Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline is a test of our government’s will to inflict violence on indigenous people who are defending their land. Most of BC was never surrendered by its first inhabitants and most of the first nations there refuse to let this project through. I wrote this article to provide background info on this inevitable, government created conflict. Photos via Unist’ot’en Camp’s facebook page.

Read it now on VICE.com

That Pipeline through New England? It’s (Mostly) Owned by Exxon. And They Want to Transport Toxic Tar Sands Oil through It.

Last week, ten national and local Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire organizations including NRDC released a fact sheet exposing Big Oil’s stealth campaign to bring extra dirty tar sands to New England.

What exactly is so troubling about the idea of Exxon’s pipeline companies and Enbridge transporting tar sands through Eastern Canada and New England? To name just a few reasons for concern:

  • Tar sands is a dirty fuel – extra damaging and risky to the environment and public health throughout its entire lifecycle of extraction, pipeline transport, refining, and combustion. An area of Alberta’s Boreal forest the size of Florida could eventually be decimated if industry is allowed to continue expanding their extraction efforts. The damage from tar sands extends globally, as it causes 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil, taking us in the wrong direction when the world needs to transition to clean energy.
  • Tar sands pipelines pose greater safety risks to the land and water along their path. Diluted bitumen – raw tar sands mixed with a diluent so that it can be transported via pipelines – is more corrosive and abrasive than conventional oil, creating a greater spill risk. And, when tar sands pipelines do spill into rivers, rather than floating on the surface, the diluted bitumen separates – with the diluents evaporating and the bitumen becoming submerged and impossible to fully clean up.
  • Exxon and Enbridge already have a bad track record with tar sands pipelines. ExxonMobil, the company responsible for the disastrous Valdez oil spill that rocked the world in 1989, was also responsible for the July 2011 Silvertip Pipeline spill that dumped 42,000 gallons of oil into the pristine Yellowstone River in Montana. While that oil spilled happened to be conventional crude oil, the pipeline is also used to move corrosive tar sands “diluted bitumen.” Enbridge’s best-known pipeline spill was the million gallon tar sands spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010. Just last week—more than two years after the spill – the Environmental Protection Agency told Enbridge that they still need to keep cleaning up the river.

Read more.

Two years ago today, more than a million gallons of tar sands oil poured into the Kalamazoo River. The tar sands pipeline operated by Enbridge Inc. contaminated nearly 40 miles of the watershed, making it the largest & most expensive spill in the Midwest. 

It is still being cleaned up today. 

“My family was directly impacted by the spill. The toxic fumes gave us rashes, nausea and headaches. By taking a stand against tar sands we are fighting for people’s rights and health. Our River will never fully recover, but we can educate the country about the dangers of tar sands and the disastrous impact this type of spill can have so the same thing doesn’t happen to you.” -Susan Connolly, who lives by the river. 


photos by The Indignants, like them on Facebook

Toxic tour draws attention to environmental impacts

The impact of living in the shadow of Chemical Valley was on the minds of marchers during Friday’s Toxic Tour from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community centre.

Approximately 50 First Nation members and supporters left the community centre parking lot in the early afternoon chanting, “tar sands kill, pipelines spill,” on their way to the St. Clair River, and then on along the St. Clair Parkway to LaSalle Line and east to Highway 40.

"We’re standing in solidarity with other communities who are standing up to fracking and to pipelines running through their territories," said Vanessa Gray, a spokesperson with Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP).

Police stopped traffic on the parkway when the march paused as several members climbed down the bank to the St. Clair River to make an offering of tobacco to the water, before continuing on.

Among those marching were nine-year-old Faith Rogers James and her mother Christine Rogers.

Rogers said she’s concerned about smells from the chemical industries surrounding the Aamjiwnaang, as well as the impact living next to chemical plants has on her family’s health.

"You kind of question every day whether you should move away or you should stay," she said.

Rogers said she grew up at Aamjiwnaang where her relatives still live, making the decision of whether or not to stay a difficult one.

"It’s something you struggle with," she added.

My name is Meredith, a Welsh name meaning “guardian of the sea”. I am speaking today to voice my vehement opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline project and to share some of my story.

