Archive for the 'Oceans' Category

Endbridge – Why The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal And All Tar Sands Expansion From Alberta To The B.C. West Coast Will Be Stopped In Its Tracks By The Unity Of Indigenous Nations

Endbridge – Why The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal And All Tar Sands Expansion From Alberta To The B.C. West Coast Will Be Stopped In Its Tracks By The Unity Of Indigenous Nations

If you have ever driven on most of the northern highways in northern Alberta you will be presented with a picture of a tame prairie terrain, with sprawling fields and farms holding cows and the occasional conventional oil pump jack. A few kilometers on any of the gravel access roads however and you will see a much more bleaker picture of out of control industrialization and poisoning of the land. This is unless of course you witness the tar sands machines of death on Highway 63 near Fort McMurray and Fort McKay, or the massive underground mining operations in the Peace River and Cold Lake regions disrupting and contaminating underground water. What most modern thinkers fail to understand is thousands years of history from the ancestors of Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Nakoda and Metis people. Living nations of people who simply cannot afford the luxury of packing up and moving as settlers when there is no longer work. These lands are home to these nations and are not sacrifice zones. And like a deadly contagious all-consuming disease, what has been done to Alberta by the oil industry cannot be allowed to spread to other parts of the world killing indigenous ways of life and jeopardizing the future for all.

Enbridge, and the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands Gigaproject, is attempting to retrace the steps taken by the Hudson’s Bay Company with classic colonial strategy. The Hudson’s Bay Company was the first corporation on Turtle Island, here in North America. The Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading forts also became the first settler governments for the British Empire. In Alberta, the first settlement and colonial government in Alberta was in Fort Chipewyan, which would today is seen as the international poster community for a Cree, Dene and Metis community directly impacted by 40 years of out of control open pit tar sands mining. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is renewing a pipeline proposal and expansions originally proposed nearly 10 years ago and is supported by the Stephen Harper Conservative Canadian Government.

Just one week after the largest oil pipeline spill in Alberta in 30 years in unceded Lubicon Cree Territory, a spill that took six days for the Alberta government to respond in a half-assed, indifferent manner, starting with faxing a one-page “fact sheet” update about the disaster, a large contingent from the Yinka Dene Alliance from the northwest interior of B.C. were arriving in Calgary to confront Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project and tanker traffic.

On May 11th, 2011, on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Calgary, Alberta, a historic solidarity statement of opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal was signed by leaders of the Blood Tribe, Alexander First Nation, Lubicon Lake Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sai’kuz First Nation, Nadleh Whuten, Takla Lake First Nation and the Nakazdli First Nation.

The day after the Enbridge AGM a rally was held in Prince Rupert, B.C. on May 12th, outside a meeting sponsored by Enbridge for the Northern BC Municipalities Convention. With a historic turn-out of over 500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of the island of Lach Kaien, known in the mainstream society as Prince Rupert, publicly and loudly demonstrating their opposition to the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline proposal as well as any tar sands tanker traffic that would support the industry of dirty crude oil and liquid condensate.

Lach Kaien, or Prince Rupert, is known to the Tsimshian as the “Cradle of Tsimshian Civilization,” according to a hereditary chief of the Gits’iis tribe, Sm’ooygit Nisyaganaat. The Prince Rupert Harbor contains the most dense archaelogical sites north of Mexico City and is the second deepest harbor in the world. Lach Kaien is surrounded by Tsimshian communities traditionally comprised of 11 Tsimshian villages, as well as neighboring nations from the Haida, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Gitksan, Nisga’a, Tahltan, and Tlingit. To this day the indigenous population of the town of Prince Rupert is still between 40-50%, with all industries heavily dependent upon the commerce, labor and resources of Indigenous coastal nations.

