Tag Archives: fossil fuels

Trump advancing Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines by executive order

President Donald Trump is expected to use his executive powers to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

TransCanada, the foreign company behind the Keystone XL project, will attempt to use eminent domain to sue U.S. landowners and seize private property in order to pipe this fuel across the United States for export.

After Barack Obama rejected the pipeline in 2015, TransCanada sued the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement for $15 billion. Despite his previous remarks concerning NAFTA, Trump did not address the company and its lawsuit before backing the KXL project.

Following months of national opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Department of the Army ordered an environmental review of the project in December 2016.

The pipeline was originally proposed to cross the Missouri River just above Bismarck, North Dakota, but after complaints, it was rerouted to cross the river along sacred Tribal grounds, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation..

Trump had invested in Energy Transfer, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. His spokespeople have claimed he has since divested, but no proof of this has been presented.

Reaction to the news of the executive orders from 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben: More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history. The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral. In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to serve the oil industry. It’s a dark day for reason, but we will continue the fight.

“This is not a done deal. The last time around, TransCanada was so confident they literally mowed the strip where they planned to build the pipeline, before people power stopped them. People will mobilize again.”

And more reaction from the progressive community:

350.org executive director May Boeve said: “Trump clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing. Indigenous peoples, landowners, and climate activists did everything in our power to stop Keystone XL and Dakota Access, and we’ll do it again. These orders will only reignite the widespread grassroots opposition to these pipelines and other dirty energy projects. Trump is about to meet the fossil fuel resistance head on.”

Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard said: “A powerful alliance of Indigenous communities, ranchers, farmers and climate activists stopped the Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines the first time around, and the same alliances will come together to stop them again if Trump tries to raise them from the dead. Instead of pushing bogus claims about the potential of pipelines to create jobs, Trump should focus his efforts on the clean energy sector where America’s future lives. Trump’s energy plan is more of the same — full of giveaways to his fossil fuel cronies at a time when renewable energy is surging ahead.

“We all saw the incredible strength and courage of the water protectors at Standing Rock, and the people around the world who stood with them in solidarity. We’ll stand with them again if Trump tries to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline, or any other fossil fuel infrastructure project, back to life.”

Oil Change International campaigns director David Turnbull said: “Both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines will never be completed, no matter what President Trump and his oil-soaked cabinet try to do. Trump’s first days in office saw massive opposition, marking the beginning of four years of resistance to his dangerous policies. We stopped Keystone XL and Dakota Access before and we’ll do it again. These are fights Trump and his bullies won’t win.”

CREDO Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson said: “President Trump is showing that he’s in the pocket of big corporations and foreign oil interests. Approving these dirty oil pipelines would poison American air and water, supercharge climate change and trample Native American rights. Fierce grassroots activism has stopped these pipelines over and over again.”

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said: “Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he’s already proving to be the dangerous threat to our climate we feared he would be. But, these pipelines are far from being in the clear. The millions of Americans and hundreds of Tribes that stood up to block them in the first place will not be silenced, and will continue fighting these dirty and dangerous projects.

“Trump claims he’s a good businessman, yet he’s encouraging dirty, dangerous tar sands development when clean energy is growing faster, producing more jobs, and has a real future. Trump claims he cares about the American people, but he’s allowing oil companies to steal and threaten their land by constructing dirty and dangerous pipelines through it. Trump claims he wants to protect people’s clean air and water, but he’s permitting a tar sand superhighway that will endanger both and hasten the climate crisis.

“The Keystone pipeline was rejected because it was not in the country’s interest, and the environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline was ordered because of the threats it poses to the Standing Rock Sioux. Nothing has changed. These pipelines were a bad idea then and they’re a bad idea now.

“Simply put, Donald Trump is who we thought he is: a person who will sell off Americans’ property and Tribal rights, clean air, and safe water to corporate polluters.”

