Rough Acres Ranch, Groundbreaking, Sunrise Powerlink. ©2015 Robert Lundahl, "Who Are My People?"

Rough Acres Ranch, Groundbreaking, Sunrise Powerlink. ©2015 Robert Lundahl, “Who Are My People?”



By Robert Lundahl

Roy L Hales is the founder of the environmental journalism web platform, The ECOreport.com. He has interviewed hundreds of environmental leaders in Government, Business, and Non-Profit spheres.

He likes to get a picture also of what journalists are saying, and so he researches the field itself. Here, Roy shares his thoughts about industrial renewable energy facilities and their impacts in the Mojave Desert and beyond.

“One of the reasons I think it is a ‘bus out of control’ is that when I have interviewed government officials in Canada and the United States, they have said ‘I know better than to have a personal opinion.’ They seem to not be able to speak beyond their own ‘box,’ meaning, they are given an area to look after, with strict guidelines of what they’re supposed to do, and they don’t look beyond that.”

Roy has two examples. In an interview with Sarah Kiley, Communications Officer for the National Energy Board in Canada, pertaining to the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which Kinder Morgan, a US oil services company, wants to triple in size, bringing bitumen from the oil sands of Alberta to the ports on the coast, and which the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby oppose, Ms. Kiley could not answer the most important question of all,” Hales recounts.

He continues, “She could deal with most technical questions about the pipeline review process, although the NEB left 2000 unanswered, according to Hales.” “But Ms. Kiley did not have an appropriate response to the most fundamental and perhaps most obvious question of all. If British Columbia doesn’t want it, and Burnaby doesn’t want it, and Burnaby mayor, Derek Corrigan, reelected with 70% of the vote, doesn’t want it, and Vancouver doesn’t want it, why are we talking about building it at all?”

Hales explains, “Ms. Kiley described the question about public acceptance as ‘politics.’ She said the National Energy Board just deals with science” — whether the pipeline will work. That’s like saying the bus that just ran over you is ‘science,’ and your accident is ‘politics.”

candles
Photo Credit: People holding candles during the Rally against Kinder Morgan oil pipeline, on Burnaby Mountain November 17, 2014, by Mark Klotz via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Hales describes another interview, one where the official requested anonymity. “What is happening in British Columbia is identical to what’s happening in Blythe, in the deserts of California, where large power tower concentrating solar plants have destroyed Native American antiquities. In speaking with this unnamed federal official, the official agreed to be interviewed, provided I did not reveal his name, nor record the actual conversation, which left me paraphrasing him, of course.

The official stated the Native Americans were doing very well in opposition, that he respects Alfredo Figueroa, activist, and subject of Robert Lundahl’s new documentary film, “Who Are My People?”, and he learns something from Sr. Figueroa every time he talks to him.”

The film features scenes from Boulevard, California, during protests at Rough Acres Ranch, site of the groundbreaking for Sunrise Powerlink in 2010. Speculation at the time was that the true intention of Sunrise Powerlink was not to bring renewable energy from Solar facilities like Imperial II (which was stopped by lawsuit from the Quechan Tribe), but from natural gas plants to be built over the border in Mexico.

In the years since, concentrating solar facilities like Ivanpah have come to rely on natural gas support. As is the case with the Trans Mountain pipeline, the threat to the interests of Native Americans comes from the fossil fuels industry, renewable energy being a “smoke screen.” As Kermit said, “It’s hard being green.”

Hales continues, “This senior Bureau of Land Management official, who deals with desert lands including the Blythe area, and the McCoy Valley, said, ‘none of the work will come within 200 feet of a geoglyph’ and that these ancient artifacts would not be harmed. When I pointed out that many Native Americans see this all as part of a ‘sacred landscape,’ he could see the point.

The biggest question remained unanswered, however, ‘Why are we putting these solar plants here in the first place’. ‘Why are we building them on or around Native American antiquities that are thousands of years old, which can never be replaced?”

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Groundbreaking, Sunrise Powerlink, McCain Valley, Who Are My People?” ©2015 Robert Lundahl

Many North Americans think these sites are like the Pyramids, ancient relics from a distant time, priceless, but unrelated to the life we lead in the 21st century. To Alfredo, and other Native peoples, they are holy. They are a part of a communion with The Creator. They’re sacred. They aren’t something from the past, they are ‘Now.”

What’s missing here is what Roy refers to as “social license,” a term most often used in Canada to express the public’s acceptance of a policy. As he says, “Social agreement, ‘We the People’ want this. Neither the people of British Columbia, nor the Native people around Blythe are being asked. Their opinions are irrelevant or are being treated as irrelevant.”

Things are different in the United Kingdom, where wind farms along the fragile coastlines have stirred opposition. Following, laws we’re enacted to provide villages and communities a say in the siting of wind facilities near communities. If a town or a region opposed, it would terminate the project. English villages have the “veto.”

