Local Activists disrupt Devon Energy Board Member Robert Henry

Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance interrupted Devon Energy board member and president of Oklahoma City University Robert Henry as Henry emceed a book review event for  The Frackers by Gregory Zuckerman at Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City. Reasons cited for the disruption were Devon Energy’s role in the controversial tar sands in Alberta, tar sands extraction’s connection to the Keystone XL, fracking in Oklahoma and abroad, and Devon’s membership in American Legislative Exchange Committee (ALEC).

Jay Fowler speaks critically of Robert Henry as Henry stands before him, arms crossed.

“No matter how many lies you tell, how many politicians you buy, how many skyscrapers you build, it will not wash away the oil you have spilled.” Local resident Jay Fowler said to Robert Henry.

This month news broke that Devon Energy recently applied for a permit to begin a new tar sands project, Walleye, in Alberta, Canada. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation and other First Nations stand at the frontline of Devon’s tar sands projects. Cancer blooms and loss of sustenance are among the numerous problems plaguing the First Nations.  In addition to the devastating effects on local communities, Devon Energy’s plan to increase tar sands production is a reminder that no consideration is being given to the effects of climate change.

A banner reading “Keep it out of the air! Leave it in the ground!” is displayed as people disrupt Robert Henry’s attempts to gain control of the situation.

“We can no longer ignore the damage being done by Devon Energy and the fracking industry to our homes, communities, and eco-systems.. As a lifelong resident of Oklahoma (and former industry worker), I believe it is high time for us to say goodbye to the greedy CEO’s and Presidents like Robert Henry and John Richels of Devon Energy and transition to a just, renewable economy.” – Eric Wheeler

Across the United States Devon Energy is a major playing in the phenomenon known as fracking. This extraction process uses toxic water to create fissures in bedrock miles beneath the surface. This practice has been linked to contaminated water, water depletion, earthquakes, illness, and large gas explosions.

ALEC is a right-wing legislative thiaaronwhatsupnk-tank that encourages public services to be privatized (i.e. schools, prisons). ALEC creates legislation that weakens worker’s rights, rolls back civil rights, and deregulates commerce in favor of large corporations. Disrupters believe that Robert Henry’s political legacy conflicts with the goals of ALEC, and see his appointment to the Devon Energy board as an attempt to create silence among Oklahoma progressives.

Before becoming president of Oklahoma City University, Robert Henry had served as Oklahoma Attorney General and as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Often revered as the most influential Democrat in Oklahoma, Robert  Henry is educated enough to understand the science and risks of  climate change and the urgent need to immediately stop exploration and extraction of fossil fuels and shift to renewable energies, based in local economies.  Profits rather than a livable, vibrant planet are more important for Devon Energy and Robert Henry. According to Forbes, Robert Henry’s total compensation from Devon Energy in 2013 was $336,015.

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Oil Spills at the Lexington Wildlife Preserve: Negligence to Prevent, Negligence to Report

Report from concerned Oklahoma resident,

Xanadu has not reported this spill to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. This is how Xanadu Exploration Company conducts its business on public lands at the Lexington Wildlife Preserve in Cleveland County, failing to prevent a spill and failing to report a spill. Spill Lexington 2

Xanadu has multiple wells located in the Lexington Wildlife Preserve. This one is called Top Gun #1. Top Gun #1 has two significant leaks. One leak is near the tank battery. Another is near the horse head well pump. This is not a major spill with hundreds of barrels pouring onto the land. There are multiple small leaks contributing to what appears to be a slow, steady accumulation. From the looks of it, this has probably been going on for several months. Maybe longer.

Spill Lexington 1The Oklahoma Corporation Commission does not require companies to report spills of less than 10 barrels unless it is a threat to a water source. The spills are located near two large fishing ponds in the Lexington Wildlife Preserve. The leaks near the well pump do not appear to be contained by any berm. The City of Purcell relies on groundwater wells, many of which are located in the Lexington Wildlife Preserve, not far from this and other wells operated by Xanadu. According to OCC spokesperson Matt Skinner, no OCC field inspectors have been to the site of this spill. I have filed an ORA request on the history of inspections for this well. I have also requested that the OCC conduct a water quality analysis for the nearby fishing ponds and water wells.