A few coastal communities however have not yet made a clear position on whether or not to support the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project and any western tar sands crude oil expansion. These include among the largest of coastal communities of Lach hlgu K’alaams (Lax Kw’Alaams) or Port Simpson, and Gitkxaahla (Kitkatla), where the still active traditional laws and feasting systems of hereditary chiefs is still strong and holds much influence over the non-surrendered tribal territories in the region of Prince Rupert, Hecate Strait, and the Skeena and Nass Rivers.

These are nations still waiting to awaken to take their place and decide for themselves what is allowed into the lands and waters of nations that have lived and thrived on this edge of the world for thousands of years. To uphold the traditional laws and protocols of respect and responsibilities known as Ayaawk and Gugwiltx Yaans and not be steered by any settler government, environmental group, or any funding body with non-Indigenous agendas. Especially is true that Indigenous grassroots leaders are still fighting the oppression of the Indian Act system and the federal Canadian employees of many Band Councils maintaining the silencing of traditional hereditary leadership systems through which the sole jurisdiction of all territories flows through.

Indigenous lands and waters are to be spoken for and by Indigenous minds and communities. Enbridge Northern Gateway, and all tar sands pipelines and expansions such as the Kinder Morgan TMX Northern Leg Extension, the Pembina Pipeline, the PNG KSL Pipeline, the Kitimat and Prince Rupert Liquid Natural Gas Terminals, and the Prince Rupert “New World” Container Ports are just a few of the many modern obstacles in the path of standing up the original structures and ways of life with which to free Indigenous nations on this edge of the world.

Links to the rally and demonstration held in Lach Kaien and declarations of war against Enbridge -

Statement of Solidarity of Indigenous Nations opposed to Enbridge Northern Gateway -

May 10th, 2011 – Calgary, Alberta, territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy

Our Nations are bound together by the water which is our lifeblood. We have protected our lands and waters since time immemorial, each according to our laws and traditions. The waters of Indigenous peoples throughout the lands known as western Canada are being threatened by fossil fuel exploitation and transportation.

We exercise our rights to sustain our cultural and economic well-being. The laws of each of our peoples are deeply embedded in our cultures and practices. These laws have never been extinguished and our authority continues in our lands. Our peoples continue to live by them today.

We have come together on May 10, 2011 in the city of Calgary, Alberta, in the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, to declare to the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, as well as Enbridge Inc., all of its subsidiary bodies, and the domestic and international financial institutions supporting Enbridge, THE FOLLOWING:

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tankers project will expose Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities from the Pacific Coast across to Alberta to the risk of pipeline and supertanker oil spills, just as we have seen recently with Enbridge’s massive spill in Michigan, the recent devastating spill in Lubicon Cree territory, the recent TransCanada pipeline spill in North Dakota, as well as the effects of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster. Tar sands bitumen has been demonstrated to corrode pipelines more rapidly than conventional oil, increasing the likelihood of catastrophic spills. Given the seismic volatility of the region, the recent earthquake in Japan also underlies our grave concerns about the risk of oil spills.

The urgency of global climate change, and the fact that Indigenous peoples are among those most impacted by climate change, also compels us to act.

We have witnessed the Coastal First Nations Declaration banning crude oil tankers on the Pacific North Coast, and the Save the Fraser Declaration banning crude oil transportation through the Fraser River watershed. Each of these Declarations is based in Indigenous law and is an expression of Indigenous decision-making authority.

Enbridge states that it intends to proceed with its Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers, with or without First Nations consent. A decision by Canada to approve this project, without the free, prior and informed consent of affected Nations, will be a violation of our Treaties, our rights, and our laws, and will be in breach of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international accords.

THEREFORE we stand in solidarity with the Coastal First Nations, and the Nations who have signed the Save the Fraser Declaration, and are united in stating that Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tanker project, as well as other fossil fuel development projects including Keystone XL, must not proceed without obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of all affected First Nations.

AND FURTHER if such consent is not obtained, no construction of such projects shall proceed.

SIGNED in the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, at the city of Calgary, May 10 2011

Sai’kuz First Nation

Nadleh Whut’en

Takla Lake First Nation

Nakazdli First Nation

Blood Tribe

Alexander First Nation

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation

Lubicon Lake Nation

UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!