But in the US and Canada, which we may think to be, arguably, more democratic. Democratic protections seem not to exist.

What’s wrong with that, an observer asks?

The world has always been ruled and regulated as much by democracy or democratic institutions as it has been ruled and regulated by pure power.

Are we just being idealistic?

Hales continues, “We have a chance here to do something really great. We have a chance to make a society where people matter, in part due to modern communications.

We have a chance to make a society where people look after the planet. We have a chance to make a just society.

If we let things like this just slip aside, we’ll lose the moment. The moment is right now. If we stand up and see justice done in the little things right now, we have the opportunity. It is an opportunity we’ve dreamed about for ages.

We do not have to let Native Americans see their antiquities destroyed. We do not have to let the coastline of British Columbia be destroyed by oil spills from tanker accidents.

Do we want justice? Or do we want a society that is ruled by corporations and the powerful? Where we are just little cogs. That is the real battle that is going on. And every one of these battles seems to boil down to the same issue.

It is the message behind Robert Lundahl’s film “Who Are My People?” featuring Native elders Alfredo Figueroa (Yaqui/Chemehuevi), Ron Van Fleet (Mojave), Phillip Smith (Chemehuevi), and Preston Arrow-weed (Quechan/Kumeyaay). The 53 minute film is available for a short time only, unrestricted for public viewing, and for press and educators worldwide, on the Ecoreport.com. The ECOreport invites all to experience this important story.

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By Robert Lundahl

The debate has surfaced time and time again as the perceived economics of the web drive down intelligent journalism in the face of articles by unpaid volunteers and press releases masquerading as reportage. The Los Angeles Times in 2011 described the Huffington Post business model as “a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates.” This was about a week before Huffington Post was acquired by by AOL for $315 million in cash and stock. Clearly the value of the transaction didn’t reach the writers, if any could be found.

What about the “Green” space, the necessary biblical tome of stories affecting the health of the planet, our decisions about how we live and what we buy, how we run our businesses in the name of energy and resources? Everyone says there’s a crisis on the planet but do we care? Maybe, maybe not.

Chris DeMoro: “We can wax poetic about the importance of our readers, but let’s remember…they are NOT paying for this content. It is a FREE service we provide to them. So you know, when someone complains about such a small issue like this, I tend to just not care…

For most of the people in this thread, blogging is a part-time gig paying VERY part-time money, and much of that money relies on pageviews. Like it or not, that’s the world we live in.

We are bloggers. Not journalists. Not scientists. Not researchers. Let’s try to remember that. I don’t lose sleep if something I write isn’t 100% perfect, because I am writing anywhere from 30 to 60 articles per week. Many of the people in this thread are the same way.”

DeMoro’s comments describe the business of blogging in terms that define the problem clearly: No money, no time, and no research. He addresses the issue of credibility as well, with articles passed through from industry in the name of environment.

DeMoro continues: “To wit, ladies and gents, the difference between blogging and journalism.

In general, the key difference between bloggers and journalists is one of process. Bloggers tend to offer opinion and analysis that links to news stories reported by mainstream media (see Pew report), while professional journalists tend to gather and report facts and opinion from expert sources.”

To his fellow bloggers, DeMoro asks, ” I would ask, when was the last time you reached out for a quote from a source? Or wrote a fully 100% original article based solely on your own research?

I’m not saying you haven’t, or don’t. But day-to-day, like me, you’re just rewording content from other news sources, maybe pulling in some extra sources/information.

That’s not journalism. That’s blogging. I went to school for journalism too. I’ve done more than my fair share of “real” journalism, and what we do at CT, day in and day out, is NOT journalism.”

DeMoro, knows the difference and is honest in his portrayal. This blogger seems to have penned a fine piece of actual journalism, or at least “fact based commentary.” His candor is commendable and his courage, palpable, then again, there is not much in the way of wages to lose.

He compliments CleanTechnica, which reprints original articles from TheECOreport among many other sources.

“…there is nothing wrong with being a blogger. It pays my bills to be sure, and I do take it VERY seriously. But what made CleanTechnica the #1 clean tech news site is NOT journalism.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for accuracy. But I think it’s an important distinction to keep in mind in these discussions. I’m as professional as bloggers get these days, but at the end of the day I’m not being paid to dig up new stories; I am being paid to rewrite content from other sources.”


23Mar

Wappo

Wappo

 
By Robert Lundahl

Wappo was a restaurant in Calistoga I liked to visit during the dot com boom. Shortly thereafter it closed, a victim of the ups and downs of American boom and bust. Wappo is also a tribe of the indigenous inhabitants of the area. For those sunbathing around the 1920’s Olympic size pool at Indian Springs, the home of the richest, restorative mud bath around, it may surprise that this ancient spring is an Indian Sacred Site. A place of traditional ceremonial practice, life-ways, and prayer.

Sometimes the disconnect leaves one’s mind gauzy in the face of kids splashing on water logs while moms struggle through hangovers under broad brimmed hats, in the mind’s split-screen of dark skinned Wappo women washing and preparing food at the same spot.

I remember the same astonishment watching the Native American and First Nations canoes arrive in 1993 at Neah Bay, home of the Makah tribe’s yearly celebration, Makah days. The colors of the sea and cedar canoes, wet with saltwater and covered with sacred art of spirit beings and animals, fish and sea creatures, sharing the visual palette with the faces of Makah, Klallam, and Quilieute peoples, dancing and drumming, told me more in one hour about the nation and continent I thought I inhabited than grades K-16.

It is that realization that once again escapes the northern San Francisco Bay Area counties of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, as an Indian gaming controversy comes to town. I’m going to tell you, mincing no words, after three controversial films under my belt, how vicious and ignorant non-native Americans can be when it comes to “Indians.”

At the forefront is an article published by The Napa Valley Register, called “Possible Indian Casino Plan Alarms Vintners, County.” In the first six lines of the article, writer Barry Eberling uses the word “Alarm” or “Alarm Bell” three times. The article continues to use the word “threat”, or “threatening,” three times. I remember my friend Keith Lauderback, a Klallam Indian, telling me a story while making a drum. He said, “The stories we tell our children usually have a moral, teaching them how to behave.” And so we as non-natives may similarly tell stories through our newspapers or television which teach us how to behave. Clearly, the lesson Eberling and his editors would like our children to remember is “alarm,” “threat,” and fear of Indian peoples.

Here’s a little history. Most everything you learned about California and the Indian nations is wrong to some degree. Although mandatory curriculum under state standards in grades 3 and 4, simple ideas and curriculum components have been “whitewashed.” John Sutter did not discover gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. The goldfields had been worked by indigenous miners from Sonora, now Mexico, for many years. The legendary Joaquin Murrieta was one such miner. The Gold Rush was not so much a social, economic phenomenon as a military occupation of California, lead in part by the troops of John C. Fremont. Fremont told the Mexican Governor, that he was looking for beachfront property for his mother in Monterey. In this manner, the Mexican/American War was brought to California.

On Oct. 8, 1846, American troops marched from San Pedro harbor up Alameda Street to the Dominguez Ranch, where they spent the night.

But the Californios had a surprise for them. Although there were only a few dozen locals against hundreds of soldiers, the Californios were able to trick the soldiers into thinking that they had more arms than they did by rolling their only cannon around the field between shots. The battle was won, but over time, the war was lost.

Kumeyaay historian Gary Ballard writes: The California Gold Rush 1848-1855, in particular, was catastrophic to the indigenous population and their tribal lands. It was estimated that some 300,000 foreigners poured into California during this seven-year period. By 1900 it was estimated that less than 16,000 California Indians had survived the invasion of their homelands (some 134,000 California Indians were lost during this 52-year period while the United States Government was in control of California).

Towns offered bounty hunters cash for every Indian head or scalp they obtained. Rewards ranged from $5 for every severed head in Shasta City in 1855, to 25 cents for a scalp in Honey Lake in 1863. One resident of Shasta City wrote about how he remembers seeing men bringing mules to town, each laden with eight to twelve Indian heads. Other regions passed laws that called for collective punishment for the whole village for crimes committed by Indians, up to the destruction of the entire village and all of its inhabitants. These policies led to the destruction of as many as 150 Native communities.

In both 1851 and 1852 California paid out $1 million–revenue from the gold fields–to militias that hunted down and slaughtered Indians. In 1857, the state issued $400,000 in bonds to pay for anti-Indian militias.

One of the first statutory acts of this legislature was to offer a bounty on Indian scalps.

From 1850 to 1863, state law provided for the indenture of California Indians.

Indian property was free for the taking because Indians weren’t permitted to testify in court. It was impossible to prosecute any crimes against them.

State Senator J.J. Warner spoke for many at the time when he said: “… there is no place within the territory of the United States in which to locate them … better, far better, to drive them at once into the ocean, or bury them in the land of their birth.”

All of this suggests that writer Eberling’s use of the words alarm and threat to establish the context of a discussion on the development of an Indian casino is misguided.

Such a level of alarm and threat is not consistent with Napa’s relative wealth. With 500,000 acres under production in grapes/wine, 400 wineries, property values of 30.9 billion, the County, sadly, is not yet free from its own shadow. “Through the roof” DUI statistics, 55 in February, 2015, including a Napa police sergeant who crashed his truck, and the American Canyon city clerk, female, other city clerk injured, as her passenger. Three embezzlers were arrested, two male, one female, including the woman who used to run the “crime stoppers” website. Perhaps it would be better if Napa cleaned up its own house before continuing to “scalp” indians.

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bell

By Robert Lundahl

“We’re going to have to open up like never before.”

