Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

Stop! Dirty oil on the move

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Tar sands oil is a cumulative disaster at every stage: extraction, processing, transport, refining, and end uses that dump incalculable amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But the oil industry and its government backers are hell bent on getting their dirty plunder to port, for shipment overseas to countries where they can get a higher price.

Canada-Oil Train Derailment

Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster, July 26, 2014.  Photo: Boston Herald.

There is no safe transport method. Oil trains leak, derail and explode, oil pipelines leak and burst with shocking frequency.

A well-oiled corporate/government PR machine relentlessly denies the overwhelming risks, even after they’re proven by bitter experience. Fortunately for all of us, people living along the routes are onto these lies, and organizing to block the dangerous traffic.

These two crucial initiatives need and deserve support:

* The Enbridge corporation is pushing to activate the notorious Line 9 through southern Ontario and Quebec. If they succeed, within the next few weeks this aging, vulnerable pipeline could be pumping heavy oil under pressure through a densely populated region laced with vital freshwater sources. Citizens groups along the way are working hard to stop it.

In June, 2014, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation launched a legal challenge to the National Energy Board’s approval* of Line 9, on the grounds that constitutional obligations for consultation and accommodation of Aboriginal rights had not been met. (*The NEB pretends to be independent, but the federal government has effectively stacked it with oil/gas industry supporters.)

The Chippewa challenge is yet to be heard in court, but a public petition in support of it is gathering momentum. Add your voice here: http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/demand-the-neb-respect-indigenous-rights-sign-to-support-chippewas-of-the-thames-first-nation.

And:

* Now the St. Lawrence River in eastern Canada is also being turned into a transport route for tar sands oil, one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. On September 24, the Suncor corporation shipped the first ever vessel of heavy crude down the St. Lawrence River from a port east of Montreal, bound for Italy. A second vessel was stopped recently on the St. Lawrence and temporarily blocked from departing for safety reasons.

The St. Lawrence River is the second longest river in Canada, flowing from the Great Lakes into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way it provides drinking water to millions of people. The river includes four areas designated under the UN Convention of Wetlands of International Importance.  The Gulf is the world’s largest estuary, bordering five of 10 Canadian provinces.

All of this faces imminent, irreversible threat. The oil corporations plan to send 20 to 30 vessels loaded with dirty crude down the river each year.

The Council of Canadians is pressing federal elected representatives to stop tar sands oil shipments in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. Add your voice here: http://canadians.org/action/tar-sands-oil-shipments-st-lawrence-river-no-way.

Delve into the long struggle to defend the St Lawrence with Henry Lickers, Seneca First Nation biologist at Akwesasne, an island in the middle of the living river: When the river roared, chapter 1, Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here: http://naturesciencepower.wordpress.com/inside-bold-scientists/excerpts/.

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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