Indigenous Environmental Network executive director Tom BK Goldtooth said: “The Indigenous Environmental Network is extremely alarmed with President Donald Trump’s announcement of the two Executive Orders setting the stage for approving the dirty energy pipeline projects of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Sioux Tribes, as sovereign Native nations, were never consulted by Trump or his Administration on this decision that further violates the treaty rights of the Lakota, Nakota, Dakota people. Trump is portraying his true self by joining forces with the darkness of the Black Snake pipelines crossing across the culturally and environmentally rich landscape of the prairie lands of America.

“These actions by President Trump are insane and extreme, and nothing short of attacks on our ancestral homelands as Indigenous peoples. The actions by the president today demonstrate that this Administration is more than willing to violate federal law that is meant to protect Indigenous rights, human rights, the environment and the overall safety of communities for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry.”

UN lauds launch of market tool assessing firms’ climate risk

The United Nations is applauding the launch of a financial tool to track companies’ efforts to prepare for climate change.

Thirteen funds and five firms managing over $2.4 trillion launched the online tool at the London Stock Exchange earlier this month.

Called the Transition Pathway Initiative , it allows asset managers to check what companies have done to prepare for a low-carbon economy.

Burning fossil fuels, which releases carbon into the atmosphere, is considered one of the main drivers of man-made climate change.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said the new tool could help ensure financial investments support efforts to limit and prepare for climate change.

A G-20-led task force recommended last month that companies should provide investors with more information about the risks companies face from global warming.

Wisconsin tribe wants pipeline removed

A Chippewa tribe in Wisconsin is calling for 12 miles of pipeline to be removed from its reservation after 64 years of operation, saying they want to protect their land and water from oil spills.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s tribal council approved a resolution earlier this month refusing to renew easements for 11 parcels of land along a section of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, which carries oil and natural gas liquids 645 miles from Canada to eastern Michigan.

The resolution also calls for decommissioning the pipeline and removing it from the tribe’s reservation along the shores of Lake Superior in far northern Wisconsin. The resolution also directs tribal staff to prepare recycling, disposal and surface restoration work that would come with removal.

“We depend upon everything that the creator put here before us to live mino-bimaadiziwin, a good and healthy life,” Bad River Chairman Robert Blanchard said in a news release. “These environmental threats not only threaten our health, but they threaten our very way of life as (Chippewa).”

But it isn’t clear whether the tribe can force removal of the pipeline.

Brad Shamla, Enbridge’s vice president of U.S. operations, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview  it was too early to speculate on what authority the tribe may have.

Officials with Calgary-based Enbridge say there’s never been a spill on the Bad River reservation.

The resolution surprised the company, Shamla said, because Enbridge and the tribe have been negotiating renewal of easements on the 11 parcels – which expired in 2013 – for the last three years. The easements for the majority of the remaining parcels on Bad River tribal land extend until 2043 or rest in perpetuity.

“We’d really like to understand better what’s prompting this at this time,” Shamla said.

Dylan Jennings, a Bad River council member, said in a telephone interview that the tribe believes it’s only a matter of time until the aging pipeline ruptures. No amount of compensation or negotiation will change its position, he said.

“A 64-year-old pipe in the ground is not something we’re prepared to leave behind for future generations,” he said.

Asked about next steps, Jennings said the Bad River is a sovereign nation and shouldn’t need approval from any federal or state regulators to force the line out. But the situation is unprecedented — most people stop pipelines before they go in, not after they’re built, he said — and the tribe will need “guidance.”

Jennings said the push to remove the pipe has nothing to do with protests in North Dakota over Energy Transfer Partners’ plans to build a section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir. The Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux are challenging the pipeline’s permits at numerous water crossings.

Enbridge’s Line 5 has been a flashpoint of contention in Michigan. Environmentalists fear a portion of pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, which link Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, could rupture and cause catastrophic damage to the Great Lakes.

Shamla insisted the line is safe and is inspected at least once every five years to determine the extent of corrosion as well as spot dents, potential cracks and other problems. The company checks the portion that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac every two years, he said.

“We’ve maintained and operated this line safely for more than 60 years,” he said.

DNR deletes from website references to human role in climate change

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has quietly removed language from its website that said humans and greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the website now says the cause of climate change is debatable.

