• #NoDAPL National Day of Action – 200+ Stand with Standing Rock in Reno

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    200+ protectors outside Army Corps of Engineers field office in Reno, NV in solidarity with Standing Rock – #NoDAPL! (Photo: Autumn Harry)

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    Helen Filmore speaking about what she witnessed during her recent trip to Standing Rock. (Photo: Autumn Harry)

    Today over 200 people in Reno and thousands across the US and internationally mobilized to support the water protectors at Standing Rock in their efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. We gathered at the Army Corps of Engineers field office in Reno to demand the agency cancel the permits and halt the pipeline – now and in the future. Organizers attempted to deliver the below letter to Army Corps staff, but found the office unexpectedly closed.

    Follow Sacred Stone Camp on Facebook for information on the #NoDAPL national day of action and Stand with Standing Rock, Reno NV for updates on local solidarity efforts.

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    November 15, 2016

    Ms. Kristine Hansen
    Senior Project Manager, Nevada-Utah Branch
    Army Corps of Engineers field office
    300 Booth Street, Reno, NV 89509

    Dear Ms. Hansen,

    The “Dakota Access” Pipeline (DAPL) is a $3.8B, 1,100 mile fracked-oil pipeline currently under construction from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois. DAPL is slated to carry about 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day across Lakota Treaty Territory at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where it would be laid underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the continent. Construction of DAPL threatens the water source that millions of people depend on. It is not a question of if a pipeline will rupture, it is a question of when.

    The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) fast-tracked the Dakota Access Pipeline without proper consultation or adequate assessment, determining that there will be “no direct or indirect impacts” on the 200 cultural and spiritual sites, the four states the pipeline crosses, or the Missouri River under which the pipeline is slated to run. This lack of due diligence was outlined in critical letters to the USACE from the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Interior, and the American Council on Historical Preservation.

    The Obama administration and the USACE must act now to reject this pipeline and cancel the permits. This disaster-waiting-to-happen cannot be passed along to the administration of President elect Donald Trump. We cannot and we will not allow our human rights, our Indigenous rights, our water or our climate to be sacrificed for the benefit of corporations.

    We are deeply concerned that the Army Corps granted permission for police and private security to arrest water protectors on USACE land. The militarization of the police and private security has escalated this conflict, putting the safety of the water protectors at risk. We demand the Army Corps retract this permission in order to deescalate the situation and ensure the safety of the water protectors.

    Similarly, we call on the USACE to discontinue stall tactics, like those described in yesterday’s press release, which stated, “The Army invites the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to engage in discussion regarding potential conditions on an easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill, hasten detection and response to any possible spill, or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe’s water supplies.” This statement, issued one day before massive mobilization against the agency, does not address our clear demand to reject outright the construction of the pipeline. No more stalling, no more rerouting. The USACE has the responsibility to respect indigenous sovereignty, cancel the permits, and halt this project now and in the future.

    Many individuals and organizations throughout the state of Nevada have carried out rallies, concerts, fundraisers, and teach ins. Others have traveled to Standing Rock to. In addition we have organized for the transfer of donations, and several members of our community have traveled to Standing Rock, North Dakota to participate in the prayerful resistance on the front-lines. We join this fight because federal regulations are supposed to protect everybody and not privilege corporate profits over basic civil rights of people, and the health and future of our environment. This is happening in collusion with our national government and the state of North Dakota. If it happened in North Dakota, it could happen in Nevada.

    Today we join tens of thousands of people at hundreds of events across the country to stand in solidarity with water protectors at Standing Rock. Nevadans are calling on the Army Corps, and stakeholders at every level – including the banks who are funding Dakota Access and the companies building the project – to ensure native sovereignty is honored, indigenous rights are protected, and our communities, water, and climate are valued over fossil fuel profits.

    This fight is grounded in the values expressed at the Oceti Sakowin Camp: respect, compassion, honesty, generosity, humility, and wisdom. The protectors have vowed that they will stay on the land indefinitely in order to stop the construction of the pipeline. We vow to continue to stand in solidarity with them. As such, we urge the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately halt the Dakota Access Pipeline and to cancel the permits in order to prevent any further desecration of sacred burial and archaeological sites and to protect the land and water we all depend on.

