News Feeds | (2024)

Crazy Town Bonus: Grief and Making Connections with LaUra Schmidt

Resilience - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 03:00

LaUra Schmidt visits Crazy Town to discuss her work with the Good Grief Network and her book, How to Live in a Chaotic Climate: 10 Steps to Reconnect with Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our Planet.

Categories: B5. Resilience, Third Nature, and Transition

Ennore-Manali Oil Spill: Urgent Call for Stringent Regulations and Accountability in India's Petrochemical Landscape

Break Free From Plastic - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 02:11

Chennai, 15th February 2024 - On December 4, an oil spill was recorded at the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL). Exacerbated by floods following Cyclone Michaung, the sheet of oil extended into Buckingham Canal and Ennore Creek, silently wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem and threatening the livelihoods and health of thousands of fishermen.

The Ennore-Manali area hosts 36 large, red-category petrochemical and other factories - representing the densest concentration of fossil-fuel industries in south India. Petrochemical industries are the key source of raw materials for plastic production, and clusters like Ennore-Manali produce huge volumes of single-use plastics, packaging materials, and various consumer plastic goods. An oil spill, resulting from the negligence of petrochemical industries, not only causes immediate environmental harm but also serves as a harbinger of the more extensive issue of plastic pollution.

Ennore-Manali, a hub of petrochemical industrial units has been flagged as critically polluted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for nearly a decade. A study titled 'Poison in the Air' by BFFP-AP member, the Chennai Climate Action Group (CCAG) found that industrial units in this region violated emission standards for over half the year in 2019. Some community stories from this region, compiled by BFFP-AP member, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), have also been featured in our Toxic Tours - Manali chapter.

While the Ennore-Manali cluster has gained attention as an illustrative case of climate recklessness, the December oil spill is yet another chapter in the region's grim narrative of environmental degradation.

Cleanups are like a band-aid on an oozing sore, disaster management needs so much more.

After the oil spill, CPCL claimed to have worked on a ‘war footing’ in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and state authorities, yet the local communities say otherwise. The delayed response in addressing the Ennore oil spill was exacerbated by the absence of a contingency plan for industrial accidents in Tamil Nadu, which most other states have. What’s more, the state government doesn’t even have the right equipment to deal with such a disaster – placing local communities living near the petrochemical cluster at high risk.

In a sense, the industrial cluster of Ennore, and its local communities live in the shadow of environmental and anthropogenic disasters.

More than two months later, marginalised communities face the most severe repercussions. Fisherfolk, dependent on the creek for their livelihoods, face an uncertain future as the oil permeates every aspect of their daily lives – from the bottom of their fishing boats to the nets they cast into the waters. Their oil-laden catch is deemed unfit for consumption, leaving fisherfolk with little choice but to watch their stock go to waste. Compensation plans announced by the government, though well-meaning, have fallen far short of addressing the long-term consequences faced by the affected families.

Mr. Prabakaran. V of the Poovulangin Nanbargal echoes,

“The pollution control board and CPCL have not disclosed the quantity of oil spilled, nor its toxic characteristics. Analysis of an oil sample by a private media house revealed the presence of eight volatile organic compounds, including Benzene, Toluene, and Styrene, and sixteen Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as Naphthalene, Fluorene, and Anthracene, exceeding permissible limits.

According to the Bureau of Indian Standards for drinking water, total petroleum hydrocarbons should be at 0.1 parts per billion, but the tested water showed an alarming level of 3,240 parts per billion. Volatile Organic Compounds like Benzene, Styrene, and Ethylbenzene were found to be 50 to 60 times above the standards.

For over a week, residents of Ernavoor (Kargil Nagar, V.P Nagar, Adhidravidar Kudiyirupu, Sattankadu & Brindhavan Nagar) were exposed to hazardous oil as it entered their houses with flooded water. Fishermen, involved in the cleanup without proper protective gear during the initial days, were also at risk. Individuals exposed to the oil are already experiencing health issues such as skin problems, eye irritation, throat irritation, breathing problems, continuous fever, headaches, and fatigue. Despite these challenges, affected villages have not received any medical treatment. Given the presence of carcinogenic substances like benzene, toluene, styrene, and other PAHs, immediate medical screening is imperative for the residents of the affected villages.”

Pradip Chatterjee, the convenor of the National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (NPSSFW) highlights,

“The Ennore oil spill was followed by another disaster of gas leak from the same plant. Many people fell sick. Victims of the oil spill are yet to be compensated. NPSSFW demands immediate closure and removal of the Ennore CPCL Refinery.

Our demands are clear: immediate compensation and support for fish workers affected by the oil spill, withdrawal from hazardous cleaning operations, continuous health monitoring, and accountability from polluters like CPCL. It's time to prioritize the livelihoods and well-being of our communities and ecosystems."

Access the Press Release by NPFSSFW.

Lokeshwaran E, a volunteer at Chennai Climate Action Group adds,

"A catastrophic man-made disaster has unfolded, yet CPCL has failed to accept responsibility. Not only humans but all living beings have been subjected to hazardous chemicals, resulting in severe skin and respiratory ailments for people, while birds are left vulnerable, soaking in oily waters. Ennore's already fragile ecology has been further ravaged by this oil leak, exacerbating the situation. Compensation funds offered are merely superficial gestures, failing to address the profound impact on people's lives."

Industrial clusters like Ennore-Manali, with petrochemical, fertilizer, and thermal plants are susceptible to various disasters like chemical spills, gas leaks, explosions and fires, more so, as a coastal area prone to annual flooding. Systemic solutions would include placing a stay on the operations of high-risk, highly-polluting, non-compliant industries like CPCL, until more stringent regulations for the petrochemical and affiliated industries are in place and adhered to, a planned phase-out of non-essential plastics and linked polymers and a just transition of workers in the refineries and affected communities.

With India’s petrochemical industry projected to grow at a CAGR of 9-10%, it is imperative that we strengthen regulatory frameworks, implement proactive monitoring systems, and ensure the strict adherence of industries to safety protocols. These measures can safeguard the well-being of communities, preserve the environment, and secure sustainable economic development.

The Ennore-Manali incident serves as a poignant reminder that robust oversight and stringent regulations are not just prerequisites but a moral responsibility to prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts of industrial activities on our planet and its inhabitants.

Image credits: Poovulagin Nanbargal

For media inquiries, please contact:

Devayani Khare, Regional Communications Officer:

About BFFP — #BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,700 organizations and 11,000 individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the values of environmental protection and social justice and work together through a holistic approach to bring about systemic change. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions.


Supporting Organizations

Poovulagin Nanbargal is an environmental organization working independently in Tamil Nadu for more than 30 years now. It deals with environmental issues, natural conservation, and developmental issues based on a scientifically constructive approach.

The National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (NPFSSFW) works to help the fishing communities access the rights and entitlements provided to them by the Government and also to raise and push forward with further needs as and when required.

The Chennai Climate Action Group is a youth-led environmental justice collective that advocates the rights of marginalized, under-represented and unrepresented communities of current and future generations of human and other life-forms. CCAG uses science, law and media to support community struggles against environmental injustice.

Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) aims to bring accountability in financial institutions that lend money to development projects, through research and campaigns.


Categories: J2. Fossil Fuel Industry

Greener snowmaking is helping ski resorts weather climate change

Grist - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 01:45

Trudging across the top of Bromley Mountain Ski Resort on a sunny afternoon in January, Matt Folts checks his smartwatch and smiles: 14 degrees Fahrenheit. That is very nearly his favorite temperature for making snow. It’s cold enough for water to quickly crystallize, but not so cold that his hourslong shifts on the mountain are miserable.

Folts is the head snowmaker at Bromley, a small ski area on the southern end of Vermont’s Green Mountains. The burly 35-year-old sports a handlebar mustache, an orange safety jacket, and thick winter boots that crunch in the snow as he walks. A blue hammer swings from his belt.

It is nearing the end of the day for skiers, but not for Folts. He’ll work well into the evening preparing the mountain for tomorrow’s crowd. Cutting across the entrances to Sunder and Corkscrew, he heads toward a stubby snow gun used to blanket Blue Ribbon, an experts-only trail named in honor of Bromley’s founder, Fred Pabst Jr. The apparatus stands a few feet high, with three legs and a metal head that’s angled toward the sky. Two lines that resemble fire hoses supply the device with water and compressed air, which it uses to hiss precipitation into the air. As the water droplets fall, they coalesce into snowflakes.

“If it was warmer I’d be a yeti,” says Folts, referring to wetter snow that, if conditions were just a bit balmier, would leave him abominably white. But at these temperatures the powder he’d just made bounced lightly off his sleeve. “That’s perfect.”

Yet perfect fake fluff like Folts’ poses a climate conundrum. On one hand, making snow requires enormous amounts of energy, which creates planet-warming emissions. On the other, a warming planet means that artificial snow is increasingly essential to an industry that, while admittedly a luxury, pumps over $20 billion annually into ski towns nationwide. The good news is that, in the face of these growing threats,resorts have been dramatically improving the efficiency of their snowmaking operations — a move they hope will help them outrun rising temperatures.

American ski areas logged more 65 million visits last season. A sizable chunk of those likely came during Christmas week, when a resort can make — or lose — a third or more of its annual revenue. The Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Day weekends are similarly vital. But ensuring that there’s a surface to slide on is an increasingly fickle business.

Snowpack in the Western U.S. has already declined by 23 percent since 1955, and climbing temperatures have pushed the snowline in Lake Tahoe, California — which is home to more than a dozen resorts — from 1,200 to 1,500 feet. A recent study found that much of the Northern Hemisphere is headed off a “snow-loss cliff” where even marginal increases in temperature could prompt a dramatic loss of snow.

Matt Folts checks a snowmaking gun that is blowing fresh flake on the Blue Ribbon trail at Bromley Mountain Ski Resort. Tik Root / Grist

By one estimate, only about half of the ski areas in the Northeast will be economically viable by mid-century. Research suggests that Vermont’s ski season could be two to four weeks shorter by 2080, while another study found that Canada’s snowmaking needs will increase 67 to 90 percent by 2050. At Bromley, snow guns have been essential for years; without them, the resort’s mid-January trail count would have likely been in the single digits, rather than 31.

Opening terrain, however, comes at a cost. It takes a lot of horsepower to move water up the hill under pressure, and compress the air the guns need to function. Bromley’s relatively small operation, which produces enough snow each season to cover about 135 acres in three or more feet of the stuff, chews through enough electricity each year to power about 100 homes. All that juice adds nearly half a million dollars to the resort’s utility bill.

But Bill Cairns, Bromley’s president and general manager, says the system is actually much more efficient than it was just a decade ago. “I used to spend about $800,000,” he says. He’s now able to produce more snow for around half the price. “The reduction in cost with snowmaking has totally been a game changer.”

Powder days start with specks of dust high in the atmosphere. As they fall, water droplets attach to them, forming snowflakes. Ski areas like Bromley replicate this natural process using miles of pipes that feed water and compressed air to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of snow guns scattered across a mountain.

