Workers' Voice mailing list
April 10, 2018
RE:All out to protect the Earth!
Last year Earth Day and the March for Science took place on the same
day, April 22. In many places, Earth Day activities are spread over an
entire week, and this year the March for Science will be on April 14,
at the start of this week. Protest the anti-science agenda of the Trump
administration! Consider what steps are necessary to protect the
environment, which are effective and which are just greenwashing for
corporate anti-environmental agendas. Below is the appeal of Seattle
Workers' Voice, vol 2 #5, for workers and activists to take part in
the March for Science and Earth Day activities.
March for Science
10 AM, Saturday, April 14
beginning at Cal Anderson Park (one block east of SCC)
Called by a list of organizations
Climate change is getting worse. Shocking developments are occurring, such as this February's days and days of above-freezing temperatures in the high Arctic. And ensuring more of this, global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.4 percent in 2017 above 2016, to the highest levels in history. Thus, the need for determined efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels becomes more evident with each passing month. In addition, many other ecological crises are mounting.
In the face of this evidence, the Trump Administration has launched an all-out assault on environmental regulations. Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accords and appointed an anti-environmentalist to be head of the EPA. Since then he has been on a continuous effort to repeal government regulations of environmental pollution, attempting to repeal 67 environmental regulations that were previously observed, although some of these repeals have been challenged. And a striking act was his attempt to drastically reduce, by a Presidential decree, the Bears Ears National Monument on behalf of the oil and gas and mining interests.
The Republicans in Congress insist that the environment must be subjugated to profitability in every case. They also in large part remain stuck in denying that human activity has anything to do with global warming and climate change. They favor intensive drilling for domestic oil and extraction of other resources and ceasing efforts to promote alternative energy sources.
The oil and gas industry has embarked on a grand plan to turn the Pacific Northwest into a hub for refining and shipping fossil fuels from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota to Asia. They see the prospects of great wealth to be made from this, and to realize this wealth they must create more infrastructure. This infrastructure consists of railways, pipeline projects, refineries, and other processing and storage facilities. Much of this industrial expansion will be paid for by federal tax cuts, and the burden will fall on the poor and the working class.
Puget Sound Energy has been building a $300 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and processing facility in the Port of Tacoma. The plant is meant to supply ships with a replacement for fuel oil, which is very dirty. But the LNG that the plant will store usually comes from fracking operations, which means that the trade-off with fuel oil won't decrease greenhouse gas emissions. And the dangers of leaks and spills and other possible environmental damage has caused a lot of concern among local activists and the Puyallup Indian Tribe, who have a legal right to be consulted on this project.
Carrying oil from the Canadian tar sands, and with large parts running through unceded First Nations territories, this pipeline is another disaster in the making. Spills from the pipeline are inevitable. The existing pipeline has experienced 82 spills in the period 1961-2016. With this expansion, the number of tankers transiting Northwest waters will increase seven fold, from 5 tankers per month to 35. This would pose a further threat to the orca population in the Salish Sea. And more CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere from burning the fuel.
But Puyallup Tribal members and Canadian First Nations peoples are playing leading roles in struggles to stop the Tacoma LNG plant and the Kinder Morgan expansion. For example, on March 10 some 10,000 people marched against the Kinder Morgan expansion in Burnaby, B.C. And, the recent announcement that work on the Kinder Morgan pipeline is being suspended shows that these struggles can be won. In fact, the fights against expansion of the Andeaver (Tesoro) refinery near Anacortes, and the Cherry Point refinery near Bellingham, against Shell drilling in the Arctic, and against big coal and oil using the Columbia River and Grays Harbor as shipping points have all achieved victories. The key to these successes has been mass action.
The Trump onslaught against the environment must be fought every step of the way. But the resistance offered by the Democrats is built upon a foundation of sand. Remember, it was Obama who pushed fracking, and then nationalistically boasted the U.S. had gained energy independence via this environmental fiasco. What's more, the Democrats have wasted decades trying to use "market incentives" to stop environmental ruin, incentives that have failed miserably, i.e., carbon emissions continue to rise! Yet they continue on this same failing, market-measure path by promoting the carbon tax, a tax which is also championed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, institutions notorious for ravaging the people all over the world. In fact, the carbon taxation is regressive, which drives a wedge between the workers and poor and environmentalism. Meanwhile, the worst-polluting corporations will find ways to shift the tax onto their customers. And the tax will not adequately curb carbon emissions anyway. As well, in a last gasp effort to preserve the profits of the corporations by not regulating them, the Democrats desperately search for unproven technical fixes.
To break this Republican-Democrat log-jam we need to build a fighting environmental movement that doesn't care about infringing on the profits of the rich. A changeover to renewable energy is necessary, but we must fight for this to be done in a planned way, and not simply wait for the market to accomplish this goal sometime. Indeed, we need a movement that demands regulations and economic planning, and a movement that fights to have its say in all regulatory and planning bodies (which already exist on state and local levels). We need a movement that defends national-minority communities from environmental racism, and that demands workers be given new jobs when polluting industries are shut down.
Let's rededicate ourselves to building this kind of fighting movement this Earth Day. Into the streets on Saturday!
Seattle Communist Study Group, 4/10/2018
SWV vol. 2 #5 can be found at