    Stand with Standing Rock, Reno NV 
    Water is Life!

  • Apply to be a Climate Justice Fellow with PLAN

    Location: Reno, NV

    Dates: 10 weeks at 12 – 15 hours per week beginning in mid-January 2017

    Application Deadline: November 16, 2016

    Position: PLAN’s Environmental Justice program aims to transform how Nevada produces and distributes energy by centering is on the realities of communities impacted by mining and energy/climate policy. This means engaging at both the grassroots and legislative level to ensure a democratic and wholistic approach to dealing with the challenges of warming planet. We seek to compel action by centering the climate crises within an intersectional analysis which takes into account class, race, and gender. Join us for a 10 week fellowship and make a major impact in Nevada and the country!

    This is a 10 week-long position at 12 -15 hours per week. Fellow will begin work in mid-January 2017 and will be compensated at $15 per hour.

    Responsibilities: Our winter fellow will help support our state climate justice work in collaboration with the People’s Action (PA). Fellows will work with PLAN staff to:

    • Support writing and launch of PLAN’s environmental justice report and other publications and materials for our website and blog.
    • Engage in base building and organizing efforts to promote full implementation of the Clean Power Plan, as well as PLAN’s legislative priorities including government regulations that protect our public resources and policies that promote reinvestment in green, democratically controlled energy production.
    • Attend and lead energy and climate meetings and trainings.
    • Plan events and actions in to increase community participation in the 2017 Legislative session, specifically a public forum in January and two legislative days of action.

    Qualifications: We’re looking for someone passionate about climate justice with how it relates to economic, racial and environmental justice. A successful candidate will have strong interest and possibly experience in leadership development and organizing. They will be a self-starter but also enjoy working in a collaborative, fluid team environment. Our Climate Justice Fellow will work out of our Reno, Nevada office and must be able to define set work days and hours.

    Additional preferred qualifications:

    • Strong writing and research skills
    • Willingness to take risks and work with minimal supervision
    • Ability to manage multiple tasks and deadlines
    • Experience with Dropbox and Google Applications

     

    How to Apply: Submit a resume and a 1-page cover letter to emoore@planevada.org with “Climate Fellowship” in the subject line by November 16th. Women, Indigenous, and People of Color strongly encouraged to apply.

  • Guatemalans appeal case against Tahoe Resources in Canadian court

    PRESS RELEASE

    Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) – Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) – Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)

     Tuesday, November 1, 2016

    Today, the British Columbia Court of Appeals in Vancouver, Canada will revisit a procedural motion in the case of seven Guatemalans who have brought a civil suit for battery and negligence against Tahoe Resources. The suit concerns the mining company’s role in a violent attack in April 2013, when Tahoe’s private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the controversial Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala. Video footage shows that the protestors were shot at close range while attempting to flee.

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    Victims of attack by Tahoe Resources’ private security. Luis Fernando (left) was shot in the face. His dad, Adolfo, was shot in the back. (Photo: Giles Clark)

    In November 2015, a BC Supreme Court judge refused jurisdiction and said the case should be heard in Guatemala. Lawyers for Tahoe Resources, which is registered in British Columbia and headquartered in Reno, Nevada, had argued that most of its business in done in the U.S., and Judge Gerow focused narrowly on the procedural costs and inconvenience of bringing the suit in Canada.

    “Under international law, companies have a responsibility to protect human rights – no matter where they occur,” says Kelsey Alford-Jones, Senior Campaigner at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “To the extent that human rights abuses occur, business enterprises have an affirmative duty to avoid complicity in those abuses. Canadian and U.S. courts must hold their companies accountable for violations, full stop.”

    Guatemala continues to be plagued by a high impunity rate, lack of judicial independence, and widespread corruption. The lead suspect in the criminal case filed in Guatemala and former head of security for Tahoe escaped police custody and fled the country just weeks after the BC Supreme Court decision was released in November 2015.

