“Little attention was paid, because the German people, no matter how hungry, remained obedient.”
― Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam
I have never been arrested before, not even close. I have always warned my sons not to dare get arrested. So they were a little bit surprised to learn that I was traveling to DC at great expense to purposely get arrested.
Getting arrested in the Tar Sands Action was fun and it felt like the right and responsible thing to do. The scariest part of it was navigating the DC Metro. No, that’s not exactly true. It was the anticipation of navigating the DC Metro that terrified me, not the actual navigation. The actual navigation, once I kind of figured it out, was fairly easy and now that I have sort of conquered that daemon, I feel empowered.
Here are a few Metro tips:
- The trains are not painted to correspond with the colors of the line. You have to be watching for the sign on the front as the train approaches.
- If you miss your train, don’t despair. Another one will come along in just a little while.
- You can’t understand anything the driver says when he announces stops so just watch out the window and you will see a sign with the name of the stop.
- If you use up all the money on your ticket, you can’t get out. But that’s okay because there is a place where you just put change in until you reach the right amount and it lets you out.
- DC people are pretty nice and they will help you figure it all out.
I arrived in DC on Monday afternoon and took two Metro trains to some station near St. Stephens Episcopal Church to attend the training. The first people I met were the Four Montana Grandmothers which included Margot Kidder the original Lois Lane. Tantoo Cardinal joined the Montana ladies somewhere along the way. Before the training started, Jennifer Krill, Executive Director, Earthworks, joined us. (Jen and I took this action as private citizens not as Earthworks employees. Nick Magel took the action on a different day.)
The training was highly organized and informative. See previous posts about training with pictures HERE and HERE. We did some role-playing, learned some chants and songs, practiced lining up and discussed what ifs. They went over everything imaginable including the possibility of wearing an adult diaper in case we were held for a long time without access to a restroom. (I decided to take my chances with that one and it worked out fine.) When one woman asked what to do with her release money and ID since she would have no purse or pockets, Kidder said, “That’s what your bra is for.”
They also took mug shots.
The next morning we met in the park in front of the White House. We would occupy the “picture post card” area of the White House, which is perfectly legal unless you stop moving. It is against the law to stop and occupy that area. I think it’s a good law because the White House belongs to all of us and people who visit DC should have access to that area.
After a few speeches and some motivational exercises, we lined up and marched to our places in front of the White House.
The first person arrested was Margot Kidder. The officer who arrested her was the only one we had contact with who had a bad attitude. He refused to help her up. (There is a video of Daryl Hannah’s arrest and the arresting officer gave her a hand up.)
After Margot they arrested the young woman and young man leading the chants. Suddenly the group was silent—uncomfortably so—so I jumped up and started chanting. Sure enough, I was the next one arrested—arrest number six at 11:33 AM.
That’s when I learned why you should not wear a skirt to do civil disobedience. I received an extra thorough frisking.
The female officer took my ID but stuffed my money back in my bra. Then they took my mug shot, handed me my ID and squeezed me into the police wagon with Kidder. It was very hot and close in there but we joked around with the cute police officers, told stories and had a pretty good time.
We were taken to the Anacostia Jail and placed in a holding cell. The police had tables set up with several officers to process everyone. They processed us in the same order in which we were arrested. They cut the handcuffs off, frisked us again and sent us to the tables for processing.
I paid my $100 fine for “failure to follow a lawful order.” As it was explained to me: Paying the fine is not an admission of guilt. It’s described as similar to paying a traffic fine but seemed more like a bribe to me. I was released at 12:46 PM.
Outside the jail, we were greeted by the Tar Sands Action organizers with applause, thanks, drinks, snacks and a ride back to the Metro. I waited for Jen who was arrest number 30-something.
Then we headed back to town on the Metro and learned about the earthquake. But that’s another story.
If you are on-the-fence about taking this action, I encourage you to get off the fence and go “sit so Obama will stand up.” I was tired for a couple of days because I got dehydrated but it was well worth it and we actually had a lot of fun. If I can do it so can you!
James Hansen arrested, taken to Anacostia jail
It is a bit dispiriting that a scientist of Hansen’s calibre feels the need to get arrested in protest. You would hope the American political system would be able to incorporate scientific knowledge in a more ordinary way, and that concerns like abrupt or runaway climate change would be incorporated into undertakings like the U.S. State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline.
