Tag Archives: Oil and Gas

Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach proposed agreement in pipeline dispute

Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader Chief Woos, centre, also known as Frank Alec, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, left, and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser address the media in Smithers, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader says they remain opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief and senior government ministers say they have reached a proposed arrangement in discussing a pipeline dispute that has prompted solidarity protests across Canada in recent weeks.

Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and British Columbia Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser would not give details on the proposed arrangement, saying it first has to be reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en people.

Chief Woos, one of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders, said the proposal represents an important milestone.

“We’re going to be continuing to look at some more conversations with B.C. and of course with the proponent and to further our conversations with the RCMP,” Woos said.

“It’s not over yet.”

Still opposed to pipeline

Woos said the hereditary leaders remain opposed to the pipeline. The proposed arrangement with the government is regarding questions around rights and title to their traditional territory.

“This is what we’re all about, is the occupation of the land out there,” he said.

The Wet’suwet’en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils. A majority of its councils have approved the Coastal GasLink pipeline, but some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose it running through their traditional territory.

The issue has spurred solidarity protests and rail blockades across the country since RCMP moved in on Feb. 6 to enforce an injunction to stop a road blockade erected by those opposed to the pipeline that prevented the company’s workers from entering the site.

Bennett said the proposed arrangement will honour the protocols of the Wet’suwet’en people and clans.

Rights holders always ‘at the table’

The arrangement builds on a Supreme Court decision regarding rights and title, she said, presumably referring to a 1997 decision acknowledging Aboriginal land title that set a precedent for how it is understood in Canadian courts.

Bennett said the past few days of negotiations had been about learning, and humility.

“The rights holders will always be at the table. And that is the way through for Canada,” Bennett said.

Woos warned developers that the hereditary leaders will continue to protect their waters, wildlife habitats and traditional sites with “everything we have.”

“As Wet’suwet’en, we are the land and the land is ours,” he said. “We’re not going to look at any alternative ways.”

The announcement comes as talks between the hereditary chiefs and the ministers entered a fourth day.

The Canadian Press · Posted: Mar 01, 2020

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Keystone XL: police discussed stopping anti-pipeline activists ‘by any means’

Demonstrators against the Keystone XL pipeline walking to a federal courthouse in in Rapid City, South Dakota, in June. Photograph: Adam Fondren/AP

Revealed: records show law enforcement has called demonstrators possible ‘domestic terrorism’ threats

US law enforcement officials preparing for fresh Keystone XL pipeline protests have privately discussed tactics to stop activists “by any means” and have labeled demonstrators potential “domestic terrorism” threats, records reveal.

Internal government documents seen by the Guardian show that police and local authorities in Montana and the surrounding region have been preparing a coordinated response in the event of a new wave of protests opposing the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Civil rights organizations say the documents raise concerns that law enforcement is preparing to launch an even more brutal and aggressive response than the police tactics utilized during the 2016 Standing Rock movement, which drew thousands of indigenous and environmental activists opposed to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) to North Dakota.

At Standing Rock, law enforcement organized repeated rounds of mass arrests and filed a wide array of serious charges in local and federal courts against activists. Police also deployed water cannons, teargas grenades, bean bag rounds and other weapons, causing serious injuries to protesters.

The documents are mostly emails from 2017 and 2018 between local and federal authorities discussing possible Keystone protests. They show that police officials are anticipating construction will spark a sustained resistance campaign akin to the one at Standing Rock and that police are considering closing public lands near the pipeline project.

The new records have come to light as the Keystone pipeline project has overcome numerous legal hurdles with help from the Trump administration, and as the project’s owner, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), is moving forward with initial construction efforts.

Among the major revelations in the documents:

  • Officials at a 2017 law enforcement briefing on potential Keystone XL protests said one key tactic would be to “initially deny access to the property by protestors and keep them as far away [from] the contested locations as possible by any means”, according to an email summary from a US army corps of engineers security manager in Nebraska in July 2017.
  • Officials with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said in 2017 that the bureau had 10 armed officers in Montana and was prepared to “work with local [law enforcement] to deny access to federal property”. In 2018, army corps officials were also in discussions with the Montana disaster and emergency services department to discuss ways to “close access” to lands near the pipeline route, including areas typically open for hunting and other activities.
  • A “joint terrorism task force” involving the US attorney’s office and other agencies, along with federal “counterterrorism” officials, said it was prepared to assist in the response to protests and a “critical incident response team” would be available for “domestic terrorism or threats to critical infrastructure”. Authorities have also pre-emptively discussed specific potential felony charges that protesters could face, noting that a “civil disorder” statute was used to prosecute activists at Standing Rock.

