Against impossible odds: Ecuadoreans’ Legal Fight Against Chevron Continues in Canada.
Texaco/Chevron vs Ecuador. Photo: La Hora.
On South America’s teleSur, journalist Joe Emersberger interviews lawyer Stephen Donziger on a crucial case with huge implications for us all.
Donziger: “The fact top law firms around the world are helping the Ecuadorean villagers is terrifying to Chevron and the fossil fuel industry and completely changes the risk calculus of oil drilling in delicate ecosystems. These firms normally represent the oil industry; now they are representing groups fighting that industry. That’s never happened before.”
True, this couldn’t happen without the lawyers. But before, during and after the courts have their say, again and again it’s people who live on the land and water under siege that have to hold the front line. Against Dakota Access, Enbridge, Line 9, Kinder Morgan, Energy East and all the other petro-invaders.
If our planet is to remain livable, these are the first people we should thank, and support.
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.
Fracking: aka hydraulic fracturing of the earth’s crust to extract gas and oil. Aka “unconventional gas drilling,” the industry’s preferred PR term. Unconventional — sounds intriguing, even a little adventurous, no?
Image: John Cole
“Not infrequently I wake up in middle of the night in despair. What do I despair about? That we’re going to drill, baby, drill, and we’re going to poke a million more holes in the surface of the earth over the next 10 years, and we’re going to produce as much fossil fuel as we possibly can, and we’re going to accelerate climate change, and my kids will not, cannot be prepared for what that means.”
– Professor Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University. Follow his life, research, and transition from industry consultant to outspoken critic, here in Bold Scientists. Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.
Under siege by mounting evidence of the immense harm they do, the industry and its government enablers now sell fracking as a “benign bridge fuel” to future renewables.
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.
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.