Tag Archives: Energy

Congress Members Seek to Undermine Lummi Nation’s Request For GPT Permit Denial

Featured image: The 22-foot western cedar totem pole, which features animals and symbols important to the Northern Cheyenne people was created by Master Carver and Lummi Elder Jewell James and the House of Tears carvers, of the Lummi Nation. The totem pole is a gift from the Lummi Nation to members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in southeast Montana as a symbol of solidarity between two tribes whose homelands are threatened by proposed coal export projects. A dedication ceremony for the totem pole was held on January 22, 2016, outside the Northern Plains Resource Council building in Billings, Montana, where the totem pole will stand until a more permanent home is found on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Photo courtesy of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

By Sandy Robson / Coal Stop

Author’s note:  Today, one hundred and sixty-one years ago, the Treaty of Point Elliott was signed on January 22, 1855, by Isaac Stevens, then-Governor of Washington Territory, and by Duwamish Chief Seattle, Lummi Chief Chow-its-hoot, Snoqualmie Chief Patkanim, and other chiefs, subchiefs, and delegates of tribes, bands, and villages. 

elliot-plaque

Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo, WA

In my endeavor to honor today’s 161st anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Point Elliott, this piece brings attention to the disturbing fact that, presently, certain members of Congress are dishonoring that very same treaty as they seek to undermine it. 

Treaty rights of the Lummi people are secured to them by the U.S. federal government in the Treaty of Point Elliott. Specific to treaty fishing rights, is Article 5 of the Treaty provides that, “The right of taking fish from usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the Territory. . .”

In determining whether Lummi Nation’s treaty-guaranteed rights of access to its usual and accustomed fishing grounds and stations, and harvest of fish, would be adversely impacted by the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project, a 48 million metric ton per year coal export terminal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) will be applying a de minimis threshold standard. Any impacts considered to be greater than de minimis by the Corps would warrant the GPT permit denial that Lummi Nation requested of the Corps back over a year ago, on January, 5, 2015.

Underneath the brief summary below of the legislative efforts of several members of Congress, is a detailed outline of the politicians; the campaign money, totaling over a quarter million dollars those politicians have received thus far; and the companies and projects, all relating to legislation that would diminish and undermine tribal treaty rights pertaining to proposed coal export projects in Washington state.

 The Story

Congressional legislators who are backed by the coal industry and coal export terminal interests, have tried multiple times to attach a rider onto various bills that would undermine tribal treaty rights relating to the proposed Pacific Northwest coal export terminals. The original amendments proposed were specifically designed to try to prohibit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) from making its determination regarding the Lummi Nation’s treaty fishing rights relating to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point), before the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be completed for the project.

The language crafted in an amendment presently proposed by federal legislators, could adversely impact the treaty rights of all Indian Tribes and Indian Nations pertaining to projects such as GPT, or the Millennium Bulk Terminal, a 44 million metric ton per year coal export terminal proposed in Longview, Washington, both of which are presently under environmental review.

The fact that the Corps “owes the highest fiduciary duty to protect Indian contract rights as embodied by treaties” is entrenched in case law. That solemn duty and obligation owed to the Lummi Nation by the U.S. federal government, in this case by the Corps in relation to the GPT project, is something the agency addresses separately from any EIS it is tasked with on proposed projects.

In December, 2015, those multiple attempts to attach a rider which would undermine the Lummi Nation’s exercising of its treaty rights relating to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project, proved successful when Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), and Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), proposed Amendment 13, the “McKinley Amendment.” The amendment is attached to H.R. 8, the “North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015.”

The “McKinley Amendment,” now designated Amendment 850, had originally been designated as Amendment 13 in the House. Amendment 13 was passed by the House on December 2, 2015, and then H.R. 8 was passed by the House the next day, on December 3, 2015.

Amendment 850, the “McKinley Amendment,” seeks to prohibit the denial of a permit for the construction, operation, or maintenance of an export facility until all reviews required under NEPA are complete.

amendment 850On December 7, 2015, H.R. 8 was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The next step for H.R. 8 will be a hearing in the Senate.

People should contact their U.S. senators to voice their opposition to Amendment 850, the “McKinley Amendment,” that is attached to H.R. 8.

Every day that passes as the Corps is making its decision on the fate of the GPT permit, is another opportunity for coal-backed legislators such as Congressmen McKinley and Zinke, and Senator Daines, to craft legislation aimed at diminishing Lummi Nation’s, and other tribes’ treaty rights.

Honor The Treaty. Now.

Top row, left to right: state flags of West Virginia, Montana, and Washington State. Bottom row, left to right: Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA).
Top row, left to right: state flags of West Virginia, Montana, and Washington State. Bottom row, left to right: Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA).
The Politicians

Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT) — Ryan Zinke, along with U.S. Senator Steve Daines, led a group of sixteen senators and seventeen members of the House in sending two July 28, 2015 letters (one from the Senate and one from the House) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The letters urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, to complete the environmental review process for the proposed GPT project prior to the Corps making a determination whether impacts to any tribes’ U&A (usual and accustomed) treaty fishing rights are more than de minimis, or too small or trivial to warrant legal review.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) —  Senator Daines attempted multiple times, during the summer of 2015, to attach a specifically crafted amendment to various pieces of unrelated legislation. The amendments were specifically designed to try to prohibit the Corps from making its determination regarding the Lummi Nation’s treaty fishing rights relating to the proposed GPT, before the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be completed for the project. Daines ended up withdrawing his amendment. It is important to note that while Senator Daines orchestrates such efforts against the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation, he is a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Senator Daines, along with Congressman Zinke, led the group of sixteen senators and seventeen members of the House in sending the two July 28, 2015 letters mentioned above, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.)— McKinley proposed Amendment 13 (now designated Amendment 850), the McKinley Amendment, which the House passed by a voice vote on December 2, 2015. Congressman Zinke co-sponsored that amendment.

Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) – Dan Newhouse’s office was contacted about his position on Amendment 13 (now called Amendment 850) that was passed by the House on December 2, 2015, by a voice vote. Congressman Newhouse’s office staff responded “he supports that amendment, he supported it in the Rules Committee, and worked with McKinley and Daines on that.” Apparently, once again, Senator Daines has been involved in an attempt to undermine the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation, as he worked with Congressman McKinley on Amendment 850.

The Money

Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), so far, has received the following campaign contributions relating to the proposed coal export terminals:

–$1,000 from FRS Capital for 2015-2016

–$3,500 from Arch Coal for 2015-2016

–$2,000 National Mining Association for 2015-2016

–$10,750 from Arch Coal for 2013-2014

–$5,000 from National Mining Association for 2013-2014

–$33,500 from Arch Coal for 2011-2012

–$10,000 from National Mining Association for 2011-2012

–$2,400 from Boich Companies for 2012 election cycle

Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), so far, has received the following campaign contribution for the 2015-2016 election cycle relating to the proposed coal export terminals:

–$6,000 from FRS Capital Corp (ultimate parent company over Carrix and SSA Marine) for 2015-2016 election cycle

–$4,500 from Cloud Peak Energy (has 49% stake in PIT/GPT) for 2015-2016 election cycle

–$4,000 from Arch Coal for 2015-2016 election cycle

–$3,000 from National Mining Association for the 2015-2016 election cycle

–$17,700 from BNSF/Berkshire Hathaway for 2013-2016

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), so far, has received the following campaign contributions relating to the proposed coal export terminals:

–$2,500 from FRS Capital Corp for the 2015-2016 election cycle

–$32,500 from Berkshire Hathaway for 2013-2016

–$26,400 from Boich Companies for 2013-2016

–$16,000 from Cloud Peak Energy for 2015-2016

–$11,500 from Arch Coal for 2013-2016

–$17,500 from National Mining Association for 2013-2016

Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), so far, has received the following campaign contributions relating to the proposed coal export terminals:

–$6,000 from FRS Capital Corp (ultimate parent company over Carrix and SSA Marine) for the 2014 election cycle

–$2,500 from FRS Capital Corp/SSA Marine for the 2015-2016 election cycle

–$6,000 from Berkshire Hathaway (parent company over BNSF which would transport coal from WY and MT to the proposed Pac NW coal export terminals) for 2015-2016 election cycle

–$3,000 from Arch Coal for 2015-2016 election cycle

–$1,000 from National Mining Association for 2015-2016 election cycle

All of the campaign contributions listed above were obtained from the website, OpenSecrets.org.

