How Oil will Disperse if a Disaster Occurs at the Enbridge Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac

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This is another gem brought to us from our friends at SURF.org (SUSTAIN, UNITE, RESTORE, FORTIFY)

This is a video that was commissioned as a part of a report by the NWF with the University of Michigan Straits of Mackinac Contaminant Release Scenarios: Flow Visualization and Tracer Simulations.

The SURF.org blog post  helps to promote a better understanding of the issues around oil dispersal in the event of a disaster such as the rupture of the old pipeline, and the lack of a realistic response scenario.  The blog post has a direct to the video and it speaks for itself. To see it CLICK HERE.

 

 

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Filed under Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Energy, Great Lakes, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands, Water

New report on the dangers of toxic coal ash dust and the front-line communities affected

Toxic coal ash dust at the Making Money Having Fun Landfill in Bokoshe, OK. Source: “Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health”

Toxic coal ash dust at the Making Money Having Fun Landfill in Bokoshe, OK. Source: “Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health”

Yesterday, July 31st, the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Earthjustice released Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Healthan extensive report on the dangers of breathing coal ash, which has been more known for its pollution of drinking water and waterways. The report includes case studies of particular communities affected by the toxic dust released by coal ash. Here’s a snippet from the conclusion:

An increasingly large number of studies show clear links between inhaled coal ash and adverse health outcomes. The huge volume of coal ash generated in the United States and the many dangerous ways it is dumped create a variety of pathways for harmful levels of human exposure. Communities across the nation are hurt by toxic dust because adequate controls are not in place to protect public health. Often those harmed are communities of color or low-income communities living along the fence lines of these coal ash dumps whose economic hardships make them even more vulnerable to injury. Requiring control of toxic dust through federally enforceable standards that protect all Americans nationwide, and switching from coal to cleaner, renewable energy sources, are well-documented and essential paths to better health.

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Filed under Coal, Pollution, Uncategorized

“Protect the Sacred:” Indigenous people unite against Keystone pipeline

From left: Casey, Dwain & Carter Camp at the opening ceremony of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance Action Camp, near Ponca City, Okla. (Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance/Girard Oz/ Waging Nonviolence)

Activists at the opening ceremony of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance Action Camp, near Ponca City, Okla. (Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance/Girard Oz/ Waging Nonviolence)

Indigenous people in Oklahoma took a united front against the Keystone XL pipeline, whose proposed route will trespass upon sacred ritual and burial grounds. Already many of these people, especially those living in Ponca City, struggle daily with pollution-related health issues from nearby refineries. The repercussions of another pipeline, especially one that threatens to degrade their heritage, are simply unfathomable. Interviewed in an article by Crysbel Tejada and Betsy Catlin on the website Waging Nonviolence, longtime activist Casey Camp-Horinek states:

Of the maybe 800 of us that live locally, we have averaged over the last five to seven years maybe one funeral a week. Where we used to have dances every week, now most people are in mourning.

A massive ConocoPhillips oil refinery towers over Standing Bear Park, named in honor of the  Ponca chief who led his people on the Trail of Tears. Every year, that refinery pumps 2,000 lbs. of chemicals into the air.

“We live in a situation that could only be described as environmental genocide,” said Camp-Horinek. Beyond the refineries, she explained, “We also have had the misfortune of living on top of a spider web of pipelines as a result of ConocoPhillips being here.”

The toxins released are filled with benzene, which the CDC lists as potentially causing leukemia, anemia and can decrease the size of ovaries. In response to these issues and the Keystone threat, the Indigenous people of the area are planning their resistance and have drafted a new treaty called “Protect the Sacred.”

They have also created the “Training for Resistance” tour, “which is making its way across Greater Sioux nations, territories and reservations to educate and equip people with the necessary tools for resistance. The trainings, which began in March on the Pine Ridge reservation, focus on direct action and teach-ins on tar sands and the Keystone XL, with roots in the Lakota way and tradition.”

