Sunday, September 20, 2015

For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the battle was lost. For want of a battle the war was lost ... or not?

All over but the shouting? I couldn't raise the $$ fast enuf or secure a lawyer brave enuf to beat their clock in Peekskill. They may or may not have succeeded in gaining permission to destroy the Blued Trees overture, but the project will carry on. 
Meanwhile, read this and weep for the sacrificed trees and the habitat that protects our water. 

They may or may not have won this battle, 
but this is going to be a long war.

The property the Blued Trees overture launched on has been taken by eminent domain by the Spectra corporation, and excavation, including cutting down the painted trees, is scheduled to begin October 1, 2015.

September 15, 2015, in anticipation of this possibility, I wrote some colleagues, "If we fail, I cannot emphasize enuf how important it will be to get the best possible photographs of each painted and copyrighted tree as they are destroyed. They are our Joan of Arcs that must become symbols of corrupted American laws created to protect the public domain from unlawful seizure, environmental laws designed to protect water, habitat and wildlife and copyright laws to uphold the rights of art and artwork; political malfeasance and dishonesty; indifference to beauty; and the media failure to alert the public to a devastating menace. One day, those photographs may be our only evidence to take these corporations to the United Nations for environmental war crimes. Sadly, it may be too late for the habitats, and many people who will be sickened and die from the consequences."

Eminent domain and the fossil fuel co-option of the United States has proceeded unchecked. But no longer, invisibly. There will be four more movements of the Blued Trees symphony. The first movement will be October 4, 2015 in Utica, New York. The sonata form of the symphony will be a dialog between life and death.

The deeper I got into the dynamics of fossil fuels the scarier it got and the more determined I felt to carry on.

Excerpt from my FB page:

“… was just alerted to this statement on another pipeline's public page, which just about sums up their arrogance: "FPL, Sabal Trail and Florida Southeast Connection, which are subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc., are multi-billion dollar entities that possess the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain allows these utility companies to condemn private property for easements in order to install their natural gas pipeline. These utility companies are represented in Florida by two law firms. These utility companies also have their own appraisers, engineers and other experts as they deem necessary working on their behalf to acquire the property for the pipeline." What I love is their semiotics: Algonquin, Independence, Constitution, Dominion, NextEra."

A colleague from the UK asked how this was any different than statements from Shell, Chevron, et al and whether I’d researched them? I replied, “not in depth. What I found stunning in the quote I posted was their language around eminent domain, which at least in the USA, is gutting the Constitution, even as they name their pipelines "the Constitution.”’ 

The reason I think this is important in a wider sphere is because the Reagan era “trickle-down theory,” has fueled the global .0001% phenomena, which in turn makes the potential effect of any given ecological art project, ie., Blued Trees, that much more of a David (or Davida) & Goliath contest to save the planet from ourselves.

I often find myself in conflict about the very making of art, because it requires us to enter such a reflective state, even as the planet is being tortured and we face such anguishing loss. These days, I work very hard at living in gratitude & service even as I feel my grief. This quote turned my head because it was so shameless in its evil. Perhaps, as I think you insinuate, they are all equally, shamelessly evil.

Another UK colleague asked how eminent domain is granted if there’s due process with the Fifth amendment? I answered that, “granting eminent domain is a legal process, which has become politicized and is well-funded by the right from fossil fuel coffers. Since the Eisenhower period in the USA, the right’s think tanks have devoted vast sums of money, time and manpower, largely from corporate coffers, to how to promote the military industrial complex to consolidate power.

1. For some decades, the right has been packing the judicial system with corporate friendly judges by financing their electoral campaigns and then politicizing those campaigns

2. For some time, the right has financed a marketing campaign that has convinced the electorate that fossil fuels cannot be easily replaced, therefore what is good for fossil fuels is good for the electorate.

3. The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC), which approves fossil fuel regulations has been manned by fossil fuel executives for some time

4. The left who has supported alternate world views, has been disorganized, fraught with egocentric competitions and short-sighted about strategic planning

5. The American educational system has been gutted, making it easier to promote agendas based on shallow thinking

6. The Supreme Court of the USA has declared corporations are individuals with rights of free speech and unlimited political funding potential, greasing all of the above

7. American loved R. Reagan and swallowed the trickle down theory.

8. Racism has fueled environmental injustice, so natural gas lines, for example, when located in poor, often back communities, are uncontested. veiled by promises of jobs, that are short term and usually destroy the ecosystems and communities

9. The media has been gutted, people don’t have time to read, so reporting on these matters has essentially disappeared or is ignored or buried under pr.

Functionally, what happens is a corporation applies for a permit to FERC to do something. FERC approves (rubber-stamps) the permit. Work begins, often before eminent domain is granted. Landowners are offered money, often large sums, to give up their land. When problems emerge, having granted easement, they can no longer legally protest without risking jail. Holdouts are then shunted thru the courts, who routinely condemn the land for the “public good.” Often personal threats accompany this process. 

In Blued Trees, I went into debt to get an LLC, to afford myself minimal protection. So far, I’ve spent $20,000, of my limited funds to go forward. The legal process, just to begin, will cost $80,000. I have 2 crowdfunding campaigns to try to raise the funds to go forward. The corporations accelerated the condemnation process on lands where Blued Trees was or will be installed. “Normal” citizens don’t have any of these options to fight back any of this. Et voila, eminent domain prevails over the Fifth amendment.”

This is what taking people's property for profit and planetary destruction looks like, now that the judgement on the land for the "Blued Trees" overture has come in:
"Plaintiff Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC ("Algonquin") has filed 22 related cases for
eminent domain actions in connection with its construction of a natural gas pipeline. In each 
case, Algonquin seeks an Order of Taking, declaring that it has the substantive right to take the
permanent and temporary easements on the properties that it seeks to acquire.
 Of the 22 cases, 16 have settled (3 by entry of an Order of Taking; 13 by voluntary
dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(l)(A)(i)) and 1 by stipulating to a
partial settlement). Algonquin has moved for partial summary judgment against defendants in 5
of the 6 remaining cases. The time for responding to these motions has passed for all 5 of these
cases; only the Reynolds Hills Defendants, in Docket No. 15-cv-5988, have filed any opposition
For the reasons set forth below, all of the motions for partial summary judgment are 



Algonquin was designated and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
("FERC") to construct and operate a natural gas pipeline and associated facilities in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Pursuant to the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C., §717
et seq., (the "Natural Gas Act", or the "NGA"), FERC issued a Certificate of Public Convenience
and Necessity (the "FERC Certificate") on March 3, 2015, authorizing Algonquin to construct
what is referred to as the Algonquin Incremental Market Project ("AIM Project").
The Natural Gas Act explicitly authorizes a natural gas company like Algonquin to
acquire property interests by condemnation when it is unable to acquire them by agreement with 
the property owner. 15 U.S.C. § 717f(h). Thus, Algonquin filed a Verified Complaint to acquire
easements needed to construct the AIM Project on various parcels of property ("Property")
owned by various defendants.
Completion of the AIM Project is time-sensitive. FERC directed that project
construction be completed by November 1, 2016. Algonquin asserts that the easements it seeks
must be acquired in time to allow pre-construction preparation to begin no later than October 1,

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