Tags: environment, First Nations, jacob chamberlain, keystone, keystone xl, piipeline, roger hollander, tar sands, tar sands blockade
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Week of anti-pipeline actions erupt across the country
Climate activists on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border are ratcheting up the fight against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline this week as the U.S. Senate ponders a recently proposed bill that would expedite its approval and “short-circuit” the State Department’s pipeline environmental review.
In the past week over 30 protests have taken place in dozens of U.S. cities as part of a “March 16-23, Week of Action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers,” which has been coordinated by over 50 grassroots organizations.
So far, thirty-seven protesters have been arrested “for disrupting business as usual at TransCanada and their investors’ offices,” with more actions planned in the coming days.
“Organizers seek to expose green-washed corporations like TD Bank, a top shareholder in TransCanada, and force them to divest from the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” Tar Sands Blockade stated Wednesday.
“It’s encouraging to see people around the country taking action to stop tar sands profiteers,” said Ron Seifert, spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade. “No longer will we allow them to build KXL and invest in toxic projects that endanger the health of low-income and communities of color. We will not allow ‘business as usual’ to continue.”
From the Tar Sands Blockade, below are a few highlights from the week of action so far:
- 100 people occupied a TransCanada’s office in Westborough, Mass., holding a “Funeral for Our Future” and disrupting work for several hours. Twenty-five were arrested for locking themselves inside the office: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/funeralforourfuture/
- TD Bank branches have seen protests at multiple locations including three people who were arrested for locking themselves inside a branch office in Washington, DC. http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction-day4/
- Twelve people arrested for blockading a fracking pipeline in upstate New York: http://ourfutureisunfractured.wordpress.com/
- Portland, Oregon held a bike tour of the city’s worst polluters including a rally at a TransCanada office: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction-day3/
- Dozens of activists in grim-reaper garb surround Michels Corporate office in Kirkland, Wash., demanding that Michels stop building KXL: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction-day3/
Meanwhile, native leaders from both Canada and the U.S. took to the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday to urge opposition to both the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines—telling lawmakers that an alliance of native groups on both sides of the border are preparing to fight the pipelines in the courts and through unspecified direct action in the coming months.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said natives are determined to block the pipelines.
“It’s going to be a long, hot summer,” he said at a news conference.
“We have a lot of issues at stake.”
“We’re going to stop these pipelines on way or another,” said Phil Lane Jr. of the American Yankton Sioux.
“If we have to keep going to court, we’ll keep doing that,” said Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in northern B.C., adding that pipeline opponents will never back down.
“We’re the ones that’s going to save whatever we have left of this Earth,” he said.
“We, as a nation, have to wake up,” said Chief Reuben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation north of Vancouver. “We have to wake up to the crazy decisions that this government’s making to change the world in a negative way.”
More actions are expected throughout the U.S. in the coming days including six more actions against TD Bank in New York City, Washington D.C., Montpellier, Vt., Newark, Del., New Haven, Conn., and Asheville, N.C., Tar Sands Blockade reports.
On Thursday, March 21 in Oklahoma, the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance is planning what is slated to be the largest action of the week. Activists have pledged to “physically stop KXL construction.“
Click here for a full list of actions and live updates from around the country. March 18 – Over 40 rally outside Michels Corporation in Kirkland, Washington (Alex Garland) March 19 – Banner Drop in Oklahoma Promotes Week of Action (Tar Sands Blockade)
Tags: Canada, canada environment, canadian arctic, ed struzik, environment, keystone xl, kyoto, kyoto protocol, roger hollander, Stephen Harper, tar sands
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Published on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 by Yale Environment 360
Alberta’s tar sands. (Photograph by Peter Essick | National Geographic)
Outsiders have long viewed Canada as a pristine wilderness destination replete with moose, mountains, and Mounties who always got their man. Recognizing the tourism value of that somewhat dull but wholesome image, successive Canadian governments — both Liberal and Conservative — were content to promote the stereotype in brochures, magazine advertisements, and TV commercials.
The lie of that was evident in the rampant clear-cutting of forests in British Columbia, the gargantuan oil sands developments in Alberta, the toxic mining practices in the Arctic, and the factory fishing that literally wiped out the Canadian cod industry by the 1990s. But this wholesome image endured because progress was made on several environmental fronts, such as creation of many new national parks, and because Canada remains sparsely populated with large swaths of unspoiled boreal forest and tundra.
But Canada’s pristine image — and more importantly its environment — is not likely to recover from what critics across the political spectrum say is an unprecedented assault by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on environmental regulation, oversight, and scientific research. Harper, who came to power in 2006 unapologetic for once describing the Kyoto climate accords as “essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations,” has steadily been weakening environmental enforcement, monitoring, and research, while at the same time boosting controversial tar sands development, backing major pipeline construction, and increasing energy industry subsidies.
Critics say that assault reached a crescendo in recent weeks with the passage in Parliament of an omnibus budget bill known as C-38, which guts or significantly weakens rules relating to fisheries protection, environmental assessment, endangered species, and national parks. Under this bill, the criteria that currently trigger environmental assessments, for example, have been eliminated, leaving such reviews more to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment and other political appointees. The Fisheries Act will no longer be focused on habitat protection; instead, it will restrict itself largely to the commercial aspects of resource harvesting. Ocean dumping rules will also be changed to allow the Minister of the Environment to make decisions on permitting. And Parks Canada will no longer have to conduct environmental audits or review management plans every ten years. In addition, budgets cuts will eliminate the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife.
The bill also formally ends Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and removes funding for the bipartisan National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment, which for a quarter-century has offered policy solutions on how to grow Canada’s environment in a sustainable way.
One would expect intense criticism of Harper’s policies from environmentalists. But in recent months, hundreds of scientists, at least one university president, and several former Cabinet ministers and politicians — including three from the Conservative Party — have weighed in with scathing attacks on the Harper government.
“We have had lengthy and varied political experience and collectively have served in cabinet in Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments alike,” former fisheries ministers Tom Siddon, David Anderson, John Fraser, and Herb Dhaliwal said in an open letter to Harper on June 1. “We believe we have a fair understanding of the views of Canadians. Moreover, we believe there is genuine public concern over the perceived threat this legislation poses to the health of Canada’s environment and in particular to the well being of its fisheries resources. We are especially alarmed about any possible diminution of the statutory protection of fish habitat, which we feel could result if the provisions of Bill C-38 are brought into force.”
