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.
“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.
“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.
The U.S. state department claimed that the Keystone XL pipeline would increase world carbon emissions by 30 million tons. However, a recent study released by scientists from the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that number could be off – way off. Seth Borenstein writes in an article published by the Portland Press Herald:
The researchers estimate that the proposed pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, would increase world greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.,
The U.S. estimates didn’t take into account that the added oil from the pipeline would drop prices by about $3 a barrel, spurring consumption that would create more pollution, the researchers said.
Other scientists and organizations seem to be shrugging of this quadrupled number. The American Petroleum Institute (go figure) claimed that the study was pointless, because the pipeline itself would have nothing to do with the increase. Tar sands oil will reduce the price of oil per barrel, they claim, therefore increasing oil usage regardless of how it is transported. In his article, “Study: Keystone carbon pollution more than figured,” Borenstein interviews other scientists and academics all to happy to chime in their opinions:
Lower prices may be appealing at first, but there needs to be a balance between consumer happiness and environmental happiness, said Wesleyan University environmental economist Gary Yohe, who applauds the study’s findings.
A glass-half-empty perspective came from University of Sussex economist Richard Tol, who believes that 121 million is a “drop in the bucket” when compared to the 36 billion tons of carbon emissions released on 2013.
Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution of Washington, rode the fence, agreeing that 121 million tons is relatively small, but believes that we should be moving away from activities that boost carbon dioxide no matter the amount.
And, finally, independent energy economist Judith Dwarkin in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, blew off the study entirely, claiming that consumption of oil drives the price, not the other way around.
Whether millions or billions of carbon emissions, the Keystone XL pipeline will also damage a multitude of other environments. We need to see more studies that illustrate the whole impact of the pipeline and look at them as all interconnected, instead of relevant or irrelevant.
This morning, a group of protesters drove through the farm country of Kitchener, Ontario. They pulled up at a dirt-and-gravel-paved job site occupied by a security guard.
The guard knew the drill. While he phoned everyone who normally reported to the job site to tell them not to come in to work that day, the protesters set up camp. They posted a statement on Tumblr, inviting any interested parties to come and join them, along with guidelines for the occupation:
Here are some things to keep in mind while visiting the Dam Line 9 Action:
– We are on stolen Indigenous land. Deshkaan Ziibing (Antler River, so-called Thames River), Anishinabek territory.
– Have fun, but also remember that this is a site of struggle.
All summer, protesters have been appearing at job sites along the path of Line 9 — a pipeline that had lived in obscurity until the regulatory limbo surrounding the approval of Keystone XL made it famous. Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns Line 9, announced plans to expand it and to reverse its flow. Normally the pipe carries crude from Africa and the Middle East into Canada’s heart; Enbridge would like it to move oil from the Alberta tar sands to Quebec, where it could be refined and exported.
One of the protesters, Dan Kellar, was working on a PhD in environmental impact assessment and the application of environmental laws, so he was able to navigate the application process well enough to submit a comment, along with a group called Grand River Indigenous Solidarity. The NEB, unswayed, approve the pipeline anyway.
Most of the occupations last for a few days, according to Rachel Avery, one of the protesters at the site. In this case, police told the protesters that they would be checking in on the site at 6 p.m., but gave no word as to whether they had plans to arrest anyone.
In the meantime, says Avery, there’s lots of stuff to do, like set up tents and shade structures, and install solar panels. There’s also plenty of time to educate curious passers-by about the hydrology of the local watershed.
That’s what the call-out to visit on Tumblr was about — kind of like a consciousness-raising group, but under threat of arrest. Why not turn your site occupation into an educational opportunity? It’s just another way, says Avery, “to build a stronger movement.”
As this report went to press, the protesters had settled in for a frisbee match.
A small town in Ontario, Canada will be receiving $28,200 from energy company TransCanada Corp. in exchange for not commenting on the company’s proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline project, according to an agreement attached to the town council’s meeting agenda on June 23.
Under the terms of deal, the town of Mattawa will “not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects” for five years. In exchange for that silence, TransCanada will give Mattawa $28,200, which will ultimately go towards buying a rescue truck for the town.
