Standing Rock Sioux Nation protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline: A turning point for Indigenous solidarity

Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have been underway since August; the Standing Rock Sioux Nation through whose land the pipeline would pass say that it would damage the Missouri River,  their water supply, as well as sacred sites. Environmentalists object to its capacity of 570,000-barrels-per-day of oil from  North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation, representing GHG emissions equivalent to 29.5 coal plants. For a chronology and  in-depth coverage of the issue, go to Democracy Now   , whose reporter Amy Goodman brought the world’s attention to the protests with her video report on September 6 ,  showing security personnel  attacking protestors with mace and dogs. The Indigenous Environment Network  also offers frequent updates.  On September 9, a U.S. court denied the Sioux Nation’s request for an emergency restraining order against the project; hours later, the White House intervened to order a halt on the disputed section, and the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued a Joint Statement   withdrawing the Army’s authorization for construction until it can determine whether it needs to revisit  any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site .  Furthermore,  from the Joint Statement:  “ this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.  Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions:  (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals. ”  Even before the White House intervention, the Washington Post acknowledged the importance of this dispute in  “Showdown over oil pipeline becomes a national movement for Native Americans”   (Sept. 7); for a more up-to-date appraisal see an article at Think Progress  which acknowledges the long legal road ahead, but calls the DAPL a turning point.

On September 22,  in ceremonies in Vancouver and Montreal , at least 50 First Nations from Canada and the U.S. (including the Standing Rock Sioux) signed on to the Treaty Alliance against Oils Sands Expansion, which pledges coordinated opposition to projects that will expand the production of the Alberta Tar Sands, including the transport of oil sands products by pipeline, rail or tanker. That includes “all five current tar sands pipeline and tanker project proposals – Kinder Morgan, Energy East, Line 3, Northern Gateway and Keystone XL.  The Treaty, as well as the background to it, is available here  .

In the U.S., the “jobs vs. the environment”  controversy has surfaced again over the DAPL. See the August press release from the Laborers’ International Union which states:  “Today, the General Presidents of four skilled craft unions, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and United Association (UA), sent a letter to the North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple encouraging him to use the power of his office to protect the jobs of thousands of American workers who are lawfully constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline.”   On September 15,  the AFL-CIO issued a statement   calling on the Obama administration to allow construction to continue, saying “it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay. The Dakota Access Pipeline is providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs.”    Other U.S. unions, including the National Nurses Union, Amalgamated Transit Union, and United Electrical Workers,  are supporting the DAPL protests:  see Portside coverage here (Sept 17), here   (Sept. 19), and see analysis at “As Tribes Fight Pipeline, Internal AFL-CIO Letter Exposes ‘Very Real Split’”  in  Common Dreams (Sept. 22).

Pipeline News: Report Questions Economic Benefit of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Project ahead of Mass Arrests

A report released by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd. on November 10th asserts that pipeline company Kinder Morgan has exaggerated the number of jobs to be created by its Trans Mountain Expansion Project and drastically underestimated the potential cost of spills. 

While the company holds that the project will support 36,000 person-years of work for British Columbians, with an additional 2000 jobs in spin-offs, the Goodman Group report estimates a maximum of 12,000 person-years during the construction period – amounting to about 4000 jobs per year. Further, revenues for the province may also be lower than claimed. The Goodman report was released just after Kinder Morgan was granted an injunction on November 14th against a group of residents protesting the Trans Mountain project on Burnaby Mountain. 53 protestors have been arrested as of November 22nd.

Read the Goodman report, Economic Costs and Benefits of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) for B.C. and Metro Vancouver. Read “Economists Question Projected Value of Trans Mountain’s Pipeline” from The Globe and Mail. For information about the protests, see “Kinder Morgan Slaps Burnaby Residents with Multi-Million-Dollar Lawsuit” from the Vancouver Observer, and “Kinder Morgan Protests: More Protesters are Arrested as Test Drilling Starts” from the CBC.

Energy East Pipeline: Transporting Crude Oil for Export, not Processing

Contrary to the economic projections put forth by TransCanada Pipeline, a new report released on March 18 contends that the proposed Energy East pipeline will be used primarily as a means to export crude oil, rather than to refine it in Canada.

The Energy East project would convert 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario to carry crude oil, and also would build over 1,500 km of new pipelines through Quebec and New Brunswick, with the objectiveenergyeastreport of carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day. In September 2013, an industry-sponsored report by Deloitte & Touche consultants projected job creation in the order of 10,000 jobs in development and construction, and 1,000 ongoing jobs in the operational phase.

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain argues that the crude delivered by Energy East would exceed the processing capacity of existing Canadian refineries, given that they also source crude from the U.S., the Newfoundland offshore, and in the future, the newly-approved Line 9 pipeline project. The authors argue that new refineries are unlikely to be built in Canada, and point to TransCanada’s proposed plans for export terminals at Gros Cacouna, Québec (east of Québec City) and Saint John, New Brunswick to prove that the intended purpose of the oil is export.

LINKS

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain, prepared jointly by the Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre, is available at: http://www.canadians.org/publications/transcanada%E2%80%99s-energy-east-export-pipeline-not-domestic-gain

CBC summary is at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/energy-east-pipeline-benefits-overblown-report-says-1.2576782

Energy East: The Economic Benefits of TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline Conversion Project (Sept. 2013) is on the Deloitte website at: http://www.energyeastpipeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Energy-East-Deloitte-Economic-Benefits-Report.pdf

U.S. State Department Releases New Jobs Estimates for Keystone XL Pipeline

The U.S. State Department released the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL on Friday March 1, making no recommendations for or against approval of the pipeline project. A 45-day period has commenced to allow for public comments, with a final supplemental environmental impact statement to be released before a government decision, expected no earlier than Summer 2013.

Although mainly assessing environmental impacts, the report includes a socioeconomic section which provides new data: a wider view of impacts (including housing, public services support, fiscal revenues and private property valuations), and more detailed estimates about job creation and earnings impacts. According to the new estimates, 42,100 indirect jobs and 3,900 direct jobs would be created during the one- to two-year construction period, but the ongoing operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, mostly for inspections, maintenance and repairs.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver summed up the Canadian government position on the Keystone XL pipeline when he traveled to Houston Texas on March 6 to address the Huston oil workers. He stated: “The oil sands generate jobs and economic prosperity both in Canada and in the United States. Currently, oil sands production supports 63,000 American jobs per year. With expansion through Keystone and other projects, the oil sands will support tens of thousands more on both sides of the border.”

LINKS

Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL is available in a series of PDF files at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/draftseis/index.htm

Detailed Socioeconomic estimates, including employment and earnings, are published in Section 3.10 at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205641.pdf and Section 4.10 at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205612.pdf

All documents related to the project are posted on a dedicated State Department website at: http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/

Reactions to the statement from:
TransCanada Pipeline http://www.transcanada.com/6209.html;

National Resources Defence Council (U.S.) at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/keystone_xl_tar_sands_pipeline_7.html;