Big Victory As Court Upholds Small Towns’ Right To Ban Fracking

New York Court of Appeals says local communities can ban controversial oil and gas drilling methods. such as fracking.

 

Perforating tools, used to create fractures in the rock, are lowered into one of six wells during a roughly two-week hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. well pad near Mead, Colo. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

Perforating tools, used to create fractures in the rock, are lowered into one of six wells during a roughly two-week hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. well pad near Mead, Colo. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

 

By Nadia Prupis, Mint Press News

 

In a victory for fracking opponents, towns in New York today won the right to ban oil and gas production operations from their communities. The ruling may have widespread effects on the drilling industry as towns continue to file moratoriums on the environmentally harmful process.

The decision sets a precedent for environmental activists in New York as more than 170 of the state’s other municipalities wait for legal action to be taken on anti-fracking measures in their communities as well. Towns in Colorado, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania and Texas are also beginning to pursue oil and gas production bans, public interest law firm Earthjustice reports.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that the communities of Dryden and Middlefield can use zoning laws to prohibit heavy industry within municipal borders. The decision rested in large part on preserving the quality of life and “small town character” of both towns, which are situated in rural areas of New York and have not been historically associated with the oil and gas industry.

Industrialization, particularly fracking, would “irreversibly overwhelm” the rural character of these communities, the court stated.

The seven-judge panel said that its ruling was not a statement on the safety of the controversial practice of fracking, but about the division of state and local government power.

“These appeals are not about whether hydrofracking is beneficial or detrimental to the economy, environment or energy needs of New York, and we pass no judgment on its merits,” Associate Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote for the majority opinion.

“These are major policy questions for the coordinate branches of government to resolve. The discrete issue before us, and the only one we resolve today, whether the State Legislature eliminated the home rule capacity of municipalities to pass zoning laws that exclude oil, gas and hydrofracking activities in order to preserve the existing character of their communities,” she said.

Still, many activist groups see the decision as a victory for the environment.

“The decision by the Court of Appeals has settled the matter once and for all across New York State and has sent a firm message to the oil and gas industry,” said Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg.

Dryden recently garnered the attention of the natural gas industry for its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, a methane-heavy formation that covers large areas of land in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Middlefield, while not in shale territory, is primarily an agricultural community that was recently evaluated as a potential natural gas resource.

Mi’kmaq Warriors and Elsipogtog anti-fracking struggle update

April 3, 2014. Source: Reclaim Turtle Island

 

Mi’kmaq Warriors and Elsipogtog anti-fracking struggle update

The Mi’kmaq Warriors, Germaine Jr Breau & Aaron Francis who have been held in custody since the day of the raid on Oct 17th, are now facing trial in Moncton courts. They are currently facing indictable charges for being true to their inherent responsibilities as L’nu people by protecting the lands and waters against corporate imperialists, SWN. We are unsure how much longer Aaron & Jr will have to sit in jail, having already served over 5 months without conviction. The financial burden of supporting imprisoned warriors has been carried solely by the family and loved ones and it’s time that changed. Again we are uncertain as to the outcomes of sentencing, but Jr & Aaron have plead to a number of charges. Support funds will be used for canteen, phone calls (which are both collect & long distance), gas for visits, etc. Please donate here http://www.gofundme.com/jailedwarriors Thanks to everyone for their ongoing and continued support!!

For a full update on all of the charges (those that were dropped, plead to and now on trial) please go here. To get a feeling of how court is going so far, check out the court roundups from the Halifax Media Coop,  RCMP Tactical Officer Cross Examination: “My function is not to negotiate”, and Crown’s first eyewitness, RCMP ERT member “My report writing is just sub-standard.”. To continue to follow the trials, follow @mileshowe on Twitter as he is releasing daily courtroom roundups and @defendourlands #WarriorsCourt for sneaky-live-tweeting and other updates.

Round dancing and burning tires on Hwy 11 as anti-fracking resistance refuses surrender

By Jorge Barrera, APTN National News

 

Late Monday evening, after the tires were set on fire, a group of anti-fracking demonstrators round danced against a backdrop of flames in the middle of a New Brunswick highway while they waited for the RCMP to respond.