Gone are sentences attributing global warming to human activities and rising carbon dioxide levels.

DNR spokesman James Dick says the new wording reflects the agency’s position on the topic and that climate change causes are still being debated and researched.

The vast majority of scientists agree burning fossil fuels has increased greenhouse gases and caused warming. A 2014 United Nations report found human influence on climate is clear.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker controls the DNR. He has been critical of President Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives.

 

Monitoring equipment failed to detect North Dakota pipeline spill

A pipeline rupture spewed more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek and went detected until a landowner discovered the pollution.

The monitoring equipment didn’t detect the leak, according to Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche Pipeline.

A landowner discovered the spill near Belfield on Dec. 5, according to Bill Suess, an environmental scientist with the North Dakota Health Department.

The crude migrated about 6 miles from the spill site along Ash Coulee Creek, polluting private and public U.S. Forest Service land. The creek feeds into the Little Missouri River.

Seuss said it appears no oil got that far and that no drinking water sources were threatened.

About 37,000 gallons of oil had been recovered as of Monday.

The pipeline was shut down immediately after the leak was discovered. The pipeline is buried on a hill near Ash Coulee creek and the “hillside sloughed,” which may have ruptured the line, Owen said.

“That is our No.1 theory but nothing is definitive” Owen said. “We have several working theories and the investigation is ongoing.”

True Cos. has a history of oil field-related spills in North Dakota and Montana, including a January 2015 pipeline break into the Yellowstone River. The 32,000-gallon spill temporarily shut down water supplies in the downstream community of Glendive, Montana, after oil was detected in the city’s water treatment system.

The 6-inch steel Belle Fourche Pipeline is mostly underground but was built above ground where it crosses Ash Coulee Creek, Suess said.

Owen said the pipeline was built in the 1980s and is used to gather oil from nearby oil wells to a collection point.

The company has hired Alberta, Canada-based SWAT Consulting Inc. that specializes in cold-weather oil spill cleanups, Suess said.

About 60 workers were on site Dec. 12 and crews have been averaging about 100 yards daily in their cleanup efforts, he said. Some of the oil remains trapped beneath the now frozen creek.

True Cos. operates at least three pipeline companies with a combined 1,648 miles of line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, according to information the companies submitted to federal regulators. Since 2006, the companies have reported 36 spills totaling 320,000 gallons of petroleum products, most of which was never recovered.

Federal pipeline safety regulators initiated 19 enforcement activities against the three True pipeline companies since 2004. Those resulted in $537,500 in proposed penalties, of which the company paid $397,200, according to Department of Transportation records.

The potential for a pipeline leak that might taint drinking water is at the core of the disputed four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, where thousands of people have been protesting its construction in southern North Dakota. That pipeline would cross the Missouri River.

Study: North Dakota pipelines average 4 spills per year

Pipelines in North Dakota have spilled crude oil and other hazardous liquids at least 85 times since 1996, according to an analysis released today by the Center for Biological Diversity. These 85 spills — an average of four a year — caused more than $40 million in property damage, according to the data compiled from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The analysis follows the recent decision by the Obama administration not to grant the Dakota Access pipeline an easement for construction under Lake Oahe.

After months of peaceful protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will undertake a review of alternate routes for the pipeline.

“Pipeline leaks are common and incredibly dangerous, and the Dakota Access pipeline will threaten every community it cuts through,” said the center’s Randi Spivak. “This pipeline wasn’t considered safe for the residents of Bismarck. It is equally unsafe for the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux. The Army Corps should not be putting anyone’s water supply at risk.”

Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate behind the controversial Dakota Access project, has a questionable safety record. The company has been responsible for 29 pipeline safety incidents since 2006, in which 9,555 barrels of hazardous liquids were spilled.

The standoff over the Dakota Access pipeline has united indigenous people across the globe in an unprecedented show of solidarity. Thousands have come to show their support. In response local police have militarized the situation, firing rubber bullets and showering protesters with water in freezing temperatures.

