BREAKING: Activists Found Not Guilty

Judge Phillipa James announced today a Not Guilty Verdict in regards to last month’s Disorderly Conduct trial of local environmental activists Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner. Stephenson and Warner were arrested nearly two and a half years earlier when glitter spilled off of a Hunger Games-themed banner that the activists hung in the open-to-the-public atrium of the Devon Energy building. The glittery banner read, “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.” At their trial, Stephenson and Warner explained that the banner was intended to highlight the disproportionate ways in which oil and gas development occurs. Stephenson explained, “Our intent was to highlight that the odds are never in our favor, our being the people’s favor.” Stephenson explained that oil and gas development disenfranchises communities of color and low-income, rural communities, a practice commonly referred to as environmental racism. Stephenson told the courtroom, “The purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness about Devon Energy’s involvement in tar sands extraction and the environmentally racist nature of tar sands extraction.” Warner contributed that the large tax incentives that oil and gas corporations receive have exacerbated our current economic crisis in Oklahoma. Additionally, oil and gas corporations gain wealth from hydraulic fracturing, while homeowners are forced to pay for earthquake damage that results from the disposal of fracking wastewater. The activists’ lawyer argued that Stephenson and Warner’s actions were a form of protected free speech. Judge Philipa James found that Warner and Stephenson were both engaged in political protest and that the evidence presented by both the defense and the City of Oklahoma City established that there was no “public alarm” caused by the protest activity.

 

For interviews or questions, contact: Moriah Stephenson (405) 283-6140

Glitter Activists Face Trial!

On December 13th, 2013, Moriah Stephenson and Stefan Warner were arrested while taking part in a non-violent peaceful protest. The two activists were taken into custody after hanging a glittery Hunger Games themed banner in the open-to-the public atrium of the Devon Energy Center. The activists were booked into the Oklahoma County Jail under the felony charge Terrorism Hoax, which carries up to 10 years in prison. The activists’ arrest gained international media attention due to the severity of the arresting charge. Documents obtained by journalists proved that the Joint Terrorism Task Force, TransCanada Corporation, and the Oklahoma City Police had met together prior to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to strategize ways to prosecute environmental activists as terrorists. The terrorism hoax charges have been dropped, but Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson will stand trial for misdemeanor disorderly conduct on June 30th at 8 am in the Oklahoma City Courthouse. A charge which their lawyer argues is still a violation of free speech.

Glitter BannerThe glittery banner in question read, “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.” The banner highlights the disproportionate ways in which oil and gas development occurs, granting power, wealth, and access to oil corporations while disenfranchising communities of color and low-income-rural communities. The reality that “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor” has become even more clear in recent years as Oklahoma’s budget deficit has resulted in funding cuts for public education and public needs programs while continuing to offer tax incentives to large oil corporations.

Warner and Stephenson had no intention of causing panic or alarm, they simply were using free speech to highlight the similarities between The Hunger Games series and our everyday lives in Oklahoma: a small group of people profit off of the resources and labor of many, while exploiting marginalized communities. These activists wanted to highlight at least three primary injustices perpetrated by Devon Energy: 1) Devon Energy is involved in extracting and transporting tar sands oil, the heavy and toxic crude that the Keystone XL pipeline carries from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to be sold on the global market, 2) Devon Energy’s practice of tar sands extraction is environmental racism, most negatively impacting low-income, indigenous communities in Canada and across the U.S. such as the Lubicon Cree First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 3) Devon Energy lobbies for and receives large tax incentives which have resulted in the disastrous budget deficit Oklahoma is currently facing. In all of these ways the dominance of the oil and gas industry and the failure of the Oklahoma state government to diversify the economy create a situation in which “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor.” These activists’ arrest highlights another way that “The Odds Are Never in Our Favor,” violation of free speech. The odds are not in our favor when the oil and gas industry is protected when environmental catastrophe or economic crisis occurs, but individual residents are persecuted for spilling glitter from a banner. Stephenson and Warner invite community members to be present at their trial on June 30th at 8 AM.

The oil and gas industry wants to end the ban on crude oil exports, and they are using social media to do it.

talk-crude-header-2Hey ya’ll! The oil and gas industry wants to end the ban on crude oil exports, and they are using social media to do it. (Learn more about the Oil Industry’s conscious Social Media Push.)

