Energy

Published on March 22nd, 2012 | by Dan Bacher

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Obama cuts through Keystone red tape, while Native Americans protest

After rejecting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal in January, President Barack Obama today announced his plan to fast- track the construction of the pipeline’s southern end at a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma.

As Native American activists protested the pipeline on the motorcade route miles from the President’s pro-oil event, Obama explained that the TransCanada company has applied to build a new pipeline to “speed more oil” from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast.

“And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done,” said Obama.

Ironically, Obama announced his plan on March 22, International World Water Day. The day is commemorated annually as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

In his remarks, Obama claimed that, America is “producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” and portrayed the pipeline as a necessary project to distribute the oil in the quest for “energy independence.”

“Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states,” he said. “We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”

“So we are drilling all over the place — right now. That’s not the challenge. That’s not the problem. In fact, the problem in a place like Cushing is that we’re actually producing so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world,” he said.

“There’s a bottleneck right here because we can’t get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough. And if we could, then we would be able to increase our oil supplies at a time when they’re needed as much as possible,” he continued.

Obama also indicated that he was not opposed to the construction of the northern portion of the pipeline, but wanted it to undergo more environmental review.

“The northern portion of it we’re going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and safety of the American people are protected. That’s common sense,” Obama proclaimed.

Native Americans protest Obama approval of pipeline’s south end

As Obama spoke before oil industry officials, Native Americans gathered in Cushing for a Thursday protest of the President’s speech. Although local authorities at first indicated that the protesters would forced to hold their event in a “cage” erected in Memorial Park – a tactic that has has been used frequently by federal, state and local authorities in recent to suppress the First Amendment – they backed down and allowed them to protest on the motorcade route.

According to a news release from the Indigenous Environmental Network, the President visited Cushing “to stand with executives from TransCanada and throw his support behind a plan to build the southern half of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to move tar sands bitumen and crude oil from Cushing to the Gulf Coast refineries in Texas.”

“A lot of tribal councils and Indian businesses struggle to find a balance between economic resources and our inherited responsibilities for the earth,” said Indian actor and activist Richard Ray Whitman. “How will the decisions we make now effect coming generations?”

“President Obama is an adopted member of the Crow Tribe, so his fast-tracking a project that will desecrate known sacred sites and artifacts is a real betrayal and disappointment for his Native relatives everywhere,” said Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Tar sands is devastating First Nations communities in Canada already and now they want to bring that environmental, health, and social devastation to US tribes.”

A major concern for Native Americans in Oklahoma, according to spokespeople at the event, is that Keystone XL and the Canadian tar sands mines that would supply it ignore impacts to indigenous communities and their sacred spaces.

“Natives in Canada live downstream from toxic tar sands mines,” said Earl Hatley, “and they are experiencing spikes in colon, liver, blood and rare bile-duct cancers which the Canadian government and oil companies simply ignore. And now they want to pipe these tar sands through the heart of Indian country, bulldozing grave sites and ripping out our heritage.”

The group points to a survey done by the Oklahoma Archeological Survey which found 88 archaeological sites and 34 historic structures that were threatened by Keystone XL. TransCanada was asked to reroute around only a small portion of these, leaving 71 archaeological sites and 22 historic structures at risk. The group says they have asked for a list of these sites and to oversee operations that might threaten sacred burial grounds, but neither request has been honored.

Beyond the threat to their own cultural heritage, the group voiced opposition to the pipeline’s environmental impacts, including its threat to drinking water supplies.

“The Ogallala Aquifer is not the only source of water in the plains,” said RoseMary Crawford, Project Manager of the Center for Energy Matters. “Tar sands pipelines have a terrible safety record and leaks are inevitable.”

“We can’t stop global warming with more fossil fuel pipelines,” emphasized Crawford. “The people who voted for this President did so believing he would help us address the global environmental catastrophe that our pollution is creating. He said he would free us from ‘the tyranny of oil.’ Today that campaign promise is being trampled to boost the President’s poll numbers.”

