Minutes for MPJC Meeting of October 8, 2013

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Glenda Rae, Rey, Lois (by phone)

Old business

    1.  Approval of Minutes for September 13: The minutes were approved as corrected. There were a couple of typos and Rey made extensive revisions to the fracking topic. That topic now reads as follows:

"Topic of the Month: Fracking - Rey described the process. Conventional gas drilling is through a vertical well which is unable to tap gas pockets surrounding the well position. That gas is found in lesser concentrations than found in the original well. To access those peripheral pockets, horizontal drilling is extended from the original vertical shaft. That shaft is then lined with concrete. Explosives are are set off at the far end of the horizontal shaft, thus fracturing the shale. (This process is where the name "fracking" comes from).Then massive amounts of water, sand, and chemicals are forced down the main shaft into the rock, further opening the fractures, and forcing the gas into the vertical well where it can be captured. The sand remains in the fractures keeping them open for the gas to flow. In some cases, after a well will no longer profitably yield gas, after some time, the concrete casing may leak. Whatever chemicals are not captured eventually pollute the ground water so all the water wells in the area become toxic. The companies will not reveal what the chemicals are. Even if the well casings remain intact, the wastewater with chemicals is routinely stored in open above ground retention ponds. The danger of this method was recently demonstrated in the Colorado floods. We decided to join the Americans Against Fracking group, which puts us on record as being against fracking. Peter will do this. Rey and Glenda Rae will prepare a draft statement on fracking and put it out on the list serv for comment."

    2. Progress Reports

        a. Topic of the Month: Immigration - Since Jenny was not able to attend the meeting, we left this draft as corrected at the last meeting. It can be found at michianapeacejustice.net/immigration.html.

        b. International Day of Peace tabling: Lois and Peter set up a card table outside the main entrance of the Farmers Market early Saturday morning, September 21. Lois had prepared a nice poster and 200 informative flyers for distribution. The crowd seemed to be mostly older folks early and then couples with young children. There were complete rainbows on two separate occasions as the weather varied from dark clouds to warm sun. The 200 leaflets were gone by 10:00. Peter went home and ran off 100 more and Ellyn took his place at the table with the new flyers. These were gone by noon. The response was mostly positive with some folks surprised and some stating that they always pray for peace. Only one gentleman got angry, balling up the flyer, throwing in the trash can, slamming the lid and stomping off. We all thought our presence was worthwhile. As Rey mentioned, our role is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

        c. Topic of the Month: Fracking - Ellyn mentioned that a group of activists, including several in the Gasland films have decided to work with the fracking companies to research ways to handle the wastewater safely. They push for laws and safety-minded regulations, believing that no amount of demonstrating is going to stop fracking. Rey was skeptical of this approach, citing that the BP oil well that caused the Gulf oil spill was protected by blow-out prevention faultily installed and safety procedures which were ignored. After much discussion, we decided to encourage Rey to add a paragraph to his position paper that gives the MPJC position on Fracking which includes sentences: Safety regulations, if properly enforced, might decrease the chances of wastewater polluting the water table, but there are no guarantees - to wit - the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fracking disincentivises the build up of alternative forms of energy. The money spent on fracking should be put into alternative energy development. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmoshere is already above 400 ppm, and we need to get it down to below 350 ppm to avoid serious climate change. Global warming is raised by gas drilling which produces methane, a substance 20 times worse than Carbon Dioxide.

        d. Topic of the month: Drones - Peter had printed out a revised statement on drones. We questioned the use of "civilian drone operators." Although the CIA originally ran the drone program that targeted terrorists, it may have been turned over to the military, like what happened in the early days in our involvement in Vietnam. We changed the wording in the fifth paragraph to "under the orders of computer operators." We also deleted the last "if" clause in the fourth paragraph. We decided to move the sixth paragraph on civilian uses to the bottom of the document to keep the military use paragraphs together. Ellyn will update the statement and put it out on the listserv for comment. During the discussion we noted that it is hypocritical for the U.S. to force Syria to destroy their chemical weapons when we used Agent Orange extensively in Vietnam. Lois reminded us that nuclear weapons are still a problem and could still accidently be launched.

        e. MLK Day Events and Taste of Peace: The Taste of Peace will be held on Saturday, January 18. Glenda Rae needs facilitators for the tables. Gladys has not yet called a meeting of the MLK Day committee. We decided that MPJC should have a table and authorized Glenda Rae to pay the fee. It is possible that John Goodson will want to share our table again. We will set up the penny poll. Lois asked if we wanted to get involved with the Welcome Home room for veterans. We encouraged her to participate, but we will be busy with our table.

    3. Treasurer's Report: Our bank total is still $121.04 with $5.11 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We incorporated this topic into other discussion

    2. Topic of the Month: We decided to continue to work on the Immigration, Drones, and Fracking topics.

    3. Other Topics and Issues: Frack Free Michiana will show Gasland II on Saturday afternoon at the River Park branch library, November 30. They are looking for cosponsors and we decided to sign up for this. Their next meeting will be at 6:30pm on October 24 at the River Park library.

The Northern Indiana Coalition for Immigration Reform will hold an Immigration Roundtable at 4:30, Friday, October 18, in the County-City Building lobby. There will be panelists giving the Mennonite, Catholic, and labor positions, as well as Mayor Pete, and representatives from the business community. There was an Immigration march from Buetter Park to Rep. Walorski's office on October 4. She was not there but a staff member accepted their letter. There was good press, and Bernie got his picture in the paper.

December 10 is International Human Rights Day.

    6. Next meeting: Thursday, November 14th at 7pm. Place to be determined.