A new study from Simon Fraser University and Living Oceans Society says Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project does not meet the National Energy Board’s requirement of being in the public interest.

The study says the project, which would triple Kinder Morgan’s capacity to carry oil between Alberta and Burnaby, B.C., could come at a net cost to Canada of between $4.1 billion and $22.1 billion.

Those costs are associated, not only with damage to the environment in the form of oil spills and greenhouse gas emissions, but also with building too much pipeline capacity, it says.

“Right now if you look at the projects that the National Energy Board has approved or is under consideration, these pipeline projects will exceed demand by about 2.5 million barrels per day by 2020,” said Tom Gunton, SFU Director of the Resource and Environmental Planning Program, who led the study.

“Investing some $20 billion in potentially empty pipeline space imposes a very large cost on Canada, to the oil and gas sector, to the Canadian public in terms of reduced taxes and royalties.”

Gunton and his team argue that, by creating unnecessary capacity and diverting oil products from existing pipelines, oil and gas producers will lose out.

Continue Reading.


Unist'ot'en Camp stands firmly in the path of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway.

“The federal government’s approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway is an invitation to conflict—a test of Canada’s will to inflict violence upon the environment and indigenous peoples who have, throughout much of the project’s proposed route, never surrendered their lands.

‘This isn’t just a fight about pipelines. This is a fight about indigenous sovereignty, our sovereignty,’ said Toghestiy.”

Read the article on VICE.com

Alberta pipeline spills 60,000 litres of crude oil into muskeg

The Alberta Energy Regulator says close to 60,000 litres of crude oil have spilled into muskeg in the province’s north.

An incident report by the regulator states that a mechanical failure was reported Thursday at a Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ) pipeline approximately 27 kilometres north of Red Earth Creek.

The report says there are no reports of impact to wildlife and that a cleanup has begun.

Red Earth Creek is over 350 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Carrie Rosa, a spokeswoman for the regulator, says officials have been delayed reaching the scene due to poor weather in the last few days.

No one from Canadian Natural Resources could be reached on Saturday for comment.


A leaked RCMP report names “violent aboriginal extremists” with “anti-petroleum ideology” as key threats to Canada’s national security. I spoke to people identified as “violent extremists” in the report, including the Unist'ot'en Camp and people taking action against Enbridge’s Line 9.

They talk about how law enforcement uses racism to justify its mandate and how Harper’s secret police Bill C-51 is unlikely to crush this resistance.

“We already live in the world that people are afraid C-51 is going to create,” said Alex Hundert.

A long-read on VICE.com


MIDWEST Enbridge Tar Sands Resistance Tour (WI, MN & MI) April 13th-30th 2015 ‪#‎ENDbridge‬ the ‪#‎PIPEFiction‬ - REJECT BIG OIL / TAR SANDS

Big oil companies are plotting to pump hundreds of thousands of barrels of toxic tar sands through the Great Lakes every single day, threatening our communities, our water, and our climate.

RSVP: https://actionnetwork.org/even…/stop-enbridge-tar-sands-tour

If they succeed, it will be a climate catastrophe, polluting some of the largest bodies of freshwater on the planet. But communities across the Great Lakes are coming together to protect our water.

Throughout April, we’re touring the Great Lakes to help build the energy resistance across the region. Click here to find a tour stop near you.

At each stop we’ll hear from First Nations women in Canada fighting tar sands at the source, community leaders & students about the threat Enbridge and tar sands poses to our communities, and we’ll strategize and make action plans for how to stop it.

There will be 15 stops across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota between April 14th and 30th. It’s not the beginning or the end of the fight – but it’s the next step we need to take together to build the resistance to Big Oil across the Great Lakes.

Click here to RSVP for a tour stop near you and help us stop Big Oil’s attack on the Great Lakes. (https://actionnetwork.org/even…/stop-enbridge-tar-sands-tour)

Here’s what you can expect at each tour stop:

  • Hear stories from First Nations women fighting tar sands in Canada
  • Learn more about tar sands climate impacts
  • Hear from local voices who are fighting to keep tar sands out of the region & learn how you can get involved
  • Plan & strategize about how our communities can work together to build resistance against this dirty & dangerous fuel
  • Help build a piece of art that symbolizes the region’s resolve in fighting for a clean energy future
  • Enbridge is banking on us turning a blind eye while they make plans that will threaten the Great Lakes region. We aren’t going to let them.