Early guns mixed compressed air and water inside a chamber, and then used air pressure to propel water droplets skyward through a large nozzle. This was the type of system Fred Pabst Jr., of beer family fame, spent $1 million installing in 1965, making his resort one of America’s earliest adopters.

“It was a black art. We knew nothing,” says Slavko Stanchak, whose inventions and expertise have made him a legend among snowmakers. It was an era when energy was relatively cheap and resorts would rent rows of diesel-powered compressors that threw whatever snow they could generate on the hill. But as energy costs rose in the 1990s and early 2000s, so did the impetus to innovate.

“We focused on making the process viable from a business standpoint,” Stanchak says.

He eventually launched a consulting company that helped ski areas, including Bromley, design or improve their snowmaking operations. On the water side of the equation, Bromley spent the 1990s improving its piping network and added a mid-mountain pump to help get H2O from its ponds to its trails. (Much of the water eventually returns to the watershed during the spring melt.) But the amount of water needed to carpet a ski hill in snow remains relatively fixed from year to year,so there are only so many efficiency gains to be had. Compressing air is what really eats into a budget.

“The air is where the little dollar bills fly out,” says Cairns, adding that two diesel compressors can consume a tanker truck of fuel every week.

The 1990s also saw more efficient snow guns come to market. Tinkerers discovered that devices with multiple small holes, instead of a single large aperture, could utilize water, rather than air pressure, to force fluid upward. This allowed them to move the compressed air nozzles to the outside of the barrel, where they would primarily break the water stream into droplets — a far less strenuous function than forcing them out of the gun.

“An old-school hog might use 800 cubic feet per minute [of compressed air]. This one here uses about 70,” Folts says, pointing toward a tower gun from the early 2000s that stands about 15 feet tall and, unlike the ground guns on Blue Ribbon, can’t be easily moved. Up the hill sits a newer model that can get by on closer to 40 cubic feet per minute, or CFM, and a bit farther down the slope is the resort’s latest tool, which under ideal conditions can use as little as 10. That’s a roughly hundred-fold increase in efficiency.

The state-backed Efficiency Vermont program urges resorts to swap in as many of the more efficient devices as possible. “That work got a real big boost in 2014, when we did the ‘Great Snow Gun Roundup,’” explains Chuck Clerici, a senior account manager at the organization. Before then, it had been doing a handful of sporadic replacements. The roundup retired some 10,000 inefficient models statewide, and, overall, Clerici says snowmaking operations are now using about 80 percent less air than they used to.

Bill Cairns, the president and general manager of Bromley Mountain Ski Resort, with a map of the resort and its snowmaking system. Tik Root / Grist

While Efficiency Vermont doesn’t separate savings that are the result of snowmaking upgrades from, say, those tied to building improvements, it reports that its efforts to help ski resorts use less energy have saved more than a billion kilowatt hours of electricity between 2000 and 2022. That’s nearly a million tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions or the equivalent of taking more than two gas-fired power plants offline for a year.

“The bigger projects we’ve had over the years have been snowmaking projects,” says Clerici. “We don’t have that many instances in the energy-efficiency realm where you can swap something that uses one-fifth of the energy.”

Standing next to the building that houses Bromley’s air compressors, Cairns points to a concrete slab with two manhole covers that once fed massive underground diesel tanks. “Underneath was fuel,” he says. To his right is a large pipe marked where the carbon-spewing generators used to connect to the rest of the snowmaking system. Now it’s cut off.

Bromley is among the many snowmakers that have been able to eliminate, or drastically reduce, its dependence on diesel air compressors. Electrifying the job has also allowed some resorts to incorporate renewable energy. Bolton Valley, in Vermont, features a 121-foot-tall wind turbine. Solar panels now dot the hills of many others, including Bromley, which leases a strip of land beside its parking lot for a solar farm. The array produces more than half the power its snowmaking system consumes.

America’s snowmaking industry has been historically based on the East Coast, where natural snow can be especially elusive. But that’s changing. “We’re doing a lot more work out West,” says Ken Mack, who works for HDK Snowmakers, one of the largest equipment manufacturers. One of the company’s executives recently moved to Colorado to help meet demand.

The snow guns that HDK sells currently may be reaching the limit of how little water and compressed air they use. “We’re probably getting to a point where we’ve gone as low as we can go,” says Mack. That’s required finding gains in other arenas.

One step snowmakers can take, says Mack, is to better track how much energy they use, ideally in real time. He’s in the midst of trying to help revive a metric called the Snowmaking Efficiency Index, or SEI. It’s a measure of how many kilowatt hours it takes to put 1,000 gallons of water worth of snow on the hill, something Stanchek pioneered years ago but never quite took hold. (For reference, under ideal circ*mstances it takes about 160,00 gallons to cover one acre in one foot of snow.)

If publicly released, such data could provide transparency and allow ski areas to boast about their efficiency. That’s particularly appealing given that sustainability and environmental stewardship are increasingly top of mind for consumers. But because SEI varies considerably from mountain to mountain, and by temperature, it will likely be most effective as a tool for resorts to compete against themselves, rather than each other.

Read Next The Midwest defined itself by its winters. What happens when they disappear? Jena Brooker

This year, Bromley’s SEI ranged from about 23 in the warm, early weeks of the season to mid-teens when temperatures dropped. Cairns consistently tries to beat those numbers and can monitor them from his office. If the number ever spikes, he can search for an open gun, leaking water line, or other culprit.

“Anything below 20 is really good,” Cairns says. “So we’re trending the right way.”

An arguably more revolutionary development in snowmaking is the move toward automated systems that can be operated almost entirely remotely. One obvious benefit is reducing the need to find people willing to schlep around a mountain in the dead of night, when temperatures can dip into single digits. More importantly, automation allows resorts to ramp snowmaking up and down quickly, which is particularly useful as global temperatures climb.

Snowmaking can occur when the mercury drops to about 28 degrees F (though the process is optimal at around 22 degrees or less); a threshold Mother Nature sometimes crosses for only brief periods. When it does, resorts can take advantage with a press of a button, instead of having to spend the time dispatching a crew out to fire up all those guns. The ability to operate in shorter time windows also means less energy is needed to run pumps and compressors — and get people up and down the mountain.

“You’re done sooner,” says Mack. Where it might take 100 man-hours to cover a trail, automation could cut that to 20 or 30. “It’s absolutely a savings. But it also gives you a little bit of reserve if you need it.”

Europe is far ahead of North America when it comes to automation, in part because governments have subsidized the daunting expense of running electricity and communication lines across a mountain. The cost of installing the technology can quickly run into the millions and, without subsidies, the benefits for American ski areas have been limited largely to smaller mountains in warmer climates, such as in the mid-Atlantic, where it is vital to surviving. But bigger resorts in snowier locales, including Stowe, Stratton, and Sugarbush in Vermont and Big Sky in Montana, have been testing the equipment.

“The future of snowmaking is definitely going to be automation,” says Cairns. “It’s just a lot of money, and nobody really wants to subsidize that yet.”

Bromley is testing one semi-automated gun that could avoid the wiring issue. It uses the existing compressed air supply to spin an internal turbine that creates just enough energy to run a small onboard computer. By monitoring the weather conditions, it can automatically adjust the rate of water and air flow to produce optimal snow.

“Those guns don’t need any power,” says Folts, as he finished adjusting the position of one gun and moved to the next. “That’s kind of another next level.”

Until then, Folts and his crew lumber on into the night, one gun at a time.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Greener snowmaking is helping ski resorts weather climate change on Feb 15, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

When a climate denier becomes Louisiana’s governor: Jeff Landry’s first month in office

Grist - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 01:30

This story was originally published by Floodlight, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates the powerful interests stalling climate action.

In his first four weeks in office, Louisiana Republican Governor Jeff Landry has filled the ranks of state environmental posts with fossil fuel executives.

Landry has taken aim at the state’s climate task force for possible elimination as part of a sweeping reorganization of Louisiana’s environmental bureaucracy. The goal, according to Landry’s executive order, is to “create a better prospective business climate.”

And in his first month, Landry changed the name of the Department of Natural Resources, the state agency with oversight of the fossil fuel industry, by adding the word “energy” to its title.

While the United States and other countries have vowed to move away from fossil fuels, Landry is running in the opposite direction.

Landry, who has labeled climate change “a hoax,” wants to grow the oil and gas industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Louisiana. Environmentalists blame the industry for the pollution that has harmed vulnerable communities in the state and for the climate change tied to increased flooding, land loss, drought, and heat waves in the Gulf Coast state.

Read Next The unlikely coalition behind Biden’s liquefied natural gas pivot Naveena Sadasivam, Zoya Teirstein, & Jake Bittle

A key indicator of where Landry is headed is the choice of Tyler Gray to lead the state’s Department of Energy and Natural Resources. Gray enters the new administration after spending the past two years working for Placid Refining Company as the oil company’s corporate secretary and lobbyist.

Before that, Gray spent seven years with the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, or LMOGA, his final two years serving as the lobbying group’s president. During his tenure with LMOGA, Gray helped draft the controversial 2018 law that criminalized protesting near the oil and gas pipelines and construction sites.

At the time, Gray said the law was needed as protection from individuals who attempt to unlawfully interrupt the construction of pipeline projects or damage existing facilities. Greenpeace USA found such laws — enacted in 18 states — were directly tied to lobbying by the fossil fuel industry and resulted in insulating more than 60 percent of the U.S. gas and oil industry facilities from protest.

Anne Rolfes with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a grassroots nonprofit focused on accountability in the petrochemical industry, has a grim outlook on Gray’s tenure. Her organization has been involved with many of the protests in question.

“His willingness to suppress people’s rights in favor of that industry is alarming,” Rolfes said.

“He’s been writing laws that favor the oil industry over the rights of people throughout his career,” she added. “But the state has never stood up to the oil industry. Under every administration there is this myopic idea of destroying our state via the oil and gas industry is somehow economic development.”

Neither Landry nor Gray’s office responded to multiple requests for comments.

Landry picks have oil, gas, and coal ties

Gray is one of several former fossil fuel executives Landry has selected to lead Louisiana’s environmental efforts.

Tony Alford, the former co-owner and president of a Houma-based oil-field service company that was accused of spilling toxic waste in a Montana lawsuit, is now the chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection. And Benjamin Bienvenu, an oil industry executive and petroleum engineer, is serving as the commissioner of conservation within the Department of Energy and Natural Resources.

Landry also tapped Aurelia Giacometto to lead the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. It was reported that Giacometto, the first Black woman to serve in the position, had ties with skeptics of climate science when she served under then-President Donald Trump as head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She currently sits on the board of a coal manufacturing company.

Read Next A Superfund for climate change? States consider a new way to make Big Oil pay. Katie Myers

And Landry’s pick for the state’s new leader for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Madison Sheahan, doesn’t have a background in wildlife — or fisheries. She enters the job after serving as the executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party and managing Trump’s re-election campaign in that state. The agency led by Sheahan is one of the state entities responsible for investigating oil spills.