Moratorium in Nagoya!
Nagoya, Japan: News Release | 29 October 2010 |

Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments.   “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure  that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environmental and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts risks have been appropriately considered as well as the socio-economic impacts. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures. Continue reading ‘UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!’

Booms, Boats, and Insider Trading

Cross-posted from on behalf of Lauren Ressler

A bleary eyed crew of Seattle University students began the day in much the same way they would at home: with a fresh cup of coffee. We had arranged an early meeting with an official from the Department of Homeland Security who had been stationed at the Unified Command Center on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain since late April, soon after the rig sank. He spent two hours briefing us on everything from the early response, to the BP Deepwater Horizon’s distress signals, to the current status of the remediation process.

Here are just a few of the key points we gleaned from this informative conversation:

  • We began by first discussing the containment efforts by BP and the government. This complex topic included a breakdown of the timeline from the initial responses to the distress calls and the difficulties faced assessing the situation in the first days when sediment stirred up by the rig was impeding visibility of the remote operated vehicles (ROVs). The DHS official admitted that the boom, which was a focal point of the media throughout the 24/7 coverage, was primarily a cosmetic solution that did not have much success sequestering oil.
  • Our conversation then turned to details of the “vessels of opportunity” hired by BP that employed local fishermen, shrimpers, and what would become anyone with a boat to collect oil with booms and skimmers. Any boat over thirty-five feet in length was compensated $2,500.00 a day plus fuel costs. A more modest compensation of $1,700.00 was given to boats under 35 feet in length plus fuel costs. This ad hoc contracting was important as it allowed fishermen to earn a wage while their primary means of income were inaccessible due to fishery closures and oil encroachment on habitat. However, as the fisheries reopened and these people began to return to work, they found that it was more and more difficult to turn a profit due in part to concerns of hydrocarbon contamination in the seafood. We will be speaking to members of the fishing and shrimping community later on in the week to examine what this process was like from their perspective.
  • After this assessment of the ecological and social effects of the oil disaster, we began a deeper discussion of the national implications of both the spill and containment attempts on financial markets. As mentioned before, many national and local entities were involved and working at the Unified Command Center. However, a somewhat unexpected agency turned up proving to hold high stakes in the issue surrounding the eventual containment of the oil. Anticipating the potential for improper gains in stock trading, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) set up shop at the UCC to monitor all correspondence and communication within the command center to ensure there was no insider trading being leaked from within the central hub of command.

Obviously much more was covered in this lengthy conversation, but so as not to overwhelm audience, we will be discussing many other issues that arose during the conversation in posts to follow. This account was delivered candidly, and with first hand experiences of many aspects of the clean up efforts. While many have criticized the efforts of the Unified Command throughout its tenure, it is important to remember it was staffed by dedicated individuals working 16-20 hour days for over three months as these tragic events unfolded.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Do You Really Want to Support Offshore Drilling for SC?

Charleston, SCYesterday, July 20th, on the three-month anniversary of the oil disaster in the Gulf, two Carolinians hung banners at the Daughters of Confederacy building in Charleston’s old city to express concern over Senator Lindsey Graham’s continued support of offshore drilling for South Carolina. “Drilling off the coast of South Carolina directly threatens the low country lifestyle central to South Carolina heritage and culture. A single oil spill could destroy our precious coastal environments, not to mention the shrimping, fishing, tourism and real estate industries,” said Todd Zimmer, one of the demonstrators.

Tourism is South Carolina’s biggest industry, bringing in $18.4 billion last year;  should a spill occur like those in the Gulf, in Alaska or in China, this industry would  certainly take a major hit. Meanwhile, Senator Graham has taken over $50,000 from dirty energy corporations in the past year alone. The two asked Senator Graham to stand with people not polluters by giving back his dirty energy campaign contributions and supporting a shift in fossil fuel handouts to clean energy investments.