    “The April 2013 attack is just one of numerous troubling human rights incidents in connection with Tahoe’s operations in Guatemala,” says Ellen Moore of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “The company’s argument that most of its business is conducted in Reno is preposterous – Escobal is its flagship project and was its only mine at the time of the attack. And while Tahoe desperately ties to outrun accountability first in Guatemala and now in Canada, it’s running out of places to hide.”

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    An organizer from a community near Tahoe’s mine describes repression and ongoing resistance. (Photo: NISGUA)

    Since receiving its exploration license in 2011 without the consent of local communities, the Escobal mine has been mired in conflict, and subsequent judicial proceedings related to its exploitation license and industrial contamination of water. A recent complaint filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission questions whether Tahoe Resources Inc. has met legal requirements for disclosing human rights abuses and lawsuits that impact the Escobal mine to its shareholders.

    “While Tahoe claims strong community support in Guatemala, by its own admission the local opposition is so intense that the mine cannot be connected to the main power grid,” says Becky Kaump from the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). “This is only one example of clear community resistance to the mine, and the April 2013 violence is only one example of the backlash organizers have faced for their opposition.”

    Criticism of Tahoe’s operations spans the U.S., Canada, and Guatemala, and human rights defenders in all three countries have been calling on their governments to intervene to address ongoing repression and violence. Today, advocates in Vancouver, BC are outside the courthouse to show support for the Guatemalans bringing this suit forward.

    For more information and background about this lawsuit and the broader community struggle, please visit www.tahoeontrial.net.

    Contacts:

    Kelsey Alford-Jones, Center for International Environmental Law (202) 742-5854 kalford@ciel.org

    Ellen Moore, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (775) 348-7557 emoore@planevada.org

    Becky Kaump, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (+502) 5575 2058 becky@nisgua.org

  • Nevadans stand up for the Clean Power Plan in Washington D.C.

    Last month PLAN leaders from across the state traveled with People’s Action to Washington D.C. to take part in a day of action in support of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is currently on hold after a legal challenge filed by 24 state Attorney Generals, and with support from some of the worst corporate polluters on the planet. The CPP is a monumentally important first step toward inching back from the brink of climate catastrophe – an issue that means life or death for vulnerable, low-income communities and communities of color.

    Below, PLAN leader, Sierra Norton Jickling reflects on on the day of action and why she thinks protest and direct action is important.

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    Sierra speaking outside the Court hearing on the CPP in Washington D.C. (Photo: Rae Breaux)

    We loaded into buses early in the morning to head to the D.C. District Court House, where our rally in support of the Clean Power Plan was to take place. We started off the morning with a series of speakers, punctuated by rounds of chanting and cheering. Each of the speakers brought a unique voice, face, and perspective to the environmental movement. Some were angry, some were scared, and some were downright upset–but every speaker contributed to the sense of passion, urgency, and importance that was in the air that morning. Not many of the people passing by stopped to listen to what we had to say, and just a few slowed down to look.

    Sometimes though, it is just as important to remind ourselves about why we commit as activists to a certain cause, as it is to educate others about that cause. Although we did not draw a crowd of non-informed strangers, we did bring a deeper sense of purpose and unity to our group of People’s Action folks.

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    PLAN staff, Ellen Moore, calls out the National Mining Association and the Nevada Mining Association for blocking the CPP. (Photo: Rae Breaux)

    After finishing up our scheduled speakers in front of the Court, we quickly made our way down the street to the National Mining Association (NMA), one of the groups that signed on to the lawsuit against the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. There we entered the lobby and occupied the lobby there for about thirty minutes, chanting and having another series of speakers. After we had made our presence known, loud and proud, we left a letter of grievances with those at the front desk, and we exited peacefully. The security guards, while displeased, did not attempt any force with our group.

    Immediately after our visit to the NMA, we moved again by bus to another part of town to the National Association of Manufacturing’s building. Once again, we entered their lobby and held space with speakers and chants, and a small yet decent sized group of individuals in suits were temporarily prevented from entering the building.