At a recent press conference, Landry said he seeks to expand oil and gas refining in Louisiana, seeing it as the only way to increase job opportunities for the middle class.

For environmentalists, these are worrying signs for a state that is the site of a boom in proposed liquified natural gas facilities and carbon capture projects that they say threaten to increase Louisiana’s already high contribution of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

In late January, President Joe Biden announced his administration was halting approvals of new liquified natural gas export facilities to examine the need for the additional capacity and the environmental impact of such projects. The temporary delay reportedly affects five projects in Louisiana and one in Texas.

Louisiana’s ‘sacrifice zone’

Landry’s moves weren’t unexpected, advocates say, given his past actions as state attorney general and his combative stance toward environmental justice issues.

Gray’s appointment is “disappointing but not surprising,” said Jackson Voss, climate policy coordinator for the Alliance for Affordable Energy.

“Unfortunately, from our perspective, the history of the [Louisiana] Department of Natural Resources has always been very deeply connected with the oil and gas industry,” Voss said. “In some ways it helps us, because there’s not going to be very many surprises about where Secretary Gray will align on certain issues.”

Read Next The big question behind Biden’s liquefied natural gas pause Jake Bittle

In its latest report, Human Rights Watch highlighted the environmental harms and health-related issues the oil and gas industry is accused of inflicting on predominantly Black communities in the southeast Louisiana corridor known as Cancer Alley. The group is asking state leaders to phase out fossil fuel production and to halt any new developments or expansions to existing fossil fuel and petrochemical facilities.

Author Antonia Juhasz interviewed dozens of residents living in Cancer Alley who talked about miscarriages, high-risk pregnancies, infertility, respiratory issues and a multitude of other health impacts in their communities. They attribute the maladies to years of pollution and dangerous emissions from the high concentration of polluting industries, especially in southern Louisiana.

“The fossil fuel and petrochemical industry has created a ‘sacrifice zone’ in Louisiana,” Juhasz, senior researcher on fossil fuels at Human Rights Watch, said in a prepared statement. “The failure of state and federal authorities to properly regulate the industry has dire consequences for residents of Cancer Alley.”

Landry takes aim at oil and gas limits

As the state’s attorney general, Landry pushed lawsuits against restrictions the Biden administration tried to implement on offshore oil lease sales and the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

He also sued over the Environmental Protection Agency’s push to better regulate emissions from oil and gas facilities in Cancer Alley.

A Trump-appointed federal district court judge in western Louisiana recently sided with Landry on that lawsuit. U.S. District Judge James Cain said in his opinion that the federal agency’s enhanced oversight of proposed projects in Cancer Alley communities overstepped its powers and that it was “imposing an improper financial burden on the state.”

Read Next Human Rights Watch blames Louisiana regulators for low birth weights in Cancer Alley Lylla Younes

As attorney general, Landry also sued to obtain correspondence between EPA, environmentalists and certain journalists.

As governor, Landry has opposed Biden’s climate initiatives, including the push to increase manufacturing of electric vehicles. And Landry has claimed that boosting renewable energy in Louisiana, including solar and wind, would force the state into “energy poverty.”

Oil and Gas Association applauds appointment

Landry’s pick of Gray was lauded by the president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. In a prepared statement, Mike Moncla praised Gray for knowing their industry “backwards and forwards.”

“This appointment marks the state of a new era for our state’s oil and gas industry,” Moncla wrote. “We know that he will be an incredible asset for our industry.”

At LMOGA, Gray also pushed back at any efforts to limit offshore drilling and domestic energy production to reduce planet-warming emissions. Gray said the country needed “sound, science-based policies” and solutions to address climate change that also promote “domestic energy development” while not stifling the state’s economy and job market.

Read Next A Louisiana court just revived plans for the country’s biggest plastics plant Lylla Younes

LMOGA is a staunch supporter of carbon capture and sequestration. The agency Gray now leads recently received primary regulatory oversight from the federal government for the wells used to pump carbon dioxide underground for permanent storage.

The technology is being touted as the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but debates are ongoing over its safety and effectiveness.

Environmental advocates argue that carbon capture and storage is just a ploy to prolong the life of the fossil fuel industry instead of transitioning to cleaner energy sources like wind and solar. They lack confidence in the state’s ability to properly permit carbon capture projects with Gray at the helm.

“With Gray’s appointment and then an already heavily underfunded and understaffed agency, it very much feels like they’ll be sending those permits through instead of truly evaluating them one by one,” said Angelle Bradford, a spokesperson with the Delta chapter of the Sierra Club. “It’s once again the usual good-old-boy mentality where we’re putting people in positions who not only won’t follow the rules but create rules that make it harder for the other side, which is us.”

She added, “Louisiana is not taking the climate crisis seriously.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline When a climate denier becomes Louisiana’s governor: Jeff Landry’s first month in office on Feb 15, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

Maui wildfire recovery fund increased to $175M, set for March 1 launch: Hawaiian Electric CEO

Utility Dive - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 01:19

The utility separately initiated rolling outages on Tuesday due to multiple large generators being unavailable or operating at reduced output.


'Cancer causing aircrafts'

Ecologist - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 23:00

'Cancer causing aircrafts' Channel News brendan15th February 2024 Teaser Media

Categories: H. Green News

Elements of Liberatory Social Movement Organizations

Institute for Social Ecology - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 19:55

By the Usufruct Collective


Social movement organizations are groups where people can come together to meet the needs of participants and others through reconstructing new practices, ways of relating, and decision making while also opposing domination, exploitation, and oppression. Social movement organizations can help meet people’s short-term needs while also taking actions to transform society. Social movements organizations vary in many ways. They can be in relationship to community issues, workplace issues, student issues, and beyond. At their best, social movement organizations wisely use free and egalitarian processes to meet short-term, mid-term, and long-term needs of people. However, not all social movements organizations have the kinds of organizational relations, qualities, and contents that make them ethical and effective. Free and egalitarian relations and practices require the means thereof; they will not emerge out of nowhere. The freedom of each and all has objective, universal, and necessary features as well as subjective, particular, and contingent features. The freedom of each and all needs to be continuously recreated, co-authored, and given life by people responding to unfolding conditions.

While social movements are needed to transform society outside of the official channels of business as usual, social movements can go terribly wrong. For example, some attempts at social movements replicate unfree and unequal structures and contents of the social order that they oppose! Some social movements do not meaningfully oppose unfreedom while others fail to meaningfully reconstruct new ways to meet people’s needs. Given the goal of using free and egalitarian processes to develop free and egalitarian social relations, the following are some foundational elements for social movement organizations. Participants in social movement organizations can agree to shared practices, processes, and goals without participants agreeing on a specific ideological line. With something like the following as a compass, social movements and participants in them will be better able to navigate from here to a better society.

Elements of Liberatory Social Movement Organizations:

“Not to make agreements from above to be imposed below, but to make accords to go together to listen and to organize outrage. Not to raise movements which are later negotiated behind the backs of those who made them, but to always take into account the opinions of those participating,” (EZLN, 2005).

Self Management: Self-management means people making decisions about what affects them and what they do. Self-management can exist politically, economically, socially, and personally. In self managed organizations, participants make direct collective decisions together about policy instead of being bossed about by rulers. In self-managed organizations, decisions happen through dialogue and agreements between members/participants/those who are affected. In assemblies, people deliberate about needs, abilities, proposals, possibilities, questions, desires/preferences, amendments, and disagreements to make wise decisions. In self managed organizations, after dialogue happens via assembly, decisions are made through direct democracy– often trying to reach full agreement with a fall back to majority decision making within the bounds of the free association of people (Bookchin, 2007, Mckaye, 2012). Decisions can be implemented through volunteering, agreements to share needed tasks, and mandated and recallable committees and mandated and recallable rotating delegates while all policy making power remains with assemblies and participants directly. Committees of self-managed organizations self-manage their activities within the bounds of the policies and mandates decided by the general assembly from below. Self-management can exist in combination with non-hierarchical rights and duties/bylaws/mutual agreements so that self-management happens within the bounds of certain minimal features. Self-management of each and all would mean that self-management is not used to take away the self-management of others. Self-management of each and all gives rise to dynamic collective and individual decisions. Coherent self-management includes the qualities of direct democracy (direct collective decision making), non-hierarchy, and free association. Self-determined relations and practices are necessary for the well-being of persons and characteristically contribute to enjoyable processes and excellent results (Ryan and Deci, 2022). Self-management of each and all creates organizations and practices rooted in freedom and equality in the process of striving towards such freedom and equality. The only way for freedom of each and all to flourish is if people develop organizations, relations, and practices rooted in and continuously recreating such freedom and equality.

For reasons of necessity and desire, social movement organizations can work together on joint actions as well as work together on longer term projects. To do so without rulers, self-management can happen between organizations via dialogue between groups utilizing collectively-authored dialogue and mandated, recallable, rotating delegates of groups for communication and coordination. In such inter-collective decision making, all policy making power is held within self-managed assemblies of participants directly. Self-management on every scale includes and requires inter-collective level self-management. Formal and continuous inter-collective self-management is called Co-Federation.

Mutual Aid: Mutual aid refers to mutual assistance towards meeting needs (Kropotkin, 1902). Mutual aid can be in relation to and aimed at meeting general and specific needs of people such as food, childcare, tools, clothing, shelter, education, meeting spaces, recreational infrastructure, fields, factories, workshops, common projects and activities etc. Mutual aid includes the development of organizations that practice mutual aid and committees thereof, common infrastructure (infrastructure managed by those who need and use it), as well as more informal multidirectional mutual assistance. Mutual aid can be in relation to many common practices and goals. Mutual aid practices, groups and committees that use such practices, common infrastructure, and common resources can assist and be part of direct actions that are opposed to various unfreedoms and injustices. Mutual aid enables social movements to achieve goals, meet their own needs, meet the needs of participants, and needs of others in a way where the burdens and the fruits are shared among participants. Mutual aid can help to develop new economic relations based on mutual-agreements, common infrastructure and management thereof, shared responsibilities, and distribution according to needs in the process of struggling towards a better society– helping bridge-short term and long-term goals. When mutual aid is sufficiently generalized through volunteering and making formal and informal agreements to help each other out, everyone (including those unable to contribute) can be provided a high quality of life and material standard of living.

