South Dakotans fight TransCanada on their own turf

Photo of crowd yesterday at hearing, posted on DRA’s Twitter feed

Photo of crowd yesterday at hearing, posted on DRA’s Twitter feed

 

By Sara Sullivan, Climate Connections

Pierre, SD – The fight to stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline can add one more state to its battleground: South Dakota. A powerful coalition of local allies intervened in the certification of the pipeline permit at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, and the battle for the open US Senate seat in South Dakota could be decided by voters strongly opposed to Keystone XL.

Four tribal nations and a number of grassroots Native groups, each belonging to the Oceti Sakowin, have petitioned to intervene. Those tribes are the Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Standing Rock, and Yankton Sioux Tribes. Dakota Rural Action, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and several South Dakota landowners have also petitioned to intervene. This coalition, called No KXL Dakota, is comprised of tribal nations, non-profit organizations, individual tribal citizens and non-tribal landowners, each dedicated to the protection of Mother Earth and the natural resources of South Dakota.

TransCanada opposed the intervention of several applicants to party status, including the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utility Commission Office, both Native entities dealing with energy issues in South Dakota.

This high-profile pipeline battle has intensified with the South Dakota congressional race. Republican candidate Mike Rounds is the only candidate fully endorsing the pipeline, while Democratic opponent Rick Weiland has gained local support because of his opposition to Keystone XL and Independent Larry Pressler has also courted the Native vote.

Lewis Grassrope of Wiconi Un Tipi: “We are here to ensure that this committee [the PUC] hears our voice on this opposition to the pipeline or any pipeline through these lands.”

Joye Braun of Pte Ospaye Spirit Camp: “Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp mission is stand in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the social evils that come with Big Oil, to educate the people about the KXL Pipeline, fracking, and the pollution that occurs with oil production. Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp is located just outside of the Bridger Community on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and 2.2 miles from where the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline proposes to go through. It is a hugely historic area known for centuries as a crossroads for Natives Peoples to travel through on their way to the Black Hills. It is ground zero for the Lakota people fighting this pipeline as it would have to pass through this area first to try and get to the other camps and Nebraska.”

No KXL Dakota allies have pledged to stand their ground and not back down in the now local battle over property, land, water, human trafficking, and treaty rights.

U.S. Tribes Unite to Testify Against New Tar Sands Oil Pipeline in Canada

Richard J. Seward of Sto:lo First Nation and Pilalt Tribes welcomed the Washington Tribes with songs and ceremony. Chilliwack is the traditional lands of the Sto:lo people.

Richard J. Seward of Sto:lo First Nation and Pilalt Tribes welcomed the Washington Tribes with songs and ceremony. Chilliwack is the traditional lands of the Sto:lo people.

 

New pipeline threatens way of life of Coast Salish tribes

 

Brad Angerman, Pyramid Communications

 

CHILLIWACK, British Columbia—Tribal representatives from four U.S. tribes spoke in unified opposition today against oil giant Kinder Morgan’s new proposed tar sands oil pipeline. The announcement took place in Chilliwack, a rural town of 80,000 about 50 miles (86 kilometers) east of Vancouver, B.C. Tribal elders, fishers, leaders and youth presented testimony opposing the project to Canada’s National Energy Board, which will make a recommendation on the future of the pipeline to Canada’s federal government, the ultimate decision-making body for the project.

 

Swinomish Chairman and NCAI President Brian Cladoosby with Cultural Coordinator of the Swinomish Tribe and members of First Nations.

Swinomish Chairman and NCAI President Brian Cladoosby with Cultural Coordinator of the Swinomish Tribe and members of First Nations.

“We can no longer allow the Salish Sea to be used as a dumping ground,” said Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby. “For more than 150 years we have lived in a pollution-based economy, and today face increased threat of an oil spill in our traditional fishing grounds on the Salish Sea—an event that would very likely lead to irreparable damage to salmon and shellfish habitat, and destroy our way of life along with it.”

 

The Kinder Morgan proposed oil pipeline would roughly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 per day. It would run alongside an existing pipeline that stretches from the Alberta tar sands oil fields to an oil shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C., a suburb of Vancouver, greatly increasing the traffic of oil tankers carrying diluted tar sands bitumen through Canadian and U.S. waters.

 

“The proposed pipeline, if approved, will increase the risk of oil spills and cause more disruption of our fishing fleet. The Suquamish Tribe has a duty to stand up to further threats to our Salish Sea fishing grounds, which have sustained our people since time immemorial,” said Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman.

 

Glen Gobin, Tulalip Tribal Member and Tulalip Tribe Board of Directors Treasurer along the shores of the Fraser River after the ceremony.