Read the full article here and discover how Indigenous people plan to fight back against the Keystone XL, another form of genocide — environmental genocide — faced by nations of people whose history is riddled with the same unjust treatment.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Keystone XL, Tar Sands

10 little-known facts about the Mackinac Oil Pipeline through the Great Lakes

From SURF.org- SUSTAIN UNITE RESTORE FORTIFY

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Our Friends at SURF.org have a terrific online journal that posts important pieces about Great Lakes protections and conservation issues.

In June, Beth Wallace posted this piece that really brings the oil pipeline issue home to those of us that live in the Great Lakes.

Last June, the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council hosted a public symposium focused on hazards associated with the 61-year old Mackinaw pipeline and its relationship with Embridge tar sands oil transportation.

To prepare people for that meeting B. Wallace prepared the piece, 10 Little Known Facts About the Mackinac Oil Pipeline which we are pleased to link to here.

SUMMARY: 10) Two pipelines, not one, 9) Exports oil out of the U.S., 8) Carries tar sands oil, 7) spilled oil might not surface, 6) Suspends a sunken river, 5) Just increased in pressure, 4) Could have 700 crack features, 3) 640 miles of unknown pipeline, 2) Spill response plans will not work, 1) Line 5 has a history of failures.

In the coming days we will bring more stories about Embridge, oil transportation, and the Great Lakes.  What is going on in your community, we would like to know. Please use our comments section if you have any stories or links to stories that we should be paying attention to.

 

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Filed under Oil

Brazil Tops List in Assassinations of Land Reform Activists

Xavante indigenous activist Hiparidi Toptiro has been fighting to keep his tribe's protected forests, in Mato Grosso state, safe from farmers looking to expand their soy fields. Toptiro has bullet scars testifying to the dangers of sticking up for the environment in Brazil.  Credit Gerry Hadden/PRI

Xavante indigenous activist Hiparidi Toptiro has been fighting to keep his tribe’s protected forests, in Mato Grosso state, safe from farmers looking to expand their soy fields. Toptiro has bullet scars testifying to the dangers of sticking up for the environment in Brazil. Credit Gerry Hadden/PRI

A story by PRI reporter Gerry Hadden, distributed this week, details how 908 land-reform activists have been assassinated throughout the world between 2003 and 2012. Nearly half of those murders have taken place in Brazil.

What is it that makes Brazil the most dangerous place in the world to be an activist? You’ll find clues in the story of Guarabana Bay. The bay, just minutes from downtown Rio’s world famous beaches, is a study in pollution and filth. Dark sludge cakes the shoreline. Garbage floats everywhere. It’s so bad that some sailors set to compete here in the 2016 Summer Olympics are warning colleagues not to let this water touch their skin.

The sailors’ worries do not surprise local fisherman Sandy Anderson de Souza. He said he was out in his boat in 2001 when Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobas accidentally dumped 1.3 million tons of oil into the waterway. “There was so much oil it looked like there was no water at all,” he said during a recent tour of the coastline. “A year later we noticed that many species of fish were disappearing and we started to catalogue this. There are 46 species of fish and shrimp that are no longer here.”

The shoreline along Guarabana Bay, near Rio de Janeiro, is littered with debris and trash. The water in the bay itself is murky brown due to oils spills and other pollutants, activists say. That incident and several others, Anderson said, led him to tie up his boat to begin campaigning to save the bay. “Think about it,” he said. “If you put one drop of oil in a glass of water you can’t drink it. Imagine what those millions of liters did to the bay.”

Anderson says 13 fishermen became activists. Soon they began receiving threats. “Before we knew it, four of our leaders had been killed,” he said. Anderson lifts his shirt to show two scars he said were caused by bullets meant to silence him as well. He blames armed security groups working for Petrobas — a claim the company denies. What’s clear is that someone powerful wanted Anderson dead. They may still. This is why the Brazilian government has put him in a special “activist protection progam.” In other words, they’ve hidden him away.

The PRI report covers a study released by Global Witness entitled Deadly Environment which reports case studies in both Brazil and the Philippines, another hotbed of violence against environmental and land reform activists.

The Global Witness report characterizes the main drivers of the violence as land grabbing and unfair land distribution; mining and extractive industries; and illegal logging and deforestation.

