Water is Life #7 – Alice DiMicele (musician) and David Helvarg (March for the Ocean)

Water is Life honors the Water Is Life Movement that began at Standing Rock. The show is a space for conversations that honor, love, and stand up for our waters in many different ways. We generally begin grounded in spiritual, artistic, emotional, or related aspects of water, and continue with water-related news before shifting into discussing a specific effort to protect water. Water is Life is produced in Eugene by Jana Thrift and John Abbe.

Our first guest this month (January 5, 2018) is Alice DiMicele (Twitter, Facebook), a singer/songwriter and acoustic guitar player who performs on her own and with her band, working jazz/blues phrasing and R&B and rock & roll rhythms into a broadened Folk/Roots/Americana sound she calls “Organic Acoustic Groove.” She has self-released 14 albums on her Alice Otter Music label including 2018’s “One With the Tide”. Her mission is to create music that connects people and inspires them to take a stand for the earth and for justice in the world. We’ll also be playing some of her music during the show – as we often do, since water is such a common theme in her music. If you’d like to hear her live, she has a show on March 2 at HiFi Music Hall.

Our second guest is David Helvarg, who is a journalist, author, documentary producer, and organizer, and also a body-surfer and scuba diver. He has covered a range of issues from war to the AIDS epidemic to SpongeBob SquarePants, from every continent including Antarctica. His work has increasingly focused on the oceans – in 2003, he founded a marine conservation activist group the Blue Frontier Campaign, and today we’ll be talking with him about the March for the Ocean (Twitter, Facebook) he’s organizing for June 9 this year in Washington, D.C. with local marches in many places throughout the country and perhaps the world. (Toward the end of the episode he also mentioned Writers for the Sea, more than 70 authors “writing about the sea and committed to increased understanding and conservation of the greater part of our blue planet.”)

Water News

1) US Bank, despite having made a big deal about pulling back from some financing of fossil fuel development last May, continues to make money available to the fossil fuel industry, including their recent deal (with other banks) offering $4 billion to Energy Transfer Partners. Energy Transfer Partners is the company that built and operates the Dakota Access pipeline. The city of Eugene maintains some accounts with US Bank, and the contract is up for renegotiation this October. 350 Eugene has been organizing a local effort to get the city to change banks. Proposed legislation has some support on the council, and has been approved for a work session which should be scheduled shortly. You can express support for this effort at city council meetings on the second and fourth Monday of every month.

In case this has reminded you that you’ve been meaning to get your money out of banks that fund fossil fuels, Mazaska Talks has resources to help you move your own or your city’s money to more wholesome institutions.

2) Next Thursday, January 11, is another opportunity to protect Jordan Cove and hundreds of other waterways threatened by the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG export terminal. People will be gathering in Salem from noon to 2pm to call on Governor Brown to stand up against the project. See the Facebook event for details.

3) On December 14, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which will essentially be Dakota Access south, carrying mostly fracked oil from the southern end of the Dakota Access Pipeline down to the Gulf Coast. Over a dozen organizations issued a joint statement the next day condemning the approval. L’eau Est La Vie Camp (Water is Life in French) stands in the way. (On Facebook#StopETP #NoBayouBridge

4) In happier news, on Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection suspended construction of Sunoco Pipeline LP’s Mariner East 2 fracked oil pipeline through Pennsylvania. Sunoco Pipeline LP has been owned by Dakota Access Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners since last year, and has one of the worst environmental records for spills and leaks. Although this looks likely to be another temporary delay, it raises further questions about Sunoco’s environmental responsibility, and gives more time for opponents to organize resistance.

5) Some more good news – Native Americans are continuing to build political power in the U.S. The New York Times reports:

There are 6.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, representing about 2 percent of the population. But many live in America’s most remote places — amid mountain passes or miles of near-empty plains — and the native path to the ballot box has often been less visible than that of other groups.

It was not until 1924 that Congress granted native people the right to vote, and for generations afterward, local and state governments have blocked them from doing so, often saying that Native Americans living on reservations were not state residents.

The article goes on to detail recent lawsuits and other moves to fix gerrymandering, add voting materials in Native languages, open more polling stations, and challenge voter ID laws (like polling stations, offices to get IDs are rarely located in or near reservations). Some efforts have already led to increased turnout, and continued progress could tip elections in some close races. Increased representation is needed to improve the often abysmal services in majority-Indian areas.

In Idaho, “Paulette Jordan, a 37-year-old Idaho state representative and member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, is running as a progressive Democrat to try and become state governor.” If she wins she would be the first Native American governor in U.S. history. Mark Trahant has created a map tracking Indian candidates for Congress and Governor or Lieutenant Governor positions. For more, see the hashtag #NativeVote18 (Twitter, Facebook).

6) The Independent published an article yesterday reporting that ocean areas with zero oxygen have quadrupled in volume over the past 50 years, including a ten-fold increase in low oxygen sites in coastal areas.

“Combined effects of nutrient loading and climate change are greatly increasing the number and size of ‘dead zones’ in the open ocean and coastal waters, where oxygen is too low to support most marine life,” said Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, executive secretary of the International Oceanographic Commission, which formed [the Global Ocean Oxygen Network  (scroll down)].

Nutrient loading refers to pollution from sewage and fertiliser run-off that contains nutrients that stimulate the growth of algae in the water. Blooms of algae form and when they die the bacteria that degrades them consumes the oxygen present in the water.

In dead zones oxygen levels tend to be so low that any animals living there suffocate and die. As a result, marine creatures avoid these areas, resulting in their habitats shrinking.

Even in areas where oxygen depletion is less severe, smaller decreases in oxygen levels can impact animals in various non-lethal ways such as stunting their growth and hindering reproduction.

The researchers warned that the effects of oxygen depletion in the oceans are extensive and ecological impacts go hand in hand with direct effects on the humans that rely on the sea for their livelihoods.


7) As if coastal areas weren’t suffering enough, on January 4 the Trump administration released a plan to open up almost all of the continental shelf in U.S. waters to drilling for oil and gas. This surrender to an old industry that should be on its way out sparked an immediate response, with even Republican governors of affected states expressing their opposition. Sixty-four environmental organizations issuing a joint statement, and the move is likely to draw a number of lawsuits. This comes on the heels of the administration’s December rollback of safety regulations put in place after the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. (more from the Washington PostNew York Times)