How safe are America’s pipelines? There are 2.5 million miles of oil and gas pipelines in the U.S. Safety inspection, leak detection, and accountability mechanisms are weak and rare. And utilities are mostly not required to use new pipe inspection technologies, mainly because the public has shown no interest in this issue, and politicians are left to depend on listening to oil and gas industry ‘experts.’ So, the risk/reward ratio of maintaining pipes and avoiding leaks and spills bends towards assisting utilities, and away from citizens. 

One of the biggest problems contributing to leaks and ruptures is prettysimple: pipelines are getting older. More than half of the nation'spipelines are at least 50 years old. Last year in Allentown Pa., a natural gas pipeline exploded underneath a city street, killing five people who lived in the houses above and igniting a fire that damaged 50 buildings. The pipeline – made of cast iron – had been installed in 1928.

The oil and gas industry successfully lobby politicians to keep the public from discovering and worrying about leaks. They’ve also secured delays in upgrading old pipelines and avoid using new leak-detection technologies. Best of all their successes is they’ve kept penalties and fines for leaks and spills so low that they have no punitive affect.

Philadelphia has some of the leakiest natural gas distribution pipes in the nation. So does Boston, whose natural gas pipelines leak like a faucet - again due to old pipelines (many were built some 80 years ago).

If the issue for the environmental-political-left is to prevent leaks, spills,and increase penalties, then send a note to your representative asking for better inspections and steeper fines. Go here.


Protest Disrupts Nisga'a Nation Signing LNG Pipeline Approval

Nisga'a member Will Klatte passed through security at the legislature building in Victoria to disrupt an illegitimate signing of pipeline and other energy agreements with the BC government. The Nisga'a, the true Peoples of the Land, have never signed treaty or ceded their territories, nor do they consent to signing approvals for these pipeline projects.


“As a woman, I’m a waterkeeper…Being stewards of the earth, moving beyond fossil fuels, is [about more than] sustainability for us. It’s a cultural requirement.” ‪#‎LoveWaterNotOil‬ ‪#‎NoKXL‬ ‪#‎ProtectAndReject‬ ‪#‎OcetiRising‬

Correction: Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this article misquoted Tara Houska as saying, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leading the meeting!” She said, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leaving the meeting,” referring to a consultation between tribes and federal authorities in Rapid City, SD, during which Sioux representatives walked out.

You can follow Jake on Twitter @jakeflanagin. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

On Feb. 24, president Obama vetoed a congressional bill that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Although the debate surrounding the project was widely seen as a conflict between environmentalists and industrialists, the case also raised important questions about one of America’s oldest bad habits: trampling on indigenous rights.

The Rosebud Sioux, also known as the Sicangu Lakota, reside on a reservation that includes all of Todd County, South Dakota, and additional lands in the four adjacent. That land, originally encompassing all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River, was entreatied to the greater Sioux nation in 1851 and 1868, but has been gradually reduced to its current boundaries by decades of territorial whittling by the federal government. Only in 1934 were the Rosebud Sioux officially recognized as a self-governing nation—see the Indian Reorganization Act (pdf)—and thus formally allotted ownership of land that, prior to the arrival of European colonists, had been their’s for centuries.

Today, life on the typical Native American reservation is far from perfect: Poverty, high unemployment, substandard education and healthcare are all major issues these communities face. Choosing to live on reservations, therefore, can be a powerful statement of sovereignty. To some, it is an act of self-determination intended to stand against centuries of forced-assimilation policies which stripped land, resources and even children from tribal communities.

Keystone XL brought this hard-won spirit of sovereignty under threat. The plan to expand an existing oil pipeline system, linking oil-rich tar sands in the Canadian province of Alberta with refineries and distributors across the US, would essentially bisect South Dakota, cutting straight through Rosebud Sioux tribal land. A longtime topic of concern for environmentalists, the Keystone XL pipeline raised hackles, being yet another instance in which the American government attempted to circumvent Native sovereignty in the pursuit of economic gain.