Glen Gobin, Tulalip Tribal Member and Tulalip Tribe Board of Directors Treasurer along the shores of the Fraser River after the ceremony.

“If the pipeline is approved, there will be a massive increase in tanker loadings,” said Tulalip Board of Director Glen Gobin. “This increased traffic will directly interfere with access to traditional and treaty-protected fishing areas, and put the safety of tribal fishers at risk—not to mention drastically increase the chance of a catastrophic oil spill,” he said. “My father, Bernie Gobin, fought side by side with leaders such as Billy Frank Jr. to ensure that salmon, the very essence of who we are as Coast Salish peoples, live on from generation to generation. We fight for our past and our future.“

 

Canada’s Coast Salish First Nations also oppose the oil pipeline, and testified before the National Energy Board last week. Those tribes included Shxw’owhámel First Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Kwantlen First Nation, Musqueam Indian Band, Peters Band. Katzie First Nation and Hwlitsum First Nation also provided testimony.

 

“Like the sea, Coast Salish people acknowledge no boundaries. We are united to protect the Salish Sea,” said Chemainus First Nation member Ray Harris. “It’s a danger to the environment, a violation of aboriginal fishing rights, and a threat to all people who call this unique place home,” he said.

 

Coast Salish peoples are the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, and have traditionally lived along the coasts of Oregon and Washington in the United States, and in British Columbia, Canada. The Salish Sea is a network of waterways between the southwestern tip of British Columbia and the northwestern tip of Washington State, and includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Haro Strait, the Strait of Georgia and the Puget Sound.

 

From left, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish tribal member Shaylene Jefferson and Suquamish tribal member Cassia Rose pouring waters from their homelands on the Port Madison Indian Reservation alongside the Fraser River.

From left, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish tribal member Shaylene Jefferson and Suquamish tribal member Cassia Rose pouring waters from their homelands on the Port Madison Indian Reservation alongside the Fraser River.

How a town in Maine is blocking an Exxon tar-sands pipeline

By Roger Drouin, Grist

 

tar sands protestors in Maine
350.org
 

Citizens trying to stop the piping of tar-sands oil through their community wore blue “Clear Skies” shirts at a city council meeting in South Portland, Maine, this week. But they might as well have been wearing boxing gloves. The small city struck a mighty blow against Canadian tar-sands extraction.

“It’s been a long fight,” said resident Andy Jones after a 6-1 city council vote on Monday to approve the Clear Skies Ordinance, which will block the loading of heavy tar-sands bitumen onto tankers at the city’s port.

The measure is intended to stop ExxonMobil and partner companies from bringing Albertan tar-sands oil east through an aging pipeline network to the city’s waterfront. Currently, the pipeline transports conventional oil west from Portland to Canada; the companies want to reverse its flow.

After an intensely debated, year-and-a-half battle, the South Portland City Council on Monday sided with residents like Jones who don’t want their city to end up as a new “international hub” for the export of tar-sands oil.

South Portland city council meeting
Dan Wood
Proponents of the Clear Skies ordinance, wearing blue, packed a South Portland city council meeting on July 9.
 

“The message to the tar sands industry is: ‘Don’t be counting your chickens yet,’” said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “There is a pattern of communities saying ‘no’ to the threat of tar-sands oil.”

A clear signal

The ordinance could have global implications. The Canadian government expects the nation’s oil industry to be producing 4 million to 6 million barrels of tar-sands bitumen a day within a few years, and it’s pinning its hopes on somehow getting all that oil to coastal ports, said Richard Kuprewicz, president of Washington-based pipeline safety consulting firm Accufacts Inc. Indeed, a recent report from the International Energy Agency found that the industry needs export pipelines in order for its boom to continue.

South Portland’s move is just the latest setback for plans to pipe the bitumen out to international markets. Another big hurdle is the long delay over the Keystone XL pipeline. And in Canada, pipeline plans have met with opposition from indigenous peoples (known as First Nations), who are taking the lead to stop projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar-sands pipeline through British Columbia.

Now, there is a clear signal that communities along the U.S. East Coast will fight tar-sands expansion too.

“Do not under estimate the power of a local government,” said Kuprewicz.

“A lot of perseverance”

In early 2013, residents formed Protect South Portland to try to stop the Portland-Montreal Pipeline reversal. They put an initiative on the November 2013 ballot to block the project, but it lost narrowly at the polls.

So the city council took up the cause. In December of last year, the council voted to impose a six-month moratorium on shipping tar-sands oil out through its port. Then a council-appointed committee crafted the Clear Skies Ordinance to permanently block tar-sands shipments, which is what the council officially approved this week. The law also changes zoning rules to block the construction of twin smokestacks that would be needed to burn off bitumen-thinning chemicals before the oil could be shipped out.

