Environment

Standing Strong Against Big Oil

For months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has been protesting the construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline that would cut through four US states. By early September, the protests reached unprecedented size, as hundreds of environmental activists joined the local community of about 8,000. This is the largest gathering of Native Americans in over a century, with over 90 tribes represented at Cannon Ball, North Dakota, just south of Bismarck, the state capital.

The Native tribes and environmentalists say the pipeline would disrupt a sacred burial ground, as well as threaten water quality in the area. They say that the Army Corps of Engineers should never have granted permits for its construction.

The pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation to Illinois. Its supporters claim it will be spill-proof, and that its construction will generate thousands of jobs. Critics respond that any leak would poison the Missouri River, which borders the entire western edge of the Standing Rock reservation.

The protests led to the arrest of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal chair Dave Archambault, among others. Work was eventually halted, pending a Sept. 9 ruling by a judge who has heard arguments against the construction. (more…)

Bill C-51 in Action: Peaceful Paddle Lands Site C Opponents on Terrorist Watch list

From Common Sense Canadian

The following letter was written by the Paddle for the Peace Planning Committee in response to an article in the Toronto Star which stated that events like the upcoming Paddle for the Peace (July 11th) were on terrorist watch lists.

Dear Editor,

According to the Toronto Star (March 30, 2015), the Federal government has included the Paddle for the Peace on a terrorist watch list.  And here we thought we weren’t getting any attention.  We are in good company, though.  Also on the list is a physicians’ group opposed to child poverty, Mother Theresa, and a senior’s quilting group from Bugtussle, Saskatchewan.  In an effort to save our government security agencies time, not to mention the Canadian taxpayers a great deal of money, we’d like to present a brief resume of some of the key players on the Paddle for the Peace planning committee.  It is a rogues gallery indeed.

Retired primary school teacher Ruth Ann Darnell is the Chair of the Peace Valley Environment Association.  She has been working to save the Peace Valley from Site C since the 1970s.  Back then, Ruth Ann’s subversive activities were hampered by the fact the Internet was decades away from being created.  After a long day of teaching five year olds to read, she just never had the time or energy to trudge down to the Fort St. John library to research DIY incendiary devices.

After teaching her sixteen year old son to drive, local children’s clothing retailer Danielle Yeoman knew she was one of those rare talents every ISIS recruiting officer dreams of discovering.  She desired to really put her nerves of steel to the test.  But her terrorist career was over before it was started when she learned those torso belts packed with explosives add at least six inches to your waistline.  I mean really, there are limits to what a girl will do to support a violent fanatical cause.

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Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change Biggest Challenges for Humanity

From the Communist Party of Finland

Nuclear weapons, along with climate change, now constitute the biggest challenges facing humanity.

The mere existence of nuclear arms is a threat against humanity. The use of a tiny part of the over 16,000 existing nuclear weapons, of which 4,000 are operational, would have catastrophic consequences for our planet.

The idea of “nuclear deterrence” as the basis for unsustainable and unacceptable military doctrines must be definitely abandoned; far from contributing to nuclear disarmament, they stimulate the perpetual possession of those weapons.

The use of nuclear weapons implies the flagrant violation of international standards related to the prevention of genocide and protection of the environment. My country, Cuba, maintains that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal, immoral and cannot be justified under any security concept or doctrine.

It is unacceptable that in today’s world more is being spent on measures to wage war than on promoting development. Just to give an example, in 2013 the astronomical figure of 1.75 billion dollars in global military spending was reached.  A great part of that money being dedicated today to maintaining and modernizing nuclear arsenals should be used to benefit humankind, to promote the economic and social development of countries, to definitely eradicate poverty and to provide a decent life for all human beings without exception.

Many International Conferences have contributed to a greater international understanding about the serious risks and catastrophic humanitarian consequences associated with the existence of nuclear arms. But that is not enough, nor can it be the final objective.

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Tell Parliament – Defeat Police State Bill C-51

 

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The Communist Party of Canada is campaigning to mobilize visible resistance against Bill C-51, the “Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015” announced in late January.  A growing chorus of voices demand Bill C-51 be rejected by Parliament. This is possibly the most serious attack on democratic rights since the War Measures Act. CSIS itself should be dismantled, not expanded. Join us in this struggle!

