Tag Archives: Tar Sands

In Blow to Enbridge, Canada to Ban Oil Tankers Off Northern B.C. Coast

Moratorium on oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s North Coast could be last nail in coffin for Northern Gateway Pipeline

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-7-2016

Diesel leaches into tidal pools after a spill in the Great Bear Rainforest last month. (Photo: April Bencze/Heiltsuk Nation)

Diesel leaches into tidal pools after a spill in the Great Bear Rainforest last month. (Photo: April Bencze/Heiltsuk Nation)

Canada Transportation Minister Marc Garneau made headlines this weekend when he announced that by the end of the year, a long-promised ban on oil tanker traffic will be put in place off the North Coast of British Columbia—weeks after the government was harshly criticized for its bungled response to a spill in that same region.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to institute such a moratorium before the Liberals won a majority of votes and put Trudeau in office in 2015, but as of a mere three weeks ago Trudeau appeared to be backtracking on that promise, after months of refusing to offer a timeline on the ban. Continue reading

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‘This Is My Act of Love’: Climate Activists Shut Down All US-Canada Tar Sands Pipelines

Coordinated show of resistance executed in solidarity with those fighting against Dakota Access pipeline

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-11-2016

Michael Foster, 52, pictured here, said, "All of our climate victories are meaningless if we don’t stop extracting oil, coal and gas now." (Photo: Shutitdown.today)

Michael Foster, 52, pictured here, said, “All of our climate victories are meaningless if we don’t stop extracting oil, coal and gas now.” (Photo: Shutitdown.today)

Five activists shut down all the tar sands pipelines crossing the Canada-U.S. border Tuesday morning, in a bold, coordinated show of climate resistance amid the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

The activists employed manual safety valves to shut down Enbridge’s line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota; TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy’s Express pipeline in Coal Banks Landing, Montana; and Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington. Continue reading

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Study Confirms Tar Sands Poisoning Air in First Nations Community

The air quality has ‘been a cause for concern for the people of this community since 1966,’ says Fort McKay First Nation chief

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2016

The toxins discovered in the air include "hydrogen sulphide and carcinogens like benzene," writes the Canadian Press. "Ozone and sulphur dioxide were 'frequently' above long-term health thresholds." (Photo: Kris Krüg/flickr/cc

The toxins discovered in the air include “hydrogen sulphide and carcinogens like benzene,” writes the Canadian Press. “Ozone and sulphur dioxide were ‘frequently’ above long-term health thresholds.” (Photo: Kris Krüg/flickr/cc

Confirming what a First Nations community surrounded by tar sands development has claimed for decades, new research says the reserve in northern Alberta is suffering from air pollution that is sometimes “at levels above what is recommended for human health.”

That’s according to Alberta’s chief health minister, Karen Grimsrud, as reported by theCanadian Press.

The provincial health ministry, industry regulator (which is industry-funded), and the Fort McKay First Nation all cooperated on a study released Thursday that finally confirmed what those in Fort McKay had long asserted: air pollution from nearby tar sands mining and refining has been sickening members of their community. Continue reading

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Worse Than Keystone XL? TransCanada’s Terrifying “Plan B”

“TransCanada’s Energy East proposal is truly Keystone XL on steroids,” says Natural Resources Defense Council

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2016

Over the course of a single year, the NRDC states, tankers could carry 328 million barrels of tar sands oil down the East Coast—enough oil to fill more than 20,000 Olympic pools. (Photo: Andrew Priest/flickr/cc)

Over the course of a single year, the NRDC states, tankers could carry 328 million barrels of tar sands oil down the East Coast—enough oil to fill more than 20,000 Olympic pools. (Photo: Andrew Priest/flickr/cc)

The pipeline giant TransCanada, stymied in its attempt to drive Keystone XL through America’s heartland, is facing renewed opposition to its “new and equally misguided proposal” to build the Energy East pipeline across Canada and ship tar sands oil via tankers along the U.S. East Coast to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

In partnership with a number of Canadian and U.S. environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—a major player in the fight to defeat Keystone XL—on Tuesday released a new report outlining how Energy East would “effectively create a waterborne tar sands pipeline with hundreds of new oil tankers traversing the Atlantic coastline, making vast areas of the Eastern Seaboard vulnerable to a dangerous tar sands spill.” Continue reading

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Victory in Canada as Court Strikes Down Northern Gateway Pipeline

Opponents “said ‘no’ to Enbridge 12 years ago when it first proposed the project. And now that ‘no’ has the backing of the courts.”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-30-2016

Canadians protest against Enbridge in May 2014. (Photo: Chris Yakimov/flickr/cc)

Canadians protest against Enbridge in May 2014. (Photo: Chris Yakimov/flickr/cc)

Environmentalists and Indigenous rights advocates celebrated on Thursday after a judge struck down the Canadian government’s 2014 approval of a controversial pipeline project in a landmark ruling.

