By Kavitha Chekuru / Al Jazeera
The sun pierces through thin slices of halibut that lie drying across cylindrical pieces of wood as Christopher Stuart continues to delicately cut more of the freshly harvested fish for the sun to bake.
Stuart, a member of Canada’s Gitga’at First Nation, is performing the task for the first time at the tribe’s annual spring harvest on Princess Royal Island, just off the coast of British Columbia. But it’s not his first time at the seasonal camp called Kiel. He has come every year since he can remember to gather with other Gitga’at to harvest halibut and seaweed.
Helen Clifton, an elder of the Gitga’at, watches him from inside a small house on the rocky shore, as she begins her 70th year at the spring harvest.
“The tide is moving on this coast, up and down,” she says. “The tide does not stand still.”
It’s an apt description for so many situations the Gitga’at and other First Nations, Canada’s indigenous communities, find themselves in, as they work to preserve their traditions while living alongside Canada’s quest to exploit the natural resources of the land that was once theirs. While the tide helps bring in the seaweed they harvest, it could just as easily be the same tide that takes away that food if the waters become Canada’s highway to global energy markets.
Calgary-based energy firm Enbridge has proposed building a pipeline from Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta to carry crude to the port of Kitimat. From there, the crude would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia, traversing the forested coast of British Columbia.
First Nations and many other communities in British Columbia and Alberta find themselves in the middle of supply and demand – between Canada’s expanding oil industry, home to the world’s third-largest oil reserves; and the rapidly growing economies in East Asia, particularly China. Enbridge’s proposed pipeline, the $5.5bn Northern Gateway, would be the bridge. But the project would cut through the Great Bear Rainforest, a treasured nature preserve and one of the largest intact coastal rainforests in the world. This, in addition to safety concerns from environmental groups and First Nations, have been at the heart of much of the opposition to the project.
Trees overwhelm the hilly islands that thread through the waterways here, a stunning confluence of mountain and sea, whales and wolves. The forest had been at risk from logging until 2006 when the provincial government, industry, environmentalists and First Nations came to an agreement to preserve large parts of the forest – a rare alliance between opposing sides.
“It’s a model for the scale of conservation that’s required to maintain ecosystem health, while at the same time supporting communities with revenue and jobs that don’t damage the ecosystem we depend on,” says Caitlyn Vernon, a campaigner with the Sierra Club of British Columbia. “Over a decade of work developing this model would be put in jeopardy by an oil spill.”
Vernon and other conservation groups say that if oil makes its way into the waters of the forest, it would cause a ripple effect through the intricately connected marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Even if there is no spill, environmentalists say increased tanker traffic could still cause damage by possibly introducing new bacteria from other waters.
The Gitga’at say they know the risks of a spill all too well. In 2006, a ferry boat travelling near their main village of Hartley Bay ran aground and sank. The ship sits at the bottom of the water just south of the bay to this day and still leaks diesel fuel into the waters in which the Gitga’at fish.
“All the promises were made and nothing happened,” says Clifton. “And today it’s still bubbling and burping.”
Enbridge acknowledges the risks of its project, but insists it has taken both the pipeline and tanker routes into serious consideration and can protect both the land and marine ecosystems.
“We’re planning on putting in place a number of risk mitigation factors. On the marine side, that includes that all tankers coming into port will be vetted by third-party experts,” Todd Nogier, an Enbridge spokesman, told Al Jazeera. “All will be boarded by British Columbia pilots who understand the area and how it behaves.” Nogier says there will also be state-of-the-art technology used for the pipeline and navigational aides installed along the tanker route to increase safer tanker traffic.
“It’s a smart way to enable Canada to move forward in an industry that is very important to the country and do something that’s an important priority for the country. And that’s finding a new market for this energy resource.”
But Enbridge faces a number of hurdles in marketing the proposal to British Columbia. One of the main selling points has been economic benefits. The firm says thousands of jobs would be created through Northern Gateway and that the project would contribute $270bn to Canada’s GDP over 30 years. But the majority of jobs would be short-term employment in the pipeline’s construction. Only a few hundred long-term jobs are expected, primarily at the marine terminal in Kitimat. Critics of Northern Gateway say far more jobs in fishing and tourism are at stake if there is a pipeline breach or oil spill.
First Nations concerns
While there has been vocal opposition from many First Nations, Enbridge says it has support from a number of bands in Alberta and British Columbia. The company is also offering communities that would be affected a 10 per cent stake in the project, in addition to a large percentage of the local jobs. It’s still a hard sell to some First Nations, such as the Haisla, who live by the port of Kitimat.