The discontent, however, goes much deeper than that. In addition to Bill C-38, the Harper government has ended funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which had doled out more than $100 million in research funding over the past decade. It has withdrawn support for the Experimental Lakes Program in northwestern Ontario, which has used 58 lakes to conduct groundbreaking studies on phosphate, mercury, and bacterial contamination, as well as research on how climate change affects freshwater systems. And it has killed funding for a program that helps keep more than a dozen Arctic science research stations operational.
The elimination or severe reduction of funds for research into climate change and the Arctic has especially serious implications, given that the Canadian Arctic is warming faster than almost any other region on earth. Scientists say that Harper’s sharp cutbacks will mean a drastic shortage of funds to monitor huge environmental changes in the Arctic, including melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, a rapidly changing tundra environment, and widespread impacts on fauna and flora.
“The kindest thing I can say is that these people don’t know enough about science to know the value of what they are cutting and doing,” says David Schindler, co-founder of the Experimental Lakes Project and one of the world’s best-known freshwater scientists. “But I think it goes deeper than that. This government is not going to let anything get in the way of resource development.”
Many think that statement goes to the heart of the matter now that international controversy over the Alberta tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline — which would carry that oil across the U.S. to Texas refineries — have put the Canadian government on the defensive. How else, they say, do you account for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver writing an open letter last January claiming that “environmental and other radical groups” use “funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest” — an apparent allusion to international opposition to the Alberta tar sands and related pipeline projects. What else, they add, could be behind the government’s decision this spring to give the Canada Revenue Agency an extra $8 million to crack down on environmental charities?
Justifying the tax crackdown, Harper said recently, “If it’s the case that we’re spending on organizations that are doing things contrary to government policy, I think that is an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money and we’ll look to eliminate it.”
Tides Canada is one of the charities at the center of this particular controversy. When the Harper government recently accused it of funneling foreign money to advocacy groups that oppose the Keystone pipeline and the Gateway pipeline (which would carry tar sands oil to ports in British Columbia), the head of the organization took the unprecedented step of releasing a detailed account of its grant recipients and international donors.
As it turns out, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation — established by Intel co-founded Gordon Moore — is among its biggest U.S. donors. It gave Tides an $8 million grant to support marine planning and science in British Columbia and nearly $10 million for salmon conservation initiatives. Tides Canada also got $2.4 million from several American foundations that wanted the money to support a land-use agreement between aboriginal groups and the province of British Columbia.
Ross McMillan, president and CEO of Tides Canada, denies that his charity is involved in political activity. The decision to go public, he says, was designed to “send a clear message to our critics that we have nothing to hide in our work.”
Harper hasn’t helped his cause by muzzling government scientists who have been conducting research on everything from permafrost to polar bears. Timely access to these scientists has been the subject of several newspaper articles and editorials. Hoping to resolve the long-standing problem, the Canadian Science Writers Association sent a letter to the Prime Minister in February calling on him to “tear down the wall that separates scientists, journalists, and the public.”
In the letter they noted how government scientists such as David Tarasick and Kristina Miller were prohibited from speaking to journalists even though their separate studies on the ozone layer and declining salmon populations were published in the journals Nature and Science.
The letter made little impression on the government. When 2,500 scientists, aboriginal leaders, and decision makers attended the International Polar Year Conference in Montreal in April, Canadian scientists were reminded not to talk to the media even though the government of Canada was the primary sponsor of the conference.
In June, former Conservative Member of Parliament Bob Mills took the extraordinary step of holding a press conference with the Green Party criticizing the government for killing the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment, established in 1988 by former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“I’ve always said that if you’re smart, you surround yourself with really smart people,” said Mills. “And if you’re dumb, you surround yourself with a bunch of cheerleaders. We don’t need cheerleaders. What we need are smart people. And in the Round Table, a collection from all walks of life, all different political stripes, it didn’t matter — but they were pretty smart people.”
Insurance industry executive Angus Ross added, “I think that perhaps the Prime Minister has forgotten that the name of the round table is not the National Round Table on the Environment or the Economy. It’s the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.”
Environment Minister Peter Kent, a former journalist, claims that the Round Table had outlived its usefulness.
“When it was created a quarter of a century ago, there were very few sources of policy advice on the relationship between the environment and the economy,” he told the House of Commons recently. “That is not the case today. This $5 million can be better spent elsewhere to protect the environment and the economy.”
Melissa Gorrie, a staff lawyer for the environmental law group Ecojustice, marvels at the persistence with which the Harper government is pressing ahead with its assault on the environment. She knows because she and her colleagues have successfully gone to the Federal Court of Canada several times to get the government to use emergency measures under the Species at Risk Act to protect declining caribou and sage grouse populations.
With each victory, the government has found a way not to act on the court order. Much of the stalling comes from procedural wrangling and disagreements about what constitutes an “imminent threat.” In the case of caribou, when all else failed the government came up with a draft recovery plan that satisfies none of the complainants nor any of the scientists who have been studying caribou for the past quarter-century.
“My colleagues and I have been talking about this quite a lot lately,” said Gorrie. “It’s either a vendetta and a total assault on the anything environmental or a total disinterest in the issue. Whatever it is, I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this in Canada.”
What Happened to Canada? January 30, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: Canada, canada dissent, canada government, canada pipelines, canada politics, Canada Tories, chris hedges, keystone xl, kyoto accords, leah henderson, roger hollander, Stephen Harper, tar sands, toronto g-20
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Roger’s note: this is not really news to us Canadians or anyone else who has been paying attention.
Police confront protesters outside 2010′s G-20 meeting in Toronto, Canada, June 25, 2010. (Photo: G20 Protest Photos)
What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.
But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.
The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.
“I want to tell you that I was arrested because I am seen as a threat,” Canadian activist Leah Henderson wrote to fellow dissidents before being sent to Vanier prison in Milton, Ontario, to serve a 10-month sentence. “I want to tell you that you might be too. I want to tell you that this is something we need to prepare for. I want to tell you that the risk of incarceration alone should not determine our organizing.”
“My skills and experience—as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a legal professional and as someone linking different communities and movements—were all targeted in this case, with the state trying to depict me as a ‘brainwasher’ and as a mastermind of mayhem, violence and destruction,” she went on. “During the week of the G8 & G20 summits, the police targeted legal observers, street medics and independent media. It is clear that the skills that make us strong, the alternatives that reduce our reliance on their systems and prefigure a new world, are the very things that they are most afraid of.”
