Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Lawyer: Judge’s Ruling Allows Dakota Access to “Desecrate” Sacred Ground | Democracy Now!

In Washington, D.C., a federal judge has ruled that construction on sacred tribal burial sites in the path of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline can continue. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg issued a temporary restraining order that halts construction only between Route 1806 and Lake Oahe, but still allows construction to continue west of this area. The ruling does not protect the land where, on Saturday, hundreds of Native Americans forced Dakota Access to halt construction, despite the company’s security forces attacking the crowd with dogs and pepper spray. This part of the construction site is a sacred tribal burial ground. We get an update from Stephanie Tsosie, associate attorney with Earthjustice who helps represent the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers over the Dakota Access pipeline.

Read more…

Source: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Lawyer: Judge’s Ruling Allows Dakota Access to “Desecrate” Sacred Ground | Democracy Now!

Canada’s Mordor: European Report Slams Alberta’s ‘Dirty Oil’

New scathing European report compares the Alberta Tar Sands to the dark realm of Mordor from Lord of the Rings. Pressures are looming over Alberta to clean up its environmental act. This is an S.O.S.

Source: Canada’s Mordor: European Report Slams Alberta’s ‘Dirty Oil’

How do we grieve the death of a river? — Spotted Horse Press by Winona LaDuke

How do we grieve the death of a river? Written by Winona LaDuke   “Our people blocked the road. When the troops arrive, we will face them .”– Ailton Krenak, Krenaki People, Brazil  This eighteen months saw three of the largest mine tailings pond disasters in history.  Although they have occurred far from northern Minnesota’s pristine waters, we may want to take heed as we look at a dozen or more mining projects, on top of what is already there, abandoned or otherwise. These stories, like many, do not make headlines. They are in remote communities, far from the media and the din of our cars, cans and lifestyle.  Aside from public policy questions, mining safety and economic liability concerns, there is an underlying moral issue we face here:the death of a river. As I interviewed Ailton Krenak, this became apparent. The people in southeastern Brazilian call the river Waatuh or Grandfather. “We sing to the river, we baptize the children in this river, we eat from this river, the river is our life,”  That’s what Ailton Krenak, winner of the  Onassis International Prize, and a leader of the Indigenous and forest movement in Brazil, told me as I sat with him and he told me of the mine waste disaster. I wanted to cry. How do you express condolences for a river, for a life, to a man to whom the river is the center of the life of his people? That is a question we must ask ourselves. November 2015’s Brazilian collapse of two dams at a mine on the Rio Doco River sent a toxic sludge over villages, and changed the geography of a world.  The dam collapse cut off drinking water for a quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment. As the LA Times would report, “Nine people were killed, 19 … listed as missing and 500 people were displaced from their homes when the dams burst.” The sheer volume of water and mining sludge disgorged by the dams across nearly three hundred miles is staggering: the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools or the volume carried by about 187 oil tankers. The Brazilians compare the damage to the BP oil disaster, and the water has moved into the ocean – right into the nesting area for endangered sea turtles, and a delicate ecosystem. The mine, owned by Australian based BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world, (and the one which just sold a 60-year-old coal strip mine to the Navajo Nation in 2013) is projecting some clean up. Renowned Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastiao Salgado, whose foundation has been active in efforts to protect the Doce River, toured the area and submitted a $27 billion clean-up proposal to the government.  “ Everything died. Now the river is a sterile canal filled with mud,” Salgado told reporters. When the mining company wanted to come back, Ailton Krenak told me,  “we blocked the road.” They didn’t get the memo. – Read more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/news/how-do-we-grieve-the-death-of-a-river-written-by-winona-laduke#sthash.oVTqm8uZ.dpuf

Source: How do we grieve the death of a river? — Spotted Horse Press by Winona LaDuke

(Part 1) Indigenous Oil – The Glass Bead Game. A Sussex Global Podcast Series

Episode 2 The Meaning of Climate Change 1st December, 2015 (Part 1) Indigenous Oil . Combining anecdotal experience of indigenous groups on the front line of Canada’s environmental conflict with academic research. Produced and directed by Will Hood.

