CSIS gathered info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: Watchdog

Demonstrators protest Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver. In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to the now-defunct project. (Reuters)

Demonstrators protest Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver. (Reuters)

Committee concluded fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified

Canada’s spy service collected some information about peaceful anti-petroleum groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines, says a long-secret federal watchdog report.

The newly disclosed report from the Security Intelligence Review Committee acknowledges concerns about a “chilling effect,” stemming from a belief that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was spying on environmental organizations.

Advocacy and environmental groups Leadnow, the Dogwood Initiative and the Council of Canadians are mentioned in the thousands of pages of CSIS operational reports examined by the review committee.

But after analyzing evidence and testimony, the committee concluded the fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified.

The heavily censored review committee report, completed last year and kept under wraps, is only now being made public because of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s challenge of the findings in the Federal Court of Canada.

In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to Enbridge’s now-defunct Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

It also accused CSIS of sharing this information with the National Energy Board and petroleum industry companies, deterring people from expressing their opinions and associating with environmental groups.

The review committee’s dismissal of the complaint has been known since September 2017, but a confidentiality order by the committee prevented the civil liberties association from releasing the report. As the association fights to overturn the dismissal, redacted versions of the detailed findings and related documents are being added to the public court record.

Info collected fell within CSIS mandate: review

The association, which became concerned about CSIS activities through media reports, told the committee of a chilling effect for civil society groups from the spy service’s information-gathering as well as comments by then-national resources minister Joe Oliver denouncing “environmental and other radical groups.”

A CSIS witness testified the spy service “is not in the business of investigating environmentalists because they are advocating for an environmental cause, period.”

Still, another CSIS witness spoke of the need for “domain awareness” to identify “potential triggers and flashpoints” — in part to ensure the service is aware of what is happening should a threat arise, the report says.

Ultimately, the review committee concluded CSIS’s information collection fell within its mandate, and that the service did not investigate activities involving lawful advocacy, protest or dissent. The report indicates that any information on peaceful groups was gathered “in an ancillary manner, in the context of other lawful investigations.”

The report also says there was no “direct link” between CSIS and the chilling effect groups mentioned in testimony before the committee.

The civil liberties association considers some of the findings contradictory, pointing to the 441 CSIS operational reports deemed relevant to the committee’s inquiry, totalling over 2,200 pages.

For instance, one of the largely censored CSIS records, now disclosed through the court, says the reporting was further to “the Service’s efforts in assessing the threat environment and the potential for threat-related violence stemming from (redacted) protests/demonstrations.”

Another refers to the Dogwood Initiative as a “non-profit, Canadian environmental organization that was established in 1999 ‘to help communities and First Nations gain more control of the land and resources around them so they can be managed in a way that does not rob future generations for short-term corporate gain.”‘

The passages before and after the description are blacked out.

“It’s our view that these documents demonstrate that CSIS was keeping tabs on these groups, even if they weren’t formal targets,” said Paul Champ, a lawyer for the civil liberties association.

“But we maintain it’s unlawful to keep information on these groups in CSIS databanks when they are only guilty of exercising their democratic rights.”

The committee report says CSIS should review its holdings to ensure it is keeping only information that is strictly necessary, as spelled out in the law governing the spy service.

The report cites “clear evidence” CSIS took part in meetings with Natural Resources Canada and the private sector, including the petroleum industry, at the spy service’s headquarters, but says these briefings involved “national security matters.”

The committee also concludes CSIS did not share information concerning the environmental groups in question with the National Energy Board or non-governmental members of the petroleum business.

Even so, the perception of CSIS discussing security issues with the oil industry can “give rise to legitimate concern,” the committee report adds. “This needs to be addressed.”

The committee urges CSIS to widen the circle of its public security discussions to include environmental and other civil society groups.

By Jim Bronskill · The Canadian Press 

[SOURCE]

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US officials to hold meeting on Alberta Clipper Pipeline

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Pipeline expansion spurs meeting in Bemidji

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Mar. 5, 2017 — State Department officials will come to Minnesota on Tuesday to hold the only public meeting on a draft environmental review for the final segment of Enbridge Energy’s project to boost capacity in its Alberta Clipper pipeline, which carries Canadian tar sands oil across northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.

The State Department’s four-year review concluded that there would be no significant environmental impacts from completing the project, which requires a presidential permit because the last remaining segment crosses the U.S.-Canadian border in North Dakota. But environmentalists and some Native American tribes dispute that and are gearing up for the meeting in the northern Minnesota city of Bemidji.