The court found (pdf) that the government had not done enough to consult with First Nations communities that would be impacted by the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline, approved under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Continue reading

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Oil Prices Slide so Far Some Crude Is Now Worth Literally Less than Nothing

By Claire Bernish. Published 1-18-2016 by The Anti-Media

Bernice 1 and 2 wells - Amegard, North Dakota. Photo: Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bernice 1 and 2 wells – Amegard, North Dakota. Photo: Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

From a glut in the U.S. supply to fears concerning what will happen now that sanctions on Iran have been lifted, the market for oil is tanking considerably — so much so that one supplier of crude in North Dakota finds itself in the odd position of paying people to take its product.

North Dakota Sour, a high-sulfur crude that’s more expensive to refine than other varieties, has now been listed at -$0.50 per barrel — down from $13.50 per barrel a year ago and $47.60 per barrel in 2014,Bloomberg reported. Continue reading

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Obama’s Rejection of Keystone XL Is Victory, But That’s Not the Whole Story

‘The black snake, Keystone XL, has been defeated and best believe we will dance to our victory!’

By Common Dreams. Published 11-6-2015

Photo: tarsandsaction/flickr/cc

Photo: tarsandsaction/flickr/cc

President Obama’s official rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday was met with grand applause from those who opposed the project and organizers who worked tirelessly, despite long odds, to force the adminstration’s hand.

However, even as celebrations were enjoyed and an evening rally was scheduled outside the White House, there’s more to this story than the simple rejection of a single pipeline and the ultimate climate legacy of a president who has announced a ‘historic’ decision. Continue reading

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Stick a Fork In It – The End of Keystone XL

Photo by chesapeakeclimate (8/22/11 Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by chesapeakeclimate (8/22/11 Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday afternoon, TransCanada announced that it had asked the State Department to suspend its permit application review process for the Keystone XL pipeline project. The request was made in a letter to Secretary of State john Kerry,

TransCanada had faced multiple lawsuits in Nebraska over the pipeline’s route through the state and over who in the state had final authority to grant final approval on that route. Back in September, TransCanada dropped ongoing lawsuits against Nebraska landowners and agreed to submit a review proposal to Nebraska’s Public Service Commission.

In the letter, the company noted that that the review is expected to take seven to 12 months, and went on to say:

“In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL. This will allow a decision on the permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.”

In a statement published on the TransCanada website, Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said:

“We are asking State to pause its review of Keystone XL based on the fact that we have applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for approval of its preferred route in the state. I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved. We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.”

Opponents to the pipeline pointed out that the pipeline’s route wouldn’t ultimately alter the pipeline’s effect. Tom Steyer said that instead of granting a delay, the Obama administration should “immediately reject” the pipeline.

350.org founder Bill McKibben said in a statement:

“Clearly TransCanada has lost and they recognize that. It’s one of the great victories for this movement in decades. In defeat, TransCanada is asking for extra time from the referees, and clearly hoping they’ll get a new head official after the election. It’s time for the current umpire, President Obama, to reject this project once and for all, and go to Paris as the first world leader to stop a major project because of its effect on the climate.”

Personally, we really don’t think it makes much difference at this point. The collapse of the oil market has pretty much made Keystone XL an unprofitable venture for the foreseeable future. As long as oil is trading for under $80 or $90 a barrel, there’s no profit in refining tar sands oil. Yesterday, the one year forecast for WTI crude was $53 a barrel.

That being said, the pipeline would have been a reality if it hadn’t been for activists in Nebraska, Canada and elsewhere letting it be known that it wasn’t OK. it wasn’t OK to try to use eminent domain to take people’s land away from them. It wasn’t OK to pollute the waters and forests around the tar sands. It wasn’t OK to poison the planet.

Occupy World Writes salutes those activists. We the People can make our voices heard. We the People have power.

Our destiny is in our hands.

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Fighting for Next Generation, Kids File Climate Suit Against US Government

Climate scientist James Hansen backs 21 young plaintiffs seeking to ‘retain a fighting chance to preserve a habitable climate system’

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-13-15.

Our Children's Trust after filing their lawsuit. Eugene, Oregon, 8-12-2015. Photo: Our Children's Future via Facebook

Our Children’s Trust after filing their lawsuit in Eugene, Oregon, 8-12-2015. Photo: Our Children’s Trust via Facebook

Claiming that the continued development and burning of fossil fuels violates their constitutional rights, 21 young plaintiffs—ranging in age from 8 to 19—filed a landmark climate change lawsuit against the federal government on Wednesday.