Direct Action: Direct action, in its most general sense, means acting directly with the cooperation of others to achieve shared goals (Graeber, 2010). However, the way direct action tends to be used in social movements is to refer to a large spectrum of oppositional politics done via acting directly with the cooperation of others to achieve shared goals (Graeber, 2010). Ethical and oppositional direct actions and direct action campaigns involve people acting directly to meet needs in confrontation against unfreedom, injustice, domination, exploitation, and oppression. Oppositional direct action can include everything from occupations, expropriations (including fully seizing hierarchically controlled infrastructure and placing it in the hands of social movements and communities), acts of sabotage, disruptions, property damage, blockades, strikes, pickets, boycotts, insurrections, self-defense and defense of others, etc. Direct action can be distinguished from relying on rulers and business as usual to solve social problems. Rulers and unjust rules have not historically been overturned by the benevolence of those in charge but have instead been overturned by people struggling against rulers and unjust rules from below. Direct action enables social movement organizations to struggle against hierarchical politics, economics, and social relations more broadly to arrive at goals of social transformation. While often associated with revolutionary politics, there are ways direct actions can be used to achieve more modest goals as well. Not only is direct action needed for revolution, it is needed for the flourishing of various intermediary steps along the way. Direct action can be used to achieve short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. While mutual aid is needed for direct actions and direct action organizations to flourish, sufficient direct action is needed to seize the means of existence and production needed for generalized mutual aid to flourish.

Opposition to Hierarchy, domination, exploitation, and oppression:

This social definition of hierarchy does not point to mere differences in abilities and needs, nor does it point to various forms of non-authoritarian leadership, nor does it point to being a relative expert in some field or subfield of knowledge. The social definition of hierarchy refers to institutionalized forms of top-down command and obedience (Bookchin, 2005). Hierarchies institutionalize domination, exploitation, and oppression. General and specific hierarchies are not inevitable forms of social relations but are instead historically constituted and emerge because of the presence and absence of various conditions (Bookchin, 2005). Far from hierarchies being inevitable or part of human nature, large swaths and many pockets of human history have been rooted in non-hierarchical relations (Boehm, 2001, Bookchin, 2005, Graeber, 2011, Graeber and Wengrow, 2023). Hierarchies lead to a myriad of social problems and are inherently at the expense of the self-determination that people need to flourish (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2011, Ryan and Deci, 2022). There are multiple forms of hierarchy such as but NOT limited to:

  1. Capitalism: Private property (private ownership of means of existence and production– distinct from personal possessions), wage labor (and other exploited labor), class relations, commodity production, for markets, to increase profits (Marx, 1992, Wolf, 2010).
  2. Statecraft: Hierarchical politics (including a political ruling class)+ sovereignty/a monopoly on legitimate use of violence within a given territory (Bookchin, 2005).Such top-down political rule can take many forms.
  3. Patriarchy: Absolute or probabilistic rule by men, gendered divisions of power, labor, rights, and duties, broader patriarchal gender essentialism and normativity, as well as bigotry along gendered lines (Lerner, 1982, Bookchin, 2005).
  4. Racism: The invention and perpetuation of the myth of race and racial essentialism, racialized divisions of power, labor, rights, and duties, and bigotry along racialized lines. (Fields and Fields, 2022).The original and dominant form of racism is white supremacy. (***not all racism can be reduced to white supremacy– for example not all anti-Kurdish racism is white supremacy, nor are ALL racist forms of antisemitism white supremacy, etc.).

The above are brief and non-exhaustive descriptions of some forms of hierarchy. Specific hierarchies can also change overtime while still retaining the features that make them what they are. And different hierarchies can interrelate with each other and compound systemically as well as in the lives of people. When social movements are engaged in ethically grounded oppositional direct actions, they are doing such actions against some hierarchy/domination/exploitation/oppression. And in addition to opposition against institutionalized forms of domination, exploitation and oppression: there are hierarchical features that exist in extra-institutional culture that need to be effectively countered. Opposition to hierarchy includes developing social movements that do not perpetuate and reproduce hierarchical relations. Hierarchical organizations need to continuously develop hierarchical power over others in order to reproduce themselves. If social movements do not sufficiently oppose hierarchy, domination, exploitation, and oppression, then they will be inhibited from meeting the needs of people and inhibited from transforming the world into a collage of free and egalitarian associations and relations.

Synthesizing the above:

Self-management, mutual aid, direct action, and opposition to hierarchy, can exist in multiple kinds of social movement organizations. Each on their own are necessary but insufficient for ethical and strategic organizing. For example, mere self-management without sufficient mutual aid inhibits achieving common goals and meeting the needs of people. While mere mutual aid work without direct action work can make sense for SOME organizations, mere mutual aid without direct action makes it so there is no oppositional force against hierarchy. And it is technically possible for direct action or mutual aid to be used for nefarious goals if such practices are not rounded out by other qualities (such as the self-management of each and all and opposition to hierarchy). And in addition to each of the above elements being insufficient for social transformation without being rounded out by each other: self-management, mutual aid, direct action, and opposition to hierarchy need to be adapted according to specific conditions, needs, and desires of people. It is not enough to merely use such practices; it is important to use such practices strategically to bridge current conditions to better conditions and long-term goals. The above elements of liberatory social movement organizations can be used to meet short-term, mid-term, and long-term needs of people. Such qualities need to be developed within the means we use for those qualities to flourish as developing ends (Malatesta, 2021). The means of self-management, mutual aid, and direct action, and opposition to hierarchy are needed to multiply such features overtime.*** While such elements are some of the most important features of liberatory social movement organizations, they are not an exhaustive account thereof.

Different Kinds of Social Movement Organizations:

There are multiple kinds of social movement organizations people can form or join to meet needs and contribute to liberatory social transformation. There is community organizing, workplace organizing, student organizing, and beyond (FARJ, 2008). The following section will be a brief overview of some of the most important kinds of social movement organizations. The following kinds of groups can be infused with the above elements of liberatory social movement organizations. It is important to note that the following kinds of groups do not necessarily have liberatory qualities and wise content. Social movement organizations and participants thereof must develop and recreate such elements while adapting to relevant variables.

Community assemblies are organizations people can start or join in regards to specific blocks, neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities to meet needs through collective action (Bookchin, 2007, Ocalan, 2014). Community assemblies can use self-management to make decisions. Community assemblies can form direct action committees and implement direct actions and direct action campaigns against specific political and economic hierarchies. Community assemblies can potentially oppose any kind of domination, exploitation, and oppression within or even beyond a given region. Community assemblies can also help develop common infrastructure and create a plurality of mutual aid committees and projects according to people’s needs and desires. Communal and intercommunal economics would be self-managed by assemblies of people who need and interface with the economy. Such communal and intercommunal commons would be rooted in meeting needs and desires of people as well as mutual aid and responsibility to upkeep the commons through collective agreements to share the implementation of decisions. Community assemblies and co-federations thereof can be both alternative forms of governance that provide self-managed ways to make decisions and meet needs AND oppositional forces against class relations and hierarchy more broadly.

Labor unions enable workers to meet needs and better their conditions through workplace organizing in opposition to class relations and exploitation. Labor unions can utilize direct action and organize in self-managed ways autonomous from state and business interests. Radical student unions are groups where students can organize against hierarchies on campus, within the education system, and beyond. And while the various functions of tenants unions can be done via community assemblies that also have other functions, tenants unions can be formed when needed and desired. Some tenant struggles can even culminate in the development of common housing connected to community assemblies! There are also prisoners’ unions that can enable prisoners to struggle against the prison system. Various Issue specific direct action groups (and committees of groups) can exist to are focus on something like stopping a gentrification development, or some particularly anti-ecological project, or stopping a war, or stopping a prison from being built, stopping a racist, patriarchal, or xenophobic policy, or confronting fascist and far right mobilizations, or a myriad of struggles against domination, exploitation, and oppression. And there are many issue specific mutual aid groups (and committees of various kinds of groups) that can exist focused around provisioning general and specific needs for participants, social movements, the most impoverished, and people more generally.

The Good Place:

In a good society, self-management would flourish on every scale. In a good society, there would be non-hierarchical, directly democratic, and participatory community assemblies (and co-federations thereof) with embedded councils and rotating delegates, means of existence and production would be held and managed in common, politics and economics would meet needs and desires of people, direct collective decisions would be made through dialogue, people would share in the implementation of policies in agreed upon ways, everyone would be free from domination, exploitation, and oppression, and everyone would be free to make collective and individual decisions about what they do bounded and enriched by the freedoms of others to do the same (Kropotkin, 1906, Bookchin, 2007, Ocalan, 2014, Sixth Commission of the EZLN, 2016, Ostrom, 2021, Dirik, 2022, Usufruct Collective, 2022). Such a goal (and principles in relation to such a goal) shapes the general strategy that should be used which shapes the more variable sub-strategy and tactics that should be used (Correa and Walmsley, 2022).


There are multiple kinds of social movement organizations people can form or join including but not limited to community assemblies, labor unions, and student unions. People can form and join social movement organizations rooted in self-management, mutual aid, and direct action in opposition to hierarchy. People can also join social movement organizations to help spread those processes and practices through dialogue and demonstration in a way that makes social movements more able to achieve the goals they are aimed towards. While some liberatory elements can be forged relatively soon or at group inception, other dimensions take time to meaningfully nourish and develop. Ethically and strategically coherent processes, practices, and goals need to be cultivated and continuously recreated.Social movement organizations and participants thereof can strategically adapt and wield such elements of liberatory organizing according to relevant needs and variables to meet short-term, mid-term, and long-term needs and goals. We all face the hydra of hierarchy in different ways in different contexts. We can choose which social movement organizations we join and/or start with others based on needs, capacities, desires, and conditions to try to find ways to develop a free and egalitarian society and achieve positive goals along the way. It is up to people organizing together to wield the practices of self-management, mutual aid, and direct action against hierarchy towards grander horizons of freedom, equality, and solidarity. As social movement organizations and actions multiply, they can work on joint projects together and when applicable form co-federations. Overtime, through opposition and reconstruction, self-managed social movement organizations can form an alternative to business as usual and overthrow hierarchical rule.

Boehm, Cristopher. Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Harvard University, 2001.

Bookchin, Murray. The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2005.

Bookchin, Murray. Social Ecology and Communalism. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2007.

Correa, Felipe, and Mya Walmsley. “Elements of Anarchist Theory and Strategy.”, 2022. 

Dirik, Dilar. The Kurdish Women’s Movement: History, theory, practice. London: Pluto Press, 2022.

EZLN. “Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona.” Enlace Zapatista, May 10, 2005.

FARJ. Social Anarchism and Organisation. 2008.

Fields, Karen, and Barbara Fields. Racecraft the Soul of Inequality in American Life. London: Verso, 2022.

Graeber, David. Direct action: An Ethnography. AK Press, 2010.

Graeber, David. Debt: The first 5000 years. Melville House, 2011.

Graeber, David, and David Wengrow. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023.

Kropotkin, Peter. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. New York: McClure Phillips and Co., 1902.

Kropotkin, Peter. The Conquest of Bread. 1906.

Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Patriarchy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Malatesta, Errico. “Ends and means.” 2021.

Marx, Karl. Capital. London: Penguin , 1992.

McKay, Iain. An anarchist FAQ . Vol. 2. AK Press, 2012.

Öcalan, Abdullah. Democratic Confederalism. Transmedia Publishing, 2014.

Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness. New York: Guilford Press, 2022.

Sixth Commission of the EZLN. Critical Thought in the Face of the Capitalist Hydra I. Durham, NC: PaperBoat Press, 2016.

