2015/08/10

No, We Don't Stand Together

The slogan "We Stand Together" is as bad as "All Lives Matter", and Bernie supporters would do well to steer clear of it.

Everyone should realize by now how hollow the phrase "All Lives Matter" is. If black people had used the slogan "All Lives Matter" originally, that would actually mean what it says. But the phrase "All Lives Matter" was only uttered after the slogan "Black Lives Matter" burst upon the scene. "Black Lives Matter" is used to emphasize that black lives do matter, in the face of a society that so clearly does not value black lives.

In that context, the phrase "All Lives Matter" is a retort – it opposes "Black Lives Matter", covers it up, hides it under the false universal of "all lives". But, of course, if all lives truly mattered, there would be no need to say "Black Lives Matter".

In the same way, "We Stand Together" uses a false universal. Who is we? "We" are the white progressives who don't want to be distracted by all this discussion of racism and white supremacy – that's "someone else's issue". Why can't we instead talk about class, or debt, or the 1% – you know, the issues that matter to "all" of "us".

This is the same "we" of feminism that obscures women of colour and trans women. This is the "we" of gay rights that says that staying in solidarity with the "T" of LGBT is just too divisive.

We don't stand together. Some of us do stand in a very different position vis-à-vis the police, the courts, the banks, the job market, etc., etc. The reaction of the crowd to the Seattle interruption shows exactly why it is necessary to keep bringing up the issue of race.

"We Stand Together" is a blatant attempt to shut down dissent, to crowd it out, to refuse to listen to it. If you're standing in a crowd of Bernie Sanders supporters who start chanting "We Stand Together", do the honourable thing: sit down. Or even, lie down for Mike Brown.

2015/08/07

Comments on the scope of the WesPac EIR, part 2

August 7th, 2015 - my second email submitting comments, focusing on climate change. Part one focuses on more local and regional issues.

This is the second part of my comments on the scope of the WesPac RDEIR, focusing on climate change, both the project's effect on climate change and the effects of climate action on the project's purpose and long-term viability.

Preface


It is not merely the manner in which the proposed WesPac project would operate that is a problem; it is its very existence itself. The purpose of the project is to increase the flexibility and capacity of the petroleum industry. It is likely to, however marginally, increase production of and reduce the costs of fossil fuels, and thereby increase the global use of those fossil fuels. And that is precisely the problem.

In a public comment of September 13, 2013, I said the following:
Even if the facility operated flawlessly, however, it would contribute to the increased global use of fossil fuels, which generates greenhouse gases that through climate change endanger our physical infrastructure, our health, our environment, and potentially the very viability of human civilization.

It is imperative that we change our energy system. To start with, we must insist on NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE.

There is simply no excuse to do otherwise; any statement of environmental impact that claims low impact for additional fossil fuel infrastructure and allows its construction is extremely irresponsible.
Two years later that comment is, unfortunately, still valid. My claim that the very viability of our civilization is endangered is far from being an exaggeration. The climate change that is already "locked in" will strain our ability to adapt. The very material bases of our civilization are under assault: changing weather patterns mean that agriculture will be increasingly difficult, sea-level rise threatens many cities and much infrastructure, and more heat waves, storms, and cold spells mean more property damage and fatalities in the years ahead.

Comments on the scope of the WesPac EIR, part 1

August 7th, 2015 - my first email submitting comments, on issues other than climate change. Part two focuses on climate change.

In this document, I am listing all comments on the scope of the WesPac 2015 RDEIR other than those related to climate change.

Pipeline and tank integrity issues


When I refer to "pipelines", I mean both the pipelines fully internal to the site, as well as the external pipelines that connect to the regional refineries and other distribution networks.

Please include detailed information about the age of all tanks and pipelines. Which of these tanks will be refurbished?

What are the limits of vapor pressure that the tanks and pipelines can handle? How does this compare to the known very high vapor pressure of Bakken shale oil?

What other effects does crude type have on pipeline or tank integrity? For example, both tar sands dilbit and Bakken shale are likely to be more corrosive than fuel oil or other crudes, and the more viscous tar sands dilbit is likely to be pumped at higher pressure than other crudes. Tar sands dilbit is also often heated to get it to flow; how does this affect pipeline integrity? It could increase corrosion and it could also increase wear-and-tear from thermal expansion and contraction.

The Mayflower spill in Arkansas was a result of the rupture of Pegasus, a 65-year-old pipeline that was intended for refined products. Exxon 1) reversed the flow and 2) sent more corrosive tar sands dilbit down the pipe 3) at high pressure. All three actions stressed the already quite old pipeline; together, they weakened it enough to rupture it.

2015/08/04

Notes from WesPac EIR Scoping Session, 2015/07/22

WesPac is back. The proposal for an oil terminal in Pittsburg, CA has been modified, dropping the rail component. It would include a marine terminal, lots of oil storage, and pipelines to Bay Area refineries. The storage tanks are within 200 feet of homes, and there are churches and schools nearby as well.

A new EIR will be prepared, and there was a scoping session on July 22nd. Comments on the scope of the EIR will be taken until 5pm on Friday, August 7th, 2015. I took some rough notes from the scoping session.

A couple of City staffers and a representative from TRC, the consulting company doing the EIR, spoke. The purpose of the scoping session, they said, was 1) to educate the public about the process and 2) to take public comment. Significantly, the public comment was supposed to be on the scope of the EIR, and not supposed to be about the merits of the project itself. Nevertheless, many speakers did share their opinion on the project as a whole. After public comment, the TRC rep said there had been two kinds of comments: 1) impacts of the EIR, and 2) opinions. He said, "Please let your decisionmakers (City Councilmembers and Planning Commissioners) know your opinions."

The rep introduced the rationale for the project: a California Energy Commission determination that there is a shortage of crude oil storage in the Bay Area, coupled with an increase in oil imports, and ship congestion at existing terminals. None of this holds water - the CEC determination is from several years ago, there are plenty of marine terminals at existing refineries, and in any case, California gasoline and diesel use is declining.

Public Comment


I took brief notes on each speaker. Public comment lasted about two hours. Unfortunately, the City did not provide video recording or a stenographer - they had a staffer take notes on an easel pad. I will be submitting these notes.