“I think that there’s definitely an area where our people need to take advantage,” says Gerald Amos, a Haisla elder. “We’re no different than other people where we require a way to sustain ourselves in today’s reality. However, there are limits to that.”
“This water was described as the dinner plate of the Haisla people,” Amos continues. “The richness here has been pretty much constant over my lifetime, but we’re now seeing a decline that I’m afraid will lead to extinction for some stocks.” Some species have already seen sharp drops, like the eulachon and salmon, particularly after restrictions on indigenous fisheries and industrial pollution over the past century. With fish as their main source of sustenance and income, the loss of key species has had a pronounced effect on their culture.
“When I’ve got some of my grandchildren out here with me, I’m always tempted to point out the places that were important for our harvesting. And they’ve got Haisla names,” says Amos, as he gestures to the vast waters surrounding his boat and village. “Once we have a generation that doesn’t understand what that is, what else is left? That’s why I’m pretty certain that an oil spill would take away whatever culture we have left.”
Read more from Al Jazeera: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/06/201263729350592.html
By Shawn McCarthy / The Globe and Mail
Ottawa is headed for a legal showdown with British Columbia first nations if it insists on proceeding with the Northern Gateway pipeline, the leader of the Yinka Dene Alliance warns.
Chief Jackie Thomas, of the Saik’uz First Nation, was part of a delegation in Ottawa Tuesday meeting with opposition members of Parliament to build support for their anti-pipeline stand. She said her group will pursue a legal challenge if Ottawa approves the pipeline over their objections.
Along with other first-nation communities, the Dene alliance has taken a firm stand against Enbridge Inc.’s plan to build a crude oil pipeline across their land to transport oil-sands bitumen to the B.C. coast for export to Asia.
“We will defend our rights, no matter what bully tactics the federal government throws at us,” she said. “Our decision has been made: Enbridge will never be allowed in our lands.”
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has lashed out at opponents to the Gateway pipeline, saying they are undermining the country’s national interest and oppose all resource development.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it a key priority of his government to diversify oil and natural gas exports beyond the traditional U.S. market to target growing Asian markets.
Ms. Thomas said the Saik’uz community is not anti-development. It is working with other mining, forestry and energy companies on projects. It is partnering with Apache Corp., a U.S. oil company, on a pipeline to feed a liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat, which would also be aimed at exporting energy to Asia.
But the community feels an oil pipeline would be far more risky, and far more disruptive to the salmon fisheries and other species.
“They can’t attempt to offset the water needs of my community, the salmon that goes in the water, and the animals and plants on the land that are in jeopardy,” Ms. Thomas said.
Read more from The Globe and Mail:
Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash
By Matthew Arco / The Portland Daily Sun
Environmental groups fearing that talks to pump “incredibly destructive” crude oil from Canada to Greater Portland are once again resurfacing, are opposing the project even before one is officially put in writing.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is planning to join three other environmental groups in Portland this week to educate the public of the dangers of “tar sands” traveling from western Canada to South Portland, said Dylan Voorhees, the council’s clean energy director.
The coalition plan to gather at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal Thursday to speak out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, but also to discuss a years-old proposal to reverse the flow of crude oil from Maine to Canada, officials said.
“It’s an incredibly destructive and energy intensive process (to extract the tar sands),” said Voorhees, referring to the increased production of Canadian oil fields in Alberta.
“Ultimately, the larger context is that there’s a large effort of getting tar sands crude oil out of Canada,” he said. “It doesn’t seem prudent on us to wait until there’s an application to start learning about this because it’s very clearly on the radar.”
Voorhees cited a proposal by a Canadian oil company, Enbridge, before Canada’s National Energy Board as evidence that plans are being made to export tar sands oil out of Canada.
The company’s application seeks to reverse the flow of crude oil from western Canada, in the oil fields of Alberta, to pipelines connected to eastern cities like Montreal. The expectation is that Portland Pipe Line will then reverse the flow of its South Portland-Montreal pipeline, Voorhees said.
“Literally, it’s called the phase one application,” he said, referring to Enbridge’s proposal.
Read more from the Portland Daily Sun:
Editor’s note: The US military is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in the world. It is through the allocation of over half the federal government budget that this is made possible. So when companies say that the destruction of the environment must be done to save the planet, this fact is never mentioned. We are in fact in an existential situation and yet ending the war machine is never on the table. The evil empire will do what it has always done, which is to extract the wealth of the land to the determinant of those that live there. And this will not end until it collapses. If we are to have anything left before this happens we must fight to save it.