They want us to believe that ending the ban on crude oil exports would lower the cost of fuel and increase national security.

But let’s be real. These industry leaders want to sell more oil. They want to expand production. They want to make money.  This is clearly the expansion of the oil and gas industry’s profits over people policy. Ending the export ban would lead to increased drilling, refining, and transportation of oil. It would also make it possible to export labor and toxic pollutants to other communities. Moving it other places doesn’t make it go away! This would directly impact frontline communities, fenceline communities, and labor organizers and lead to greater climate change inducing emissions.

oil tankerThe energy industry is using #TalkCrude to promote this pro-industry, profits over people stance.

We are asking folks to counter their narrative! Post pictures, stories, and links that highlight the devastating effects of oil on communities. Be sure to #TalkCrude #CrudeTalk #NoExports. Because come on ya’ll… using social media to try and convince us that expanding industry is in our benefit is some nasty ass crude shit.

Even cruder, this push is continuing to take place after the recent train explosion in West Virginia.train-derails-crude-oil-lunchburg-30-04

 Learn more about frontline and fenceline communities and labor organizing here:

Idle No More

T.E.J.A.S. Barrios

Oklahoma “Our Back Is To The Wall”

Oil on Lubicon Land

Us Oil Refineries Strike

Rising Tide North America 

Climate Justice Alliance

P.S. Harold Hamm is Hollis Doyle.  Or maybe Voldemort. Or maybe President Snow.  haroldhammsnow

PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION UNDER LAKE THUNDERBIRD SPARKS RALLY

Press Advisory                                                                                          Contact: Casey Holcomb

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                    [email protected]

December 16, 2014                                                                                                   (405) 283-6140

              

                                 CONCERNED RESIDENTS RALLY FOR

                                 CLEAN WATER AND POLICY CHANGE

 

Norman, OK- The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition is inviting area residents to attend a public rally for clean water outside Norman City Hall on December 18th beginning at 4:30pm. Coalition leaders will rally and address a city council meeting demanding that policies and regulations be put in place to protect city water sources and more fully involve the public in decision making processes. The rally will be a peaceful public gathering of concerned residents who share the common goal of protecting water resources, air quality, and land from the hazards of oil and gas development.

Lake Thunderourwaterrallybannerbird, the Garber-Wellington aquifer, and the Little River watershed supply drinking water to hundreds of thousands of residents in the central Oklahoma region–including the Absentee Shawnee tribe and metro-area cities such as Moore, Noble, Norman, and Midwest City. Currently, the policies in place do not protect these important water resources. The city of Norman has permitted a new 24 inch pipeline that will transport crude oil under Lake Thunderbird. The new pipeline will run adjacent to and replace an existing pipeline in hopes of both creating an updated pipeline system and allowing for increased crude oil production. However, citizens have argued that rerouting the pipeline would better protect water resources. Organizers say that permits were granted without proper public notice or due diligence.

Plains All American Pipeline LP, the company responsible for constructing the pipeline, spilled 19,000 gallons of crude oil into an urban area of Los Angeles in May of 2014. If a similar incident were to happen in Oklahoma, it would be devastating to wildlife, affect access to clean drinking water, and it could possibly render portions of the lake permanently damaged and untreatable.

Some coalition members say Norman should stop issuing such permits until new regulations are in place that address the changing landscape of oil and gas practices. Regardless of new drilling methods, heightened numbers of spills, and research suggesting potentially dangerous links between oil & gas practices and water pollution, new permits are still being issued and new wells are being drilled. Meanwhile no policies are in place in Norman that require pre-testing of water pollutants near proposed drilling sites, making it impossible to fully assess the impact that oil and gas has on our water resources.

Speakers at the Our Water Rally include Jesse Robbins (Red Eagle) indigenous activist, hip hop artist, and poet, Alecia Onzawah, member of Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and Idle No More Central Oklahoma organizer, and Angela Spotts, prominent anti-fracking activist and founding member of Stop Fracking Payne County.

Concerned citizens and organizers will assemble at 4:30 at the corner of Gray St and Santa Fe in front of the Norman City Hall.  The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition is calling for changes in regulatory practices to ensure that both public notification and protection of water resources are considered in the future.