For more information, go to: http://www.ienearth.org/news/native-americans-protest-keystone-xl-from-a-cage.html. .

Jerry Brown continues love affair with Big Oil

While President Obama was wooing oil industry officials in Oklahoma, Governor Jerry Brown has conducted a similar love affair with big oil in California. In spite of protests by environmentalists and fishermen, Brown has continued the oil lobbyist-overseen Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to imposed so-called “marine protected areas” on the California coast.

On January 1, a network of “marine protected areas,” created under the leadership of a big oil lobbyist, went into effect on the California coast. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and a huge supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline, offshore oil drilling and the weakening of environmental laws, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the “marine protected areas.”

These “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from oil spills or drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture, military testings and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The collusion between the oil industry, MLPA Initiative and corporate “environmental” NGOs was revealed in a March 10 article in the Santa Barbara Independent (http://www.independent.com/news/2012/mar/10/coastlines-new-rules/).

The official language for a new marine protected area in the Isla Vista area of Santa Babara County reads, “Take of all living marine resources is prohibited, except for take pursuant to operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area … ”

“The caveat, allowing marine resources to be taken near artificial structures, exists to allow oil production representatives the ability to maintain equipment, including pipelines, located in this area,” the article stated.

So the “protection” created under this glorious “Yosemite of the Sea” and “underwater park” off Isla Vista doesn’t extend to the operations of the oil industry. This evidence of the corrupt MLPA Initiative letting ocean industrialists off scott-free demonstrates that the MLPA Initiative has nothing to do with marine protection – and everything to do with corporate greenwashing of the oil industry and other ocean industrialists.

In another move that reeks of political cronyism and nepotism and demonstrates the inordinate power of the oil industry in California, Brown appointed Secretary of State Debra Bowens’s husband, Mark Nechodom, to Chair California’s Department of Conservation on December 28.

Nechodom, 56, replaces Derek Chernow, the acting director of the Department who Brown fired in a major environmental scandal last month. Brown fired Chernow and Elena Miller, who oversaw oil drilling operations in California, amidst claims by the oil industry and their political allies that the two officials weren’t granting permits quickly and easily enough.

And guess who was backing the campaign to pressure Brown to fire state officials for actually doing their job? Yes, Catherine Reheis-Boyd.

Reheis-Boyd praised Brown’s firing of Mark Nechodom’s predecessor as Chair of California’s Conservation Department in Bloomberg News (http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-05/california-oil-producers-cheer-firing-of-top-state-regulators).

“Oil companies are ‘extremely happy’ about the governor’s decision, Catherine H. Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, a Sacramento-based trade group, said yesterday in a telephone interview,” reported Bloomberg News. “They have been extremely frustrated dealing with an agency that in the past had a wonderful working relationship with industry.”

There is no doubt that both Obama and Brown are in office not to serve the public, but are there to protect the oil industry and other corporate interests that fund their campaigns.

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About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.



  • Bob

    Two days ago our fraudulent Pres. signed HR 347 providing Secret Service members to charge protestors with a felony at will. Freedom of speech has been hacked. Its truly a sad day for this country.

