Editor’s Note; It is important to understand the difference between a reform and a revolution in any political movement. A reform aims to tweak some aspects of the system to make it more equitable, fair and just. A revolution, on the other hand, changes the overall structure of the system. DGR, as a radical environmental and a radical feminist organization, believes that reforms are not enough in a system that is inherently rooted in oppression and injustice. We believe that a revolution is necessary to remove that deep rooted structural violence. However, we also understand that a revolution requires political organizing at a much larger scale. While we are working on building that political movement, the natural world is being destroyed. Till then, something needs to be done to protect the pieces of natural world that we have left, no matter how small. That is where reforms contribute. We understand the perseverance and diligence it takes to bring about any reform and appreciate those who are working on it. Below is the story of such a movement. Though originally designed to be much more protective of nature and indigenous people, the mining laws in Mexico were modified to be much less than that by the time they were passed. The US is still ruled by the Mining Law of 1872.
Reforms to Mexico’s mining law limit harmful practices by extractive industries and improve protections for the environment and Indigenous peoples. But they’re also a far cry from the change activists had been hoping for.
Under the new reform, Indigenous communities will receive 5% of a mining operation’s profits. The maximum lifespan of mining concessions is also reduced from 100 years to 80.
Concessions will no longer be granted in areas with water shortages or in protected areas. Currently, there are 1,671 mining concessions in 70 protected areas in Mexico, spreading across 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of preserved land.
MEXICO CITY — A major reform approved by congress last week is supposed to limit harmful practices by the mining industry and improve protections for the environment and Indigenous peoples. But some parts of the reform faced strong resistance from pro-business interests, resulting in a watered-down version that some environmentalists said doesn’t go far enough.
The reform, originally introduced by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the end of March, was designed to make it harder for private companies to obtain mining concessions without accounting for impacts on surrounding ecosystems and local communities.
It establishes free and prior consent as a requirement for mining concessions, meaning that companies must meet with residents to discuss the impacts of their projects before receiving permits. It also requires companies to restore the land once a mine closes.
But some of the most impactful components of the proposal were negotiated down. Payment to Indigenous communities living near mining operations was originally supposed to be 10% of mining profits but lawmakers reduced it to 5%.
There was also debate about the length of mining concessions, which the previous version of the law set at up to 100 years. Although the original reform proposal wanted to limit it to just 30 years, effectively preventing the companies from shaping entire regions for the long term, lawmakers ultimately settled on 80 years.
“These topics were suppressed or modified without justification and under pressure from the business interests that are responsible for social and environmental devastation,” Colectiva Cambiémosla Ya and Alliance for Free Determination and Autonomy, two mining activist groups, said in a statement ahead of the senate vote.
Deputy Ignacio Mier Velazco, from the state of Puebla — who explained that the reforms were changed to avoid risking investment and economic development — said he was confident the version that was passed would still improve oversight of the industry. Many activists in the region agreed, telling Mongabay the reforms were a victory that allowed for some positive change and a way forward for the continued fight against mining.
Mexico’s mining industry has experienced rapid growth since 1992, when the original mining law was passed. The country has become a top exporter of silver, zinc and other important minerals. In the 1980s, less than 1% of Mexican territory was under a mining concession. Now, it’s a little more than 8%, according to the president’s reform proposal.
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.”
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.”
SAN DIEGO, Calif.— After nearly 30 years of petitions and lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected one of Southern California’s rarest butterflies, the Hermes copper butterfly, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency also designated 35,000 acres of protected critical habitat in San Diego County. The habitat consists of three units: Lopez Canyon, which includes acreage within Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve; Miramar/Santee; and Southern San Diego.
“Without Endangered Species Act protection, the Hermes copper butterfly would surely be pushed into extinction by Southern California’s rampant development, wildfires driven by climate change and invasive plants,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center. “I’m relieved to finally see this beautiful little butterfly and its habitat protected.”
The small, bright yellow-orange, spotted Hermes copper inhabits coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats only in San Diego County and northern Baja. Its survival depends on dwindling patches of its host plant, the spiny redberry. Increasingly frequent and severe wildfires also ravage the butterfly’s primary source of nectar, the California buckwheat. Drought and development have also destroyed dozens of historic populations.
The Hermes copper occupied many San Diego coastal areas prior to urbanization, and still persists in some foothill and mountain areas up to 45 miles from the ocean. The butterfly declined from at least 57 historical populations to only 26 populations in a survey this year.