The tires were set alight in the late afternoon around the same time a New Brunswick court judge in the provincial capital of Fredericton granted an extension to an injunction against the demonstrators for 14 more days.

elsiroundancefire

(A round dance by flaming tires on Hwy 11. Photo courtesy of Candi Simon)

 

An increasing drumbeat of eye-witness reports from the area late Monday evening indicated that the RCMP was ramping up its numbers in preparations to  move on the blockade.

There was also a report from an eye-witness that a total of three fires had been lit on Hwy 11 in the same vicinity.

SWN Resources Canada, a Houston-based energy firm, asked for the injunction arguing weather and protests had slowed down the last phase of its shale gas exploration work. Its previous injunction was set to expire at midnight.

The flaming tires on Hwy 11 followed a day of heated confrontation near Richibucto, NB, where SWN Resources Canada had been trying to continue its exploration work for shale gas deposits.

Richibucto is about 83 kilometres north of Moncton and sits at the place where the Richibucto River flows into Richibucto Harbour which links to Northumberland Strait.

Videos from the scene showed lines of RCMP officers pushing groups of demonstrators off the highway. The RCMP officers would shout “move” as they tried to force the demonstrators into the ditches.

“Move to the side now,” one of the RCMP orders in one of the videos only to be met by jeers and shouts from the demonstrators.

It’s unclear how many people were arrested during the day. APTN National News has been able to confirm at least five arrests from eye-witness accounts.

Elsiarrest

(RCMP arrest a man on Hwy 11 earlier in the day Monday. Photo courtesy of David Goodswimmer)

 

Two young Mi’kmaq men were arrested during the afternoon.

Judd Poulette and his friend, who goes by the aka “Soda Pop,” said they were taken to the Shediac RCMP detachment.

Poulette said RCMP officers stomped on his knuckles and they swelled to the point paramedics had to visit the holding cell to drain them.

“They were stomping me while I got arrested for walking an elder on the side of the road,” said Poulette, after his release.

The J-Division RCMP media relations officer did not return repeated phone calls and emails seeking comment and confirmation of the day’s events.

While RCMP units from other provinces, including Saskatchewan and Quebec, are in New Brunswick to bolster the police presence there, J-Division continues to command the ongoing operation.

APTN National News has relied on videos, photographs and eye-witness testimony to piece together the day’s events.

As of this article’s posting, the anti-fracking demonstrators were attempting to maintain a permanent blockade of Hwy 11.

“This is a permanent blockade, everybody is sick and tired of this,” said one Elsipogtog First Nation resident from the scene.

The Mi’kmaq from Elsipogtog have been leading the fight against SWN for months and their strength has been bolstered by supporters from the Acadian and Anglophone communities in the region.

The current blockade is about 18 km northeast of Elsipogtog.

Several Acadians have been arrested over the past few days in relation to the ongoing demonstrations.

APTN National News contacted one of the demonstrators involved in the blockade who said the tires where set on fire in response to RCMP tactics and the incident involving the truck and three women demonstrators.

The RCMP had managed to surround the demonstrators on the highway several times.

“They got some of our people blocked in a little ways so we’re gonna block them,” said one of the demonstrators, an Elsipogtog community member.

One of the trucks involved with SWN’s exploration work bumped into three women on the highway, according to two eye-witnesses.

SWN has also been using contractors during its exploration work.

The witnesses said the demonstrators tried to stop a white truck which was driving at a low speed on the highway. The witnesses said the truck sped up and hit one woman. A second woman ran over to the truck and was also bumped. While a man began yelling at the driver, the truck bumped into a third woman.

The witnesses said two of the women were taken to hospital with bruises. The incident did not cause any life-threatening injuries.

“And all through this the (driver) was smiling away,” said one witness. “The cops were right there and they said they didn’t see anything.”

The incident created a firestorm on social media which was compounded by a hit and run in Montreal at a protest in support of Elsipogtog’s battle with SWN. There, a small SUV plowed through a group of demonstrators with one man clinging to the hood of the vehicle for several metres before falling to the street.

The day also saw several banner drops in Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton in support of Elsipogtog, along with an hour-long blockade at the federal Vancouver port terminal and protests in Halifax and Ottawa.

SWN has faced ferocious opposition to its exploration for months.

Elsipogtog residents fear the discovery of shale gas will lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and pose a threat to the area’s water.

Their concerns are also shared by non-First Nation people from the surrounding communities who have been supporting their demonstrations and the various camps set up to counter SWN’s exploration work.