Usufruct Collective. “The Conquest of Sandwiches.” Usufruct Collective, 2022.

Wilkinson, Richard G., and Kate Pickett. The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011.

Wolf, Eric Robert. Europe and the People Without History. University of California Press, 2010.

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Categories: B2. Social Ecology

This Valentine’s Day, Look To Marxists To Reimagine Love, Romance And Sex

- Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:48

Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci has been quoted quite alot in recent years amid our various political catastrophes from Trump to Covid-19 to climate collapse and the political center’s seeming inability to resist any of the above. The most famous line from his Prison Notebooks, written between 1929 and 1935 while apolitical prisoner of the Mussolini regime, is probably: ​“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum agreat variety of morbid symptoms appear.” This is sometimes more loosely translated as ​“The old world is dying and the new cannot be born; now is the time ofmonsters.”

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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 131: Israeli Snipers Force Dozens To Evacuate Hospital

- Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:42

As ceasefire negotiations enter their second day in Cairo, fighting around Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis is intensifying—with dozens of Palestinians who have been sheltering inside forced to evacuate. Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) has said that there are about 400 patients in the hospital in critical condition.

“The situation is really critical for patients and we are worried about the future,” said Guillemette Thomas of Medicins Sans Frontiers.

Right now, the main thing holding up truce negotiations is disagreements over the number of Palestinian prisoners who should be released as a part of the deal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is urging Hamas to “quickly complete” a truce deal to avoid carnage while displaced Palestinians in Rafah are bracing themselves for Israel’s ground invasion—which, at this point, feels inevitable.

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US Government Report Contradicts Claims Of ‘ISIS Threat’ In Iraq, Syria

- Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:35

A new report by the inspectors general of the US State Department, Defense Department, and USAID conducted between 1 October and 31 December 2023 has determined that ISIS poses a minimal threat in Iraq and Syria, raising questions about the Pentagon's insistence on keeping US troops in both nations.

“During the quarter, ISIS continued to operate in a survival posture in both Iraq and Syria. The group remained militarily defeated, incapable of mounting large, complex attacks domestically or externally, even as Coalition forces increased their focus on force protection due to attacks by Iran-aligned militia group,” the quarterly report on the so-called Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) determines, noting the group's ”capacity to conduct insurgent activities remained severely degraded."

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Australia Approves Motion Urging Britain To Return Julian Assange

- Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:31

Australia's prime minister and federal members of Parliament approved a motion Wednesday to return Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Australia.

MP Andrew Wilkie introduced the motion arguing that Assange should be freed from a British prison where he has spent nearly five years and returned to Australia as Britain's High Court will hear Assange's appeal next week against his extradition to the United States on espionage charges.

"It will send a very powerful political signal to the British government and to the U.S. government that the British government should not entertain the idea of Mr. Assange being extradited to the U.S.," Wilkie said Wednesday in parliament, noting Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted on the U.S. charges.

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“The John Brown way” (part 1)

Tempest Magazine - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:22

In 1859, John Brown led an armed raid into northern Virginia. The raiding party included fourteen white men and five Black men. They left three others behind to work on repositioning weapons closer to Harpers’ Ferry, which was the site of the raid.1Numbers are from Reynolds, 310.

The operation had several objectives. One was to strike fear into slaveholders throughout the South. Another was to free some captive Black people and to arm those who wanted to join the fight. The third main objective was to retreat into the mountains with the new recruits. The big idea was to repeat the process of raids and to build guerrilla bases through the whole length of the Appalachians.2As Brown told Frederick Douglass twelve years earlier, the plan was to “run off slaves in large numbers, retain the brave and strong ones in the mountains, and send the weak and timid to the north by the underground railroad; his operations would be enlarged with increasing numbers, and would not be confined to one locality (Douglass 281).”

The raid succeeded in the first two objectives: striking fear into slaveholders and arming some Black fighters. They didn’t pull off the third objective—the retreat—so there was no chance to start the guerrilla war. Nevertheless, the raid did have a huge impact, and I’ll say a few things about that later.

But to start with, I want to mention the common suspicion that Brown was a White Savior who thought he could bestow freedom on Black people. I’ll try to show instead that John Brown and his comrades were trying to open opportunities for Black self-emancipation. That is, they were trying to lower some of the obstacles to the formation of Black collective agency.

Obstacles to revolt

Let’s start by looking at that problem—the difficulties in pulling together collective resistance.

Most people in slavery worked on plantations. A plantation, of course, was a labor camp for captive workers—a special kind of prison. As with all prisons, plantations developed methods for stopping collective resistance. One of the methods was preventive. That was to set up different levels of repression—as in a prison—where the warden dispenses “privileges” to some of the prisoners. They allow certain kinds of freedom that are denied to other prisoners—and in return, these “trustees” serve as informants. In slavery as in prison, people were recruited to perform various tasks of supervision and surveillance. They were thus rewarded for spying and treachery against the other captives. The people typically doing these jobs on the plantation were the work foremen known as drivers, plus the workers at the Big House like coach drivers and household servants.

Another weapon in heading off collective action was the overwhelming asymmetry in physical force—just as in a prison. This included a regular resort to torture. And as in a regular workplace, troublesome workers could also be “fired”; that is, they could be sold away from friends and family.

When captive workers considered revolt—one form of collective resistance—they kept a keen eye on the balance of forces and looked for special moments when there was some kind of breach in the web of repression.

Because the threats of betrayal and punishment were ever-present, captive workers became astute at estimating the risk of various kinds of forbidden activities. That could include slacking off on the pace of work or slipping away to a neighboring plantation to visit friends and loved ones. For such individual acts of resistance, people knew the risks.3Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the white commander of the First South Carolina (Union) Infantry, testified that the regiment’s recently-enslaved soldiers were sharply alert to the danger of situations when he wrote: “[T]he constitutional watchfulness and distrustfulness of the colored race made them admirable sentinels.” (Higginson 1997, 113.)

When captive workers considered revolt—one form of collective resistance—they kept a keen eye on the balance of forces and looked for special moments when there was some kind of breach in the web of repression. That’s why, most of the time, plantation workers thought that direct confrontation would be suicidal. The obstacles to battle-readiness included restrictions on access to weapons and training. In contrast, white men got constant experience in collective armed action through participation in slave patrols, militias, and the army.

The U.S. and the Haitian Revolution

With these things in mind, let’s consider the Haitian Revolution, which was in full swing when John Brown was born.

Before their own revolution, more than 600 Black and biracial (in the terms of the time, “mulatto”) Haitians got some battle experience in the American Revolution. Operating under French command, they were trying to break the British siege of Savannah, Georgia in 1779. Many of those who saw action would become military and political leaders in the Haitian Revolution, which began twelve years later.4Scott 56–57.

Now, in Haiti, where more than 90 percent of the population was enslaved, the balance of forces was actually pretty favorable to the rebels, and what’s more, the colonizing powers were on the other side of the Atlantic. For comparison, the only U.S. state at the time with a Black majority was South Carolina, and the colonizing forces in the U.S. were local, surrounding the plantations for hundreds of miles around.

The Haitian Revolution was the most major blow, up to that point, against the colonizing project of the nascent capitalist powers of Europe. Of course, by then, the capitalist colonizers also included the United States.

Henri Christophe as King of Haiti in 1816. Christophe was a commander in the Haitian Revolution. He received military training from France—and battle experience—when France intervened against the British during the U.S. war for independence. Painting by Richard Evans. Cropped and modified by Tempest.

The revolution also settled the question of whether enslaved people were capable of self-emancipation. It had never been done before. They didn’t just escape slavery—which would have been legitimate and impressive—they abolished the institution of slavery through their own efforts.

People in the U.S. followed news of the Haitian revolution very closely from its outbreak in 1791, in part because most U.S. states then had legal slavery, including in the North. Haiti was also important to U.S. commerce. It was a sugar colony, the most lucrative slave society in the world. Trade between Haiti and the U.S. was greater than U.S. trade with all other places in the hemisphere combined.5Scott 55.

As a result, there were well-established channels for transmitting news between the two countries. Trade goods had to be moved by sailing ships, and ships carried sailors and passengers—who carried news by word of mouth. Ships also carried newspapers from each port of call to every other one. Newspaper editors in the U.S. would freely republish the interesting bits of what they found in other papers, so a genuine national press had already been developing for decades. Many free Black people in the South could read the news themselves and pass it on to enslaved and free Black people who could not read.

In addition, refugees from the war carried first-hand knowledge of the revolution. This included enslaved people who came with those whites who fled to the United States. Some of these Black and Brown immigrants themselves became revolutionary fighters. This was notable in the 1811 revolt on the “German Coast” in Louisiana—which included sugar cultivators transplanted from Haiti.6Haitians on the German Coast: Rasmussen 156.

The revolution also settled the question of whether enslaved people were capable of self-emancipation.

Later on, John Brown and Black rebels like Denmark Vesey in Charleston would study the Haitian revolution, including the military aspects of the struggle.7It’s notable that Brown was reputed to study the highly-cultured Toussaint Louverture, who helped start the revolution, while Vesey advocated the ruthless tactics of Dessalines, the commander who brought the struggle to military victory. Brown and Toussaint: Richard Realf quoted by Reynolds, 107. Vesey and Dessalines: Kennedy and Parker 82.

Over Brown’s lifetime, the speed and the reach of the news expanded greatly with the improvement of postal service and the advent of steamships, railroads, and telegraphs.

Brown’s youth and the Second Great Awakening

John Brown was born in Connecticut in 1800. His parents, Owen and Ruth, were touched by a wave of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening, which broke out after the U.S. war for independence. It featured outdoor “camp” meetings that went on for days, with multiracial crowds—in the North, South, and West.

The meetings featured a number of women preachers, and the movement articulated the personal trials that people found they were going through after the revolution. Religious ideas, fueled sometimes by competing interpretations of the Bible, became the terms in which large numbers of people argued about politics, morality, and the social order.

The Baptists and the Methodists experienced rapid growth. Frances Lloyd, future mother of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, was a Baptist convert and lay preacher from a young age. Nat Turner, who became a rebel leader in Virginia, was himself a preacher to those around him—in the language of the time, an “exhorter”—as were two others of his initial core of five conspirators.8Frances Lloyd: Mayer 5–7.Turner and his fellow exhorters: Parramore 58.

In the 1810s, racial schisms within Methodist congregations produced the AME, the African Methodist Episcopal church. Sometime early on, Black Christians began to liken themselves to the Children of Israel, who were destined to escape the captivity of Egypt. This view was common right through the Civil War, and it showed up in Martin Luther King’s final speech in Memphis, where he talked about seeing the Promised Land. This kind of talk enraged the slaveholding class—since they were cast as Pharaoh, the villain of the story. Many concluded that Black people shouldn’t be left to make their own interpretations of the Bible.9The gospel of Denmark Vesey featured Bible readings about deliverance from Egypt and the conquest of the “promised land.” Thomas Wentworth Higginson recorded that Black recruits to the First South Carolina infantry in the Civil War repeatedly sang and preached of the emancipation of the Israelites (Higginson 1997, 99). See also his chapter on “Negro spirituals” (149–73).