This episode explores the role of story in our on-going relationship with energy, ecology and economics.

This episode features:  Chief Billy Joe Laboucan Massimo Chief of the Lubicon Cree Band, Little Buffalo, Alberta, Canada;  David Attenborough Broadcaster, UK;   Ernie Gambler Indigenous Musician from Calling Lake, Alberta, Canada;   Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez Indigenous Scholar at the University of Alberta, Canada;   J.B. Williams, Tsawout First Nation Flood Story Narration (with music from Elder May Sam);   Makere Stewart-Harawira Indigenous Scholar at the University of Alberta, Canada;  Peter Newell Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex

Episode Extras: Oil On Lubicon Land: A Photo Essay

Source: (Part 1) Indigenous Oil – The Glass Bead Game

FATAL EXTRACTION

Australia is a giant in African mining, but its vast — and in some cases deadly — footprint has never been examined.

Australian-listed mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and alleged injustices which wouldn’t be tolerated in better-regulated nations.

The stories that follow are from people across Africa, rarely heard outside their own communities.

via FATAL EXTRACTION.

Fossil fuel divestment is rational, says former Shell chairman | Environment | The Guardian

This is an important example of the way the “keep it in the ground” discourse has been captured by the oil industry and reframed as carbon capture – burying the carbon in the ground. Not only is this anything but the safe alternative promoted here, but also, and importantly, putting a price on carbon thus becomes an impetus to develop carbon capture infrastructure which in turn will enable oil mining to continue as usual.

“….But he also approved of fossil fuel divestment, a fast-growing and UN-backed campaign to persuade investors to dump their stocks, on the basis that current reserves of coal, oil and gas are already several times greater than could be safely burned. The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign is highlighting the divestment argument and calling on the world’s two largest medical charities – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foudnation and Wellcome Trust – to divest their endowments from fossil fuels.

“Divestment is a rational approach,” Moody-Stuart said, speaking at a dinner in London organised by Carbon Trust, which provides advice to businesses on reducing emissions. “If you think your money can be used somewhere else, you should switch it. Selective divestment or portfolio-switching is actually what investors should be doing.” He pointed out that all the major oil and gas companies divested their considerable coal operations in the 1990s. “It was a perfectly rational decision.”

Moody-Stuart condemned the lack of industry progress in addressing climate change. “I find it quite distressing that 18 years after major oil companies, such as BP and Shell, acknowledged the threat of climate change, and the need for precautionary action, and began to put in place modest steps to address it, that the world in general and the industry has made remarkably little progress,” he said.

Moody-Stuart added: “There are two realities acknowledged by most businesses. The first is the needs that have to be met today [but] business leaders also recognise there will at some point be radical change, and industries will be completely transformed. The gap between how we get from one to the other hasn’t really closed.”

The oil and gas majors should be developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) quickly, Moody-Stuart said. “The industry has a real role to play in CCS. We can do it and it can be perfectly safe. it is not rocket science.”

He said a key problem was the vast infrastructure needed for CCS, on the same scale as the existing oil business. “CCS has the potential to have a major impact but I worry because of the scale and we haven’t made much progress with it.”

via Fossil fuel divestment is rational, says former Shell chairman | Environment | The Guardian.

New Study Shows Here’s How Canada Could Have 100% Renewable Electricity by 2035 | DeSmog Canada

Canada could become 100 per cent reliant on low-carbon electricity in just 20 years and reduce its emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a new study shows.

The report calls for bold policies to be adopted immediately in order for Canada to transition to a sustainable society.

“Twenty years ago Canada was a leader on the climate change file. But today our reputation on this issue is in tatters,” James Meadowcroft, political science professor at Carleton University and one of the report’s authors told DeSmog Canada. “It is time for us to get serious and take vigorous action to move towards a low carbon emission economy.”

