tar sands

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Native Women: Leading the Fight Against the Tar Sands 

Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Dakota Signatory to the Treaty to Protect the Sacred. Testified at public hearing in Nebraska against Keystone XL. 

Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Grassroots activist, organizing in Alberta against tar sands devastation on her nation’s territory. In 2012, she was a delegate to the UN Rio+20 Summit. 

Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota Organizer with Moccasins on the Ground, which trains Native people an allies in direct action tactics in anticipation of the approval of Keystone XL North 

Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabeg One of the founders of the Indigenous Women’s Network, founder of Honor the Earth. Longtime indigenous activist, LaDuke is (at the time of writing) riding across the length of Enbridge’s pipelines in Minnesota to raise awareness.

Casey Camp-Horineck, Ponca Actress and activist, Camp-Horineck provided important support and guidance to Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance in their work stopping construction of KXL south

Tantoo Cardinal, Metis/Cree Born in Ft McMurray, Cardinal was arrested outside the White House at the massive 2011 sit-in against the Keystone XL pipeline. She has continued to organize against Keystone XL. 

**This in no way encompasses all the accomplishments of these women.**

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“This is sacred—this Indian land. And it is sacred not just for First Nations, it is sacred for everybody. We are all here, we all share this. We all share in the responsibility.

“Keep using your voices. Keep standing strong.”

Audrey Siegel, Musqueam leader

Hundreds of protestors are gathering to rally against Kinder Morgan’s controversial pipeline survey work on Burnaby Mountain, despite a court injunction and $5.5 million lawsuit. This isn’t just about land exploitation. It’s about intimidation tactics, oil money and undemocratic government. More than anything, it’s about the power of the people to defend our land and our future.

We will not be divided. We will not be defeated.
#BurnabyMountain

Photos by Jackie Dives

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Over the past four years, the Unist'ot'en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation have literally built a strategy to keep three proposed oil and gas pipelines from crossing their land. Concerned about the environmental damage a leak could cause on land they’ve never given up, they’ve constructed a protection camp to block pipeline companies. As opposition to the development of Alberta’s tar sands and to fracking projects grows across Canada, with First Nations communities on the front lines, the Unist'ot'en camp is an example of resistance that everyone is watching. 

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Indigenous women, speaking for those that cannot speak for themselves. 

Leading the resistance against Kinder Morgan, which wants to tunnel through Burnaby Mountain, on unceded Coast Salish lands to send tar sands oil to terminals near Vancouver, BC.

Bill Nye Talks About Canadian Oil and the Certainty of Climate Change

Yesterday, Bill Nye touched down in Toronto to attend the International Astronautical Congress, an annual gathering where space enthusiasts (where, as Nye says, the nerd factor is “turned up to 11”) share research papers. Since his mega-hit show, Nye has taken the reigns of the Planetary Society, an organization founded by Carl Sagan in the 1980s that focuses on science advocacy, research, and outreach.

As the CEO of the Planetary Society, Bill Nye is clearly using his powers as a celebrity scientist for good. During a keynote speech at the University of Toronto last night, he discussed a project the Planetary Society was developing to conquer the possibility of an asteroid hitting Earth. Their solution? Laser bees. These “bees” are tiny robots that surround an offending asteroid and by using mirrors, “focus sunlight onto a spot on the asteroid” that can “gently move it.”

Anyhow, I caught up with Bill Nye before his speech to chat about Canada, the tar sands, and the Harper government’s muzzling of scientists. 

Bill Nye: I’m hip with VICE, I’m down with the VICE.
VICE: Oh awesome, that’s good to hear. Let’s jump right into it then… Climate change has been immensely politicized. How do you respond to outside influences, like industry and government, that try and control the message of the scientific community?
The government in Canada is currently being influenced by the fossil fuel industry. [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper is a controversial guy in the science community because [of] the policies, especially in western Canada, with regard to the production—that’s the verb they use, “producing,” but you’re taking old earth and burning it. [The production] of tar sands, oil shale… is there tar shale? Is there sand goo? Whatever.

I used to work in the oil field, albeit much farther south, in Texas and New Mexico. Oil is noxious, but it’s not that noxious as stuff to spill on the ground. However, when you start taking this tar sand and oil shale, where you’re you’re strip mining many, many tons of earth to get to this stuff, and then you have to burn a lot of it to make it soupy enough to pump. The environmental impact is huge!  And there was some trouble with some train cars, and some explosions.

A town exploded.
Yeah. This is all stuff that could be controlled, but part of it, at least for me as an engineer, is that the extraction methods in that part of the world are so aggressive, it’s so hard to get this stuff to [a point where it’s] useful. The bad news, writ large, is that we’ll never run out of fossil fuels. There’s so much stuff, so much coal, so much tar sand oil shale everywhere around the world that we’ll never use it up. But we will use up the really easy to burn gasoline, easy to burn diesel fuel.