By Katie Fite/Counterpunch
Critical Minerals Propaganda
In early summer, Vale BLM (Bureau of Land Management) held a Resource Advisory Council meeting in McDermitt, ground zero for the critical minerals rush on public lands. Lithium driller Jindalee HiTech got to talk about the company’s horrifying new exploration drilling proposal for 267 more drill holes, wastewater sumps, and 30 miles of new “temporary” roads. The project would tear rip apart irreplaceable Sage-grouse Focal habitat, as a prelude to open pit strip mining for lower grade lithium. The BLM geologist showed a video, How Critical Minerals are Vital to the Climate Fight, that had appeared on ABC news.
One narrator, Reed Blakemore, was from the Atlantic Council think tank known for never seeing a War or US-backed coup it wouldn’t propagandize and cheerlead for. The other narrator works for an organization called SAFE. Their mission appears to be strident propaganda shaping policies, perceptions and practices and support for wresting control of critical minerals and energy, no matter how unsafe it makes the world or how much environmental damage is caused. The two harangue viewers about the need to get “shovels in the ground”. It includes a clip of Biden bragging about the Defense Production Act.
SAFE’s Website boasts about working with retired 4 star generals. A scroll through their Twitter account shows them pushing for streamlining environmental analysis–like the type of NEPA and tribal consultation short-cuts which contributed to the Thacker Pass (Peehee mu’huh) controversy that rages on. SAFE screeches about mineral laundering by China, adores high voltage transmission lines, and my favorite: “SAFE believes the Biden admin must take an aggressive approach that raises strong walls around foreign entities of concern while lowering drawbridges for our allies, like South Korea”. And hurl pots of burning oil down on the enemies of Fortress America from the castle keep?
This energy transition and critical minerals crusade on public lands is very much about retaining a corporate iron grip on energy, and increasingly seems to be about feeding the Military Industrial Complex. Watching the video, it belatedly dawned on me that critical minerals and green energy Neocons are driving much of the agenda. It’s certainly neocolonialist, but with the added twist of the Neocon global control freaks, and no dissent is allowed. We’ll grab what we want, anywhere, no matter if we break it all apart, no restraints tolerated, and we and our friends will make a fortune. The McDermitt caldera encapsulates the clash between supposed clean energy and the dirty reality for public land, water, communities, biodiversity, and a sane path to sustainability and energy change.
The EV “revolution” is being carried out with the same mindset, hubris, lies, greed, propaganda and war mongering that plunged us ever deeper into the fossil fuels mess and Forever Wars. The public is being propagandized by the Atlantic Council, SAFE, and others to blindly accept the sacrifice of any place, anywhere – under claims of saving us from climate change (as we continue to guzzle energy without limits). It’s also about domination and empire. Just like with oil, they won’t be content with a “domestic supply”, and instead seek to control all of it. Leadership of big green groups often appears captured by these critical minerals and energy Neocons – witness those dead serious Sierra Club outreach e-mails with a tangle of high voltage transmission lines portraying NEPA short-cuts as a good thing.
War Contractor Bechtel Selected to Build the Thacker Pass Mine, Mine Costs Double
Environews provides a whirlwind summary of some 2023 Thacker Pass events. Lithium Americas contracted with Bechtel Mining and Metals for engineering, procurement and execution of the mine. Bechtel is an industrial contractor and war profiteer who reaped massive government contracts during our Forever Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve already signed a reconstruction agreement with Ukraine, a tad prematurely. They go way back, having built Hoover Dam and infrastructure for the Manhattan atomic bomb project at Hanford and elsewhere. Hanford plutonium was used in the nuclear bomb the US dropped on the people of Nagasaki Japan. To this day, Bechtel is involved in Forever Clean Up at nuclear facilities, including the most toxic place in America, and helping work on new nukes, keeping the gravy train going. The International Committee for Investigative Journalists summarized:
“Bechtel has been heavily involved in both commercial and military nuclear activities. These have included some of the most notable nuclear mishaps in U.S. history, from California’s San Onofre reactor installed backwards, to the botched clean up of Three Mile Island … Bechtel is finding ways to profit from the radioactive mess its projects have created.”
Regarding Bechtel’s endless Hanford work and profiteering Joshua Frank describes “they have a really bad track record and are well known for reaping the spoils of U.S. military ventures all over the globe. In October they had a test facility up and running that was going to do a run of vitrification for low-level radioactive waste. They basically had a ribbon cutting for this big machine and it ran for a week, then overheated, and they had to shut it down”.