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    PLAN leader, Jose Macias, leading chants and keeping the crowd energized. (Photo: Rae Breaux)

    The downside of holding space in a lobby, which was the case in the last two direct actions of the day, is that the individuals that must confront the protesters most directly are likely the individuals in the building that have the least to do with the matter that the protesters are demonstrating against. In our case, those that seemed to be most dismayed or inconvenienced by our action were the security guards and front desk employees of both the NMA and the Association of Manufacturing.

    Our real anger and grievances are directed at those that sit in the big private offices and make the decisions to spend millions of dollars against sustainable policies and environmental protection, but due to their socio-economic status and career, they are exceedingly unlikely to have to make contact with lobby protesters. That being said, it is worth noting that any protesting presence, no matter how small, at least contributes to any conversation around the issue that is protested. I believe this to certainly be true about the actions we held that day.

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    PLAN leaders on their way to meet with their elected representatives.

    Following the direct action, we had some quieter time to spend making office visits to our representatives. For our Nevada group, we had a scheduled visit with Rep. Dina Titus (D) and a drop off of literature with Rep. Cresent Hardy (R). The drop off was brief, and we made our way to Rep. Titus’s office to meet with her office aide There we discussed the various bills that we wanted Rep. Titus to co-sign or vote in favor of–mostly, our conversation revolved around water, energy, and infrastructure. While the office visit could not have been insanely thorough due to the limited time we had, we hit on the most important topics and made our wishes known. I have never had the experience of visiting a representative of Congress before, so the opportunity was, for me, very eye-opening.

  • ‘Keep it in the Ground’ trial postponed, but we’ll be back!

    Today’s trial against PLAN Director, Bob Fulkerson for charges stemming from Nevada’s massive ‘Keep it in the Ground’ protest on June 14th was postponed. Fulkerson and fellow activist, Travis Fuller, were both tackled and detained by Siena Hotel security at the rally, becoming the first people arrested during a year of protest aimed at Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sales across the country.

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    Supporters gathered outside the Reno Municipal Court

    The Reno Municipal Judge ordered a continuum in order to allow time to access video footage from the Siena Hotel. The judge also recused himself due to his history of relationship with the Fulkerson family. A new trial date will be set within the week. Travis Fuller will stand trial on September 21st.

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    Autumn Harry, member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

    PLAN is incredibly inspired and grateful to the dozens of people who came out to support Bob and stand up for Nevada’s water and our country’s climate future. A special thank you to student activist, Sierra Jickling and Autumn Harry, member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, whose words put the struggle to defend land and water into a national context marked by unprecedented climate catastrophe, but also unprecedented resistance from frontline communities.

    Together, we reaffirmed our commitment to stand together. From the prayer camp against a dangerous oil pipeline at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to the inspiring movement to halt new leases in the flood ravaged Gulf of Mexico and the KING national convergence in Washington D.C. on September 15th – we will continue to fight back against a system that persecutes the people who are protecting life and supports the industries and fossil fuel corporations that are causing irreparable harm.

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    Sierra Jickling, UNR student activist

    We continue to call on President Obama to do what’s right by communities and climate by ending new fossil fuel leases on our public lands and waters.

    Check out videos from today’s press conference and rally here and here.

  • American Outrage movie screening

    On September 8th at 7pm PLAN will host a backyard screening and discussion of the documentary, American Outrage (Our Land, Our Life), the inspiring story of Western Shoshone sisters, Carrie and Mary Dann, who stood up to mining giant Barrick Gold.

    It is difficult to find a Nevadan who is unfamiliar with the history and influence of mining on our state – from the early men and women who risked it all for the chance to strike gold, to today’s massive operations run by transnational mining conglomerates. These already well-known stories were the focus of a recently aired four-part Nevada mining series on Northern Nevada’s Public Broadcasting station, KNPB.  The Nevada Mining Association paid for the 120 minute production, which dedicated just eight minutes of air time to voices concerned about the environmental and cultural impacts of mining on our state.

    Too many questions were left unanswered. What about the sacred tribal sites overrun to make way for open-pit gold mines? What is the industry doing to address the fact that according to the EPA, Nevada mines are some of the greatest producers of mercury in the U.S.? What does the shift away from an economy fueled by expensive fossil fuels mean for the future of gold-mining in Nevada?