Over the past few months, concerned residents met in homes and Protect South Portland grew. Meanwhile, the group Energy Citizens, backed by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s largest trade group, ran ads that said “It’s just oil. From Canada.” The oil companies hired a number of lawyers and brought public relations firms on board.

Protect South Portland spokeswoman MJ Ferrier estimates that the grassroots group was outspent by at least 6 to 1.

So how did residents win over Big Oil? “A lot of perseverance and a lot of community engagement,” Voorhees said.

After the vote, supporters of the ordinance went to a local bar, and “we raised our glasses,” Jones told Grist.

Cautious celebration

But while local activists are celebrating this week’s win, they know “this is not the end,” said Jones.

South Portland Councilor Tom Blake, who’s been a champion of the effort to protect the city from tar sands, said a legal challenge seems imminent, by either Portland Pipe Line Corp., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, or by the Canadian government. Blake had this message for the oil company and Canadian officials Monday evening: “This ordinance is the will of the people,” he said. “Do not spend millions of dollars and force the city of South Portland to do the same.”

But the oil interests are unlikely to heed his warning.

Tom Hardison, vice president of Portland Pipe Line, told reporters that the city had made a rush decision and bowed to environmental “off-oil extremists.” He added that the zoning changes amounted to a “job-killing ordinance” that prevents the city’s port from adapting to meet the energy needs of North America.

Matthew Manahan, attorney for Portland Pipe Line, told the city council before the vote that its ordinance is “illegal” and “would clearly be preempted by federal and state law.”

“The council is ignoring the law” and “ignoring science,” the lawyer added.

Air and water worries

Like the process of extracting tar-sands oil, the process of transporting it takes a huge toll on the environment. Before the heavy, almost-solid bitumen can be sent through pipelines, it has to be thinned with a concoction of liquid natural gas and other hydrocarbons. And then before it can be loaded onto ships, that concoction has to be burned off. ExxonMobil currently holds permits to build two smokestacks on South Portland’s waterfront that would do the burning.

Ferrier, a retired psychologist and a nun, joined Protect South Portland largely out of concern for what the oil companies’ plans would do to air quality in an area that has already received a “C” for ozone pollution from the American Lung Association. The proposed smokestacks would emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “We know there is benzene in it, a known carcinogen,” said Ferrier.

Resident Andrew Parker had similar concerns. “Tonight is about children,” he said at Monday’s city council meeting. “The oil company will put poison in the air, that is a fact.”

For Mayor Gerard Jalbert, who also sits on the city council and voted in support of the ordinance, it came down to concerns about water quality. The risk of water contamination in the case of a spill far outweighed the nebulous claims about job creation.

“When I look at the economic benefit, which no seems to be able to detail, the risk seems to outweigh the benefit,” Jalbert told Grist.

The easternmost 236-mile stretch of pipeline crosses some of the most sensitive ecosystems in Maine, including the Androscoggin River, the pristine Crooked River, and Sebago Lake, which supplies drinking water for 15 percent of the state’s population.

Blake, the council member, is worried that using old pipes to transport heavy bitumen could lead to a spill like the one that happened in Mayflower, Ark., in March 2013, when an ExxonMobil pipeline built in the 1940s ruptured and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of tar-sands oil.

Saying “no” to tar sands is part of a bigger shift to a greener future in South Portland, Blake added. “Being a community that has been heavily dependent on petroleum, this turns a tide,” the councilor said.

He pointed to a new electric-car charging station at the city’s community center and potential plans to build a solar farm on an old landfill as steps toward a sustainable future. “I think we are starting to walk the talk,” Blake said.

Roger Drouin is a freelance journalist who covers environmental issues. When he’s not reporting or writing, he is out getting almost lost in the woods. He blogs at rogersoutdoorblog.com.

Canoe Journey Message: Protect Our Fragile Environment

Tracy Rector/Longhouse MediaThe Heiltsuk First Nation is hosting 31 canoes from Pacific Northwest indigenous nations. That number was provided by the manager of the Paddle to Bella Bella Facebook page. Canoes arrived July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19.

Tracy Rector/Longhouse Media
The Heiltsuk First Nation is hosting 31 canoes from Pacific Northwest indigenous nations. That number was provided by the manager of the Paddle to Bella Bella Facebook page. Canoes arrived July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19.

 

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today

 

 

 

En route to the territory of the Heiltsuk First Nation, pullers in the 2014 Canoe Journey traveled through territory so beautiful it will be impossible to forget: Rugged, forested coastlines; island-dotted straits and narrow, glacier-carved passages; through Johnstone Strait, home of the largest resident pod of orcas in the world, and along the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest left in the world.

