Bluegrass Uprising

spring_houseThe Nation

Lorrie Reed lives alone in a trailer on a rural road outside Frankfort, Kentucky, on two acres of land that her late husband bought more than twenty years ago. He left the property to her and their daughters when he died in a motorcycle accident. “He told me before he passed that the place was going to be mine, and the only way I’d lose it was if I let somebody mess me out of it,” Reed says.

Ever since this past summer, when land agents approached her—twice—to ask permission to survey a proposed pipeline route across her property, Reed repeats these words to herself. She walks with a limp, an injury from a collision with a dump truck during the years that she worked on road maintenance crews. She owns a pistol because she is afraid of the feral dogs that she says are common in the area. She held the gun in her palm when the pipeline consultants pulled into her gravel driveway. “You’re trespassing,” she told them. [Read more.]

Warning: This Gasoline Is Hazardous to Your Planet

gasoline_stillThe Nation

If oil is really an addiction, would warning labels on gasoline motivate drivers to try to kick the habit?

An organization called Our Horizon wants to label Canadian gasoline pumps with evocative (sometimes graphic) images and information on climate change. (You can watch their promotional video above.) They hope eventually the campaign will become viral and international. But they are starting by encouraging Canadian municipalities to pass local laws requiring the labels.

An obvious question is, could warning labels change the behavior or attitudes of people who drive cars? [Read more.]

Thousands Protest Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond, California

The Nation

Richmond, California is home to the Golden State’s single largest greenhouse-gas polluter, the Chevron oil refinery and some of the fiercest local environmental politics and activism anywhere in the country.

On Saturday, police arrested more than 200 people for trespassing at the refinery gates, as more than 2,500 demonstrators gathered there in a protest over climate change and air pollution, according to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area radio station KQED. Protesters marked the one-year anniversary of an August 6, 2012 explosion at the Chevron refinery that sent 15,000 people across the region to hospitals with respiratory problems. The refinery was also one of the key symbolic sites that Bill McKibben’s organization, 350.org, chose for its series of protests this summer—to draw attention to climate change, the fossil-fuel industry’s role in blocking environmental policy, and the plight of people living in the shadow of industrial pollution.

Richmond is one of the country’s best case studies on how oil mixes with politics. [Read more.]

Transpartisan Politics on the Plains

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The Nation

Long before the Occupy movement swept the country—more than two years ago—a revolt began in one of the reddest states in America. Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, many of them longtime conservatives, got angry about corporate influence on a single issue that has since captivated the entire state and upset national politics: the Keystone XL pipeline. …

It takes a lot to shake polite Midwesterners out of politics as usual. Many citizens of rural Nebraska are birthright Republicans—reticent people whose conservatism is a component of their identity. Many feel their concerns are left out of national politics and media. (When Obama mentioned Nebraska in a statement on Keystone XL, rancher Susan Luebbe said she was “pretty surprised that he actually knows we have a state out here.”) [Read more.]

Eco-Politics Back on the Ranch

YES! Magazine

It’s been a surprise story for the national media. During hearings held by the State Department this week, some of the loudest opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which will move tar-sands oil from Alberta to Texas refineries, is coming from Nebraska, a deep-red state whose citizens are often isolated from and a bit suspicious of federal politics.

We’ve become used to a political narrative that says conservatives aren’t interested in environmental issues—and certainly aren’t likely to join hands with greenies or raise Cain to fight the oil industry. But sometimes there’s a realpolitik in Nebraska that transcends conventional political ideologies—it’s about land and the practicalities of living on it. [Read more.]