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
“If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth–certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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James Wall says
Thank you all for doing this. Here in Texas the energy companies are out of control. When you look at Google satellite views of the rural areas surrounding Fort Worth, you see the landscape polka-dotted with gas well pads. You can’t see the spider webs of pipelines connecting all the dots. This land can never be reclaimed. Long after the wells dry up no one can ever build on an abandon well or pipeline.
For Texas the Keystone pipeline will add insult to injury. Energy companies have ruined much of our state already. Thanks again for this action.
Sharon Guynup says
I am SO proud of you–there are some issues on the table that must be fought for–and climate change/energy policy is sitting at the top of that list!
Thank you, Sharon, Jennifer, Bill, Josh, and Everyone who made this trek to Washington, D.C. against this Tar Sands Monster.
James – can you explain how land can never be reclaimed or people are unable to build on an abandon well or pipeline? Maybe next time you voice an opinion, you should be midly informed on the subject matter. Congratulations TXSHARON on your first arrest for a meaningless protest intended to impede industrial progress and create jobs and wealth. Way to go.
It’s doubtful that the land will ever be the same again and that is a fact admitted by even the Big Gas Mafia. Every site has spills, leaks and toxics so the site will require remediation. But we can’t count on industry to do that remediation because, as in the case of Range Resources where they never even completed all the landscaping requirements, the original lease holder will just sell to a smaller company. Then that smaller company will either sell to an even smaller company or they will go bankrupt leaving the public with the cost of clean up. That is the business model for the Big Gas Mafia. They externalize all costs possible.
Guess who gets to be responsible for reclamation of an abandoned pipeline? The answer is not the Big Gas Mafia.
Erm, who exactly will stand to gain wealth from the nasty Tar Sands Pipeline? Not any of us! We stand to LOOSE our land and risk contamination. Now, who wouldn’t what that deal?
Such fun! Please come on my blog anytime and attempt to be superior.
You are correct in the fact that costs are externalized to smaller and smaller companies as the field depletes; however as those costs are externalized to smaller companies, those companies must also post an “abandonment/reclamation” bond with their respective state regulatory agencies as they take possession of the well, pipeline, etc. just as the original lease holder was FORCED to do. States are not stupid in the fact that they do NOT want to be the ones holding the reclamation bag hence they require this “clean up insurance” if you will to ensure the job gets done. And I am not sure which landscaping requirements you are referencing with Range, but bringing up one instance when thousands and thousands of wells and sites are fully remediated each year does not a valid argument make.
Also, who stands to gain wealth from this? How about American welders, landmen, construction companies, retailers, restaurant owners, hoteliers, surveyors, bankers, truck drivers…should I go on? $13 billion is simply the cost of this pipeline, but everyone forgets about the ancillary income that is generated by projects of this undertaking.
Ah, no. Costs are externalized to the taxpayers NOT to the smaller companies. The bonding is a joke and it doesn’t pay for the clean up costs. Two examples are the water contamination in Midland and the contamination in Montague, both from old, abandoned pits. Guess who gets to pay for that. What about all the unplugged wells all over Texas?
I can bring up thousands and thousands of examples because I lived for 16 years in Wise County where they learned to frack the shale. I have been blogging about this since 2006 so I have thousands of posts with examples and thousands of pictures and videos. Knock yourself out.
Here’s a video you might enjoy: http://www.texassharon.com/2011/08/23/tar-sands/
Welders can work on windmills and solar panels. Let me see…do I care about lying landmen?…Nope, they can go to work selling used cars because their skill set matches perfectly to that job. There are about a dozen hotels in Wise County that have been thoroughly trashed by the roughnecks and now they are drying up because the boom is over in that area. Who wants a bunch of cheap, trashed hotels? Surveyors can work for clean, renewable energy companies. As for bankers…see note about landmen. Truck drivers can get plenty of work hauling windmills and solar panels. Should I go on?
The jobs and economic benefits claims are overblown. See ponzi scheme articles in NY Times. See recent SEC orders for records.
The money and jobs mean nothing compared to the rate of contamination and depletion of our water and the poisoning of our air. Your industry is ruining lives and health.
Remember that an Exxon Mobil Pipeline executive recently admitted they do not know how to clean up the tar sands spill in the Yellowstone, “we would never have guessed how hard it would be…” In Minnesota they are still trying to clean up the spill a year later.
Take your dirty, nasty, transient jobs and economic benefits that mostly go to CEOs and put them where the sun don’t shine.
Thank you for commenting.
