska Talks and 350 Seattle (and like their Facebook pages)! Join their email lists, and stay up to date about what you can do to #DivestTheGlobe in your own community

  2. ...Got goosebumps? TAKE ACTION TODAY and demand banks like JPMorgan Chase defund the Line 3 Pipeline!

  3. (the CEO of JPMorgan Chase) directly, and tell him to #DefundTarSands
  4. Join our campaign and keep the pressure on JPMorgan Chase to stop funding tar sands! Email us at defundtarsands@ran.org



In Solidarity,

 

Tess Geyer

Climate and Energy Organizer

Rainforest Action Network

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Resilient to Resistant

If there was one word that I could remove whenever folks speak about the Gulf Coast region, it would be "resilient." From my experience, resilient is what the government agencies use when they mean, "It's okay to keep dumping on you all, you're tough." It is true, of course. By and large, we survive.

 

But surviving is just the bare minimum. It’s not our survive-ability, it’s our thrive-ability that is often left out of the conversation regarding Gulf communities.

 

“Resilient” is reactive. Personally, I'm tired of being forced to react to the next theft by the state or feds, the next shake-down, the next community displaced, the next hurricane, the next spill, the next child with asthma, or all too often, cancer.

 

We, the Gulf Coast, are some of the poorest states in the Union, despite enormous profits earned by corporations that often use us like a doormat for their offshore operations - a doormat that our so-called political representation is more than happy to lay out for them. These multinational companies pollute big, and it is often the most disadvantaged among us who bear the burden.

 

Toxins from many of their operations invade our systems. They contaminate our water, poison our air, and make the earth fall away beneath us. Our bodies are violated, and we forget what feeling well means. And when our bodies finally falter, and fail us in a potpourri of ways, we find our hospitals closed and Medicaid expansion monies left to rot like cabbage in a ditch.

 

On our tombstones they write “Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Daughter, Cousin,… Resilient.”

 

It is time to chisel out a new story.

 

Building for Thriving

 

The pulse of resistance to the status quo - regular people organizing for a brighter future - has been brewing in the Gulf for decades. Environmental justice leaders in all five of the Gulf States - from Texas to Florida - have fought long, hard battles, often with little resources, capacity or support outside of the community. Sometimes they are victorious, and sometimes they are not, but I have yet to see one give up.

 

Last year marked the five year memorial of the BP Deepwater Horizon Drilling Disaster, the tenth memorial since Hurricane Katrina, and the fiftieth for Selma. These recognitions show the depth and length of struggles for Gulf Coast region. Our building movement, like that of the year-long initiative Gulf South Rising, is a continuation of the resistance organizing that we have been witnessing for half of a century and more.

 

March 23 marked a moment of deep  power in this movement. For the first time in history, hundreds of people gathered at the Superdome in New Orleans to protest the lease sale of 43 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil drilling.

 

Originally 40 participants went through a non-violent direct action training and had agreed to risk arrest in protection of our futures. Yet, on action day, hundreds boldly stormed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s auction and directly challenged the sale.

 

Even though a handful of SWAT-geared police officers entered the room, menacingly displaying human-sized zip ties, the people were not deterred. Authorities, auction staff, and bidders straining to hear above the chanting, were unable to dismiss our objections.

 

In the end, no arrests took place, and we had a revelation--the days of “business as usual,” in the Gulf Coast have come to an end.

 

Forward Together

 

The recent announcement by the Obama Administration to halt plans for offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean was a monumental step toward the protection of our planet. Yet the Arctic and the Gulf were again included in the draft five year plan for offshore drilling leases. Once again, our two regions are being forced to bleed at the altar of overconsumption and greed.

 

This is a sacrifice we refuse. Standing with our Arctic relatives, we are here to proclaim that there will be no more sacrifice zones. Government indifference to the people can no longer be accepted.

 

Now, it must be said, that birth is painful. And building towards a goal of this magnitude is no different. As we evolve in skill, grow in strength, and learn how to heal from our collective and individual injuries, hope is borne in every open heart. This does not mean, however, that it will be easy. There will be hard choices. There will be sweat, tears, anger, sadness, and mistakes - and someday, there will be victory too. That is where our eyes must remain.

 

March 23 was a key moment where we expressed  the demand to create that vision of a just world. Building upon it, and our powerful history, we will continue to create opportunity for a just transition away from fossil fuels, toward an equitable and healthy future for all the people of the Gulf Coast.

 

And now, along with our national allies, we are standing up to continue the call to reclaim the Gulf.

 

On April 18 in New Orleans, and April 20 in Houston, we will once again take our stand. On those dates, public meetings have been scheduled by the BOEM to accept comment on the draft five year plan.

 

The five year plan would lock the United States and the Gulf into generations of servitude to big oil. If plans go through, nearly every parcel of offshore water in the Gulf will be held in virtual trust for a handful of multi-national corporations, to develop decades out.