The decay of Canada illustrates two things. Corporate power is global, and resistance to it cannot be restricted by national boundaries. Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere. They play worker off of worker and nation off of nation. They control the political elites in Ottawa as they do in London, Paris and Washington. This, I suspect, is why the tactics to crush the Occupy movement around the globe have an eerie similarity—infiltrations, surveillance, the denial of public assembly, physical attempts to eradicate encampments, the use of propaganda and the press to demonize the movement, new draconian laws stripping citizens of basic rights, and increasingly harsh terms of incarceration.
Our solidarity should be with activists who march on Tahrir Square in Cairo or set up encampamentos in Madrid. These are our true compatriots. The more we shed ourselves of national identity in this fight, the more we grasp that our true allies may not speak our language or embrace our religious and cultural traditions, the more powerful we will become.
Those who seek to discredit this movement employ the language of nationalism and attempt to make us fearful of the other. Wave the flag. Sing the national anthem. Swell with national hubris. Be vigilant of the hidden terrorist. Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, responding to the growing opposition to the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipelines, wrote in an open letter that “environmental and other radical groups” were trying to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” He accused pipeline opponents of receiving funding from foreign special interest groups and said that “if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further.”
No matter that in both Canada and the United States suing the government to seek redress is the right of every citizen. No matter that the opposition to the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines has its roots in Canada. No matter that the effort by citizens in the U.S. and in Canada to fight climate change is about self-preservation. The minister, in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry like the energy czars in most of the other industrialized nations, seeks to pit “loyal” Canadians against “disloyal” Canadians. Those with whom we will build this movement of resistance will not in some cases be our own. They may speak Arabic, pray five times a day toward Mecca and be holding off the police thugs in the center of Cairo. Or they may be generously pierced and tattooed and speak Danish or they may be Mandarin-speaking workers battling China’s totalitarian capitalism. These are differences that make no difference.
“My country right or wrong,” G.K. Chesterton once wrote, is on the same level as “My mother, drunk or sober.”
Our most dangerous opponents, in fact, look and speak like us. They hijack familiar and comforting iconography and slogans to paint themselves as true patriots. They claim to love Jesus. But they cynically serve the function a native bureaucracy serves for any foreign colonizer. The British and the French, and earlier the Romans, were masters of this game. They recruited local quislings to carry out policies and repression that were determined in London or Paris or Rome. Popular anger was vented against these personages, and native group vied with native group in battles for scraps of influence. And when one native ruler was overthrown or, more rarely, voted out of power, these imperial machines recruited a new face. The actual centers of power did not change. The pillage continued. Global financiers are the new colonizers. They make the rules. They pull the strings. They offer the illusion of choice in our carnivals of political theater. But corporate power remains constant and unimpeded. Barack Obama serves the same role Herod did in imperial Rome.
This is why the Occupy Wall Street movement is important. It targets the center of power—global financial institutions. It deflects attention from the empty posturing in the legislative and executive offices in Washington or London or Paris. The Occupy movement reminds us that until the corporate superstructure is dismantled it does not matter which member of the native elite is elected or anointed to rule. The Canadian prime minister is as much a servant of corporate power as the American president. And replacing either will not alter corporate domination. As the corporate mechanisms of control become apparent to wider segments of the population, discontent will grow further. So will the force employed by our corporate overlords. It will be a long road for us. But we are not alone. There are struggles and brush fires everywhere. Leah Henderson is not only right. She is my compatriot.
White House to Be Encircled by Tar Sands Activists on Sunday November 4, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
Tags: alberta tar sands, bill mckben, bryan farrell, canada pipeline, daryl hannah, dirty oil, environment, james hansen, keystone xl, naomi klein, oil contamination, oil pipeline, roger hollander, tar sands, tm dechristopher, transcanada corp
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A lot has happened since 65 people (including myself) were arrested in front of the White House on August 20th to protest a planned 1,400-mile pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. For starters, over a thousand more people from across the country were arrested in the subsequent two weeks, including big names like NASA climate scientist James Hansen, author Naomi Klein and actress Daryl Hannah. Support from high places soon followed, from the New York Times editorial page to nine Nobel Peace Laureates.
Momentum kept rolling throughout September with protests popping up at Obama campaign events and an impressive day of civil disobedience where over 200 people were arrested on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. As attention continued to swirl around an issue that had only weeks prior been known by environmentalists and people living along the proposed pipeline route, cracks within government began to emerge.
By early October emails emerged detailing a scandalous relationship between State Department employees and a former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign leader turned pipeline lobbyist. The New York Times called this discovery a “flouting of environmental law.” Not long thereafter, 20 members of Congress and three high-ranking senators expressed “serious concerns” about the pipeline and the State Department’s tainted approval process
Continuing its reckless behavior, the State Department announced this week that it had lost tens of thousands of public comments on the pipeline and won’t say how the remaining will be handled. Perhaps this level of inaction and the negative press that followed led President Obama to step forward on Tuesday and assume full ownership of the ultimate decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. He even went as far as to downplay the importance of jobs the pipeline might bring, saying, “I think folks in Nebraska, like all across the country, aren’t going to say to themselves, “We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health …”
Author Bill McKibben, de-facto leader of the Tar Sands Action movement, called Obama’s first comments on the pipeline a major turning point:
“Only a day ago the President’s press secretary said the State Department would make the call. Now, it’s very good to see the President taking full ownership of this decision and indicating that the environment will be the top priority going forward.
Of course, it’s not just people in Nebraska that are upset about this project. People from all 50 states were arrested in Washington this August protesting the pipeline and they will be coming back to the White House this Sunday because this pipeline is also a conduit for climate change.”
Not only will they be coming back to the White House, but this time they’ll be encircling it. Over 4,000 people have signed up to show the president, as the organizers put it, that “he has the support needed to reject the pipeline – and that there will be real consequences if he doesn’t.
According to Reuters, President Obama’s advisers are already worried that approval of the pipeline could cost him political support from Democrats in 2012.
Senior officials at the White House and Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters have fielded complaints from supporters who are unhappy about TransCanada Corp’s plan to build a massive pipeline to transport crude from Alberta to Texas, sources familiar with the situation said.
The concerns could contribute to a delay in the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline just as the 2012 presidential campaign heats up.
This is a good sign, but obviously for anyone involved in the campaign, anything short of a rejection will be unacceptable. As environmental activist Tim DeChristopher noted in a letter from prison last week, there’s another way to look at Sunday’s action: “It’s an opportunity to meet the people you will be linking hands with in front of a bulldozer if Obama actually signs off on this misguided pipeline.”
We will meet at the center fountain of Lafayette Square Park. The rally begins at 2 PM, with a little bit of live music starting at 1:30.