Tribes consider this land to be a Traditional Cultural Property. Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Summit Lake Tribe submitted a Traditional Cultural Property Eligibility Statement, (Peehee mu’huh: A Living Monument to Numu History and Culture District. September 12, 1865 Thacker Pass Massacre Site) to the BLM. It seeks official Interior Department recognition. Now it’s reported that BLM is sitting on the document, and never transmitted it to the National Park Service who oversees National Historic Register sites. Meanwhile, site integrity is being obliterated. Time after time – in local, national and international media – elders and tribal members have said that lithium mining desecration and destruction at Thacker Pass is like digging up Arlington Cemetery.
A recent deluge of news articles, many appeared planted, hyped a geological study that largely rehashes long known geological information. This helps fuel speculation and increase political pressure on agencies to rubberstamp projects. Following weeks of media gushing about the overblown study, the Nevada Current exposes what’s going on:
“The study was funded by Lithium Americas, and includes research from Lithium Americas employee and shareholder, Thomas Benson”. He was the lead author, but most media stories skipped right over that inconvenient fact.
“John Hadder, the director of the Great Basin Resource Watch … said while the study may be helpful in pitching mining in the area, his organization has heard claims of “largest lithium deposit” from places around the world.
“I am concerned that this report will be used to advance more lithium mining in the region, and pressure the frontline peoples to accept mine plans,” said Hadder. “Regardless of how much lithium may be extractable, the sloppy permitting process that led to the Thacker Pass mine must not be duplicated. Indigenous ancestral lands that have cultural values must be protected, and Indigenous communities should have the right to say no”.
The publicity also bumped up Lithium Americas stock that had sagged a bit. And it seems there was another purpose, too. Lithium Americas is angling for a $1 billion DOE (Department of Energy) loan handout, the largest amount ever. The same outlets that hyped the geological paper are all agog, casting this as “an historic 1 billion”. Reuters now reports “Lithium Americas had raised its budget for the first phase of the Thacker Pass project to $2.27 billion, from $1.06 billion, reflecting changes to its production plans”. The loan is claimed to be 50 to 75% of the mine cost. Is this price explosion due to estimates of production linked to the hyped study, or is there a huge mine cost over-run right out of the starting gate? Lithium Americas did choose a contractor with long experience profiting off the US’s trillion-dollar foreign misadventures and nuclear mess. If the lithium mine gets this obscene DOE handout, will dollars evaporate, like four Hanford whistleblowers exposed:
“It is stunning that, for a decade, Bechtel and AECOM chose to line their corporate pockets by diverting important taxpayer funds from this critically essential effort,” Assistant US Attorney Joseph Harrington said in a news release …The case started after four whistleblowers came forward in 2016, telling federal prosecutors about alleged time-card fraud in which the companies billed the U. S. Department of Energy for work that was never completed. The companies hired hundreds of electricians, millwrights, pipefitters … to build the plant … and then over-charged for the workers even when those workers had no duties to perform …”.
The Department of Justice Press release on the Hanford deception is here. The time-card fraud involved DOE funds. Now DOE appears on the verge of lavishing a billion-dollar loan on Lithium Americas who uses this same contractor.
GM Thacker Pass Lithium in Ultium Batteries, GM and War Machines
GM is now implicated as a major player in Caldera lithium mania. In January 2023, GM announced it would invest $650 million in Lithium Americas and use Thacker Pass lithium for its Ultium batteries:
“Lithium carbonate from Thacker Pass will be used in GM’s proprietary Ultium battery cells. … GM is launching a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, luxury vehicles and light commercial vehicles using the Ultium Platform, including the GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV, GMC Sierra EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Cadillac CELESTIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Equinox EV, BrightDrop Zevo 400 and BrightDrop Zevo 600”.
But these aren’t the only GM vehicles using Ultium batteries. Clean Technica headlined, “The US military is buying Ultium Battery Packs from GM Defense”. Get ready for the Green Wars, folks, including the Green Wars for Green Minerals. Are wild and sacred places of the McDermitt Caldera going to be destroyed not only for bloated GM pick-ups, street Hummers and virtue signaling about the climate crisis, but also for War machines too — gutting the West for critical minerals so we can waste untold amounts of energy and minerals on more Forever Wars?