“There is a lot of muscle behind this effort to make sure that Keystone is constructed,” said Alex Rate, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, which obtained the documents through records act requests and shared them with the Guardian. “There are historically marginalized communities, primarily indigenous folks, who have grave concerns about the impact of this pipeline on their sovereignty, their resources, their religion and culture. They have a first amendment right to assemble and make their viewpoints heard.”

Remi Bald Eagle, intergovernmental affairs coordinator of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, which is located along the pipeline route, said the police buildup was part of a long history of armed subjugation of native people in the region.
“This is an experience of the tide of Manifest Destiny still coming at us,” Bald Eagle said, referring to the 19th-century belief that US settlers had the right to expand across the continent.

The files follow repeated revelations that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have investigated environmental groups and leftwing activists as possible “terrorists”.

Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are seen demonstrating in sub-freezing temperatures last month in Billings, Montana. Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP

Keystone XL was rejected by the Obama administration and then revived by Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration in 2017. The $8bn project has been subject to multiple legal challenges, including over the environmental review process, but pre-construction efforts are now under way.

Opponents of Keystone XL have warned about the environmental and cultural impact of the project for a decade – concerns that came into sharper focus last month after the existing Keystone pipeline, which follows a similar route, leaked 383,000 gallons of tar sands into a swath of North Dakota wetlands.

The new Keystone records, which come from a number of government agencies and were released after a protracted legal battle, also show that officials have specifically met with police involved in the Standing Rock response to discuss “lessons learned”. North Dakota police officials told law enforcement prepping for Keystone that one of their biggest mistakes was their failure to keep activists far away and shut down access to nearby lands.

In one 2018 BLM document, labeled “KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES”, officials discussed the “available resources” to respond to protests in Montana.

“The FBI will have primary investigative authority for all national security investigations, including but not limited to international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction,” BLM wrote.

US border patrol would also be available to assist law enforcement around the border and has access to “drone assets”, the document continued. Border patrol also provided a surveillance drone that police used to track Standing Rock protesters.

BLM also discussed purchasing “riot batons”, helmets and gas masks in advance of possible protests.

Mike Glasch, an army corps spokesman, said that the “by any means” comment came from the agency’s security chief, who was “relaying talking points” from police officials in Mandan and Morton County in North Dakota, adding: “Any method that we would employ to protect the safety of our employees and the public, as well as property and equipment, would be within the limits of the law and be the least invasive possible, while still protecting the public’s first amendment rights.”

A spokesperson for the Morton county sheriff, Kyle Kirchmeier, said he advises law enforcement that “may be involved with potential pipeline protests to make it their goal to keep protesters off of private property and any areas that may be considered a public hazard, such as ditches or highways”, adding that he “is supportive of people’s right to protest, but they need to do so in a lawful manner”. Kirchmeier said he did not recall the 2017 briefing.

A Mandan police spokesperson declined to comment.

Glasch said the army corps had not closed access to its land around the project, but added: “Since a construction site comes with inherent hazards, options are being analyzed for methods to keep any non-essential personnel away from potential construction sites, while at the same time considering constitutional rights.” He said it was too early to speculate about specific potential closure plans.

A spokesperson for the US attorney’s office did not respond to questions about the “terrorism” references but said the office’s “goal is to provide coordinated assistance to local, tribal and state law enforcement to protect public safety and civil rights, and to protect federal lands, while enforcing federal law”.

The FBI declined to comment.

A border patrol spokesperson said the agency would “assist, upon request, with any law enforcement activities within the border area near the pipeline”.

Spokespeople for BLM and TC Energy did not respond to questions.

“Law enforcement are getting ready. They’ve been having meetings behind closed doors,” said Angeline Cheek, an indigenous organizer from the Fort Peck reservation. “We know that they’re preparing … We’ve been preparing for the last three years.”

Rate, from the ACLU, said there was no legal justification for the government to pre-emptively shut down lands in an effort to stop protests. He said it was also troubling for law enforcement to prepare a “militarized” response and suggest that activists could pose terrorist or criminal threats before any actions had even begun.