I came to North Beach, Haida Gwaii ten years ago and I stayed because it felt wild and clean and safe. My son was born five years ago in Queen Charlotte Hospital. His name is Fisher because no matter where he goes in his life and in this world, we want his name to always connect him to this land and to this coast, where the health of the sea determines the health of this ecosystem as a whole. Fisher eats regularly from our front yard. He knows when to set the traps for Dungeness crabs, he can dig razor clams with his bare hands, he invents recipes with seaweed and kelp and we brave hurricane force winds at night with headlamps to harvest rock scallops and cockles that wash up in front of our house. Like many children in this community, Fisher is well versed in the issues of pollution and climate change, and he can identify more plants, animals and constellations than most adults. And Fisher is also well versed in the aspects of proactive personal responsibility that go hand in hand with the reactive nature of protest. Our electricity at home is derived from the wind and the sun, we give thanks at meals for the local bounty on our plates, he knows about supporting local economies and bartering, and he doesn’t think that driving around with used vegetable oil in the fuel tank is funny or unusual. He is developing a deep and uncomplicated relationship with his natural world, and his delight is palpable when he makes a new discovery in his surroundings.

He has nothing to fear in this place. This for me is the greatest immediate risk of such a project. That we will have to live with fear, waiting for the morning when we hear that a very large crude carrier has lost its cargo to our coastline. Every winter storm will bring with it a feeling of dread that maybe this will be the day.

Before coming to Haida Gwaii I worked with Greenpeace International for 13 years. In 2002, as crew onboard the Rainbow Warrior, we were called to respond to the sinking of the oil tanker MV Prestige off the coast of Spain. After suffering damage in a storm the ship spilt in half and lost around 20 million gallons of oil, which washed up all along the coastline of Spain and Portugal. We came into port in A Coruna in Galicia where we were met by thousands of angry and desperate citizens, cheering and relieved that someone was finally paying attention to their ongoing struggle against political apathy towards their environment and their source of livelihood, the fishing industry. We picked up some journalists, scientists and activists and set out to find the worst concentration of the spill. As we neared what we thought was the epicenter the captain sent me up the mast to the crow’s nest to keep a lookout for the slick. After hours of searching I finally saw, far in the distance, that the sea state had changed. We were sailing through a heavy chop but a great patch of calm loomed ahead of us. The oil had literally subdued the ocean, made it docile, lethargic and heavy. As we approached the spill our ship was forced, under penalty of arrest, to stay out of the boundaries imposed by the Spanish authorities. After a day of cat and mouse chase we managed to get our small inflatable boats into the area and our helicopter over the spill so that the journalists had a chance to document the images that were broadcast through news agencies internationally. Being in that slick was one of the eeriest experiences of my life. It was as if the ocean was being suffocated. I have never been anywhere since that felt so void of life. This turned out to be the worst environmental disaster in both Spain and Portugal’s history with massive repercussions to both the fishing and tourism industries, and long-term health consequences for many of the people who participated in the clean up.

In 1999 I worked with an African American community in Lake Charles, Louisiana in an area of the states known as Cancer Alley. The town’s population was being decimated by cancer caused by dioxin and other industrial effluent dumped into the Mississippi River. A drive through the impoverished town showed maybe a third of the houses abandoned, not because people were leaving – where would they go? – but because they were dead. I watched old guys fishing on the riverbanks, knowingly catching and eating poisoned fish, clinging to their way of life. The term environmental racism was coined upon the realization that in the US it is poor and marginalized black and native communities that are the innocent victims of unregulated industrial pollution. I have travelled on the Amazon River from Belem to Manaus campaigning and blockading to put pressure on multinationals pillaging the rainforests. I spent weeks in the winter living in a little pod on the ice in the Beaufort Sea during the construction of one of British Petroleum’s undersea pipelines, hoping to illustrate to the world the impossibility of any clean up should the pipeline rupture under seven feet of ice. I have blockaded a US ship in Japan secretly carrying PCB’s for disposal, and a ship carrying newsprint made of pulp from old growth trees from our coastal rainforests, I have blockaded roads leading into pristine watersheds slated for clear-cut logging, I have knocked on doors and marched in cities and signed petitions and written to my MP’s. I have been tear gassed by riot police in two countries and arrested for environmental activism seven times in four countries. I have witnessed the effects of industrial mayhem on five continents.

