Tag Archives: indigenous rights

‘Poverty Is Violence!’ Thousands of Demonstrators in DC Demand Economic Justice

“We are the 140 million poor and low-wealth people, standing together to declare we won’t be silent anymore,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s campaign.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 6-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Demonstrators gathered in the U.S. capital for the Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington on June 18, 2022. (Photo: Bishop William Barber/Twitter)

Led by the Poor People’s Campaign, advocacy groups and low-income individuals gathered in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to demand that policymakers “fight poverty, not the poor.”

“We are the 140 million poor and low-wealth people, standing together to declare we won’t be silent anymore,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the campaign. “Poverty is a policy choice and we will hold our leaders accountable.” Continue reading

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Green Groups Blame Bolsonaro Policies as Amazon Deforestation Sets New Monthly Record

“The Bolsonaro administration is abetting deforestation and environmental crime,” said one campaigner, “and what we harvest are these terrible, scary, revolting numbers.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Amazon Watch/Twitter

Brazil’s space research agency revealed Friday that deforestation in the country’s Amazon rainforest last month shattered the previous record for April, a development one conservation campaigner called “very scary” and an indication of the criminal level of environmental destruction occurring under the administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The National Institute for Space Research said nearly 400 square miles of the world’s largest rainforest was destroyed in Brazil last month, an area the size of 1,400 soccer fields and by far the biggest loss for April since record-keeping began in 2015, Agence France-Presse reports. Continue reading

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Arizona Slammed for Permitting Uranium Mine That Imperils Grand Canyon Tribe’s Water

“Uranium contamination in a system like this is forever and while the mining company can walk away, the Havasupai tribe can’t. This is, and always has been, their home.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 4-29-2022 by Common Dreams

Havasupai activists protest against uranium mining in the Grand Canyon. (Photo: Jake Hoyungawa/Grand Canyon Trust)

Indigenous and environmental activists on Friday condemned an Arizona agency’s approval of a key permit for a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon that opponents say threatens the land, water, wildlife—and Native Americans’ ancestral obligation to safeguard a place they’ve called home for centuries.

The Arizona Republic reports the state’s Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday issued an aquifer protection plan permit for Canada-based Energy Fuels Resources’ Pinyon Plain Mine, located about 10 miles south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in Kaibab National Forest.

Conservationists and tribes have long opposed the mine, which has been in various stages of planning and preparation since 1984 but from which no uranium has yet been extracted. The Havasupai people, some of whom live in a nearby canyon, say the project imperils their sole source of drinking water.

“Mining uranium in the Grand Canyon watershed threatens the enduring legacy of this landscape and jeopardizes the entire water supply of the Havasupai people,” Michè Lozano, Arizona program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), said in a statement, warning of the “incredible threats that uranium mining poses to the limited underground sources that feed the canyon’s creeks and waterways.”

According to NPCA:

The mine… has a history of flooding as it depletes shallow groundwater aquifers that express at South Rim springs. It also threatens to permanently contaminate deep aquifers that feed Havasu Creek and other springs. The approval comes despite calls by the Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups to close the Pinyon Plain Mine given its risks to water and tribal cultural resources…

In late 2016 mineshaft drilling pierced shallow aquifers, causing water pumped from the mine to spike from 151,000 gallons in 2015 to 1.4 million gallons in 2016. In the years since then, inflow has ranged from 8.8 million gallons in 2017 to 10.76 million gallons in 2019; most recently, the mine took on 8,261,406 gallons of groundwater in 2021.

Since 2016, dissolved uranium in that water has consistently exceeded federal toxicity limits by more than 300% and arsenic levels by more than 2,800%.

“Neither regulators nor the uranium industry can ensure that mining won’t permanently damage the Grand Canyon’s precious aquifers and springs,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This permit strenuously ignores science showing the potential for deep aquifer pollution, and in a region still plagued by seven decades of uranium industry pollution, risking more, as this permit does, is dangerous.”

Asserting that “uranium mines do not belong among the complex groundwater systems that surround the Grand Canyon,” Amber Reimondo, energy director for the Grand Canyon Trust, said that “uranium contamination in a system like this is forever and while the mining company can walk away, the Havasupai tribe can’t. This is, and always has been, their home.”

Havasupai tribal leaders have long argued against uranium mining on lands from which their ancestors were ethnically cleansed to make way for white tourists before being pressed into dehumanizing railroad labor.

One of the staunchest Havasupai mining opponents, the late Tribal Chairman Rex Tilousi, believed that his people “were given a responsibility to protect and preserve this land and water for those yet to come.”

“The ancient rock writing in our canyon tells us to protect this place,” Tilousi said at a 2018 prayer gathering. “The canyon doesn’t belong to us. We belong to the canyon, to the Earth, to the water. It created us and gave us life. We are fighting for our lives and for those who are yet to come.”

Carletta Tilousi, Rex’s niece and a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, spoke against uranium mining at an Earth Day rally in Phoenix last week.

“Native Americans, we have struggled so far and so long, and we don’t need it anymore,” she said. “We want to make sure our future generations have clean air, clean water, and a happy life. That’s all we ask for.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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‘Major Step Forward’: AIG to Stop Insuring Coal, Tar Sands, and Arctic Drilling

“Organizing works,” said one advocacy group. “Now, all insurers must stop supporting fossil fuel expansion.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 3-1-2022 by Common Dreams

Insure Our Future Coalition at AIG’s NYC Headquarters on 12/7/2021. Photo: Insure Our Future, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons

Climate justice advocates celebrated Tuesday in response to insurance giant AIG’s announcement that it will no longer invest in or provide insurance coverage for any new Arctic drilling activities nor will it finance or underwrite the construction of any new coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or tar sands projects, effective immediately.