Here’s a look at some issues involved:

The pipeline

Enbridge built the Alberta Clipper, also known as Line 67, in 2009 for $1 billion. Its capacity was 450,000 barrels per day. Enbridge later decided to nearly double that to 800,000 barrels; the Calgary, Alberta-based company did most of that by adding pumping stations along the route.

Enbridge needs a presidential permit for the 3-mile segment where the 1,000-mile pipeline crosses the border. Getting the permit is a lengthy process. The Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada’star sands oilto Nebraska, for example, was derailed when President Barack Obama rejected its permit. President Donald Trump has invited Keystone XL developer TransCanada to reapply.

Enbridge is operating the Alberta Clipper at full capacity with a temporary workaround. It built a detour to and from a parallel pipeline that crosses the border nearby and already has a permit. Opponents challenged the legality of that setup in court but lost.

Why Enbridge wants it

Enbridge spokeswoman Shannon Gustafson called the Alberta Clipper “a vital piece of energy infrastructure” that bolsters America’s energy security because it lessens the need for imports from unstable nations. Midwest refineries depend on the oil that Enbridge pipelines deliver, she said.

“Pipelines continue to be the safest, most reliable means of transporting crude oil that Minnesotans and Midwesterners rely on in their daily lives,” Gustafson said.

Other Enbridge projects in the works are a proposed replacement for its 1960s-era Line 3 that would follow part of the same corridor. In fact, the Alberta Clipper detour uses an upgraded section of Line 3 to cross the border. Line 3 is also drawing opposition from tribes and environmentalists.

The opposition

A coalition of environmental and tribal groups opposes the Alberta Clipper because it carries tar sands oil, which they consider a bigger environmental threat than regular crude. The pipeline crosses the lake country of northern Minnesota, including the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Ojibwe reservations. Opponents say it threatens ecologically sensitive areas, as well as resources such as wild rice that are important to the Ojibwe bands.

Some of the leading opponents, including Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, were also active in the fight against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. LaDuke said protests that drew thousands to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota have spawned new “water protectors” to oppose Enbridge.

LaDuke is organizing a “Sustainability Summit” for Tuesday ahead of the State Department meeting. Her event will highlight clean energy alternatives. Participants will then march to the meeting and hold a rally that will include traditional Ojibwe drumming and dancing.

The meeting

The State Department is holding Tuesday’s meeting as part of the public comment period on the draft environmental review, which runs through March 27. The agency will consider those comments as it prepares the final version. The president must then determine whether issuing the permit is in the national interest.

By The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

Standing Rock Chairman Asks Protesters to Disband, Trump to Review Pipeline Decision

Veterans gather for a briefing inside of the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Veterans gather for a briefing inside of the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Reuters | Dec 5, 2016

A Native American leader asked thousands of protesters to return home after the federal government ruled against a controversial pipeline, despite the prospect of President-elect Donald Trump reversing the decision after he takes office.

A coalition of Native American groups, environmentalists, Hollywood stars and veterans of the U.S. armed forces protested the $3.8 billion oil project. They said construction would damage sacred lands and any leaks could pollute the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The tribe still wants to speak with Trump about the Dakota Access Pipeline to prevent him from approving the final phase of construction, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault told Reuters.

“The current administration did the right thing and we need to educate the incoming administration and help them understand the right decision was made,” he said.Trump’s transition team said on Monday it would review the decision to delay completion once he takes office Jan. 20.

“That’s something that we support construction of and we’ll review the full situation when we’re in the White House and make the appropriate determination at that time,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said at a transition team news briefing.

 

Veterans join activists in a march just outside the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as 'water protectors' continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Veterans join activists in a march just outside the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as ‘water protectors’ continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Archambault said nothing would happen over the winter before Trump takes power, so protesters should leave. Many had dug in for the harsh winter of the North Dakota plains, where a blizzard hit on Monday and 40 miles-per-hour (64 kmh) winds rattled tipis and tents.

“We’re thankful for everyone who joined this cause and stood with us,” he said. “The people who are supporting us … they can return home and enjoy this winter with their families. Same with law enforcement. I am asking them to go.”

It was unclear if protesters would heed Archambault’s call to leave the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

SHORT-LIVED VICTORY

On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected an application for the pipeline to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

The Army Corps said it would analyze possible alternate routes, although any other route is likely to cross the Missouri River.