It was 22 years ago that I made my way to the Elwha River, a river flowing north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, across from Victoria, Canada. The area had been called “The Last Frontier,” and the “Spiritual Cousin of Southeast Alaska.” That is to say it is remote, intensely rural, and bounded by 75 miles of wilderness to the south in Olympic National Park.

When I arrived, the “Jobs vs. Owls” wars were in full swing. A spotted owl was nailed to a telephone pole outside town. What occurred during “Redwood Summer” in Mendocino, preventing logging of old growth forests, was happening also at Clayoquot Sound in Canada. The nearby town of Port Angeles was a center for the old logging and fishing economy. Resources depleted, the anger was palpable, and on more than one occasion I envisioned a Silkwood-like ending, being driven off the road in the middle of the night by a guy wearing camouflage.

In this modern environment lived the Klallam Indian people. Their villages had once extended over a wide area including most of the Olympic Peninsula. There were village sites on the Lower Elwha River, close to the ocean, or Strait, and on the upper river, in what is now Olympic National Park.

In the early years of the century, two dams had been built on the lower river, over which the salmon could not pass. The salmon sustained the Klallam, and were the basis of their economy and their sustenance (food). When the dams were built, a massive die off of fish occurred, one that was eventually protested by and which raised alarm from Native and non-native people alike. It was oblivion for a resource that included 11 stocks of ocean going (anadromous) fish including Chinook, and Pink Salmon. Pink salmon runs totaled 200,000 fish every two years. It was the die off of Pinks that particularly incensed the residents. The Klallam were not allowed to take the freshly deceased salmon for food. They had been prevented from fishing, and if they were caught with a fish, in the new “white” community of Port Angeles, they could be taken to jail.

My interest in making the film was guided in part from my familiarity with the work of anthropologist Franz Boas and others. Edward Curtis’ film, “In the Land of the Headhunters,” the first feature film made in British Columbia, recognized Northwest tribal culture. It was my intention to revisit these peoples in the modern day. I found their modern era presence to be distressed and their situation dire.

Yet the Klallam had not given up on the idea of restoring their river and the bounty which had sustained them since time immemorial. There had been an act of Congress in 1992, brokered by senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, and Brock Adams of Washington, which mandated Elwha dam removal and ecosystem restoration, but such a thing had never been done and there was no certainty that funding would be available, particularly during an era highlighted by the Republican rise in the Senate and House (The Contract with America), and by the animosity on the ground as society began to debate what were were doing to the forests and the rivers of America. There had never before also been an attempt at restoring an ecosystem, though the Everglades was also named as a project in the queue. I heard over and over during this time period that the idea was “impossible.”

I arrived on the Klallam reservation in August of 1993, at the door of the Elwha Indian Shaker Church. There was a dinner and then a “Shake,” an all night religious/spiritual event. At dinner I was treated to elk, potato salad, and Jello. I met tribal people and some stories were told. Some families had fled oppression in the United States during the 1800’s and located in Canada, then returned. It was the beginning of an education that would continue for the next 8 years as I struggled to make a film on what had happened to the river and to the Klallam people.

Inside the church, with two long wooden benches, men sat on one side, women on the other, Spiritual leader Oliver, Bosco, Charles stood up before the crowd. “We have guests here tonight” he would say, “We’re going to have to open up like never before.”

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bea_adeline

“We heard you want to hear a story.”

Dedicated and intellectually captivated by the anthropology, the ecology, the policy implications, I returned over the period of almost six months with little actually filmmaking of storytelling to show for it. The Klallam resisted telling their story. The official Tribal Council members and employees were circumspect due to a 100 year long lack of trust. Sound recordist Peter Bettendorff and I pried the doors open (figuratively) to the fish hatchery, which was federally funded, in order to film some activities. Our filmmaking efforts were captured with an Eclair ACL 1.5 and a Nagra IVS-TC, when they occurred at all. It was the first week in March, 1994, when the sun first shined after a long winter. The sun shined for a week.

Down the road to the hatchery walked two grandmothers, Bea Charles and Adeline Smith. Adeline and Bea were best friends. They were each from different and sometimes competing Klallam families, but they had stuck together through all, from childhood.

Adeline spoke first. “We heard you want to hear a story.” I said yes, Adeline, that would be fantastic. She said, “You mean the one about my mother’s farm and how they tried to put the water through to the mill and built a pipeline right through the farm and killed the dogs and the chickens.” “Yes, Adeline,” I said, “That would be the one.”

With that introduction began a long relationship with these two fine women, modern and practical, quick with a laugh — we had a deal. That deal was that they would teach me and I would be a good student. The relationship lasted until their deaths. Audio recordings completed with them over a period of years told the story of the modern (and not so modern) history of the Klallam people.

_____________

dam

The Dark Days.