The Companies and Proposed Projects

Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) — a proposed 48 million ton per coal export terminal at Cherry Point, in Whatcom County, Washington

Pacific International Terminals (PIT) — a subsidiary of SSA Marine and the applicant for the GPT project

SSA Marine — parent company over PIT

FRS Capital Corp — parent company over Carrix. Carrix is the parent company over SSA Marine

Cloud Peak Energy — presently has a 49% interest in PIT/GPT, and has an agreement with SSA Marine for an option to ship up to 17.6 million short tons of capacity per year through GPT

Arch Coal — in January, 2011, Arch Coal acquired a 38% equity interest in Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, LLC and its proposed Millennium Bulk Logistics Terminal. Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 11, 2016. Since Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the stock has lost more than 80% of its value, and effective January 12, 2016, trading in Arch Coal common stock was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange

Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview Coal Export Terminal — a proposed coal export terminal project to redevelop an operating bulk materials port on the Columbia River in Longview, Washington, for the export of 44 million metric tons of coal annually. The terminal is served by BNSF and Union Pacific railroads

Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, LLC (formerly Millennium Bulk Logistics) — a subsidiary of Australia-based Ambre Energy that was a majority (62%) partner in the Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal project (Arch Coal has a 38% interest). In November 2014, Ambre Energy sold its two Rocky Mountain coal mines and its stake in proposed coal export terminals planned for Washington and Oregon to Resource Capital Funds (a Denver, Colorado private equity firm) for $18 million, according to company filings with Australian regulators

Resource Capital Funds (RCF) is a long-established investor in Ambre Energy, maintaining a voting position on the company’s board, and loaning Ambre approximately $95 million. RCF bought the Decker mine in Montana, and the Black Butte mine in Wyoming, along with Ambre’s stake in the Morrow Pacific Project in Oregon and its stake in Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal in Washington

Ambre Energy had purchased Cloud Peak Energy’s 50% interest in Decker mine and related assets in September of 2014, and assumed 100% ownership of Decker Mine. Part of that deal included an option granted to Cloud Peak Energy for up to 7 million metric tonnes per year of throughput capacity at the proposed Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal, and Ambre Energy’s assumption of all reclamation and other Decker liabilities and replacement of Cloud Peak Energy’s $66.7 million in outstanding reclamation and lease bonds

Under the deal between RCF and Ambre Energy, RCF would operate under the name Ambre Energy North America, and the leadership team would stay the same. In April 2015, Ambre Energy North America changed its name to Lighthouse Resources Inc. Lighthouse Resources is a privately held company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah

BNSF Railway — applicant for the interrelated (to GPT) Custer Spur rail project and company that would transport coal from WY and MT to the proposed GPT and Millennium Bulk coal export terminals

Berkshire Hathaway — parent company over BNSF

Boich Companies — Boich Companies is a privately held coal mining and marketing company headquartered in Ohio, and is a joint-owner of Signal Peak Energy, LLC (Signal Peak Coal Mine) in Montana. Signal Peak Energy is jointly-owned by Boich Companies, FirstEnergy Corp., an Ohio-based utility company, and Pinesdale LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Swiss commodity trader Gunvor Group, Ltd. The three partner companies formed an entity, Global Mining Holding Company LLC, to hold all the ownership interests. Global Mining Holding Company’s owners are FirstEnergy Ventures, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy; WMB Marketing, a Boich subsidiary; and Gunvor Group

Signal Peak Energy is a major exporter of coal, primarily to Asia, so it’s likely that Boich Companies is interested in getting a contract for shipping/exporting its Signal Peak coal to Asia through GPT in Whatcom County, WA. It is currently shipping coal through Westport Terminal in British Columbia. Signal Peak Energy is jointly-owned by Boich Companies, FirstEnergy Ventures (Ohio-based utility company), and Pinesdale LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Swiss commodity trader Gunvor Group, Ltd.

Boich Companies is part owner Global Coal Sales Group which acquires coal mined at its affiliate Signal Peak Energy’s mine, from FirstEnergy Generation (a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp), and sells the coal in the international market. Global Coal Sales Group LLC, contributed $50,000 to the coal interest-funded Political Action Committee SaveWhatcom, during the 2013 Whatcom County election

National Mining Association (NMA) — is the national trade organization of the U.S. mining industry representing mining interests before Congress, the Administration, federal agencies, the judiciary, media, and the public. NMA also has at least two Political Action Committees.
Cloud Peak Energy, BNSF Railway, Peabody Energy, Millennium Bulk Terminals, Arch Coal, and Lighthouse Resources are listed members of the National Mining Association

Goldman Sachs — it was announced on July 5, 2007, that Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners committed to equity investment in Carrix (parent company over SSA Marine), giving Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners a 49% interest in Carrix). This funding was integral to the Gateway Pacific Terminal project. In January 2014, Goldman Sachs pulled out of the GPT project, selling its 49% interest back to SSA Marine.

The Ugly Underbelly of Corporations’ Pursuit of a Coal Terminal

Featured image: September 21, 2012: Members of the Lummi Nation protest the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point by burning a large check stamped “Non-Negotiable.” The tribe says they want to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the site.  Photo by Indian Country Today Media Network.

By Sandy Robson / Coal Stop

The Lynden Tribune newspaper made the decision to publish a December 23, 2015 opinion piece submitted by Chair John Huntley and President Brad Owens of the Northwest Jobs Alliance (NWJA). The NWJA advocates for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project. Their op-ed leveled unsubstantiated, defamatory allegations at unnamed “leadership” of the Lummi Nation, a self-governing Indian Nation, and those allegations could easily be perceived as having been leveled at Lummi Nation as a whole.

welcome at lummi painting

Canoe and murals in the Lummi Administrative Building

The Lummi, a Coast Salish people, are the original inhabitants of Washington state’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia. The Lummi Reservation is located in western Whatcom County, and it is governed by the Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC), an eleven member tribal council.

lynden tribune nwja op ed onlineNWJA’s December 23, 2015 Lynden Tribune op-ed claimed that “the current leadership of the Lummi Nation has embarked upon a campaign against the working families of Whatcom County.” In an attempt to support that inflammatory claim, NWJA pointed to a December 10, 2015 letter from Kirk Vinish of the Lummi Nation’s Planning Department. However, a review of that 2-page letter produced no evidence to support such a claim.

In contrast, NWJA has left a trail of evidence demonstrating its continued pattern of negative messaging to raise resentment about, and discredit, the Lummi Nation’s opposition to GPT by sending accusatory letters  to the Army Corps and Whatcom County, and by disseminating similar accusatory messaging to the public, via the NWJA email list and a press release sent to local media.

In NWJA’s opinion piece, Huntley and Owens also alleged that Lummi Nation leaders are proposing the elimination of existing Cherry Point industry jobs. They provided no evidence whatsoever to support such a claim.

nwja dec 22 comment to planning

Excerpt from NWJA’s December 22 comment letter to the Whatcom County Planning Commission

As if it weren’t bad enough that NWJA submitted its defamatory op-ed for publication in a local newspaper, the Alliance launched a second strike aimed at Lummi Nation leadership the day before, by submitting a December 22 comment letter to the Whatcom County Planning Commission, on the currently ongoing Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan Update.

The comment letter was a slightly revised version of NWJA’s op-ed published in the Lynden Tribune, containing the same unsubstantiated accusations. NWJA’s inflammatory comment letter is now part of the official public comment record for the County Comprehensive Plan Update which the Whatcom County Council will review prior to voting on the final language to be included in the plan update. The fact that the Council is also one of the decision makers on permits needed by PIT for its GPT project makes NWJA’s comment letter “comprehensively” reprehensible.

GPT threatens Lummi treaty rights

GPT would be sited along the Salish Sea shoreline, at Xwe’chi’eXen, part of the Lummi Nation’s traditional fishing area. Xwe’chi’eXen is the Lummi peoples’ ancestral name for Cherry Point, an area which has a deep cultural, historic and spiritual significance to the Lummi people, as it was a village site for their ancestors for over 175 generations.

The projected coal export terminal threatens Lummi treaty rights, the salmon they depend on, their Schelangen (“Way of Life”), and the cultural integrity of Xwe’chi’eXen. LIBC Chairman Tim Ballew II sent a January 5, 2015 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Commander, Colonel John G. Buck, asking the agency to take immediate action to deny the GPT permit application.