I have lived and fought for years with grief from the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness trying to stem the drive of industry. I got really tired of fighting so I settled down and found a home. But now this danger is threatening my home and I won’t sit this one out.

I will fight.

My son Fisher is sitting here with me today because I want him to know that I tried. When he helps me raise wind turbines and hook up solar panels for our neighbours, he’ll know that we tried. And when he watches me get dragged off to jail for protesting the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, he’ll remember that I tried. And if that day does come when we have to put on HAZMAT suits to try and clean up the beaches, we will at least be able to say we tried.

With respect to the panel members as individuals, I find it difficult to believe in the relevance of this review process and nearly withdrew my registration to speak. The message I have for you to add to your review is one more resounding NO. But I am not really speaking today to the Joint Review Panel. I am speaking to my community and to my son. I stand in solidarity with all of the voices and stories and promises and opposition that I have heard and read during these hearings, and I will stand in support of the greater movement to protect this wilderness, at any cost.


—  Meredith Adams, my sister.

 Indigenous Resistance to the enbridge northern gateway pipeline. Pictured:

  • "No Pipeline: Enbridge Dirty Oil Burned the Last Bridge"- Art by Gord Hill (Kwakwaka’wakw). From Hill’s Warrior Publications site. 
  • Nuxalk House of Smayusta banner at Bella Coola, central coast of BC. 
  • Yinka Dene protest proposed Enbridge pipeline, April 2011.
  • Hundreds rally in Comox against proposed Enbridge pipeline and increased tanker traffic on the coast, March 31, 2012.  
  • Heiltsuk hereditary chiefs greet government officials conducting Enbridge hearings in Bella Bella, April 1, 2012.  

Take action! Upcoming events:

May 1-9

Yinka Dene Alliance Freedom Train. The Yinka Dene Alliance is taking a Freedom Train across Canada to enforce their legal ban on the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipelines and tankers project, and to stand up for their freedom to choose their own future. They are travelling from their territories in northern BC all the way to Enbridge’s annual shareholders meeting in Toronto.

May 5

International Stop the Tar Sands Day. Worldwide events listed here.

Climate Impacts Day.  Find an event happening near your community with 350.org’s map tool. 

Global Indigenous Conference 2012 at the UBC First Nations Longhouse. I am on the planning committee, check it out!

More resources:





Friends (Canadian or otherwise)! Please, PLEASE sign this and send it along. It literally takes 30 seconds out of your day.

We, the First Nations of the Yinka Dene Alliance, have acted on our laws to ban Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and similar tar sands projects from our territories, and we are committed to using all lawful means to stop this devastating project from ever being built through our lands and waters. The federal government has approved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, attempting to ignore the First Nations that have joined together to create a powerful and unbroken wall of opposition. At this critical time, we are asking you to stand with us to Hold the Wall.

VANCOUVER — British Columbia First Nations are wasting no time in enforcing their claim on traditional lands in light of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing aboriginal land title.

The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nations served notice Thursday to CN Rail, logging companies and sport fishermen to leave their territory along the Skeena River in a dispute with the federal and provincial governments over treaty talks.

And the Gitxaala First Nation, with territory on islands off the North Coast, announced plan to file a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Appeal on Friday challenging Ottawa’s recent approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta. {more}



You Are Being Watched- The Green Scare is in Full Swing

Corporate and state entities are working together as one to monitor environmental activists and anyone who threatens the future of dangerous fossil fuel extraction.

A moderate group of Pennsylvania environmentalists is monitored by Homeland Security and private entities, put on terror watchlists

TransCanada monitors a landowner 24/7 on her own property after seizing her land against her will via eminent domain

TransCanada hires off-duty police officers to police its construction sites

TransCanada considers deputizing local police for pipeline security

Those cops would have authority to act as agents of the state, even when being paid by a private entity (a foreign multinational company)

TransCanada advises local police on  potiential protests against Keystone XL- names prominent activists (with pictures), advises ways to prosecute them under eco-terror laws

Canada’s environmental activists labeled ‘threat to national security’

Enbridge gives tens of thousands of dollars to police departments along the route of the proposed Line 9 reversal

Monsanto hires Blackwater to spy on environmentalists and anti-GMO activists

There are many more examples.