Devastating wildfires have increasingly burned through key Hermes copper habitat, putting an end to the tenuous existence of many remaining butterfly populations. For example, 2020’s Valley Fire came within just 2.5 miles of a core population of the butterfly. In today’s listing the Service warned that a single large wildfire could wipe out all remaining populations of the butterflies.
Even by the time it was first described in the late 1920s, the Hermes copper was endangered by urban development. By 1980 staff at the San Diego Natural History Museum noted that San Diego’s rapid urban growth put the future of the butterfly in the hands of developers. The Fish and Wildlife Service first identified the butterfly as a potential candidate for Endangered Species Act protection in 1984.
The Center for Biological Diversity and San Diego Biodiversity Project filed formal petitions in 1991 and 2004 to protect the species. A lawsuit was required to force the Service to respond to the second petition, but the agency announced in 2006 that it would not protect the species, despite fires in 2003 that burned nearly 40% of the butterfly’s habitat.
The Center filed a second lawsuit in 2009, but the Service delayed protection by placing the butterfly back on the candidate list in 2011. So the Center sued a third time in May 2019, which finally forced the Service to propose a status of threatened in January 2020.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Hundreds of women took the streets in Istanbul to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. However, protestors were met with police violence, including tear gas and rubber bullets, as they tried to break through barricades to march on a busy pedestrian street. Similar protests took place across other cities, including the capital Ankara.
Women continue to be the hope, with their hopes, excitement, determination and enthusiasm. They have turned night into day on Istiklal Avenue.
We are not staying silent, we are not afraid, we are not obeying.
Kadınlar umutlarıyla, heyecanlarıyla, kararlılıklarıyla, coşkularıyla umut olmayı sürdürüyor. İstiklal Caddesi’nde geceyi gündüze çevirdiler!. pic.twitter.com/19nWKd371V
The women groups were also joined by the LGBTQ+ activists.
The main demand on the streets was for Turkey to rejoin the Istanbul Convention — a legally-binding human rights treaty created by the Council of Europe pledging to prevent, prosecute, and eliminate domestic violence and promote gender equality. Turkey announced its decision to withdraw from the international treaty in March of this year. In July, women across the country protested the official withdrawal.
Away from the busy street of Istiklal, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also marking the day, promising to someday eliminate violence against women. “I hope we eliminate violence against women by strengthening our human and moral values. We are determined.”
But women’s rights groups say words aren’t enough, as Turkey continues to see increasing femicide rates. According to We Will Stop Femicide, a local platform documenting violence against women, a total of 225 women were killed between January and October 2021. A separate tracker documenting the names of women killed as a result of violence puts the number of victims at 353 in total for 2021. One of the most recent victims was 28-year-old Basak Cengiz, who was stabbed by a man who later confessed he did it out of boredom. The killer was charged with aggravated murder.
Cengiz’s murder renewed the calls for Turkey to rejoin the international convention; however, authorities — including Erdoğan — continue to insist the domestic legislation is enough. “To us, women are the holiest creature. We will never allow their holiness to be tainted,” the president said reportedly last week, adding, “Thus, there’s no need for the Istanbul Convention.”
The government’s “Action Plan for Combating Violence against Women” was announced in July 2021 and includes goals such as reviewing judicial processes, improving protection services, and gathering data on violence. So far, it has proven futile. “The current laws are not adequate. We hear about women being killed every day, because the existing structure, both legally and implementation wise, is not adequate,” Ayşe Faride Acar, a Turkish academic overseeing the implementation of the Istanbul Convention between 2015 – 2019 told AlJazeera in an interview.
And the numbers speak for themselves. Berrin Sonmez of the Women’s Platform for Equality recently told AFP that ever since the country withdrew from the convention in March, the sense of impunity has only risen. She said, “180 women were murdered between March and July 2021, and besides that, there have been 171 suspicious deaths. This is not a justifiable number.”
Erdoğan first expressed interest in leaving the convention in 2020. The final decision came after the president unveiled a human rights plan he says would “improve rights and freedoms in Turkey and help the country meet EU standards.”
The atmosphere on the streets on November 25 painted a different picture. “We are in the streets to call for the right of women to defend themselves, to call for justice for women who were killed, for their right to work, for the rights of lesbian women,” told one protest participant, a member of Women’s Defense Network, an organization connecting women activists across the country, in an interview with AlJazeera. Another protest participant said, “Every day in our homes, in the streets, in our workplaces, we are subjected to violence,” adding, “We’ve had enough.”
Editor’s note: You don’t have to be indigenous to love the land you live on but it certainly gives moral authority. And in the fight against settler colonialism gives a much greater legitimate claim to virtue. They don’t even follow their own rules. Broken Treaties.
Nuskmata wants to combat myths about mining in Canada.