“The federal government has known for decades that CO2 pollution from burning fossil fuels was causing global warming and dangerous climate change,” said one of the teenage plaintiffs and youth director of Earth Guardians, 15-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez of Colorado. “It also knew that continuing to burn fossil fuels would destabilize our climate system, significantly harming my generation and generations to come.”

Despite that knowledge, the government “continued to authorize and promote fossil fuel extraction, production, consumption, and all their associated emissions—to the grave detriment of future generations,” added attorney Philip Gregory of the California firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, a counsel to the plaintiffs.

Lawyers working on the case say a win for the kids would be no less important, from a strictly legal basis, than Brown v. Board of Education, which established the right to equal educational opportunity, or Obergefell v. Hodges, which much more recently established the freedom to marry.

As MSNBC reports, the lawsuit “debuts a new legal framework to fight climate change, one that portrays federal support for the development and use of fossil fuels as a violation of the Fifth and Ninth Amendments, as well as the public trust doctrine.”

The public trust doctrine ensures “the rights of present and future generations to those essential natural resources that are of public concern to the citizens of our nation,” reads the complaint. “These vital natural resources include at least the air (atmosphere), water, seas, the shores of the sea, and wildlife. The overarching public trust resource is our country’s life-sustaining climate system, which encompasses our atmosphere, waters, oceans, and biosphere. Defendants must take affirmative steps to protect those trust resources.”

Accompanying the youth’s legal complaint (pdf) was an “expert declaration” (pdf) from former NASA scientist James Hansen, who first sounded the alarm on climate change in 1988. Hansen’s granddaughter, 17-year-old Sophie Kivlehan of Pennsylvania, is among the plaintiffs.

“In my opinion, this lawsuit is made necessary by the at-best schizophrenic, if not suicidal, nature of U.S. climate and energy policy,” Hansen wrote.

“It is now clear, as the relevant scientific community has established for some time, that continued high CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning will further disrupt Earth’s climate system, and that, in turn, will impose profound and mounting risks of ecological, economic and social collapse,” he continued. “In my view, our government’s actions and inactions that cause or contribute to those emissions violate the fundamental rights of Sophie, other Youth, and future generations. Those violated rights include the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to property, the right to equal protection under the law, the right to government protection of public trust resources, and the right to retain a fighting chance to preserve a habitable climate system.”

The complaint includes each plaintiff’s individual story and the ways in which they are harmed by climate change now and will be in the future if the court does not, as they lawsuit asks, order the federal government to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to a safe level.

For example, 15-year-old Nathaniel Baring, of Alaska, is described as an “avid Nordic skier” who has been “harmed by the reduced snowfall in recent years.”

Journey Zephier, a 15 year old who lives with his family in Hawaii, has been adversely impacted by rising sea levels, beach erosion, and ocean acidification.

Eleven-year-old Sahara Valentine, an Oregon resident who has asthma, says her condition has been exacerbated by severe climate change.

And Victoria Barrett, a 16 year old from New York, “has become emotionally distressed by the increase in superstorms in the Northeast,” the complaint reads.

The case is part of a global legal campaign led by Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization that is coordinating a federal, state, local, and global effort to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate.

And there are signs the strategy could be successful.

In the Netherlands in June, an organization partnered with Our Children’s Trust won a similar case, with a Dutch court ruling that the government has a legal duty to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

“The state must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment,” read a statement from the Hague District Court at the time.

Also in June, a judge in Washington state handed a group of eight young petitioners—also backed by both Our Children’s Trust and Hansen—a landmark win, ordering the Department of Ecology (ECY) to consider statewide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions based on best available science.

“The court’s decision brings a feeling of triumph,” said 14-year-old petitioner Aji Piper in June. “But I know there is still a lot of work to be done. We may have won a battle, but we’re still fighting a bigger war.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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International Scientists Issue Call for Climate Action Now: ‘Commit to Our Common Future’

‘Window for economically feasible solutions’ is closing, statement says

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published July 10, 2015

Demonstrators demand an ambitious climate deal from the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. (Photo:AinhoaGoma/Oxfam International/flickr/cc)

Time is running out to deal with the “defining challenge of the 21st century,” a group of leading scientists said Friday at the close of a climate conference, and added that this must be the year of bold action like taxing carbon to rein in greenhouse gases.

The call was issued in the outcome statement from the Our Common Future under Climate Change, a four-day meeting that gathered nearly 2,000 international academics five months ahead of the United Nations climate talks in Paris, COP21.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” it states. “Its effects have the potential to impact every region of the Earth, every ecosystem, and many aspects of the human endeavour. Its solutions require a bold commitment to our common future. Continue reading

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