Continue

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All spills in order of occurrence:

March 11 – 21: Gwagwalada Town, Nigera
A week-long leak of Kilometer 407.5 NNPC (Nigeria National Petroleum Corp) pipeline. No official number of barrels spilled released, however the spill saturated a hectare (10,000 sq metres) of marshy ground near a major water source.

Tuesday, March 19: Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories Canada
Enbridge Norman Wells Pipeline leaks 6,290 barrels of crude oil

Monday, March 25: Fort MacKay, Alberta Canada
Suncor tar sands tailings pond leaks 2,200 barrels of toxic waste fluid into the Athabasca River

Wednesday, March 27: Parker Prairie, Minnesota U.S.
CP Rail train derails and spills 952 barrels of tar sands crude oil

Friday, March 29: Mayflower, Arkansas U.S.
Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus Pipeline suffers a 22 foot-long rupture, spilling at least 12,000 barrels of diluted tar sands bitumen

Sunday, March 31: A power plant in Lansing, Michigan U.S.
16 barrels of an oil-based hydraulic fluid spills into the Grand River

Tuesday, April 2: Nembe, Nigeria
After suffering a reported theft of 60,000 barrels of oil per day from its Nembe Creek Trunkline pipeline, Shell Nigeria shuts off the pipe for nine days to repair damage

Wednesday, April 3: 350KM southeast of Newfoundland, Canada
A drilling platform leaks 0.25 barrels of crude oil

Wednesday, April 4: Chalmette, Louisiana U.S.
0.24 barrels (100 lbs) of hydrogen sulfide and 0.04 barrels (10 lbs of benzene) leak at an Exxon refinery

Monday, April 8: Esmeraldas, Ecuador
The OPEC-managed OCP pipeline leaks 5,500 barrels of heavy crude oil, contaminating the Winchele estuary

Tuesday, April 9: 29KM NE of Nuiqsut, Alaska U.S.
Human error during maintenance spills 157 barrels of crude oil at a Repsol E&P USA Inc pipeline pump station

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.

cbc.ca
Canadian First Nations, U.S. tribes form alliance to stop oil pipelines
Agreement signed in Montreal, Vancouver on Thursday

First Nations communities from Canada and the northern United States signed a treaty on Thursday to jointly fight proposals to build more pipelines to carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands, saying further development would damage the environment.

The treaty, signed in Montreal and Vancouver, came as the politics around pipelines have become increasingly sensitive in North America, with the U.S. Justice Department intervening last week to delay construction of a contentious pipeline in North Dakota.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was signed by 50 aboriginal groups in North America, who also plan to oppose tanker and rail projects in both countries, they said in a statement.

Targets include projects proposed by Kinder Morgan Inc, TransCanada Corp and Enbridge Inc.

While aboriginal groups have long opposed oil sands development, the treaty signals a more coordinated approach to
fight proposals.

Among the treaty’s signatories is the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who opposes the Dakota pipeline.

“What this treaty means is that from Quebec, we will work with allies in (British Columbia) to make sure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass,” Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon said in the statement.

“And we will also work with our tribal allies in Minnesota as they take on Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East,” he said, referring to TransCanada’s plan to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta to Canada’s East Coast.

Continue Reading.

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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


In recent months, many climate activists have focused their efforts on Canada’s tar sands and the companies set on extracting fossil fuels from them. With the debate raging louder than ever, we are in contact with one of the workers helping to build a pipeline to bring oil from the tar sands to the U.S. Read the anonymous correspondent’s second dispatch from one of the world’s most controversial jobs.

commondreams.org
'This Is My Act of Love': Climate Activists Shut Down All US-Canada Tar Sands Pipelines
Coordinated show of resistance executed in solidarity with those fighting against Dakota Access pipeline

Five activists shut down all the tar sands pipelines crossing the Canada-U.S. border Tuesday morning, in a bold, coordinated show of climate resistance amid the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

The activists employed manual safety valves to shut down Enbridge’s line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota; TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy’s Express pipeline in Coal Banks Landing, Montana; and Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington.

The activists, who planned the action to coincide with the International Days of Prayer and Action With Standing Rock, expressed feeling “duty bound to halt the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels…in the absence of any political leadership” to address the withering goal of keeping global temperature increase beneath the 2°C climate threshold.

“I have signed hundreds of petitions, testified at dozens of hearings, met with most of my political representatives at every level, to very little avail,” said 64-year-old mother Annette Klapstein of Bainbridge Island, Washington, who was arrested just before publication. “I have come to believe that our current economic and political system is a death sentence to life on earth, and that I must do everything in my power to replace these systems with cooperative, just, equitable and love-centered ways of living together. This is my act of love.”

Continue Reading.

A pipeline that leaked in northern Alberta was only five years old and designed to last for 30, according to top executives with Apache Canada, the company responsible for a large spill of toxic oil and gas waste.
— 

Northern Alberta pipeline was only five years old before toxic spill - The Globe and Mail

This raises even more concerns about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Canada could face ’20 Standing Rocks,’ says Mohawk Grand Chief Serge Simon as Ottawa rejects need for ‘consent’

[IMAGE: Supporters at a camp on the Standing Rock reservation. Standing Rock is currently battling construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota.]

