Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Activists block tar sands mining

Greenpeace activists block giant tar sands mining operation
September 15, 2009

Activists have blockaded a giant three story high truck and crane in the open pit mining operation. Now, activists have climbed on the truck and the crane and are locked inside the cabs of both vehicles. Both have stopped operations.

Read Articles Below:
Message to Obama and Harper: Climate leaders don't buy tar sands
Rainforest Action Network: Harper Go Home!
British environmentalists link with natives to fight oil sands

Message to Obama and Harper: Climate leaders don’t buy tar sands
15 September 2009
(Fort McMurray, Alberta)—On the eve of the Harper-Obama meeting in Washington D.C., about 20 daring Greenpeace activists have locked down and blockaded a giant dump truck and shovel at Shell’s massive Albian Sands open-pit mine in northern Alberta to send the message that the tar sands are a global climate crime that must be stopped.
Activists from Canada, the United States and France entered the mine site, about 60 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, at 7:30 a.m. They blockaded a giant three-storey dump truck and hydraulic shovel by chaining together pick-up trucks. Two teams then scaled the truck and shovel and chained themselves to them, while another team placed giant banners on the tarry ground reading, “Tar Sands: Climate Crime.”
“Greenpeace has come here today, to the frontiers of climate destruction to block this giant mining operation and tell Harper and Obama meeting tomorrow that climate leaders don’t buy tar sands” said Mike Hudema, Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner, from inside the blockade. “The tar sands are a devastating example of how our future will look unless urgent action is taken to protect the climate.”
Canada is now the number one exporter of oil to the US, most of which is dirty tar sands oil. The climate crimes of tar sands development—rising energy intensity, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and Boreal forest destruction—are leading the world to climate chaos.The world’s oil addiction has turned the tar sands into the biggest industrial project on the planet, occupying an area the size of England. Tar sands GHG emissions, already nearing those of Norway, could soon more than triple to 140 million tonnes a year.
At that point they would equal or exceed the current emissions of Belgium, a county of 10 million, as outlined in a Greenpeace report by award winning author Andrew Nikiforuk released this week.
These numbers account only for the production of tar sands oil, and do not account for the massive additional GHG impact of burning the fuel. “The tar sands are at the leading edge of climate chaos. Climate leadership from President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and other world leaders means abandoning the dirty oil that is pushing our planet to climate collapse and forging a green energy economy and a healthy world for our children.”
Today’s action targeted Shell, but other major companies including BP, Suncor, Syncrude, ExxonMobil, Total and StatoilHydro run tar sands operations that put them at the forefront of oil addiction.Urgent action on the climate must be front and centre at the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December. With fewer than 90 days left to the most important climate negotiations in history, Greenpeace is calling on world leaders to end to the climate catastrophe that is the Alberta tar sands and to commit to deep emissions cuts at Copenhagen.
“World leaders need to turn away from the dirtiest oil on the planet and embrace clean energy alternatives” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo.
“Until they do, oil interests will continue to dominate and Canada will continue to obstruct crucial international climate talks like those in Copenhagen.”Through its KYOTOplus campaign, Greenpeace Canada is working to convince the Harper government to become a leader at the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December.At the time of this release, all activists were still in place.
High res photos and video will be up shortly at
For more information, please contact:Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace media and public relations officer, (778) 228-5404Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner (780) 504-5601 (at the blockade)Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, (780) 504-5567For ongoing calls to action and updates on the Indigenous Environmental Network's Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign visit our website or contact:
Clayton Thomas-Mueller 2-94 Charlotte ST.Ottawa Ontario K1N 8K2
Canada Ph: (613) 789-5653 or contact the IEN Main Office at Ph: (218) 751-4967Email:

Rainforest Action Network: Harper Go Home
Posted here by Brant in RAN General
on September 15th, 2009
Before dawn this morning, a small team of climate activists is rapelling from the US observation deck at Niagara Falls. Dangling hundreds of feet above the ground, they’re sending a special welcome message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ahead of his first official visit to the White House.bannerNot that he’s feeling so welcome anyway. Obama is limiting the meeting to just one hour. While the Canadian press is calling it a slap in the face, aides say Harper will turn the other cheek.
“The economy, and the clean-energy dialogue,” one aide told the Globe and Mail, “will dominate the discussions.”Astute followers of cross-border relations will understand the code. Long on hope and short on specifics the so-called “clean energy dialogue” is actually a diplomatic marriage of convenience. Obama needs to dodge the sticky issue of oil imports from Canada’s tar sands in the midst of the Climate Legislation debate. Harper needs a story to go with his photo-op ahead of a tough election.
Announced last February, the dialogue features carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as its centerpiece. Global warming pollution from coal and tar sands “can be solved by technology,” declared Obama. Not to be outdone, Harper’s office announced that “A strengthened U.S.-Canada partnership on carbon sequestration will help accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale, near-zero-carbon coal facilities to promote climate and energy security.”Half a year and billions of wasted tax dollars later, though, CCS is still a pipe dream.
FutureGen, North America’s supposed proving ground for the unproven technology, can’t keep private investors to save it’s life. Two of its biggest private backers, Southern Co. and AEP, jumped ship last June. Around the same time, sponsors lowered the goal-post on the project to just 60% less carbon. So much for near-zero-carbon facility.
Meanwhile, Harper’s tar sands loom like a dark cloud. With conventional oil supplies on the decline globally, Canada’s tar sands region is the oil industry’s last stand. Producers expect production to double by 2025. If so, the region is projected to produce more global warming than many European Austria and Ireland–smashing any hope for Canada to meet its climate obligations.No matter. Harper is back, hat in hand, looking for legislative handouts to an industry destined to ruin the climate.So here’s our welcome to you, Prime Minister Harper.
Now, please, go home.
And take your dirty tar sands with you.
For full coverage, visit
Brant D. Olson
Rainforest Action Network
221 Pine St. #500 San Francisco, CA 94104
phone> 415.659.0514 415.596.6581 415.398.2732