They also traveled waters that are increasingly polluted and under threat.

Pullers traveled the marine highways of their ancestors, past Victoria, British Columbia, which dumps filtered, untreated sewage into the Salish Sea. They traveled the routes that U.S. energy company Kinder Morgan plans to use to ship 400 tanker loads of heavy crude oil each year.

Canoes traveling from the north passed the inlets leading to Kitimat, where heavy crude from Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia, a project that Canada approved on June 17.

RELATED: First Nations Challenge Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline in Court

Canoes from the Lummi Nation near Bellingham passed Cherry Point, a sacred and environmentally sensitive area where Gateway Pacific proposes a coal train terminal; early site preparation was done without permits and desecrated ancestral burials.

RELATED: Lummi Nation Officially Opposes Coal Export Terminal in Letter to Army Corps of Engineers

Young activist Ta’kaiya Blaney of the Sliammon First Nation sang of her fears of potential environmental damage to come in her song, “Shallow Waters”:

“Come with me to the emerald sea / Where black gold spills into my ocean dreams.

“Nothing to be found, no life is around / It’s just the sound of mourning in the air.”

RELATED: Young Sliammon Actor/Singer Campaigns Against Pipeline

Canoes from Northwest indigenous nations arrived in Bella Bella, British Columbia on July 13; the gathering continues until July 19 with cultural celebrations, a rally against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, and an indigenous economic summit. The ceremonies are being livestreamed online at Tribal Canoe Journeys 2014 :: Qatuwas Bella Bella.

Mike Williams Sr., chief of the Yupiit Nation and member of the board of First Stewards, noted that the Canoe Journey route calls attention to the fragile environment that’s at stake. First Stewards, an indigenous environmental advocacy group, will host a symposium on “Sustainability, Climate Change & Traditional Places” from July 21–23 in Washington, D.C.

“The Canoe Journey is a really big statement to us to hang onto our culture and our way of life, and to bind people together,” said Williams, who is also a well-known musher. “In the Iditarod, there are pristine places but there are also old mining towns [on the route] where we’re told not to drink the water.”

The parallels between the water issues encountered on the Iditarod and the Canoe Journey are unmistakable, he added.

“In the Canoe Journey, there are pristine waters and there are waters that contains toxic substances,” Williams said. “There’s oil and the continuous leaking of pipelines. It happens.”

Not only does it happen, but it does not go away. Prince William Sound has never totally recovered from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Williams said. Likewise, he added, if the Northern Gateway pipeline, the coal trains and increased shipping come to fruition, an environmental disaster is inevitable.

“It’s going to happen,” Williams said. “There has to be total, thoughtful conversation for everyone—consider all the possible impacts. And there has to be meaningful consultation with the tribes. They have to weigh in on that. We’ve got to make it 100 percent fail-safe or don’t do it.”

 

The Heiltsuk First Nation's hosting of the 2014 Canoe Journey included a rally against the Enbridge pipeline. Canoes arrived in Bella Bella, B.C., on July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19. (Photo: Tracy Rector/Longhouse Media)
The Heiltsuk First Nation’s hosting of the 2014 Canoe Journey included a rally against the Enbridge pipeline. Canoes arrived in Bella Bella, B.C., on July 13; the week of cultural celebration continues through July 19. (Photo: Tracy Rector/Longhouse Media)

 

State Senator John McCoy, D-Tulalip, is a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes. He is the ranking member of the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee, which focuses on such issues as climate change, water quality, toxic chemical use reduction and cleanup, and management of storm water and wastewater.

“I think the message is, pollution is occurring everywhere,” McCoy said of the takeaway from the Canoe Journey. “It’s a worldwide problem, and it needs to be addressed. If we keep polluting our water, we’re going to be in big trouble. Water is the essence of life.”

Canoes were underway for Bella Bella on July 9 as Governor Jay Inslee announced that he wants to increase the recommended fish-consumption rate in the state from 6.5 grams to 175 grams a day—that’s good news for indigenous peoples, for whom fish is important culturally, spiritually and as a food. But for 175 grams of fish to be considered safe to eat, businesses that pollute will have to conform to tougher pollution control standards.

RELATED: New Fish Consumption Guidelines More Political Than Scientific, Northwest Tribes Say

Inslee’s plan for how toxic substances will be controlled in expected in December. It will require legislation, McCoy said.

Jewell James is coordinator of the Lummi Treaty Protection Task Force and a leader in the effort to prevent a coal train terminal from being built at Cherry Point, a sacred area for the Lummi people and an important spawning ground for herring, an important food for salmon.