The camp celebrated the decision, but some expressed concern their victory could be short-lived.

“I think this is just a rest,” Charlotte Bad Cob, 30, of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, said on Sunday. “With a new government it could turn and we could be at it again.”

On Monday, tribal leaders and hundreds of veterans walked to Backwater Bridge, one of the focal points of the protests, and offered prayers and chanted after the victory.

Several veterans said they had no plans to leave and suspected Sunday’s decision was a ruse to empty the camp.

Veterans listen to Arvol Looking Horse during a healing ceremony hosted by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, in Fort Yates, North Dakota, U.S. December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Veterans listen to Arvol Looking Horse during a healing ceremony hosted by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, in Fort Yates, North Dakota, U.S. December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

The company building the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, said late on Sunday that it had no plans to reroute the line, and expected to complete the project.

The Obama administration’s decision was a “political action”, ETP said in a joint statement on Sunday with its partner Sunoco Logistics Partners.

The pipeline is complete except for a 1-mile (1.61 km)segment that was to run under Lake Oahe, which required permission from federal authorities.

The chief executive of ETP, Kelcy Warren, donated to Trump’s campaign, while the president-elect has investments in ETP and Phillips 66, another partner in the project.

As of Trump’s mid-2016 financial disclosure form, his stake in ETP was between $15,000 and $50,000, down from between $500,000 and $1 million in mid-2015. He had between $100,000 and $250,000 in shares of Phillips, according to federal forms.

(Writing by David Gaffen and Simon Webb; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Alan Crosby)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-north-dakota-pipeline-idUSKBN13T0QX

Obama Exploring ‘Ways To Reroute’ Dakota Access Pipeline Amid Protests

Mike Vosburg / The Forum

Mike Vosburg / The Forum

The Washington Times, Nov 1, 2016

President Obama said Tuesday that the federal government is looking for ways to reroute the Dakota Access pipeline project, which has been paralyzed by weeks of demonstrations by environmentalists.

In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, Mr. Obama seemed to side with occupiers who want the pipeline rerouted or scrapped outright, citing opposition by Indian groups.

“We’re monitoring this closely, and you know I think that as a general rule my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” Mr. Obama told MSNBC.

Local authorities have pleaded for help in dealing with thousands of demonstrators who’ve also invaded private lands, prompting more than 100 arrests last week and at least one potentially deadly gun attack against cops.

But Mr. Obama indicated that the federal government has no intention of stepping in, despite the threat to federal lands.

“We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and then determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to traditions of the first Americans,” he said.

Aboriginal People, Not Environmentalists, Are Our Best Bet For Protecting The Planet

Academic, author and activist David Suzuki. Photograph by: Mark Blinch , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Academic, author and activist David Suzuki. Photograph by: Mark Blinch , THE CANADIAN PRESS

By David Suzuki

Using DNA to track the movement of people in the past, scientists suggest our species evolved some 150,000 years ago on the plains of Africa. That was our habitat, but unlike most other animals, we were creative and used our brains to find ways to exploit our surroundings. We were far less impressive in numbers, size, speed, strength or sensory abilities than many others sharing our territory, but it was our brains that compensated.

Over time, our numbers increased and we moved in search of more and new resources (and probably to check out the Neanderthals with whom we crossbred before they went extinct). When we moved into new territories, we were an alien creature, just like the introduced ones that trouble us today.

George Monbiot of The Guardian makes the point that we can trace the movement of our species by a wave of extinction of the big, slow-moving, dim-witted creatures that we could outwit with even the simplest of implements like clubs, pits, and spears.

Our brains were our great evolutionary advantage, conferring massive memory, curiosity, inventiveness and observational powers. I can’t emphasize that enough. Our brains gave us a huge advantage and it did something I think is unique — it created a concept of a future, which meant we realized we could affect that future by our actions in the present. By applying our acquired knowledge and insights, we could deliberately choose a path to avoid danger or trouble, and to exploit opportunities. I believe foresight was a huge evolutionary advantage for our species. And that’s what is so tragic today when we have all the amplified foresight of scientists and supercomputers, which have been warning us for decades that we are heading down a dangerous path, but now we allow politics and economics to override this predictive power.

