Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Tar Sands

Updates and info on ACFN's case against Shell Oil

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Occupy Talks: Eriel Tchekwie Deranger

Please Check out the following link and presentation give by Eriel Tchekwie Deranger:

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger — Eriel is a Dene Indigenous activist and member of the Athbasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) of Northern Alberta, ground zero for tar sands extraction. Eriel is currently working for ACFN as a campaign and communication coordinator to challenge current and proposed projects by Shell Canada in Alberta’s Tar Sands. Shell is one of the largest operators in the tar sands and has contributed greatly to the erosion of Dene lands, culture and health. Eriel is a longtime Indigenous rights activist, fighting for environmental justice and has worked with many organizations including the International Indian Treaty Council, TakingItGlobal, Canadian Heritage, the United Nations, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Ruckus Society and IP3. She has extensive experience and a deep knowledge of International Indigenous rights, obtained through the International Training Centre for Indigenous People in Illuslisat, Greenland as well as through her work as a researcher for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. Eriel is currently working with many allies to create awareness about the catastrophic climate and human rights impacts of the tar sands and demands full recognition of Indigenous rights from all levels of government and industry operating in Indigenous territories.

Please Share this is a great lecture by

Please Share this is a great lecture by David Stanner on the American Holocaust http://ow.ly/9EQO5 #indigenous #holocaust #native #aboriginal

Edmonton Water Week 2012

Edmonton Water Week 2012 runs from Monday, March 19 to Thursday, March 22. For full schedule of events visit http://edmontonwaterweek.wordpress.com. To see the groups involved in organizing water week events, please read about us.

MONDAY, MARCH 19

Groundwater: Unlocking the Secrets to Alberta’s Most Important Resource
Monday, March 19 (6:30 -8:30 pm)
Global Cafe, Jasper Place High School
8950-163 Street

Presented by North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper and North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance

Please RSVP to glenn@saskriverkeeper.ca

Come join the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper and North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance for an interactive and educational evening on the groundwater beneath our feet, featuring Jon Fennell, M.Sc., Ph.D., P.Geol, Principal Hydrogeologist.

The objectives of our event are to stimulate discussion, create awareness and provide answers to the following questions: 1) What is groundwater? 2) Why is groundwater so important to us and all living things? 3) What are the human impacts on groundwater for now and the future? Our groundwater footprint 4) What can we do to preserve our most important resource?

Is groundwater Alberta’s most important resource?

Dr. Fennell is the Director of Water Resources for WorleyParsons Canada, and a Principal Hydrogeologist with over 25 years consulting experience in the resource sector. He received his B.Sc. degree in Geology from the University of Saskatchewan in 1985, M.Sc. in Hydrogeology
from the University of Calgary in 1994, and Ph.D. in Geochemistry from the University of Calgary. Jon’s areas of specialization include physical hydrology and hydrogeology, environmental forensics, water supply and waste disposal, and risk assessment. Jon’s skills also extend to assessing the effects of climate change and land use on basin hydrology, and developing effective management strategies for water sustainability. In addition to his company duties, Jon sits on the Board of Directors for the Bow River Basin Council (a water planning and advisory council under Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy) and serves as chair for the Modelling and Monitoring Committee.

TUESDAY, MARCH 20

White Water, Black Gold
Film Screening and discussion of water issues on Alberta
Tuesday, March 20 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)

Humanities Centre L41
North end of Hub Mall, Saskatchewan Drive west of 111 Street, University of Alberta

Presented by Sierra Club Prairie Chapter and Alberta Public Research Interest Group.

Screening is free and donations will be accepted.

White Water, Black Gold is a jarring new documentary film on the tar sands following Director David Lavallee as he journeys down the Athabasca River and across western Canada in search of answers about the battle between water and oil. The film follows an imaginary drop of water, and later an imaginary drop of oil, unveiling the threats the tar sands pose to the third largest watershed in the world and two separate oceans. White Water, Black Gold is a film about the inextricable link between water and oil in our modern world.

“Whether it’s a dam breach that could destroy the third largest watershed in the world (the Mackenzie), tailings ponds that are approaching the size of a great lake, or tanker traffic on Canada’s pristine west coast: it’s clear that our country’s water is in trouble,” said David Lavallee, Director of White Water, Black Gold. “Most people do not know that the tar sands impacts actually span half the country.”

Director David Lavallee worked as a hiking guide in the Columbia Icefields for 15 years. He saw profound changes to the mountain landscape as Alberta ramped up growth in the extremely water-intensive tar sands industry downstream. Lavallee’s burning curiosity to find out why took him on a three-year journey across Western Canada that resulted in the production of this film.

“I wanted to make this film to tell the story of water and how the tar sands are impacting an element essential to all life on this planet,” said Lavallee. “I hope that audiences will listen to the voices in this film, to see the impact the tar sands are having and be moved enough to become advocates for an energy future that does not pose such a great risk to our water resources.