The report is a collaboration between 60 Canadian scholars and outlines a 10-point policy framework to achieve dramatic emission reductions. At the top of the list is the need to put a price on carbon which was unanimously recommended by the report’s authors.

via Here’s How Canada Could Have 100% Renewable Electricity by 2035 | DeSmog Canada.

Government bows to oil industry with new tailings rules – Vue Weekly

Imagine, for a moment, that you happen to be in charge of a jurisdiction that claims to have world-class environmental standards and regulations. As part of that rhetoric and reputation, imagine that six years ago you put in place a set of regulations that you claimed set strict and enforceable guidelines and rules for dealing with, and eventually eliminating, oilsands tailings. Now, imagine that not one single oilsands operation was able to meet the requirements and expectations of that policy. In fact, instead of shrinking, tailings lakes became even more of a problem. What would you do?

Would you make a strong statement about how environmental policies are only as good as the enforcement mechanisms behind them, and then proceed to fine and punish the industry to the extent of the law?

Would you state unequivocally that the government is very concerned about the growth and expansion of toxic tailings lakes, and that if companies cannot develop and deploy technology for safely dealing with those tailings, they will simply be forbidden from producing more?

If you were Alberta, you would simply state that the goals contained in the old legislation were clearly too ambitious, refuse to fine or penalize anyone, and ultimately scrap the legislation. You would then set about writing new regulations that made things much easier for the oilsands industry, wouldn’t really require them to do anything about tailings in the near future and contained no meaningful enforcement provisions.

That is exactly what the government of Alberta did last week with the introduction of its new Tailings Management Framework. After having suspended Directive 74, the 2009 regulation that set hard targets for dealing with tailings in Alberta with clearly articulated penalties for non-compliance, the government needed to come up with something to replace it.

What they have done, however, is essentially acceded to everything the industry wanted to see in tailings regulation. Under the new framework, companies are given a discretionary three to 10-year period at the beginning of their life during which they can accumulate tailings without limit. At that point, the total volume of tailings they are allowed is capped. In other words, the mines are allowed to keep their tailings volume constant after their initial accumulation. Then the mines have until 10 years after they close to fully reclaim all of their tailings. In other words, under the new framework, we will not see any significant reclamation for decades to come.

The framework also gives the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) some flexibility in dealing with mines that surpass their allowed tailings volume, suggesting that the AER will be allowed to permit a certain percentage deviation in volume, while not actually detailing what that percentage will be.

Perhaps most concerning, however, is the lack of specificity in the Framework around enforcement. What will happen to mines that surpass the allowed volume of tailings? The regulation speaks of a compliance levy, but  it does not say how that levy will be calculated and provides no guarantee that it will be enough to serve as a deterrent. There needs to be some guarantee that the cost of the levy will be higher than the cost of investing in cleaning up tailings, or industry will simply choose to pay the levy and tailiings will continue to grow.

Connected to that is the concern that mines do not have to completely reclaim their tailings until 10 years after they close. Mines can have a life span of 50 years—that’s a long time to wait for meaningful reclamation.

via Government bows to oil industry with new tailings rules – Vue Weekly.

Our Renewable Future Post Carbon Institute

Or, What I’ve Learned in 12 Years Writing about Energy

(7000 words, about 25 minutes reading time)

Folks who pay attention to energy and climate issues are regularly treated to two competing depictions of society’s energy options.* On one hand, the fossil fuel industry claims that its products deliver unique economic benefits, and that giving up coal, oil, and natural gas in favor of renewable energy sources like solar and wind will entail sacrifice and suffering (this gives a flavor of their argument). Saving the climate may not be worth the trouble, they say, unless we can find affordable ways to capture and sequester carbon as we continue burning fossil fuels.

On the other hand, at least some renewable energy proponents tell us there is plenty of wind and sun, the fuel is free, and the only thing standing between us and a climate-protected world of plentiful, sustainable, “green” energy, jobs, and economic growth is the political clout of the coal, oil, and gas industries (here is a taste of that line of thought).

via Our Renewable Future Post Carbon Institute.