    PLAN, Great Basin Resource Watch and the Comstock Resident’s Association were particularly disappointed as all three groups had participated in the making of the series with the good-faith that KNPB would ensure a fair and accurate portrayal of one of Nevada’s most controversial issues. We wrote a letter detailing our concerns and shared it in person with  KNPB management, the Community Advisory Board and the Board of Directors. KNPB’s response did not address any of the specific content or factual concerns, totaling over eight pages, that were raised and failed to justify that opposing views accounted for less than 10% of the overall content.

    Nevada has a rich history of mining and resistance, and we think both stories need to be told. Join us at PLAN’s office on Thursday, September 8th from 7 – 8:30pm where we will begin to discuss some of the questions KNPB and its corporate sponsors failed to address. Bring lawn chairs if you have them; we will provide the popcorn!

    PLAN’s office is located at 203 S. Arlington Ave, Reno, NV 89501

  • Despite a disappointing DAPA & DACA+ decision, our fight continues!

    Thursday’s Supreme Court deadlock on DAPA and DACA+ was a disappointing setback for immigrant families. But organizers and families here in Nevada, and across the country, remain more committed than ever to fighting for these commonsense programs that are lawful, constitutional, and consistent with decades of actions taken by presidents of both parties. While today’s erroneous outcome is deeply disappointing, it does not impact DACA 2012, which was not at issue in this lawsuit.

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    Attorney Jocelyn Cortez with @AILANational Nevada talks about the legal aspects of the SCOTUS deadlock. (Photo PLAN)

    The decision does mean that DAPA and DACA+ policies remain blocked nationwide, however we are confident that this case will end up back at the Supreme Court, before a full panel of justices who can render a clear decision. Unfortunately, this will not be a quick process and many families will needlessly suffer in the interim.

    Join us to learn more about what the decision means and what comes next Sign up for a National Community Call scheduled for July 6th at 8pm EDT for English, 9pm EDT for Spanish (5pm PDT / 6 PDT).

    PLAN reacted to the disappointing news by joining American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Culinary Union, Americas Voice and other partners in organizing a press conference before heading to protest at Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office. Laxalt is responsible for adhering Nevada to this partisan lawsuit. These groups and many more also held an community meeting in the evening to share information about the split decision and to build power for the next phase of the struggle.

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    PLAN’s Laura Martin at Laxalt’s office. (Photo PLAN)

    PLAN in Reno also held a press conference to denounce the partisan politics not only prompted the Texas lawsuit, but also resulted in an incomplete Supreme Court and a deadlocked decision. Northern Nevada allies then drove to protest at Laxalt’s office in Carson City.

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    On the steps of Laxalt’s Carson City office. (Photo PLAN)

     

    Hear directly from Northern Nevada community leaders who provided insight and calls to action at Thursday’s press conference. Links to short videos below.

     

    VIDEOS:

    Attorney Steven P. Brazelton explains the SCOTUS decision.

    PLAN leader Theresa Navarro – we will be back to fight again, stronger than ever!

    Community leader Vicky Aguilar explains how the STOTUS deadlock affects real families right here in Nevada.

    Rest assured, this battle is not over.  We will not stop until every member of our community can live in dignity, without fear of being separated from their families.

    Don’t forget to sign up for the National Community Call scheduled for July 6th at 8pm EDT for English, 9pm EDT for Spanish (5pm PDT / 6 PDT). Experts and leaders from Reform Immigration for America will discuss what the decision means for the immigrant community and what the next steps are for our movement.

  • New report: Effect of open-pit gold mines on groundwater lingers long after production, profits and jobs are gone

    Growing concerns over the medium and long term impacts of open-pit gold mining on Nevada’s water were validated earlier this month when Dr. Tom Myers presented his third report on the effects of mine dewatering and pit lake formation on Humboldt River flows. PLAN traveled to Elko and Lovelock to share the findings of the most recent study with residents and impacted farmers. Read local news report from the meetings in the Elko Daily Free Press and Lovelock Review-Miner.