Heavily-armed RCMP tactical units raided an anti-fracking camp on Oct. 17 that was blocking SWN’s exploration vehicles in a compound in Rexton, NB. About 40 people were arrested after a day of violent confrontation between Elsipogtog residents and the RCMP.

The RCMP said officers seized three rifles, ammunition and crude explosives from the campsite. The police also freed SWN’s vehicles.

Premier David Alward has signaled he wants to see the protests broken, calling the current conflict on Hwy 11 a “beachhead” that could determine the fate of other energy projects slated to hit the province.

TransCanada is planning to build a pipeline to Saint John, NB, that would carry Alberta mined bitumen to an expanded terminal owned by Irving Oil. Irving Oil executives have been quoted in news reporters saying shale gas would provide a cheap source of energy for the firm to process the additional bitumen coming from Alberta.

Irving Oil is owned by the Irving family which also owns JD Irving Ltd. JD Irving owns Industrial Security Ltd. which provides security for SWN.

Irving Oil and JD Irving are independent companies, run separately.

Woman With Eagle Feather: The Photo ‘Heard’ Round the World

Courtesy Ossie Michelin, APTN National NewsAboriginal Peoples Televison Network reporter Ossie Michelin snapped the above photo on a three-year-old iPhone but did not see what he had shot until his producers told him it had been shared more than 160,000 times.

Courtesy Ossie Michelin, APTN National News
Aboriginal Peoples Televison Network reporter Ossie Michelin snapped the above photo on a three-year-old iPhone but did not see what he had shot until his producers told him it had been shared more than 160,000 times.

By Vincent Schilling, ICTMN

The scene was chaotic: heavily armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) pouring into an encampment of sleeping protesters, leading dogs and carrying assault rifles. Amid burning police cars, pepper-spray-spewing hoses and barking police dogs, 28-year-old Amanda Polchies dropped to her knees, brandishing the only “weapon” she had: an eagle feather. Holding it aloft, she began to pray.

RELATED: Mi’kmaq Anti-Fracking Protest Brings Women to the Front Lines to Fight for Water

Poster by Greg Deal
Poster by Greg Deal

 

 

The image is emblazoned in people’s minds as a symbol not just of the Mi’kmaq protest against potential fracking near Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada, but also of what has been happening to Natives since Europeans first stepped onto Turtle Island’s shores. Since APTN reporter Ossie Michelin snapped and posted the photo, the image has morphed into poster art, memes and other incarnations.

RELATED: Behind the Front Lines of the Elsipogtog Battle Over Fracking

Michelin had no idea his image would come to represent the Elsipogtog protest movement, let alone much more. In an interview on Native Trailblazers Radio, Michelin spoke of his spur-of-the-moment shot taken with a three-year-old iPhone, and the bond it formed between photographer and subject.

Did you have any idea the picture you took would become viral and help inspire the Elsipogtog social media movement online?

I had no idea. I was tweeting as many pictures as I could during my coverage because I was promoting live hits for the APTN Network. There were times I thought, ‘The world needs to see this right now.’ The picture was one of many I was sharing that day.

My producer called me and said, ‘Ossie, that picture has been shared over 160,000 times in the past four hours.’ I said, ‘What? The picture I took? Which picture?’ I took that picture on my three-year-old iPhone4 and I had to go back and look through my pictures. I saw it and only then did it really sink in.

Those were some volatile times during the moments you were taking those photographs.

The RCMP made over 30 arrests before the raid on October 17. People were running all over the place.  We did not know what was happening. I didn’t realize how many people were paying attention to this. All I knew was two feet in front of me and 20 feet behind me; I did not know what was going on in the world that day because we were completely cut off, with police lines on either side of us.

Part of my healing process was I got to meet Amanda Polchies, the woman in the photograph.

 

How was it when you two met?

I was afraid it was going to be awkward, and I was afraid she was going to be mad at me. But we met and we clicked. We did a ceremony together and her father did a pipe ceremony with me to help me get rid of the nightmares. I have been sleeping a lot better ever since.

Do you talk to her now?

Since that time Amanda has adopted me into her family. She is a sister from another mister, and I am a brother from another mother. She gave me some stuff from her culture; I am going to give her some from mine, and every time I see her I give her a big hug.

We are bonded for life. We both say that picture will probably outlive us both.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/11/21/woman-eagle-feather-photo-heard-round-world-152357

Four epic green ballot battles to watch today

By John Upton, Grist

It’s an off-year election so there are no congressional races today, but some state and local battles are of immense interest to environmentalists. Here’s a quick rundown of the key green fights to keep an eye on:

Virginia governor’s race

In the gubernatorial election in Virginia, the leading candidates are virtual caricatures of their political parties when it comes to climate change. The Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, is concerned about global warming and supports renewable energy. He also used to run a (now quite troubled) greentech company. The Republican, Ken Cuccinelli, is a climate skeptic who’s been trying to score political points by whining about the Democrats’ “war on coal.” Cuccinelli previously led a witch hunt of a prominent climate scientist, Michael Mann, trying, unsuccessfully, to force the University of Virginia to turn over emails and other records related to Mann’s time at the school. (You’ll never guess who Mann has been supporting in the governor’s race.)

President Obama called out Cuccinelli’s climate illiteracy while stumping on Monday for the Democrat. “It doesn’t create jobs when you go after scientists, and you try to offer your own alternative theories of how things work and engage in litigation around stuff that isn’t political,” Obama said. “It has to do with what’s true. It has to do with facts. You don’t argue with facts.”

Virginia, a coal-producing state, used to be solidly red, but in recent years it’s turned purple. The state’s voters went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and they look very likely to lean blue in this race. McAuliffe is firmly up in the polls.

Read more about the race here and here.

Anti-fracking ballot measures in Colorado

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertisements trying to convince residents of four Colorado cities to vote against ballot measures that would ban or suspend fracking.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, the pro-fracking Democrat who once drank fracking fluid in an attempt to demonstrate its harmlessness, claims the proposed measures in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, and Lafayette would be illegal. His administration is already suing one city, Longmont, for having the audacity to tell frackers to stay the hell away from their community.

“If you ban fracking you are essentially banning exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons,” Hickenlooper told Bloomberg during an interview about the ballot mesures. “Our state constitution guarantees people who own the mineral rights that there can be extraction from the surface to get those minerals.”

Washington GMO-labeling ballot measure

If Washington voters approve ballot initiative 522 [PDF], the state would mandate the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients starting in 2015. The Washington Post reports that opponents have “raised at least $22 million, with large out-of-state food companies and agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg donating heavily.” Supporters have raised $8.4 million, mostly in small donations.

This is the first big state election battle over GMO labeling since Californians rejected a similar ballot measure one year ago. That election also saw tens of millions of dollars spent by large food corporations who want to keep their GMO ingredients a secret from their customers.

Read more about the initiative here.

Whatcom County council elections

Whatcom County in Washington state, a rural area in the northwestern corner of the country, has the power to determine whether a proposed $600 million coal terminal gets built. The Gateway Pacific Terminal would load coal mined in Wyoming and Montana onto ships bound for Asia. The county council will approve or reject key permits needed to construct the terminal. That’s why more than $1 million has flowed into four county council races from energy companies and environmentalists nationwide.

Read more about the race here and here.

Elsipogtog regroups as chief ponders new anti-fracking leadership

By Jorge Barrera, APTN National News
ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION–The Mi’kmaq-led opposition to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick continued to regroup Monday, moving into a new phase which could also bring new leadership to the ongoing struggle.

The movement was buoyed Monday afternoon after a Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled against a Houston-based energy company that was seeking an indefinite injunction against an encampment along Route 134 in Rexton, NB.

The judge said the injunction was no longer needed because trucks belonging to SWN Resources Canada had been freed following an RCMP raid on the encampment Thursday.

The encampment had been blocking the company’s trucks in a compound. The RCMP acted last Thursday, one day before an interim injunction was set to expire, sweeping onto the site with dogs and camouflaged tactical units, arresting 40 people and seizing three rifles, ammunition and crude explosive devices.

At a press conference Monday morning, Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock said he is planning on appointing new leadership for the band’s role in the shale gas exploration opposition. Elsipogotog has been at the heart of the protest movement which has been raging since the summer.

“I have three people in mind right now, but we have yet to sit down and discuss,” said Sock. “I do have a spiritual advisor that I turn to and he will be part of the process.”

While Sock wouldn’t give details about the “logistics” of the next phase, it has emerged that there are discussions underway to move the encampment from its current location on Route 134 to a previous base within Elsipogtog’s territory used this past summer which sits just off Hwy 116.