The rally will be MC’d by Bill McKibben, featuring speakers from across the movement to stop the pipeline. After the rally, we’ll receive direction on how to get in to position around the White House. We have a team of over 100 monitors and marshals ready to make sure everything goes smoothly.
After we surround the White House, we’ll head back to the park, and hopefully wrap up just as the sun sets at 5:30.
Ottawa Sit-In to Protest Federal Support of Oilsands September 26, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
Tags: alberta oil, Canada, canada oil, civil disobedience, clean energy, environment, keystone xl, oil pipeline, oil sands, oil spills, oilsands industry, peter lougheed, roger hollander, tar sands, trish audette
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Published on Monday, September 26, 2011 by Postmedia News
by Trish Audette
Environmental groups are hoping to trigger what they call the “largest civil disobedience action in the history of Canada’s climate movement” Monday in Ottawa — a sit-in on Parliament Hill to protest federal government support of Alberta’s oilsands.
“This isn’t about condemning anybody that works in the tarsands or oilsands industry. This is about presenting choices,” said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema. Monday’s action takes aim at Alberta’s oilsands as a whole, but the effort piggybacks on growing American and Canadian attention to the proposed $12-billion Keystone XL pipeline extension. (photo: Peter Blanchard)
The Edmonton-based activist said he hopes people do not see the protest as an attack on Alberta, but as a bid for a “clean-energy economy.”
Monday’s action takes aim at Alberta’s oilsands as a whole, but the effort piggybacks on growing American and Canadian attention to the proposed $12-billion Keystone XL pipeline extension.
As U.S. lawmakers draw closer to deciding whether to approve the massive project, expected to eventually pump 900,000 barrels of raw bitumen daily from Hardisty, Alta., across nine states to refineries in Texas, the pipeline proposal has become a magnet for wider environmental and economic debate on Alberta’s oilsands production. Where environmental activists weigh in against bolstering fossil fuel development, Canadian unions and even former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed have raised questions about exporting jobs. Across the U.S., meanwhile, local organizations worry about backyard environmental issues — including worst-case scenarios for the pipeline’s impact on the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska.
“It’s been an interesting year, and yeah, it’s been challenging,” said Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, the Calgary-based company building the pipeline.
In the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture that affected the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, however, Howard said it was no surprise to find the Keystone XL project in the cross-hairs.
“That changes how people look at an entire industry, not just a single project,” Howard said. “All we can do is point to our industry-leading safety and operating record as something we’re proud of.”
Despite industry assurances — and efforts by members of the Alberta government to intercede by meeting with their American counterparts — opposition to the project drew a range of activists to Washington, D.C. last month for a two-week protest during which about 1,250 people were arrested, including actresses Daryl Hannah, Margot Kidder and Tantoo Cardinal.
Hudema called the Washington action an inspiration for his and other organizations — including the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians, the Polaris Institute and the Indigenous Environmental Network — which hope more than 100 people will meet in front of the House of Commons on Monday and then move in groups into the building, where they anticipate arrest. Hudema said he expects protesters will arrive from across Canada, including from Alberta.
“It’s more about the tarsands in general, but of course the pipelines are a big part” of the fight, Hudema said. “The pipelines are what are going to allow or prevent the tarsands from expanding (or) the damage from getting significantly bigger.”
Business observers aren’t so sure the protests will capture public imagination to the point where approval for the Keystone XL project stumbles, however — even in light of mass arrests.
“When they put their mind to it they can really put on a good show of force and make a strong statement,” said David MacLean, vice-president of the Alberta Enterprise Group. Since 2008, MacLean’s Edmonton-based umbrella group has taken a cross-section of business leaders and politicians to Washington to talk about and defend the oilsands.
“The debate is so many levels,” MacLean said, including the need for oilsands companies to improve their environmental records.
But also, he said, there is a public-relations battleground.
“Sometimes it means getting your hands dirty because this is a fight.”
And the province’s role in the fight has not gone unnoticed by members of industry or the protesters taking on bitumen extraction, its carbon footprint, tailings ponds and pipelines. Where business people applaud the efforts of ministers and provincial politicians to tell Alberta’s oil story in the United States and abroad, activists like Hudema accuse the government of having become a “mouthpiece” for the oilsands.
“I think industry has asked the government to make sure that we represent what’s true in Alberta and what we represent when we go to America is the Alberta story, which isn’t so much in defence of industry,” International and Intergovernmental Relations Minister Iris Evans said.
Since January, her department and the premier’s office have spent about $92,500 on missions to the U.S. to discuss Alberta-produced energy and build relationships.
Evans is hoping the next premier — to be selected by Progressive Conservatives on Oct. 1 — will visit Washington later this fall as Keystone XL hearings continue, to gauge impacts on residents along the proposed pipeline route.
“I guess you could characterize (protests) as certainly distractions on that front, but I don’t want to belittle their intent,” Evans said.
“I think we have to do our due diligence so that we understand what elements of truth exist in any kind of protest, and make sure that we’re well prepared to defend what we do in the most positive way.”
© 2011 Postmedia News
7 Comments so far
Posted by Stonepig
Sep 26 2011 – 9:58am.
“It’s been an interesting year, and yeah, it’s been challenging,” said Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, the Calgary-based company building the pipeline.” And the stinking money that will kill so.much. must be pretty challenging to not get if the deal blows up. They are all probably buying up stock in pesticide companies for when the migrating birds no longer migrate in the tarsands area, and we are all left with an insect infestation of a Biblical nature. Hurray for the people of Canada with more people than US, protesting. We are so pathetic. We let a mere thousand do our protesting for us. Shameful. .
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Posted by PuffinThrush
Sep 26 2011 – 12:46pm.
Canadian Naomi Klein protested in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. along with a number of indigenous Canadians.
As Naomi Klein told it, she didn’t intend to get arrested, since she was concerned the United States might refuse to allow her to enter the country again, if she were arrested. But when Naomi Klein saw that the indigenous Canadans had no intention of moving when told to do so by the police, she decided to get arrested with them.
I wonder if there are any citizens of the United States who are risking arrest in Ottawa, Canada, today.
See “Author Naomi Klein arrested in oil sands protest September 3, 2011″. .
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Posted by RV
Sep 26 2011 – 1:11pm.
Given the highly remote likelihood of such protests having any real impact on those who actually make the decisions and policies (hint: not “the people’s representatives”) Americans are conserving their energies for the forthcoming Second American Revolution.
Fat chance! Unfortunately, although any such “peasants revolt” like its precedants might possibly re-position a few of the current imperial powers somewhat, it’s equally unlikely to end imperial tyranny. .
