Nuke Developer’s Suit Against Snake River Alliance Dismissed

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Jan. 26, 2009 – The Fourth Judicial District Court in Ada County has dismissed the lawsuit brought against the Snake River Alliance by the developer of a proposed nuclear reactor above the Snake River in Elmore County. The dismissal establishes that Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley did not defame the company by referring to it and its chief officer as “scammers.”

Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. sued the Alliance and Shipley on Aug. 22, charging that Shipley defamed it by pointing out its financial and administrative struggles, and by concluding that “these guys are scamming Idahoans.” At the time Chief Executive Officer Don Gillispie boasted that “[s]omeone has to hold them accountable. They have used defamation tactics since the day we announced this plant and the media has {sic} obliged them by spreading their fabrications.” He also accused the Alliance of attempting to drive down the price of AEHI stock, which on Tuesday night was listed at 7.5 cents a share with more than 74 million shares outstanding. In its Complaint AEHI asked the Court to require the Snake River Alliance and Shipley to retract their statements, to prohibit them from further “disparaging statements,” and to award it money damages.

The Snake River Alliance immediately moved to dismiss AEHI’s lawsuit. The Alliance defended Shipley’s statements of opinion concerning AEHI as free speech protected from liability by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. In its brief to the Court the Alliance cautioned that “[p]ermitting this punitively designed action to proceed would have a chilling effect on public discourse over [AEHI’s] controversial project.”

http://yubanet.com/enviro/Nuke-Developer-s-Suit-Against-Snake-River-Alliance-Dismissed.php

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Native Alerts: Forest Service Policy, Renewable Energy Feedback, Stimulus Package

1. Urge President Obama to Withdraw the Forest Service Special Forest Products Rule! (courtesy of Jennifer Kalt, California Indian Basketweavers Association)

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Forest Service issued a new rule that would require permits and, in some cases, charge fees for tribal members to gather plant materials used for basketweaving, medicinal, ceremonial, and subsistence food uses. This “Midnight Regulation” is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 28, 2009.
This rule would interfere with Native Americans’ traditional gathering practices for plants of cultural importance.  This new rule conflicts with existing laws and policies, as well as local agreements that protect Native American religious freedom and cultural traditions. The rule will be costly to administer, and unfair to Native people.
What you can do:
Urge the Obama Administration to suspend the Forest Service’s final rule on Special Forest Products — please call or write today! For more information, contact Jennifer Kalt at jkalt@ciba.org or visit http://www.ciba.org.
Sample letter/talking points are below —(rewording and adding your own personal perspective and experience is always good):
“I urge you to suspend the “Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber; Special Forest Products and Forest Botanical Products” (36 CFR Parts 223 and 261; RIN 0596-AB81). Withdrawal of this rule until review and reconciliation with existing laws and policies will honor the United States’ trust responsibility to tribes and individual Indians, and will maintain the relationships with Tribes that the Forest Service has worked so hard to promote.”
1. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Dawn Charging, Office of Native American Programs dawn.charging@usda.gov
Tom Vilsak, Secretary of Agriculture
2. U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: comments@indian.senate.gov (202) 224-2251
Chair, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota): senator@dorgan.senate.gov
Vice Chair, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska): senator@murkowski.senate.gov
Committee Member: Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington: senator@cantwell.senate.gov
3. Chief Abigail Kimbell, USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, DC 20090-6090
(800) 832-1355
(202) 205-1661
4. U.S. Congress: Find your Representative: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA: AmericanVoices@mail.house.gov
5. The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111
2.  Deployment of Renewable Energy in Indian Country (courtesy of Lizana Pierce, Dept. of Energy)
DOE’s Tribal Energy Program has issued a Request for Information (RFI).
Under this RFI, the DOE is seeking information from Tribes and other
parties interested in the deployment of renewable energy in Indian
Country in the contiguous 48 States. The information in response to the
six (6) questions in the attached RFI document will be used by DOE for
internal planning and decision making purposes relative to future
activities under DOE’s Tribal Energy Program.
The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is solely for
consideration in determining the barriers to renewable energy deployment
and the most beneficial and efficient way for DOE to help accelerate the
deployment of renewable energy in Indian Country
A copy of the RFI is attached or can be downloaded from
Announcement and Other Files” for a link to the actual document.
3. Tribal Projects in the Stimulus Package
Congress and President-Obama are in the process of developing economic stimulus legislation that will provide hundreds of billions of dollars for “shovel-ready” State infrastructure projects.  Unfortunately, President-Obama’s stimulus proposal does not include direct funding for Tribal Governments to use in the hundreds of Tribal infrastructure projects that are shovel ready.
Tribal Leaders and others supportive of fair and equitable treatment in the economic stimulus package are encouraged to write President-Obama to urge him to honor the government-to-government relationship with Tribes, to treat Tribes fairly and to include a Tribal component in the economic stimulus legislation as recommended by the National Congress of American Indians, the Intertribal Transportation Association and other Tribal advocates.
For more information and to obtain a sample letter to send to President-Obama, please contact Jennifer Thomas at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson and Perry, LLP at jthomas@sonosky.com or Gwen Salt at the National Congress of American Indians at gsalt@ncai.org.