“This is a gag order,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, a campaigner for energy and climate issues with the Council of Canadians, told Bloomberg News. “These sorts of dirty tricks impede public debate on Energy East, a pipeline that comes with significant risks for communities along the route.”
The terms of the agreement did not specifically mention the controversial Energy East pipeline, which would carry more than a million barrels of tar sands crude oil across Canada each day. However, the deal is being widely seen as a way for the company to avoid obstacles that may get in the way of the pipeline’s approval — especially considering the obstacles that have long plagued the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States.
The Energy East pipeline, though, is bigger than Keystone XL — in fact, it’s the most expensive pipeline project TransCanada has ever proposed. If approved, Energy East would carry about 1.1 million barrels of tar sands crude across Canada each day. That’s more than Keystone XL, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day from Canada down to refineries in Texas.
Despite the company’s apparent attempt to avoid obstacles, the Energy East pipeline proposal has already gotten some push-back in Canada. A February report from the Pembina Institute, for example, found Energy East would have an even greater impact on the climate than Keystone XL, with the potential to generate 30 to 32 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That’s the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to the roads, and more than the 22 million metric tons that the think tank predicts Keystone XL will produce.
Still, representatives from TransCanada insist that the agreement with Mattawa was not intended to avoid or impede public discourse.
“The language in the agreement was designed to prevent municipalities from feeling obligated to make public comments on our behalf about projects that did not impact them and about which they had no experience or knowledge,” TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata told Bloomberg. “We are looking at amending our contract language to ensure communities know they and their staff retain the full right to participate in an open and free dialogue about our projects.”
Representatives from Mattawa’s town government have not yet publicly commented on the decision.
As of now, the process for approving the Energy East pipeline is still in its early stages, with TransCanada filing its project description for the pipeline with the National Energy Board in early March. About two-thirds of the Energy East pipeline infrastructure already exists, meaning a major part of the project will be converting that existing line — which currently carries natural gas — into a tar sands crude oil pipeline.
Tar sands oil is controversial because of its unique, thick, gooey makeup. Because of this quality, producers must use what is called “non-conventional” methods of getting the oil out of the ground. Those methods are more carbon-intensive, meaning they emit more greenhouse gases.
Tar sands production also causes a great deal of physical pollution. In Alberta, where the sands are mined, federal scientists have found that the area’s deposits are now surrounded by a nearly 7,500-square-mile ring of mercury.
President Barack Obama made his first presidential visit to Indian Country on Friday – and some residents of the Sioux reservation used the opportunity to voice their opposition to a proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands oil through their land.
The president and first lady arrived by helicopter at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which straddles the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. Native Americans, some dressed in full feathered headdresses and multicolored, beaded outfits, greeted the couple.
“We can follow the lead of Standing Rock’s most famous resident, Chief Sitting Bull. He said, ‘Let’s put our minds together to see what we can build for our children,” Obama said. Sitting Bull was a Sioux chief who defeated Gen. George Custer at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The Obamas also spoke privately with tribal youth about their challenges growing up on the 2.3 million-acre reservation, home to nearly 1,000 residents who struggle with a lack of housing, health care, education and economic opportunity.
Some Sioux leaders used the visit to tell Obama that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline — which would run through their land — would be a treaty violation.
Bryan Brewer, president of the Ogalala Sioux Tribe, said in a statement that the Keystone pipeline was “a death warrant for our people,” and that it would violate treaty rights. Critics of the pipeline warn of possible oil spills, environmental impact from the line’s construction, and Keystone’s overall effect on raising carbo
Next week, April 22, former Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke and the Cowboy and Indian Alliance made up of Native people, farmers and ranchers will ride on horseback into Washington, D.C. to show their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The protest on Tuesday will be one of many activities kicking off Earth day 2014 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. LaDuke’s organization, Honor the Earth will be joining forces with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance a group of about 30 Oglala Lakota Indians as well as a group of non-Native ranchers and farmers from North Dakota and Nebraska that have all joined forces in protest.
Additionally on the final day of protest, thousands have been invited to protest in unison against the pipeline and the Canadian Tar Sands. On Saturday April 26 at 11 a.m. at the National Mall between 7th and 9th streets, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance will make closing arguments against the pipeline.