    Read Dr. Myers’ full report and presentation on what happens to ground water after mining ends and the pit lake fills with water, or check out our summary below.

    Open-pit gold mining impacts our water –
    even after production, profits and jobs are gone

    While the mine is in operation:

    • Over the course of a decade, companies carrying out open pit mining drain the aquifer of groundwater that took hundreds or thousands of years to accumulate. This quick suck significantly lowers the water table.
    • Mining companies claim they put more than half of the water back into the basin, but this is not the same as leaving water underground, in storage. Dewatering forces us to use the water now, instead of planning for the future.

    FACT: Since 1991, 3.9 million acre feet of water was pumped from open pits in the Humboldt River Basin. One acre foot, or 326,000 gallons, is enough water for a family of four for one year. That means mines have pumped enough water to support 3.9 million Nevada families.

    Immediately after mining ends:

    • Water pumping ends and the giant pits begin to fill up with ground water. This causes a slow suck of the water table over the course of decades. The slow suck results in a decrease in the water table and less water in the river. Increased flows while a mine is in production is due to water being pumped from the pit and discharged to the river.
    • Data from Newmont’s Lone Tree pit lake shows significant water loss in the Humboldt river since the company stopped dewatering the mine in 2007.

    FACT: Since 2007, the water being wasted to fill up the Lone Tree pit could have supplied nearly 9,000 families for 20 years (176,00 af between 2007 – 2016).

    For the foreseeable future:

    • A pit lake lasts forever, so that means water lost to evaporation off the pit lake will also be eternal.
    • 10,000 acre feet a year are lost to evaporation – the mining industry might say this number is insignificant, but we believe mining companies should not be allowed to waste any water, no matter the amount.

    FACT: In 18 years, we will have lost 180,000 acre feet of water to evaporation – the same amount Las Vegas wants to pump from Northern Nevada.

    Now consider the medium to long-term impact of dozens of open pit mines scattered across the state. Is open-pit gold mining the most sustainable and responsible use of our precious water?

    Recommendations to protect our future:

    • Require that pit lakes are reclaimed for post-mining beneficial use.
    • Demand enforceable water quality regulations on pit lake water.
    • Require the mining industry apply for water rights on evaporative losses from pit lakes.
    • Reform “temporary” water permits for mine dewatering to require companies to regularly justify water use as compared to other demands. Currently, these “temporary” permits for mining are valid for decades, but are not even calculated in overall water allocations.
  • My first protest – a reflection by PLAN intern, Brendan Gault

    My name is Brendan. I am a 23 year old student at the University of Nevada Reno. On June 14th, 2016, I was privileged to attend my first peaceful demonstration. The BLM was attempting to auction off public land for oil and gas, including fracking, in the Smoky Valley region of central Nevada. As an intern at PLAN focusing on renewable energy and climate justice issues, and a concerned citizen, this egregious use of public lands is in direct contrast to the goal of %100 renewable energy for Nevada.

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    Flag made during the art build on June 13th (Photo: Bucky Harjo)

    They held this “public” auction on the private property of the Siena Hotel. So PLAN and it’s partners formed a coalition with the goal of stopping this auction and letting the BLM know our loathing of this heinous proposition.
    My experience started the day before during the prep for the demonstration. The organizers wanted to use art of all types to help communicate our message to the BLM and the oil and gas companies. So we gathered to make visual pieces of art for the event and spent the afternoon creating and connecting. This was a very big part of the process for me personally because it helped to show we weren’t alone while, building a strong sense of community and investment toward our common goal of stopping fracking operations in Nevada. We were united.

    On the day of the demonstration we gathered together early and moved our people and art pieces into position a couple of blocks away from the scheduled auction. The performances began as more people arrived. Before I knew it I was surrounded by 150 like-minded people with the singular goal of protecting our beautiful state. The energy and sense of community amongst the crowd was powerful! There is something magical about a group of people gathering for a singular purpose. Before we began the march we had a moment of silence. The crowd silenced in solidarity ever building the feeling that we were here united.

