Tag Archives: Environmental

Amazonian Tribes Unite To Demand Brazil Stop Hydroelectric Dams

 Members of the Munduruku indigenous tribe dance along the Tapajós river during a ‘Caravan of Resistance’ protest in November. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Members of the Munduruku indigenous tribe dance along the Tapajós river during a ‘Caravan of Resistance’ protest in November. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

By Jonathan Watts | The Guardian

Four Amazonian tribes have joined forces to oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams in their territory as the Brazilian government ramps up efforts to exploit the power of rivers in the world’s biggest forest.

The Munduruku, Apiaká, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa released a joint statement on Thursday demanding the halt of construction on a cascade of four dams on the Teles Pires – a tributary of the Tapajós.

They say the work at the main area of concern – the São Manoel dam – threatens water quality and fish stocks. The site has already reportedly expanded almost to the edge of a nearby village, although the local communities say they have not been consulted as they obliged to be under national laws and international standards.

Graphic

“The government builds dams without completing environmental studies, without seeking to understand the consequences of the destruction of nature in our lives. It authorizes the operation of dams without giving a response to indigenous people and leaving their lives without fish, without water, without hunting as they try to hide their negative impacts on our lives, our rivers and our territories,” the statement read.

Members of the indigenous coalition told the Guardian they were prepared to escalate their protest if their requests are ignored.

“If the demands aren’t met, I’ll have to occupy the construction site. They can’t do what they are doing without listening to us,” said Valdenir Munduruku, one of the leaders of the alliance.

The four tribes often clashed violently with one another until the 19th century, when they first formed an alliance against European colonialists who were confiscating their lands and stealing their people to use as slaves.

 An aerial view of the construction site of a hydroelectric dam on the Teles Pires – a tributary of the Tapajós. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters/Corbis

An aerial view of the construction site of a hydroelectric dam on the Teles Pires – a tributary of the Tapajós. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters/Corbis

Juliana de Paula Batista, a lawyer and indigenous activist, said the groups had reaffirmed their unity in recent years against the growing threat posed by hydropower.

“Right now, it is a really serious situation. The tribes feel the urgency because the builders are just 500 metres from the village with no consultation or alternatives with the tribe. Elsewhere, they are building on sacred sites,” she said.

The Teles Pires dams are likely to be just the start of increased development of the region’s hydro-potential. Even bigger projects go up for auction on the lower Tapajós this year, including a dam at São Luiz that would directly flood territory claimed by the Munduruku.

Brazil is rushing to provide low-carbon energy for its population. The government says this is necessary to support development of the country and to meet goals for greenhouse emission cuts.

 A young child wears traditional face paint during a “Caravan of Resistance’” protest. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A young child wears traditional face paint during a “Caravan of Resistance’” protest. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

More than 250 dams are planned in the Amazon – the world’s most important centre for biodiversity – according to the WWF, which has urged greater environmental care and consultation with local communities ahead of building such projects.

Numerous legal appeals have been launched against the dams, which disrupt water systems far beyond the immediate areas affected by reservoir flooding. Several lower courts have found in favour of the tribes and their supporters, but the hold-ups tend to prove temporary.

“They have ridden roughshod over the law. In every case the government has intervened using the excuse of a ‘threat to national security’ – an artifice going back to military dictatorship,” said Brent Millikan of International Rivers, who says the process on environmental impact assessment is also pushed through with undue haste and inadequate study. “Problems are being swept under carpet because of the rush to build these things as fast as possible. It is the indigenous people who are affected.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/30/amazonian-tribes-demand-brazil-stop-hydroelectric-dams

Quebec City Climate-Change March Draws 25,000 People

A climate-change march drew about 25,000 people to the streets of Quebec City on April 11, 2015, as protesters try to encourage premiers to take a tougher stance on climate and pipeline regulations. (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

A climate-change march drew about 25,000 people to the streets of Quebec City on April 11, 2015, as protesters try to encourage premiers to take a tougher stance on climate and pipeline regulations. (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

CBC News

A climate-change march drew about 25,000 people to the streets of Quebec City on Saturday, as protesters try to encourage premiers to take a tougher stance on climate and pipeline regulations.

The march was organized by Act On Climate — a coalition of groups including environmental groups, unions, students and aboriginal groups.