4 days after the Cowboy Indian Alliance tipis first go up on the Mall, we’ll gather at 11 AM on Saturday the 26th at the encampment to make our closing argument against the pipeline. As we gather, everyone there will be asked to make their thumbprint mark on a tipi. Then we’ll hear from the farmers, ranchers, tribal leaders and refinery community members who will be directly impacted by Keystone XL and the tar sands — and who have pledged to lead the resistance should it be approved.
Then, those leaders will carry our painted tipi to present to President Obama, with thousands of people standing behind them. This tipi will represent our hope that he will reject the pipeline, and our promise that we will protect our land, water and climate if he chooses to let the pipeline move forward.
Once the tipi is delivered, we’ll return to the encampment in song and make our pledge to continue resistance to the pipeline should it be approved.
In an e-mail campaign sent from the Honor the Earth Foundation LaDuke writes that many opposers to the pipeline will be in D.C. and will set up at the tipi camp at the National Mall and will ride to the White House “to show Obama and the world that Native Nations will stand firm in asserting our human and constitutionally protected treaty rights in saying NO to the Keystone XL Pipeline.”
In an interview with ICTMN, LaDuke said, “Our communities are continuing our spiritual work in opposing these pipelines – these pipelines threaten our water and our way of life.”
“My sister and my son will be riding horses, I might ride. They have asked me. There will be 30 Cowboys and Indians on horseback going all the way up to the White House on horseback to fight the Keystone pipeline. This is a continuation of that spiritual ride,” LaDuke said.
“To not have the pipeline is what we want, every time you look there is someone else at the White House. President Obama should do the right thing. I have enjoyed the fossil fuels era as have you, but I would like to gracefully exit it not crash my way out. We need to gracefully exit into renewable energies fuel efficiencies and bio diesels with a lot less impact. I have enjoyed it now I’m ready to go.”
LaDuke also said how people can support the cause. “They can support all of this by joining us in D.C. and sending us money, we are in the middle of fighting three pipelines and we are thinly staffed.”
For decades, Buffy Sainte-Marie has been an artistic trailblazer. The Sixties folk explosion saw the Canadian-born Cree songwriter confront the colonial status quo with hit songs like “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” as well as the anti-war anthem “Universal Soldier.” Sainte-Marie, who is currently based in Hawaii, is gearing up to record her first album of new material since 2008 (more on that later), and took a few minutes to share her thoughts on a number of topics with ICTMN.
We’ve seen your Tweets (@BuffySteMarie) about the oil sands, or tar sands as they’re sometimes called — what’s your take on the situation?
Almost a year ago I went to Fort McMurray (Alberta) and I was just devastated with what’s going on there. Just devastated. I just told everybody I could: “You’ve got to take this seriously.” Even since I was there, other people have really stepped forward in their own ways, Neil Young in particular. He’s caught a lot of criticism because he didn’t involve me, Susan Aglukark or other Native people. Neil came to the induction ceremony in Nashville, at the Musicians Hall of Fame, and I told him I’d seen some of the criticism and not to listen to it at all! Because it’s so important, it has to be everybody doing whatever they can, whenever they can, and being effective at whatever level they can be. You reach people your way, I do it my way and Neil does it his way. But people have to see it.
It’s really worth a trip to Fort McMurray just to see it with your own eyes. If you really want to see something historic in your life, go to Fort McMurray and just bear witness to what they’re doing. It’s never going to return, and this is the future of the planet if the present people are allowed to stay in charge. We are allowing them to stay in charge. We are allowing it. That’s why we have wars. We have to be really vigilant and supportive of one another, because it has to stop. There’s no turning back.
Neil Young toured with the First Nation that’s experiencing high cancer rates from the tar sands. And yet he also caught criticism when people said, “Oh, he’s just an outsider, he lives in California — what right does he have to criticize this?”
(Laughs). Because it’s not only about Canada, that’s why! Good for Neil for stepping up. Everybody should be stepping up at whatever their most effective level is. It’s not just about Native people and it’s not just about Canada. Just the weather changes are indicative: people just gotta wake up.
Have the issues changed over time, or is it still the same root issues as in your songs “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” or “Universal Soldier”?