The various denominations published periodicals that circulated by mail. By the 1820s, these subscriptions far outstripped the circulation of secular newspapers. They helped build a grassroots framework for activation around moral and political issues in the ensuing decades.10Far outstripped the circulation of secular newspapers: Hershberger, 18. On the grassroots network, see Portnoy 23, 32–33. The growing politicization of religious denominations eventually led the two biggest ones to split between North and South over the issue of slavery—the Methodists in 1844 and the Baptists in 1845.

Hand-colored engraving of a Methodist camp meeting from 1819. Someone has fainted in the foreground. In the background, tents are visible. Artist: Jacques Gérard Milbert. Engraved by M. Dubourg. Modified by Tempest.

Before John Brown was born, his parents converted to an updated version of Calvinism, the doctrine that originally animated the Puritans of England and New England. One Puritan judge had condemned slavery as far back as 1700 because it violated the Golden Rule: “Do unto others…” Brown’s father Owen believed in that Biblical interpretation along with the political-religious doctrine that Jefferson had espoused in the country’s founding Declaration about the God who had created all men equal. Young John thus grew up with a father who not only rejected slavery but racial prejudice as well.11The Calvinist judge was Samuel Sewall (Reynolds, 24). This argument became a staple of Christian-inflected abolition writings, including Angelina Grimké’s Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. Brown used it himself in an interrogation a day after his capture at Harper’s Ferry (Anonymous, “The Harper’s Ferry outbreak”).

Owen was the head of a struggling farm family, and his son John was poor all his life. When John was five, the family moved to Hudson, Ohio, a tiny town about thirty miles south of Cleveland. Three years later, John’s mother Ruth died in childbirth. Hudson was a station on the Underground Railroad, and Owen Brown was a station agent. He was unusual among his neighbors in getting along as equals with the Indians in Ohio, who were more numerous than the whites at the time. Owen established regular trade with them and also didn’t try to convert them to Christianity. John Brown would take after his father in combining strict religious observance for himself with an ability to cooperate with people of different backgrounds and faiths.12Owen was a station agent: Reynolds 23. Owen’s relations to Native Americans: Reynolds 31. Reynolds discusses how the adult John Brown and his own family took after Owen with regard to the Indians at 167–70.

As a boy, John befriended an enslaved Black boy and eventually witnessed his abuse at the hands of his white owners. When he recalled the experience later, Brown wrote in a letter that it “made him a most determined Abolitionist,” swearing “eternal war on Slavery.” Working for the Underground Railroad was a regular feature of his life. When he started his own household at 18, he would stop work when a new fugitive came in and take them north to Cleveland or some other safe haven. When he was in his thirties, he built a secret room in his barn to accommodate escaped slaves.13Letter about childhood Black friend: Reynolds 33. Young stopped work to help fugitives: Reynolds 37. Secret room in his barn: Reynolds 56.

So John Brown grew up unusual. Unlike a number of the well-off white abolitionists of the East, who came to oppose slavery as adults through reading and a sense of charity, Brown grew up with an egalitarian education and spent time frequently in the company of poor Black people, both free and recently liberated.

As a boy, John befriended an enslaved Black boy and eventually witnessed his abuse at the hands of his white owners. When he recalled the experience later, Brown wrote in a letter that it “made him a most determined Abolitionist,” swearing “eternal war on Slavery.”

He also grew up to have a large family. His first wife Dianthe bore seven children, and after she died in 1832, his second wife Mary bore thirteen. Out of these twenty, eleven survived past childhood. Many of them grew up to be serious abolition activists themselves.

Colonization vs. abolition

Abolitionists were a small minority, especially early on, and they were also divided by different approaches to emancipation. Some of the cleavage lines were racial. In 1816, some white opponents of slavery founded the American Colonization Society (ACS). That was a euphemism for ethnic cleansing. Black people, once they were freed, would be strongly encouraged to deport themselves to a new colony in West Africa. That was the idea behind the U.S. colony of Liberia in western Africa, the brainchild of the ACS, to which some thirteen thousand free African Americans emigrated between 1822 and the colony’s independence in 1846. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe endorsed the idea—and, for most of his life, so did Abraham Lincoln.

Not surprisingly, free Black people didn’t want to be deported. They held mass meetings in protest across the North from the 1810s into the 1830s. They knew that the colonizationists were rejecting the idea of civil and social equality.14Mass meetings against colonization: Quarles 3–8.

There was another scheme for ethnic cleansing in the same years—the expulsion of Native Americans to lands west of the Mississippi, a plan known as “Indian removal.” A number of the prominent abolitionists of the 1830s had taken their first steps into political action when they petitioned and spoke out against Indian removal beginning in the 1820s. This included women especially, such as Catharine Beecher, whose sister Harriet later wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Angelina Grimké, who until 1829 was stuck in Charleston in a slaveholding household. The men included William Lloyd Garrison and Theodore Weld, who married Grimké after she moved north. The background to this activity was the Christian movement’s missionary work among Indians and their financing of schools for Indian children.15Beecher and Grimké’s first steps into social activism were against “Indian removal“: Hershberger 22. Background of missionary and charitable work: Hershberger 19–20.

The Indian Removal Act passed Congress in 1830 because Southern politicians were hell-bent on slavery expansion into Indian-held lands in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. They won only because the Three-Fifths Clause gave them extra votes in Congress.16Florida was also haven for free and escaped Black people who allied with the Seminoles, Miccosukees, and Red Stick Creeks against “removal.” The Indian Removal Act passed Congress because of the Three-Fifths Clause: Saunt 77, 79

As with colonization, Black abolitionists took an early leading role against Indian removal. The combination of the two issues helped to radicalize some of the white abolitionists, who began to take anti-racism and equality more seriously. The experience with the movement against Indian removal—and collaboration with Black activists—led some whites who initially favored Black colonization to reject it. These included Grimké, Weld, and Garrison. By the early 1830s, such anti-racist whites had joined with Black allies to make up a distinct, radicalized minority alongside the larger number of whites who remained colonizationists. According to abolitionist Lewis Tappan, it was the “united and strenuous opposition” of Black activists “to the expatriation scheme that first induced Garrison and others to oppose it.”17On Black opposition to Indian removal and the formation of a radicalizing multiracial minority for abolition, see Natalie Joy, “The Indian’s cause.” For a more extended list of white abolitionists who started out as colonizationists, see Hershberger 35. Tappan quoted in Quarles, 19.

The masthead of William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator in 1832, two years after the passage of the Indian Removal Act. The foreground image depicts a Black family being separated by an auctioneer, and there’s a whipping in the background. In addition, sheets of paper reading “INDIAN TREATIES” lie on the ground (between the “E” and the “L”). Clip from microfilm image by the author.

The Brown family, far removed from this Eastern social set, already had all those bases covered. In Hudson, however, most of the antislavery whites favored colonization. A bit farther west, Oberlin College was founded in 1833 in answer to such politics. Oberlin was virtually unique in being racially integrated and coeducational. Its founders called for immediate emancipation with no compensation to the slaveholders—and no deportations, of course. This position was called “immediatism.” Owen Brown was one of the founding supporters of the college. The town of Oberlin, Ohio became a major hub of the Underground Railroad.18Owen Brown a founding supporter of Oberlin College: Reynolds 60.

The country’s leading outlet for the ideas of immediatism was The Liberator, a national newspaper that Garrison founded in 1831. The publication was sustained in its early years by its Black readers, who initially formed the majority of the subscribers.19Majority-Black initial readership: Quarles 20.

As with colonization, Black abolitionists took an early leading role against Indian removal. The combination of the two issues helped to radicalize some of the white abolitionists, who began to take anti-racism and equality more seriously.

As with colonization, Black abolitionists took an early leading role against Indian removal. The combination of the two issues helped to radicalize some of the white abolitionists, who began to take anti-racism and equality more seriously.

The project of The Liberator was to change people’s minds. It featured factual exposure of slavery’s evils along with ethical and theological arguments. This program of “moral suasion”—which also went by the name of “non-resistance”—was supposed to change even the minds of slaveholders. An example of this approach was the 1836 pamphlet by Angelina Grimké called Appeal to the Christian Women of the South.20“Moral suasion”: Reynolds 53. For Garrison’s vision of Christian non-resistance, see Mayer 249–51.

Black abolitionists, moral suasion, and militance

Black abolitionists generally supported Garrison’s style of immediatism, including Frederick Douglass, who had escaped from slavery in Maryland in 1838. But a significant number of ordinary Black people had doubts about moral suasion. For one thing, they supported slave revolts. There was also evidence that this kind of resistance was more persuasive than “non-resistance.”

In the year John Brown was born, in 1800, a major conspiracy to revolt was discovered around Richmond, Virginia. It was led by a blacksmith named Gabriel. This sent a shock through the South, and even though it didn’t even get launched, the revolt also gave a push to the sluggish movement to abolish slavery in the northern states.21 Aptheker 234.

Another Virginia rebellion—Nat Turner’s in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831—also had a big impact on elite white opinion. Following the revolt, which killed about sixty white people, the state legislature even debated the abolition of slavery. Leading the way were politicians of western Virginia, the area that became the free state of West Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War.22See Masur 155–61.

One of the voices of Black militancy was David Walker, a free Black man who moved from the Carolinas to Boston and published a pamphlet in 1829 called An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. This was a call to revolt addressed to Black people—not to the conscience of Southern whites. It was intended for secret distribution in the South, and it argued that slaves had the right to shed blood to win their freedom.

Martin Delany, a Black doctor, was a different kind of radical. He actually favored colonization because he didn’t trust that white people would ever overcome their racism. Delany wasn’t opposed to putting up a fight, though, and he collaborated with John Brown.

Henry Highland Garnet was another militant, a preacher who escaped from Maryland as Douglass had. Like Walker, he thought Black people needed to rely on themselves. In an 1843 speech to the National Convention of Colored Citizens in Buffalo, Garnet advocated rebellion. In a narrow vote, the group decided not to publish it.

Five years later, it was John Brown who scrounged up the money to publish Garnet’s speech for the first time. He packaged it together in a single edition with David Walker’s pamphlet.23Geffert and Libby 168.

Such Black abolitionists, and the rebel captives themselves, were the folks whom Brown aligned himself with.

Consecrating his life

As an adult, John Brown was involved in a number of failed business ventures. One of them was selling western sheep’s wool in the east. My sense is that he was too forthright and not enough of a manipulator to be a good salesperson. His ventures meant that he moved around a lot—into Pennsylvania, to Springfield, Massachusetts. Wherever he could, he went to hear feminist speakers. Sometimes his family moved with him, and sometimes he was on his own.24Went to hear feminist speakers: Reynolds 123.

