— Alliance of 31 First Nations
This week, despite broad public opposition, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper approved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. The Northern Gateway pipeline, seen as a backup option to the Keystone XL pipeline that is currently mired down in a political quagmire in the U.S., would ship 500,000 barrels of bitumen a day through British Columbia to the Pacific coast.
The approval sparked loud protest from First Nations groups and environmentalists. Opposition to Enbridge has already been heightened in British Columbia and with the Harper government’s announcement, opponents took to the streets of Vancouver and promised fierce resistance to the pipeline.
First Nations groups in Canada, which have long fought the pipeline, vowed to defend their land and their sovereignty with no surrender. In an unprecedented show of unity, 31 First Nations and tribal councils have signed a letter announcing their intention to "vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project."
Furthermore the Uni’stot’en Clan has maintained a blockade encampment in the path of Enbridge and other proposed pipelines on their territory in British Columbia since 2009. Upon the Northern Gateway announcement they stated they “are prepared to continue to defend their territories against the incursion of government and industry.”
The environmental left has also vowed to fight back against Northern Gateway. Direct actions, protests and legal battles are being planned to stop the pipeline.
Immediately after the announcement, environmentalists launched sit-ins in Member of Parliament offices in opposition to the decision. Four were arrested at the office of James Moore, Conservative MP and Minister of Industry.
One of the four was Jackie DeRoo, MBA, a mother and retired businesswoman: “I'd never even been to a protest until Northern Gateway came along and I began to learn about climate change,” she said. “If ordinary citizens like me are willing to get arrested to stop this project, Harper can expect blockades that will make Clayoquot look like a picnic.”
At the same time as the Northern Gateway pipeline and Keystone XL campaigns, Enbridge have lobbied for a system of pipelines to send hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar sands south to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Enbridge has multiple pipelines proposed in the United States.
The oil giants are not backing off on draining the Alberta tar sands of every last drop of oil. Nor should the opposition back off in the slightest.
Photo: Direct action at Minister of Industry James Moore's office
- Bank of Montreal: $286 million
- Toronto Dominion: $5 billion
- Scotiabank: $10 billion (!)
- CIBC: $220 million
- Enbridge: $ 100 Million
- Kinder Morgan: $275 Million
- BP: $950 million
- Statoil: $150 Million
- Total: $400 Million
- Marathon: $600 Million
- April 5, 2010 – An explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia claimed the lives of 29 miners.
- April 20, 2010 – BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded and sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, claiming the lives of 11 workers and leading to an oil spill of over 200 million gallons.
- May 8, 2010 – Two explosions at the Raspadskaya coal mine in Siberia claimed the lives of 91 miners.
- June 17, 2010 – An explosion at a coal mine in Amaga, Colombia claimed the lives of 73 workers.
- July 20, 2010 - China experienced its biggest oil spill ever – some 400,000 gallons – after pipelines exploded in Dalian Province.
- July 26, 2010 – An Enbridge Pipeline burst, spilling 19,500 barrels of oil into the Kalamazoo River — a record for the Midwest. The river remains closed.
- August 10, 2010 – Five people lost their lives and another 50 were injured when a natural gas pipeline owned by PG&E exploded in San Bruno, CA, a suburb of San Francisco.
- October 16, 2010 – At least 20 miners were killed by an explosion in a coal mine in Yuzhou, China.
- November 21, 2010 – Some 87 workers were killed in the year’s worst coal-mining accident in China.
- December 2, 2010 – A Chevron pipeline in Salt Lake City, UT burst, spilling 500 barrels of oil. Chevron actually had not one but TWO oil spills in Salt Lake City in 2010. Not only that, but the company had THREE oil spills in the space of one week in December 2010.
- February 9, 2011 – A natural gas explosion in Mont Belvieu, TX claimed the life of one worker and led to a fire that burned for nearly an entire day.
- February 10, 2011 – A natural gas explosion in Allentown, PA killed five people and destroyed eight homes.
- March 11, 2011 – An earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the coast of Japan, dangerously destabilizing several of the country’s nuclear reactors. To date, workers are still trying to prevent total meltdowns of the reactor cores. But it wasn’t just nuclear energy that posed a problem in the aftermath of the earthquake: A fire at an oil refinery was sparked by the quake and raged for days, some times with 100-foot flames leaping into the air.
“The profits were headed out of the country, but the health problems and pollution would have been here to stay. This idea of turning Washington into a way station for coal - which will pollute our atmosphere with tons of carbon dioxide and toxics - is a losing idea for our health and our economy.”Score 2: Approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which would pump crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to Texas refineries through a 1660 mile pipeline, has been delayed. Thanks to some serious political pressure from environmentalists in the U.S. and Canada, the Obama administration yesterday ordered additional environmental reviews of the $7 billion pipeline before making a final decision. As Kate Colarulli, Sierra Club Dirty Fuels Campaign Director, explained:
"We are very pleased that the State Department is taking a closer look at Keystone XL. Now we need to make sure they do a thorough job. If any foreign oil project requires close scrutiny by our government, it’s this one. This project would carry toxic, dangerous tar sands oil right through America’s heartland, putting our drinking water and farming at risk.”Score 3. Early yesterday, the world learned of oil transport giant Enbridge’s strategy for handling inevitable oil spills along its proposed pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness: mop it up with human hair. The fake initiative, dubbed MyHairCares, was promoted in a Video News Release and ran in a number of major news outlets, but was pulled after a denial by Enbridge. Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares (wink wink), said:
“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan.”Just last summer, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River. Enbridge’s northern gateway pipeline proposes to ship oil from the Alberta tar sands to an export terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia. I must admit, it does feel good to score against dirty energy companies sometimes!
HSBC has policy restrictions where customers are involved in the principal processes of mining, extraction and upgrading. We undertake a balanced analysis of positive and negative impacts to understand whether customers operate in accordance with good practice, focusing on factual data and trends where available. Specifically, we analyse: GHG intensity; water usage; land and tailings pond reclamation; the grievance process in place for local communities; and the extent to which a customer discloses standards and performance.For the bank we ranked 13th among tar sands financiers last year, it ain't perfect. The new policy lacks any timelines, targets, or definitions. And the devil's always in those details. You have to wonder, for instance, about that "GHG intensity" commitment. Last year the banking giant underwrote $625 million in bonds for TransCanada. TransCanada is now facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory hurdles over it's proposed "Keystone XL" tar sands pipeline to Texas. In a request to delay approval of the pipeline, the EPA issued concerns that the product it would carry is 82% more GHG-intensive than conventional crude. The "local communities" commitment also raises questions. HSBC raised $100 million in bonds for Enbridge last year. Enbridge is the company working with Chinese oil companies to push the "Northern Gateway" tar sands pipeline through the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest to a tanker port in Northern British Columbia. More than 60 First Nation communities have declared their opposition to the project, calling it a violation of their rights and the integrity of their traditional territories. Pure greenwash? Only time will tell. And HSBC's dealings (or not) with Enbridge and TransCanada will be early indicators. Meantime, at the very least, the new HSBC policy is a welcome sign that banks are beginning to recognize that tar sands is a risky business. For those keeping score, international banks that have developed sector-specific policies that cover tar sands are (in chronological order):