Global Witness, an NGO, “campaigns for a world in which all can thrive without destroying the biosphere or each other.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Pollution

New World Resources Institute Report Links Conservation of Forests, Indigenous Communities, and Climate Action

Photo by Charlie Watson/Rainforest Alliance Frog Blog

Photo by Charlie Watson/Rainforest Alliance Frog Blog

A World Resources Institute Report Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change details how strengthening community forest rights is a significant factor in combating climate change.

Authors Caleb Stevens, Robert Winterbottom, Kate Reytar, and Jerry Springer analyze the growing body of evidence linking community forest rights with healthier forests and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

An article on the Rainforest Alliance’s Frog Blog describing the report says

Millions of communities around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods and basic needs but lack the legal rights to manage them.  While governments currently claim ownership of most of the world’s forests, local communities who live in them have the most incentive to protect them. Indeed, the report shows that deforestation rates in areas where communities have strong land rights are considerably lower than in areas where they do not.

The Key Findings of the WRI report are:

  • When Indigenous Peoples and local communities have no or weak legal rights, their forests tend to be vulnerable to deforestation and thus become the source of carbon dioxide emissions
  • Legal forest rights for communities and government protection of their rights tend to lower carbon dioxide emissions and deforestation
  • Indigenous Peoples and local communities with legal forest rights maintain or improve their forests’ carbon storage
  • Even when communities have legal rights to their forest, government actions that weaken those rights can lead to high carbon dioxide emissions and deforestation
  • Communities can partially overcome government actions that weaken their forest rights

 

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Filed under Climate Justice, Forests, Indigenous Peoples

New PFPI Report: Climate of Deception exposes biomass industry greenwash

source: Biofuelwatch

McNeil Plant, Burlington, Vermont-source: Biofuelwatch

A just released report by Kelly Bitov and Dr. Mary Booth of the Partnership for Public Integrity (PFPI) persuasively argues that electricity consumers who care about the environment, global warming, and air pollution need Federal Trade Commission  (FTC) protection from biomass industry greenwashing. The report details how Biomass power companies make environmental claims that are, to say the least, misleading.

Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch, told Climate Connections that it makes sense that investors should be wary about funding biomass projects since the world is rapidly catching on to the hoax that it is “clean, green and C neutral” and policy makers are taking note.

 Read the full report, released on July 29, 2014 here.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels

New World Bank ‘light touch’ rules abandon ecological protections, allow borrowers to opt out of indigenous rights

 

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

John Vidal of the Guardian recently reported on a leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new ‘light touch’ lending policies, weakening safeguards put in place after disastrous projects drew global criticism to it in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to Vidal, the new relaxed policies would allow for logging and mining in before protected areas as long as ecological “off-sets” are put in place and would not require consultation with indigenous peoples before projects like tree plantations or mega-dams begin on their land.

Moreover, Vidal writes,

Under the proposed new “light touch” rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur…

Most shocking is the opt-out option on indigenous rights:

a proposed loophole for governments to opt out of applying the bank’s policy on indigenous peoples, jeopardising the rights of hunter-gatherer communities such as the pygmies of the Congo rainforest.

The Bank Information Center, a World Bank watchdog group, further explains the meaning of the proposed new policies.

On off-sets:

Meanwhile, the introduction of “biodiversity offsets” into previous “no-go” areas substantially weakens existing protections for critical natural habitats and protected areas, based on the shaky premise that destruction to these areas can be compensated or “offset” by agreements to preserve habitats elsewhere in perpetuity.

On gutted assessment:

The elimination of clear, predictable rules also appears to be a clear attempt by the Bank to avoid accountability for the negative impacts of projects that it funds.

Finally, the BIC writes:

As the World Bank asks us to trust them, the string of broken promises, the climate of secrecy in preparing the proposal, and an underfunded safeguard staffing structure in utter disarray, provide little reassurance that these policies will be implemented in an effective way to prevent negative impacts to project affected communities and the environment.

Safeguards are only as good as the institution itself: Even with these safeguards in place, the World Bank has backed projects that are ecologically and ethically unsound. The above photo, for example, comes from a story from April on an investigation of the World Bank funding illegal land grabbing. Other such stories can be easily found on Climate Connections.

Rather than ushering in a new period, these policies seem more like the real face of the Bank peeking through.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, World Bank