The documentary is narrated by Peter Coyote.

For more information on the film, please check out whitewaterblackgold.com

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21

Fracking and Its Impact on Groundwater: Lessons From Alberta
Featuring Professor Karlis Muehlenbachs
Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science, University of Alberta
Wednesday, March 21 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 134
Corner of 111 Street & 87 Avenue, University of Alberta Campus

Presented by the Council of Canadians Edmonton Chapter, co-sponsored by the Parkland Institute.

As it spreads across Canada and around the world, the process of fracking — the injection of a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to create fractures in order to extract shale gas, coal bed methane and oil — has come under increasing scrutiny, with some jurisdictions placing moratoriums or outright bans on fracking until more is known about its impacts. Landowners, some of who are able to light their water on fire due to contamination they say is due to fracking, are fighting back against the process, saying the risks to water are too great. What impact is fracking already having on Alberta’s groundwater? Is it really a harmless and safe process as the oil and gas industry claims, or is this “game-changer” process that promises to unlock almost limitless supplies of previusly inaccessible fossil fuels a risk to our water?

Professor Karlis Muehlenbachs is a geochemist at the University of Alberta. He is a leading authority on a process which can identify the unique carbon fingerprint or isotopes of shale and conventional gases to determine their source and migration. He and his team have used this carbon isotope fingerprinting to create a database of the entire Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, lately concentrating on shale gas. His work on fracking and isotope fingerprinting, and his warnings about the risks of fracking, have been featured recently in two articles by The Tyee’s Andrew Nikoforuk (available online at here and here).

THURSDAY, MARCH 22

Energy Development and the Prosperity and Well-being of Aboriginal Communities in Northern Alberta
Thursday, March 22 (1:00-4:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 236
Corner of 87 Avenue and 111 Street, University of Alberta Campus

Organized by University of Alberta Professor Makere Stewart-Harawira as part of the SSHRC- funded Northern Research Initiative.

Please join us for a public conversation on the issues and impacts of resource development, the expansion of various kinds of oil and gas extraction, and its range of consequences for Aboriginal communities in Northern Alberta. Presentations from a range of perspectives, including both scientists and Aboriginal community members, Chiefs and Elders will be followed by a roundtable conversation.

Confrimed speakers include Ricardo Acuna of the Parkland Institute, Jessie Cardinal of Keepers of the Athabasca, water expert Kevin Timoney of Treeline Ecological Research, and geochemist Karlis Muelenbachs.

Vote for Clayton Thomas Muller for Human

Vote for Clayton Thomas Muller for Human Rights Award http://ow.ly/9EMrY #tarsands #indigenous #treatyrights

SAVE THE DATE – Aug 4, 2012 – 3rd Annual

SAVE THE DATE – Aug 4, 2012 – 3rd Annual #TarSands Healing Walk http://ow.ly/9C5Rr

Check out this trailer, donate and help

Check out this trailer, donate and help this movie get the distribution it deserves. http://ow.ly/9yUP7

US Senate rejects amendment to Transportation Bill and approval for Keystone XL Pipeline

The cross border battle in the tar sands achieved a victory today.   The Hoeven Amendment to the Transportation Bill, which would have over-ridden the President’s recent denial of the Keystone XL pipeline and mandated its approval,  failed to get enough votes to pass through the Senate.  This amendment would have undercut processes to protect the public’s safety, health and economic well being by bypassing the need for proper environmental review of the project.  The vote was 56-42 in favor of KXL, however under Senate rules it needs 60 votes to pass.

It’s clear that our voices, our concerns and hard work are no longer falling on deaf ears.  US leaders are no longer following suit with it’s Canadian counterparts who appear to rubber stamp all projects without adequate review, assessment or consultation with First Nations.   US leaders are willing to take a stand and support the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and the massive dirty energy projects associated with it that would ultimately impact the waterways, critical lands and the health and safety of it’s people through the US heartland.  If only we could see the same protections being put in place here in Canada.

The reason this rejection is such a victory for the people of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is simple, without adequate delivery methods for tar sands oil producers will be choking on the oil they plan on or currently mine/produce.  Without massive pipeline allowing for cheap transportation of oil major oil companies, like Shell, will be left holding hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil with no method to transportation. Current tar sands transportation lines cannot adequately handle the proposed expansion and increases development in tar sands production.

I want to stress the Keystone XL pipeline is not gone and rest assured new routes and new pipelines with be proposed. However, what has been shown is that our concerns are finally being heard and that we can make a difference.