No doubt after we evolved, we quickly eliminated or reduced the numbers of animals and plants for which we found uses. We had no instinctive behavioural traits to restrict or guide our actions — we learned by the consequences of what we did. And all the mistakes that we made and successes that we celebrated were important lessons in the body of accumulating knowledge of a people in a territory. That was very powerful and critical to understanding our evolutionary success — it was painstakingly acquired experience that became a part of the culture. We are an invasive species all around the world, and I find it amazing that our brains enabled us to move into vastly different ecosystems ranging from steaming jungles to deserts, mountains to arctic tundra, and to flourish on the basis of the painful accumulation of knowledge through trial and error, mistakes, etc.

So it was the people who stayed in place as others moved on, who had to learn to live within their means, or they died. That is what I believe is the basis of indigenous knowledge that has built up over millennia and that will never be duplicated by science because it is acquired from a profoundly different basis (I wrote about the differences in a book, Wisdom of the Elders). The wave of exploration hundreds of years ago brought a very different world view to new lands — North and South America, Africa, Australia — based on a search for opportunity, resources, wealth. There was no respect for flora and fauna except as potential for riches, and certainly no respect for the indigenous people and their cultures. Of course, by outlawing language and culture of indigenous peoples, dominant colonizers attempt to stamp out the cultures which are such impediments to exploitation of the land. Tom King’s book, The Inconvenient Indian, argues very persuasively that policies are to “get those Indians off the land”.

I think of my grandparents as part of the wave of exploration of the past centuries. They arrived in Canada from Japan between 1902 and 1904. When they came on a harrowing steamship trip, there were no telephones to Japan, no TV, radio, cellphones or computers. They never learned English. They came on a one-way trip to Canada for the promise of opportunity. Their children, my parents, grew up like all the other Japanese-Canadian kids at that time, with no grandparents and no elders. In other words, they had no roots in Japan or Canada. To them, land was opportunity. Work hard, fish, log, farm, mine, use the land to make money. And I believe that is the dominant ethic today and totally at odds with indigenous perspectives.

Remember when battles were fought over drilling in Hecate Strait, supertankers down the coast from Alaska, the dam at Site C, drilling for oil in ANWR, the dam to be built at Altamire in Brazil? I was involved in small and big ways in these battles, which we thought we won 30 to 35 years ago. But as you know, they are back on the agenda today. So our victories were illusions because we didn’t change the perspective through which we saw the issues.

That’s what I say environmentalists have failed to do, to use the battles to get people to change their perspectives, and that’s why I have chosen to work with First Nations because in most cases, they are fighting through the value lenses of their culture.

The challenge is to gain a perspective on our place in nature. That’s why I have made one last push to get a ball rolling on the initiative to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in our constitution. It’s a big goal, but in discussing the very idea, we have to ask, what do we mean by a healthy environment. We immediately come to the realization that the most important factor that every human being needs to live and flourish is a breath of air, a drink of water, food and the energy from photosynthesis. Without those elements, we die.

So our healthy future depends on protecting those fundamental needs, which amazingly enough, are cleansed, replenished and created by the web of life itself. So long as we continue to let the economy and political priorities shape the discussion, we will fail in our efforts to find a sustainable future. I have been trying to tell business folk and politicians that, in the battle over the Northern Gateway, what First Nations are trying to tell us is that their opposition is because there are things more important than money.

David Suzuki: Aboriginal people, not environmentalists, are our best bet for protecting the planet, Special to The Sun June 8, 2015.

Source:

http://www.faceoff.com/news/metro/David+Suzuki+Aboriginal+people+environmentalists+best+protecting/11112668/story.html

 

Activists, aboriginals fear anti-terror bill will tread on rights

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney comments on the arrest of a man plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto's financial district, in the foyer outside the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney comments on the arrest of a man plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto’s financial district, in the foyer outside the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Canadian Press

Federal assurances the government’s anti-terrorism bill will not be a licence to spy on activists have done little to calm the fears of aboriginal leaders, environmentalists and human rights advocates.

Several critics said Thursday they have strong reason to believe legislation would be used to step up surveillance of protesters opposed to petroleum projects and other resource developments.

“We don’t want to be labelled as terrorists in our own territories, our own homelands, for standing up to protect the land and waters,” Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde told the House of Commons public safety committee.

(What is the Conservatives’ new anti-terror bill and what are the privacy concerns? Read The Globe’s easy explanation)

The committee plans to hear more than 50 witnesses on the bill, introduced in response to extremist-inspired attacks that killed two Canadian soldiers last October.

The legislation would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the ability to actively disrupt terror plots, make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers and take aim at terrorist propaganda.

