Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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The Forces of Know

In darkening times, bright sparks of inspired resistance.  In this case, to dangerous pipelines that threaten earth, water, air, and life.

In northwestern Canada, people of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation are resisting not only a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) pipeline and coastal shipping terminal, plus a voracious transnational corporation and two enabling governments, but also the toxic ideology that drives these entities.  At its stone cold heart it has only one premise: there is no person or thing on earth, in the sea or sky that can’t be bought and sold.

Despite escalating attempts to buy them off, apparently the majority of Lax Kw’alaams people hold to deeper values and a longer view.

Lax Kw'alaams resistLax Kw’alaams: Just say no.  Photo: The Guardian.

Henry Lickers also takes a longer view.  He’s a Seneca First Nation biologist at Kawehno:ke, Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, not far from another pipeline that people are fighting in eastern Canada.  In writing Bold Scientists, I explored with him the deep gap that separates his point-of-view, in line with the Lax Kw’alaams’, from the powerfully seductive one that drives the surrounding society.  He replied, in part:

“Our society is responsibility-based, so that means I’m responsible for taking care of the environment.  The outside society is rights-based – this is my land, so I have a right to do what I want with it…  So we’re always in this fight with Canada or the US – over here we’re talking about our responsibility to protect the environment, and over there you’re saying it’s your right to do what you want.  That’s not a good way to function, especially in relation to the environment.  You should be aiming really high to protect your environment.  Oh no, you say, that would cost too much, it can’t be done at present, et cetera.  Is it any wonder the world is going the way it is?”

For more on Henry Lickers’ life and work, see Bold Scientists, chapter 1, When the river roared.  Excerpt here.

Two more responsibility-based initiatives oppose yet another dangerous pipeline, Line 9.  It’s a 40-year-old pipeline that’s due to transport high volumes of corrosive tar sands bitumen and volatile fracked shale oil from Sarnia, Ontario to refineries in Québec.  Along the way, the pipeline crosses many First Nation territories, municipalities, and waterways that provide drinking water to millions of people in the most densely populated region of Canada.

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have launched a landmark challenge to Line 9 at the Supreme Court of Canada.  It’s an initiative that could have enormous impact.  It’s also a costly proposition to take on wealthy corporations and governments.  Support is needed, and welcome here.

And Tar Free Toronto, a citizens’ group, has launched a petition to the Prime Minister of Canada, demanding a halt to Line 9.  https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-248

Further information on the campaign: Write to tarfreetoronto@riseup.net

Pass this message along.  Keep the sparks flying.

 

 

 

 


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The leap manifesto

In this dark age of dead ends, here is a bold, urgent initiative.

Leap manifesto

The leap manifesto offers real grounds for real hope.  Not the fast-food Hope marketed by cynical politicians, but the real thing, deeply transformative, built by all of us with open eyes, compassion, imagination, and yes, hard work.

Please leap in.  And pass it on.

 


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“Clean-up efforts are underway.”

The bad news:  Alberta pipeline spills 60,000 liters of crude oil into muskeg.

The spin: As usual, the industry and its government partners assure us that “clean-up efforts are underway.”  What else can they say, spill after spill…

Tar sands pipelines

Tar sands pipelines.  Image: newrepublic.com

The worse news:  The industry is poised to send millions of gallons of this muck via pipelines and trains across thousands of kilometres/miles through every kind of terrain and aquifer to the west and east coasts, and south through the US.

The good news:  Every step of the way, courageous people are resisting.

At Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, more than 100 resisters have been arrested to date for trying to block a scheme by the Texas-based Kinder Morgan corporation to ram a pipeline through the mountain.

Canada’s National Energy Board granted the company rubber-stamp approval to proceed with test drilling, despite the fact that the pipeline will cross – invade, actually – territory which the Indigenous First Nations have never legally ceded to either the federal or provincial government.

In May, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation launched the first Indigenous legal challenge to oil sands pipelines crossing B.C., in a direct challenge to the National Energy Board’s deeply flawed ‘review’ process.

Last week, a provincial court judge threw out the charges against the Burnaby Mountain resisters, which included both First Nations and non-First Nations citizens.

Unfortunately, the judge’s ruling was based on Kinder Morgan having provided inaccurate GPS boundaries for its drilling sites, which leaves the company free to get a new revised injunction against the resisters.

Stakes for resisters also rose sharply when Kinder Morgan launched a $5.6 million lawsuit against several resisters and two university professors who have spoken out against the company’s pipeline test work on Burnaby Mountain.

Still, as the enormity of the threat become more and more apparent, resistance continues to grow across the continent. It takes many forms. This past week, Concordia University in Montreal became the first Canadian university to start divesting from fossil fuels.

For a scientist’s insight on the tar sands and climate change, see chapter 9, in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.  Scroll down to ‘Pesky data.’


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Stop! Dirty oil on the move

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/.