May 21 2013. Source: Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
The Hague, Netherlands - Today members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska attended the Royal Dutch Shell AGM to confront the Chairman and Board over Shell’s decision to pursue highly risky ‘extreme energy’ projects without adequate consultation and accommodation of Indigenous communities. Projects such as Arctic off-shore drilling and tar sands will have little long term benefit for the company, and expose it to reputational damage, political and financial risk, including litigation.
“The ACFN leadership has made a commitment to protect our lands, rights and people currently being threatened by tar sands development. Our leadership has repeatedly tried exploring amenable agreements and options with Shell regarding their current tar sands proposals for the Jackpine expansion and the Pierre River mine projects. We want to work directly with the company to adequately identify direct impacts and solutions. However, Shell has repeatedly denied our requests and we have been disappointed by their inability to make concessions to work with us,” stated Eriel Deranger, member and Communications Coordinator of the ACFN. “Today I brought forward our concerns to Shell’s Board about current and proposed tar sands projects and the lack of adequate consultation.[i] I sincerely hope the Board keeps its word to speak with their Canadian president to address our concerns and potentially adjust the environmental impact assessment process. If Shell continues to move forward in project development without working directly with our community it will continue to lead toward more delays in project approvals, litigation and severe financial risk for Shell,[ii]” continued Deranger. Continue reading
17 May 2013. Source: The Guardian
US National Strategy for the Arctic Region prioritises corporate ‘economic opportunities’ at the expense of everyone else
Shell’s drilling rig Kulluk aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, January 4, 2013. Photograph: Zachary Painter/USCG
One week ago, the Obama administration launched its National Strategy for the Arctic Region, outlining the government’s strategic priorities over the next 10 years. The release of the strategy came about a week after the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President at the White House Complex hosteda briefing with international Arctic scientists.
Despite giving lip service to the values of environmental conservation, the new document focuses on how the US can manage the exploitation of the region’s vast untapped oil, gas and mineral resources in cooperation with other Arctic powers.
US hinges success of Arctic strategy on diminishing sea ice
At the heart of the White House’s new Arctic strategy is an elementary but devastating contradiction between what President Obama, in the document’s preamble, describes as seeking “to make the most of the emerging economic opportunities in the region” due to the rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and recognising “the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable, and changing environment.” Continue reading
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project has always maintained that the only solution to prevent runaway climate chaos is to confront the root causes of the problem. Economic domination and the spread of neoliberalism, through free-trade agreements like NAFTA, are the driving forces preventing real solutions to climate change. These agreements, and the institutions like the WTO and World Bank that support them, have us in a chokehold of the entrenched powers of the global economic elite. GJEP has witnessed this dynamic of top-down control first hand, from the local level all the way to the halls of the UN climate negotiations. Until we cast away the chains of free trade agreements and the neoliberal doctrine, our communities will continue to suffer, pipelines or not.
-The GJEP Team
By Farron Cousins, May 13, 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
As the public anxiously awaits the U.S. State Department’s final decision on the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the discussion has largely ignored the elephant in the room: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)
Thanks to NAFTA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, the State Department will likely be able to do little more than stall the pipeline’s construction. In its simplest form, NAFTA removes barriers for North American countries wishing to do business in or through other North American countries, including environmental barriers. The goal of the agreement was to promote intra-continental commerce and help the economies of all involved in the agreement.
Before diving into NAFTA, it’s important to take a look at what the State Department and the media have done so far in regards to Keystone XL. Before she left office and was replaced by John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ties to the project were almost too many to count. Most notable was the fact that many of her former staffers and associates were lobbyists for Keystone, and they had a direct line into both Clinton and President Obama.
It is likely a result of these connections that the State Department’s environmental assessments were strikingly flawed and inadequate. As the NRDC pointed out, many of the so-called “standards” that the State Department put in place regarding the pipeline were simple “smoke and mirror” schemes to distract the public, and they failed to do their due diligence by considering alternative paths for the pipeline. Furthermore, climate impacts from operation and construction were almost completely ignored.