“They are thinking of them as potential ‘domestic terrorists’. There is simply no support for adopting that paradigm,” said Rate. “The public justifiably thinks of BLM as a land management agency and not necessarily in the business of arming themselves and going out and squelching protesters.”

Candi Brings Plenty, an Oglala Lakota Sioux activist working with the ACLU of Montana, said they were not surprised to learn that law enforcement was talking about stopping indigenous activists “by any means”.

“That is the type of language that has been spoken to us our whole lives,” they said, adding: “We live these injustices on a daily basis. This is finally being unveiled for what it is.”

Brings Plenty, who led a two-spirit camp at Standing Rock, said they would not be intimidated by law enforcement and hoped people would still support the fight against Keystone – instead of just accepting the pipeline.

“It’s almost become the norm for folks to look the other way, feeling like there isn’t something they can do, that it’s beyond their grasp,” they said. “I want folks to see these pipelines the way they do the glaciers in the arctic. This is happening right here in their own front yard.”

By: Sam Levin and Will Parrish. Posted in The Guardian, Nov 25, 2019.

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‘This is oil country’: Newly painted Greta Thunberg mural gets defaced, covered in slurs

An Edmonton man defaced a newly painted mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Sunday morning. ( Andreane Williams/CBC)

The artist says nothing lasts forever

A newly painted portrait of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was quickly defaced — first with a pro-oil message, and later with a slur against the teen.

The mural was painted on a section of a downtown “free wall” along a bike path that runs parallel to 109 Street near the Alberta Legislature. Local artist AJA Louden has confirmed he painted Thunberg Friday.

A CBC journalist was shooting footage of the mural on Sunday morning when James Bagnell walked up with spray paint and began painting “Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country!!!” over the teen’s face.

“This is Alberta. This is oil country. My father has worked in the oil industry. We don’t need foreigners coming in and telling us how to run our business, support our families, put food on our tables,” he said.

Bagnell said as soon as he saw photos of the mural on social media, he decided to go down and “deal with it.” He said his father, who recently died, would have been “disgusted” to see the portrait of Thunberg.

He said Canada shouldn’t change its energy industry because other countries are worse offenders.

James Bagnell paints a pro-oil message over a downtown Edmonton portrait of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. (Gabrielle Brown/CBC)

“I think it’s absolutely intolerant of them to tell us how to change our lives and our people. She should go back to her country and try to make her country better.”

He said Thunberg is a child who is “doing what she’s told,” and doesn’t know better. He said he’s not against becoming more eco-friendly, but said Thunberg offers no solutions.

“Just shut up until you have solutions,” he said.

Later, when CBC returned to shoot more footage, a different man was further defacing the mural — this time calling the teen a derogatory term, and telling her to get out of the country. The man declined to be interviewed.

A newly painted mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was further defaced on Sunday morning. CBC has blurred a derogatory term that later appeared on the mural. (Andreane Williams/CBC)

‘Not a big deal at all’

Reached by email Sunday after the initial pro-oil message was painted, Louden said it’s normal for artists to paint over each other’s work as it’s a free wall.

“Nothing lasts forever — one of my favourite things about that wall is that anyone is allowed to express themselves there, so I’m not upset at all. I haven’t seen what went over it, but if anyone is upset about what was painted over the portrait, they can just paint back over it, it’s not a big deal at all,” Louden wrote.

Mary Bjorgum, a passerby who watched the artwork go up on the wall, was also not surprised, but disappointed, she said.

“Incredibly disappointed because it was a beautiful piece of artwork, time and effort went into making it,” Bjorgum said. “I appreciate that they want to express there but to actually deface it is quite another thing.”

Thunberg was in Edmonton Friday to attend a climate march and rally at the Alberta Legislature that was attended by thousands of people. Her visit attracted a smaller, counter protest presence.

Thunberg then travelled to Fort McMurray, where she met with leaders of the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, as well as to participate in a BBC documentary about the region.

CBC News · Posted: Oct 20, 2019

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Minnesota court rejects challenges to Enbridge Line 3 pipeline approval

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The Minnesota Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear environmental and tribal challenges to Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 oil pipeline, a decision that removes one potential obstacle for the already-delayed project.

The ruling means the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the state regulator that approved the Line 3 project last year, will not have to consider additional environmental issues.

Line 3 is part of Enbridge’s Mainline network that transports western Canadian oil to Midwest refineries. The replacement project would double capacity to 760,000 barrels per day, providing much-needed relief from congestion on existing Canadian pipelines.