The root issue is always the same. It’s about corporate greed in charge of all of our energy. That’s the root issue. But in the 1500s it was gold and silver in Central America, and then coal, oil, and now uranium. I have a song that’s going to be on the album I’m recording now called “The Uranium War.” It has a line:
Coal and oil and hey, now uranium
Keep the Indians under your thumb
Pray like hell when your bad times come
Get ’em up, rip ’em up, strip ’em up
Get ’em with a gun.
So the violence that occurs, and has been occurring against Indigenous People in the world because of resources has now become obvious to the non-indigenous people too. There are now more people understanding how devastating the misuse of resources not only can be, but just plain is.
Let’s talk about the Longest Walk. Richie Havens passed on last year, and you were a long supporter of the Longest Walk and affirming treaty rights. Could you offer some thoughts on him, his passing and his legacy?
He and I kind of emerged around the same time — the summer of 1963-4. We would see each other over the years. He came and visited me in Hawaii a few times. We were good friends. He was such an incredible interpreter of other people’s songs, and such a good guy. Pete Seeger too — he just did so much for the world through music, in ways both subtle and big. You know, heaven must be a great place, because there’s a lot of people going there!
Pete Seeger with Buffy Sainte-Marie. Source: twitter.com/buffystemarie
You were with Pete Seeger at Clearwater Fest last summer. The photos were just beautiful, you guys having a lovely hug.
He was just really, really special, huh?
Do you ever feel nostalgic for that era, when you all emerged almost at once? It must have been such a different energy because it was also a social movement as well as being about music.
It was, but I’ve been waiting for it to come back. And I think it has. For me, the Internet is like the Sixties. It used to be, in the Sixties, all kinds of music was available to you, but it was kept away. You had to go with this label and that genre. It really became a very narrow-minded corporate world. They’d sign 90 artists and shelve 90 others. It used to be so unfair. But now you can hear all kinds of music, and everybody can get played, publish a song, or share things on the Internet. It’s such a wonderful time that we’re living in. You shouldn’t discount it or think that the Sixties were better. The Sixties were about a true student movement. And now there’s another true populist movement, so let’s do what we can, while we can.
Without surprise, the National Energy Board has approved the reversal of the Line 9 pipeline. This pipeline crosses every single tributary that flows into Lake Ontario, and cuts up the north shore of the St. Lawrence river….
It was anticipated that this information be released on March. 19th. Instead the rubber-stamping came early.
Indigenous peoples whose territories are being attacked by this project have been silenced throughout this process. It is our communities, and other communities of colour, who primarily live fenceline with the tar sands, its mining, infrastructure and refineries. It is our Sacred sites that are being desecrated by the shady movements of corporate imperialists and colonial-capitalists.
Line 9 shows us exactly what environmental racism looks like, from Aamjiwnaang to Jane & Finch – telling us that bodies of colour and Indigenous bodies are expendable for the larger project of profit. Line 9 is but expanded infrastructure to move the Athabasca tar sands eastward – it is an embodiment of the slow industrial genocide that is being committed by TransCanada, Enbridge, Suncor, and the Government of Canada, to name a few.
This deep rooted social disconnection from the land is fostered by the occupation of our Nations’ territories. The attack on Indigenous bodies and bodies of colour are but a glimpse into the functions of this White supremacist, settler-colonial death culture that seeks to consume, corrupt and conquer.
On March 19th, let us keep close the truth of the violence that is this pipeline: an apparatus of tar sands destruction that seeks to poison that which sustains us and those faces not yet born. On this day we will be connected with each other in struggle as we fill our hearts with love for the wild and carry inside us a hunger for justice. March 19th Take Action Against Line 9!
We are requesting solidarity actions by friends in struggle who share Enbridge as a common enemy – from the West to the East, Enbridge’s toxic tendrils are an affront on Indigenous Sovereignty and the health of all of Creation.
Only you, your community and your affinity groups know what action is best to take in your area. Get in touch with us if you want to confirm an action. #Line9IndustrialGenocide
Be safe, be strong!
Keep your ear to the ground, because there are more battles ahead. Stop the beast! #NoLine9 #NoEnergyEast
Note: For more background on Enbridge’s Line 9 tar sands pipeline and the recent approval it received by Canadian regulators, click here.
Nearly two thirds of British Columbians are opposed to the $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline and the tankers it will bring to the northern coast, according to a poll commissioned by environmental groups.