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Posted by 4thefuture
Sep 26 2011 – 12:06pm.
Good for the Canadians to be protesting in mass numbers. If this tar sands stuff is as bad as it seems, shutting it down is the only way to go. If it were as good as the promoters say, then why aren’t they building a refinery in Canada? What kind of sense does it make to send it to Texas? The environment is a loser no matter what if it isn’t stopped. .
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Posted by Alcyon
Sep 26 2011 – 12:48pm.
This protest action is very significant. One can only hope that the public at large pays attention and the Canadian media cover the protest appropriately and not try to ignore it or misrepresent it, cleverly portraying the protesters as some kind of tree-hugging nuts.
>>”“This isn’t about condemning anybody that works in the tarsands or oilsands industry. This is about presenting choices,” said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema. The Edmonton-based activist said he hopes people do not see the protest as an attack on Alberta, but as a bid for a “clean-energy economy.”<<
That is a real challenge – to get this point across. I can imagine a lot of people in Alberta (Canada's Texas) getting furious about this protest, as it not only impacts on their present livelihood, way of life and recent prosperity, it could even provoke strong feelings of entitlement and the urge to tell "outsiders" to just f*ck off.
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Posted by Lily_otv
Sep 26 2011 – 1:14pm.
Raw bitumen is thicker than molasses in January. Fuel from this type of production is extremely expensive and dirty. Fuel must be used to create the amount of pressure needed to pump raw bitumen. Fuel is consumed to refine the raw bitumen to oil. When the resulting oil is finally burned, it adds yet MORE carbon to the atmosphere. "bitumen extraction, its carbon footprint, tailings ponds and pipelines" degrade the planet. All this without even considering possible environmental damage caused by a leak or spill. Other reasons that Canadians are ticked off: – the Prime Minister is from Alberta with longstanding support for the Alberta oil industry. – the Prime Minister & his government cut financial incentives for the development and production of renewable fuel sources in order to support tarsands production. – the Prime Minister is afraid of the Green Party of Canada. Along with the support of media, the government dinosaurs and backward thinkers prevented participation by the Green Party in election debates. Thanks to the very hard work of Canadians who support Green Party Policies, there is now an MP from the Green Party. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, former president of the Sierra Club, is now being heard in the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa. Elizabeth May knows more about tarsands, from her first-hand experience, than any other Member of Parliament. Look for her on Monday. .
Posted by Galenwainwright…
Sep 26 2011 – 2:10pm.
The arrests have already started.
Protestors are calmly, peacefully climbing over a Police erected barricade (which is blocking access to public property), and sitting quietly on the grass. While the cameras are on them, the Police are interviewing the protestors, then arresting them and leading them away.
But the Ottawa Police are quite well known for acts of shocking criminal brutality when the cameras are off or not present.
Look for this to get ugly.
Free speech is dead, dead, dead. In Canada, the US, and all over the world.
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Wolves Fall Prey to Canada’s Rapacious Tar Sands Business September 18, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Animal Protection, Canada, Energy, Environment.
Tags: alberta tar sands, animal rights, Canada, caribou, conservation, ecology, environment, keystone xl, oil industry, paul paquet, peter kent, pipeline, roger hollander, tar sands, wolves
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On the pretext of protecting caribou, wolves are threatened with a cull. But the real ‘conservation’ is of oil industry profits
Wolves are routinely, baselessly and contemptuously blamed for the demise of everything from marmots to mountain caribou in western Canada. Given that attitude, we at Raincoast Conservation Foundation are appalled, though not surprised, by Canada’s proposed strategy to “recover” dwindling populations of boreal forest caribou in northern Alberta’s tar sands territory. Essentially, the plan favours the destruction of wolves over any consequential protection, enhancement or expansion of caribou habitat.
Clearly, the caribou recovery strategy is not based on ecological principles or available science. Rather, it represents an ideology on the part of advocates for industrial exploitation of our environment, which subsumes all other principles to economic growth, always at the expense of ecological integrity. Owing to the breadth of the human niche, which continues to expand via technological progress, the human economy grows at the competitive exclusion of nonhuman species in the aggregate. The real cost of Alberta’s tar sands development, which includes the potential transport of oil by Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines is being borne by wolves, caribou and other wild species.
Consistent with Canada’s now well-deserved reputation as an environmental laggard, the caribou recovery strategy evolved over several years and many politicised iterations, carefully massaged by government pen pushers and elected officials who did their very best to ignore and obscure the advice of consulting biologists and ecologists. So, the government should quit implying that the consultation approach provides a scientifically credible basis for decisions. Apparently, scientists can lead federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to information, but they cannot make him think.
Egged on by a rapacious oil industry, the federal government has chosen to scapegoat wolves for the decline of boreal caribou in a morally and scientifically bankrupt attempt to protect Canada’s industrial sacred cow: the tar sands. Yet, the ultimate reason why the caribou are on the way out is because multiple human disturbances – most pressingly, the tar sands development – have altered their habitat into a landscape that can no longer provide the food, cover and security they need.
The relentless destruction of boreal forest wilderness via tar sands development has conspired to deprive caribou of their life requisites while exposing them to levels of predation they did not evolve with and are incapable of adapting to. Consequently, caribou are on a long-term slide to extinction; not because of what wolves and other predators are doing but because of what humans have already done.
Controlling wolves by killing them or by the use of non-lethal sterilisation techniques is biologically unsound as a long-term method for reducing wolf populations and protecting hoofed animals (ungulates) from predation. Lethal control has a well documented failed record of success as a means of depressing numbers of wolves over time. Killing wolves indiscriminately at levels sufficient to suppress populations disrupts pack social structure and upsets the stability of established territories, allowing more wolves to breed while promoting the immigration of wolves from nearby populations.
At the broadest level, the caribou strategy favours human selfishness at the expense of other species. Implicit is the idea that commercial enterprise is being purchased by the subversion of the natural world, with one set of ethical principles being applied to humans and another to the rest of nature. The strategy panders to the ecologically destructive wants of society by sacrificing the most basic needs of caribou. In doing so, it blatantly contradicts the lesson Aldo Leopold taught us so well: the basis of sound conservation is not merely pragmatic it; is also ethical.
Simply, the caribou strategy is not commensurate with the threats to the species’ survival. What is desperately needed is a caribou strategy designed to solve the problem faster than it is being created. Protecting limited habitat for caribou while killing thousands of wolves as the exploitation of the tar sands continues to expand will not accomplish this goal. Against scientific counsel otherwise, though, politicians have decided that industrial activities have primacy over the conservation needs of endangered caribou (and frankly, all things living).