James said environmental degradation is just part of a series of historical traumas set upon Indigenous Peoples: First, the diseases that came after contact; then the treaty era and the relocation to reservations; then the cultural and spiritual oppression of the boarding school era, and then the termination era.

“Yet we continue to exist,” James said. And the Canoe Journey, now in its 23rd year, has helped “revitalize and breathe new life into our cultural knowledge” given that journey gatherings are venues for the passing down of stories about how the ancestors lived in and cared for the environment that sustained them.

RELATED: 10 Traditional Foods You Might Enjoy During a Canoe Journey

James hopes people on the Canoe Journey connect with and carry on those stories and values.

“There are messages in those stories,” he said. “And within those stories there are sacred symbols that mean something—that you have to be careful with what you do, and others have to be careful with what they do, to Mother Earth.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/17/canoe-journey-message-protect-our-fragile-environment-155904?page=0%2C1

Canada OKs Oil Pipeline to the Pacific Coast

By ROB GILLIES Associated Press

Canada’s government on Tuesday approved a proposed pipeline to the Pacific Coast that would allow oil to be shipped to Asia, a major step in the country’s efforts to diversify its oil industry.

The approval Tuesday was expected. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a staunch supporter of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline after the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Enbridge’s pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China.

There is fierce environmental and aboriginal opposition to the project and legal challenges are expected. About 220 large oil tankers a year would visit the Pacific coast town of Kitamat and opponents fear pipeline leaks and a potential disaster on the pristine Pacific coast.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement that Enbridge must meet the 209 conditions Canada’s regulator imposed on the pipeline. The company has previously said it would.

“The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups and local communities along the route,” he said in a statement.

The Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway project are critical to Canada, which needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The northern Alberta region has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Harper has said Canada’s national interest makes the pipelines essential. He was “profoundly disappointed” that U.S. President Barack Obama delayed a decision on the Texas Keystone XL option, and spoke of the need to diversify Canada’s oil industry. Ninety-seven percent of Canadian oil exports now go to the U.S.

TransCanada shuts down southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline, raising “suspicions”

Image credit: Installation of the southern portion of the Keystone XL on Michael Bishop’s property in Douglas, Texas  ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Image credit: Installation of the southern portion of the Keystone XL on Michael Bishop’s property in Douglas, Texas ©2013 Julie Dermansky

By Julie Dermansky, June 3, 2014. Source: Desmog Blog

 

TransCanada shut down the southern leg of the Keystone XL (now called the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project) on June 2 for “routine work,” according to Reuters.

“Pipelines aren’t normally shut down for maintenance shortly after being started up. They may have planned it but something is wrong,” an industry insider told DeSmogBlog. “A two day shutdown on a new line raises suspicions.”

The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration was unable to provide an answer to DeSmogBlog when asked to confirm if the shutdown was due to routine work today.

 

“The Gulf Coast Pipeline is the safest oil pipeline built in the United States to date,” TransCanada spokesman David Sheremata told DeSmogBlog.

TransCanada states this claim often, despite the serious issues cited by pipeline regulators in warning letters, along with the two new special conditions added to the existing 57 required if the northern section of the pipeline is permitted.

Can that statement be true after an undisclosed number of new girth welds were introduced into the pipeline during the repair process?  Despite the high weld rejection rate that regulators warned TransCanada about, a new pressure test was not required to check the new welds.

“During the first week 26.8 percent of the welds required repairs, 32.0 percent the second week, 72.2 percent the third week, and 45.0 percent the fourth week. On September 25, 2012, TransCanada stopped the Spread 3 welding after 205 of the 425 welds, or 48.2 percent required repairs.” PHMSA wrote TransCanada on September 26, 2013.

“Let’s remember, TransCanada claimed that the Keystone I pipeline system would be one that would ‘meet or exceed world-class safety and environmental standards’ and leak an average of 1.4 times a decade,” Rocky Kistner, a communications associate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote on the NRDC‘s blog.

“In just its first year of operation, Keystone leaked 14 times, a hundred times more leaks than TransCanada predicted. On its Canadian side, the pipeline has leaked at least 21 times.”

TransCanada’s Bison Pipeline in Wyoming also had to be shut down after a portion of it ruptured six months after it was put into operation.

Michels Corporation, one of the contractors that worked on the Gulf Coast Pipeline, was also the contractor for Bison.

Evan Vokes, former TransCanada employee turned whistleblower, told the Wyoming Tribune that speed was put ahead of safety on that project. He noticed problems with pipe alignment welding, excavation and backfilling, among other things while working on that project.

“It is questionable that a pipeline which generates millions of dollars a day, in operation for barely six months, is suddenly off,” Kathy DaSilva, an activist representative of the Tar Sands Blockade, told DeSmogBlog.

