The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Canadian Scientists Expose Their Government's Tar Sands Obsession at DC Briefing
A delegation of Canadian scientists and activists participated in a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to set the record straight on the government’s strategy to undermine anything that might stand in the way of its goals to triple tar sands production, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club press release.
As the Canadian government launches a $24 million pro-tar sands advertising campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper digs his heels in by saying he “won’t take no” for an answer on the Keystone XL pipeline.
“The Harper government will stop at nothing to ruthlessly promote tar sands expansion," said Tzeporah Berman, Canadian author and resource development activist, and panel member at today's briefing. "We have witnessed a steady erosion of rights and a concerted attack on critical environmental legislation, all as part of a plan to turn our economy towards tar sands. Democratic opposition is no longer tolerated in Stephen Harper’s Canada.”
At a breakfast briefing this morning, a delegation—featuring respected scientists, artists and activists—presented a compelling case to President Obama that Canada was unfit to make any sort of climate deal in exchange for the Keystone XL. The delegation described how the government’s tar sands obsession has cost Canada its international credibility, according to the NRDC.
“The Canadian government has failed to implement a plan to reduce carbon pollution," said Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada. "It is on track to miss both its own and international targets for carbon emissions reduction, yet is recklessly pursuing plans to triple tar sands production. To date, the government has shown no ability to act as a credible partner to the U.S. on climate actions.”
During the press event today, the delegation presented the following examples on how the Canadian government's concerted efforts cleared the path for reckless tar sands expansion:
- An aggressive $24 million public relations blitz to paint the tar sands as an environmentally responsible project.
- More than 6 years’ worth of failed climate plans and broken promises when it comes to controlling pollution from the tar sands.
- Failure to take meaningful action on the current Canadian emissions trajectory, which will significantly miss Canada’s climate goal—one that is shared with the U.S.
- Dismantling of decades worth of environmental legislation, leading to a withdrawal of federal protection of more than 2 million rivers and lakes, including waterways that would have triggered environmental assessment in pipeline projects.
- Changes to public participation legislation in environmental hearings, including lengthy and arbitrary application processes to participate or submit comments in hearings.
- Implementing communications policies that require federal scientists to have all media lines pre-approved, leading to an 80 percent decline in coverage of climate change in the first year the policy was implemented.
- Public and internal attacks by government on citizens, artists and First Nations who express concern about the impacts of tar sands and related infrastructure.
“There is a systematic attack on science and democracy taking place in Canada, and the Harper government isn’t even trying to hide it," said scientist Dr. David Suzuki. "But scientists cannot and will not be silenced, not when we are facing an irreversible climate catastrophe like the tar sands.”
“Canadians’ right to free expression is being quietly eroded by a pro-oil government insistent on promoting tar sands and silencing anyone who might interfere with those plans," said panel member Franke James, a Canadian artist. "Rather than the friendly neighbor to the north, Canada has become the dirty old man.”
Plans to triple tar sands production by 2030 are incompatible with Canada and the U.S.’ shared commitment to keep global temperature changes below two degree Celsius.
“Under President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. is on track to meet our 2020 climate targets," said Bill Burton, of the League of Conservation Voters. "It would be counter-productive and counter-intuitive to implement strong climate policies at home, while giving Canada the go-ahead to develop its tar sands industry by approving Keystone XL.”
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
hadynyah / E+ / Getty Images
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated: