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The Oil and Gas Industry is Asking for Relief

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has requested temporary regulatory relief for the oil and gas industry. In a letter sent to President Trump, API has asked for a suspension of certain regulatory requirements to assist in operations during a time of decreasing oil and gas prices and decreased staff. Some requirements under question include record keeping, non-essential inspections and audits, and trainings. Read More.

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News Archive

Ohio Protests the Anti-Protest Bill

The Ohio House Public Utilities Committee approved Senate Bill 33 on Thursday, January 29. The government building was packed with state residents ready to speak in opposition of the bill. SB 33 is aimed at protecting oil and gas production infrastructure, while in turn, making many acts of protest against the industry potentially illegal. After the passing of the bill, residents spoke out in frustration by chanting “This is our house.” The crowds settled after Ohio state troopers arrived on scene; however, it might foreshadow Ohio’s movement towards limiting protesters’ freedom of speech. Read More.

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Backyard Talk

Veto Ohio Senate Bill 33

If you live in a state with any type of oil, gas, pipeline, PAY ATTENTION! In fact, if we start seeing bills like the one before the Ohio legislature it doesn’t even have to be an oil/gas producing state.  The Ohio bill lists 73 different “Critical Infrastructures”. 
Below you will see a letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine from citizens of Ohio asking for him to veto SB 33 if it comes to his desk.  The letter will help you understand what is going on in many states.  
To Ohio Governor Mike DeWine:
The undersigned environmental justice, racial justice, civil justice, criminal justice, and other civil society groups and individuals urge you to veto Ohio Senate Bill 33 (SB 33). The bill would undermine and silence already marginalized voices. SB 33 is an unnecessary proposal that creates new draconian penalties for conduct already covered by existing criminal statutes and could have dire unintended consequences. SB 33 is part of a national trend of so-called “critical infrastructure” legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that is intended to neutralize citizen activism around oil and gas infrastructures. We urge you to oppose SB 33.
 
Critical infrastructure bills disproportionately affect some of the most underrepresented communities, criminalizing their right to protest. These bills target many already marginalized voices, in reaction to some of the most high-profile protests in recent history. Communities of color, low-wealth communities and our Native American population are most affected by unchecked environmental pollution; family farms have the most to lose by unfair land-grabs for large infrastructure projects. These communities have a right to peacefully resist environmentally unsafe and unjust policies and unchecked corporate abuse.
SB 33 is purportedly designed to protect critical infrastructure, but the definition of “critical infrastructure” is overly broad and would cover large swaths of the state in urban, suburban, and rural areas, creating the unintended consequence of ensnaring many in Ohio’s already overburdened criminal justice system.
Additionally, the bill does not distinguish between criminal damages of one dollar or a million dollars. At a time when many people, including lawmakers, have recognized the deleterious effects that mass incarceration has had on society and have attempted to rectify laws that have criminalized certain conduct or imposed unreasonable penalties, SB 33 is a giant step backwards. By creating a whole new class of nonviolent offenders who could serve serious prison time, it is antithetical to criminal justice reform.
Environmental advocacy, including civil disobedience, does not threaten physical infrastructure or safety. It threatens profits. Critical infrastructure bills are based on model legislation crafted by corporate interests to establish special protections for some private industries engaged in controversial practices that attract opposition and protest. These bills, including SB 33, are rooted in governments hostile attitudes toward environmental justice advocacy because it threatens the profits of these corporations. Whenever states enact legislation based on these hostile attitudes towards particular political speech, it has a chilling effect that will be felt widely.
We urge you to veto SB 33 if and when it comes across your desk. From a criminal justice reform perspective, this bill is damaging, as it creates new steep penalties for conduct that is already covered under existing criminal law. These new steep penalties and special protections for so-called critical infrastructure are rooted in animus towards anti-pipeline protesters. It is inappropriate for states to seek to legislate in order to penalize individuals for their First Amendment-protected points of view.

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Backyard Talk News Archive

Native Nations Rise March: A Powerful Uprising for Indigenous Rights

Indigenous people from around the world gathered to promote sovereignty, resistance, respect, justice and love at the Native Nations Rise March 10th. I was honored to walk along side of Indigenous women, children and men.  The weather was freezing with rain, sleet and snow. The wind howled as if joining the marches with a powerful message of protecting the earth and halting the harms.
The march began at the United States Army Corps of Engineers building and then moved past the Trump International Hotel. In front of the Trump Hotel a short demonstration was held to let guests and Trump hear the voices of the people. Now completely frozen, I continued to march to the White House.  Throughout the march there was a unified message aimed at President Donald Trump and his administration: Mni Wiconi, “Water is Life!” The chant has become a shorthand for tribes’ struggle to reassert tribal sovereignty and self-determination over their physical and spiritual spheres. The phrase was joined by many other expressions aimed at attracting the attention of the federal government: “We stand with Standing Rock!” – “Keep the oil in the soil, you can’t drink oil!” – “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” – And, “Shame, shame, shame!”
A rally with extraordinary speakers joined at the end of the March at a park, in front of the White House. Powerful words were voiced by Native leaders. It was a march that I will always hold close to my heart. Although I was frozen to the bone – I felt fire in the belly and ready to take on the fight for justice.
Read more here.