Pipelines carrying Canadian oil have fallen short for years of meeting demand because of delays with Line 3, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain and TC Energy Corp’s Keystone XL.

Line 3 was meant to be in service by the end of this year but has been delayed until the second half of 2020 because of issues with permitting.

“We agree with this decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court which now allows the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to move forth with the permitting process for the Line 3 replacement,” said Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s executive vice president of liquids pipelines. “We look forward to the MPUC providing their guidance on the remaining process and schedule.”

The American Petroleum Institute also welcomed the court’s decision. Erin Roth, executive director of API Minnesota, said Line 3 was the “most studied pipeline project in state history.”

In June, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the Public Utilities Commission had failed to address how an oil spill from the line would affect Lake Superior within the project’s environmental impact statement.

Groups including Honor the Earth and the Mille Lac Band of Ojibwe that oppose replacement of Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, petitioned for the state Supreme Court to review other aspects of the impact statement that the appeals court approved. Those petitions were denied on Tuesday.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said.

Calgary-based Enbridge’s shares closed up 0.15% on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$46.70.

(Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)

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United We Roll convoy meets counter-protesters as it leaves Winnipeg

Protesters wave flags and shout at passing trucks as the United We Roll protest leaves Winnipeg early on Friday evening. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Protest truck convoy passes through Manitoba en route to Ottawa

A convoy of at least 70 trucks protesting Ottawa’s oil and gas policies passed through Manitoba on Friday on its way to Parliament Hill, hoping to pick up steam among local drivers.

“We want the current government to realize that they have a huge disconnect with a lot of issues, and the biggest is our oil and gas industry needs to get back in order — and our farmers,” said organizer Glen Carritt Friday morning.

“Everybody’s hurting because the carbon tax is way too much.”

Carritt was driving one of roughly 170 trucks that left Red Deer, Alta., early Thursday morning with a destination of Ottawa as part of the United We Roll protest.

A convoy of trucks left Red Deer on Thursday, bound for Ottawa to demand the federal government do more to help the oil and gas industry in Western Canada. (Tiphanie Roquette/Radio Canada)

He said drivers want to show their opposition to the federal carbon tax and Bill C-69, federal legislation that would change the way energy projects are reviewed, as well as other policies they say are hurting the economy.

On Friday morning, Carritt said the convoy had slimmed down to a core group of about 70 trucks. He was hoping to pick up at least 30 more in Manitoba and Ontario on the way to Parliament Hill for a final rally.

Some of the participants are supporters of the yellow vest protest movement, Carritt said. But he has said the racist and radical views espoused by some yellow vest supporters aren’t part of his protest.

Cleared Deacon’s Corner after 6 p.m.

“We just want our voices heard,” he said. “There’s an election coming up and we want people to realize how important the oil and gas industry is for the rest of Canada.”

The convoy was slowed down briefly early Friday evening as it left Winnipeg, when protesters gathered at Deacon’s Corner to express their opposition to the movement.

“We’re against the message they’re bringing,” said Harrison Friesen, one of about 10 people who stood at the side of the highway, waving flags and shouting at the trucks as they passed.

“For us, we’re against pipelines, we’re Indigenous land defenders. I’m from northern Alberta — I have concerns about what happens with the tar sands, what happens with the community.”

Protesters wait for the convoy to pass Deacon’s Corner on its way out of Winnipeg early Friday evening. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The RCMP closed down one lane of Highway 1 eastbound just after 5:30 p.m. to give protesters a place to safely stand, warning them not to interfere with traffic in the other lane. Although this slowed the convoy’s progress, the line of vehicles had all cleared the intersection shortly after 6 p.m.

“These people that are out on the road here … they’ don’t like the fact that we’ve got a convoy that wants to promote the pipeline and promote oil,” said United We Roll supporter Les Michaelson, who drove ahead to scout any potential problems the vehicles might encounter.

“We want to put people back to work and doing otherwise is actually going backwards.”

Carritt described the convoy as a grassroots movement of drivers who want to stand up for Canada.

The protest has received support from an online GoFundMe fundraiser, he said, which he’s hoping will continue to take a bite out of the fuel cost of the journey.

For the big-rig trucks, that could be as high as $6,000, Carritt said.

Whether it’s drivers on the road or protesters at Parliament, Carritt said he hopes to see more people out supporting his cause.

“Everybody is welcome as long as they’re peaceful.”

Originally posted by CBC News · Posted: Feb 15, 2019

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