In that letter, Chairman Ballew stated that the GPT project “will directly result in a substantial impairment of the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation throughout the Nation’s ‘usual and accustomed’ fishing areas.” Ballew also wrote that “The Lummi Nation is opposed to this project due to the cultural and spiritual significance of Xwe’chi’eXen, and intends to use all means necessary to protect it.” He added that the Lummi Nation has a sacred obligation to protect Xwe’chi’eXen based on that significance.

sacred place violated

Page excerpt from “Protecting Treaty Rights, Sacred Places, and Lifeways: Coal vs. Communites,” presented by Jewell James, Lummi Tribal Member and Head Carver, Lummi Tribe’s House of Tears Carvers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) is the federal agency tasked with coordinating and handling the environmental review for the GPT project, and it is legally obligated to ensure that the Lummi Nation’s treaty rights are protected, and are not violated. Currently, the Corps is in the process of making a determination as to whether impacts to any tribes’ U&A (usual and accustomed) treaty fishing rights are more than de minimis, meaning too small or trivial to warrant legal review.

article 6 of the constitution

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution which includes the clause that establishes treaties made under its authority, are the supreme law of the land

SSA Marine consultant Craig Cole, Director for NWJA

The Northwest Jobs Alliance (NWJA) was created to promote and advocate for the GPT project. For the first few years, NWJA consisted solely of a Facebook page, after that page had been created in May of 2011. NWJA’s original mission statement that had been displayed for years on its Facebook page read: “The Alliance focuses their efforts on supporting the Gateway Pacific Terminal. . .”  For almost three years, NWJA’s Facebook page showed “www.gatewaypacificterminal.com” as its website address, and the phone number displayed had been a non-working number.

Several articles appeared in Whatcom County citizen-based publications during the summer and fall of 2014, criticizing the legitimacy of the NWJA and likening it to a front group, as it did not have a working phone number or a website other than the official GPT website. Subsequently, NWJA made some changes. In fall of 2014, the NWJA added a working phone number, created a website for its online presence, and changed its listed website address on its Facebook page from “gatewaypacificterminal.com” to “NWJA.org.”

Presently, the NWJA website states the following as its mission: “The Northwest Jobs Alliance (NWJA) promotes the growth of family-wage jobs in the context of sound environmental practice.” Also, there is no mention of GPT on the NWJA website’s Home page where the organization’s mission and focus are explained. Instead the general term “Cherry Point industrial area” is used.nwja registrationOn October 23, 2014, NWJA was filed as a non-profit corporation, according to the Washington Secretary of State website. SSA Marine’s paid local consultant for the GPT project, Bellingham resident Craig Cole, is the listed Director for NWJA.

nwja leaders photosSince its inception, NWJA has had a steady turnover of co-chairs, all of whom have been very public advocates for the GPT project. Presently, Brad Owens is listed as NWJA President and John Huntley is listed as NWJA Chair. Huntley owns Mills Electric, a Bellingham electrical contracting company. Owens, a Bellingham resident, is the past President of the NW Washington Building & Construction Trades Council.

Some people confuse the “Northwest Jobs Alliance” for another similarly titled GPT advocacy organization called the “Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports.” It’s worthwhile to distinguish between the two, although promoting the GPT project has been the central intended purpose of both groups.

Cloud Peak Energy and BNSF govern Alliance for NW Jobs & Exports

The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports (ANWJE) was first presented to the public as a grass-roots organization, when it was actually created in 2012, by Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, which was hired by SSA Marine to do public relations work for the proposed GPT project.

anwje registrationAccording to the Washington Secretary of State website, ANWJE was filed as a non-profit corporationin July 2012. The “Governing Persons” listed are Todd O’Hair and Zak Andersen. Todd O’Hair is currently Senior Manager, Government Affairs for Cloud Peak Energy Inc. which has a 49% stake in SSA Marine/PIT’s GPT project. Zak Andersen is presently Assistant Vice President, Community and Public Affairs for BNSF Railway. anwje governing personsBNSF is the applicant for GPT’s interrelated Custer Spur project and would be the railway transporting coal mined in Montana and Wyoming to GPT. ANWJE’s website describes its group as a “non-profit trade organization that supports new export projects in Oregon and Washington State…”

BNSF Railway, SSA Marine, and Cloud Peak Energy are listed on the ANWJE’s membership list, which is comprised of companies and other entities which stand to benefit financially from the coal export terminal. So, this “non-profit trade organization” was created by the public relations firm hired by the GPT applicant, and it is governed by an employee of BNSF, the applicant for the interrelated Custer Spur project, and by an employee of Cloud Peak Energy, which has a 49% stake in SSA Marine/PIT’s GPT project.

NWJA’s attempt to drive public opinion against Lummi opposition to GPT

Whatcom Tea Party board member Kris Halterman hosts a local Whatcom County KGMI talk radio show, “Saturday Morning Live” (SML). On her September 12, 2015 SML show, Halterman hosted NWJA President Brad Owens, and together, they advanced an unsubstantiated, defamatory assertion that NWJA (the entity behind the Lynden Tribune op-ed) had previously purported in its August 20, 2015 letter to the Corps—that there is “an apparent motive behind the Lummi Nation’s opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal project (and completion of the EIS process)not connected with treaty rights.” [italicized emphasis theirs]

Joining in those activities against Lummi opposition to GPT, was the Political Action Committee SAVEWhatcom, headed up by Halterman, whose name pops up in most everything GPT-related. The SAVEWhatcom PAC was the vehicle for Gateway Pacific coal terminal interests to fund 2013 and 2014 local Whatcom County election political campaigns with over $160,000, which, if successful, would benefit those interests.

how ironic save whatcom

February 5, 2015 post from the SAVEWhatcom Facebook page

One month after the LIBC’s January 5, 2015 letter to the Corps, Halterman’s SAVEWhatcom placed a February 5 post on its Facebook page which disparaged the Lummi Nation and its Silver Reef Casino in what appeared to be an attempt to drive public opinion against the Lummi Nation’s strong oppositional stance to GPT.

Then, in an August 12, 2015 comment letter to the Whatcom County Planning Commission, NWJA seemed to pit “working families” who were characterized in the letter as “some of the very people who patronize Lummi enterprises”— against what was described as “tribal aspirations.” Echoing that previous tack of drawing attention to the Lummi Nation’s enterprises while at the same time denigrating the Nation with groundless claims, the NWJA referenced the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino in their December 23, 2015 Lynden Tribune op-ed. That excerpt read:

“And it saddens us to observe that the current leadership of the Lummi Nation has embarked upon a campaign against the working families of Whatcom County. These are some of the very families that patronize the Silver Reef Casino and other Lummi enterprises. Some thanks.”

Those specific repeated references to the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino and enterprises by SAVEWhatcom and the SSA Marine consultant-led NWJA, could be viewed as attempts to drive public opinion against the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef enterprises—trying to change the minds of the Silver Reef’s loyal patrons who enjoy the hotel, spa, casino, entertainment/shows, multiple restaurants, convention and event venue, and more.

NWJA omits important statistics

NWJA’s December 23 opinion piece failed to mention that the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Hotel Casino & Spa employs 675 people. It also failed to mention any of the significant contributions from the Lummi Nation to Whatcom County’s community at large, which certainly have a positive impact on countless families and individuals in Whatcom County. For example, LIBC Chairman Tim Ballew stated in a May 2015 piece in The Bellingham Herald, that Lummi Nation was “humbled and honored to be able to give back to the people who work so hard to make our community thrive,” when referring to its Nation’s donations of over $600,000 awarded to 43 organizations. Some of those organizations include the Bellingham Food Bank, the Whatcom Literacy Council, and Whatcom County Fire District 8, to name a few.

NWJA stated in its December 23 op-ed and its December 22 comment letter to the County Planning Commission, that “Whatcom County ranks 30th out of 39 counties for personal income growth [Bellingham Herald 11/19/15].” In reading The Bellingham Herald article cited as a source for that statistic, NWJA did not bother to inform readers that while the per capita personal income average in Whatcom County increased 3.2% from 2013 to 2014, placing it 30th out of 39 counties in the state, Whatcom County’s 2014 per capita income total ranks 16th highest out of Washington’s 39 counties.

lummi planning letter to county planning

Excerpt from December 10, 2015 comment letter submitted to Whatcom County Planning and Development by the Lummi Nation Planning Department

In its December 23 op-ed, and in its December 22 comment letter NWJA sent to the Planning Commission, Huntley and Owens referenced specific language from the December 10, 2015 comment letter from Lummi Nation’s Planning Department submitted to Whatcom County Planning and Development. The specific language was a new policy that Lummi Nation recommended be added to the County Comprehensive Plan:

“The shipment of coal, or crude oil, from any new shipping terminal or pier, or any existing terminal or pier, is prohibited.” Huntley and Owens said they were troubled by the Lummi Nation’s recommendation and wrote:

“This echoes previous requests that the Lummi have made to the County to begin phasing out the Cherry Point heavy industrial zone.” No evidence, however, was provided by the NWJA to show any previous, or even current, requests from Lummi Nation to begin phasing out the Cherry Point heavy industrial zone.

The underbelly of their reasoning

One particular statement NWJA made in its August 12, 2015 comment letter to the County Planning Commission revealed the underbelly of their reasoning:

“The Lummi occupy an important and unique role in our community, but they are just 1.5% of the County’s population.”

NWJA repeated similar statements in its August 27, 2015 email advertisement disseminated via its mailing list, and in its September 10, 2015 press release, potentially indicating to their audiences a reason to marginalize and dismiss Lummi Nation’s voice based on the Lummi’s minority population status.