In 2005, Senator Graham recognized the dangers of offshore drilling. He said that he agreed “offshore drilling would be a detriment to our economy along the coast” and that offshore drilling was “the easy way out” and did not address “the fundamental problem with fossil fuels.” But in 2008, Senator Graham flipflopped to support offshore drilling, describing the South Carolina coast as a “cash cow.”

The two Carolinians, affiliated with Rising Tide North America and the Energy Action Coalition, handed out fliers and urged citizens and tourists to call Senator Graham’s office. Many did so on the spot, telling the office “we liked the Senator better when he protected our state’s low country by opposing offshore drilling.”

Government Failing, Communities Succeeding

It has officially been over three months since the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill started in the Gulf of Mexico.  In that time President Barack Obama has appointed an oil spill team, met with BP executives, gone to Louisiana, and addressed the nation.  He’s even appointed an Oil Spill Team to handle the crisis.  Granted, none of this has stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf, but it at least gives the impression that Obama is committed to solving this climate crisis and preventing similar events from happening in the future.  That we have a leader committed to environmental justice and corporate accountability for BP.  How I wish that this were the case.

In his address to the nation President Obama stated that he had frozen all off shore oil drilling permits for at least six months in order for new and better regulations to be created and implemented.  It was music to my ears.  Finally someone was realizing that regulation of business is sometimes necessary to protect both people and the planet.  However, recently it has been revealed that the Obama administration has approved plans by both BP and Shell Oil to drill a total of 11 exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas above Alaska.  Wait, WHAT?  We’re granting more permits to the very same company that has destroyed peoples lives, work, and ecological treasures in the Gulf?  We’re allowing them to potentially ruin the Alaska wilderness?  Really?  Is our government incapable of understanding that a fossil fuel economy is no longer justifiable?  When will our government finally wake up?  After every ecological treasure in the country is destroyed and everyone is jobless?

Luckily for humanity, communities and activists are working on solutions to protect people and the planet. Continue reading ‘Government Failing, Communities Succeeding’

Snapshots from before the spill

A few years ago I had what I thought was a brief minor life tangent– a stint organizing against industrial offshore fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico. It was, I reasoned, a breather from youth climate organizing that would take me somewhat closer to my former life in marine biology.  I didn’t expect then that those experiences would ever come anywhere near the pages of itsgettinghotinhere.  But here we are.

Continue reading ‘Snapshots from before the spill’

Hundreds Stage BP “Citizen’s Arrest” – Demonstrate the Power of the People

Cross-posted from

“We want safe jobs and clean energy
No more oil spills – Arrest BP!”

Was the thunderous chant echoing off the monolithic walls of BP’s DC headquarters today when hundreds of protestors turned out in force to deliver them a “Crude Awakening.” From the mouth of our megaphones BP got a strong dose of people power as we rallied and called for a “Citizens Arrest” of CEO Tony Hayward on the charges of criminal negligence.

More than a dozen network news cameras captured our outrage at BP’s criminal negligence to prevent and stop the unfolding disaster in the Gulf. (Check out the initial report from ABC News). Under the hot sun the energy of the crowd was palatable as we chanted and carried images of BP CEO Tony Hayward in a striped prison jumpsuit.

I MC’ed as speakers from Public Citizen, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Hip Hop Caucus (video) read aloud the charges against BP that included: polluting the political process, disregard for worker safety, price-gouging consumers and taxpayers, and violations of environmental laws.

The timing of the action couldn’t have been better; this week Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was opening a criminal probe of the oil giant. Holding BP criminally accountable is a bold step toward ensuring that the families on the Gulf get compensation for the vast damages to their lively-hoods.

Continue reading ‘Hundreds Stage BP “Citizen’s Arrest” – Demonstrate the Power of the People’

I was shocked, once again, as I witnessed the lackadaisical cleanup efforts of the BP oil spill.