Overall, my work as a filmmaker, supported by location audio recordists Peter Bettendorff and Scot Charles, was unique. Coming at a time referred to as “the dark days,” history was preserved, the will of the people expressed, scientific leadership for the tribe in the restoration effort established, and an unresolved history of the most unsavory relations between cultures, acknowledged. When the film was screened in Port Angeles to an audience of over 500 people, one of a series in Northwest towns and cites and in the San Francisco Bay Area, the era of “darkness” ended.

Through our work we helped people preserve their culture, remain prideful, and support an ecological/environmental struggle that was won, all at a time when winning seemed impossible.

In 2012, two industrial “High Head” dams, which had blocked salmon runs to the river for almost 100 years, began to be removed in the largest dam removal and ecosystem restoration effort in the world.

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rachel

“I know in my heart that your film and the work you did had a huge impact on the ways things turned out.”

An email from Rachel Hagaman, Economic Director of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe expresses the appreciation for the role and purpose of the filmmaking enterprise in this case:

“Hello Robert…

Just wanted to say hello, and ask you how you are doing? Hope things have been going well for you and yours. Things have been okay for my husband and I. We are getting ready to go fish for chum salmon. I am sure you have heard by now, the fish are already starting to utilize the habitat up above where the projects used to be located. It is awesome, and it is going to keep getting better. I just want to say that I know in my heart that your film and the work you did had a huge impact on the ways things turned out and I am still very grateful to you for that work you did. Well I should go now, but I am hoping the best for you and yours, and wanted to say hello. thank you again.”

Rachel L. Hagaman (Kowalski)

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“It will be the great gift of the Elwha – Hope.”

In retrospect, filmmaking can be an art and a craft. But on the Elwha, it became something greater. Our work acted as a bridge between one era and another, between generations, and gave momentum to a dam removal and ecosystem restoration process that has made history — and set an example of the importance of the preservation of ecosystems in a new era dominated by climate change awareness and decisions made in light of that reality.

Senator Bill Bradley, who helped broker and initiate the Elwha River Fisheries and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 1992, spoke thusly, upon the beginning of the dam removal process to the Elwha People:

“I am compelled by the times we live in to point out that the Elwha legislation had bipartisan support. It was sponsored on a bipartisan basis. Supported by a Republican governor. Passed Congress on a bipartisan basis. Signed into law by a Republican President. Implemented under Republican and Democratic Administrations…

…when the salmon return, when the dippers and the herons and beavers and bears crowd the banks, when the life of the ocean and the mountains are joined again, when justice is done for Native people, you will have here something that moves and inspires people thousands of miles and continents away from here. It will be compelling, empirical proof of the health and practical genius of our own democracy.

This will be the place where our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can see the life of the planet restored. They will see the tangible power and great beauty of what you have achieved. We are restoring honor. We are keeping promises. We are doing the right thing.

Your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren-they will be proud of you. It will be the great gift of the Elwha – Hope.”


yellow

Dialoguing with New Constituencies, Opening the Door to a Wider Conversation about Energy, the Environment and Culture.

By Robert Lundahl

We have all taken the time, thought and effort to consider and respond to the 6000 page plus Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. This masterwork of bureaucratic thinking was composed without consultation with either tribes or communities and has consumed countless hours of review. All the while the plants, animals and cultures of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts exist in a volatile and unpredictable present with a disastrous future on the horizon. We must ask “How long before we look back to show our children pictures of a world they can never know?”

Despite the DRECP, we do not live in a “check the box world.”

In the four years of the DRECP’s development, time has moved at what seems like an ever faster pace.

1. The country and the world absorbed the shockwaves of economic near-collapse and uncertainty and began to rebuild confidence.

2. Energy producers looking at relevant and profitable business models decried large solar as “Idiotic” and stated, “Think how shockingly stupid it is to build a 21st-century electric system based on 120 million wooden poles.”

3. Companies building large solar in the desert complained that long permitting processes did not allow them to take advantage of technology advances — to think and produce energy in more contemporary ways.

4. Tribes, representing the fourth branch of American government, were left at the door, by the DRECP’s own admission (Section V), government agencies confused consultation with contact. https://planet-rla.com/confusing-contact-with-consultation/

5. California’s rooftop solar industry (behind the meter) is taking off and making utilities nervous. http://e360.yale.edu/feature/with_rooftop_solar_on_rise_us_utilities_are_striking_back/2687/ Predictably, utilities, which have no competitive business model, are in the position of “Big Iron” computer manufacturers at the beginning of the internet era. It was no secret then or now that as technologies become cheaper and more efficient, they tend to decentralize. http://grist.org/climate-energy/solar-panels-could-destroy-u-s-utilities-according-to-u-s-utilities/

6. Following the construction of the Ivanpah project, and relevations of the impacts of projects like it to the birds of the Pacific Flyway, to Desert Tortoise, to ecosystems, to biodiversity, to culture, economically, socially, environmentally, we know the price is high. We do not know fully whether these projects mitigate atmospheric carbon, nor how much, over their product cycle.

Today, it would be foolish not to consider these statements as “known facts.”

Where do we go from here?