    Then we began to march towards the Siena. I took up position in the middle of lead banner, which I didn’t plan, but felt compelled by the energy of the crowd. So we started off toward the auction the power of our message grew as 150 people all chanted our message together. The cries of people echoed through the streets as we approached the hotel where the auction was being held. As we approached the Siena we were met by their security guards. The security isolated who they believed was our leader and violently slammed him into the ground drawing blood. The treatment of our fellow angered the crowd but we turned our anger into motivation. It seems that they thought that by taking down “the leader” they could take away our momentum, but this was a movement of the people and could not be silenced.

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    At the Siena, inside the abandoned BLM auction room (Photo: Bucky Harjo)

    We took the energy of the assault and used it to enter the hotel. The lobby filled up behind me as we made our way to the stairs leading up to the auction, but we were again halted by two security guards. But the movement would not stop. Someone maneuvered around the line of security and we flooded up the stairs and into the auction room. We were met with an empty room and news that the people attending the auction had fled. They refused to hear our message. We occupied the room for about 20 minutes in case they came back, but eventually we moved back outside to avoid further arrest and harm to our  people.

    When we came outside the scene on the streets had changed dramatically. A large police presence had showed up, including a helicopter circling above. One thing that amazed me was how well the police treated us. They blocked off the street and allowed us to speak our peace – and speak it we did. Along with our message we demanded the release by the Siena security team of our fellow protesters. We achieved the release of two out of the three. After they were returned to us we begin our march down the street back to our starting point. The police were very considerate and blocked off our path for us.

    As I look back on my first demonstration I have this new sense of empowerment. The political process is often so noisy that it seems too busy to make anything out and too loud for the people to be heard. However, despite the chaos, we can be heard when we are united. United we can make a difference. Together we can stand up against those who take advantage of those less fortunate. We can stand up against the wasteful and destructive use of our precious resources. We can stand up for our rights. And most importantly we can win – or at least that is how I feel after my first demonstration. I just have one question for you. Will you stand up too?
    By Brendan Gault

  • Nevada Students Speak Out to Defend Water

    PLAN recently sponsored a Water over Gold essay contest in which students engaged in a conversation about the impacts of mining on our water and communities. A three-judge panel awarded top prizes to Katie Sitton from Nevada State College and Jade Utterback from West Career and Technical Academy.

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    Barrick Gold’s Pipeline mine as seen from the Cortez Hills mine (Photo PLAN)

    “We could not be happier with the thoughtful and well-researched essays we received from all the participants and want to thank community leaders and teachers for encouraging students to get involved” said PLAN Las Vegas organizer, Erika Castro.

    In their essays, students expressed their disappointment in the failure of the government to act in the best interest of regular Nevadans, instead offering tax breaks to transnational corporations. Currently, Nevada is the top gold producer in the US and one of the largest in the world all while enjoying rock bottom tax rates.

    Students were also critical of mining’s impact on their communities’ water and expressed concern about the generations to come. Contest winner Jade Utterback wrote, “Nevada, possessing a warm, dry, desert climate, is already facing serious problems in terms of water accessibility due to the severe drought. We can’t risk polluting our already-limited water resources from mining gold.” Read Jade’s full essay here.

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    The mighty Reese River (Photo PLAN)

    While the essay contest focused on the importance of water over gold, many students dug deeper to address other negative impacts from mining including erosion, ecosystem disruptions, and health hazards. They offered ways to raise awareness about irresponsible mining among their peers and community, and the need to become responsible consumers.

    Nevada students showed they care about their community and its future. College student and contest winner Katie Sitton ended her essay with a question. “Most people may argue in favor of the mining industry, saying that they are great for the economy and create jobs, but is it really worth it to leave this planet in declining conditions for our future generations?” Read Katie’s full essay here.

    Here at PLAN we echo essay judge and former Senator Sheila Leslie who stated, “I enjoyed reading the student essays about the impact mining has on Nevada’s lands and people. These students already understand that our future depends on doing a better job protecting our natural resources and balancing the need for jobs with the negative and sometimes hidden costs of mining in our state.”