GM Defense proclaims it’s driving the future of military mobility, with a five-passenger All-Electric Military Concept Vehicle, and working on energy storage for the tactical warfighter. Ultium batteries are also used in armored diplomatic vehicles that look like a sure hit with narco kingpins. Other monstrosities like this tactical truck, don’t yet appear to have EV batteries, but GM does promise they’re fuel efficient. How long until US troops de-stabilizing South American countries to gain control of their lithium, or maneuvering to grab foreign oil, are cruising around in EVs? At the end of a Reno KTVN Channel 2 video full of land destruction images and lithium company spin, the reporter says “lithium is a hot commodity”. The lithium company’s spokesman replies “it’s essential for national security”. Note that lithium is also used in designs of some nuclear reactors and in the nuclear weapons industry.
GM Greenwashing, Thacker Pass Lithium, Social Injustice
A Mighty Earth report, GM Wants ‘Everybody In’ on Greenwashing, tells how GM’s human rights policy conflicts with its investment in Thacker Pass, how they’re building hulks while smaller cars sold may largely be from China, a continuing dirty supply chain, a poor score in indigenous rights protection, and how often GM makes commitments but doesn’t follow through. In the report, the People of Red Mountain Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu explain that “the entire landscape of the McDermitt caldera is sacred to Nevada, California and Oregon tribal nations”
The brutal 1865 US cavalry massacre of a Paiute camp at Thacker Pass was part of the memory-holed Snake War of Extermination. The massacre was not revealed by BLM in the mine EIS. During litigation, Tribes presented resounding evidence – US surveyor records, contemporaneous newspaper stories, and survivor Ox Sam’s own account from Big Bill Haywood’s Autobiography. The Biden-Haaland BLM brushed it all aside, to the anger and dismay of Tribes and many other people. The stalled Traditional Cultural Property document contains the records. Perhaps doling out a $1 billion loan for the destruction of an officially recognized massacre site might be a bridge too far, even for Jennifer Granholm’s DOE.
In spring 2023, the Ox Sam women’s protest camp was set up at Thacker Pass by a gaping water pipeline trench the company had ripped past sacred Sentinel Rock. The camp was raided after a protest action. Now Ox Sam descendants and white activists associated with the camp are being sued in a vile SLAPP suit: After getting hammered with lawsuits aimed at halting development of a lithium mine at Northern Nevada’s Thacker Pass, a Canadian-based mining company has turned the tables and is suing the mine’s protesters … the protesters and an attorney representing them counter that the lawsuit is similar to a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), aimed at intimidating and silencing their free speech”.
How’s that for upholding ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) principles, and the other social responsibility jargon Lithium Americas and the mob of Caldera miners use to lull investors?
Aurora Schemes of Yellowcake and Green Uranium
Aurora Energy Metals is trying to resurrect a uranium project long thought dead. Promotion videos show Greg Cochran, an Australian “uranium veteran” leading the Aurora charge. Before alighting in the Caldera, Cochran had been with Australian uranium miner Deep Yellow. Here’s Friends of the Earth Melbourne on Deep Yellow, “The Mulga Rock uranium project east of Kalgoorlie is now under the leadership of a team with a track record of over-promising, under-performing and literally blowing up cultural sites”. And this from the Conservation Council of WA (West Australia),“We’ve gone from the inexperienced and cash-poor Vimy Resources to Deep Yellow who are led by a team with a track record that highlights why uranium mining does not have a social license”.
Aurora drilled a few exploration holes in fall 2022 extended a bit of drilling into a winter exclusion period. Now they seek to expand drilling under a NEPA-less, no public comment Notice, which is how the Jindalee sagebrush killing drilling to date has been done.
Aurora’s mining scheme, where some lower grade lithium overlays uranium deposits, is explained in a Proactive Investors video. Cochran envisions the mine of the future with a conveyor belt or pipeline jetting lithium or uranium slurry or crushed rock from Oregon across the state line down onto private land in Nevada, where a processing plant and waste heaps would be located. The video interviewer asks: “Tell me more about this property you bought in Nevada”. Cochran replies:
“Yeah, we kept that under wraps for quite a while because we wanted to make sure that nobody else kind of gazumped us. … We had this strategy of identifying suitable locations within Nevada for the processing plant … because… we know that they understand mining a lot better than Oregon … Nothing is a free pass, but it would allow us, we believe, to permit quicker. Private land to boot is even more attractive. … We discovered that one of the landowners was looking to sell. So, right place, right time. I’m already … envisioning … the mine of the future. Where you develop this mine. You’ve got a crusher, you run a very fancy overland conveyor – or pipeline for that matter – across to Nevada which as the crow flies it’s only 8 or 9 k’s – so there’s no tracking, no footprint … negligible CO2 emissions …’.