The DRECP assumes there are tradeoffs to be made. It assumes the desert will be utilized for energy production despite better science that it may not be necessary to do so. It responds to a California law that mandates utilities and community-choice aggregators to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard goals without factoring in rooftop production to any overall strategy. It assumes that such remotely sited utility scale plants mitigate atmospheric carbon without a reasonable product cycle assessment of their ability to do so.

The DRECP is justified by the belief that not having the DRECP will only make things worse, because the rule book would default to the Western PEIS, Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. In a Los Angeles courtroom in July, 2011, a federal judge asked attorneys for the BLM and Department of Interior, “How does the PEIS account for cumulative impacts to culture or the environment.” It would seem by the lack of response at that time, that it does not.

Desert Protective Council, Western Lands Project, and Western Watersheds presented a legal challenge to the federal government, reasoning that agency’s failure to analyze more environmentally sound alternatives in the PEIS, as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), was not legal.

The DRECP’s supporters align on the basis that it it the least bad of the alternatives. Questions not asked include, “Does it help us move forward as a nation, to remain competitive, while reducing atmospheric carbon and mitigating climate change?” “Does it power our homes and fuel our economies with the best result for the planet and the economy?” Is it what we want?

Misinformation about energy production, environment, and culture, such as placing the wrong technologies in the wrong places, and giving the public the false sense of security that their voices are being heard, when no where does the DRECP account for peoples or communities, causes only massive losses and destruction of life — in short, catastrophe.

A quick glimpse at policies from other nations, like England, shows that we are more alone than we may think in allowing agencies and corporations to dictate the terms. http://theecoreport.com/get-the-politics-out-of-wind-energy/ As writer/editor Roy Hales states, “When the American colonies revolted, back in 1776, they believed there should be no taxation without representation. They should have remained English! In the UK, local communities get a chance to decide if renewable projects will be built in their midst. The alternative produces the lawsuits that are now occurring throughout Canada and the United States.”

It’s becoming more clear. In order to participate with the world and make sure our agencies and policies are truly “World Class,” we need to reach out to the rest of the world.


“Who Are My People?”
Reviewed by Delores Broten
Web Exclusive

Alfredo Figueroa, from "Who Are My People?" Documentary Film by Robert Lundahl. PHOTO : LUNDAHL

Alfredo Figueroa, from “Who Are My People?” Documentary Film by Robert Lundahl. PHOTO : LUNDAHL

Filmmaker Robert Lundahl’s “Who Are My People?” (53 min., 2014) tells the unusual but sadly familiar story of the conflict over the land between First Nations and development, between well-meaning environmental values and precious indigenous knowledge. In this case the tribal peoples are Quechan, Kumeyaay, Yaqui, and Chemehuevi, among others, trying to protect the sacred sites of their homelands in the deserts of the USA from solar and wind power development.

In the Mojave desert the scale is enormous. Between 200 and 250 solar and wind electricity projects are being planned, with disruption of the ecology on a massive scale. But in those millions of acres of desert are at least 17,000 geogylphs, sacred sites, and artifacts, which the indigenous people say keep the story of their land and their creation views intact.

The gold rush in the desert is fuelled by generous “fast track stimulus money” from the Obama government to promote alternative energy — 30% of cost and government loan guarantees. Even so, some companies have already gone bankrupt but not after ploughing roads and construction through ancient rock paintings of a massive scale.

The geoglyphs were formed by moving the black rock from the surface of the desert to expose the white underneath, making creatures, patterns, and maps of the cosmology. The amount of effort involved in moving all those stones is hard to imagine and it is equally hard to understand why the geogylphs would not be honoured as the amazing relicts they are. The indigenous people, however, remember the American residential schools, and consider the destruction of their homeland for industrial power as just another step toward destruction of their culture.

The takeaway lessons are many: the land is not empty; the desert too is a land of beauty; it and its creatures are a part of Mother Earth beloved by its people; and, most importantly, bigger is not better.

The tragedy is also familiar. Those enormous alternative energy projects, causing so much anguish, are rapidly becoming obsolete as solar roofing and small scale alternatives are implemented in the cities where the power is required.

destruction of geoglyphs

For more information visit http://whoaremypeople.com. email Filmmaker Robert Lundahl at robert@studio-rla.com

– See more at: http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/who-are-my-people#sthash.iFYLjzpB.dpuf


1/30/15

Robert Lundahl & Associates
Documentary Filmmaking
Public Policy Communications
415.205.3481

LOOKING BEYOND THE MOJAVE DESERT’S DRECP (DESERT RENEWABLE ENERGY CONSERVATION PLAN), OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTREACH AND COMMUNITY BUILDING

Dialoguing with New Constituencies, Opening the Door to a Wider Conversation about Energy, the Environment and Culture, Critical Issues for our Future.

Many of you know me as an Emmy® Award winning filmmaker, and as a corporate communications innovator. Today I’m connecting with you as a friend, as a colleague, and as someone who cares deeply about our diminishing desert ecosystems.