This is one of her goals at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow.
Nuskmata, mining spokesperson for Nuxalk Nation, spoke to The Narwhal from her home in British Columbia prior to leaving for the summit, also known as the 26th annual meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
She said she wants to centre solutions around Indigenous governance and emphasize how Indigenous Peoples are bearing the burden of climate policies, even well-intentioned ones like switching to electrification and renewable energy — that still requires mining precious metals, she said.
“You can’t be sacrificing Indigenous Peoples and clean water in order to get solar panels,” she said.
“It’s not just swapping out oil and gas. It’s about changing the system so that it’s sustainable for everybody.”
Nuskmata is one of many Indigenous delegates at COP26 determined to pursue Indigenous solutions, along with debunking myths and adding context to Canada’s global commitments.
She said she also hopes to deliver a message that mining “is not a green solution” to the climate crisis.
At COP26, the more than 100 countries in attendance will update their 2015 Paris Agreement commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, intended to meet the urgent need to limit global warming to 1.5 C. This will require profound changes, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a sobering report in August which found Earth could exceed the 1.5 C warming limit by the early 2030s if we don’t curb emissions. To stay below 2 C warming, countries have to meet net-zero emissions around 2050, the report found.
Already in Scotland, nearly all countries have signed a deal committing to end deforestation by 2030, including Canada — though logging here is seen as renewable and therefore not affected by the deal. Delegates have pledged $1.7 billion in funding to Indigenous Peoples, recognizing the critical role they play in forest conservation.
On Monday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to cap and then cut emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector, repeating one of his 2021 campaign promises. But according to a new report from Environmental Defence Canada and Oil Change International, oil and gas producers only have vague commitments that rely on carbon-capture technology.
Some critics say COP26 is excluding Indigenous leaders from key parts of the international discussions. Regional Chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations Terry Teegee said in a public statement “there is a noticeable failure to include First Nations while negotiating the collective future of our planet internationally and locally.”
– Section 11318: Exempts oil and gas pipelines on most federal lands from environmental analysis.
– Sections 40301-40333 (“Fuels and Technology Infrastructure Investments”): These sections propose nearly $15 billion in taxpayer subsidies for dirty energy, including oil, coal, gas, and woody biomass via investments in largely theoretical and unproven carbon capture and storage technologies, including an additional $3 billion to begin construction of a massive network of new CO2 pipelines (Sec. 41004), while also dishonestly defining “clean hydrogen” to include hydrogen derived from climate-polluting carbon-fuel sources such as biomass and fossil fuels (Sec. 40311). The approach outlined here is riddled with uncertainty and harmful impacts while perpetuating our reliance on fossil fuels, which is why it has been denounced as a false climate solution by the scientific community. An additional $6 billion in subsidies is proposed for nuclear energy ( Sec. 41002).
– Section 40801: Authorizes USFS to upgrade and “store” National Forest System roads for future commercial timber production, rather than decommission them.
– Section 40803 (“Wildfire Risk Reduction”): Mandates the logging of 10 million acres of federal forestlands over the next 6 years, and an additional 20 million acres of federal forestlands following the initial 10 million acres of logging. The way these provisions are worded could and likely would be interpreted by courts as intending a complete elimination of all federal environmental laws (including NEPA, ESA, NFMA, and others) to facilitate this logging mandate. Section 40803 also dedicates over $1.6 billion in new taxpayer subsidies for logging, including post-fire clearcutting, on federal lands.
– Section 40804 (“Ecosystem Restoration”) : Authorizes $400 million in subsidies for wood processing facilities, such as sawmills, biomass power plants and wood pellet manufacturing; $400 million for increased logging on public and private forests; $50 million for a program to rent equipment to the timber industry to allow them to log otherwise inaccessible areas, and grants to build sawmill infrastructure and other wood-processing facilities.
– Section 40806: Eliminates environmental analysis under NEPA for an unlimited number of logging projects on federal lands, up to 1,000 feet wide and 3,000 acres in size each, under the guise of “fuelbreaks”.
– Section 40807: Weakens current environmental laws to create a broad exemption which eliminates the public’s right to file administrative objections against planned logging projects on federal lands.
– Sections 70301-70303: Promotes post-fire clearcutting and carbon removal, under the scientifically discredited notion that forests do not regenerate after fires, and promotes conversion of native forests to industrial tree plantations.
– Section 80402: Proposes a system of sweeping tax credits (financial implications unspecified, but potentially in the billions of dollars) for dirty energy, including coal, oil, gas, garbage incineration, and woody biomass under the false-solution catch-all of carbon capture and storage.