The spills appear to be due to negligence on the part of the operator; a failure to maintain their equipment in good working condition. The leaks near the well head have spewed out of the pipes and coated some of the pressure gauges making them unreadable. One of the pressure gauges appears not to be functioning at all. This well site seems to constitute multiple violations of OCC rules. Xanadu has failed to report this spill and should be liable for fines and damages.

Xanadu is the same company whose application for a hydraulic fracturing drilling permit drew protests from Slaughterville residents earlier this week. 
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The citizens opposing this permit need to be made aware of Xanadu’s practices. This should serve as a clear example for the Town Board that public health and safety are not a priority for the company. Clearly they are using faulty equipment and have done nothing to contain the leakage. By all appearances, this has been an ongoing problem for several months. Is the company just unwilling to spend the money to make the repairs or purchase better equipment?

Based on their record in the area, I think the town of Slaughterville would be well within their rights to deny Xanadu’s permit application. If this is how Xanadu treats our public lands and conservation areas, I doubt they think very highly of their neighbors in Slaugterville.
If I were on the town board in Slaughterville, I’d be doing everything in my power to run these folks right out of town.”

- Casey Holcomb, Concerned Oklahoma Resident

Dr. Riki Ott speaking in Oklahoma this week

Dr. Riki Ott is a marine biologist and toxicologist with important information that connects dispersants used on Valdez & BP oil spills with diluents mixed in tar sands (bitumen) and chemicals in fracking fluid, will visit our area on her Keystone XL tour.

 

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Tues. July, 8th: Dr. Ott will be hosted by Clean Energy Future Oklahoma, speaking in Tulsa, 7-9pm at Foolish Things Coffee Company, 1001 S. Main St. https://www.facebook.com/events/1518974324990631/?ref=44&unit_ref=related_events

 

Wed. July 9th: OK Chapter Sierra Club will host Dr. Ott at Cocina De Mino Restaurant,6022 S. Western & S.W. 59th in Oklahoma City. Dinner will begin at 6:00 pm(dinner is on your own) and Dr. Ott’s presentation will begin at 7:00.

https://www.facebook.com/events/803248186365590/

 

Thurs. July 10th: Stop Fracking Payne County is hosting Dr. Ott @ 6:30pm at the Stillwater Public Library 1107 S Duck Stillwater, OK. https://www.facebook.com/events/820300407980396/?ref=44&unit_ref=related_events

Basic Human Decency

Last Thursday several people appeared at the Okfuskee County Courthouse in Okemah, Oklahoma to support Elisabeth as she went to trial.  People nervously awaited trial in the hallway, some folks talked to individuals from Bikers Against Child Abuse, and others helped Elisabeth practice pronouncing some hard words from her statement.

Leading up to the trial, Elisabeth and 20140626_134833her attorney Doug Parr had made several trips to Okfuskee County for arraignments, hearings, etc. From the day she was arrested last February until the day of her trial, even when faced with time in the county jail, Elisabeth refused to give in. Elisabeth was determined to take her case to trial, hoping to mount a necessity defense to highlight the many egregious social and ecological problems associated with tar sands. From extraction to transportation to refining, Elisabeth’s statement goes farther than the conventional discourse associated with the Keystone XL.  Never the less, Elisabeth didn’t go to trial. The prosecutor in this case reportedly said this trial would be a waste of the state’s resources. We were informed ten minutes before trial was scheduled to begin that the case had been dismissed. Slightly disappointing but better than a guilty conviction!

Elisabeth put a lot of time and work into preparing her statement. You can read the full statement here.  Elisabeth’s statement is a glaring example of the reality that resisting resource extraction is not a wild idea, rather resisting resource extraction is an act of basic human decency:

“I was taught to leave my surroundings and the world in as good as or better shape than it was before I entered into it.”

- Elisabeth Leja

 

 

Elisabeth is going to trial THIS THURSDAY!