Conducted between Jan. 13-19, the Justason Market Intelligence poll of 600 people also found that 64 per cent (the same number that are opposed) believe the project will definitely or probably be built. The margin of error of the combined telephone and online poll is plus or minus four per cent.
The survey showed that 92 per cent were aware of the project, which will carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat for transport by tanker overseas to open up Asian markets.
The poll was commissioned by the Dogwood Initiative, ForestEthics Advocacy, Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research and West Coast Environmental Law.
The Enbridge pipeline project received approval last month from a joint panel federal review of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
Several First Nations and environmental groups have already launched court action against the panel decision.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has until the middle of this year to grant approval.
The findings showed that four times as many of those surveyed “strongly” oppose the project (50 per cent) than who “strongly” support the project (12 per cent). Another 17 per cent somewhat support the project.
The majority-opposition finding is not an unusual for a poll commissioned by environmental groups, which generally highlight in their questions the introduction of super tankers and the possibility of oil spills.
Dogwood Initiative executive director Will Horter said opposition is always stronger in polls when tankers are mentioned as part of the Northern Gateway project.
“People have very strong concerns about oil pipelines, but have deep, deep concerns about the oil tankers,” said Horter.
Business and industry-commissioned polls, which tend to highlight the economic benefits of Northern Gateway, usually find higher support for the project.
A B.C. Chamber of Commerce-commissioned poll released in December found nearly 50 per cent support for Northern Gateway.
The Justason poll also found that 51 per cent distrust the joint review panel process, while 32 per cent trusted it.
If Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions for supporting heavy oil being transported through B.C. are met, 49 per cent said they would be a lot or a little bit more supportive of the project.
The B.C. Chamber poll had found that should the project meet the five conditions, support increased to 63 per cent.
Clark’s conditions include the passing of an environmental review, creating world-leading marine and land spill prevention and recovery systems, addressing First Nations’ rights and receiving a fair share of economic benefits.
VALE—With the last of three Omega Morgan megaloads poised at the Port of Umatilla, waiting out winter weather before beginning its crawl across the state, several agencies have filed a court action seeking to halt it.
Peo Peo Mox Mox Chief — Headman of the Walla Walla Tribe Carl Sampson and ActOnClimate’s Peter Goodman filed a “petition for review of agency decision” Tuesday, alleging that the Oregon Department of Transportation failed to meet what they say is a legal obligation to determine whether the permit it issued last week for the megaload’s travel “serves the public interest.”
“The position of Sampson and Goodman is that these megaloads are not ordinary vehicles to be permitted on Oregon scenic highways using routine practices established for normal oversize loads, but that they are extraordinarily large industrial loads (longer than a football field and weighing up to 900,000 pounds), causing substantial harm to the citizens of Oregon and therefore not in the public interest,” reads a press release describing the action. “At the very least, they argue, ODOT should not be making a unilateral decision without a process for hearing public comments on whether these megaloads are in the ‘Public Interests.’”
ODOT spokesman Tom Strandberg said he sent out news releases about the megaloads, and ODOT visited the Umatilla Tribe. But he said he was not sure what else was done as far as outreach. He said public hearings are not part of the permitting process. But according to Monte Grove, ODOT’s Region 5 manager, ODOT is rethinking its process for public involvement in regards to permitting megaloads because they are getting bigger and bigger.
“And now here we are, in the middle of winter, with no formal notification, no Tribal consultation, no information to our Tribal members at our monthly council meetings that not one, but three monster megaloads are coming onto our ceded boundary lands,” Sampson wrote in a statement.
“Why did the Oregon Department of Transportation allow a variance permit of such magnitude on our sovereign and inherent Treaty rights, allowing interruption into our ceremonial, cultural, social and spiritual homelands without regard to the importance to our people?”
Omega Morgan adjusted its shipping route last year after a court ruling prohibited the Hillsboro-based shipping company from using Idaho’s Wild and Scenic River Corridor for megaload transport. Its circuitous route takes it from Umatilla to Pendleton, south on U.S. Highway 395 to Mount Vernon and east on U.S. 26 to Vale where it turns onto Clark Boulevard. It proceeds south to Highway 201 into Idaho near Homedale, then through Montana and into Canada, where its loads are bound for the tar sands oil fields in Alberta.