British environmentalists link with natives to fight oil sands
Kevin Libin, National Post
Published: Friday, September 11, 2009
It began much the same way as the annual three-day Beaver Lake Cree pow-wow typically does. The beating of drums, the rise and fall of singing voices, a parade of dancers, young and old, in shawls and skins; young, spinning girls shaking kaleidoscope-coloured jingle dresses. Then came the bankers, trying to keep up with some kind of two-step, their British complexion, ties and corduroy slacks mingling awkwardly with the ruddy, sun-kissed native faces and the riot of colourful feathers and fabrics.
"There is very little doubt I look like a pillock - but who's watching?" one of the Brits would later laugh at himself.If they looked or felt out of place, it's because, in many ways, they were. The two bankers had travelled 17 hours this July, bringing along British journalists, including a BBC crew, to use the Cree ceremony as part of the U.K.-based Co-operative Bank's publicity campaign to stop oil sands development. They had never been here before, but had in the months prior read unflattering things about Northern Alberta's oil play. Colin Baines, ethics and campaign advisor at the bank, one of the visitors to the pow wow, says he was disturbed enough by what he heard to make it the Co-op's priority to campaign against the industry.
And so the bank, which habitually uses a portion of members' earnings toward so-called social justice causes (slogan: "Good with Money"), teamed up with the U.K.'s World Wildlife Fund and launched a campaign aimed at stopping Alberta's oil sands.
Along the way, Mr. Baines stumbled across the story of the Beaver Lake Cree, a little First Nation suing the government to suspend oil sands development."Having a bit of a chat to Chief Al Lameman and some of the councilors ... it all just fitted perfectly with the Co-operative's values and ethos, so we thought, ‘Right, these would make a great campaign partner,' " he says. On the bank's website, alongside damning reports and form letters where British voters can write their MPs demanding laws requiring corporations to report "carbon risk," making oil sands investment less attractive, Mr. Baines has installed a page devoted to telling the plight of the Beaver Lake Cree.
Yet, the band is fighting a rather different battle over the oil sands than the bank's anti-carbon crusade: it claims it hasn't been sufficiently consulted, as the law requires, about industrial permitting in their area, and the disruption to wildlife migration patterns by the drilling and seismic activity infringes on their treaty hunting rights.
"The court case of the Beaver Lake Cree nation is about the habitat destruction caused by the tarsands development," says Jack Woodward, the B.C.-based lawyer representing the Beaver Lake Cree. "The Co-operative Bank, and maybe other people who are concerned about climate change, are concerned about the carbon release from the tarsands development. So for different reasons they support the same action.
"Were the oil sands to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow, it would not help his clients, Mr. Woodard acknowledges. Nor would a settlement between the Beaver Lake Cree and Canadian governments do anything to satisfy the European bank's complaints over carbon emissions.Nevertheless, the Co-op Bank has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to back the Beaver Lake Cree's lawsuit. In return, members of the First Nation star in the bank's anti-oil-sands videos, and at their rallies in London, where Chief Lameman wears his headdress, posing among banners reading "Toxic Fuels: Stop Expansion Now." It is a symbiotic arrangement: The two groups may have different goals, but share a common enemy in industry. That, it appears, will suffice.An anti-oil-sands partnership between a bank in Manchester, England, and a small Alberta First Nation may seem unlikely, but it's part of an increasing alliance between international environmental crusaders and Canadian aboriginals.
"It's a diffident marriage," says Andrew Nikiforuk, an environmental lobbyist and author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. "Environmental groups by definition tend to be white folks in big cities and First Nations are generally poor folks living in rural Canada, and so I think it would be fair to say that their agendas have rarely corresponded. But they have met in the tarsands, though still to a limited degree."It's not hard to see the benefit for European environmental groups in putting the historically disadvantaged face of Canadian aboriginals on their campaigns. A key challenge of selling the urgency of the climate-change issue is that it has historically existed abstractly, with doomful warnings, but minimal evidence of any human toll."I think it's a little bit hard to visualize carbon emissions, but when you can actually see toxic tailing ponds and how it can leach into the water that you're drinking, that has an effect," says Melina Lubicon-Massimo, a campaigner for Greenpeace in Alberta and a Lubicon Cree. "People are starting to realize how their quality of life can be impacted from this development, and the air quality and the water quality."
Last month, the U.K.-based environmentalist group PLATFORM helped arrange for members of the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, who live downstream of oil sands operations, to travel to Climate Camp in London, England, where together they protested against BP and Shell investing in Alberta. The natives appalled their European hosts with stories of allegedly poisoned water, contaminated fish, and the cancers and diseases they suffer from being so near to the oil sands.Carrying banners reading, "Tar Sands Oil is Blood Oil," the "indigenous tribespeople," as one U.K. report described them, exhorted the crowd: "When I say ‘BP,' you say, ‘Criminal!'"With their aim of denormalizing the oil sands, it helps both groups that most people overseas remain unfamiliar with the nuances of what Canadians know to be a complex debate, or that a number of native and environmentalist claims remain hotly disputed.
"I knew nothing a half hour ago," one fellow who stopped to take in the natives' protest confessed to reporters covering the demonstration. Nonetheless, he said what he had learned about the oil sands in that short time was "soul destroying."In a recent study for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, University of Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan suggests that while environmental groups worldwide have begun attacking oil-sands development, they lack a presence in the very place they're targeting. It only makes sense, then, for environmental groups to team up with "dissident First Nations" (as opposed to bands that support the industry for prosperity it has brought north) to fight the oilpatch on its own turf, he predicts.
In fact, earlier this year, the Indigenous Environmental Network teamed up with Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network to offer an "Action Camp" to environmentalists, where attendees travelled to Fort McMurray and learned to build sweatlodges, make bannock and prepare wild game, while taking in seminars on "Tar Sands 101" and "non-violent direct action strategy."
Environmentalists abroad are a particularly receptive audience, says George Poitras, a former chief of the Mikisew Cree in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., and now the band's consultation co-ordinator. He was a speaker at London's Climate Camp, and a number of non-governmental organizations are helping arrange for him to join a speaking tour at universities across Europe this fall. Click here to read the rest of the article.

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