ETA: First Nations specific:

Mounties spied on First Nations protest group (2011)

Harper government prepares for First Nations ‘unrest’

Canadian government spied on Cindy Blackstock, activist for children

An oil spill from a broken Enbridge Energy pipeline in Wisconsin has been contained, the company says, but it could not have come at a worse time for the Canadian company, which is trying to get approval for new pipelines in Canada and the United States. The 1,200 barrel spill happened on Friday near Grand Marsh in central Wisconsin, population 127. Enbridge Control Center operators shut down and isolated the line and deployed emergency crews to the site. Environment News Service (http://s.tt/1k2Gh)


Members of Hartley Bay First Nation have stretched a 4.6-kilometre long crocheted rope across B.C.’s Douglas Channel in a symbolic blockade of the future path of oil supertankers in northern B.C.

About 200 people from the coastal community gathered at the narrow channel Friday to make the point that they will do everything they can to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

Happy Aboriginal Day.



Chemicals found in Kalamazoo River “rocks” raise health concerns

River still contaminated, report shows

December 16 2013 (Battle Creek, MI)  Local residents observed strange “rock” formations in parts of the Kalamazoo River affected when an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in 2010, spilling approximately one million gallons of tar sands oil into the river. Chemical analyses of these “rocks” and water column samples suggest that despite nearly three and a half years of cleanup efforts, the river is still contaminated with chemicals that raise serious human health concerns.

When Craig Ritter found the first “rock” about the size of a pool ball, he remembered thinking, “This is not natural.” The “rocks” crumbled when rubbed together and left an oil sheen on the water surface. Once Ritter found one, he began to see them all over the river bottom. Ritter created a video of the “rock” formations behaving in water that the EPA reviewed, but he did not receive a response from the agency.

Ritter, an engineer and self-described outdoorsman, collaborated with other concerned residents who were impacted by the Enbridge spill to send samples of the “rocks”, water from the Kalamazoo River, and a controlled documented sample from the oil spill, to be analyzed by Analytical Chemistry Testing, Inc. in Mobile, Alabama. The results were reviewed and corroborated by Geolabs Inc. in Massachusetts.


The analyses show that the oil extracted from the Kalamazoo River “rocks” is a fingerprint match for the oil that spilled from the Enbridge pipeline in 2010. Moreover, Robert Naman, the lead chemist on the project, found compounds identical to those found in the Gulf of Mexico when Corexit dispersants were mixed with crude oil in response to the BP Deep Water Horizon spill.  But according to the EPA and Michigan state officials, no Corexit dispersants or any other products were used during the Enbridge cleanup.


This has led the team of concerned residents to consider other possible explanations for the presence of Corexit-like compounds in the rock formations. One explanation could be the diluents themselves. The diluents used to thin tar sands for transportation and the dispersants used to break up oil slicks are petroleum distillates – industrial solvents, which share similar chemicals and have similar properties.

According to oil spill expert Dr. Riki Ott, the properties that facilitate the movement of these solvents through oil also make it easier for them to move through skin and into the human body. Ott said, “In effect, solvents act like an oil delivery system into the body. This makes solvent-oil combinations much more toxic than oil alone, as we learned after the BP disaster. With dilbit, the tar sands are already pre-mixed with the solvents.”


Solvents are known to be neurotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, carcinogens, and to cause hemolysis, liver and kidney damage, and autoimmune dysfunction. Indeed, major health problems have been reported by residents in Michigan since the spill.


The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) issued a report six months after the spill that found 61 percent of the residents from the impacted area had reported respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and other central nervous system problems, skin lesions and rashes, among other things. These symptoms are known within the medical community to be characteristic of exposure to oil and solvents. However, two years after the Enbridge spill, the MDCH reported there were no long-term health issues.


“If we as common residents can see that major health issues are still a problem, why are the officials ignoring this?” asks Michelle Barlond-Smith, who lived on the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek at the time of the spill.


Meanwhile, the EPA has ordered Enbridge to finish its cleanup of the Kalamazoo River by Dec. 31st, 2013.