Brown even took a trip to Europe to try to sell wool and took the chance to visit some battle sites around the continent. He had studied European wars, especially guerrilla warfare. This was in addition to reading about armed Caribbean enclaves of maroons—escapees from slavery who set up their own settlements. He also may have been inspired by the hit-and-run tactics of the Seminoles in Florida, a group that kept the U.S. Army engaged for seven years starting in 1835.25The origin of the word “maroon” is the Spanish “cimarrón,” which means “wild” or “untamed,” a word used for livestock that escaped the farm. Brown and European guerrilla war: Reynolds 106. May have been inspired by Seminole tactics: Nicolay and Hay 519. The word “Seminole” may also be derived from “cimarrón,” so-called because the Seminoles lived outside Spanish authority in Florida.

Everywhere he went in the U.S., he met with white and Black abolitionists, learning the different pathways of the Underground Railroad, and helping out the activists who kept these operations going. The activists were organized into “vigilance committees,” which served to “conduct” fugitives North. For the most part, fugitives came out of bondage broke and friendless, so the vigilance committees, many of which were majority-Black or all-Black, also supported new arrivals where they settled.26On the formation and activiity of vigilance committees: Quarles 150–56.

One incident in this period affected Brown strongly—the lynching of the abolitionist publisher Elijah P. Lovejoy. A pro-slavery mob killed him in Alton, Illinois in 1837. John and his father attended a memorial at a church in Hudson. Toward the end, John stood up, raised his hand, and said, “Before all these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery.”27Quoted in Reynolds, 65.

In the same decade, there were two slave revolts that impressed Brown.28Brown’s Kansas comrade and first biographer, James Redpath, wrote: “He was a great admirer of Oliver Cromwell. Of colored heroes, Nat Turner and Cinques stood first in his esteem” (Redpath 45–46).

One was Nat Turner’s in southern Virginia in 1831. It showed that major resistance could be built in the middle of a slave state. He may also have been interested in the tactics. For one thing, Turner’s plan, like the plan of Denmark Vesey nine years before, called for the use of bladed weapons like swords and pikes. That’s because most recruits would be inexperienced with guns.29On bladed weapons vs. guns: Reynolds 57.

For another thing, the apparent plan of Turner’s revolt was to strike terror quickly, gather recruits, raid an armory to get guns, and retreat to a defensible position where the fighters could train with the firearms. In Turner’s case, that would be the Great Dismal Swamp—a walk of a day or two from his neighborhood—where escapees had hidden out in the past.30Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a contemporary and supporter of John Brown’s, wrote with confidence in the Atlantic Monthly in 1861 that Turner had a clear plan to seize weapons and retreat into the Great Dismal Swamp if necessary (Higginson 1969, 174). This seems to have been the widespread supposition at the time—according to Sylvian Diouf’s Slavery’s Exiles (278–85)—and Brown may have believed it, too. Most later historians have acknowledged that Turner may have had such a plan, but that there is no evidence for it. Thomas Parramore makes a strong case for being skeptical in his “Covenant in Jerusalem.” Diouf gives references to the opinions of various twentieth-century historians in a footnote on 352.

Lithograph of Joseph Cinque (Sengbe Pieh). Cinque led the uprising on the slave ship Amistad in 1839. This portrait was done when he was awaiting trial in Connecticut. Lithography by Moses Yale Beach, from a portrait probably by James or Isaac Sheffield. Cropped by Tempest.

The other rebel of the time who impressed Brown was Joseph Cinque (Sengbe Pieh), who led the takeover of the slave ship Amistad in 1839. In this case, he was impressed that the revolt killed just four people—spilling only the necessary amount of blood to take control.31Redpath 46: “‘How often,’ writes a daughter [of Brown’s], ‘have I heard him speak in admiration of Cinques’ character and management in carrying his points with so little bloodshed.’”

It was around this time that Brown started developing a plan for his raid into the South.32Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote in 1859 (the year of the Harper’s Ferry raid) that Brown’s idea of attacking in the South originated “twenty years ago this summer”: quoted in Reynolds, 111.

A number of things intervened before he could carry it out. One was a change in Brown’s personal life—the opening up of North Elba in 1846, a predominantly Black settlement near Lake Placid, New York. A wealthy abolitionist friend, Gerrit Smith, had acquired 120,000 acres of land in the Adirondacks where free and escaped Black people could get a start in farming and also satisfy New York’s property requirement for voting. Brown supported the project and moved his family to North Elba in 1849.33The land was intended for grants of 40 acres apiece to 3,000 Black men (Sinha, 50). Much of the land was poor, however, the startup costs were high—and city life offered more connections with other Black people—so two years into the experiment, “less than 30 families had settled on the new lands”: Litwak 176–77.

In the next year, political history began to accelerate.

Thanks to David Courtenay-Quirk, who steered me toward some good sources and away from some beginner’s mistakes.


Anderson, Osborne Perry. A Voice from Harper’s Ferry. A Narrative of Events at Harper’s Ferry. Library of Congress, 2023 (facsimile of 1861 edition).

Anonymous (“Our special reporter”). “The Harper’s Ferry outbreak,” New York Herald, October 21, 1859, page 1.

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. 5th edition. New York: International Publishers, 1983.

Clinton, Catherine. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom. 1st ed. Boston, Mass: Little, Brown, 2004.

Diouf, Sylviane A. Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons. Reprint edition. New York: NYU Press, 2016.

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Times Of Frederick Douglass. Facsimile of the 1881 edition. Secaucus, N.J: Citadel, 2000.

Du Bois, W. E. B. John Brown. Edited by David R. Roediger. New edition. Modern Library, 2001.

Forbes, Hugh. Letter to S[amuel] G[ridley] Howe, dated May 14, 1858, published in “The Harper’s Ferry outbreak,” New York Herald, October 27, 1859, 4.

Geffert, Hannah, with Jean Libby. “Regional Black involvement in John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry,” in McCarthy and Stauffer, 165–79.

Greenberg, Kenneth S., ed. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Gridley, Karl. “‘Willing to die for the cause of freedom in Kansas’: free state emigration, John Brown, and the rise of militant abolitionism in the Kansas Territory,” in McCarthy and Stauffer, 147–64.

Grimké, Angelina E. Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

Hershberger, Mary. “Mobilizing Women, Anticipating Abolition: The Struggle against Indian Removal in the 1830s.” The Journal of American History 86, no. 1 (1999): 15–40. Also available online from the History Cooperative.

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Black Rebellion: Five Slave Revolts. Facsimile of 1889 (first) edition, introduced by James McPherson. Arno Press, 1969.

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Army Life in a Black Regiment: And Other Writings. Edited by R. D. Madison. New York: Penguin Classics, 1997.

Joy, Natalie. “The Indian’s Cause: Abolitionists and Native American Rights.” Journal of the Civil War Era 8, no. 2 (2018): 215–42.

Kennedy, Lionel H., and Thomas Parker. An Official Report of The Trials of Sundry Negroes, Charged With An Attempt to Raise An Insurrection in The State of South-Carolina. Charleston, SC: James R. Schenk, 1822.

Litwack, Leon F. North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Masur, Louis P. “Nat Turner and sectional crisis,” in Greenberg, ed., 2003, 148–61.

Mayer, Henry. All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery. New York: St Martins Press, 1998.

McCarthy, Timothy Patrick, and John Stauffer, eds. Prophets Of Protest: Reconsidering The History Of American Abolitionism. New York: The New Press, 2006.

Meyer, Eugene L. Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2018.

Nicolay, John G., and John Hay, “Lincoln’s Cooper Institute speech, and other political events of 1859–60,” The Century; A Popular Quarterly, v. 34, 1887, 509–33. Available online from Hathi Trust.

Oates, Stephen B. To Purge This Land with Blood: A Biography of John Brown. Echo Point Books & Media, LLC, 2021.

Parramore, Thomas C. “Covenant in Jerusalem,” in Greenberg, ed., 2003, 58–76.

Portnoy, Alisse. Their Right to Speak: Women’s Activism in the Indian and Slave Debates. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists. Da Capo Press, 1991.

Rasmussen, Daniel. American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt. HarperCollins 2011.

Redpath, James. The Public Life of Capt. John Brown, by James Redpath, with an Auto-Biography of His Childhood and Youth. Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860. Facsimile of the first edition available from the Library of Congress.

Reynolds, David S. John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights. Reprint edition. New York, NY: Vintage, 2006.

Sanborn, F.B. The Life and Letters of John Brown: Liberator of Kansas, and Martyr of Virginia. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1885. Available online from HathiTrust.

Saunt, Claudio. Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory. Reprint of 2020 release. W. W. Norton & Company, 2021.

Scott, Julius S. The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution. Verso, 2018.

Strother, D.H. “The late invasion in Harper’s Ferry,” Harper’s Weekly, November 5, 1859, 712-14. Available from the Internet Archive at

Sinha, Manisha. “The Beautiful Struggle” (book review), New York Review of Books, April 20, 2023.

Walker, David. David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World. Edited by Peter P. Hinks. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2000.

Warch, Richard, and Jonathan Fanton, eds. John Brown. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1973.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Devolution in Nunavut: Is this Really Namminiqsurniq (Self-Determination)?

Yellowhead Institute - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 17:54

Late last month, Nunaviummiut were surprised to learn that the long-discussed Nunavut devolution agreement has been finalized. The agreement in principle was signed in 2019, though there was little indication it was close to completion. This devolution agreement is meant to be the final chapter of what Inuit negotiated as part of the land claim process: first, the land claim agreement, then the formation of a new territorial government, and finally a devolution to more fully assume control of resources in the territory.

The land claim creates certainty of rights on land, protects Inuit way of life (especially around hunting), and allows for input on economic, social, and cultural programs. The creation of the public government was seen as critical to expand this participation with mandated Inuit leadership across the territory. Then finally, the devolution agreement was seen as the last piece to realize Inuit interests. It is important to understand these pieces as stacking, and reliant on each other for optimal Inuit control in Nunavut and for Inuit to achieve self-determination.

In negotiating a self-determination package, Inuit wanted their lives to improve, their culture and language protected, and to be the decision-makers in all aspects of their lives. It is in this context we must look at the devolution agreement.

During the devolution press conference in Iqaluit, Prime Minister Trudeau hailed the largest land transfer in Canada’s history, referring to the two million square kilometres of land and water that is being transferred to the Government of Nunavut (GN). Meanwhile, Premier P. J. Akeeagok remarked that it is “one more step in the realization of the vision of a self-reliant Nunavut…Our people made many sacrifices in the name of Canadian sovereignty. In the past, too many decisions about us were made without us. With the signing of the agreement, we can now bring decision-making home.”

The decision-making may be in Nunavut, but is it self-determination? The Devolution Agreement outlines the transfer of responsibilities (also referred to as administration and control) for Nunavut’s public (Crown) lands, freshwaters, and resources from Canada to the government of Nunavut. It means that administration of these lands will transfer from the Federal government to the Government of Nunavut, including revenues from mining activity. Since, according to Natural Resources Canada, Nunavut’s mineral production is estimated to be worth $2.58 billion (the Government of Nunavut’s budget for 2020-21 was $2.35 billion), the territory will be expected to be self-reliant. As the Premier alludes to, Southern Canadians love to complain how dependent Nunavut is on handouts from the federal government. Canada was built on our land and resources.