It’s in preparation for a premiers’ summit on climate change which will take place on Tuesday, April 14.

The focus is a greener strategy for Canada’s provinces and territories.

About 100 buses were driven to the rally with many passengers from different parts of Quebec. Once there, they marched for about three kilometres to the National Assembly.

Protesters wore red and arranged themselves so that from the sky it looked like a bursting thermometer.

Protesters against pipelines

High on the list of demands from the group is stopping the building of new pipelines, including Keystone, Energy East, and Northern Gateway.

Serge Simon, the grand chief of Kanesatake, said Quebec environmentalists should look to British Columbia.

“You could take the example of the B.C. premier [Christy Clark]. The B.C. premier had a lot of pressure brought to them and they put these conditions that stopped Northern Gateway,” he said.

“The premier of Quebec [Philippe Couillard] can do the same thing if he stops catering to big corporate interests. I don’t see why he can’t do this.”

Saturday’s march concluded with a concert featuring Les Respectables, Yann Perreau and Sarah Harmer.

On Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will sign a deal with Quebec on a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions.

For Florida Indian Tribes, Everglades Bike Path A Threat

Emily Kluga, a volunteer with the National Park Service, hunts for Northern African rock pythons and other non-native snakes in the Florida Everglades on January 29, 2015. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

Emily Kluga, a volunteer with the National Park Service, hunts for Northern African rock pythons and other non-native snakes in the Florida Everglades on January 29, 2015. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

BY VICTORIA BEKIEMPIS | NEWSWEEK

Since childhood, Betty Osceola has lived in her ancestral homeland: the Everglades in Florida. Members of the Miccosukee tribe, Osceola and her family maintain as many traditions as possible–such as living in chickee huts, thatched-roof homes made of cypress wood and cabbage palm leaves.

Of course, South Florida’s steady development since the mid-1950s has encroached on their lands and culture. Growing up, Osceola and her siblings swam in the River of Grass, fishing for bluegill and bass; she says the water has become so polluted they can no longer eat from it more than once a week.

“Now we can’t live off the land like we used to,” Osceola, 47, says.

She and other indigenous people in and near the Everglades also worry about what they see as another threat to their environment and way of life that, ironically, has been billed as green: a paved bike path between Naples and Miami.

That proposed trail, the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG), would run alongside U.S. 41. The 76-mile ROGG would be some 12 to 14 feet wide, according to the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department.

Opponents and local media have pointed out that the ROGG would course through “six national and state parks as well as protected wetlands, critical habitat, across two native reservations and a World Heritage Site.” Some preliminary ideas for the ROGG include the construction of at least five trailheads that would feature parking and picnic areas. A final “Feasibility Study and Master Plan Report” is expected to be released in several months, according to several reports.

Osceola and other ROGG opponents worry the path and trailheads would place further stress on the fragile environment, as well as harm indigenous cultural heritage. Activists tell Newsweek they also worry the ROGG would help oil and gas prospectors, who have expressed interest in exploring the Everglades, gain access to the environmentally sensitive area.

“Many of our ancestors are laid to rest in the Everglades,” Osceola says. “This isn’t just a bike path out in the middle of nowhere that’s not going to affect anyone.”

On Sunday, Betty Osceola, along with indigenous leaders Bobby C. Billie and Houston Cypress and their allies, will lead ROGG opponents on a five-day protest march along the proposed bike route.

Asked about environmental and cultural concerns, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department said:

“This study is a preliminary analysis of the feasibility of developing a bicycle and pedestrian path, primarily within the U.S. 41 road right-of-way, from Miami to Naples, Florida. This effort has included extensive public involvement of which the Everglades People have been integrally involved. The proposed trail is not intended to encroach into tribal lands. Great effort has been made to insure that the trail is entirely within the road right-of-way for the identified culturally significant areas. The intent of the study is to alleviate impacts to the environment currently being experienced by the State and National Parks in the area and provide an alternative to automobile dependence to accessing the parks. No part of this study is intended to promote development nor does it in any way analyze or allow for oil or gas exploration.”

‘Death Warrant To Our Environment And People’: Native Americans Say No To KXL

Image from Facebook (No to KXL rally)

Image from Facebook (No to KXL rally)

RT NEWS

Dozens of Native Americans have descended on Washington DC on the first weekend of 2015 to stage a protest in front of the White House against the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, which they call a disastrous “death warrant” to the environment and people.

