Mind you, human rights tend to be honoured a lot more on paper than in practice. So it will be with river rights. Rivers, lakes, oceans and their defenders will continue to face countless challenges and battles. But at least now two rivers have some legal rights to defend.
Meanwhile in the USA, rivers have no more rights than do sewers or highways, both of which purposes they serve. In sharp contrast, corporations in the USA won long ago the same legal rights as individual citizens, which they deploy to commit horrible crimes against humanity and nature, including the poisoning of rivers, lakes and oceans. Of course, unlike actual human persons, corporations regularly get away with murder.
In Canada the picture isn’t much better. The late Conservative regime decimated environmental protections for all but 159 lakes and rivers in this country, leaving more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers wide open to destruction. Breaking election promises to reverse their predecessors’ crimes against nature, instead the current Liberal regime is deferring to corporate pressure to maintain the status quo.
In such a grim context, the hard-won court decisions in New Zealand and India represent a huge step forward, rare signs that we can act sanely and respectfully in relation to the natural world, our life support system.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC President Trump has just re-opened the door to the infamous Keystone XL pipeline, which his predecessor had temporarily blocked. The new president also promised to accelerate construction of bitterly fought Dakota Access Pipeline.
In Ottawa, the Liberal government recently rubber-stamped two dangerously invasive pipelines in Canada: Kinder Morgan’s line to the Pacific coast and Enbridge’s expansion of Line 3 to the U.S. midwest.
Prime Minister Trudeau also welcomed the Keystone decision. “I’ve been on the record for many years supporting it,” he said in Calgary. “We know we can get our resources to market more safely and responsibly while meeting our climate-change goals.”
Soon the world’s dirtiest oil will flow more abundantly than ever from the Alberta tar sands.
We are told by the oil cabal, its collaborators in government and big media that Canadians need it. But notice where it’s going: to the Pacific Ocean and to the USA, in both cases for sale far, far away. It will leave behind: mountains of broken promises to First Nations and the rest of us, a moonscape in northern Alberta, toxic spills and explosions along the routes, and countless tons of life-destroying greenhouse gas. Hidden somewhere in there, we are told, is a fair bargain.
In Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley welcomed all three pipelines. At the same time, her NDP government reneged on a promise to charge oil companies higher provincial royalties for the oil they plunder. “It is not the time to reach out and make a big money grab,” she told reporters, “because that is just not going to help Albertans.”
Ah. But then soon after and with no apparent shame Notley said, “We’re at the point now where the Alberta economy needs to be enjoying the benefits of a higher return for our oil and gas… That is definitely something that will happen as a result of the Keystone.”
With Liberals and social democrats like these running things, who needs a Trump?
Across Canada, the US and planet earth, our only home, the battle goes on.
DNB, the largest bank in Norway, has just sold its assets in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Reports are unclear on the extent and nature of these assets (or maybe I just don’t know how to translate financialese). However, by all accounts the assets dumped by the bank are substantial.
Further, DNB is now considering the withdrawal of its loans to the project as well, which would leave a major gap in the project’s financing.
A first crack in the banking wall, DNB’s move is a direct result of steadfast resistance to the invading pipeline by the besieged Standing Rock Sioux and their allies, and escalating public pressure on the banks to divest from it.
subsidizing fossil fuels at our expense and the earth’s
displacing/killing people and other beings (some slowly, some in a flash) to get at fossil fuels
making war after war to control fossil fuels, and to continue fueling the war machine
burning fossil fuels as if there was no tomorrow, and no alternative.
It can’t be said often enough, or loud enough. We have to stop. And start…
Start points are everywhere – personal, local, regional, national, global, online, on the ground. Like this one: Justice and Equity in a 100% Renewable World: a live online conversation. November 10, 2016, 10:00am Pacific/ 1:00pm Eastern. Details here.
Or this: Corporate and government response to the west coast diesel spill off Heiltsuk First Nation (see above, ‘moving crude oil by ship’) has been shamefully slow and lax. The Heiltsuk people are fund-raising online to do research on the extent of damage to their coast and fishing grounds, essential for their survival. Details here.
Or this: Haven’t got around to accosting the big banks that finance the Dakota Access Pipeline? The online grassroots organization SumOfUs has just made it a lot easier. They also include a list of other practical ways to support the resistance to DAPL. Details here.
Last Thursday 200,000 liters of crude oil spilled into the North Saskatchewan River, soaking wildlife and forcing cities to shut off public water supply. Details here.
A great blue heron, victim of Husky Energy. (Photo: Lend a Paw Animal Rescue/Facebook)
The pipeline started to leak on Thursday July 21. It continued to spill into the river for four days, 200,000 litres of toxic crude oil, before perpetrator Husky Energy shut it down.
This is the latest of dozens of catastrophic pipeline spills across North America in the past three years. But right on cue and with dazzling gall, Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley leapt to defend the indefensible. “Even with this spill it remains the case that absolutely the safest way to transport oil and gas is by way of pipeline,” she told the Canadian Press. “Had a spill occurred on rail there might well be injuries involved. In everything you do there are risks, but I would suggest overall the risks [of pipelines] are low.”
In the sheltered halls of power perhaps, but for the rest of us out here in the real world, this is crude bullshit, insult piled on injury. Of course hauling crude oil by train has also proven catastrophic. Ships too. There is no safe way to extract, move, refine or use this stuff. It’s a disaster, start to finish. Only safe solution: Leave it in the ground.