Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 1, 2011

Indigenous Peoples: Civil disobedience to halt dirty Tar Sands pipeline in US

At the Protecting Mother Earth Gathering in North Dakota, First Nations activists announce civil disobedience to halt dirty Tar Sands pipeline in US

Article and photo by Brenda Norrell
Censored News

NEW TOWN, North Dakota --The resistance to the dirty Tar Sands announced plans for civil disobedience in Washington to send a message to the Obama Administration to halt a plan for use of the dirtiest oil on the planet, which threatens natural resources and humanity in North America, including Indian country.

Speaking at the Protecting Mother Earth Gathering, Clayton Thomas Muller said civil disobedience is planned for Washington to challenge the Obama Administration and US State Department, now presiding over a key decision regarding dirty oil from the tar sands pipeline, the proposed TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline.

Muller said if this pipeline is allowed to proceed from Canada to the Gulf Coast, it would cross sacred lands and endanger Indian country resources, including the Lakota aquifer.

“It is an absolutely insane plan, especially in a time of climate change,” Muller said, adding that already Gulf Coast industries are getting ready for this dirty oil.

Muller spoke to Indigenous Peoples gathered from as far away as Guatemala, Mexico and Canada, at the Indigenous Environmental Network’s 16th Annual Protecting Mother Earth Gathering, July 28-31, 2011, in New Town, North Dakota, which included two workshops on halting destruction from the Alberta Tar Sands.

Navajos came who are fighting coal-fired power plants and the draining of their aquifers by Peabody Coal, while Wixarika (Huicholes) came to join forces to halt mining by First Majestic Silver Corp. in Vancouver, BC, from destroying their sacred mountains.

The Gathering was held on the land of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, where local Native Americans are fighting a plan approved by the BIA for 3,000 oil and gas wells. Already, the air, water and land are devastated here by massive oil and gas wells, with drilling, truck traffic and an explosion of oil and gas workers, wrecking the environment, economy and daily lives of the people.
With the goal of shutting down the fossil fuel industries and halting the dirty Tar Sands in Alberta, and its pipeline in the US, Muller spoke of the recent victory for the Caribou.

In Canada, Federal Court Judge Justice Peter Crampton gave Environment Minister Peter Kent until Sept. 1 to release his promised national recovery plan for the caribou. Justice Crampton said the federal government must revisit its refusal to issue an emergency order aimed at protecting the endangered caribou in the Alberta oil sands region, the Edmonton Journal reported.

Earlier, the minister failed First Nations and concluded that there are no imminent threats from the oil sands to the national recovery of boreal caribou.

In the US, US Congressman Alcee Hastings warned that “the risk of an oil spill from these tar sands pipelines is very real," according to the Globe and Mail.

“The oil eats away the pipelines, compromising them and leading to frequent spills,” he said during a debate on the proposed TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast if it is approved. That echoes a February report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an influential U.S. environmental group, which called oil sands crude a “highly corrosive, acidic, and potentially unstable” substance that “may be putting America’s public safety at risk.”

Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation at Fort McMurray, said earlier that the decisions by Alberta's Department of Sustainable Resource Development, headed by Minister Mel Knight, threatens Treaty Rights of traditional hunting, trapping and gathering.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said in a statement that the “provincial government consistently fails to meet even our basic needs when it comes to air, land and water within the region and fails to meaningfully engage First Nations in land management decisions in accordance with our aboriginal and Treaty Rights."
"Until Alberta makes meaningful efforts to protect land, regulate industry and ensure that First Nations are at the table as full partners to develop solutions to the serious environmental challenges that government and industry are creating, they can count on our opposition to further development within the region.”

In Canada, First Nation's Leslie Cardinal said, “The government of Canada formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a manner that is consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws. The UN Declaration is clear that Indigenous people have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations.
The Beaver Lake Cree Nation launched a massive civil lawsuit claiming unbridled oil and gas development in their traditional territory renders their treaty rights meaningless.

The statement of claim lists more than 15,000 approved or proposed developments in their traditional lands, near Lac La Biche. The band said “developments have forced band members out of traditional areas, degraded the environment and caused a decline in wildlife, making it impossible for them to meaningfully exercise their Treaty 6 rights to hunt, trap and fish,” the Edmonton Journal reported.
The crude oil that is pulled from Canada’s oil sands is thick and heavy, a black tar-like substance that takes large amounts of energy and effort to make into end products like gasoline and diesel. Even some people in the Alberta energy industry describe it as “nasty” stuff, the Globe and Mail reported

Oil sands extraction projects threaten the land when the bitumen is initially mined with large deposits of toxic chemicals. The oil sands extraction threatens the water during the separation process and through the drainage of rivers. Further, the air is polluted due to the release of carbon dioxide and other emissions. Additional indirect environmental effects from the petroleum products are produced when they are burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Heavy metals are present in oil sands, according to Wikipedia.

1 comment:

WhiteHatLawyer said...

Here in Tucson, Arizona, we are fighting the "Canadian" (Korean) Augusta Resources that wants to replace the Santa Rita Mountains with an open pit copper mine and waste precious water by the millions of gallons to wash ore. We must all rally for each other and the earth!