The news reports and opinions following the announcement, then, have been celebratory, hailing a new era for Inuit. But few have asked what the Agreement actually means for Inuit in tangible ways, and the surprise announcement has meant little analysis of that question. The biggest questions being whether it will offer long-promised self-determination; will it help to address the socio-economic challenges Inuit face; Will it help to protect our language and culture; will it transform the relationship between Inuit and Canadians? These questions are yet-to-be answered. There is very little real critical feedback.

That is a problem.

Who is the Government of Nunavut for?

Most Canadians know that Nunavut is a territory in the federation of Canada. Because it is a territory, the legislative powers are delegated by the federal government. Unlike a province that has constitutionally listed roles and responsibilities. Canadians may also know that it is a public government, meaning it represents all who reside in Nunavut, Inuit and non-Inuit. While the Nunavut Agreement is meant to include Inuit in government decision making to reflect their population representation, since its creation, the promise of a representative territorial government has not been fulfilled.

In fact, in contrast to benefitting Inuit, the territory has left Inuit behind in many important aspects seen through the social inequities.

There are desperate housing shortages, extremely high levels of food insecurity, an increasing number of boil water advisories in communities, stagnant low Inuit employment levels, a healthcare crisis where health centres are forced close when nurses take holidays (less than half of the health care positions are filled), an absolute failure to deliver Inuktut language education, teacher shortages and now the heavy reliance on southern contractors to administer (or not) all of the above because the Inuit capacity is so low (there is a 38 per cent vacancy rate in government positions – this from a 2022 government study that has been since deleted from their website).

This reality is embedded in the history of our collective relationship that emerged out of the assumption Inuit – like Indigenous people generally – were inhuman. Canada’s presumption of sovereignty itself flows from the Doctrine of Discovery: that they could steal our land in the first place because Inuit weren’t Christians. Even after the majority of Inuit converted to Christianity, Inuit still had to negotiate for decades to get some of their land back. Negotiations for the Nunavut Agreement were ruthless, leaving us with a mere 18-19 per cent ownership of lands and 2 percent of the subsurface. A very small percentage makes up municipal and other lands. The rest – or over 80 per cent is considered public or Crown lands.

These are the lands that have now been transferred to the Government of Nunavut, not to Inuit. Imagine having no or very little choice but to cede 80 percent of your homeland to have guaranteed rights in a country founded on your lands.

This history – and contemporary reality – is critical to consider when we ask who benefits from devolution.

Is this Self-Determination?

The Government of Nunavut’s website on Devolution states “Devolution will bring decision-making closer to home, giving Nunavummiut a greater say in issues that affect them.” But, as outlined above, closer to home doesn’t necessarily mean the home of the Inuit, who are increasingly alienated from the territory. One example – and where we can track benefit and decision making, is around employment. Given the status quo, there must be a significant investment, political commitment, and will to act.

While the Government of Nunavut has begun investing in training and education for teachers, nurses, managers, and lawyers, it has failed to address the stranglehold non-Inuit employees have exercised in management positions and attempts to prioritize Inuit hiring. Over time, it has become clear that non-Inuit prefer to maintain the power they have accrued in the years since the creation of Nunavut and now challenge hiring plans. There have never been anti-racist policies and measures that would create the atmosphere for meaningful inclusion of Inuit. The reality is that the territorial government has serious barriers to Inuit employment.

A Nunavut Inuit Labour Force analysis released in 2018 found Inuit account for 50 per cent of Government of Nunavut employees and 40 percent of Government of Canada employees in Nunavut (these are not typically policy and senior management positions that inform government action). The federal government has even lower employment rates. Many of the transferred responsibilities under devolution will be specialised professions, according to the human resource strategy on devolution released in 2020. The list includes regulatory and permitting administration in various land use scenarios. It is not clear how, with the history of ineffective Inuit employment strategies and approaches, the GN’s actions now will be different.

This constitutes a danger for the territory. If the training and employment issues are not dealt with, and non-Inuit continue to dominate the government, Nunavut is at greater risk of moving further away from Inuit values. This could serve to heighten the existing issue of unrestricted jurisdiction for mining and extractive industries in the territory. The current mining activities are in caribou calving grounds, which Inuit have sacrificed for job opportunities. (There is a clear tension here: if Inuit speak about wanting to protect wildlife we rely on for food, they are quickly excused as being anti-jobs). We are already allowing mining activities to take place without a Nunavut-wide land use plan, a departure from land claim agreement.

There is a human resource strategy as part of the Devolution Agreement. But how is the government going to approach Inuit employment differently this time, to assure Nunavummiut that control over lands, waters, and resources will mean an Inuit say in how it is managed; as opposed to control by outsiders?

It is surprising Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. signed the agreement, given the history of taking legal action on the lack of action on Inuit employment by governments when it is unclear if there is political will and progress being made on Inuit employment.

A Missed Opportunity?

Speaking of Inuit organizations – by signing onto the Devolution Agreement, what additional benefits of rights have they, those responsible for representing rights holders, really accrued? In one view, they may have actually abandoned a major leverage for negotiating a self-government agreement – something that currently does not exist in Nunavut but which the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. board has stated they want to pursue, through their resolutions. Could this not have been negotiated in part through devolution?

Instead, the GN’s Department of Devolution calls itself Namminiqsurniq, which means running our own affairs. It is a misnomer, this word should be saved for Inuit self-government or true self-determination and not a performative version of it.

Indeed, on the signing and celebration, most Nunavummiut did not know until the day before that the signing was to take place. The only people to partake in the celebration were those invited, and it seems they were sworn to secrecy. It was not a Nunavut celebration. This lack of transparency is all the more frustrating given the history of excluding Inuit.

Public dialogue and transparency should be critical for a territory claiming now to “run our own affairs” after years of colonial intervention. The secrecy cheated Nunavummiut out of partaking in not only celebrations but the critical piece of talking about what it means for us; if we truly believe it is an agreement worth celebrating.

There will be opportunities for Inuit arising from Devolution. But given the failed implementation of the land claim agreement in many key areas, the Government of Nunavut’s drift away from commitments to Inuit, and the slow abandonment of Inuit self-determination generally, it remains to be seen if these opportunities for our political leaders will translate to Inuit values and interests are the future of Nunavut. That future imagines Inuit language thriving, hunting way of life as a livelihood, and Inuit are healthy and accessing their lands.

Inutiq, Kunuk. “Devolution in Nunavut: Is this Really Namminiqsurniq (Self-Determination)?”. Yellowhead Institute. 15, February 2024.

The post Devolution in Nunavut: Is this Really Namminiqsurniq (Self-Determination)? appeared first on Yellowhead Institute.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

National Grid Submits Final ‘Future Grid’ Plan To Massachusetts DPU

Solar Industry Magazine - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 17:05

National Grid has submitted its Electric Sector Modernization, or Future Grid, Plan to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) outlining investments needed in the local electric distribution system over the next decade to meet the state’s climate change, clean energy and equity goals.

The company submitted an initial draft of this Future Grid Plan to the Grid Modernization Advisory Council (GMAC) in September. The plan more recently submitted incorporates recommendations from the GMAC along with customer and stakeholder feedback from from across the Commonwealth.

“We are committed to being at the heart of the clean, fair, and affordable energy transition and meeting Massachusetts’ climate and clean energy goals,” says Nicola Medalova, chief operating officer for National Grid’s New England electric business.

“At its core, a transformation of the energy ecosystem is required to achieve these goals and the electric distribution network is foundational to enabling this transformation. It will require new and expanded infrastructure in all communities to meet growing demand, collaboration and engagement among all of society, and an electric network that is fundamentally smarter, stronger, and cleaner than today.”

Over the next five years, the company proposes to invest approximately $2.5 billion in key areas, which are projected to have an average annual impact of 0.6% over the five-year investment period, says the company.

The DPU will review the plan through a formal regulatory process that includes opportunity for public comment and intervention. This process is anticipated to take seven months.

The post National Grid Submits Final ‘Future Grid’ Plan To Massachusetts DPU appeared first on Solar Industry.


Kit Carson Cooperative Completes PPA for New Mexico Amalia II Array

Solar Industry Magazine - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 17:02

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) and Guzman Energy have executed a PPA for Amalia II, a 10.98 MW solar array with 8.75 MW of battery storage set to be constructed in Amalia, N.M.

The project is targeted for completion next year. The first phase, Amalia I, began commercial operations in May 2012 and generates 1.25 MW of solar power.

Part of the Amalia II project was the coordination between KCEC and the Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA), a membership of local ranching, farming and hunting families that own and manage the land where the array is sited.

“Amalia II is a great example of renewable energy development planning starting with discussion and listening in the local community. Understanding the goals and concerns of the land keepers, in this case RCCLA, was critical in getting project planning agreement,” says Luis A. Reyes, Jr., CEO of KCEC. “The Amalia II project fits into the community vision and supports RCCLA’s mission to support community agriculture, farming, ranching, logging and hunting while generating clean renewable energy for the community.”

Renewable energy developer Luminace will build and maintain the facility. Guzman Energy will oversee all energy management including the dispatching of the BESS.

The post Kit Carson Cooperative Completes PPA for New Mexico Amalia II Array appeared first on Solar Industry.


Eversource Energy to Fully Exit its Offshore Wind Investments

North American Windpower - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 16:40

Eversource Energy has agreed to sell its 50% ownership share in South Fork Wind and Revolution Wind to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), allowing Eversource to realize approximately $1.1 billion of cash proceeds upon closing.

The company plans to exit the 132 MW South Fork Wind project and 704 MW Revolution Wind project while retaining certain cost sharing obligations for the construction of Revolution Wind.

Last month, Eversource announced it had agreed to sell its 50% interest in the 924 MW Sunrise Wind project to Ørsted, contingent on the successful award of the NY04 NYSERDA Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credits Agreement request for proposal and other conditions.

At or prior to closing of the sale to GIP, Ørsted and GIP intend to enter into definitive partnerships and services agreements. Eversource is expected to enter into a separate construction management agreement as a contractor to Revolution Wind to complete the onshore work currently underway. Eversource will maintain its previously announced tax equity investment in South Fork Wind.

“We continue to believe that offshore wind represents the most significant opportunity to decarbonize the electric generation footprint of New England,” says Eversource’s Joe Nolan. “Eversource will remain an integral player in this historic shift to a clean energy generation mix by focusing on our strengths as a regulated transmission builder and operator and bringing the benefits of these investments to our customers.”

In May, the company announced that it would sell its 50% interest in approximately 175,000 of developable but uncommitted offshore acres to Ørsted for $625 million. That transaction closed in September.

Eversource has engaged Goldman Sachs as its financial advisor to assist with the transactions. Ropes & Gray LLP serves as its legal counsel.

The post Eversource Energy to Fully Exit its Offshore Wind Investments appeared first on North American Windpower.



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