Click here for more information

Historic US Oil Workers’ Strike for Safety Spreads to Two More States

From CommonDreams

The biggest U.S. oil worker strike in more than three decades just grew even larger, with two mid-western BP plants joining in the work stoppage to demand health and safety protections from some of the world’s most powerful fossil fuel corporations.

The United Steelworkers announced Saturday that over 1,400 employees at two BP refineries—in Whiting, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio—have decided to join the 3,800 oil workers on strike at nine refineries in California, Kentucky, Texas and Washington.

The workers at the new sites officially began their work action at 12:01 Sunday morning, according to the union.

The strike, now entering its second week, was organized to win protections in an industry where safety is a matter of “life-or-death” for workers and surrounding communities, as Samantha Winslow points out in Labor Notes.

As of Sunday morning, two new BP plants in the mid-west have joined in the strike. (Photo courtesy of United Steelworkers)

As of Sunday morning, two new BP plants in the mid-west have joined in the strike. (Photo courtesy of United Steelworkers)

The Texas City, Texas plant on strike is the site of a BP refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 workers (the refinery was later sold to Marathon).

“We have a lot of forced overtime,” Dave Martin, vice president of the union striking at the Marathon refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, told Labor Notes. “That was one of the main issues in the Texas explosion: people working overtime and not making the right decisions.”

“Our local union has lost 14 members in 16 years. Quite frankly, we’re tired of our coworkers being killed and being subjected to this risk,” said Steve Garey, president of the USW local in Anacortes, Washington.

Shell Oil, which sits at the head of the negotiating table for the industry side, is refusing to budge on safety issues, say workers.

“After long days of discussions with the industry’s lead company, Shell Oil, little progress has been made on our members’ central issues concerning health and safety, fatigue, inadequate staffing levels that differ from what is shown on paper, contracting out of daily maintenance jobs, high out-of-pocket and health care costs,” said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers in a press statement.

In an industry known for health and safety violations, as well as large-scale environmental disasters like BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the workers have garnered broad support, including from environmental organizations.

Australian Uranium Mining Company Accused of Contaminating Lake Malawi

From CorpWatch

Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 million people in three countries – Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The company began uranium mining operations in Malawi in 2009 although it suspended operations last year after ore prices fell.

“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November,” wrote Rafiq Hajat of Malawi’s Institute for Policy Interaction on Facebook. “[At] a radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish].”

Malawi is the world’s thirteenth poorest country in the world with a life expectancy of 55 years and the government has been keen to figure out ways to increase the national income. When Paladin submitted a proposal to explore for uranium in Kayelekera, northern Malawi, in 2007, Henry Chimunthu-Banda, then Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources, told parliament that the mine could potentially boost the country’s gross domestic product by 10 percent.

Controversy has dogged the Kayelekera mine ever since. “Uranium is radioactive and that with open-pit mining, like the one to be conducted at Kayelekera, the soil drains into rivers and contaminates the water,” Titus Mvalo, a lawyer representing several civil society organizations in Malawi, told Inter Press Service in 2007. “When humans drink the water, it damages kidneys and causes cancer.

(more…)

Kazakh Oil Consortium Accused of “Mass Poisoning” of Village School Children

From CorpWatch

A Kazakh oil consortium has been accused of “mass poisoning” after 25 school children and four teachers passed out almost simultaneously at a school in Berezovka village in northwest Kazakhstan. The incident is the latest in a decade of allegations of pollution caused by the neighboring Karachaganak oil field.

Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V. (KPO) is a joint venture among multiple stakeholders that were awarded the exclusive rights to extract oil from the Karachaganak reserves in 1997. BG Group of the UK and ENI of Italy each hold 29.25 percent while Chevron from the U.S., Lukoil from Russia and nationally owned KuzMunaiGas hold smaller stakes.

“The emergency situation which arose on November 28 is not surprising. This is a direct result of omissions by the public authorities, and violations by KPO of the requirements for environmental and industrial safety,” said Sergey Solyanik, a lawyer with Crude Accountability, a U.S. based NGO.

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