In addition, the bill would relax the sharing of federally held information about activity that “undermines the security of Canada.”

Neither the new disruptive powers nor the information-sharing provisions apply to “lawful” advocacy, protest or dissent, but some fear the bill could be used against activists who demonstrate without an official permit or despite a court order.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the committee earlier this week such concerns were ridiculous, saying the legislation is not intended to capture minor violations committed during legitimate protests.

Roxanne James, Blaney’s parliamentary secretary, used much of her allotted time during the committee meeting not to ask questions of the witnesses, but to reiterate Blaney’s assurances.

There is strong reason to suspect the new powers could – and would – be used against those advocating for clean water, ecosystem protection and an end to climate change, said Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada.

“We are very concerned that the draft legislation appears to environmental and First Nation climate activists as a threat to security,” she told the MPs.

Kerr pointed to the recent leak of an RCMP intelligence assessment, Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry, that said those within the movement are willing to go beyond peaceful actions and use “direct action tactics, such as civil disobedience, unlawful protests, break and entry, vandalism and sabotage.”

If an aim of the bill is to avoid targeting legitimate dissent, then parliamentarians “have an obligation to write the legislation so it cannot be used in that way,” she added.

Recent examples show the government already takes a very wide view as to what constitutes a threat to Canada’s security, said Carmen Cheung of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

“We need only to look at CSIS and RCMP monitoring of non-violent protests undertaken by First Nations and environmental groups,” she told the MPs.

The bill’s information-sharing provisions are “fundamentally flawed” and should not be enacted, Cheung said.

She echoed concerns raised by privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien that the scope of the warrantless sharing would be excessive and put the personal information of Canadians at risk.

Following New Rules, Groups Say Only ‘Safe’ Arctic Drilling Is ‘No Drilling’

Greenpeace protests Shell's drilling in the Arctic. (Photo: Greenpeace Switzerland/cc/flickr)

Greenpeace protests Shell’s drilling in the Arctic. (Photo: Greenpeace Switzerland/cc/flickr)

by Lauren McCauley

‘There is no such thing as safe or responsible offshore drilling in the Arctic, and the federal government knows it,’ campaigners warn

Environmentalists are sounding the alarm after the Obama administration unveiled the first-ever guidelines for drilling in the Arctic.

Released by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Friday, the proposed guidelines are being touted as a protective measure to “ensure that future exploratory drilling activities on the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are done safely and responsibly, subject to strong and proven operational standards.”

However, as green groups were quick to note, the best way to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from threatening the dangerous and pristine waters of the Arctic is to issue an outright drilling ban in that region.

“There is no such thing as safe or responsible offshore drilling in the Arctic, and the federal government knows it,” said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Marissa Knodel. According to the government’s own environmental analysis, one lease sale in the Chukchi sea poses a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill, with no effective method for cleaning up or containing it.

“Even with new standards the chances of an oil spill are high, as is the threat to our climate if we fail to heed scientists’ warnings to keep these dirty fuels in the ground,” Dan Ritzman, Alaska Program Director for Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, said in a statementfollowing the announcement.

The proposed guidelines focus solely on offshore exploration drilling operations within the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. They seek to codify specific requirements through all phases of the process, including mobilization, drilling, maritime transport and emergency response.

The Arctic-specific guidelines were issued in direct response to the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell’s Alaskan Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, in January 2013.

Despite having been forced to cancel its Arctic drilling operations the past two years because of related safety violations, Shell is planning to return to the Arctic this summer with plans to dig a series of exploratory wells and to deploy two rigs in the Chuckchi sea, the Guardian reports.

In an official statement announcing the proposed rules, BSEE and BOEM note that drilling in the Alaska OCS is an “integral part of the Nation’s ‘all-of-the-above’ domestic energy strategy.” And Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell commended the guidelines, saying: “The Arctic has substantial oil and gas potential, and the U.S. has a longstanding interest in the orderly development of these resources.”

Despite these assurances, environmental groups warn that such regulations only further entrench U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

“This government sanction of ‘safe’ drilling will harm future generations by unleashing more of the dirty fossil fuels that are already warming Alaska twice as quickly as the rest of the nation,” FOE’s Knodel added.

Earlier this month, Greenpeace launched an online campaign calling on supporters to share their “worst joke” in a bid to show Shell that “Arctic drilling is no joke.”

Canada more at risk from environmentalists than religiously inspired terrorists: RCMP