The “No to KXL rally”, organized by Native American leaders and environmental groups, paraded in the Lafayette Square against the pipeline that would channel oil from the Canadian tar sands through to the US to refineries in Texas.

“Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest, has the potential to contaminate the nation’s largest freshwater aquifer, and puts the lives of all people who live along its path in serious danger,” Native Americans said in a statement.

The movement fears that the Republican dominated Congress, which reconvened on Saturday, will rapidly bring KXL bill up for a vote and send it to the president’s desk for approval.

However, many still question whether the president will veto the bill, sending it back to the Senate to get 2/3 approval, or 67 votes to overcome that barrier.

Next week, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is expected to address the possible re-approval of the portion of the Keystone XL pipeline that would run through the state, Associated Press reports. The opponents of the project are planning protests in three SD cities – in Rapid City and Sioux Falls on Monday and in Pierre on Tuesday.

The project would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada down to Nebraska. Over the last decade, oil companies have started extracting oil from Alberta’s tar sands, but the gooey mix of sand, clay and oil is difficult to ship to refineries to turn it into usable fuel. The pipeline would help by offering a connection to refineries in Texas. Labor unions support the project because it would bring 42,000 jobs over its two-year construction period, with just 35 permanent jobs.

Environmental groups meanwhile say producing oil from Canada’s tar sands is energy-intensive and will add 17 percent more carbon dioxide than regular oil production over the project’s life-cycle, exacerbating global warming. Opponents are also concerned that the pipeline will put nearby communities at risk of oil spills and contaminations of water supplies.

Image from Facebook (No to KXL rally)

Image from Facebook (No to KXL rally)

READ MORE: Passing Keystone pipeline ‘an act of war,’ Sioux tribe president tells RT (VIDEO)

READ MORE: Keystone XL pipeline does not benefit Americans – Obama

$100 million Alton gas project delayed over Mi’kmaq concerns

The provincial government has halted work on this portion of the $100 million Alton Gas Storage project. (CBC)

The provincial government has halted work on this portion of the $100 million Alton Gas Storage project. (CBC)

Oct 31, 2014

The Nova Scotia government has halted part of the construction work on the $100-million Alton Natural Gas Storage Project until Calgary-based AltaGas carries out further consultation with the Mi’kmaq, CBC News has learned.

Nova Scotia is enforcing the consultation by withholding provincial permits. The bureaucratic time out was revealed Wednesday at a seminar on aboriginal environmental consultation in Halifax.

“We have altered timelines… to accommodate further consultation,” says Peter Geddes of Nova Scotia Environment.

The Assembly of Mi’kmaq Chiefs demanded a halt to the project last week claiming its concerns over the project’s impact on fish have not a been addressed.

“The commitment we’ve heard is there won’t be any further permits or approvals delivered on this particular project until meaningful and adequate consultation has happened,” says Twila Gaudet, consultationliason for the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative.

On Wednesday officials with the Department of Environment, the Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs and AltaGas confirmed that permits are being withheld.

AltaGas plans to drill into large underground salt caverns to store natural gas near Stewiacke, N.S. It will flush large quantities of salty water generated during the construction process out with the falling tides at the confluence of the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke rivers.

The project received its required environmental assessment in 2007. Construction work to breach a dyke — which was part of the original approvals — has been halted because Nova Scotia Environment has refused to issue a permit. The drill site is still active.

Premier Stephen McNeil says his government is arranging a meeting between AltaGas and the Mi’kmaq in the expectation common ground will be found.

“But listen, there is a responsibility in this province to consult and we’re going to continue to consult until our partners are happy,” McNeil told CBC News.

AltaGas allowed CBC on site Wednesday, but declined comment.

Nova Scotia’s decision to halt the project threatens construction timelines and raises questions about when a company with a seven-year-old environmental assessment can expect to clear regulatory hurdles.

Bureaucrats said Wednesday in Halifax that securing an environmental assessment does not end a proponent’s requirement to consult.

The Mi’kmaq agree.

“The EA isn’t the end of it. There is still a lot more needed,” says Gaudet. “The consultation process supersedes that.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/100-million-alton-gas-project-delayed-over-mi-kmaq-concerns-1.2817335?cmp=abfb