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.”

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From Pipelines to Tar Sands Expansion ACTION ALERT!

ACTION ALERT: Submit written comments on Shell’s revised Jackpine and Pierre River mine agreements

Yesterday the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released notice of Public Consultation on Revised Joint Review Panel Agreements. The proposed revisions being put forward by CEAA are to allow the Jackpine Mine Review Panel to also review the Pierre River Mine project together.  The possibility of appointing the same panel to review the two projects was already under consideration and a single, integrated Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared by Shell Oil (the proponent) for the two projects.

ACFN is concerned about the proposed Shell Projects impacts on ACFN’s ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future.  The regulatory process DOES NOT meet ACFN’s need in terms of a proper assessment of impacts to rights. ACFN has no assurance that the environment and treaty rights can be protected because Alberta has done a poor job of enforcing environmental protection with the companies and  Shell has not met past commitments to ACFN. In September of 2011, ACFN  filed suit suing Shell Canada for these unmet agreement (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation serves Shell Canada with intent to Sue over tar sands projects).

Chief Adam of ACFN stated, “We’re drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed, our treaty rights respected and our rights are fully recognized within the approval process once and for all.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • WRITE IN AND VOICE YOUR CONCERNS BY FEB. 24, 2012
  • REGISTER AS AN INTERESTED PARTY BY FEB. 24, 2012 AND PRESENT TO THE PANEL DURING THE HEARINGS 
  • LET’S KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM AND PRESSURE AGAINST INDUSTRY
  • SUPPORT ACFN AND OUR CASE AGAINST SHELL OIL CANADA

For more information on how to submit comments and register by  February 24, 2012 please visit the CEAA site here or contact:

Kurt Saunders, Associate Director
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd floor, Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
Tel.: 613- 948-1351 or 1-866-582-1884
Fax: 613-957-0941
kurt.saunders@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

THE BASICS OF SHELL’S PROPOSED PROJECTS:

1. Jackpine Mine Expansion:

Shell Canada is proposing to expand the Jackpine Mine (Jackpine Mine Expansion, JPME). The expansion would include additional mining areas and associated processing facilities, utilities and infrastructure. The project would be located about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on the east side of the Athabasca River. The expansion project would increase tar sands production by 100,000 barrels per day (to a total of 300,000 bbl/day). Proposed water usage includes an 18,000,000 m3/yr diversion from the Athabasca River. The proposed expansion includes plans to mine out a portion of the Muskeg River, which is culturally important to ACFN. Based on recent calculations, the total footprint proposed for the development is 20,801.6 hectares.

ACFN submitted a joint submission to Joint Review Panel outlining the concerns of the JPME project application just last month.  The joint submission asserts rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including rights pursuant to Treaty 8, to hunt, fish, and trap, which guarantees First Nations have a meaningful livelihood now and for the future. ACFN’s joint submission identified the following overarching flaws in the application:

1. Shell has not provided sufficient information with respect to the Project’s impacts and infringements of our section 35 rights for the JRP to comply with the Terms of Reference.

2. Shell has not provided sufficient information for the JRP to be able to conduct an assessment of the cumulative effects of the Project, either on environmental components or on our section 35 rights and traditional uses.

3. Shell has not provided sufficient information for the JRP to assess water quantity issues, including the degree to which the Project could diminish water levels below the threshold level where we can still exercise our section 35 rights and fully access our traditional lands.

More information available here in past post: Shell’s Environmental Impact Assessment Fails to Protect the Environment and First Nation Rights

2.  Pierre River Mine:

Shell Canada is also proposing the Pierre River Mine Project (PRM), which includes the construction, operation, and reclamation of an tar sands surface mine and bitumen extraction facilities. The proposed mining project would be located approximately 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on the west side of the Athabasca River. It is about 27 kilometres to the south and west of ACFN’s Poplar Point Reserve. The proposed development includes an open-pit mine, ore handling facility, bitumen extraction facilities, tailings processing facilities, support infrastructure, water and tailings management plans, as well as the construction of a bridge across the Athabasca River. The project is designed to produce a total of 200,000 barrels of tar sands per day. Water usage includes a 55,100,000 m3/year diversion from the Athabasca River. Based on recent calculations, the total proposed footprint is 10,402.90.

THE TOTAL FOOTPRINT OF BOTH PROJECTS:

  • 31,205.5 HECTARES OF LAND
  • 73,100,000 M3/YEAR OF WATER DIVERTED FROM THE ATHABASCA RIVER
  • PROJECTS IMPACT CRITICAL HABITAT OF WILDLIFE
  • PROJECTS WOULD IMPACT CULTURALLY SENSITIVE ACFN TERRITORY
  • PROJECTS WOULD IMPACT AND ALTER PROTECTED HUNTING, FISHING, TRAPPING AND GATHERING RIGHTS OF ACFN; AND
  • CREATE 500,000 BARRELS OF TARSANDS PER DAY