This latest incident led the Tar Sands Blockade to renew its call for Keystone XL‘s southern leg to remain shut down until further testing is done to ensure the pipeline’s integrity.

The advocacy group Public Citizen also called for a new pressure test on the pipeline.

“Given the stakes – the looming potential for a catastrophic spill of a hazardous crude along a pipeline that traverses hundreds of streams and rivers, and that comes within just one or two miles of some towns and cities – it would be irresponsible for the federal government to allow tar sands crude to start flowing through the southern leg without ordering a complete hydrostatic retesting of the line and a thorough quality assurance review,” their report on the Keystone XL‘s southern route concluded.

The big question remains: is the Obama administration playing Russian roulette with Texas and Oklahoma aquifers by not requiring the retesting on the Gulf Coast Pipeline?

Video: Tar Sands Protesters Commandeer Public Meeting, Energy Officials Run for the Door

By Dylan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke,  22 October 2013 , Source: The Real News Network

First Nations and environmental activists interrupt Enbridge’s pipeline plans.

TRANSCRIPT:

DYAN RUIZ, REPORTER: Hundreds gathered in the cold Toronto rain to oppose the proposal for the oil pipeline called Line 9B operated by energy company Enbridge. Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) has been asked to approve Enbridge’s project that would enable them to bring oil from Alberta’s tar sands to 600 kilometers of pipeline running through Ontario and Quebec.

The protest was supposed to coincide with the final day of the board’s hearings in Toronto, which heard public testimony about the Line 9 proposal. But Enbridge decided not to go forward with their final arguments the day of the protest, citing security concerns.

After the public testimony the day before given by Amanda Lickers of the grassroots collective Rising Tide Toronto and Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations, the spectators erupted in a chant, rose to their feet, and began round-dancing. NEB representatives promptly left the room, bringing cheers from the crowd.

AMANDA LICKERS, RISING TIDE TORONTO AND SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER: I think that Enbridge is just trying to buy time because they were really intimidated by my presentation. You know. I mean, they need to formulate their arguments. And I think it’s completely ludicrous that they can just violate the terms of the entire process and just ask for time due to security concerns. I mean you’ve seen this rally. It’s being led by indigenous people, drummers, by traditional people, by women. There’s children here. You know, it’s not a confrontational rally. It’s a celebratory time to come together, and show, and have our voices heard.

RUIZ: One of the speakers of the protest was Canadian singer Sarah Harmer, who has been an outspoken activist against Line 9, which runs through her family’s farm.

SARAH HARMER, SINGER-SONGWRITER, AFFECTED LANDHOLDER:Thank you to everyone who’s come from across the province today, who got onto buses in Kingston and Hamilton and Waterloo, wherever you came from.

RUIZ: The 40-year-old pipeline runs from Sarnia, at Ontario’s border with Michigan, through the heavily populated Toronto area, to Montreal, where the oil will be refined. Approval of the proposal would allow Enbridge to use this pipeline to carry more than the light crude it currently transports. Line 9 would be transporting the controversial diluted bitumen, or “dilbit”, a heavy crude coming from the Alberta tar sands.

Another part of the proposal includes increasing the amount Enbridge would be licensed to transport by almost 30 percent to 300,000 barrels per day.

People at the rally who spoke out against the Line 9 proposal have said it poses huge environmental risks, especially from the transportation of dilbit from the tar sands.

AMARA POSSIAN, RISING TIDE TORONTO: The pipeline isn’t built for tar sands oil, and it’s a really old piece of infrastructure, so the risk is higher for spills. It’s basically like sandy peanut butter going through the pipeline, corroding the inside. And when it does inevitably spill, it’s very difficult to clean up.

RUIZ: A similar Enbridge pipeline, Line 6B, failed near Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2010, spilling diluted Alberta tar-sands bitumen. It was the largest surface spill in U.S. history and spewed 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River. The spill came close to contaminating Lake Michigan, the drinking water for over 12 million people. Three years later, the widespread environmental damage has not been fully assessed and Enbridge is still cleaning it up.

Enbridge spokesperson Graham White said to The Toronto Star, “Enbridge’s goal is zero incidents, and no spill is acceptable to us … Line 9 has been a safe and well-performing line for the past 38 years, and we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that remains the case for the people of Ontario and Toronto.”

Protesters are concerned that a spill like the one that happened in Michigan could happen along areas of Line 9 that crosses rivers such as the Credit, Humber, and Rouge that flow directly into Lake Ontario.