We have all taken the time, thought and effort to consider and respond to the 6000 page plus Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. This masterwork of bureaucratic thinking was composed without consultation with either tribes or communities and has consumed countless hours of review by almost every group to determine what is being imposed upon them. All the while the plants, animals and cultures of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts exist in a volatile and unpredictable present with a disastrous future on the horizon. We must ask “How long before we look back to show our children pictures of a world they can never know?”

Despite the DRECP, we do not live in a “check the box world.”

We live with heart and soul, compassion and knowledge that what has sustained us and earlier generations will continue to sustain us when given the opportunity.

In a word or two we must do a better job communicating and connecting.

The federal government, which holds sway over many decisions that affect us and our children, regard the Keystone XL opposition to be substantial and worthy of their re-consideration to that project. The same can not be said for energy development in the California deserts. Why? because we are not on the radar. Our messages are not being heard in the same way, despite the time, the commitment, and the heart that many of us have demonstrated time and time again.

We’re here on this planet to fix this, so that our children may grow up in a world more beautiful than the one we will have left behind.

The 2015 World Economic Forum at Davos declared 2015 to be the year of climate change. How do we make this real? How do we give this meaning? How do we give this a name that can be carried forward by generations coming?

We can’t afford to be 5 years behind, stuck in past assumptions, playing “catch up,” while the rest of the world moves forward economically, environmentally, and culturally.

If we choose the later path we will lose far more than the desert, the last in-tact ecosystems in North America. It’s bigger than that.

In thirty years time sea levels are predicted to rise about 28 feet. Changing weather patterns, flooded coastlines, and handing non eco-responsible corporations the “keys to the kingdom” will cost us our freedom and our basic infrastructure and quality of life.

What this means in light of our experience working to “save the desert” is that misinformation about energy production, environment, and culture, such as placing the wrong technologies in the wrong places, causes only massive losses and destruction of life — in short, catastrophe.

No 6000 page document begins to describe its impacts to human beings, our ability to work together creatively, as a community, to right these fundamental misconceptions.

What’s the opportunity? Communicate. Build public awareness. Motivate.

Let’s use the language of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Simply put, there is no airspace between sound science-based decision making about energy technologies and implementation, biodiversity and ecosystem health, and cultural survival.

The world has changed. The web is immediate, global and democratic. We can use it to reach out to other nations, other peoples, youth, and elders, and educate in a meaningful, interdisciplinary way.

In order to open this door, we have recreated and reinvigorated http://TheECOReport.com as a platform for global communication and motivation. The largest group of viewers, 26%, are 25-34 years old.

In order to help reach this powerful demographic of over 95 million in the US alone, individuals and groups may submit to publish news and ideas.

Send content and photo (1100 px wide) to roy.hales9@gmail.com. Distribute an email “Blast” to direct your mailing list to the post. Drive traffic. Traffic drives more traffic.

http://TheECOReport.com redefines environmental “outreach” as environmental journalism, creating a credible platform.

At http://TheECOReport.com, we ask, “What Works? What Doesn’t? And What can we do about it?” Exploring issues from different perspectives, leading to a range of differing opinions.

Working at the intersection of Energy, Environment, and Culture in collaboration with:

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Ask about branded channels for sponsors including:

“A World of Miracles and Wonders” https://www.theecoreport.com/world-of-miracles-and-wonder/, and “Design for a Changing Planet,” https://www.theecoreport.com/design-for-a-changing-planet2/”

Contact me for ideas, strategies and support in making TheECOReport.com a valuable asset in organizational communications.

Robert Lundahl
Principal

Robert Lundahl & Associates
robert@studio-rla.com
Skype: robertundahlfilms

415.205.3481–Direct

https://planet-rla.com
http://robertlundahlassociates.com


The Campbell River Mirror is the largest circulation newspaper on Northern Vancouver Island (“Documentary Makes Canadian Premier on Cortes”).

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Robert Lundahl & Associates
Documentary Filmmaking
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415.205.3481

WHAT’S RIGHT AT DAVOS, 2015

Business and Global Leaders call for Carbon Tax, “Huge” Investments in Green Technologies

Commentary by Robert Lundahl

The 2015 Davos World Economic Forum http://www.weforum.org/ has provided an unusual global focus on climate change. It is unusual because of the way in which global awareness developed on the issue. Al Gore’s 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth http://www.takepart.com/an-inconvenient-truth/film catalysed discussion but did so in a era pre-social media. It acted in a capacity as a “broadcast” rather than as a stimulator of participatory dialog. With it, the age of climate change denial became more virulent. Television meteorologists in particular confused weather with climate.

World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum

TV weather forecasters increasingly were taken to denying evidence that warming is affecting weather—or is even happening at all. Only 19 percent had accepted the established science that human activity was driving climate change, said a 2011 report by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, making TV meteorologists far more skeptical than the public at large. Here John Coleman debunks Climate Change on The Auto Channel.