DSC_0180Elisabeth Leja is going to trial this Thursday in Ofuskee County, Oklahoma. Elisabeth was the first person to take direct action against the Keystone XL in Oklahoma last year when she locked herself to construction equipment with a bike lock. You can read more about Elisabeth’s upcoming trial here. If you live in the area, we’d love to see you at the courthouse to support Elisabeth through the legal process. The trial will take place at the Okfuskee County Court House, 209 N 3rd St, Okemah, Oklahoma 74859. Court starts at 2:00pm, so try to get there a little early.

If you would like to carpool, let us know here or call (405) 283-6140. As always, your support is  greatly appreciated. Please consider making a generous donation to help cover Elisabeth’s fines, court costs, and travel expenses.

 

 

 

Keystone XL resisters headed to trial!

The Southern Leg of the Keystone XL is in the ground, but Elisabeth Leja and Alec Johnson are still fighting! Elisabeth Leja and Alec Johnson both took direct action against the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline last year with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance in Oklahoma. Elisabeth is a 75-year-old, retired math teacher from Norman, Oklahoma. Elisabeth was the first person to risk arrest opposing KXL in Oklahoma when she locked herself to construction equipment with a bike lock in the whee hours of Feb. 4th, 2013. Alec Johnson is a climate justice organizer based in Nacogdoches, TX who took action last year on Earth Day in Atoka County, Oklahoma.

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When Elisabeth isn’t busy shutting down industrial construction sites, she spends time playing with her companion dogs, Omni and Mega, in the beautiful woods near her home.  Elisabeth is a retired math teacher. Citing exponential theory to illustrate the rapid rise of carbon emissions from tar sands exploitation, Elisabeth explains that the Keystone XL just doesn’t add up. “I have nothing to lose personally if the pipeline is completed and used incessantly by Trans Canada. If there were to be a spill, I wouldn’t be directly affected. I live too far away. So why protest? Because I love the earth, our planet. I live on it, and we need to take care of it. Why sit back and let greed run the world?”  Determined to put the KXL and the whole tar sands industry on trial, Elisabeth has taken a No Compromise stance in her ongoing legal defense. Elisabeth is now scheduled for trial at 2pm on June 26th in Ofsukee County. She is facing a charge of trespass. She would love to have community support as she defends herself and individuals’ rights to raise their voices through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.

Alec Johnson is also  refusing plea deals and going to trial in order to defend his actions. The prosecutor in Alec’s case is pursuing two charges of Obstructing an Officer, each of which carry a possible one year sentence in Atoka County Jail! Recently an Atoka County Judge overruled a pretrial motion to dismiss Alec’s charges. When asked about his upcoming jury trial, Alec had this to say:

alecThe KXL Pipeline is a clear threat to our children’s futures. Those promoting tar sands exploitation are engaged in a crime against humanity. My action sought to prevent the expansion of the tar sands industry. The fact that the Keystone XL is even being considered represents a stark failure by federal, state, and local government to protect the atmosphere that all life shares. I am NOT GUILTY by reason of necessity. I am defending a right to life that depends on a habitable atmosphere. I am protecting that right to life for future generations. I look forward to the opportunity to present the facts of global warming to a jury and to highlight the urgency and necessity that we all face in fighting global warming and the destructive tar sands industry.”

Alec has been scheduled to go to trial, possibly September or October, no definite date has been set. Stay tuned for updates!

We need your help packing the court room to show support for Elisabeth and Alec! Supporting resisters like Elisabeth and Alec through the court process is an essential part of building a nonviolent direct action movement in the Great Plains. Please let us know here if you’d like to support Elisabeth and Alec by attending their trial. Donations to help cover travel expenses, court costs, and fines are extremely appreciated. Thank you so much for your support!

 

Media Contact: gptsrmedia@gmail.com or (405) 283-6140

Native Voices Education Symposium

Our friends with Idle No More Central Oklahoma are organizing and hosting an educational symposium called Native Voices. Topics to be discussed include “Removing Obstacles to Higher Education”, “Mass Incarceration and Native People”, “Protecting Turtle Island”, and “The Importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act”. Folks from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance will be sharing during the Protecting Turtle Island panel. This whole day will be a great opportunity to learn and connect with each other. Idle No More Central Oklahoma is also soliciting donations to help put this event on, please chip in!

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