Tag Archives: opposition

Keystone XL Pipeline Protest set for site of 2007 Burnaby pipeline rupture ‎

5 Aug

 

A Vancouver-based environmental group intends to use the Burnaby site of a dramatic oil pipeline rupture four years ago to emphasize its opposition to a planned expansion by Kinder Morgan.

Wilderness Committee (WC) will hold a demonstration on Saturday, Aug. 27 beginning where Hastings Street turns into Inlet Drive. That’s the spot where Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline was ruptured by road construction crews working July 24, 2007. Oil spewed 12 metres in the air flowing downhill toward Burrard Inlet and hitting as many as 100 homes in the area.

The protest is scheduled to coincide with mass civil disobedience planned for Washington, D.C., to protest the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to carry crude oil from northern Alberta to American refineries.

Along with opposing Keystone XL, WC has set it sights on Kinder Morgan’s plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from the oil sands and its terminal in North Burnaby.

WC says the expansion will mean tankers bigger than the ones now using the dock will be sailing in Burrard Inlet. The current ones, claim the Wilderness Committe, carry more than three times the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in March 1989.

Sven Biggs, Wilderness Committee outreach director, said the event will start at 2 p.m. with protesters marching down the hill to the gates of Kinger Morgan’s Westridge Terminal.

For the full article go to source of cross-post here

People’s Tribunal against the Criminalization of Protest in Ecuador

29 Jun

Written by Sofía Jarrín

During three days in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, hundreds of representatives from several Latin American countries gathered to share experiences and strategies during the Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth. The event took place between June 17 and 23, and was organized as an act of resistance against development projects that threaten this vital resource, Yakumama, our mother water. A letter of intention by the organizers reads, “We hope this gathering will become a permanent process of fellowship to protect water and food sovereignty, to create a new social order in harmony with nature, with justice and equity.” 

 The conference began with a visit to sites where environmental conflicts have taken place, in Cochapata and San Bartolomé, more specifically, in the southern province of Azuay, both areas affected by mining companies. The delegation was composed of the Ombudsman, representatives of national indigenous organizations, the Inter-American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), Real World Radio, and a team of FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International. There they witnessed cases of abuse of power by developers, often in complicity with state agencies, that are laying out mining projects despite clear opposition from the communities where they plan to implement them.

In Cochapata, for example, a community of about 7,800 people, there has been great resistance against the construction of a dam by the mining company Explorsur SA. Seven community leaders were accused of sabotage and terrorism for engaging in public protest, and were recently sentenced to eight years in prison. This occurred despite the fact that the Constituent Assembly had granted them amnesty in July 2008, recognizing their role as environmental defenders. Since then, all seven have been in hiding with serious financial and emotional consequences to their families. Unfortunately, like in many other cases, the courts favour private interests instead of communal decisions on how to manage land and water resources. Currently, there are more than 189 pending cases of terrorism and sabotage in Ecuador.

Back in 2007, at the beginning of his government, President Rafael Correa made a public statement setting the stage for what was to come. “Don’t believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist,” he said about the community of Dayuma, Orellana province, who at the was time protesting the environmental devastation in their territory that resulted from oil drilling in the region. The protest was met with police repression and 25 people were detained.
For this reason, one of the main objectives of this conference was to expose these kind of cases, thus exemplifying the ongoing criminalization of protest in Ecuador. An integral part of the conference was a Court of Ethics that analyzed “the criminalization of defenders of human rights and nature.” This people’s court took place on Wednesday, June 22, with the presence a jury of four international authorities: Elsie Monge (Ecumenical Commission of Human Rights, CEDHU, Ecuador), Raul Zibechi (writer and journalist, Uruguay), Leah Isabel Alvear (poet and academic, Colombia), and Mary Hamlin (International Movement for People’s Health). They listened to more than four hours of testimonies and 17 cases of people accused of terrorism.
“Democracy can only be guaranteed when citizens are guaranteed their rights to protest and resistance,” testified Ramiro Avila, a lawyer and professor at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. “These laws are being used to suppress protest and should be immediately repealed.” Avila explained that the law under which the right to protest is criminalized in Ecuador dates back to the early republic, based on the Penal Code of 1920.

