Thursday, September 27, 2012
"This is obviously a lot harder than what any of us underwent in the civil disobedience
outside the White House last fall that delayed the northern section of the pipeline a year.
In fact, it's hard to imagine -- handcuffing someone and then tasering them?"
In this issue:
- TransCanada, Police Go Postal Over Keystone XL Opposition
- North American Advocates Inspire European Youth to Campaign for a Clean Energy Future
- Tarsands Victory on the Horizon
- Don’t Miss Nikiforuk’s Energy of Slaves
- Law-Abiding Environmentalists Sue Over Gateway’s Impact on Species at Risk
- Dirty Oil Importers Should Have to Pay Their Fair Share of Damage Fund
- Canadian Ambassador Stumps for Keystone XL While Opposition Reaches Fever Pitch
- Artists, Indigenous Women Resist Northern Gateway
Protesters in East Texas got more than they were counting on when they tried to protect their tree-sitting companions in a courageous effort – part of a multi-faceted, nationwide campaign that involves landowners, Tea Partiers, Republicans, Democrats, and environmentalists alike – to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and develop a clean energy future for North America.
For the fourth day in a row, as many as twenty people from Tar Sands Blockade have installed themselves in a makeshift tree village 80-feet up in a grove of forest that TransCanada plans on obliterating to build their controversial tarsands pipeline. The arboreal sit-in is taking place on private land TransCanada wrested from its owner by threat of eminent domain, a tactic the company has used repeatedly to bully landowners from Nebraska to Texas.
But when Shannon Beebe and Benjamin Franklin locked themselves to the logging equipment headed toward their companions, TransCanada and the local police turned violent in their attempt to end the peaceful protest.
According to Tar Sands Blockade, TransCanada’s senior supervisors actively encouraged police to use aggressive pain compliance tactics on Beebe and Franklin, who were exercising their constitutional rights to nonviolent protest outside Winnsboro, Texas. Police used sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spray, and multiple uses of Tasers, all while blockaders where in handcuffs. Beebe and Franklin were arrested and released on $2000 bail each.
Ironically, it all took place on the same day the University of California was forced to pay $1 million to the peaceful protesters they pepper-sprayed at UC Davis last year.
“This is obviously a lot harder than what any of us underwent in the civil disobedience outside the White House last fall that delayed the northern section of the pipeline,” wrote Bill McKibben in HuffPo. “In fact, it's hard to imagine – handcuffing someone and then tasering them?”
The next day, with heavy machinery plowing through the forest toward the tree-sitters, four nonviolent blockaders stepped in front of the machines to protect their friends. Ignoring Federal safety regulations, the feller-buncher operator refused to turn off his machine, clear-cutting trees around the protestors while TransCanada supervisors video-taped his reckless behaviour. In an incident captured on video, it appears that the machine operator intentionally dropped a tree ground close enough to blockader J.G Jenson that he had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.
Is this the kind of company we want ensuring the health and safety along the route of a potentially dangerous pipeline?
CLEANING UP DIRTY OIL
It’s not just North Americans who are concerned about the impact of tarsands development on the climate. Push Europe, a pan-European campaign, puts pressure on polluters (including the tarsands) and builds a cross-European network on climate action.
According to Lucy Patterson in a recent interview with Responding to Climate Change, Push’s biggest achievement to date was its Tar Sands Action Day on May 5, 2012. Called “Stop Pushing Tar Sands,” Push held actions in nine different European countries and engaged with over 500 people.
“That was one of our main campaigns of this year,” said Patterson. “We used social media to get a real presence and to gain people’s interest. Some people did actual actions – at for example Shell garages, holding up banners – some people took a photo of themselves and sent it in; them holding up a ‘no tar sands’ sign.”
Patterson said Push was trying to build on the momentum of tarsands actions in the US that stopping the Keystone XL pipeline from bringing tar sands from going into the US. “We were trying to build on the momentum and interest in that,” she said, “and help stop tar sands from entering Europe.
Hyperion Resources’ proposed tarsands refinery in Elk Point, South Dakota, is on the ropes, and a knockout seems imminent. At least three of the landowners who had optioned their land for the refinery project refused to agree to a 30-day extension. And Hyperion officials did not make the annual payment outlined in the land option agreements, essentially terminating them.
“We’re just done,” one landowner told the Akron Hometower. “We’re tired of the project.”
Local opponents speculate Hyperion may have lost about 500 acres out of its 4,500-acre footprint. “It’s a pretty good-sized hole in the middle,” said one opponent who preferred to remain anonymous. “It’s been six years,” the person added. “What I smell on the wind is dead Gorilla.”
The launch of Andrew Nikiforuk's latest book, The Energy of Slaves, is set to take place on Friday, September 28, 2012 in Ottawa. If you happen to be in the (Canadian) Nation’s Capital that evening, it’s well worth attending.
Nikiforuk is one of Canada’s most heralded nonfiction writers, and he has been a fierce critic of the way the tarsands are being developed. His new book sets the battle by Big Oil to champion the development of this dirty form of hyrdocarbons in a greater historical perspective on energy, presenting a radical analysis of our master-and-slave relationship to energy and calling for change.