Just as “Manifest Destiny” mandated that it was supposedly God’s providence that the U.S. should exercise hegemony over its neighbors—seeing North America as the new Promised Land, NWJA and the GPT corporate interests they advocate for, seem to believe that it’s their economic providence to exercise hegemony over the Lummi Nation—seeing Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) and its naturally occurring deep-water contours which allow for huge Capesize vessels stuffed with U.S. coal bound for Asia, as their new Promised Land.

The Lummi Nation, however, and countless people in the Pacific Northwest region, have a very different view of their destiny, and that view does not include the transporting, handling, and shipping of 48 million metric tons per year of coal to Asia, which is the plan for GPT.

Raising resentment of tribal treaty rights; encouraging the public and government officials to ignore tribal treaty rights; calling into question the motivation behind an Indian Nation’s exercising of its tribal treaty rights; interfering with the federal regulatory review process and the government to government relationship between a U.S. federal agency and Indian Tribes and Indian Nations; and making disparaging and unsubstantiated accusations against an Indian Nation and its leaders, are some of the various ways in which the Lummi Nation is being attacked as powerful corporations endeavor to realize their perceived manifest destinies, in pursuit of a coal export terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen.

Victory for Niger Delta Farmers: Court Rules Against Shell

Featured Image: Alali Efanga & Chief Fidelis Oguru from Oruma, two plaintiffs in the Dutch court case against Shell. (Photo: Milieudefensie/flickr) 

In a potentially precedent-setting ruling, a Dutch court said Friday that Royal Dutch Shell may be held liable for oil spills at its subsidiary in Nigeria—a win for farmers and environmentalists attempting to hold the oil giant accountable for leaks, spills, and widespread pollution.

The ruling by the Court of Appeals in the Hague, which overturns a 2013 decision in favor of Shell, allows four Nigerian farmers to jointly sue the fossil fuels corporation in the Netherlands for causing extensive oil spills in Nigeria.

The scars of those disasters are still visible in the fields and fishing ponds of three Nigerian villages. In one village, drinking water has been rendered non-potable, while in another, an entire mangrove forest has been destroyed.

Alali Efanga, one of the Nigerian farmers who, along with Friends of the Earth Netherlands, brought the case against Shell, said the ruling “offers hope that Shell will finally begin to restore the soil around my village so that I will once again be able to take up farming and fishing on my own land.”

Beyond that, the court’s decision “is a landslide victory for environmentalists and these four brave Nigerian farmers who, for more than seven years, have had the courage to take on one of the most powerful companies in the world,” said Geert Ritsema, campaigner at Friends of the Earth Netherlands. “This ruling is a ray of hope for other victims of environmental degradation, human rights violations, and other misconduct by large corporations.”

Indeed, as Amnesty International researcher Mark Dummett said in advance of the ruling: “This case is especially important as it could pave the way for further cases from other communities devastated by Shell’s negligence.”

“There have been thousands of spills from Shell’s pipelines since the company started pumping oil in the Niger Delta in 1958,” Dummett said, “with devastating consequences for the people living there.”

Decrying the “incredible levels of pollution” caused by the activities of Shell and its subsidiaries, environmentalists Vandana Shiva and Nnimmo Bassey said at a media briefing in July that “weekends in Ogoniland are marked by carnivals of funerals of people in their 20s and 30s.”

Citing a 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme assessment, they noted that in over 40 locations tested in Ogoniland, the soil is polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of 5 meters and that all the water bodies in the region are polluted.

The UN report, they said, also found that in some places the water was polluted with benzene, a known carcinogen, at levels 900 above World Health Organization standards. “With life expectancy standing at about 41 years, the clean up of Ogoniland is projected to require a cumulative 30 years to clean both the land and water,” they said.

In another historic victory for the plaintiffs, the Hague court on Friday also ordered Shell to give the farmers and environmental activists supporting their case access to internal documents that the court said could shed more light on the case.

Channa Samkalden, counsel for the farmers and Friends of the Earth, said it was “the first time in legal history that access to internal company documents was obtained in court…This finally allows the case to be considered on its merits.”

The court will continue to hear the case in March 2016.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Gender and a Dying Planet

By Tara Prema / Gender Is War

Recently we asked, “What the hell does gender have to do with fracking?” We weren’t being flippant – it’s a question that plagues many of us.

The question came up because some leftists are blacklisting and threatening eco-feminists over gender identity politics. The question is whether women can define themselves as a class that is distinct from men, or whether “women” must be redefined to include people born male who identify as female, or anyone born male and still living as a man who is “genderfluid” enough to sometimes feel like a woman and demand to be allowed into women’s spaces, even if they have a history of assaulting women and girls.

Certain radical green-leftists have taken it upon themselves to denounce and exclude those who feel that women are distinct from men, and that biology and material conditions are an important part of class analysis. At one anti-fracking conference, organizers took pride in refusing to admit members of Deep Green Resistance, a global organization founded on radical feminist and deep ecology principles.

So what does gender have to do with fracking? The question is serious.

At first glance, we can see that almost every fracking operation is run and directed by men, from the CEOs to the government decision-makers to the roughnecks on the drill sites. This is not some bizarre fluke. Resource extraction is a concept invented by men, as part of patriarchy – that system of white male supremacism that establishes the dominion of males over the earth and all its creatures, as promised in the Bible.

These hydraulic fracturing operations have the potential to unlock vast planet-killing reserves of petrochemicals, carbon, and greenhouse gases. Each of these drilling sites has the power to cause earthquakes, poison water tables, and kill thousands. Taken together, they may push the average global temperature to a level that destroys entire ecosystems and destabilizes the global climate.

The people who run these fracking operations bear much of the responsibility for killing the planet. Again, these people are almost all men – not trans people, not radical feminists, but cisgender heterosexual white males. But it’s radical feminists who are banned from the anti-fracking movement.

In the end, there is no gender on a dead planet. There is no sex either. We will not be able to reproduce without oxygen, without food, without fresh water. Here is our future: We will watch our babies die. It won’t matter a whit whether those babies are male, female, intersex, or transgender. They will die slowly from poisoned water and suffocating air, or quickly from pipeline explosions and catastrophic earthquakes.

The dead will not care whether we had the correct line on gender, or whether we invited the right people to our conferences. Neither will the survivors.

This is all self-evident. But it raises more questions.

When did the left take this wrong turn into the dead-end of identity politics?

When did leftists take up the cause of rich white male Republicans who enjoy wearing their stepdaughters’ underwear?

When did progressives decide to celebrate hyper-privileged people who coopt the lived experiences of oppressed people?

When did radicals determine that the only time capitalism does not exploit workers is when those workers are prostitutes?

We’ve heard about the end of the world, the end of history, and the end of gender. Maybe there’s a postscript still to come. Maybe the pendulum will swing back to reality, or maybe this is actually the end of the Left.

Lummi Tribal Leaders Rally in D.C. Against Nation’s Largest Coal Terminal

Lummi tribal leaders and members gathered last Thursday in Washington, D.C. to express concerns about treaty violations related to the proposed coal terminal and train railway for Cherry Point, Washington.

In addition to the Lummi Nation, tribal members and leaders from the Tulalip, Swinomish, Quinault, Lower Elwha Klallam, Yakama, Hoopa Valley, Nooksack and Spokane nations were in attendance.

Chairman of the Lummi Nation Tim Ballew II expressed his concerns last Thursday in Washington, D.C. to express concerns about treaty violations related to the proposed coal terminal and train railway for Cherry Point, Washington.
Chairman of the Lummi Nation Tim Ballew II expressed his concerns last Thursday in Washington, D.C. to express concerns about treaty violations related to the proposed coal terminal and train railway for Cherry Point, Washington.

Chairman of the Lummi Nation Tim Ballew II came to the podium and told attendees and news crews that the 1855 U.S. treaty with Pacific Northwest Native American tribes, and associated rights for the fishing, hunting and sacred grounds was in jeopardy.

“We’re taking a united stand against corporate interests that interfere with our treaty-protected rights,” said Tim Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council. “Tribes across the nation and world are facing challenges from corporations that are set on development at any cost to our communities.”

According to a release, for three years, Northwest treaty tribes, including Lummi Nation, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes, and Yakama Nation, and the Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission have provided government agencies and elected officials detailed letters identifying the impacts the terminal would have on treaty fishing rights, the environment, natural resources and the health of Washington.