Contamination of the rivers that flow into Lake Ontario would be disastrous. Four-point-five million people in the Greater Toronto area rely on Lake Ontario for their drinking water. This is a concern not only of the protesters, but of the city of Toronto as well in the hearings this week. The city attorney also outlined concerns about the lack of specific plans for sites directly above Line 9. This includes schools, parks, apartment buildings, and a retirement home and subway station.

When it was built nearly 40 years ago, the pipeline tracked through remote areas, but now directly threatens heavily populated neighborhoods in and around Canada’s largest city. At Toronto’s Finch Subway Station that sees over 100,000 riders riders on a typical weekday, the pipeline runs less than two metres below the sidewalk and 60 centimetres above the subway structure.

The Finch corridor is a neglected part of Toronto. This resident of the northern Toronto neighborhood Jane and Finch was at the protest. He said the risks associated with Line 9 are an unwelcome addition to what the neighborhood already has to deal with, such as poor government investment in essential services like education and transit.

OSMAN ANWER, RESIDENT OF JANE AND FINCH: Jane and Finch is an example of bad mid-century public policy planning. They overbuilt a lot of public housing units and basically left them to rot. So Line 9 is just more–another topping on the shit sandwich we already have.

RUIZ: Marginalized communities and indigenous people carry some of the worst repercussions of resource extraction, transport, and processing.

Many First Nations and other indigenous people from the Idle No More movement were present at this protest. They say the NEB hearings do not fulfill the legal requirement for the federal government to consult with First Nations on the pipeline project. Only the federal government can consult with the First Nations on the proposal, not Enbridge or the NEB. They say the adequate consultations were not done when the pipeline was built and is not happening now.

HEATHER MILTON LIGHTENING, INDIGENOUS TAR SANDS CAMPAIGN: When it comes to each community, each one of them is a sovereign nation. And under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People it talks about “free, prior and informed consent”, and that means the right to say no, the right to have consultation in our own languages in a way that makes sense for our own people, and to be informed of both the negative and the positive.

RUIZ: To Heather, like many First Nations, the answer to Line 9 is no because the dangers are too high. The protestors at this rally emphasized that action against the Line 9 pipeline is a growing movement that doesn’t end with this protest or this week’s hearings.

SYED HUSSAN, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: They can try and flip that switch, they can try and push that dilbit, but we will swamp them at every turn.

RUIZ: One of the lead organizers of the protest outlined what’s coming up.

SAKURA SAUNDERS, RISING TIDE TORONTO: This process of community organizing–you know, we’re going to use this power that we’ve developed to both push for a provincial environmental assessment, and if that fails also, you know, swamp Enbridge, you know, wherever they are in terms of physically defending the land and stopping this project from happening.

RUIZ: The Board has already approved Enbridge’s proposal for one part of the pipeline last year, Line 9A, which runs from a pumping station near Sarnia to close to city of Hamilton. The National Energy Board plans to make their decision about Line 9B by this January.

This is Dyan Ruiz for The Real News Network.

Southern Leg of Keystone XL Near Completion as Opponents Lose Last Legal Battle in Texas

By Carol Berry, Indian Country Today Media Network

American Indians and others who oppose the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have lost their last legal battle, enabling TransCanada to finish the project by year’s end.

While the northern part of the Keystone XL pipeline has been held up by controversy, the protests against the southern portion, known as the Gulf Coast Pipeline, have been to no avail. On October 9 a split federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s refusal to stop the pipeline’s construction because an injunction to stop construction, which is what the opponents sought, “would cost [TransCanada] at least hundreds of thousands of dollars per day,” the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling.

RELATED: Actress Daryl Hannah Arrested Protesting Keystone XL in Texas

New York Times Journalists Threatened With Arrest While Reporting on Keystone XL Opposition

TransCanada has already spent at least $500 million on the 485-mile pipeline, which is expected to transport 700,000 gallons of crude oil daily from Cushing, in central Oklahoma, to Gulf Coast refineries.

The controversial Keystone XL extends through Sac and Fox territory. Other Oklahoma tribes that have spoken out about the pipeline’s impact on tribal patrimony include the Caddo, Choctaw, Southern Ponca and Pawnee, though none is party to the lawsuit.

The southern XL extension was formerly part of the full TransCanada XL pipeline, traversing some 1,700 miles of western and Midwestern states in its transnational route from Canadian tar sands, but vigorous opposition from Indian people, especially in northern areas, has delayed approval of the full section. The northern part must be approved by the U.S. Department of State, because it crosses an international line between Canada and the United States. The southern leg, purely domestic, was able to go ahead, despite a lack of thorough environmental reviews.

The Sierra Club and other plaintiffs had sought an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had signed off on numerous permits so that TransCanada could move ahead. TransCanada proceeded even though the Corps had to issue 2,227 permits for water crossings, with minimal environmental review.