By Stephen Leahy, May 16, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Hubbard glacier in Seward, Alaska. Photo: Bigstock
Many eyes are turning north to the Arctic, some in horror at the rapid decline of a key component of our life support system, others in eager anticipation at the untapped resources beneath the vanishing snow and ice.
“I’ve worked in the north for 21 years and the scale and speed of change up there is astonishing,” said Douglas Clark of the University of Saskatchewan.
“These changes, taken as whole, and reflected in our report, keep me awake at night,” Clark told IPS.
Rapid and even abrupt changes are occurring on multiple fronts across the Arctic, according to the Arctic Resilience Report (ARR).
And what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.
“It’s the first international report to tell the world to buckle up, we’re on a wild roller coaster ride and we don’t know what’s coming,” he said.
May 16 2013. Source: Market Wired
Gitga’at First Nation reminds Enbridge that Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tanker project is not welcome in Gitga’at territory
HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA - The Gitga’at First Nation has instructed Enbridge to leave its territory after the company and a team of oil spill response surveyors showed-up uninvited, during the nation’s annual food harvesting camp, a time of rich cultural activity and knowledge sharing.
Enbridge representatives were instructed to leave Gitga’at council chambers and Gitga’at territory, Wednesday morning, after councillors voiced their displeasure at not being consulted on an Enbridge oil spill response survey.
The dust-up comes on the eve of final oral arguments before the Joint Review Panel, which is reviewing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
“Despite an ongoing review process, Enbridge has entered our territory and begun project work before their proposed oil tanker and pipeline project has even been approved,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “This is disrespectful to the Gitga’at First Nation, the review process, and the people of British Columbia, who oppose oil tankers in our coastal waters.” Continue reading
By Emilio Godoy, May 13 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Sea turtles are among the larger animal species whose reproduction was hurt by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS
MEXICO CITY – A group of Mexican citizens are preparing the first civil lawsuit in the Mexican courts against British oil company BP for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The plaintiffs are bringing the class action lawsuit under a 2011 reform of the Mexican constitution that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue as a group.
The civil lawsuit encompasses “damages to people living in the area or who own residential and commercial property along the coast, and people indirectly affected” by the spill, lawyer Óscar Preciado, with the law firm Rincón Mayorga Román Illanes Soto y Compañía, told IPS.
“Without a doubt, this will set an important precedent. Class action lawsuits have been brought, but in questions relating to consumer, rather than environmental, rights,” said the lawyer, whose firm is representing the plaintiffs. Continue reading
By Crysbel Tejada and Betsy Catlin, May 8 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence
From left: Casey, Dwain & Carter Camp at the opening ceremony of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance Action Camp, near Ponca City, Okla. Photo: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance/Girard Oz
On cloudy days, heavy smoke fills the air of Ponca City, Okla., with grey smog that camouflages itself into the sky. The ConocoPhillips oil refinery that makes its home there uses overcast days as a disguise to release more toxins into the air. These toxins are brimming with benzene — a chemical that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can cause leukemia, anemia and even decrease the size of women’s ovaries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 the ConocoPhillips refinery released over 2,000 pounds of this chemical into the air in Ponca City.
“Of the maybe 800 of us that live locally, we have averaged over the last five to seven years maybe one funeral a week,” explained Casey Camp-Horinek, a Ponca woman and longtime activist. “Where we used to have dances every week, now most people are in mourning.”