A 2013 study reveals a deeply troubling history of pipeline accidents in the United States. This independent analysis of federal records found that since 1986, oil and gas pipeline leaks, spills and other safety incidents have resulted in nearly $7 billion in damages, more than 2,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.

A time-lapse video documents significant pipeline” incidents in the continental United States — along with their human and financial costs — from 1986 through May 2013.

On average one significant pipeline incident occurred in the country every 30 hours, according to the data.

“We expect the Corps to conduct a full oil-spill risk analysis for every river crossing along the entire route of the Dakota Access project,” Spivak said in a statement to the press. “Spills are a fact of life when pipelines fail — and that puts water, wildlife and people directly in harm’s way.”

 

Dakota Access protesters close Citibank accounts

As part of a global day of solidarity with Standing Rock water protectors, thousands of activists around the globe demanded that Citibank halt and rescind its loan disbursements for the Dakota Access pipeline.

Activists went to Citibank branches to close their accounts and ask that the bank honor its policies on Indigenous, human, and environmental rights.

Citibank holds the largest share in the Dakota Access pipeline and helped lay the groundwork for other financial institutions to join in financing the controversial project.

“Citibank claims that it cares about Indigenous rights, yet has led the way in financing this disastrous project on behalf of a fossil fuel company willing to destroy Standing Rock’s sacred land and water supply,” said Greenpeace spokeswoman Mary Sweeters. “Not only has the bank laid the groundwork for the project to move forward, in doing so it has signed off on the human rights abuses we’ve seen from Energy Transfer Partners and its security team. It’s time for Citi to put its loan disbursements on hold and withdraw from the pipeline agreement if all outstanding issues are not resolved to the satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux.”

In addition to visiting local branches to close accounts and demand accountability from Citi, activists were taking to phones throughout the day to pressure the bank to halt and rescind its loan disbursements.

The actions are part of a larger global day of solidarity with Standing Rock through which individuals closed their bank accounts, shut down banks and demand the withdrawal of sheriff departments.

Greenpeace, which is involved in coordinating the actions, delivered a letter to Citibank reiterating the demands outlined in a coalition letter initiated by BankTrack and sent to all 17 financial institutions backing the project.

The demands include:

• All further loan disbursements to the project are immediately put on hold.

• Citi demands from the project sponsor that all construction of the pipeline and all associated structures is put on hold until all outstanding issues are resolved to the full satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

• In case such a resolution of outstanding issues is not achieved with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Citi will fully withdraw from the loan agreement and any other credit facilities to the Energy Transfer Family of Partnerships.

• A public statement is made by Citi on how it will act on the issues identified above.

TD Bank, Bank of America, Suntrust and Goldman Sachs are among the other financial institutions backing the project and the subjects of ongoing protest.

DNB, the largest bank in Norway, recently decided to sell its assets invested in the companies behind the pipeline and is exploring the possibility of terminating its loans as well, which amount for 10 percent of the project.

ING also has expressed concerns about the project and its impacts to the Standing Rock Sioux.

“We are confident that people power can stop this ill-conceived pipeline,” said Sweeters. “Whether it be through the banks pulling their loans or the (Obama) administration pulling the permitting, it’s time to listen to Standing Rock and all the Indigenous communities demanding action.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has delayed a decision on an easement for the pipeline to allow for additional analysis and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The original permitting for the pipeline was fast tracked without adequate tribal consultation and consent or environmental review.

With Donald Trump’s presidency on the horizon, calls have grown stronger for Barack Obama to designate a national monument to permanently protect Standing Rock.

Canadian prime minister makes pipeline decisions

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved one controversial pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast, but rejected another.

He approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia , but rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C.

These are the first major pipeline decisions for Trudeau, whose Liberal government is trying to balance the oil industry’s desire to tap new markets in Asia with environmentalists’ concerns.

“The project will triple our capacity to get Canadian energy resources to international markets beyond the United States,” Trudeau said at an Ottawa news conference. “We took this decision today because we believe it is in the best interests of Canada.”