He says the Aurora project would be ticking all the boxes in terms of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) approval – right after detailing a plan to evade Oregon regulations on uranium pollution by moving the hot rocks across the state line. Apparently, radioactive material infiltrating air, groundwater, plants, wildlife, and contaminating the community, doesn’t count when you’re ticking ESG boxes. The same plan is repeated in a Mining Network video here, with Cochran talking about Nevada land enabling Aurora to “permit a quarry in Oregon”, which he describes as fairly straightforward, while siting the processing plant and waste heaps in Nevada. In a Thacker Pass state permitting meeting, Nevada Department of Environmental Quality staff admitted they couldn’t recall not permitting a mine.
Aurora’s Nevada land is around 4 miles west of town, right by the state line south of where the Disaster Peak county road starts. In an Australian publication, Aurora, described as a “shining light”, says that because there’s some hydropower at the site “we have the potential to deliver green uranium”, in a “uranium friendly mining jurisdiction”. Welcome to Nevada – the Uranium Waste Heap State. No Rocks Too Hot to Handle. You can already envision more billboards sprouting up on Highway 95.
A past effort to wrest uranium from Caldera earth fizzled when Fukushima grayed up the miner’s blue sky on uranium. Back then, Oregon mining activist Larry Tuttle warned in Read the Dirt about yellowcake production, water use, the toxic waste stream, tailings ponds and Oregon’s very own Lucky Lass superfund site experience near Lakeview:
“Sulfuric acid in the tailings also dissolves and leaches heavy metals – mercury, molybdenum, arsenic, lead, manganese, and cadmium – as well as uranium. (The Aurora site has already been extensively mined for mercury, which pose additional health perils; sulfuric acid easily bonds with and transports mercury to waterways.) Residual uranium elements in the tailings decay and release radon; heavy metals also continue to interact within tailings and other wastes.
For communities as diverse as Moab, Utah, and Jeffrey City, Wyoming (often called yellowcake towns), the effects of uranium mining on public services and resources; ground and surface water; and, air quality are serious and dramatic”.
The Moab Times just reported on resistance to uranium mining and processing at the La Sal Complex near Moab and the Pinyon Plain mine near the Grand Canyon, in “Ute Mountain Utes march against White Mesa as Energy Fuels prepares to reopen uranium mines”:
“Some White Mesa residents have long been concerned that the mill, which lies four miles north of the community, is contaminating nearby groundwater, air and wildlife with radon that allegedly blows and seeps off the mill’s tailings impoundments”.
While uranium miners attempt to tamp down dangers, Ute tribal members monitoring past mining effects have measured whopping levels of uranium in spring water, there’s a sulfur odor in the air with re-processing taking place, and animals are disappearing from the mesa. For the record, uranium was recently shifted from the critical minerals list, and is now a fuel mineral with friends in Congress. Caldera uranium is found in uraninite and coffinite ore. No, someone didn’t have a morbid sense of humor, it’s said to be named after a geologist.
Trying to track the serial land destroyers and speculators who’ve descended on the Caldera is quite confusing. It’s unclear who now controls FMS claims. On-line sources show conflicting information. An Aurora prospectus said they control Oregon FMS “CALD” claims. A company named Chariot now appears involved with Oregon and Nevada FMS claims – all located in terrible places for wildlife. Lithium Americas holds a north-south block of claims in extremely sensitive wildlife habitat up in the Montana Mountains. They repeatedly told the public during the Thacker Pass EIS process that the project was sited to avoid those Sage-grouse conflicts, and that they wouldn’t mine up there because wildlife values were so high.
Puzzlingly, a 2016 SEC Report map shows Lithium Americas then controlling much of the current Jindalee claims block in “Miller” [Malheur] county. Why would they let go of Oregon claims while gearing up for Thacker? FMS Nevada claims lie in critical sagebrush by the east face of the Montanas. LiVE, another company, also has some Nevada claims. This month, there were mining press articles and a video about Jindalee drilling again this November. I contacted Vale BLM, and BLM says No. If you’re out in the Caldera, keep your eyes on what’s going on.
Jim Jeffress, a retired NDOW biologist (so he can speak his mind) describes how ideal for Sage-grouse Caldera lands are. He says what happens in the Montana Mountains with key sage grouse habitat “will define the resolve of the state of Nevada and BLM in the recovery of Sage-grouse in Nevada”. He extols the high bird abundance, the ideal habitat configuration, calls the Montanas exceptionally important, the gold standard for Sage-grouse, and a critical bridge between populations, writing:
“My primary concern is focused on ANY mine site or extraction areas on top of the Montana Mountains in the area commonly referred to as Lone Willow, now or in the future. That concern extends into Jordan Meadows in the east that serves as wintering grounds for the Montana Mountains sage-grouse population and those in southern Oregon”.