The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition is a broad-based grassroots group that includes members from state & local environmental groups and concerned area residents, all of whom share a common interest in protecting our land and public water sources from the damage caused by irresponsible policies and practices.

Sponsors of the rally include Sierra Club – Red Earth Group, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, Sooner Utilities, Stop Fracking Payne County, OUr Earth, Idle No More – Central Oklahoma, Grand Riverkeeper/Lead Agency, S.P.I.R.I.T. Society to Protect Indigenous Rights & Indigenous Treaties, Clean Energy Future OK, Oklahoma Sierra Club, Center for Conscience in Action, Green Party of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma IWW

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Keystone XL Pipeline Case Faces Jury in Oklahoma

Press Contact:
Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]
Stefan Warner, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, (405) 283-6140, [email protected]

Man who blockaded Keystone XL construction argues threats of climate change and environmental harm justify his actions

On April 22, 2013, Alec Johnson disrupted construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline near Tushka, Oklahoma by chaining himself to heavy equipment and effectively halting work. Eventually the police were called and Mr. Johnson was removed from the site and arrested. Now, more than a year after his arrest, Alec Johnson will attempt to make US history becoming the first to argue that he was justified in breaking the law to prevent a greater harm: the urgent threat of climate change. This kind of ‘necessity’ defense rooted in climate justice could have national implications for the growing movement of resistance to the fossil fuel industry across the US.

Mr. Johnson will argue thaclimatehawkspeakingt enforcing future generation’s rights to a stable climate and livable environment is not a crime. His defense will introduce a commanding consensus of climate science, including that of renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen who is preparing written testimony for the consideration of the court which will make clear that effective action to address the climate crisis is urgent and can no longer be delayed. Mr. Johnson will also draw attention to imminent health and safety risks posed by Keystone XL. He will address contamination threats to people living near the 1,700 mile pipeline route, the health problems experienced by First Nations communities from the extraction of tar sands, which is the product that flows through the KXL pipeline, as well as the toxic refinery emissions that it is forcing upon Gulf coast communities.

WHO: Alec Johnson, a 62 year old father of two and resident of East Texas, and dozens of supporters from across Oklahoma and Texas many of whom are directly impacted by the Keystone XL pipeline.

WHAT: A rally outside the Atoka County Courthouse featuring the voices of defendant Alec Johnson and community supporters from Oklahoma and Texas, followed the next day by a jury trial featuring the unprecedented use of a climate change necessity defense.

WHEN: Rally begins on Wednesday, October 22nd at 6:30pm. Trial begins the following day on Thursday, October 23rd at 9:00am.

WHERE: Both the rally and criminal trial will take place at the Atoka County Courthouse on 200 East Court Street, Atoka, Oklahoma, 74525.

Recap of Rational Synergy Convergence, 10/15/2014

Oklahoma City – Oklahomans and Texans gathered and marched today in Oklahoma City outside Cox Convention Center to protest the International Energy Conference being hosted by Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business. The International Energy Conference featured Texas Governor Rick Perry, Devon Energy CEO John Richels, and Matthew McManus with the U.S. Department of State and other international leaders in the oil and gas industry.

 

wantedjohnrichelsbanner

The protest, dubbed the Rational Synergy Convergence, highlighted the nefarious actions of the oil and gas industry, economic inequality in the age of a “fracking boom”, and the effects of global capitalism on human lives. Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance called for concerned residents to speak out for an economically just and ecologically sustainable future. As industry leaders spoke with their heads in the sand at the International Energy Conference, local community leaders such as Angela Spotts of Stop Fracking Payne County shared stories of living next to one of Devon Energy’s frack wells in Stillwater. Native leaders such as David Hill of Oklahoma American Indian Movement and Rev. Chebon Kernell, Executive Secretary of Indigenous Ministries of the United Methodist Church spoke out against industrial abuse of land.davidhillwithsign

“I am here today to remind Oklahoma City University, a United Methodist University, of the United Methodist Social Principles on the environment,” said Pat Hoerth, Deaconess in the United Methodist Church, pointing out the contradictions between Oklahoma City University’s religious tradition and business partnerships.