 Lummi tribal members and sisters Billy Kennedy Jefferson, 18, Danielle Kennedy Jefferson, 16, and Kathrine Jefferson, 15, all from the Lummi Nation in western Washington state Photo: Vincent Schilling
Lummi tribal members and sisters Billy Kennedy Jefferson, 18, Danielle Kennedy Jefferson, 16, and Kathrine Jefferson, 15, all from the Lummi Nation in western Washington state Photo: Vincent Schilling
Additionally, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, representing 57 tribes, has taken action to oppose the increased transport of unrefined fossil fuels of coal, Bakken shale oil, and tar sand oil across the Northwest. The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal would impact thousands of acres of treaty land and fishing along the rivers and mountains. Tribes across the Northwest have concluded that the impacts of significant increases in rail and vessel transportation cannot be mitigated to any level that would protect tribal treaty rights.

The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (a subsidy of SSA Marine) would serve as a gateway to markets in domestics companies and Asia. The terminal would handle 60 million tons of commodities, mostly coal – but the project’s location includes Lummi ancestral burial sites and ancestral fishing grounds.

“The location of the pier will take away fishing grounds and the increase in vessel traffic would impede access of our fishermen to fishing grounds throughout our usual and accustomed areas.”

“We soundly reject developments that desecrate our sacred places and call on Congress to uphold our treaty-protected rights,” said Ballew.

“I credit the current administration for every year building on our efforts to help us rebuild our nations and I encourage them to continue that,” Ballew said. “We really want them to give this issue its due respect. It’s a human rights issue, it’s a treaty rights issue, and we need our sacred sites protected.”

“For thousands of years, Washington tribes have fought to protect all that is important for those who call this great state home. We live in a pollution-based economy and we can no longer allow industry and business to destroy our resources, water and land. No mitigation can pay for the magnitude of destruction to treaty resources for today and generations from now. As leaders, we need to protect our treaty resources, our economies, and the health of our citizens and neighbors.” said Brian Cladoosby, Chair, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and president of the National Congress on American Indians in DC.

“The ancestors of all, Native and non-Native, witness those who have lost their integrity; the people of the present acknowledge as much; and the future generations will ask ‘Why did those ones who did not honor their own words allow it to happen?’ The past is the present and the future is now. The treaty is their word, our people trusted that word. Now, it seems to be just words. Do they lack the honor and integrity of their ancestors?” said Dave Brown Eagle, Vice-Chair, Spokane Tribal Business Council.

Dave Brown Eagle, Vice-Chair, Spokane Tribal Business Council at the White House Tribal Nations Council last week. Photo: Vincent Schilling
Dave Brown Eagle, Vice-Chair, Spokane Tribal Business Council at the White House Tribal Nations Council last week. Photo: Vincent Schilling
“Our treaty rights are not for sale. The Gateway Pacific Terminal project threatens our treaty-reserved rights and we do not support actions that would compromise or diminish the resources for which our ancestors sacrificed so much. There is no mitigation for the loss of our way of life or culture,” said Melvin R. Sheldon Jr., Chair, Tulalip Tribes.

“This issue affects all of us, we’re connected in ways that the U.S cannot even imagine,” said Tyson Johnston, Vice-President of the Quinault Indian Nation.

The project is currently under review by the Seattle district U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The State of Washington Department of Ecology has an environmental review listed here.

 

Hidden Danger of the Keystone Pipeline Celebration

photo source
photo source

by Clay Cochran / Deep Green Resistance

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
-Robert Frost

President Obama announced Friday morning that he has denied TransCanada’s permit application to build the Keystone XL (KXL) oil pipeline in the U.S. Many in the mainstream environmental movement hailed this as a positive seismic shift in public policy and public perception, and a harbinger of the inevitable saving of our planet. Were it only that simple. Unfortunately, although the denial of the KXL build is in itself a good result, it carries with it some insidious dangers to the continuation of the fundamental work of saving this planet.

It is understandable that many think Obama’s denial of the KXL is a huge victory for the environment. Sadly, that view is myopic, and typical of the wishful thinking hampering the environmental movement around the world. The denial of the KXL does not accomplish what we ultimately need: the shutting down of the entire industrial, fossil-fuel driven society murdering the planet.

Unfortunately, the history of the environmental movement has many incidences where small victories have caused a loss of focus on the big picture, or otherwise misdirected us into falsely believing the one-off accomplishment sufficient to save our planet. Make no mistake, we must be ever vigilant not to let the leaders of industrial civilization (i.e. the greedy, patriarchal, conscious-less ‘leaders of industry’ and their paid-for politicians and mainstream media) characterize the globally suicidal events that are unfolding. They will always use a deceptive framework supporting their relentless need for unsustainable expansion, and lead many into losing sight of the ecologically desperate times that we are facing.

Deep Green Resistance believes the only way our planet can be saved for all species is for the current patriarchal and industrial civilization to be immediately dismantled. We also believe there is grave danger in premature self-congratulation for small accomplishments that seemingly are a win for the environment, but in truth do nothing to alter the existing paradigm of corporate power or slow the inevitable march towards unsustainable expansion and the murder of the planet. Simply stated, the processes that have been put in motion ― runaway climate change, population overshoot due to industrial agriculture, species extinctions, and ‘resource’ extraction ― are far too developed to be stopped by any means that allows the industrial complex to remain in existence.

In the book Deep Green Resistance, co-author Lierre Keith writes

”The culture of the left needs a serious overhaul. At our best and bravest moments, we are the people who believe in a just world; who fight the power with all the courage and commitment that women and men can possess; who refuse to be bought or beaten into submission, and refuse equally to sell each other out. The history of struggles for justice is inspiring, ennobling even, and it should encourage us to redouble our efforts now when the entire world is at stake. Instead, our leadership is leading us astray.”

Our leadership continues to lead us astray. President Obama gives lip service to his concern for global climate change guiding this KXL denial decision, but the truth is hidden in his message. According to a Scientific American article, among his reasons for rejection were that

…the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to the U.S. economy, nor would it increase U.S. energy security or help to lower gas prices, which have already declined dramatically over the last year.

With these criteria for making his decision, we’re clearly not ready to take a victory lap for the environmental awakening of the global leadership.

Also in the DGR book, the authors discuss Lester Brown’s Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, pointing out that “although Mr. Brown is to be [commended] for understanding that the problems our planet is facing are systemic and interrelated, [his plan] unfortunately falls prey to what many other ‘plans’ do; it leaves the overlapping accelerants of capitalism, industrialization, and civilization in place.”

With the KXL decision in the news, it is critical to keep in mind the myriad disastrous ‘projects’ which continue unabated. As the DGR authors warn, these other projects evidence the hard truth that, so far, the work of the environmental movement has indeed left capitalism, industrialization, and civilization firmly in place. That three-headed monster has no intention of voluntarily leaving us to salvage what is left of our biosphere, so we are left with no other alternative than to terminate it ourselves, and with extreme prejudice.

A recent article in the Financial Post states:

While TransCanada Corp. has been cooling its heels on its Keystone XL proposal for the past six years, the oil pipeline business has been booming in the United States. Crude oil pipeline mileage rose 9.1 per cent last year alone to reach 66,649 miles. […] Between 2009 and 2013, more than 8,000 miles of oil transmission pipelines have been built in the past five years in the U.S., […] compared to the 875 miles TransCanada wants to lay in the states of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska for its 830,000-bpd project. By last year, the U.S. had built 12,000 miles of pipe since 2010.

[AOPL spokesperson John Stoody said] “While people have been debating Keystone in the U.S. we have actually built the equivalent of 10 Keystones. And no one’s complained or said anything.”

A Climate Central article discusses the many alternative plans already developed to transport the tar sands of Canada:

As a way around those challenges, other pipelines are in the works. One pipeline is already operating and sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar sands bitumen to Texas every day.

Experts, such as Stephen Kelly, a former U.S. diplomat and a visiting professor of public policy and Canadian studies at Duke University, say that the long-term outlook for Canadian oil sands production is not closely linked to the fate of Keystone XL.

“Canada has ample financial incentive to find ways to get its oil to world markets, and it’s likely to find ways to build pipelines to its coast, despite opposition,” he said last year.

feh_003434_000001_Unistoten 2The Keystone XL decision and its accompanying self-congratulations should be a warning to us all not to lose sight of the big picture. The Keystone XL alternatives do face opposition in Canada from overlapping groups of climate activists, grassroots environmentalists concerned about local impacts, and First Nations peoples, with the Unis’tot’en Camp a prime example of a coalition for active on-the-ground resistance. We must remain vigilant in fighting pipelines and other infrastructure expansion projects wherever they’re proposed, and be skeptical of any misdirection from the fundamental work of ending the industrial-patriarchal complex.

There is some good news. Deep Green Resistance believes that the insanity of the industrial planet-killing machine can be stopped. We believe that a sustainable and just world can be achieved, and we can transition away from being a consumer society. The Deep Green Resistance strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare (DEW) is a recognition of the scope of what is at stake (the planet); an honest evaluation of the potential for a mass movement (none); and an assessment that industrial civilization depends on highly vulnerable infrastructure.