The current government of Ecuador, under President Correa, is driving an aggressive development program that is fueling social conflicts all around the country, mostly around mining and oil industries and the control of water sources. Unlike other countries such as Peru and Bolivia, large-scale mining is new to Ecuador and it’s expected to have severe consequences to its many ecosystems. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, there are 1990 registered mining concessions in the country, causing serious concerns among civil society, particularly campesinos and indigenous people. “The social leaders are speaking out to defend their human rights, but instead of welcoming them the State is criminalizing their right to protest,” said Fernando Gutierrez, the National Ombudsman.
The most prominent case is that of four top indigenous leaders, all of them charged with terrorism and sabotage: Pepe Acacho, vice president of the National Confederation of Indigenous People (CONAIE), Marlon Santi, ex-president of CONAIE; Delfín Tenesaca, president of the Kichwa Conferedation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI); and Marco Guatemal, president of Indigenous and Campesino Federation of Imbabura (FICI). They were tried for participating in marches against the Water and Mining Acts during the ALBA Summit in Otavalo in June 2010.
“Is it a crime to defend the water? Is it a crime to defend Mother Earth?” said Carlos Perez, an indigenous leader of Azuay. “Ecuador was pioneer in recognizing the rights of nature, thus the Constitution should be above a criminal code created in times of a dictatorship.” Ecuador was the first country to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution of 2008.
The jury’s decision did not make itself wait. The verdict given was resolute, not only in acknowledging that people opposed to the government’s extractive activities are currently living in an atmosphere of fear and criminalization in Ecuador, but that the State is directly responsible for promoting and maintaining this situation. “These cases confirm that there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it,” reads the verdict. “While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature.”
It furthermore recommends that the President refrains from making public statements that “delegitimizes and stigmatizes” defenders of nature and human rights. To the judicial powers it recommends to comply with the amnesty granted by the Constituent Assembly in 2008 to all people prosecuted of crimes against the State under a ambiguous Penal Code that is largely considered obsolete.
Although this Court of Ethics does not have jurisdictional powers, it does hope to fill up the space created by the State’s omissions of abuses committed against peaceful social protesters and its exoneration of private companies “that operate in the country with impunity.” Correa´s government has yet to pronounce itself before the court’s decision.
Cross-posted from here

Canadian Tar Sands Pipeline Still Opposed by EPA

23 Jun

Landowners, agriculture group keeping up the fight against eminent domain and the Keystone XL pipeline. Is the State Department listening?
By Kate Schwab, 6-23-11

As the third phase of work on the international Keystone XL pipeline looms, the foreign corporation behind the tar sands project is posturing as a handful of landowners in eastern Montana gear themselves up for a fight over land rights.

The $13 billion project comes courtesy of TransCanada, a Canadian firm. It runs approximately 1,711 miles from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the proposed route—1,384 miles of it— is in the United States. The first two phases of the pipeline have already been completed and are fully operational, the company’s website reports. It is supposed to be completed by 2013 and has been in the works for more than three years.

The company says it has already held dozens of meetings for public involvement and points to a Department of Energy study that concluded the pipeline could reduce American dependency on foreign oil from nations outside North America by up to 40 percent. The American Petroleum Institute, which supports the pipeline, also suggested recently that the U.S. could lose the tar sands crude to more cooperative overseas markets if the process continues to be stalled. But the proposed route cuts through a small triangle of northeastern Montana, and locals are not happy about it.

“I’m especially concerned about the safety and emergency preparedness along the route should there be a spill,” landowner Rick Kniepkamp, a resident of Lindsay, Mont., said. Kniepkamp is a member of the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group, an association of affected property owners who have banded together to negotiate environmental and financial issues with TransCanada. Neither he nor any of the other stakeholders contacted by New West responded to requests for further comment.

Kniepkamp has legitimate reason for concern. The finished portion of the pipeline has already experienced several questionable incidents, including leaks in North Dakota and Kansas in May. And in comments released earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency said it is far from satisfied with the U.S. State Department’s current draft analysis of the project’s potential impact. In particular, the EPA objects to the report’s claim that the precise nature of the chemicals used to help bitumen flow through the pipeline should remain “proprietary information.”