Tar sands cheerleaders try hard to convince Canadians that we can become an “energy superpower” while maintaining our country’s environment. They are, of course, wrong. Thousands of wolves will be just some of the causalities along the way. Minister Kent and his successors will find more opportunity to feign empathy as Canadians also bid farewell to populations of birds, amphibians and other mammals, including caribou, that will be lost as collateral damage from tar sands development. How much of our country’s irreplaceable natural legacy will Canadians allow to be sacrificed at the altar of oil industry greed?
Paul Paquet is senior scientist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation. An international consultant and lecturer, with numerous university affiliations, he is an internationally recognised authority on mammalian carnivores, especially wolves.
Obama’s Pipeline Quagmire September 13, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Energy, Environment.
Tags: alberta oil, baack obama, bill mckibben, carbon emissions, civil disobedience, dirty oil, evnivronment, keystone xl, oil industry, oil pipeline, pipeline safety, pipeline spills, Ralph Nader, roger hollander, tar sands
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It was the most extraordinary citizen organizing feat in recent White House history. Over 1200 Americans from 50 states came to Washington and were arrested in front of the White House to demonstrate their opposition to a forthcoming Obama approval of the Keystone XL dirty oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf Coast.
Anyone who has tried to mobilize people in open non-violent civil disobedience knows how hard it is to have that many people pay their way to Washington to join a select group of civic champions. The first round of arrestees – about 100 of them – were brought to a jail and kept on cement floors for 52 hours – presumably, said one guard, on orders from above to discourage those who were slated to follow this first wave in the two weeks ending September 3, 2011.
The Keystone XL pipeline project – owned by a consortium of oil companies – is a many faceted abomination. It will, if constructed, take its raw, tar sands carbon down through the agricultural heartland of the United States – through the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, the great Ogallala aquifer, fragile natural habitats and Native American lands. Major breaks and accidents on pipelines – four of them with loss of human life- have occurred just in the past year from California to Pennsylvania, including a recent, major Exxon/Mobile pipeline rupture which resulted in many gallons of oil spilling into the Yellowstone River.
The Office of Pipeline Safety in the Department of Transportation has been a pitiful rubberstamp patsy for the pipeline industry for 40 years. There are larger objections – a huge contribution to greenhouse gases and further expansion of the destruction of northern Albertan terrain, forests and water – expected to cover an area the size of Florida.
Furthermore, as the Energy Department report on Keystone XL pointed out, decreasing demand for petroleum through advances in fuel efficiency is the major way to reduce reliance on imported oil with or without the pipeline. There is no assurance whatsoever that the refined tar sands oil in Gulf Coast refineries will even get to the motorists here. They can be exported more profitably to Europe and South America.
In ads on Washington, D.C.’s WTOP news station, the industry is claiming that the project will create more than 100,000 jobs. They cannot substantiate this figure. It is vastly exaggerated. TransCanada’s permit application for Keystone XL to the U.S. State Department estimated a “peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline.
The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) oppose the pipeline. In their August 2011 statement they said: “We need jobs, but not ones based on increasing our reliance on Tar Sands oil [...] Many jobs could be created in energy conservation, upgrading the grid, maintaining and expanding public transportation – jobs that can help us reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency.”
The demonstrators before the White House, led by prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben and other stalwarts, focused on President Obama because he and he alone will make the decision either for or against building what they call “North America’s biggest carbon bomb.” He does not have to ask Congress.
Already the State Department, in their latest report, is moving to recommend approval. The demonstrators and their supporters, including leaders of the Native American Dene tribe in Canada and the Lakota nation in the U.S., filled much of the area in front of the White House and Lafayette Square. On September 2, I went down to express my support for their cause. Assistants to Mr. McKibben asked me to speak at the final rally at the square on Saturday. I agreed. At 6:25 p.m. we received an e-mail from Daniel Kessler withdrawing their invitation because of “how packed our schedule already is. We’d love to have Ralph there in any other capacity, including participating in the protest.”
The next day, many of the speakers went way over their allotted five to six minute time slots. Observers told me that there were to be no criticisms of Barack Obama. McKibben wore an Obama pin on the stage. Obama t-shirts were seen out in the crowd. McKibben did not want their efforts to be “marginalized” by criticizing the President, which they expected I would do. He said that “he would not do Obama the favor” of criticizing him.
To each one’s own strategy. I do not believe McKibben’s strategy is up to the brilliance of his tactics involving the mass arrests. (Which by the way received deplorably little mass media coverage).
Obama believes that those demonstrators and their followers around the country are his voters (they were in 2008) and that they have nowhere to go in 2012. So long as environmentalists do not find a way to disabuse him of this impression long before Election Day, they should get ready for an Obama approval of the Keystone XL monstrosity.
Author Naomi Klein arrested in oilsands protest September 3, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
Tags: activism, alberta oil, canada oil, climate change, environment, keystone xl, mitch potter, naomi klein, obama administration, oil pipeline, pipeline arrests, roger hollander, tar sands, tar sands arrests
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Toronto author and activist Naomi Klein was not planning to be among them. Support the cause? Sure. Speak to the anti-tarsands faithful? Absolutely. But to actually get arrested?
No, Klein and the other Canadian protesters in Washington agreed — that is a stand best left to their U.S. counterparts, who need not worry whether such close encounters with law enforcement will hamper their ability to cross borders in the future.
Yet there was Klein on Friday, being led away by police in the latest harvest of detainees after a last-second decision to put her liberty on the line in opposition to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
Two weeks ago, when the rolling protests began, the detentions lasted two full days. But the sheer volume of arrests — Klein was among 166 taken away Friday — has forced DC authorities to accelerate processing. Barely two hours after she was taken away, Klein was let go. Like everyone else, she was cited for “failure to obey.”
“I wasn’t planning to get arrested,” Klein told the Star minutes after she was sprung.
“It was a last-minute decision. I was sitting there with several indigenous leaders from Canada. And when it became clear they intended to stay where they were and expose themselves to arrest, well . . .” She did the same.
For Klein, it was a first-ever arrest. “I write. And I’m an activist. But I’m not a chanter, not a marcher. I’ve never been arrested before.
“But that’s what’s been happened for two weeks. Climate scientists, landowners, a wide range of people who all feel this same sense of urgency. The feeling is that we can’t just talk about the stakes on Twitter and leave it at that. If we mean what we say then we have to act like it.”