Last week, Brinkley Hutchings reported what she saw as she flew over the Gulf oil spill for her first time. Watch an astonishing aerial video of the slick shot by John Wathen as they flew from Brinkley’s home to the source of the spill and back on May 7th.  She flew over it for a second time Monday. Watch the updated video from May 17th (Below).

I was shocked, once again, as I witnessed the lackadaisical cleanup efforts.  I know that an oil spill cannot be completely cleaned up, but there should at least be an honest and organized effort to do everything we can! I saw highly ineffective plastic booms along the Gulf Coast and a few boats scooping up very miniscule fractions of the spill. Some of the booms have floated ashore, crinkled up on the beach; some sit perpendicular to the shoreline; others are overturned by waves; some pieces of them have broken off and are floating lazily with the waves. The high volume flow of oil, certainly more than 5000 barrels per day, into the Gulf still hasn’t been stopped. What is going on? Why isn’t an effective, organized cleanup being mandated?! This is outrageous.

Click for more photos of bungled efforts

Several segments of the media are relying on erroneous information from BP and the Coast Guard in reporting the magnitude of the “ongoing cleanup” activities.  Even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has it wrong. NOAA currently indicates on their maps that there are areas of “potential beached oil” in Venice, Louisiana when there is definite beached oil, whose magnitude of which is far greater than what is depicted on the maps. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Continue reading ‘I was shocked, once again, as I witnessed the lackadaisical cleanup efforts of the BP oil spill.’

“The oil is creeping towards my home in Alabama as I write this, and it is breaking my heart.”

Brinkley Hutchings, Greenpeace Student Network activist, at home on the Alabama coast -- directly in the path of the fast-approaching spill.

From Brinkley Hutching’s blog, a post entitled A Local’s Account of the Deepwater Disaster. Watch an astonishing aerial video of the slick shot by John Wathen as they flew from Brinkley’s home to the source of the spill and back. (Below.) She is also the Greenpeace Campus Coordinator at University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

I grew up in one of the most beautiful places. Montrose, Alabama. My family lives on Mobile Bay, and I spent my childhood exploring the many bays, rivers, streams and creeks near my home. Starting at age 7, I would spend whole days exploring the local waters and shorelines with my little 13 foot boat. What existed naturally in my own backyard was truly utopian. Now, all the beautiful trees, wildlife and pristine waters, all will see the thick black and red oil within these next days. It brings a deeper ache than I can express.

As I flew out to the spill last Friday with my father (he’s a pilot), I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to witness. Here are some notes I took during the flight as we approached the source of this disaster:

“We are starting to smell oil…the pungent smell burns my nostrils and I feel nauseated to the core of my being….oh my God…red streaks of oil are everywhere…thick black near the well…it is crude oil and it stretches as far as I can see…I am sick…I can’t feel my own body or distinguish any of my feelings right now… this is the worst and most saddening situation I have ever seen in my life…The boats are randomly skewn about, and they are so disorganized! The cleanup efforts look completely haphazard and ineffective. It is utter chaos down there! Boats randomly placed, pulling booms that are simply swirling the oil around in circles! I really don’t feel alive right now…this is a horrible dream…why the heck didn’t BP have to have a plan in place for a disaster like this?!” Continue reading ‘“The oil is creeping towards my home in Alabama as I write this, and it is breaking my heart.”’

Why isn’t BP using these?

Shrimp Boats Cleaning BP Oil Spill - Credit: Eric Gay from AP

Photo: Shrimp Boats Futilely Gather Oil from the BP Spill - Credit: Eric Gay from AP

The cleanup of the April 20th BP oil spill is getting desperate. Shrimp boats are collecting as much oil as they can, but 5,000 barrels a day is overwhelming. The national guard is setting up a plastic fence along the entire coast. Some individuals are even sacrificing their fashion: they’re stuffing pantyhose with human hair in an effort to absorb oil approaching the shore.

The residents sacrificing their hair may be elated to hear that technology exists to spare their hair.

Continue reading ‘Why isn’t BP using these?’