The refinery is located only 1,000 yards behind Standing Bear Park, which is named after the Ponca chief who, in 1877, led his people on their Trail of Tears, from the Ponca homelands in northern Nebraska to present day Oklahoma. But the park is more than a memorial to the distant past. In 1992, the oil giant’s tank farm spilled and contaminated ground water in a nearby predominantly Ponca neighborhood. As a result, ConocoPhillips agreed to purchase the contaminated land and tear down the 200 homes that were on it. In its place, the company built Standing Bear Park — a bitter testament to the Ponca people’s history of forced relocation and genocide. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Tar Sands
Note: After Obama’s visit to Mexico last week, we can rest assured that him and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto discussed sweeping 21st Century energy reform: Privatize the state owned oil company so multinationals can drill the living hell out of the land and the sea, all the while ensuring American corporations will have access to every last drop of oil and gas on the planet. Now that is some drastic energy reform!
-The GJEP Team
By Nick Miroff and William Booth, May 7, 2013. Source: Washington Post
An engineer opens valves on the Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) Bicentennial deep sea crude oil platform in the waters off Tamaulipas, Mexico. Photo: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg
It has been 75 years since President Lázaro Cárdenas seized the country’s foreign-dominated petroleum industry and placed every drop of oil under the everlasting domain of the Mexican people.
But while it once was a source of national pride, the state-run monopoly he created — known as Pemex — has become a dinosaur, sapped by debt, sagging output and dated technology. The Mexican government siphons off the company’s revenue to cover about one-third of the federal budget, leaving insufficient funds for what has become a critical task: finding more oil.
Mexico remains the third-largest source of foreign oil for the United States after Canada and Saudi Arabia. But the country’s easy-pump crude is quickly running dry, and the company lacks the technology and know-how to drill for the vast stores of tougher-to-reach deposits that are thought to exist beneath Mexico’s deserts and seas.
Fixing the company, Petroleos de Mexico, has become a top priority for Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto. With an overhaul plan expected by late summer, U.S. and other global energy companies are waiting to see whether Mexico will once more give outsiders a crack at the country’s hydrocarbon treasures, including the massive, virtually untapped beds of shale gas south of the Texas border.
By Sue Sturgis, May 5 2013. Source: Facing South
Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)
Clean energy opponents turned to dirty tactics this week at the North Carolina legislature to advance a bill repealing the state’s groundbreaking renewable power program.
In a contested vote that led to an outcry from Democrats, the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday advanced a measure to roll back the 2007 state lawrequiring electric utilities to generate a modest amount of energy from renewable sources including solar, wind, and livestock methane — 12.5 percent of total retail sales by 2021 and thereafter.
The vote brought back to life a bill that appeared near death in the House last week, when the Public Utilities Committeerejected companion legislation sponsored by its own chair, Republican Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County, in a bipartisan vote of 18-13.
Though Hager said he would keep bringing up his bill for re-votes in his committee, he didn’t this week, leading observers to assume he still doesn’t have support for passage. But the Senate version of the legislation, SB 365, was taken up later that day in the Finance Committee, whose members include Republican Sen. Andrew Brock of a Mocksville, a political consultant who is the bill’s sole sponsor. Continue reading
By Steve Horn, May 3, 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
Double-dipping is a “no go” in the real world of eating chips and salsa with a circle of friends but an everyday reality in the world of lobbyists and PR professionals.
Enter double-dipper Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director for President Barack Obama who now runs the firm SKDKnickerbocker (Squier Knapp Dunn), a firm that ”brings unparalleled strategic communications experience to Fortune 500 companies, political groups and candidates, non-profits, and labor organizations.”
Dip one: TransCanada Corporation, which SKDK does public relations work for, as revealed in an Oct. 2012 New York Times investigation. TransCanada is the multinational corporation currently building the contentious southern half of theKeystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline, following the dictates of a March 2012 Obama Administration Executive Order. Within months, the fate of the border-crossing Alberta to Port Arthur, TX KXL export pipeline will also likely be decided by the U.S. State Department.
Dip two: Another SKDKnickerbocker client is the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the American Petroleum Institute trade association equivalent for the freight rail industry. Even without KXL – as covered previously on DeSmogBlog - tar sands crude can be moved to targeted markets via freight rail (coupled with pipeline capacity increases of other tubes and potential barging along Lake Superior).