The Caldera is a unique inter-connected ecosystem, spanning Nevada and Oregon, with irreplaceable habitat for Sage-grouse and other wildlife. It must be protected from a mad, rapacious minerals rush.
Photo Bhie-Cie Zahn-Nahtzu in prayer at Peehee Mu’huh from Protect Thacker Pass website
Environmental Advocates and Groups To Protest Latest Proposed Algonquin Pipeline Expansion Near Shuttered Indian Point Nuclear Plant
On Tuesday, activists will rally outside the shuttered Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan in protest of the latest proposed Algonquin Pipeline Expansion in the area. The protest will occur blocks from where, in 2016, three activists were arrested for blocking the last Algonquin Pipeline expansion of an added 42-inch high-pressure pipeline. In addition, two older 32-inch and 23-inch pipelines run underneath the plant. Decommissioning at Indian Point houses over 2,000 tons of irradiated fuel rods in addition to other radioactive waste.
Protestors will call on Governor Hochul to stop pipeline owner Enbridge’s latest “Project Maple” proposal. Project Maple was noticed by Enbridge HERE.
WHAT: Rally calling on Governor Hochul to stop Enbridge’s “Project Maple” fracked gas pipeline expansion
WHEN: Tuesday, November 14 at 4:30pm ET
WHERE: Outside the shuttered Indian Point nuclear plant on the corner of Bleakley Ave & Broadway in Buchanan, NY
WHO: Activists representing Food & Water Watch, United for Clean Energy, Safe Energy Rights Group, and more
SIGN-UP HERE: https://www.mobilize.us/fww/event/592008/
“Project Maple” would significantly expand the amount of gas transmitted through the Algonquin Pipeline which runs from the Hudson Valley through Connecticut to Massachusetts. Enbridge anticipates its proposal to come on line as soon as November 2029.
The proposal to expand fracked gas in the region comes despite New York’s Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act which mandates greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 85 percent by 2050 and the state’s nation leading ban on fossil fuels in new buildings, which will go into effect in 2026.
Editor’s Note: Civilization is destructive. It endangers everyone in its quest for development, including vulnerable human communities. We stand in solidarity with all efforts by communities to protect themselves and the natural communities they live in. The following is a press release by Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International (WECAN). You can find the original statement here.
USA, May 25, 2023 — Today, Indigenous women leaders from the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance, joined by over 150 organizations, representing millions nationwide, submitted a letter to the Biden Administration with an emergency request to decommission Enbridge Line 5 pipeline due to imminent threats of oil spills impacting the Bad River Watershed and the Great Lakes.
Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, and continues to operate nearly 20 years past its engineered lifespan, transporting crude oil through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and under the Straits of Mackinac. The letter to President Biden and representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency follows the advocacy of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa who submitted a court filing in May calling for the shutdown of Line 5 after showing evidence that record snowfalls, and heavy rains and winds have further compromised the integrity of the pipeline.
Due to recent flooding, erosion of a local riverbank has led to Line 5’s centerline to be within 11 feet or less of the river waters, creating an immediate threat. The letter notes that erosion from receding waters or the next rainfall could cause a “guillotine rupture” – a vertical break causing oil to gush from both sides, poisoning the Bad River watershed and Lake Superior, impacting the Great Lakes region which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, and provides drinking water for 40 million people in North America.
The letter points to the significant harms an oil spill would have on waterways, ecosystems, wild rice beds, and clarifies how it directly undermines Indigenous rights and Indigenous Sovereignty:
“Imminent pipeline ruptures at the Bad River in Wisconsin and into the Straits of Mackinac threaten our drinking water, fisheries, manoomin and cultural survival…Our sovereignty and treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and gather food and medicine are all at risk.”
Already, Line 5 has spilled over 30 times, dumping more than a million gallons of oil. Independent consultants have estimated clean-up costs for a crude oil spill in the Great Lakes at $1.878 billion.
The signatories urge President Biden to revoke the Presidential Permit and force Enbridge to cease Line 5’s operations, pointing to the Administration’s climate directives and goals.