High court petitioned to protect sacredness, environmental integrity of San Francisco Peaks

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

WASHINGTON – The Navajo Nation and other interested parties have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of a precedent setting case to protect sacred sites and religious practices.

The Supreme Court is the last stop for Navajo Nation v. U.S. Forest Service, a case that began in 2002 when the service granted a special permit to the Arizona Snowbowl to expand its ski area and begin spraying up to 1.5 million gallons a day of treated sewage effluent as artificial snow on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks.

The Peaks, a sacred mountain in northern Arizona, is revered by at least 13 American Indian tribes who consider the site “a home of spiritual beings; a place where significant mythological events occurred; a place where spirits of the dead went to be changed into bringers of rain; a personification of gods and goddesses; and a source of life,” according to the petition.

http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/home/content/38225129.html

In rural Alaska, villagers suffer in near silence

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Reporting from Tuluksak, Alaska — As the temperature plunged to minus-40 degrees last month, Nastasia Wassilie waited.

The 61-year-old widow had run out of wood and fuel oil, and had no money to buy more. Nor was there much food in the house. But people here in rural Alaska try to take care of themselves. Her sister would come to help. Surely she would.

Nearly three days later, when neighbors learned of Wassilie’s plight, the Tribal Council put out a call on the VHF radio that is the lifeline for most of the far-flung Yupik Eskimo villages along this remote stretch of the Kuskokwim River.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-rural-alaska25-2009jan25,3,1199270,full.story

Western Shoshone Protest Continues at Federal Court

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Western Shoshone Protest Continues at Federal Court

Support Religious Freedom for the Western Shoshone
Stop Barrick Gold from Destruction of the Sacred Mt. Tenabo
Demonstration and Trial to Protect Native Religions continues
Jan. 21 8:00 – 9:00 AM
Thompson Federal Building and Courthouse
(at Liberty and S. Virgin St. – Reno)

Stay for the Injunctive Hearing in the courthouse

From the Western Shoshone
Photo of Wednesday morning protest by Carl Bad Bear Sampson

The second day of a new President will see the second day of the Western Shoshone asserting their right to freely practice their religion. Roger Flynn of the Western Mining Action Project, council for the Western Shoshone, will be arguing for the second day in US Court to prevent further destruction of sacred Mt. Tenabo at the hands of Barrick Gold Corporation. Just two months ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the construction of a massive open pit cyanide heap leach gold mine on the face of well-known spiritual area, Mt. Tenabo. Western Shoshone communities, the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch are seeking an injunction to stop mining activities at Mt. Tenabo before its special spiritual energy is obliterated.

The court heard compelling testimony from Western Shoshone as to the special significance of Mt. Tenabo in their religious practice, and how the proposed mine would deny this practice. Witnesses elaborated on the special spiritual power of Mt. Tenabo and its healing waters, which would be lost if this mine goes forward. Lawyers with Barrick Gold attempted in cross-examination to undermine the special significance of Mt. Tenabo, and will be presenting witnesses on January 21st. The trial is expected to continue through Thursday January 22nd.

Western Shoshone will again lead a peaceful and respectful demonstration in front of the Federal Building just prior to the hearing from 8:00 AM to 8:45 AM with native drumming, song, and prayer. A similar demonstration is anticipated for Thursday morning as well – for as many days as the hearing is in play.

“Denabo (correct spelling) has significance for Western Shoshone, it means the writing on the rock walls of the mountain (White Cliffs) put there by our Creator. We go to pray to our Creator to give us strength to keep us going. How can we pray to our creator when the place in being blown up?” – Joyce McDade, Western Shoshone Grandmother

Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s largest gold company and operates mainly on Indigenous lands for the extraction of gold. This company has refused to accept its social responsibility to protect Indigenous peoples’ land, sacred areas, water, and air pollution.

This destruction of Indigenous spiritual areas must stop now.

WHAT YOU CAN DO AS WE AWAIT THE COURT’s DECISION
We need supporters at both of the following locations:

1. Attend the Public Demonstration to Protect Native Spiritual Areas and Human Rights in front of the Courthouse on S. Virginia Street beginning at 8 am on both Jan. 20th and 21st.

2. Attend the Mt. Tenabo encampment and Arbor Vigil beginning Thursday Jan. 15th and lasting through the following week of hearings at the gathering area on the Southeast flank facing Grass Valley, Nevada. (Contact wsdp@igc.org for directions and supplies needed).

3. We also need people to write requests to President (elect) Barrack Obama and his transition team. This destruction of Indigenous spiritual areas must stop now and a commitment to good faith talks with the Western Shoshone must be made.

download flyers and handbills for distribution

sample letter
Background:
Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s largest gold company and operates mainly on Indigenous lands for the extraction of gold. This company has refused to accept its social responsibility to protect Indigenous peoples’ land, sacred areas, water, and air pollution. Barrick has carried out many violations of Human Rights, and abusively opposed the struggle of Indigeous lands and people. Barrick is now beginning construction of an open pit cyanide mine directly on Mt. Tenabo – a Western Shoshone spiritual and cultural area. Shoshone opposition to this mine has been ongoing and has gained global attention. Barrick has failed to recognize these concerns and has instead attempted to divide the Shoshone people, giving money and gifts to the communities, and using its media channels to state that all the people are happy and are supportive of their operations. The time is critical now as Barrick has already received full approval from the U.S. Dept. of Interior and has begun ripping out the Pinon forest and digging the pit to create its “Cortez Hills Expansion Mine.”