Again, I would like to appalled all those that worked tirelessly to make this happen and repeat the words of Chief Allan Adam when we first heard the news of the rejection of the pipeline this January:

“The decision to reject this pipeline comes from the opposition of the many Indigenous communities and our allies.  The Mother Earth Accord outlined the serious implications the pipeline would’ve had on the people, our rights and our lands.  This is a major victory for Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. We hope the Canadian government recognizes Obama’s rejection as a sign to slow down the current pace of development in the tar sands.  Rapid expansion in the tar sands has left developers struggling for inexpensive ways to ship, refine and sell their oil.  Stopping these massive pipelines is key to stopping further destruction of our territory.  We are still working to oppose Shell’s proposed tar sands expansion of open pit mining projects in our traditional territory in Northern Alberta. We hope that you all join the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation this year in opposing Shell’s projects and the development of the Northern Gateway Pipeline.  Together we can protect our lands, our futures and our treaty rights.”

12 Major oil companies, including Shell, ban together to greenwash the Tar Sands

Today 12 oil companies have joined together to create the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).  The groups state the purpose of COSIA is to share and conduct research and technology development in several key areas of environmental performance in the tar sands. These  areas include greenhouse gases, land disturbance, water, air emissions and management of tailings, the toxic effluent produced by tar sands. For more information please see the report in the National Post.

One must be skeptical of such an alliance of multi-national corporations operating in the tar sands.  Tar sands development has been under heavy criticism over the last year after disparaging reports from the October Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which criticized current monitoring and the legitimacy of RAMP’s data.  That coupled with tar sands pipeline opposition in the US (TransCanada – Keystone XL) and Canada (Enbridge Northern Gateway), and the recent heated debates surrounding the labeling of tar sands as a high carbon fuel in the new EU Fuel Quality Directive, one starts to see the motives of these corporations.  They are doing their best to create positive PR for their shareholders and the public.

This effort of major oil companies banning together to try and create “independent data” on tar sands seems like a last ditch effort to try and greenwash the industry. COSIA even went so far as remarking that although they will be independent of CAPP they feel CAPP will be supportive of their research and work.  Of course they will be and already are. CAPP has been working as hard as the tobacco industry did by exploring any and all efforts to disprove the negative impacts of their respective industries. CAPP has highlighted COSIA on their homepage with a link directly to COSIA’s “independent” site.

One should be cautious of the data being developed by COSIA, which will produce non-binding recommendations with no actual set goals or timelines for any environmental protection or stewardship.  In fact, in their opening statement representatives from COSIA made it clear they are looking at improving environmental leadership while facilitating the growth of the work in the tar sands.  Basically, business as usual with the continued pace of ridiculous growth, but now with a new veil to try and placate the public.

All of this is so reminiscent of the efforts of the tobacco industry, see here for a short video on the history of tobacco industry efforts.

Greenpeace had this to say about today’s announcement:

In the absence of any commitments to real reductions in pollution with penalties for not meeting them, this is simply another example of “greenwash”, where an industry association makes vague promises to clean up its act in order to avoid regulations with real teeth. This regulatory dodge was invented by the chemical industry in the 1980s post-Bhopal and perfected by the oil and auto industries in the 1990s as they signed up to a “voluntary challenge” in order to avoid real limits on greenhouse gas emissions.[1]

What is interesting about today’s announcement is that the audience for this PR initiative is not the federal or Alberta governments, who have made it clear that they won’t bring in new regulations[2] or even enforce the ones they have[3], but governments in the US and Europe who are preparing to act on the climate impact of the tar sands because they recognize that Canadian governments won’t.

[1] For an academic take on this, see Douglas Macdonald, Business and Environmental Politics in Canada, Broadview Press (2007), especially Chapter 5.[2]  We’re still waiting for those tough new limits on industrial polluters John Baird promised in 2007, while Peter Kent has indefinitely delayed his promised regulations on the tar sands. [3] The Government of Alberta is not enforcing its own tailings rules.

The 12 companies which have signed the COSIA Charter are: BP Canada Energy Company, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy Inc., ConocoPhillips Canada Resources Corp., Devon Canada Corporation, Imperial Oil, Nexen Inc., Shell Canada Energy, Statoil Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc., Teck Resources Limited, and Total E&P Canada Ltd.

The names on this list are not surprising.  Most of them are corporations with heavy stakes in the tar sands with new projects awaiting approval.  This includes Shell.  It becomes increasingly clear Shell is willing to pull out all the stops and pursue all angles to try and argue there is nothing wrong with current projects to give way for a clear path for approvals of their two new projects, Jackpine Mine Expansion and Pierre River Mine. Both projects currently under review and being contested by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. It should also be mentioned that Shell has also been involved in lobby efforts in the EU to try and dissuade EU countries from labeling tar sands as a high carbon fuel.

So the question remains, who’s interests are being served by such a coalition of multinational corporations deeply invested in tar sands expansion?

I hardly believe that it will be in the public’s interest and I guarantee that First Nations traditional and ecological rights will not be included in the development of any data created by COSIA.  Once again a platform is being developed that exclude our people, our rights and our knowledge out of the bigger picture and gives the power to the very people who are oppressing us.

An Open Letter To European Citizens from

An Open Letter To European Citizens from IEN #tarsands #FQD http://ow.ly/9ooHV

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