 

We are in position to stop this, to stop merely being “resilient.” Anything else is accepting less than our children’s worth. It is resigning ourselves to their sacrifice. Frankly, I'm just not down with that. Join me as we seize our chance to thrive.

 

Submit a comment on the 5-year plan in support of Gulf Communities!

 

 

 

 

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Here at Rainforest Action Network, we know the sure-fire way to challenge corporate power is to follow the money. That’s why we’ve officially launched our campaign targeting the biggest U.S. bank financing the tar sands sector--JPMorgan Chase.

 

                      (activists outside of city hall demanding Denver divest from JPMorgan Chase)

 

Last week RAN staff (and our coalition of allies and local residents) met JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon in Denver, CO and put him on notice that we won’t allow Chase to finance tar sands any longer. Tuesday morning started off with a divestment action and rally outside of Chase’s corporate offices in Denver, followed by a surprise visit to directly confront him about his banks investments in dirty energy, and ending the day with RAN staff hand delivering a letter directly informing him of our launch.

 

                                                       (activists inside Chase bank branch)

 

JPMorgan Chase is the #1 Wall Street funder of tar sands oil--one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels on the planet. Not only do TAR SANDS = GAME OVER for the climate, all projects associated with tar sands production wreak havoc on Indigenous, frontline, and fenceline communities.

 

JPMorgan Chase has financed over $3 billion in tar sands companies, and now they’re financing all four highly controversial proposed tar sands pipelines; Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, Enbridge's Line 3 expansion, TransCanada's Energy East, and TransCanada’s Keystone XL. These pipelines threaten Indigenous rights and our shared climate. We must continue to keep the pressure on JPMorgan Chase to get them to defund this disastrous fossil fuel sector.

 

We are asking our network of supporters to join us as we work to get JPMorgan Chase out of the tar sands sector. Here are three ways where you can get involved:

 

  1. Share our images from this week’s actions! (check out our Facebook) AND take part in flooding Jamie Dimon’s inbox with demands to #DefundTarSands, and protect Indigenous, frontline, and fenceline communities.

  2. Host an action for Mazaska Talks Global Day of Action -- “3 days of mass global action that make it clear to the banks: Financing climate disaster and the abuse of Indigenous Peoples will result in a massive global divestment movement.”

  3. *Becoming a SUPER Action Lead with Rainforest Action Network on our campaign get JPMorgan Chase to #DefundTarSands (email tess@ran.org to get involved).*

    1. Help recruit and mobilize folks in your community and across the country to take action!

    2. Coach new volunteers, run and participate in trainings, workshops and webinars

    3. Keep the pressure on Jamie Dimon to get out of the tar sands sector through on the ground grassroots campaigning



 

We’ll see you in the streets.

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Another one bites the dust. Another mom and pop business, that is.

Yesterday, snack food giant Hormel bought out Justin’s Nut Butter for $286 million. This is another example of Big Food attempting to buy its way into a healthy image, acquiring small health food companies as fast as they can. When General Mills bought out Annie’s Mac & Cheese, for instance, hundreds of thousands of incited mothers felt personally wronged and vowed to boycott their kids’ favorite product forevermore.

Hormel’s latest move is not in isolation. As big snack food giants like Hormel and PepsiCo witness consumer culture and market trends dramatically shifting towards more healthy standards, company executives are clamoring to keep up.

It’s become clear that the snack food industry’s greatest threat is the emerging health trend -- it hurts their bottom line. Executives like Al Carey, CEO of Americas Beverages for PepsiCo, who publicly claimed in a recent keynote address that this growing health trend is terrifying, says this means companies have to innovate and expand into new markets or else risk losing a whole lot of business.

Indeed. Major packaged-food companies lost $4 billion in market share in 2014, as shoppers opt for fresher and organic alternatives void of the likes of artificial colors and flavors, pesticides, preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, growth hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms.

Take an average Hormel or PepsiCo product -- Spam, hot dogs, potato chips, or Pepsi cola -- which probably has many if not all of those demonized ingredients (for good reason - they’re killing our health and the planet). Carey claims that he wants 90% of everything in development to have “some improved health benefit.”

The motivation behind Hormel’s newest acquisition is clear -- the Justin’s brand (which features over 2 dozen products all containing loads of palm oil), gives Hormel a shiny new platform in natural and organic artisanal peanut butter spreads, and further balances the company's portfolio of brands toward younger, more health conscious and on-the-go consumers according to James Snee, Hormel COO.

Hormel will no doubt continue to snatch up smaller companies that boast much healthier products than its trademark Spam and Hormel meats that come straight from a factory farm, which hurts animals and the environment, but is this enough to give the brand a clean bill of health?

While Hormel and PepsiCo are busy health washing their corporate brand, they continue to do nothing on the issue of Conflict Palm Oil.

Hormel is a laggard Snack Food 20 company because its palm oil commitment lacks clear requirements for suppliers to end destruction of rainforests, peatlands and abuse of human and labor rights. As a matter of urgency, Hormel Foods Corporation should strengthen its current commitment and publish a time-bound plan to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Please join RAN by taking action right now to tell Hormel and PepsiCo that acquiring health food companies isn’t doing anything to get Conflict Palm Oil out of their products.