Pat & Cheboon

Pat & Cheboon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Riverkeeper Earl Hatley told about leading a statewide effort of grassroots citizens calling for a one-year moratorium on class II underground injection control (UIC) disposal wells for drilling and Fracking waste. “An increasingly warming planet must dramatically decrease its output of carbon and methane gas emissions now to insure a safe future. Earthquakes are starting to ravage our state, health issues are mounting due to air quality and water reserves are being squeezed. The people in this conference must grasp and take reearlandangelawithbullhornsponsibility for the environmental, social and human rights violations inherent in the unconventional oil and gas technologies and, indeed, the further exploration and extraction of new deposits of fossil fuels. It is time for a rigorous expansion of the renewable energy and conservation sector before it’s too late for our future generations ofan ever increasingly warming planet” said Earl Hatley, Grand Riverkeeper.

 

 

Colin Ferguson, student at Oklahoma City University, ended the rally by condemning the University’s partnership with Devon Energy while posing to be a “sustainable” institution. colinofocuMy university funnels business students into the Devon ranks at an incredible rate, as engineers, scientists and public relations workers. Is this where the best young minds in our state ought to end up? Should they not instead be directed towards finding solutions to the shaky mess caused by oil and gas extraction, and towards alternative efforts at energy production? Let’s demonstrate, together, our disappointment in this state of affairs. Let’s express to these industry men and women and to President Robert Henry in particular, that we won’t let Oklahoma’s young talent be usurped into this cycle of environmental destruction, of economic inequality, of manipulation and deceit in the name of money and power!”

Next, protesters left the permitted space and began marching and singing. Angela Spotts of Stop Fracking Payne County led the march towards Continental Resources to confront Harold Hamm, CEO who is credited with perfecting technology used in horizontal drilling. As protesters neared Continental Resources, they were met by security who threatened to call the police. Angela Spotts took the bullhorn and led chants demanding to speak with Harold Hamm. A brief standoff ensued before protesters marched towards Devon Energy Tower. When protesters arrived, Earl Hatley took the mic to explain his legal fight with Devon to keep them from fracking his land in rural Stillwater, Oklahoma. Protesters blocked the sidewalk with banners, passed out WANTED, JOHN RICHELS flyers to employees. A sizeable crowd of Devon employees gathered outside to listen before protesters marched back to the Convention Center and dispersed.IMG_1132

Outside Continental Resources

Outside Continental Resources

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earlandcrewinfrontofdevon

Rational Synergy Convergence

Join us for the Rational Synergy Convergence! 

The Rational Synergy Convergence is a public gathering of local leaders and thinkers committed to economic equity and environmental justice.  Speakers discuss the bleak state of global capitalism and envision a more economically just and ecologically sustainable future. 
The convergence will focus on economic inequality in the midst of a “fracking boom” and the effects of imperialism on human lives & biological communities. 

The Rational Synergy Convergence will be meeting in protest of the International Energy Conference! Oklahoma City University’s Meinder’s School of Business will be hosting he International Energy Conference at Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Rick Perry, current governor of Texas and opponent of reproductive and migrant justice, will be speaking. John Richels, tar sands tycoon and CEO of Devon Energy will also be presenting. They will be joined by other speakers discussing “the state and future of the global and domestic energy resource development.” This conference is an opportunity for “leaders” in oil and gas development to share ideas responsible for environmental degradation, racism and economic inequality in Alberta, CAN, Mexico, sub-Saharan Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

Some community members who will be sharing at the Rational Synergy Convergence are:

Angela Spotts of Stop Fracking Payne County 

Earl Hatley, Grand Riverkeeper, LEAD Agency

Rev. Chebon Kernell, Executive Secretary of Native American/Indigenous Ministries of the United Methodist Church 

Pat HoerthTurtle Rock Farm: A Center for Sustainability, Spirituality and Healing

David Hill, Oklahoma American Indian Movement

Jonathan Adams, Blackland Prairie Rising Tide and Frack Free Denton volunteer.

Eric Whelan, Great Plain Tar Sands Resistance 

We will be gathering on the sidewalk of the northwest side of Cox Convention Center, which is the southeast corner of the W Sherdian Avenue and Ron Norick Blvd intersection.