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Making more noise about the tar sands!

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The HarperCons are certainly giving The Regina Mom a lot of opportunity to diss them. And that would be fun! Perhaps, if we give them enough rope... I know. It's wishful thinking, mirroring theirs, apparently. As a poster at one of the web boards I frequent said, "It's like the entire country is having a Stress Test." It does feel that way these days, for sure. Alberta Diary blogger David Climenhaga says we shouldn't really be surprised.

Does it really surprise anyone that's he's doing it now, just when he'd persuaded us he was a really fine, avuncular, sweater-wearing fellow, possibly holding a pussy cat, who said absolutely nothing about this topic during his recent election campaign? Seriously, people, this is the neo-Con modus operandi -- when the opportunity presents itself, manufacture a "crisis" and move swiftly to "resolve" it while the opposition is still silently bug-eyed with astonishment and trying to remember where the facts were filed.

TRM is not surprised and so, for now, she's going follow her western neighbour's subtle advice and make more noise about the tar sands.

But where to start today?

Maybe this is as good a place as any. When TRM first clicked onto this 30-minute video, she considered it a hoax. Further research revealed it to be an expose of the cover-up on a spill that leaked into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. SET Environmental Inc. was subcontracted by Enbridge to clean up the mess. In the video John Bolenbaugh, a former employee of SET, documents some of the devastation he witnessed as a worker, the cover-up itself and the challenges of taking the case to the Environmental Protection Agency. His actions as a whistleblower have resulted in him not only losing his job, but also attacks on his property, harassment by Enbridge and the police, as well as death threats. This week he is in court suing his former employer, "seeking compensation for both past and future economic damage, emotional distress and attorney fees." TRM wishes him well.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, the Minister of Natural Resources spews false data about the GHG emissions levels in the tar sands. Deep Climate dissects the dirty data, noting that the numbers Minister Oliver spouts are those put forward by the climate change deniers at Ethical Oil. TRM readers will remember that a propagandist communications guru in the Prime Minister's Office is a founder of that organization. And, even though the Minister has claimed he is not a denier, he still spills denier science and misinformation when he speaks in Parliament and in public. Don't trust his words.

TRM does trust the words of Andrew Nikiforuk, however. She attended his session at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words several years ago and was moved to tears by his presentation on the tar sands. Nikiforuk has been steadfast in his commitment to this crisis, writing prolifically and touring extensively, to share his work. Today, at The Tyee, he lists 11 "economic and political questions [that] have gone unasked or unanswered in the media and Parliament," questions we should be asking our MPs. And so, TRM suggests we do just that. Go there now, get a copy of those questions, and send them to your MP, the Opposition critics, Minister Oliver and the Prime Minister's Office. And while you're at The Tyee, take a moment to thank Andrew for his good work.

Also at The Tyee is a piece by Christopher Pollon in which he raises the question of the commercial viability of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Though Enbridge claims otherwise, it does not appear to have provided sufficient documentation in the form of signed contracts for various things, such as long-term shipping contracts, to prove it. This has led one of Enbridge's competitors, Kinder Morgan, to complain:

Gateway's application creates a dangerous precedent, shifting the entire process from a race to obtain contractual support for new services, to a race to get regulatory approval for unproven "concepts" without the need to demonstrate market support.Pembina [Institute]'s [Nathan] Lemphers concurs, stating in his report that such an approach could spur a "rush of pipeline speculators who seek regulatory approval for conceptual pipelines, effectively putting the cart before the horse and placing greater strain on both regulators and the affected public alike."

Emma Gilchrist, at Troy Media, lays down five reasons as to why this project is not in Canada's interest.

  1. Protecting B.C. jobs
  2. Dutch Disease
  3. Exports Canadian jobs
  4. Half of Canada is reliant on foreign oil
  5. What's the hurry?

Good points, all, points it's obvious the HarperCon government could care less about. But, maybe not quite. In a House of Commons committee examining the oil and gas sector, Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister for the energy sector with Natural Resources Canada said more oil may flow east in the future. Who knows? It may turn out that this hullabaloo was created to set Canadians up for something else. It is, as previously noted, the way the HarperCons work.

Regardless, First Nations communities are working to stop the tar sands. The most recent call for action comes from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN). They have concerns, explained in part by TRM in previous posts. The current concern has to do with Shell's plans to expand projects in the tar sands.

ACFN is concerned about the proposed Shell Projects' impacts on ACFN's ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future. The regulatory process DOES NOT meet ACFN's need in terms of a proper assessment of impacts to rights. ACFN has no assurance that the environment and treaty rights can be protected because Alberta has done a poor job of enforcing environmental protection with the companies and Shell has not met past commitments to ACFN. In September of 2011, ACFN filed suit suing Shell Canada for these unmet agreement (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation serves Shell Canada with intent to Sue over tar sands projects).

Chief Adam of ACFN stated, "We're drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed, our treaty rights respected and our rights are fully recognized within the approval process once and for all."

ACFN calls on us to submit written comments on Shell's revised Jackpine and Pierre River mine agreements to the Public Consultation on Revised Joint Review Panel Agreements. Instructions for doing so are on the ACFN website. Do what you can, please, to stop this racist development and potentially save some lives.

In other words, make some noise; it's the least you can do.

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