Klein is unsure yet whether the bust will come back haunt her in future cross-border travels. For now, her speedy release means she will be free to fulfill plans to address Saturday’s campaign-ending protest in Lafayette Park opposite the White House.
The overarching question in D.C., however, is whether the cause is already lost.
Though no final decision on the $7 billion TransCanada pipeline is expected for 90 days, all the body language emanating from the Obama administration suggests minds are made up and the project to nearly double the American intact of carbon-intensive Alberta bitumen is a go.
Last week the U.S. State Department gave the strongest endorsement yet of the plan to build the metre-wide steel straw from Alberta to Texas in its final environmental assessment.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu, in a subsequent interview, framed the issue as “not perfect, but it’s a trade-off.
“It’s certainly true that having Canada as a supplier for our oil is much more comforting than to have other countries supply our oil,” Chu said.
And Friday, Team Obama was hastily retreating on another key environmental policy, instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to delay plans to tighten ozone standards. The Sierra Club, among others, denounced the decision as a gift to “coal and oil polluters.”
Many longtime interpreters of Washington’s political tea leaves suggest the final political considerations for Keystone XL come down to jobs. A $7 billion, shovel-ready project here and now, for a President whose future likely depends on how Americans are working in November, 2012, when Obama comes up for re-election.
The political risks for Obama are vast, insofar as many of those arrested these past two weeks are among his truest believers — the young, grassroots activists who help lift him to power in 2008, fully expecting an administration that would follow through on its promise to wean the country off fossil fuels.
One of them, Courtney Hight, acknowledged her discomfort in an interview with the Star. The Floridian activist was “one of the first boots on the ground for Obama,” dedicated three years of her life as his campaign’s Youth Vote Director. She went on to join the White House Council on Environmental Quality before shifting back to activism as co-director of the Energy Action Coalition.
She was arrested Thursday, outside the front door of the President she thought agreed with her.
“It feels inherently weird and uncomfortable for me to do something remotely critical of this president,” Hight told the Star after her release.
“But I feel ownership over his current position. I am disappointed he is not being stronger, although it is understandable given the continuing attacks he is facing,” said Hight.
“We need old Barack Obama to rise above the politics and just barrel through. And so getting arrested, if that is what it takes, is meant to remind him of the things he once believed — things I think he still believes — that inspired millions of young people to support him.”
None are ready to concede defeat on Keystone XL. As Klein says, if the pro-tarsands lobby was “100 per cent convinced the deal is done they would not be blanketing the U.S. TV networks with ads trying to sell this thing to the public.”
But Klein observed that if Obama ultimately approves Keystone XL, part of the fallout will be to free the broader climate movement from the illusion that “there is a saviour in the White House who just needs to be awakened to come to the rescue.”
The protests against Keystone XL, says Klein, are simply one facet of a broader, multi-pronged campaign targeting the industry through multiple pressure points, from consumer campaigns to boycotts to agitating individual corporations to commit to avoiding tarsands oil.
“Powerful movements are built on strategy, not saviours. So if it turns out that Obama approves this pipeline, the movement is not going to crawl away, it’s going to change strategy,” she said.
“It will be healthy for people to know there isn’t a saviour in the White House. We have to build the movement we want. And the strategy can’t be trying wake up one person.”
“Planetary Emergency:” Hansen Joins Tar Sands Protest August 29, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
Tags: alberta tar sands, Canada, civil disobedience, clean energy, environment, fossil fuels, global warming, james hansen, keystone xl, oil pipeline, roger hollander, tar sands, tar sands pipeline, tar sands protest, wlianna mintz
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As President Obama’s deadline to approve or disapprove licensing of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline draws closer, NASA’s lead climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, addressed reporters at the National Press Club to explain the grave consequences of approving such a project.
James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, addresses a crowd of protesters at a White House climate change rally in October 2010. “We have a planetary emergency,” Hansen, an adjunct professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia’s Earth Institute, told reporters Monday. (Credit: Chesapeake Climate) “We have a planetary emergency,” Hansen, an adjunct professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia’s Earth Institute, told reporters Monday.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,700 mile pipeline system that would be utilized to transport crude oil from Canada to oil refineries in the midwestern region of the US. Environmentalists, including some in Congress, oppose it on the grounds that it could disrupt and taint domestic clean water supplies, and could jeopardize efforts to shift to clean energy sources.
Hansen argued that if humans continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, 20-40 percent of species on the planet will become extinct by the end of the century. The hydraulic cycle, he said, has become more extreme, resulting in extreme floods and drought intensification. Coral reefs are being destroyed, sea levels are lowering and glaciers are receding, causing rivers to run dry, he added.
Hansen warned that if the next phase of the Keystone pipeline is approved, America will continue to feed its “oil addiction” and will continue to burn fossil fuels, further destroying the environment.
“Fossil fuels are finite,” Hansen stated. “We’ll have to move to clean energy at some point so we may as well do it before we burn all the fossil fuels and ruin the future of our children.”
Hansen was among the first group of scientists to spread such warnings of global warming 30 years ago. Frustrated that his cries over the threat of climate change was going unheard, Hansen turned to civil disobedience in 2009. He has been arrested twice for protesting mountaintop removal coal mining, once in West Virginia and once outside the White House.
Following his remarks at the NPC, Hansen joined more than 60 religious leaders outside the White House to spread awareness of the environmental dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline as part of a civil disobedience act that has been going on for weeks.
Green Light? State Department Tar Sands Report Sparks Outrage August 27, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Environment.
Tags: alberta oilsands, bill mckibben, civil disobedience, climate change, environment, gas emissions, green news, greenhouse gases, james hansen, jerry cope, keystone xl, keystone xl pipeline, lee-anne goodman, margot kidder, obama administration, oil pipeline, oilsands, roger hollander, state department, tar sands
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department says TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline poses no major risks to the environment and will not spur further oilsands production in Alberta, moving the controversial project one step further to a final decision by the Obama administration.
The State Dept. report was not a surprise to the American environmental movement, for whom opposition to the pipeline has become a passionate rallying cry in the aftermath of failed climate change legislation last year. (Photo: Ben Powless for Tar Sands Action/CC BY)
Insisting repeatedly that its long-awaited assessment was “not a rubberstamp,” the department’s Kerri-Ann Jones said Friday there’s no evidence the pipeline will significantly impact the six U.S. states in its path as it carries crude from northern Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas.
“This is not the rubberstamp for this project,” said Jones, disputing several big American environmental groups who immediately decried it as such.