“How could this be?” asks Ritter, knowing the river is far from clean. “The fear is that no one knows the long-term health effects of exposure to tar sands oil. There is no reference book to go to. At this point we really need some answers about why these Corexit-like chemicals are present in the river. Right now it looks like either a dangerous product was used, or we need to start seriously studying the properties of dilbit for their health effects”.

Media Contacts:

  • Craig Ritter: 517-230-6394 - detroitcritter@hotmail.com

  • Michelle Barlond-Smith: 269-753-2141- mbarlondsmith@gmail.com

  • Robert Naman, ACT Laboratory, Inc.: 251-454-4582- robertnaman@aol.com

  • Riki Ott: 206-853-2855 - amend@rikiott.com


For general inquiries about this story, contact: thegreatlakesdilbitdefenders@hotmail.com

Press Tele-Conference Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 at 10am EST

Dr. Riki Ott, Craig Ritter, Robert Naman, and Michelle Barlond-Smith will be available to answer questions.


Dial in: +1 661-673-8605

Participant access code: 650881#


Photos available here. Please contact thegreatlakesdilbitdefenders@hotmail.com for more. Copies of the chemical analyses available upon request.


Video summarizing the discovery of the “rock” formations available here.


Timeline of events leading up to this release, relevant documents, and questions for the media available here.

For more information, see today’s news article by Andrew Nikiforuk in the Tyee.

‘The war is on’: Protesters set sights on Harper after Northern Gateway decision

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be the focus of newly intense protests whenever he shows up in B.C. due to his cabinet’s Northern Gateway decision, a provincial native leader says.

“There’s been a lot of chatter about that today. Given the fact that, in our view, Harper has declared war on British Columbians and First Nations, he will absolutely not be welcome into this province in the future,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told reporters during a major anti-Gateway rally in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday night.

“It means more protests and demonstrations and rallies wherever he speaks and wherever he visits,” said the president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

During a January visit, a pair of climate-change activists managed to get through Mr. Harper’s security cordon to within arms length of the prime minister as he took questions from the head of the Vancouver Board of Trade onstage at a hotel. The activists held signs to highlight their criticism of the federal Conservative government.

Mr. Phillips’ comments came as hundreds of anti-Gateway protesters rallied in central Vancouver, blocking an intersection then gathering for speeches and chants in front of the regional headquarters of the CBC. Activists then peacefully marched through downtown streets, channelled by Vancouver police.

“It’s official. The war is on,” Mr. Phillip told the crowd, rallying them to a path of protest ahead against the $7.9-billion pipeline between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast.

Amid cheers, whistling and chants, Mr. Phillip said there will be battles ahead in the courts with several lawsuits immediately looming, but activists have to be ready to stop project proponent Enbridge Inc. from doing basic development work on the pipeline site.

“There will be the need to go out onto the land and onto the waters and physically stop any effort on the part of Enbridge to do preparatory work, site preparation, surveying while this matter is in the courts,” said Mr. Phillip.

“Some of us here are going to jail because that’s what it’s going to take.”

At the back of the crowd, musician Scott Archibald said he rarely attends protests, but attended the boisterous gathering because he was struck by the Gateway decision, which he sees as bad for B.C.

“If (Gateway) goes through and there’s an oil spill, the coast is ruined for generations to come,” said Mr. Archibald, 39. “The probability of an oil spill is very high.”

Mr. Archibald, who said he grew up fishing and swimming on the Gulf islands said he could see the decision coming, but was taken aback by the reality of the pipeline coming closer to reality. He said he was prepared for further activism.

“I know people in my family who voted for Harper and they’re against this because they grew up on the B.C. coast.”

Follow Ian Bailey on Twitter: @ianabailey

BREAKING NOW: Protester risks life to stop the impending Enbridge oil spills!
June 24, 2013

A protester has climbed into an oil pipeline at a southern Michigan construction site, and emergency crews are ‘working to get him out’.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the man is 25 yards inside the opening of the line near Marshall in Calhoun County’s Fredonia Township. Air is being pushed in toward him, and officials are monitoring carbon monoxide levels at the scene.

The new pipeline endangers public health, considering the Calgary, Alberta-based company’s pipeline ruptured nearby in 2010, spilling 800,000 gallons of oil into a river.


Sounds like a great start to a #fearless summer.