Passions boiled over in November following a vote in the US House of Representatives approving expansion. In a press release issued in response to the vote, Rosebud Sioux tribal president Cyril Scott said, “Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.” It was a statement intended to stoke passions, and perhaps rightfully so.

Tara Houska, a tribal rights attorney in Washington, DC, and a founding member of NotYourMascots.org, is more measured in her wording, but generally agrees with Scott’s assessment of the situation. The risk for local tribes would have been huge. Keystone XL brings with it the risk that spilled diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” might contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer, the only source of drinking water for tribes like the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux.

(photo by Ryan Redcorn)

In the event of a spill, “what does the federal government expect them to do?” Houska told Quartz, “Survive on bottled water? For years? Are they serious?”

Federal disregard for Native stakes in the pipeline expansion are part of a larger pattern of inattention, she added. Many area tribes, including the Oglala Sioux, feel they were inadequately consulted by authorities in Washington prior to congressional approval earlier in February. “When I got brought in, they had already had their quote unquote consultation,” Houska said. Washington’s envoys were apparently well out of their depth, seemingly unaware (or uninterested) in Keystone XL’s specific impact on Sioux reservations. “[Tribal representatives] ended up leaving the meeting!”

Even if a major industrial project, such as Keystone XL, skirts officially recognized tribal boundaries, sufficient consultation with area tribes is required by law, she explained. “There are often times when we have rights to treaty lands that were never officially ceded.” The lackluster meeting between Oglala Sioux representatives and federal authorities “did not meet the requirements of consultation,” she said.

In addition to potential environmental impacts, tribes require consultation on projects like Keystone XL for a number a reasons, chief among them issues pertaining to community safety. “It’s going to bring a large number of men into the area,” Houska said, citing concerns raised by South Dakota law enforcement and women’s rights advocacy-groups. The housing of about 1,000 pipeline laborers, mostly men, in TransCanada work camps placed close to reservations could cause an uptick in sexual assaults against area women. Native women are already 2.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than women of any other race, reports Mary Annette Pember for Indian Country Today. “The perpetrators of this violence are overwhelmingly non-Native,” she noted.

Beyond the practicalities of community health and security, the potential impact of the pipeline on the earth is of course of great concern as well. But, for Natives, a commitment to environmentalist values extends far beyond the political. “As a woman, I’m a waterkeeper. That’s part of my culture,” Tara Houska explained. (She is Minnesota Anishinaabe and a citizen of the Couchiching First Nation in Ontario.) “Being stewards of the earth, moving beyond fossil fuels, is more than just about sustainability for us. It’s a cultural requirement.”

“The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land,” president Scott said in his statement, insisting that weaning society off of its fossil-fuel dependency is key to brighter futures both on and off reservations. “We feel it is imperative to to provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to tribal members, but to non-tribal-members as well,” he added. “We need to start remembering that the earth is our mother and stop polluting her, and start taking steps to preserve the land, water, and our grandchildren’s future.”

“It’s the fourth-largest aquifer in the world,” Houska said of the Ogallala Aquifer. “The largest in the United States. It provides 30% of the irrigation water for the country.” Any future industrial projects in the region could have similarly devastating aftermaths. “This issue affects you, whether you live on a reservation or in a big city.”

Correction: Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this article misquoted Tara Houska as saying, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leading the meeting!” She said, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leaving the meeting,” referring to a consultation between tribes and federal authorities in Rapid City, SD, during which Sioux representatives walked out.

You can follow Jake on Twitter @jakeflanagin. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

Won this round, now let’s finish this fight. Onwards.#NoKXL #TimeToReject

Sign the UNITY letter: http://350.org/unityletter/?source=IEN

Sign the UNITY letter: http://350.org/unityletter/?source=IEN

If we go to court, we’re going to go to court with clean hands and ensure we’ve done everything humanly possible before I stand with you and probably 10,000 other people and get arrested to stop this [pipeline],” he told the crowd, Burnaby Now newspaper reported.

“That’s a hard thing to promise for a lawyer and a mayor. It will probably be the end of my career. But if I end my career on that note, it will be something that I’m very proud of, that I stood my ground.