Canada could face “20 Standing Rocks,” said a Mohawk Chief in response to the Justin Trudeau government’s revelation Thursday it doesn’t plan to include consent as part of its consultation approach with First Nations on major resource projects.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters Thursday the Trudeau government believes it only needs to accommodate and consult First Nations before proceeding with major resource development projects and not obtain “free prior and informed consent.”

It’s a position at odds with Supreme Court of Canada rulings which have stated that obtaining consent is part of the consultation spectrum the Crown faces when dealing with First Nations on issues that impact rights, title and territory. The position also undercuts a key element of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the Trudeau government has claimed it plans to embrace as part of its efforts toward reconciliation.

Kanehsatà:ke Grand Chief Serge Simon said he’s not surprised the Trudeau government says it does not believe it needs to obtain consent to proceed with major projects that impact Indigenous territories.

“New infrastructure to bring in more oil from the tar sands? Forget it, it’s not going to happen,” said Simon, who is Grand Chief for the Mohawk community at the centre of the 1990 Oka crisis. “I don’t care what Jim Carr says that no consent is necessary… Consent, it’s what we are demanding and he will never get our consent, not for something like this… What if we gave Canada 20 Standing Rocks? I wonder if his position will change then?”

Simon was referring to the Standing Rock Očhéthi Šakówiŋ which is currently trying to stop construction of an oil pipeline through North Dakota. The Standing Rock’s opposition to the pipeline triggered a historic Native-led movement that has led to intense clashes with U.S. authorities and hundreds of arrests.

“We always knew the Trudeau government, a lot of his ministers, are influenced by the fossil fuel industry and a prime minister is only as good as how he handles the economy,” said Simon. “If we keep doing this, our children and their children are going to suffer the brunt of climate change.”

Help the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ with donations, supplies, and legal funds.

Keep reading

We warned that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.
—  Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota, with the Council of Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples in a statement of resistance to environmental destruction, saying there is “no time left to defend the Earth.”
aptn.ca
Bill Nye 'the Science Guy' visits tar sands, calls it 'extraordinary exploitation' of environment

American science educator Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is in northern Alberta filming a climate change documentary.

Nye visited the tar sands and after taking an aerial tour of the mining areas told APTN National News it was a “depressive” sight to see.

“Producing all this oil that’s producing all this carbon dioxide, that’s not good from a global stand point,” said Nye.

“And from an environmental point of view locally, it’s astonishing and overwhelming.”

He went on to say that it’s difficult to describe witnessing the scale of industrial activity that is taking place and that he was “amazed” at the size of production happening in the tar sands, and the damage it is causing.

“Furthermore consider all the toxins that are being used to move the fluid around and then they put in these enormous ponds, or lakes, or encampments,” he said. “It’s very much out of nature’s natural state.”

Nye visited the community of Fort McKay First Nation Monday. Fort McKay is encamped by tar sands activity and has suffered the consequences of environmental damages over the many decades since the tar sands were discovered in their traditional territories.

He said after learning of the community’s history and relationship with industry he thinks Fort McKay still has a battle ahead of them.

“I think anybody would say that First Nations have rights that have been abridged or catastrophically curtailed,” said Nye.

However, he added that Indigenous people can have an impact on climate change if their treaties are held up to law.

While in Fort McMurray, Nye noticed the local news headlines regarding the province’s grim financial situation and rising unemployment. The new Alberta NDP government provided its first fiscal update today revealing a deficit of almost $6 billion and growing.

He called it the “boom and bust of oil.”

Nye said hope for the environment may lie in the upcoming Canadian federal election and said “everybody is talking about the very strong possibility” that the Harper government will be voted out.

If that were to happen, new leaders with different views and values regarding the environment would be helpful to address the climate change issue, he said.

“Everybody says they feel like the tipping point’s been reached. Everyone we speak with, where enough is enough kind of thing. But then you have people that are in denial of climate change, who justify all of this extraordinary exploitation to the environment,” he said. “It’s amazing the scale of it, is just very hard to believe and very troubling.”

Nye is one of a growing number of celebrity big names that have visited the Alberta oil sands in recent years others have included actor Leonardo DiCaprio, singer/songwriter Neil Young and South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu.

Nye is working on his freelance film titled Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown. He was joined by National Geographic filming a separate feature.

We’re running out of time. Top scientists say we have less than ten years to close the emissions gap. Canada doesn’t care. Harper is focused on protecting the Alberta bitumen industry at any cost. Last week the UN slammed Canada for our poor record.

We have got to do better.

And while our political leaders march ahead on tar sands deals and fund dirty oil advertising, we must do what they have failed to do. We cannot sit by and let them endanger our future.

We must rally together, now more than ever. There is no plan B.

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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