DEW keeps front-and-center the understanding that there will be no comprehensively successful environmental actions if we allow the current industrial framework to remain in existence. The people in power who are driving 200 species to extinction each day have no qualms about leading humans to the same fate, and show no signs of voluntarily altering their behaviors. It is well past time to make them stop.

I urge you to take a look at the Deep Green Resistance website and to reflect on the future of this planet. The Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy is multifaceted and needs your help, with work to be done wherever your skill set and interests lead you. Get involved and save our home.

If you’d like to read more analysis like this, and news of grassroots resistance to environmental destruction, sign up at the upper left of this page to receive email notifications of new posts.

Victory for U’wa Nation

CASE ON INDIGENOUS LAND RIGHTS AND EXTRACTIVE PROJECTS MOVES FORWARD AT INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Washington, DC – The U’wa Nation has received an admissibility report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights allowing its case against Colombia to move forward, recognizing that the indigenous group can seek the Commission’s help in defending its traditional territory. Although the U’wa have successfully defeated multiple oil and gas projects in the nearly two decades since they first filed their complaint with the Commission, the report recognizes that winning these battles does not end the overall complaint with the Colombian government, which does not fully recognize the U’wa people’s rights to their territory.

In a statement released [on Oct. 16], The U’wa organization Asou’wa  said: “Our U’wa Nation has been heard by the natural law, our ancestors and gods that guide and govern our thinking to safeguard, protect and care for our mother earth; While there are U’wa people, we will continue resisting in defense of our ancient rights.” EarthRights International (ERI) has been supporting Aura Tegria Cristancho, an U’wa lawyer who has been working on the case since 2013 from its offices in Lima, Peru, and Washington, DC.

Asou’wa, supported by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia and the Coalition for Amazonian Peoples and Their Environment, first filed their complaint with the Commission in 1997. At the time, US-based Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) was threatening to drill for oil in their lands. The U’wa, supported by a global campaign against Oxy led by groups such as Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network, secured Oxy’s withdrawal in 2001. More recently, Colombia’s Ecopetrol tried to move forward with a gas project on U’wa land, but pulled out earlier this year.  However, U’wa’s title over their ancestral lands have not been yet recognized.

The Commission’s decision comes after the U’wa and their supporters made it clear that, despite these victories, the root of the problem is the government’s lack of recognition and protection of the indigenous group’s ancestral territory.

“With this decision, the Commission recognized that even though Oxy and Ecopetrol pulled out, the U’wa remain threatened by the failure to fully protect their homeland,” said Camila Mariño, a Colombian lawyer and legal fellow with EarthRights International. “We are proud to stand with the U’wa.”

In the decision, dated July 22 but only released [now], the Commission formally accepts the U’wa petition as “admissible.” According to the Commission’s website, only twelve cases have been accepted as admissible so far this year. Following this decision, the case will move to the “merits” stage, in which the Commission will rule on the rights violations at issue.

– 30 –

Contact:
Valentina Stackl
+1 (202) 466 5188 x 100
valentina@earthrights.org

Luutkudziiwus to Launch Court Challenge to Prince Rupert Gas Pipeline

VANCOUVER – Luutkudziiwus, a Gitxsan Nation House Group, will file a legal challenge in regard to the BC regulatory permits awarded to the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline that would supply gas to the Petronas LNG plant on Lelu Island which threatens to decimate Skeena River wild salmon. Luutkudziiwus Hereditary Chiefs travelled down to Vancouver to make the announcement today, while government and industry are gathered at the 2015 LNG Conference in BC.

“We are taking the government to court over the lack of consultation, inadequate baseline information presented, a weak and subjective impact assessment, and the current cumulative effects from past development. People from all over northern BC are now outraged about the $40 billion Petronas LNG project. It is unbelievable that they claim they consulted with us,” says Luutkudziiwus spokesperson Richard Wright.

TransCanada’s proposed 900 km PRGT pipeline, contracted under Petronas, is slated to cross 34 km of Luutkudziiwus traditional Madii Lii territory on its way from massive fracking operations in Treaty 8 territory to the proposed Petronas-led (Pacific Northwest) LNG plant on Lelu Island in the Skeena estuary. Lelu Island is the tribal territory of the Gitwilgyoots of Lax Kw’alaams.

“Our Madii Lii territory is not to be played with by the province of BC in their LNG game. Clark’s LNG dream is a nightmare for us. While she tries to maintain a shiny picture of LNG in their conference this week, the reality is that First Nations are being bulldozed, and we have had enough,” says Hereditary Chief Luutkudziiwus (Charlie Wright).

Luutkudziiwus will ask BC Supreme Court to quash the Environmental Assessment Certificate and the BC Oil and Gas Commission permit to construct and operate the PRGT pipeline. These permits were not based on any substantive consultation, infringe upon Luutkudziiwus’ rights and title by allowing a pipeline which will cause adverse effects to fish and their habitats, wildlife and their habitats, terrestrial and aquatic resources, including cumulative effects, as well as to social, cultural, and economic values. In bringing their lawsuit, Luutkudziiwus is looking for consultation from BC government and will also ask the court to direct the Province of BC to consult with them before any permits are issued.

“The province has been stealing from our territory and culture for 150 years, and this needs to end. The proposed pipeline and LNG project is in deep conflict with core Luutkudziiwus interests and values,” said Hereditary Chief Xsim Wits’iin (Lester Moore).

“We want the BC government to respect our constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights with a true reconciliation process that honors healthy families and increases community health and education. Development within our traditional territories must have our Free, Prior and Informed Consent and stop tearing apart our communities” says Luutkudziiwus spokesperson Pansy Wright.

A delegation from Luutkudziiwus will be in Vancouver on Oct 14th, and will be available for interviews downtown or near the Vancouver Convention Centre on request.

– 30 –

For more information, photos, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Richard Wright
Luutkudziiwus spokesperson
250.842.8974
richardwright_8@hotmail.com

Greg Horne
Media coordination
250 634 1021

Mary Macaulay
Legal Counsel
604 899 5227
mlmacauly@emlawyers.ca

Coal’s Dark Alliance Defames Lummi Nation

NATIVE AMERICAN TREATY RIGHTS UNDER ATTACK
By Sandy Robson, Coal Stop

On her September 12, 2015 program, Whatcom Tea Party board member and host for the weekly “Saturday Morning Live” (SML) talk radio show on KGMI, Kris Halterman, interviewed Northwest Jobs Alliance (NWJA) President Brad Owens. Halterman’s program afforded Owens a platform to promote the same idea that NWJA previously purported in its August 20, 2015 letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). That idea advanced by NWJA in the letter, is that there is “an apparent motive behind the Lummi Nation’s opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal project (and completion of the EIS process) not connected with treaty rights.” [italicized emphasis theirs]

NWJA attached documents in its letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”), that its group maintains show an “apparent motive” in what NWJA’s letter claims is a “ploy to snatch non-tribal land.” The letter stated:

“By any standards of basic fairness, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should not allow itself to be manipulated into aiding what would amount to a devaluation and confiscation of privately-owned, non-tribal lands. Please publically [sic] disassociate yourself from this scheme, ensure that the normal EIS process is completed, and encourage the Lummi to engage in good faith discussions with the proponents of GPT to explore win-win possibilities.”

Signatures of John Huntley and Brad Owens on the Northwest Jobs Alliance, August 20, 2015 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Signatures of John Huntley and Brad Owens on the Northwest Jobs Alliance, August 20, 2015 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

DISCREDITING TACTICS

NWJA’s August 20 letter to the Corps demonstrated an attempt to taint the Lummi Nation’s rightful assertion of its treaty rights relating to the proposed GPT project, and an attempt to influence the Corp’s decision on that subject. NWJA, in its advocacy efforts for SSA Marine/PIT and its GPT project, continues to interfere with the government-to-government relationship between the Lummi Nation and the U.S. federal government—a relationship in which it does not belong. There is a trust relationship and obligation of federal agencies, such as the Corps, to ensure the protection of the Lummi Nation’s treaty rights.

Northwest Jobs Alliance Director and GPT spokesperson Craig Cole speaking at the October 9, 2013 Whatcom Tea Party, GPT Forum
Northwest Jobs Alliance Director and GPT spokesperson Craig Cole speaking at the October 9, 2013 Whatcom Tea Party, GPT Forum

The signers of the letter are NWJA’s President Brad Owens and Chair John Huntley. The listed Director of the NWJA is Craig Cole, SSA Marine’s paid consultant for the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project. Cole was not a signer on the letter to the Corps. NWJA was created in May 2011 to advocate for the GPT project, and it was filed as a non-profit in October 2014.