Nikiforuk will read from his book and then be interviewed by Mike De Souza, national political correspondent for the Postmedia chain of daily newspapers.
What: Book Launch for Andrew Nikiforuk's "The Energy of Slaves"
When: Friday, Sept 28 at 7:00 PM
Where: Octopus Books, 251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor.
CLEANING UP DIRTY PIPELINES
Unfortunately for Enbridge, its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to tankers on the B.C. coast, crosses both the Stewart and Endako rivers, home of an estimated 335 endangered Nechako white sturgeon. This revelation has reinvigorated calls for the adoption and implantation of the specie’s long-overdue recovery plan, first presented seven years ago but never implemented.
In essence, it appears federal Environment Minister Peter Kent’s neglect of the sturgeon’s well-being is breaking the government’s own Species At Risk Act (SARA), so EcoJustice and a coalition of conservation groups – including Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, the Sierra Club and Wildsight – are suing Kent to force the government to enforce its own legislation.
The recovery plan for this distinct sturgeon species was due August 15, 2009, but it has languished in draft form for seven years. Because it was never officially published, it has never offered the sturgeon the protection it deserves under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). “That [plan] creates an obligation on the government to ensure that the critical habitat of the white sturgeon is legally protected,” Susan Pinkus, a biologist for EcoJustice, told The Globe and Mail.
Northern Gateway also threatens the survival of other protected species, such as the marbled murrelet and the humpback whale, but the federal government has done little to protect them.
Tarsands crude may not be oil, but if there’s one thing Enbridge’s Kalamazoo tarsands spill showed us, it’s that it’s still a dangerously toxic substance that should require importers to pay into the U.S. Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
Last week, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and other House Democrats introduced the Tar Sands Tax Loophole Elimination Act to close an egregious tax loophole enjoyed by the oil industry that’s worth $35 million. Rep. Markey introduced this legislation following an ill-informed decision by the Internal Revenue Service, and a subsequent admission to Rep. Markey by the U.S. Treasury Department, that this loophole needed Congressional action to fix.
If anything, tarsands importers and pipeliners should have to pay more into the fund than their light crude counterparts. "The key issue is, is tar sands crude oil?...When it comes to taxes, [the industry] get[s] to make the argument that tar sands isn't crude oil," Anthony Swift, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council who has spent years advocating for better pipeline safety, told Inside Climate News. "But when it comes to the safety of moving tar sands in pipelines, they say it's just like crude oil."
Enbridge’s 2010 Kalamazoo tarsands spill in Michigan, which has cost almost $1 billion to clean up, proved that bitumen crude is more difficult and expensive to cleanup than conventional crude oil. Because of its unique properties, crude derived from tarsands bitumen had to be cleaned up at every level of the river, from the top of the river to the bottom, where it sunk into the sediment.
While scientists document a stunning reduction in Arctic sea ice, and opponents to Keystone XL are tortured in Texas, Canada's ambassador to the United States continues to stump for the climate-altering tarsands industry and the pipelines that would export their dirty cargo abroad. According to Counterpunch, Ambassador Gary Doer spoke at Washington D.C.’s Johns Hopkins University last week to support tar sands oil and the Keystone XL pipeline Calgary-based TransCanada hopes to build to transport oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the U.S.
Meanwhile, opposition to Doer’s beloved Keystone XL reaches fever pitch. Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas continues to oppose the building of the pipeline, including arrests and allegations of “torture” by police”, while a National Wildlife Federation blog documents the growing opposition from landowners along the route.
In fact, landowners have taken out a new ad to know whose side U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer and Senator Bob Kerrey are on when it comes to property rights and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
When will TransCanada get the message that, "No Means No"?
In Canada, advocates for an “oil-free coast” continue their full-court press. Artists for an Oil-Free Coast have posted a sneak peek at the 22-minute documentary, Art for an Oil-Free Coast, on Vimeo. The book is slated to appear in November.
She Speaks: Indigenous Women Speak Out Against Tar Sands is taking the show on the road, scheduling three shows in Ontario.
To build ties of solidarity and resistance, and to create a broad base on informed support, She Speaks is being organized in Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver) and in Ontario. Speakers include Crystal Lameman, a Beaver Lake Cree First Nation activist and the Peace River tar sands campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network in Alberta; Melissa Elliott, co-founder of Young Onkwehonwe United, and a youth activist from the Haudenosaunee Territory of Six Nations; Vanessa Gray, a youth organizer from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, a community that has been named the most polluted place in North America by the National Geographic Society; and Suzanne Dhaliwal, co-founder of the UK Tar Sands Network, which works in solidarity with the Indigenous Environmental network to campaign against UK corporations and financial institutions invested in the Alberta Tar Sands.
This event is organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network. IEN is an alliance of grassroots Indigenous Peoples whose mission is to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, maintaining, and respecting traditional teachings and natural laws. For more information, visit www.ienearth.org or write to email@example.com.
Finally, Defend Our Coasts is asking anyone and everyone to descend on Victoria, BC to participate in the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on the climate issue that Canada has ever seen. The action will take place on October 22, 2012, so put the date in your calendar and book your ticket to have your voice heard to protect BC’s heralded coastline from dirty oil spills.