The letter comes from Indigenous women who are advocating to stop Line 5, and is endorsed by local and national groups representing Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, faith groups, and more. Please see quotes from the initiating signatories of the letter below:
Aurora Conley, Bad River Ojibwe, Anishinaabe Environmental Protection Alliance:
“As a Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe member, I am calling on the Biden Administration to shut down Line 5 immediately. Our territories and water are in imminent danger, and we do not want to see irreversible damage to our land, water, and wild rice. We do not want our lifeways destroyed. The Ojibwe people are here in Bad River because of the wild rice. A rupture from this oil spill will irreversibly harm the Great Lakes and wild rice beds. This is unacceptable. We will not stand for this. Shut down Line 5 now.”
Jannan J. Cornstalk, Citizen of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Director of the Water is Life Festival:
“Our very lifeways and cultures hang in the balance as Line 5 continues to operate illegally in Indigenous territories and water. These are our lifeways– when that water is healthy enough that rice is growing– that not only benefits our communities, but that benefits everybody up and down stream. Allowing Line 5 to continue to operate is cultural genocide, and the Biden Administration must listen and shut down Line 5. That water is our relative, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our water, our sacred relative.”
Jaime Arsenault, White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer:
“We are urging the Biden Administration to revoke its Presidential Permit and shut down Line 5. We saw a multitude of preventable environmental tragedies occur in Minnesota with the destruction brought by Line 3. As a result – wild rice, watersheds, traditional lifeways and the wellbeing of Indigenous communities are still under constant threat. Right now, the Biden Administration has the opportunity to protect waterways, rice watersheds and lands threatened by a rupture of Line 5. Honor the treaties and the leadership of Tribes, and shut down Line 5.”
Rene Ann Goodrich, Bad River Tribal Elder, Native Lives Matter Coalition and Wisconsin Department of Justice MMIW Task Force Member:
“Line 5 crosses over tribal treaty territory and one of those ceded territories is my own reservation of Bad River. So the age of the pipeline, the danger that it brings to the environment is our biggest concern here. We have that need, we have that responsibility, we have that duty to protect our life givers. Our life givers are the earth, the aquifers underneath the earth, the women that are sacred water carriers, and water itself that brings life. As sacred water carriers we stand with the water, and urge the Biden Administration to take action and shut down Line 5 immediately.”
Carrie Chesnik, Oneida Nation Wisconsin, Founder of the Treaty Land Trust:
“We have an opportunity here to shut down the Line 5 pipeline, and protect what we all hold dear. We all have the responsibility and agency to act in a good way, to care for the land and waters. What our communities have known for a long time is that the water is hurting, Mother Earth is hurting, and pretty soon we won’t have clean water for our kids, for future generations. As a Haudenosunee woman, an auntie, daughter, and sister, I have an inherent responsibility to the water and our children. Every single one of us has agency and a responsibility to take action, honor the treaties, and protect Mother Earth. It is the time to be brave and courageous.”
Gaagigeyaashiik – Dawn Goodwin, Gaawaabaabiganigaag, White Earth-Ojibwe, Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition, Representative of Indigenous Environmental Network:
“As a member of the Wolf Clan I have an inherent responsibility to protect the environment and the people. I want us to imagine a world where we are working as one team as we should be working together. The government has failed to protect the water in the past, yet there is an opportunity now to protect the water before irreparable damage occurs. Our treaties are being ignored and yet, treaties are the SUPREME LAW of the land. It is time to honor and respect the treaties as the supreme law of the land, as they were written and intended, and to listen to Tribes and Indigenous leaders calling for an immediate shut down to the Line 5 pipeline. We are the women of the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance calling upon you to rise and to protect all that is sacred – shut down Line 5!”
Nookomis Debra Topping, Nagajiiwanong, 1854 Treaty Fond du Lac, Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition:
“Nibi (water) is sacred, Manoomin is sacred, that is our life blood, that is us, that is why we are here. We will not allow any further destruction to our sacred ecosystems and water. Everyday the threat increases, allowing Canadian Corporation Enbridge’s Line 5 to continue operating is genocide! We’ve followed every process, Tribes and the Governor of Michigan have called for a shut down of Line 5. The science is there, the evidence is there. Deny Enbridge any further allowance to destroy Mama Aki (Earth), and shut down Line 5.”
Since 2022, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) has been honored to facilitate the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance. In response to the call for action, Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) stated: “The Bad River Band continues to sound the alarm, and the Biden administration must listen and immediately shut down Line 5. The imminent danger of a rupture to Line 5 due to increased erosion on the Bad River threatens Indigenous Peoples existence and rights, biodiverse ecosystems, and the Great Lakes, which holds one-fifth of the world’s freshwater. The Administration has the necessary tools to cease operations, and must take action before it’s too late. The Great Lakes and local communities cannot be the next sacrifice zone.”
Photo by Andrew Ling on Unsplash