Opposition had begun much earlier, however. A 1998 proposal (later posted online by Greenpeace) was circulated among U.S. opponents of a treaty to fight global warming, including both industry and conservative political groups, in an effort to influence public perception of the extent of the problem. Written by a public relations specialist for the American Petroleum Institute and then leaked to The New York Times, the memo described, in the article’s words, a plan “to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry’s views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases.”

“Secrets in the Ice,” Video by Robert Lundahl, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Defeat of the Cap and Trade Bill in 2009 represented a crushing of the agenda of the American environmental movement, from which it has not yet recovered, and the great recession of 2008/9 bumped the issue down the list of perceived priorities. It is only now, at Davos, at the 2015 World Economic Forum, that Climate Change as resurfaced as a serious matter for consideration in the public policy arena.

This is evident, particularly in light of a myriad of articles flooding the European press, of which The Guardian, as a member, is an example. In their “Davos Diary” one such post reads, “Nobel Prize winner: We must communicate risks of climate change.” Though hardly a statement of Earth shattering relevation, the recognition by the worlds’ business leaders and elite, that climate change is now acceptable dinner table conversation is relevatory within the context.

Following years of information dominance by the sexual proclivities of Dominic Strauss-Kahn, the necessity and expense of a Greek “Bailout”, followed by war in the Ukraine, we might even say Davos 2015 represents a moment of business and global leadership[ coming to their senses.

Lord Stern

Lord Stern

First to consciousness was Lord Stern. In “Davos 2015: climate change makes a comeback” The Guardian writes, “Stern is important because as a respected economist he talks a language that business understands. The message he delivered is pretty simple: burning fossil fuels may seem like the cheapest-cost option, but it isn’t. For a start, the cost of renewable energy is coming down fast, by a factor of 10 since Stern produced his seminal report on climate change in 2006. That same period has seen oil prices yo-yo between almost $150 (£99) a barrel and below $40 a barrel. Renewable energy prices are heading in only one direction: downwards. Oil and gas prices are volatile, making it hard for businesses to plan.

Stern’s broader point is that tackling climate change will lead to better growth. Not necessarily higher growth (although it might) but better growth, with less stress from sitting in traffic jams — and cleaner air means fewer deaths from respiratory diseases.

The commonly held belief, is that this is a bad time to be making the case for a different sort of energy policy, since falling oil prices make renewables relatively more expensive. Stern doesn’t agree. He says this is a good time to think about carbon taxes and removing energy subsidies, because the higher costs that will result for consumers and businesses will be offset by the falling price of crude.

Climate Change: Not Business as Usual,” Video by Robert Lundahl, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

This call for a carbon tax represents the first significant strategic push for carbon-reform since 2009, and Lord Stern identifies a sweet deal for business as a result of the timing. Implicit is the assumption (not new) that such a tax is inevitable given the now accepted irreversibility of climate change projections and the discrediting, over the years, of climate change deniers, by virtue of exposure of ties to the fossil fuels industry.

But it was World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, who seemed to place the debate “front and center” at the global conclave, calling for a price on carbon, requiring companies to disclose their climate risk exposure, and for greater investment in green bonds in the fight against climate change. According to the World Bank website, “The forum starts off a busy year for climate action as leaders in government, business, and finance aim for an international climate agreement in 2015.” Quoting Kim, “Now is the time to act for future generations before it is too late.”

Al Gore, Pharrell Williams

Al Gore, Pharrell Williams

While this rhetoric is familiar given past history with the 1997 Kyoto Summit and Protocols (wounds of that earlier era, divisions between North and South, developed and undeveloped countries, remained and festered), the moment seems beyond mere rhetoric, and calls to action more genuine. The mechanisms of taxation and the sale of green bonds proposed — presumably more equinanimous.

From the World Bank website: In corporate boardrooms and the offices of CEOs, climate change is a real and present danger. It threatens to disrupt the water supplies and supply chains of companies as diverse as Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil. Rising sea levels and more intense storms put their infrastructure at risk, and the costs will only get worse.

CEOs know this. They also know there is opportunity in how they respond. But while there are stand-out leaders, many others are holding back until they have more certainty about what governments will do.

French President François Hollande addressed the previous grievances over historic responsibility for climate change in calling for “huge investments” in green technology to fight global warming and poverty. Talks are slated for December in Paris to set a legally binding climate pact focused on carbon emissions cuts from 2020.

His nation is spending the year trying to persuade more than 190 countries to set aside differences over historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions levels and who should pay to produce a binding accord to limit industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

With governments on board and businesses reassured, the announcement by Al Gore and Pharrel Williams of Live Earth concerts on 7 continents including Antarctica is addressed to the public mindset, but the difficult work of setting the wheels in motion is being accomplished at Davos by governments and business leaders.


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