  • As a resident and band member of Six Nations Indian Reservation #40 of the Six Nations Grand River Territory as per described in the Haldimand Proclamation of 1783 re-recognized and sanctioned as a True Copy by the Superior Court of Ontario in 2010 as a tiny part of Six Nations Traditional Beaver Hunting Grounds as per described in the Mitchell Maps of 1701 which was illegally assumed by the assumed government of Quebec in the Quebec Act of 1774 with prior attempts in the Nanfan Treatyof 1701 that has never been sanctioned by Six Nations Haudenosaunee, Hereditary Chiefs, and Clan Mothers in. 1701 and failed subsequent attempts to assume the land and resources Encroahment began at the Canada/USA border along the western shore of Lake Erie without Consultation and Accommodation withe Peoples, Hereditary Chiefs, and Clan Mothers. And in subsequent years the french made further attempts, but failed to agree with the greedy articles of the french, but irregardless then chose to steal land by encroachment by way of squatter over the years until they then went to other tricks by employing the further illegal insturment of theft in the Simcoe Patent to which Superintendent John Graves Simcoe was indicted, called back to Britain where he was formally charged and found guilty on all charges of Misappropriation of Funds, charged with Fraud in the creation and Uttering of Falsified Documents in the form of a Treaty, and an additional Charge of Fraud for rhe Falsification of signatures of the signing authority of the 52 Chiefs of Six Nations. Althogh he was found guilty on all counts he was sent to the tropics where he contracted a disease where on his return had died in transit. This done so his wife and family could still collect his pensions and Royalties from his illegal ventures from all the thefts he and Indian Agent William Claus had planned and executed and to this day none of these illegal activities was ever redressed. And now that Six Narions Treaties have been recognized in the Constitution of Canada withe amendment, Consitution Act of 1982 the recognizes and affirms the Treaties of Six Nations starting with the first Treaty with the Dutxh that is in the Archives in New york City and with Six Nations Treaty of 1784 that Six Nations Indian Reseerve start at the peak of the appalachian Mountains and all lands west of the Applaxhian Mountains to the Mississippi River. Which is the True Size of Six Nations Treaties which takes in the eastern half of the United States from Canada/ United States Border to the tip of Florida. And in Good Stnding as it was the president reiter(ed that would protect Six Nations.
    For comment email whalehead_2000@yahoo.com

  • ruth courchene

    please stop this ): our people have suffered for ever……. and ever……….when will it ever be enough to satisfy all the greed & power you so desire at any cost. to all these human’s called the Indigenous ones. please Listen & hear our Plight to survive and live on this land called our SACRED MOTHER <3 EARTH <3 no offence to anyone at all….. , just expressing my freedom of Speech & speaking out my truths & believes. Meegetch. thank you in my ojibwe tongue language .

  • When he was running for office, Obama said that with America’s help, his election to the Oval Office would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” While he has certainly made some environmentally-friendly moves—like raising fuel economy standards and postponing the Keystone XL pipeline—he has fallen drastically short of what environmentalists worldwide hoped he would accomplish. He leaves ample room for fossil fuels in his “all of the above” vision of America’s energy future, he has opened even more of the Arctic to offshore drilling, and he barely ever mentions the words ‘climate change’.

    It’s amazing that, having promised to be the predisent who slowed the oceans’ rise, he brags now about all the fossil fuels being produced. I guess that’s what an upcoming election will do to you.

  • maggie

    obama only did this because he knew that it would affect Native Americans sacred grounds…..so when it doesn’t happen he can blame Native Americans….he’s such an ass! Find another route stupid!!!

  • Its understood that energy independence is paramount to getting away from, separating themselves, from countries of old ideas, tyranny, dictatorships such as we have seen, then to be attacked for taking precautions to ignore foreign politics. But still North America is attacked, so when Iranians flew jets into the trade centres, they were attckibg Six Nations Traditional Hunting grounds that was leased to the Dutch from Netherlands but was later taken over by the businessmen of New Amsterdam for their own selfish and greedy motives to place themseles in as the Middleman to economies of North America and Europe and have done everything as fas far as syarting wars to hold onto their position, but soon that will change as New York through the District Attorney filed Charges against Six Nations for not paying taxes on their own products there in United States, but soon I expect that the DA will get a briefing of his life in concerns toward Six Nations still owns all the land they are squatting on since the War of 1812 and the Seven Years War 1895 to 1701. by charging one of our people that already has Dual Citizenship for Canada and United States. It is suggested that the District Attorney to pick up a history book and read it instead of paying someone ele to write the examinatiin for him.

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