According to its original mission statement, which had been displayed on its Facebook page, “The Alliance focuses their efforts on supporting the Gateway Pacific Terminal. . .” Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) is a 48 million metric ton per year coal export terminal proposed at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) in Whatcom County, Washington, along the Salish Sea shoreline. The terminal applicant is Pacific International Terminals (PIT), a subsidiary created for the GPT project by SSA Marine, the world’s largest independent, privately-held marine terminal operator.

A NATION STANDS TALL TO PROTECT ITS TREATY RIGHTS

Steadfastly opposed and standing squarely in the path of SSA Marine/PIT’s plan for the coal export terminal, is the Lummi Nation, a self-governing nation which is the third largest tribe in Washington state. The Lummi, a Coast Salish people, are the original inhabitants of the state’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia. GPT, if permitted and built, would be sited at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point), along the shoreline, which is part of the Lummi Nation’s traditional fishing area. Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) was an important village site for Lummi ancestors, and is considered culturally and historically significant to the Lummi people.

The Lummi Nation’s treaty rights are secured to them by the U.S. federal government in the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. Article 5 of the Treaty provides that, “The right of taking fish from usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the Territory. . .”

Lummi Nation has devoted significant time and resources to analyzing, evaluating, and carefully deliberating the impacts associated with GPT. The Nation concluded that the adverse impacts to the exercise of its tribal treaty rights, along with the impacts to the natural resources and the continued impacts to significant Lummi cultural properties are unacceptable, and simply cannot be avoided, minimized, or mitigated.

That conclusion led to Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) Chairman Tim Ballew II sending a January 5, 2015 letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Commander, Colonel John G. Buck, asking the Corps to take action and immediately deny SSA Marine/PIT’s permit application for the proposed GPT project due to the project’s adverse impact to the Nation’s treaty rights. The Corps is still in the process of making a determination on that request.

MISINFORMING LISTENERS

KGMI’s SML radio show host, Kris Halterman testifying at July 7, 2015 Whatcom County Council meeting
KGMI’s SML radio show host, Kris Halterman testifying at July 7, 2015 Whatcom County Council meeting

SML host Kris Halterman told listeners during her September 12 show: “The, the Lummis have asked the Army Corps of Engineers to just say no, just say no, we don’t care what your study says, we want you just to say no.”

NWJA’s Brad Owens told SML listeners of that same show, “…you know, we absolutely and unequivocally respect the Lummi treaty rights and the Lummi people, and you know, the things that they, that they stand for. However, at this point in time without a study being done and completed relative to their concern of the impact on their fishing, we just don’t know. And you know, as I mentioned earlier, there’s 1.9 or an estimated 1.9 million acres of usual and accustomed fishing grounds, and that’s a lot! Certainly they don’t fish it all, but we need a scientific report that specifically pertains to the area in which the terminal is going to be constructed and how that might impact, if, if at all, their fishing.”

Halterman and Owens neglected to inform the SML audience that actually, a scientific report that pertains to the area in which the terminal is going to be constructed, and how that might impact Lummi fishing had already been conducted, and was released in November 2014. The Vessel Traffic and Risk Assessment Study (VTRAS) of the additional vessel traffic (487 vessel calls annually) that would be brought on by the newly proposed GPT was conducted for SSA Marine/PIT, by Glosten and Associates, with oversight by the state Department of Ecology. Gateway Pacific Terminal [SSA Marine/PIT] and the Lummi Nation also participated in the VTRAS. In the VTRAS, it states that the study is expected to be used by CH2M Hill, the third-party consultant, in preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed GPT project.

The VTRAS states: “The siting of the wharf and trestle at the proposed GPT and the potential anchorage use by bunkers will interfere with Lummi access to fishing sites. . .The analysis predicts that GPT would increase the Lummi fishing disruption by 76% in the Cherry Point area.” LIBC Chairman Ballew pointed to that significant scientific evidence of the adverse impacts to Lummi Nation’s fishing in the LIBC’s January 5, 2015 letter to the Corps:

Review of the impacts associated with this project, including, but not limited to, those analyzed in the Gateway Pacific Vessell [sic] Traffic and Risk Assessment Study lead to the inescapable conclusion that the proposed project will directly result in a substantial impairment of the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation throughout the Nation’s ‘usual and accustomed’ fishing areas. The Lummi have harvested at this location since time immemorial and plan to continue into the future.

BROADCASTING RUMORS

Getting back to Halterman’s September 12 SML show that focused largely on the documents NWJA had received—these documents were attached to an NWJAAugust 12, 2015 letter to the Whatcom County Planning Commission. NWJA’s “Document Summary,” had the following insinuating header at the top: “Lummi Nation Regulatory and Treaty Rights Strategies for the Taking of Non-Tribal Private Property for the Purpose of Accomplishing a Reservation Annexation.”

NWJA also sent out an August 27, 2015 advertisement to its email subscribers announcing its August 12 letter to the Planning Commission. The inflammatory and unsubstantiated headline on the ad was: “Alliance Weighs in to Protect Cherry Point Jobs: Opposes Lummi Takeover of Heavy Industry Zone.” The advertisement linked to a set of the documents. There was no evidence provided by NWJA to support its headline claim of a supposed “takeover of heavy industry” by Lummi Nation.

The documents were also introduced, with little fanfare, earlier this year, in a June 13 blog post by Kris Halterman on her “Saturday Morning Live—Liberty Road” web site. The post stated that “Saturday Morning Live—Liberty Road” received the documents, although the person or entity which originally obtained the documents was not disclosed.

Comprising the bulk of the documents is a February 7, 2012 letter from the Center for Salish Communities Strategies (CSCS), a non-profit public interest group whose mission was “to promote innovative policy actions that bring the community together in a shared vision of a strong regional economy reflective of the beauty of our surrounding natural world. . .”  According to the Washington Secretary of State,CSCS was dissolved (“not active”) as of December 1, 2014, and its original filing date had been August 11, 2011. The website for CSCS, comes up as “server cannot be found.” However, neither of these facts are mentioned during Halterman’s September 12 SML show, and since she referred to the organization in the present tense, listeners were likely to see CSCS as still active, which was, and still is, not the case.

The CSCS letter presented the Lummi Nation with a possible vision of an alternative use of Cherry Point lands and tidelands specific to the proposed GPT site, and outlined some ideas on how to go about that. The potential strategies suggested by CSCS were, at the core, about protecting and preserving the Lummi Nation’s archaeological properties, its cultural heritage and natural resources with the guiding principle of protecting and enhancing the inherent rights and interests of the Nation pertaining to Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point).

Excerpt from September 10, 2015 NWJA press release
Excerpt from September 10, 2015 NWJA press release

That context was omitted from a September 10, 2015 NWJA press release which featured another insinuating headline, “US Army Corps Asked to Avoid Involvement in Lummi Land Scheme,” sent to The Bellingham Herald. The press release was linked-to in the online Herald’s September 11 article.

Halterman referenced the September 11 Herald article during her September 12 SML program and said, “the Herald had an article, I don’t know if it was front page or not, because I just looked at the online version, stating that these were false and fabricated documents.” Her statement is inaccurate. What was actually reported in the story, was that in response to NWJA’s allegations that Lummi Nation plans to “take over” and “de-industrialize” the Cherry Point industrial area, LIBC Chairman Tim Ballew said, “They’re [NWJA] fabricating a false conspiracy.”

Additionally, the Herald story referenced a single-page document that is best described as a chart outlining a strategy, which NWJA sent to the newspaper with its press release. The article reported that Ballew reviewed the document and said it did not come from the tribe. Ballew told the Herald: “What they [NWJA] presented definitely has not been produced by the Nation.”

In comparing the single-page document presented by the NWJA and the samesingle-page document posted on Kris Halterman’s June 13 “SML—Liberty Road” web site, there is a noticeable difference. On the document posted on Halterman’s “SML—Liberty Road” web site, there are no identifying marks to denote the producer of the document, and the top of the page was blank. However, on the document presented by NWJA to the Corps and to the Whatcom County Planning Commission, there were words placed inside brackets written at the top of the page; a label of sorts, which read: [Lummi Nation Planning Document – August 2012].”

PAC AND RADIO SHOW USED TO TARGET LUMMI AND ITS TREATY RIGHTS

Those words at the top of the single-page document appear to have been added since the time that document was originally posted in June, on the SML website. Because that label is in brackets one would assume it was not on the original document. A phone call to NWJA Chair John Huntley to inquire about that was not returned.

Kris Halterman is listed as Committee Chair and Campaign Manager on the SAVEWhatcom Political Action Committee (PAC) registration form. She and Dick Donahue, who also hosts a KGMI talk radio show, “Wealth Wake Up,” started the SAVEWhatcom and the affiliated Whatcom First GPT interest-funded PACs in August and September 2013.