“Considering the number of permits issued by the Corps relative to the overall size of the Gulf Coast Pipeline, it is patently ludicrous for appellees to characterize the Corps’ involvement in the subject project as minimal, or to maintain that the Corps’ permitting involves only a ‘link’ in the Gulf Coast Pipeline,” said dissenting District Judge William Martinez in the October 9 Tenth Circuit ruling.

But the other two members of the three-justice panel in the federal appeals court, Circuit Judges Paul Kelly and Jerome Holmes, both said that financial harm can be weighed against environmental harm and in certain circumstances outweigh it.

The Sierra Club had alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedures Act and contend that the pipeline constitutes a “major federal act” that requires NEPA analysis leading to a “hard look” at possible impacts.

RELATED: Welcome to Fearless Summer: Protesters Block Keystone XL Construction

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/10/23/southern-leg-keystone-xl-near-completion-opponents-lose-last-legal-battle-texas-151887

Protest, banner drop at National Energy Board hearings expose explicit ban on tar sands discussion in pipeline hearing

Banner drop in front the of Metro Convention Centre, where the NEB hearings are taking place this week in Toronto. Photo: Michael Toledano

Banner drop in front the of Metro Convention Centre, where the NEB hearings are taking place this week in Toronto. Photo: Michael Toledano

Lyn Adamson, Toronto Media Co-op

NEB Hearings start in Toronto today, here’s what they won’t be hearing.

A banner drop and a series of gaged protestors demonstrated what is being left out of the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings that are taking place this week in Toronto. The subject of the hearings is Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal and expansion proposal, which would allow the company to ship tar sands bitumen from Sarnia to Montreal. Groups today protested the fact that the hearings have explicitly banned discussion of upstream and downstream impacts of the pipeline reversal and expansion, which would allow the tar sands to expand production and refining.

“Stop Line 9: tar sands = industrial genocide” read a large banner that hung from the Metro Convention Centre’s steps. “We want to remind people that Line 9 is one battle of a larger fight against the most destructive project on the planet, which has already transformed an area the size of Florida into what’s termed a ‘sacrifice zone’,” said Vanessa Gray, an Anishnaabe kwe organizer with Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines. “The tar sands have been termed a ‘slow industrial genocide’ by the native people living downstream, but this term also applies to people living near the refining of this toxic substance. My people are dying from this industry.”

Aamjiwnaang First Nation has 63 chemical refineries within 50 km of the community. Community-monitoring has reported that 40 per cent of the population required inhalers to breath and 39 per cent of women had experienced miscarriages.

Other groups participating in the action highlighted the increased contribution to climate change that Enbridge’s proposal would entail.

“Approving the transport of diluted bitumen means expanding tar sands production which will be a disaster for the planet, said Lyn Adamson Co Chair Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. “These hearings do not replace the need for an environmental assessment. A National Energy Board should be considering alternatives, such as renewable energy and conservation.”

In addition to restricting who could speak at the hearings, the Omnibus Bill C-38 restricted what those individuals could say in the National Energy Board hearing, restricting discussion on tar sands production or refining.

There will be a large rally against Line 9 at the NEB hearings this Saturday, Oct 19 outside the National Energy Board hearings.

Government doesn’t know exact route of Keystone XL

John Upton, Grist

You might think that one would need to know the precise route of a huge planned pipeline in order to assess its environmental impacts. But the State Department apparently disagrees.

Thomas Bachand has been trying to find out the precise route of Keystone XL for his Keystone Mapping Project. When he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department, which is responsible for assessing Keystone, it responded with a big shrug of the shoulders. From the department’s June 24 letter to Bachand:

[T]he Department does not have copies of records responsive to your request because the Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone pipeline project was created by Cardno ENTRIX under a contract financed by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, and not the U.S. government.

Neither Cardno ENTRIX nor TransCanada ever submitted GIS information to the Department of State, nor was either corporation required to do so. The information that you request, if it exists, is therefore neither physically nor constructively under the control of the Department of State and we are therefore unable to comply with your FOIA request.

DeSmogBlog lists some of the important questions left unanswered because we lack the specific route info:

Where will KXL intersect rivers or cross ponds that provide drinking water? What prized hunting grounds and fishing holes might be ruined by a spill? How can communities prepare for possible incidents?

This isn’t the first time Bachand has been blocked in his efforts to map the proposed pipeline. From his blog:

Last year when I requested the data from TransCanada, I was told that releasing it would be a “national security risk.” Despite this, TransCanada only carries $200 million in third party liability insurance. By contrast, cleanup costs for the 2010 pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan are $1 billion and climbing.

How very thoughtful of TransCanada to be concerned about risks.