Alberta, which has the world’s third largest oil reserves, needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. Approving Trans Mountain helps diversify Canada’s oil exports. Ninety-seven percent of Canadian oil exports now go to the U.S.

“We are getting a chance to sell to China and other new markets at better prices,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said. “And we’re getting a chance to reduce our dependence on one market and therefore be more economically independent.”

Houston-based Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to Vancouver Harbour in Burnaby will increase the capacity of an existing pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

But there remains opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia, the birthplace of the Greenpeace environmental movement. There is no guarantee it will get built despite Trudeau’s approval as it faces strong opposition from environmentalists and indigenous leaders. Vancouver, B.C. Mayor Gregor Robertson said he was profoundly disappointed by Trudeau’s decision and said it would bring seven times the number of oil tankers to Vancouver’s waters.

Interim federal opposition Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said she supports the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, but doubts it will be built because of the opposition.

Trudeau rejected the Northern Gateway project to northwest British Columbia which passes through the Great Bear Rainforest. Northern Gateway would have transported 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China.

About 220 large oil tankers a year would have visited the Pacific coast town of Kitimat. The fear of oil spills is especially acute in the pristine corner of northwest British Columbia, with its snowcapped mountains and deep ocean inlets. Canadians living there still remember the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off an Alaska export hub. 1989.

Trudeau also promised to introduce legislation for a moratorium on crude oil tanker shipping on B.C.’s north coast.

“The Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline and the Douglas Channel is no place for oil tanker traffic,” Trudeau said.

Northern Gateway was approved by the previous Conservative government but a federal appeals court blocked it, ruling that aboriginal communities had not been adequately consulted. That put the decision on Northern Gateway in Trudeau’s hands.

Trudeau also approved an Enbridge pipeline replacement called Line 3 that will carry oil from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest. That pipeline will carry oil from Alberta, through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin. The Line 3 project would nearly double the existing pipeline’s volume to 760,000 barrels a day.

Notley said Trans Mountain and Line 3 are critical to the oil-rich province’s economic future.

The importance of Trudeau’s decisions on pipelines only grew after the Obama administration turned down TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would have taken Alberta oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast. President-elect Donald Trump has expressed support for Keystone XL.

Trudeau noted that more oil would end up being transported by rail if more pipelines are not built. There have been a number of accidents involving oil trains during the past decade in the U.S. and Canada. The worst occurred in 2013 when a runaway train derailed and set off fires that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

 

Violence in North Dakota: Water protectors attacked at barricade

More than 100 water protectors from the Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone Camps mobilized to a bridge to remove a barricade that was built by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the state of North Dakota.

The barricade, built after law enforcement raided the 1851 treaty camp, restricts North Dakota residents from using the 1806 freely and also puts the community of Cannon Ball, the camps, and the Standing Rock Tribe at risk as emergency services are unable to use that highway.

Water Protectors used a semi-truck to remove two burned military trucks from the road and were successful at removing one truck from the bridge before police began to attack Water Protectors with tear gas, water canons, mace, rubber bullets, and sound cannons.

At 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, the Indigenous Rising Media team acquired an update from the Oceti Sakowin Medic team that nearly 200 people were injured, 12 people were hospitalized for head injuries, and one elder went into cardiac arrest at the front lines.

At this time, law enforcement was still firing rubber bullets and the water cannon at Water Protectors. About 500 Water protectors gathered at the peak of the non-violent direct action.

A statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network…

The North Dakota law enforcement are cowards. Those who are hired to protect citizens attacked peaceful water protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures and targeted their weapons at people’s’ faces and heads.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the North Dakota State Patrol, and the Governor of North Dakota are committing crimes against humanity. They are accomplices with the Dakota Access Pipeline LLC and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners in a conspiracy to protect the corporation’s illegal activities.

Anyone investing and bankrolling these companies are accomplices. If President Obama does nothing to stop this inhumane treatment of this country’s original inhabitants, he will become an accomplice. And there is no doubt that President Elect Donald Trump is already an accomplice as he is invested in DAPL”