February 5, 2015 post from the SAVEWhatcom Facebook page
February 5, 2015 post from the SAVEWhatcom Facebook page

In February of this year, SAVEWhatcom, after the news of the Lummi Nation’s January 5 letter to the Corps requesting a GPT permit denial, placed a February 5 post on its Facebook page that appeared to be an attempt to drive public opinion against the Lummi Nation’s strong oppositional stance to GPT. That post was referenced in a February 20, 2015 article published on the “Coal Stop” blog; however that post is no longer displayed on SAVEWhatcom’s Facebook page. It should be noted that the SAVEWhatcom Facebook page name was changed to “Liberty Road” on June 17, 2015.

In that February 5 Facebook post, SAVEWhatcom made a defamatory statement saying that the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino’s “purpose” is to take people’s wages and social security checks. Statements like this create resentment, and/or can fuel the already present resentment from individuals and groups about Lummi Nation and its efforts to protect its treaty rights.

Besides using her SML talk show on KGMI radio as a promotional platform for the GPT project, SAVEWhatcom PAC Campaign Manager Halterman used her radio show to host anti-tribal treaty and tribal sovereignty guests such as Elaine Willman, a board member and former chair of the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), and former Whatcom County Council member Marlene Dawson, who has worked tirelessly to undermine the Treaty of Point Elliott between local Indian tribes and the United States

Halterman and fellow KGMI radio host Dick Donahue promoted the April 6, 2013 “Citizens Equal Rights Alliance Educational Conference” on Federal Indian Policy, held by CERA and its sister organization, Citizens Equal Rights Foundation (CERF) on their radio programs. The conference was held at the Lakeway Inn, in Bellingham, Washington. Terri Hansen, an award-winning Native American journalist and correspondent for Indian Country Today Media Network, reported, “CERA and its sister, Citizens Equal Rights Foundation (CERF), are the foremost anti-sovereignty, anti-treaty organizations in the U.S. anti-Indian movement.” CERA has been called the “The Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country.”.

CERA board member Elaine Willman speaking at the September 26, 2015 CERA “Regional Education Conference” held at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, MT
CERA board member Elaine Willman speaking at the September 26, 2015 CERA “Regional Education Conference” held at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, MT

Charles Tanner, a longtime civil and human rights activist who has conducted research and public education on white supremacist and anti-Indian movements, authored an April 26, 2013 report on the CERA/CERF conference in Bellingham. Tanner reported that, “KGMI talk show hosts Kris Halterman and Dick Donahue both attended the conference. . .A broadcast of Halterman interviewing CERA leaders played as attendees trickled into the conference room.”

RALLYING RESENTMENT

The recent efforts by GPT advocate NWJA, are illustrative of an escalated pattern of rallying resentment of tribal treaty rights, specifically those of the Lummi Nation, and undermining the government-to-government relationship between their Nation and the U.S. government. A copy of NWJA’s August 20, 2015 letter to the Corps was attached to NWJA’s equally inflammatory September 10, 2015 press release in a set of documents linked-to in the previously mentioned September 11 Bellingham Herald article. The underlined (by NWJA) language in both the letter to the Corps and the press release call for a second look. Those excerpts, italicized in this blog’s format, are below.

From the September 10, 2015 NWJA Press Release:US Army Corps Asked to Avoid Involvement in Lummi Land Scheme” (headline)“The Northwest Jobs Alliance has asked the US Army Corps of Engineers and other government officials to disassociate themselves from a plan by the Lummi Nation to annex Cherry Point to its reservation.

From the August 20, 2015 NWJA letter to the Army Corps:While the Lummi people themselves and their treaty rights deserve great respect, this ploy to snatch non-tribal land is just plain wrong.

Lummi Nation has every right to avail itself of any legal avenue its people have to protect their treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, culture, and archaeological and natural resources. In spite of this, NWJA made allegations in the above excerpts that are unsubstantiated, using words that seek to paint Lummi motives for invoking their treaty rights as unscrupulous.

Section of “Our Painted Responsibilities,” a collaborative participatory mural created during the 6,000 mile, 2014 Totem Pole Journey by people from many different tribal nations
Section of “Our Painted Responsibilities,” a collaborative participatory mural created during the 6,000 mile, 2014 Totem Pole Journey by people from many different tribal nations

Kris Halterman acknowledged on her September 12, 2015 KGMI radio show that the documents and the allegations that accompanied them, presented by NWJA to these government agencies, were based only on a suspicion: “. . .in order for, for us to ever have a, a pathway to progress for any of the, the public needs here, we have to have open honest and truthful discussions. And when you find documents that, that, that lead you to suspect, not know one hundred percent, but suspect, that part of the reason they’re, they’re [the Lummi] trying to stop this project, would be for some other alternative, you know, purpose.”

It is hard to view such actions as anything but an anti-Indian campaign. Along with taking its maligning and unfounded accusations made against a Native American Nation to the public, Owens’ Huntley’s and Cole’s Northwest Jobs Alliance has brazenly asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take action that would serve to diminish or abrogate Lummi treaty rights.

***

This article was first published at Coal Stop.  Please see the Coal Stop Posts Page for a list of title links for all Coal Stop blog posts.  No one’s views expressed here represent that of any collective on Coal Stop.  We are all just saying what we, as individuals, think and believe after our research and consideration.  We offer references when appropriate and encourage our audience to check facts, research more, and contribute their own views.  

Kim Hill: What’s Wrong with Renewable Energy?

By Kim Hill / Deep Green Resistance Australia

 

Ten things environmentalists need to know about renewable energy:

1.    Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t made out of nothing. They are made out of metals, plastics, chemicals. These products have been mined out of the ground, transported, processed, manufactured. Each stage leaves behind a trail of devastation: habitat destruction, water contamination, colonization, toxic waste, slave labour, greenhouse gas emissions, wars, and corporate profits. Renewables can never replace fossil fuel infrastructure, as they are entirely dependent on it for their existence.

2.    The majority of electricity that is generated by renewables is used in manufacturing, mining, and other industries that are destroying the planet. Even if the generation of electricity were harmless, the consumption certainly isn’t. Every electrical device, in the process of production, leaves behind the same trail of devastation. Living communities—forests, rivers, oceans—become dead commodities.

3.    The aim of converting from conventional power generation to renewables is to maintain the very system that is killing the living world, killing us all, at a rate of 200 species per day. Taking carbon emissions out of the equation doesn’t make it sustainable. This system needs not to be sustained, but stopped.

4.    Humans, and all living beings, get our energy from plants and animals. Only the industrial system needs electricity to survive, and food and habitat for everyone are being sacrificed to feed it. Farmland and forests are being taken over, not just by the infrastructure itself, but by the mines, processing and waste dumping that it entails. Ensuring energy security for industry requires undermining energy security for living beings (that’s us).

5.    Wind turbines and solar panels generate little, if any, net energy (energy returned on energy invested). The amount of energy used in the mining, manufacturing, research and development, transport, installation, maintenance and disposal of these technologies is almost as much—or in some cases more than—they ever produce. Renewables have been described as a laundering scheme: dirty energy goes in, clean energy comes out. (Although this is really beside the point, as no matter how much energy they generate, it doesn’t justify the destruction of the living world.)

6.    Renewable energy subsidies take taxpayer money and give it directly to corporations. Investing in renewables is highly profitable. General Electric, BP, Samsung, and Mitsubishi all profit from renewables, and invest these profits in their other business activities. When environmentalists accept the word of corporations on what is good for the environment, something has gone seriously wrong.

7.    More renewables doesn’t mean less conventional power, or less carbon emissions. It just means more power is being generated overall. Very few coal and gas plants have been taken off line as a result of renewables.

8.    Only 20% of energy used globally is in the form of electricity. The rest is oil and gas. Even if all the world’s electricity could be produced without carbon emissions (which it can’t), it would only reduce total emissions by 20%. And even that would have little impact, as the amount of energy being used globally is increasing exponentially.

9.    Solar panels and wind turbines last around 20-30 years, then need to be disposed of and replaced. The production process, of extracting, polluting, and exploiting, is not something that happens once, but is continuous and expanding.

10.    The emissions reductions that renewables intend to achieve could be easily accomplished by improving the efficiency of existing coal plants, at a much lower cost. This shows that the whole renewables industry is nothing but an exercise in profiteering with no benefits for anyone other than the investors.
Further Reading:

http://theenergycollective.com/gail-tverberg/330446/ten-reasons-intermittent-renewables-wind-and-solar-pv-are-problem

http://thebulletin.org/myth-renewable-energy

http://docs.wind-watch.org/ProblemWithWind.pdf

Zehner, Ozzie, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism, http://www.greenillusions.org/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html#ixzz32e4D227e

 

Originally published on Stories of Creative Ecology