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to auction millions of acres of public lands and waters for pennies on the dollar. But who exactly is profiting from these corporate giveaways?

 

Texas based oil company,  Anadarko, is one of the largest public leaseholders in the US, with over 1.9 million acres of federal lands under their control for the express purpose of fossil fuel extraction. Anadarko is one of only four corporations in the top 100 US public leaseholders to drill, frack, and mine for onshore oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, and coal.

 

Anadarko’s grip is especially strong in the Rocky Mountain West - it is the largest leaseholder (public & private) in the state of Wyoming and the top gas producer in Colorado. But somehow, Anadarko doesn’t have the same name brand recognition as its supermajor competitors -- Shell, Chevron or BP. Anadarko is the worst corporate player that you’ve never heard of. But now it's time to change that.

 

Anadarko’s activities on both land and sea have a proven track record of recklessness and corruption: consistently violating environmental regulations, committing human rights abuses, cheating taxpayers and actively working against the democratic process. Here are six things you need to know about this corporate criminal:

  

 

1) Second-biggest environmental fine in history

Every year for the last six years, Anadarko has had to pay an ever greater price in fines and settlements. This has culminated so far in Anadarko being ordered to pay the second-largest environmental cash settlement in history, a $5.15 billion deal to remediate dozens of sites across the country and compensate over 7,000 people dealing with the effects of toxic contamination. This historic settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice includes almost $1 billion to address drinking water and health impacts on the Navajo Nation.

 

What’s more, Anadarko had the nerve to tout a $550 million tax write off from the settlement.

 

2) Dodging accountability in the Gulf

Anadarko was also a 25% owner and co-lessee of the Macondo well that erupted as part of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 - the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, that is often only attributed to BP. Anadarko filed to not pay fines because it was a non-operating co-lessee - even though it urged BP to drill deeper days before the explosion. In November 2015, the Louisiana District Court charged Anadarko with only $159.5 million in Clean Water Act penalties, much lower than the $1 billion sought by the federal government. The fine was described as “not a slap on the wrist; it’s a tongue kiss from the judge.” 

 

3) Cheating taxpayers

As a top leaseholder of public lands in the US, companies like Anadarko can lease land for as little as $2 an acre for fracking and gas production. These are rock-bottom prices -- but at least the lessee is obligated to pay a small royalty to the US government on the oil and gas produced from public land operations. Anadarko shirks even that minimal responsibility. In 2011, Anadarko settled for over $17 million to the U.S. Department of Justice for underpayment of royalties on public lands. Additionally, a previous allegation of underpaid royalties in the Gulf of Mexico from Anadarko’s current subsidiary Kerr-Mcgee Oil and Gas was settled in January 2012 for $26 million.

 

4) Human rights abuses

Anadarko is uprooting entire villages without informed or prior consent. Showing the reach of their corporate culture, Anadarko is making a costly land grab on the other side of the world. After finding a significant gas reserve off the coast of Mozambique, Anadarko is attempting to fast-track a natural gas project that would displace thousands of local villagers on the Afungi Peninsula in Mozambique. Villagers were caught by surprise when company trucks began bulldozing their fields, crops and trees to make way for natural gas extraction operations.

 

5) Actively working against the democratic process & lobbying against the US citizens

Anadarko is an active player on the political scene. The company spent $2.92 million on lobbying in 2015. Since 1999, the top recipients of Anadarko’s contributions are Texas Republicans Joe Barton and Kevin Brady, both of whom have sided with dirty energy in 100% of votes tracked by Oil Change International’s Dirty Energy Money.

 

In 2014, Anadarko co-funded a front-group, Protect Colorado, which has received $21M over the last two years to defeat local fracking bans and moratoriums in cities on Colorado’s Front Range and to improve the image of fracking. The group poured millions into a campaign to defeat a local fracking moratorium in Loveland, Colorado.

 

6) Anadarko funded “gasroots” network to fight grassroots action.

In response to the growing grassroots movement to stop fracking in communities impacted by health threats, Anadarko, a multi-billion-dollar corporation, has built a "gasroots" network to try to polish its negative image. The company has trained over 2,000 of its employees, people who are on payroll and have an active interest in the company’s profits, to serve as “brand ambassadors.” Their aim is to convince people through unsuspecting schools and community organizations across Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Texas that drilling isn't harmful.

 

Anadarko’s track record is scandalous and corrupt. Yet this is the kind of company the U.S. government entrusts with public lands and waters. It's clear the public leasing system is broken when companies like this are allowed time and again to bid on parcels only to ruin these public resources - resources meant to be protected for generations to come.

We need to end the corporate giveaway of our public lands and waters by ending the federal fossil fuel leasing program. Tell President Obama that this system has to go by signing this petition! Take Anadarko’s hands off public lands once and for all.

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