“We are planning on going to the 116 where the sacred fire was before and do our healing there and get ready for the next round,” said Elsipogtog’s War Chief John Levi.

Levi is not connected to the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society.

Levi said there is no longer any point to the Route 134 encampment after the raid freed the exploration trucks it was blocking.

“There is no sense to being on the side of the road, it’s only a danger for our people,” said Levi.

Levi was in talks with the RCMP to remove the burned-out remains of several RCMP vehicles that were torched in the aftermath of Thursday’s raid. He wanted the RCMP to ground their surveillance plane, which had been circling the community, before releasing the vehicles.

On Sunday night, Sock and three friends removed the charred remains using three shovels, a half-ton truck and a local towing company. Sock said an RCMP sergeant was also involved in the removal.

“I took it on my own personally, just being a good neighbour to the people of Rexton, NB.,” said Sock.

The RCMP plane, which had been circling the area relentlessly, returned Monday.

The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society was essentially in charge of the camp at the time of the raid. It remained unclear what role the society will play once new leadership is appointed.

Mi’kmaq Warrior War Chief “Seven,” who was arrested during the raid but has since been freed, said he had no comment and would wait to hear more information.

The Warrior Society has widespread support within Elsipogtog. Several of their key players remained in jail awaiting bail hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some at the site said they do not want to move the encampment from Route 134.

Louis Jerome, from Gesgapegiag First Nation in Quebec, said the current encampment is better strategically because it sits near Hwy 11 which passes over Route 134. The encampment is about 15 kilometres northeast of Elsipogtog and 80 km north of Moncton.

Over 100 Mi’kmaq and supporters blocked Hwy 11 for about an hour Saturday. Hwy 11 is one of the main highways in the province, running from Moncton north to Bathurst.

“We are going to stay here,” said Jerome. “This is a place where we can battle…We can see traffic, what is going through.”

Jerome said the plan is to move the encampment a few metres east from the current site to a field on an adjacent road where a teepee currently sits.

Route 134 was again reduced to one lane by the Mi’kmaq Monday evening.

Others said it didn’t matter where the camp was, as long as people were unified. Hubert Francis, from Elsipogtog, said confusion abounded following the raid.

“I am hearing three or four different stories, from three or four different sources,” said Francis. “From day one there has been a lot of miscommunication…We really don’t have a direction on where we are going with this.”

While Sock and the grassroots continue to sort out next steps on the ground, the Elsipogtog chief also has to prepare to continue talks with the provincial government.

“I don’t think this is any longer between Elsipogtog and SWN. This is between Elsipogtog and the province,” said Sock. “That is where the battle is.”

Sock met with New Brunswick Premier David Alward Friday and, while the two had been making progress before the raid, Thursday’s events changed the landscape.

“When you have two opposing ideas, you just butt heads,” said Sock. “Right now we just don’t see eye to eye.”

Sock said Elsipogtog doesn’t want shale gas exploration while the province sees it as a “money maker.” The chief said the Mi’kmaq see no benefit to the province developing shale gas deposits through fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.

“We don’t want to be the ones at the end of the day, 50 or 60 years down the road, which is the average life span of a shale gas well, to be stuck with thousands of wells,” said Sock. “The province will have made their money and we are stuck with the refuse, the garbage.”

Tense Standoff at Elsipogtog Blockade, Molotovs Thrown

Images from Twitter

Images from Twitter

Source: Earth First! Newswire

[Canada] A tense stand off is ongoing between 200 RCMP, Mi’kmaq blockaders, and about 200 supporters. According to the Stimulator, the chief and tribal council personally blockaded gas company trucks behind barricades. Protesters have hurled rocks and a corporate news tripod at the RCMP. At the moment, RCMP are making mass arrests, SWN vehicles appear to be rolling out of the compound, and six RCMP vehicles have been set ablaze.

BWy5r36CQAAJeXF.png-large

Molotov cocktails were thrown from the woods earlier this morning in defense of the land and peoples. The RCMP, some with long rifles, entered the woods. Shots were fired, and screaming was heard. There is an unconfirmed report that activist Steven Gould has been shot. (UPDATE: We are now receiving reports that less-than-lethal rounds have been fired at supporters, as well as tear gas. Pepper spray has been deployed against supporters attempting to get through police lines. The RCMP is currently unloading riot gear.)