This mine will cause permanent destruction of the cultural and spiritual practices of the Western Shoshone. Mt. Tenabo has been, and continues to be, used by Western Shoshone people as a central part of their religious practices and world view. Western Shoshone visit the mountain and the valley below (the location of the mine pit) for prayer ceremonies, gathering of sacred plants, fasting, and vision quests, among other uses. The Mountain also contains Western Shoshone gravesites. All of these values and uses will be destroyed by the Project. In addition, the massive pumping of groundwater will likely dry up sacred springs and streams on and around Mt. Tenabo.

No big mining project in Nevada has ever been denied by the United States. This is one must be stopped.

The details of the mine would:

* Disturb 6,792 acres of land, including a heap leach and waste rock facilities.

* Blast the new Cortez Hills mine Pit approximately 900 feet in length, 6,400 feet in width, and a maximum depth of 2,200 feet.

* Pump groundwater from around the pit with an average dewatering rate of approximately 1.8 billion gallons per year for ten years.

* Create a drop in the water table of 1,600 feet surrounding the pit, decreasing to 10 feet at a 3-4 mile radius of the pit.

* Potentially impact 50 springs and seeps in the area.

* Of the 11 non-Cortez Gold Mine water rights impacted, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases

Again, we need your help to tell Barrick to stop presenting false information to the media making the Shoshone people and the violations of this mine to the lands and sacred areas invisible to the public. At this time we need your support to stop mining at Mount Tenabo and to tell the U.S. there must be a full review of the human rights violations of the Shoshone people. We ask for your support in this urgent case which has common elements with indigenous peoples and mining abuses around the world.

Some important talking points to consider in your Request:

* The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Decision 1/68) has specifically raised concerns regarding the mining threat to Mt. Tenabo. The United States is in further violation of this Decision in approving this project – the Obama administration needs to understand this now before taking office.

* The Bush administration has strong connections to the mining industry and this decision approving the “Cortez Hills Expansion” before the new administration comes in is highly questionable.– President Obama should demonstrate the change he is committed to and respect Western Shoshone spirituality and the need to stop this destructive project and uphold the human rights and Treaty rights. Request that the Obama Team meet immediately with Western Shoshone representatives to investigate further the human rights violations.

* Barrick is well-aware of the concerns and the Mt. Tenabo mine proposal has been specifically criticized by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

* From the BLM’s own analysis, “Although not quantifiable, the project area and the region surrounding the project area have been home to local Indian groups for centuries, and the resources in the area, the value placed on those resources, and potential effects to those resources are intertwined with the culture of local Indian tribes more so than any other population in close proximity to the project area.” – Final Environmental Impact Statement

The details of the mine would:

* Disturb 6,792 acres of land, including a heap leach and waste rock facilities.

* Blast the new Cortez Hills mine Pit approximately 900 feet in length, 6,400 feet in width, and a maximum depth of 2,200 feet.

* Pump groundwater from around the pit with an average dewatering rate of approximately 1.8 billion gallons per year for ten years.

* Create a drop in the water table of 1,600 feet surrounding the pit, decreasing to 10 feet at a 3-4 mile radius of the pit.

* Potentially impact 50 springs and seeps in the area.

* Of the 11 non-Cortez Gold Mine water rights impacted, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases

realtipof5451http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2009/01/western-shoshone-protest-continues-at.html

Update on Court hearings to protect Mt. Tenabo

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Update on Court hearings to protect Mt. Tenabo from a new open pit gold mine proposed by Barrick Gold and approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The hearing at the Federal Court in Reno, Nevada began on January 20 and ended today, January 23rd – it was a long week, but seemed to go ok. The Judge extended the restraining order until Monday at which time (3:00 p.m. PST) he will render his decision on whether to grant the injunction to stop the mine project on Mt. Tenabo until a full hearing on the merits. Below are some stories that came out on the hearing – check www.gbrw.org for more updates.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28772717/

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/01/18/financial/f163935S91.DTL

http://www.kolotv.com/news/headlines/37893734.html

www.gbrw.org

PG&E Calif. Diablo Canyon 1 reactor shut-NRC

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Reuters) – PG&E Corp.’s (PCG.N) 1,122-megawatt Unit 1 at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power station in California was shut as of early Monday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in its daily plant status report.

On Friday, the unit was operating at full capacity.

While the reason for the shutdown could not immediately be confirmed, traders noted the unit was expected to shut in late January for about a two month refueling outage.

The 2,240 MW Diablo Canyon station is located in Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, about 195 miles (314 km) northwest of Los Angeles. There are two units at the station, Unit 1 and the 1,118 MW Unit 2, which entered service in 1985 and 1986.

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idUSN2646530520090126