“The permit that is required for this project has not been approved or rejected at all … it should not be seen as a lean in any direction either for or against this pipeline. We are in a state of neutrality.”
Canadian officials intend to continue to develop technologies that will lessen the greenhouse gas emissions associated with oilsands production, according to the analysis.
“We are working closely with them,” Jones told a conference call in the U.S. capital. “We closely follow what’s going on in terms of international regulations in this area.”
She added that oilsands production will continue with or without the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Obama administration now has 90 days to determine whether the controversial project is in the national interest of the United States. In that determination, Jones said, State Department officials will consider the environmental assessment as well as the economic impact of the pipeline and “foreign policy concerns.”
The outcome wasn’t a surprise to the American environmental movement, for whom opposition to the pipeline has become a passionate rallying cry in the aftermath of failed climate change legislation last year.
Leading environmentalists say the State Department has refused to fully assess the risks.
The Natural Resources Defense Council accused the State Department of failing to study pipeline safety measures or examine alternate routes that would avoid the Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska, a crucial source of water in the state.
In fact, the State Department report said TransCanada needed to conduct more study, and possibly add more anti-spill precautions, around the aquifer.
Jones add that alternative routes had also been studied.
“We feel that the proposed route of the applicant is the preferred route … alternative routes were either worse or similar,” she said.
The NRDC’s Susan Casey-Lefkowitz expressed dismay at the State Department’s assessment in a statement.
“It is utterly beyond me how the administration can claim the pipeline will have ‘no significant impacts’ if they haven’t bothered to do in-depth studies around the issues of contention,” she said.
“The public has made their concerns clear and the administration seems to have ignored them. If permitted, the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline will be a dirty legacy that will haunt President Obama and Secretary Clinton for years to come.”
Jim Lyon, senior vice-president of the National Wildlife Federation, said the analysis was “strike 3 for the State Department” after two “failed rounds” of environmental review and warned of legal woes ahead.
“The document still fails to address the key concerns for landowners and wildlife,” he said. “It is almost certain to be scrutinized in other venues, including a probable legal challenge. This only escalates the controversy in a process that is far from over.”
The State Department analysis comes as anti-pipeline activists continue a two-week civil disobedience campaign outside the White House.
More than 300 people, including Canadian actress Margot Kidder, have been arrested as they try to convince U.S. President Barack Obama to block the pipeline. As many as 54 more were arrested on Friday.
Environmental activists say Keystone XL is a disaster waiting to happen, pointing to several recent spills along pipelines, and are opposed to Alberta’s oilsands due to the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions involved in their production.
Proponents, meantime, say the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and help end U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
TransCanada president Russ Girling welcomed the State Department report.
“Support for Keystone XL continues to grow because the public, opinion leaders and elected officials can see the clear benefits that this pipeline will deliver to Americans,” he said in a news release.
“The fundamental issue is energy security. Through the Keystone system, the U.S. can secure access to a stable and reliable supply of oil from Canada where we protect human rights and the environment, or it can import more higher-priced oil from nations who do not share America’s interests or values.”
Interview: James Hansen on the Tar Sands Pipeline Protest, the Obama Administration and Intergenerational Justice
continuing the sit-in, the National Park Service did not honor its
previous agreement with McKibben and others to “catch and release”
participants but is holding them in jail over the weekend. Numerous
environmental organizations and leading climate scientists have
condemned the Keystone XL Pipeline project which would bring 900,000
barrels of dirty oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to Texas refineries.
Preeminent climate scientist and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute James Hansen
has described the Alberta Tar Sands oil extraction development as a
game-over proposition for climate change. Sunday afternoon, he addressed
the continuing struggle to address the ever increasing threat of
anthropogenic climate change. Dr. Hansen will be participating in the
protest against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Washington, DC on
August 29th with religious leaders.
JC: President Obama had lofty promises regarding climate change and
the environment during his campaign. To date, his administration has
failed to deliver and is now positioned to approve the Tar Sands
Pipeline, the worst idea in many years in terms of its impact on
climate. Do you see any signs that the Obama administration is moving to
seriously address climate change? Do you feel they administration
deserves a second chance?
JH: Are they serious? The tar sands pipeline approval or
disapproval will provide the sign of whether the Obama administration is
serious about climate change and protecting the future of young people.Do they deserve a second chance? Yes, everybody deserves a second chance.
Obama’s first chance was when he was elected — he could have made
energy independence and climate a top priority. Talking nice about sun
and wind and green jobs is just greenwash. The only effective policy
would be a rising carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies with
100 percent of the funds distributed to the public — stimulating the
economy and moving us rapidly toward a clean energy future. Anything
less is just blather.
JC: CO2 levels have now exceeded 391 ppm, and US emissions are growing
again at a record rate, over 4% this year so far. This in spite of an
ever increasing body of scientific evidence that unequivocally
demonstrates anthropogenic climate change to be seriously affecting
global climate life support systems. It would seem that policy makers
and business leaders the world over are incapable of altering the
dead-on course to climate collapse. What can be done?
JH: The problem is that the policy makers the world over are
paying more attention to the fossil fuel lobbyists than they are to the
well being of young people and nature, as my colleagues and I have
described in the paper “The Case for Young People and Nature”.Until the public demands otherwise, the policy makers will continue to serve their financiers.
That’s the point of the present action — to draw attention to the
inter-generational injustice of current policies — our children and
grandchildren are getting shafted by our well-oiled coal-fired
politicians who do not look beyond their next election.
The tar sands verdict will show whether he really intends to move us
to clean energy or whether he will instead support going after dirtier
and dirtier fuels (tar sands, oil shale, mountaintop removal, long-wall
coal mining, hydro-fracking, deep ocean and Arctic exploration, etc.).
Gus Speth, Bill McKibben, and others at White House
protesting the proposed Tar Sands Pipeline/Photo Credit: Josh
JC: As you know over 70 people including our friends Bill McKibben and
Gus Speth were arrested yesterday in front of the White House. As
always, Bill and the group had repeated discussions with the authorities
prior to the action and were assured that this would be “catch and
release”. As it turns out the National Park Service changed the terms of
engagement and are holding everyone (except DC residents) over the
weekend to discourage others from participating in the two weeks of
protest. Do you think this change of tactic by the National Park Service
will be effective in dissuading others from attending?
JH: No. What we are doing to the future of our children,
and the other species on the planet, is a clear moral issue. As Albert
Einstein said, “thought without action is a crime.” Choosing silence
and safety is not an option.Jail threats did not dissuade Martin Luther King — and
intergenerational justice is a moral issue of comparable magnitude to
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