BWxhJBHCMAEl7DW.jpg-large

Supporters broke through police lines to join the Mi’kmaq (video here). The RCMP have erected a barrier on one side of the blockade, and appear to have the blockade surrounded. More people are coming to support with food and water.

Solidarity blockades have sprung up elsewhere in the Mi’kmaq territory. There are solidarity actions planned at the Canadian Consulate in NYC at 5pm and the Canadian Embassy in DC, as well as Vancouver and Winnipeg.

As of time of writing, arrests have been made, and there is at least one report of police brutality against Mi’kmaq warrior Suzanne Patles, an Ilnu woman and member of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society. (UPDATE: It appears that mass arrests are currently being made.)

According to the New Brunswick, Anglophone North School District, the RCMP did not notify them of the raid as is legally required. Schools are currently on lock-down.

The Mi’kmaq are blockading Highway 132 near Rexton to halt the activity on the compound belonging to a gas company, SWN Resources Canada. SWN Resources has been illegally trying to frack the land of the Elsipogtog for months, and the tribe has been joined by other tribes of the Mi’kmaq and Wabanaki Confederacy peoples in attempts to take direct action against the gas company.

epsilogtogfirecar

According to Ellen Gabriel of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation, “Forcible removal of Mi’kmaq on their traditional lands, [is] an illegal act by Police who should not enforce.”

 

Last week, a Canadian judge issued an injunction against the blockade, but the Elsipogtog have sought peaceful negotiation. Today’s raid must be seen as a preemptive action to prevent the October 18 day of action from taking place, which was called by the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society for physical support of the SWN blockade.

The demands of the Warriors Society are the following:

  1. Produce all Bills of Sales, Sold, Ceded, Granted and Extinguished Lands for New Brunswick.
  2. Produce documents proving Cabot’s Doctrine of Discovery.
  3. Produce the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1686.
  4. Produce Treaty of Fort Howe 1768.
  5. Produce consents for Loyalists to land in Nova Scotia/New Brunswick.
  6. Produce records of Townships created and consents by Chiefs to allow this.
  7. Produce agreements or consents by all New Brunswick Chiefs who agreed to Confereration of 1867.
  8. Produce evidence of consents to The Indian Act by all Native Tribes.
  9. Produce records of Trust Funds.
  10. Produce agreements for 4% of all mineral shares of finished products in Canada, except coal.
  11. Produce all correspondence letters pertaining to Numbered Treaties (Promises).
  12. Produce all documents creating border divisions, that divide the Wabanaki confederacy.
  13. Produce the Orders from the Lords of Trade to the Governor of the Colonies.

Indigenous resistance, arrests continue against fracking in New Brunswick

Susanne Patles in prayer, as New Brunswick RCMP confer. [Photo: M. Howe]

Susanne Patles in prayer, as New Brunswick RCMP confer. [Photo: M. Howe]

2 more charged as New Brunswickers rally against seismic testing

By Miles Howe, Halifax Media Co-op

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA – About 25 RCMP officers in uniform, along with about a dozen police cruisers, today continued to flank equipment owned by gas exploration company SWN Resources Canada as they proceeded with their seismic testing of highway 126 in Kent County, New Brunswick.

Pushing the scattered crowd of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people back “50 metres distance” from the southward approaching seismic trucks – or ‘thumpers’ – the RCMP first arrested one demonstrator and chased another into the woods before arresting Susanne Patles.

Patles, a Mi’kmaq woman, had scattered a line of tobacco between herself and the approaching police, then proceeded to draw a circle of tobacco in the highway, where she then knelt and began to pray. After about two minutes, the police proceeded to arrest Patles. An officer Bernard noted that she was being charged with mischief.

Today’s two arrests follow another three made last Wednesday, when people again placed themselves in the path of SWN’s thumpers. Residents fear that the tests will lead to hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – of the area.

Lorraine Clair, arrested on Wednesday, continues to recover from nerve damage suffered from the rough treatment handed down on her by RCMP officers.

Patles_arrest

RCMP arrest Patles. [Photo: M. Howe]

Resistance to SWN’s presence, which is located in a part of traditional Mi’kma’ki territory known as Signigtog – or district 6 – has so far been strong. Thumper trucks have for days now been met with people who object to fracking from the surrounding communities, as well as supporters from around the Maritimes who are now beginning to flock towards the focal point of the highway.