AIG also said that it will immediately stop investing in or underwriting “new operation insurance risks” of coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or tar sands projects owned by corporations that derive 30% or more of their revenue from those industries or generate over 30% of their energy production from coal. Continue reading

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‘Major Victory for Indigenous Peoples’ as Ecuadorian Court Rejects Drilling in Protected Area

“It is also a reminder for oil companies and investors that expanding oil extraction in Ecuador’s Amazon is a risk and full of potential legal liabilities,” said Amazon Watch’s climate and energy director.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 2-2-2022 by Common Dreams

Amazon Watch climate and energy director Kevin Koenig said Wednesday that “plans are underway to drill 600+ wells in the Ishpingo, Tambococha Tiputini fields, known as Block 43.” (Photo: CONFENIAE)

The advocacy group Amazon Watch celebrated Wednesday after Ecuador’s top court struck down parts of a 2019 decree that would have allowed oil drilling in an area that is protected for isolated Indigenous peoples.

Amazon Watch climate and energy director Kevin Koenig called the Constitutional Court of Ecuador’s decision “a major victory for Indigenous peoples and an important step in protecting some of the most environmentally fragile and culturally sensitive places in the Amazon.” Continue reading

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‘Disaster’: Burst Pipeline Sprays Crude Oil Into Ecuadorian Amazon

“Spills have become a part of our daily life, and we live with the contamination for decades. The oil industry has only brought us death and destruction,” said one campaigner.

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-30-2022 by Common Dreams

On April 7, 2021, undreds of Indigenous Kichwa people from the Ecuadorian Amazon marched through the city of Coca to mark one year since the country’s largest oil spill in recent history. Photo: Amazon Watch

Indigenous environmental defenders in Ecuador on Sunday pointed to a pipeline rupture in the Amazon rainforest as “the exact reason why we oppose oil extraction” as the pipeline operator temporarily halted pumping crude oil.

A pipeline constructed by OCP Ecuador burst on Friday after a rockslide, according to NBC News. Videos posted on social media by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and Amazon Frontlines showed oil spraying out of the pipeline into the rainforest. Continue reading

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Sioux Tribe Withdraws as Cooperating Agency Over Dakota Access Pipeline Threat

“The prospect of an oil spill during such low water is truly scary,” says the tribe’s Water Resources Department administrator.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 1-27-2022 by Common Dreams.

Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/CC

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Thursday confirmed that it is no longer a “cooperating agency” for the Dakota Access oil pipeline and demanded federal action to address concerns that a leak could affect Lake Oahe, the tribe’s only source of fresh drinking water.

Janet Alkire, the tribe’s newly elected chairperson, warned in a statement that low water levels resulting from “misplaced priorities in the operation of Oahe and the other dams on the Missouri River” could affect cleanup plans in the event of a Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) spill. Continue reading

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Prosecutor Sought Funding From Oil Giant Enbridge to Jail Line 3 Water Protectors: Report

“First the police, now the prosecutors—who’s next to violate constitutional rights of water protectors and ask Big Oil to pay for it?”

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Sheriff’s deputies and police make arrests after their mobile field force (MFF) retook the occupied Enbridge Line 3 Two Inlets pumping station.. Photo: Unicorn Riot

With Canadian oil giant Enbridge pouring more than $4 million into a fund that was used by the law enforcement agencies which have arrested hundreds of people for protesting the company’s thousand-mile-long tar sands pipeline, the prosecutor who is bringing charges against the environmental defenders believed he was also entitled to benefit from the fund, according to an independent investigation.

The Center for Protest Law and Litigation (CPLL) revealed Thursday that Jonathan Frieden, the lead prosecutor seeking to jail hundreds of opponents to the Line 3 pipeline, sought more than $12,000 last July from the so-called Line 3 Public Safety Escrow Trust, which the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered Enbridge to pay into as a condition of the pipeline’s construction. Continue reading

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KXL Pipeline Company Exploits NAFTA Provision to File $15 Billion Claim Against US

“NAFTA’s legacy of granting multinational corporations special rights to sue governments taking action to protect the environment lives on.”

By Andrea Germanos.  Published 11-24-2021 by Common Dreams.

Climate activists hold signs against the Keystone XL project at a September 20, 2013 protest. (Photo: Joe Brusky/CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Canadian company behind the canceled Keystone XL pipeline filed a formal request for arbitration this week under the North American Free Trade Agreement to seek over $15 billion in economic damages over the Biden administration’s revocation of the cross-border oil project’s permit.

In its Monday filing, TC Energy criticizes the permit’s cancellation as “unfair and inequitable” and argues the U.S. government should pay damages for the “regulatory roller coaster” the company endured while seeking to build the pipeline. Continue reading

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Indigenous Leaders Hail Biden’s Proposed Chaco Canyon Drilling Ban as ‘Important First Step’

“We are most hopeful that this action is a turning point where the United States natural resource management planning philosophy focuses on the protection of all living beings.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-15-2021 by Common Dreams

Deb Haaland—then a Democratic congresswoman representing New Mexico’s First District but now U.S. interior secretary—visits Chaco Canyon in 2019. (Photo: Monica Sanchez/Natural Resources Democrats/Flickr/cc)

A coalition of Southwestern Indigenous leaders on Monday applauded President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland following the announcement of a proposed 20-year fossil fuel drilling ban around the sacred Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico—even as the administration prepares to auction off tens of millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas extraction later this week.

“Chaco Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived, worked, and thrived in that high desert community,” Haaland—the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history—said in a statement Monday. Continue reading

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