The EPA also says that the pipeline could pose a hazard to the Ogallala aquifer, and concluded that the State Department had not pushed hard enough for thorough examination of alternate routes. Also called the High Plains aquifer, it lies below eight states, including Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

Montana landowners are none-too-thrilled with a recent change in state law that directly pertains to the pipeline. Governments, schools and some corporations serving public needs have long possessed the power of eminent domain – essentially, the right to purchase and use any piece of private property, regardless of an owner’s approval. Traditionally, eminent domain was reserved as a last resort for public works purposes, such as getting a road, power line or school built. House Bill 198, which passed in Montana’s 2011 legislative session, redefined eminent domain as the privilege of any company holding a Major Facilities Siting Act (MFSA) certificate. The bill has been heavily criticized as drastically expanding the power of private corporations to take land for nonpublic purposes, despite counter-claims from defenders that it merely reaffirms existing legal precedent.

Count Ed Gulick as one who disputes that defense. The chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a nonprofit agricultural advocacy group, Gulick attacked the change in a recent column distributed to Montana newspapers. He said the law was changed because proponents lost a court battle.

Another Canadian company tried to claim eminent domain for a private power line in Montana. Landowners fought back in court; the company lost when a judge found the company did not possess the eminent domain right. Previously, Gulick wrote, state law required companies “to prove that the project is for a public use, is necessary and is compatible with the greatest public good and least private injury. This test helped prevent eminent domain from being abused.” In contrast, he said, holding an MFSA certificat doesn’t offer adequate protection. “MFSA wasn’t written to protect the rights of landowners facing condemnation by a private corporation,” he wrote.

His organization, however, has been busy, hosting meetings with affected landholders. According to a statement from Northern Plains Research Council, the group has been working with Bozeman attorney Hertha Lund, who specializes in agricultural and land rights issues. She could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for the Northern Plains Resource Council also declined comment, saying staff were not permitted to speak to the media. A message left for a second staff member was not returned.

In February, a U.S. Department of Energy study concluded that the Keystone XL pipeline was not presently needed. In March, the State Department announced its intent to subject the project to new study. Notice was published in the Federal Register in April, with a new 45-day public comment window.

That window is now closed. The State Department is expected to release a completed environmental impact statement and make a final decision on the fate of the pipeline by the end of the year.

Kate Schwab is an intern for New West.

News source here

Editors note: EF!ers and allies in the struggle against the tar sands are invited to this years Summer Rendezvous which will take place in the Lolo National Forest along Hyw. 12 and will focus on building opposition to Exxon’s proposed tar sands corridor. From July 5th through the 12th we will gather in the Northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana) to unite minds, spirits and forces in order to prevent the Rockies from becoming a devastated landscape… For more information you should contact nref@rocketmail.com and/or visit northernrockiesrisingtide.wordpress.com

Court sets aside land allotment for Andhra power project

23 Jun

Hyderabad, June 23 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh High Court Thursday set aside a government order, allotting land to a thermal power project in Srikakulam district of north coastal Andhra [India].

Dealing with a petition filed by some environmentalists challenging the land allotment, the court set aside the order issued in 2008.

Under the order issued Sep 15, 2008, the state government had allotted 972 acres of land to Nagarjuna Construction Company, which proposed to develop a 2,640 MW plant at Sompeta at a cost of Rs.12,000 crore.

Local communities and the environmental groups have been opposing the project on the ground that it is coming up on a wetland. They argued that the project not only threatens the ecology but also endangers the livelihood of fishermen and farmers.

The National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) on July 14, 2010 had cancelled environmental clearance for the project on the ground that it was given in violation of norms.

The NEAA order had come a day after three protesters were killed in police firing on people protesting against the project at Sompeta.

Krishna Murthy, president of Paryavarana Parirakshana Sangham (PPS), which is spearheading the movement against the project, hailed the high court verdict and described it as ‘a victory of the people’.

©Indo-Asian News Service

News source here

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