You are correct – surveyors and truck drivers could get plenty of work hauling windmills and solar panels…if they were economically feasible and there was work to be had. The idea of welders working on wind and solar farms as an alternative is laughable however. Last time I checked there isn’t much welding going into carbon fiber wind turbines or solar voltaic cells. Granted the framing structures might take a welder or two, but comparing it to the scope of a pipeline project to renewables is kind of like comparing peanuts to jumper cables. I will just assume in your tirade you overlooked that point. But I digress, the idea of renewable energy, albeit a great idea that will come into play in the future is not sustainable right now. And similar to you not liking externalized costs being forced onto taxpayers for clean up, many Americans don’t like having the cost of a grossly inefficient industry being passed on to us in the form of billions of dollars of Dept of Energy subsidies being given to wind and solar. And I won’t even address the ponzi scheme comment. Maybe you should read some real reports and updates instead of getting your information from a biased journalist.
Clean energy is currently having to compete with dirty natural gas. But, as we all know, fracking is not economically viable at current gas prices. So the price of gas has to go up so the gas companies can make more profit. When that happens it’s no longer a cheap energy.
You want to bring up subsidies??? Really? Fossil fuel subsidies dwarf clean energy subsidies. So cry me a fracking river!
I’m sure we can find plenty of work for welders in an economy based on clean energy instead of dirty fossil fuels.
If the ponzi scheme is so far fetched, then the SEC must be a bunch of idiots because they sure seem to think an investigation is warranted. Any time you guys don’t like the message, you try to kill the messenger. You can’t kill all of us. And it’s your poor practices that keep making more and more messengers. Maybe you should spend more time trying to improve your practices and less time trying to blog smoke up my ass.
Here’s the bottom line: As long as you keep making our families sick, taking our private property, ruining our water and air and lowering our property value, you are going to have a huge and ever-growing PR problem. People are pissed and rightfully so.
I’m a mineral owner. I would love to support your industry as clean. But I simply can’t.
Its funny that you mention the SEC. The industry has encouraged the commission to delve into any investigation they want. The idea of a ponzi type conspiracy simply gives anti-industry people one more reason to shut O&G down. If you had any idea what you were talking about, you would know that all valuations and production/reserve calculations are forced to under go external audit QC/QA to ensure transparency and avoid over valued companies and Enron type situations.
Also, the idea that non-profitability can change price is absurd. So because fracking is uneconomic the price of gas has to come up so companies can make money? You might want to check your econ 101 book on that theory. If fracking is uneconomic for gas, then we dont frack for it. If companies are fracking in an area it is for a reason, but definitely not because they are fracking for an uneconomic gas well in hopes it will bring up the price.
And i read your little bio, now know you are a mineral owner, and know that you dislike landmen. Pretty easy puzzle to put together. Maybe next time you go into a SUA you have a better attorney and make sure to cover your property and mineral rights instead of getting snowballed by a landman doing his job and getting the best deal for his company.
What-a-matter? Cat got your tongue?
Let’s see…the SEP has issued subpoenas, the NY State AG has issued subpoenas and the DOE has slashed estimates of shale gas reserves in the Marcellus by 80%. But, I’m sure they are all wrong and you, anonymous person who comments on blogs has it all figured out.
And it’s not just the reserves that are overstated, you guys seriously overstated the jobs. http://blogs.wvgazette.com/watchdog/2011/09/02/gas-drillers-overstated-jobs-for-pennsylvania/
You are definitely wrong about this:
“all valuations and production/reserve calculations are forced to under go external audit QC/QA to ensure transparency and avoid over valued companies and Enron type situations.”
The SEC allows gas companies to book reserves without a mandatory 3rd party audit. The SEC made a new, special rule put forth by Dr. John Lee at TAMU. Burn up “teh Google” now.
You’re cute and funneh. I’m far, FAR too wise to deal with a mere landman in my transactions. Puzzle skills lacking…
Seapacific has hit on some very interesting true facts about the way the oil & gas industry works. In the real business world their are good business and bad business. Some follow the letter of the laws and some don’t. In my experience with the oil & gas world I can said that the majority of the majors. large independents, small independents, mom and pop independents are hard working people who want to do the right thing. People have to understand that in this industry you are dealing with mother nature underground and she is very unforgiving if you try to take shortcuts. I have personally witness those situations when that happens and it will kill and injured people. Nobody wants to see that happen.
Have a nice day!
True facts? Really? I couldn’t pick any out.
I hate to break it to you but NONE or the operators are drilling in a responsible. NOT ONE!
Keep up the great work TXSharon, I salute you and the important work you are doing!
Mike H. says
Sometimes, you can’t even get an operational pipeline to clean up their leaks: