Coastal First Nations Versus Tar Sands Tankers

Via Dogwood, an announcement from a coalition of coastal First Nations that they won’t allow tankers “carrying crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands” through their territory.

“Therefore in upholding our ancestral laws, rights and responsibilities, we declare that oil tankers carrying crude oil from the Alberta tar sands will not be allowed to transit our lands and waters”

I have no idea how the law plays out on this one — to what degree First Nations have authority over navigable waters, and how that might vary depending which bands have or have not entered into treaty negotiations — but I’m surely sure that this isn’t good news for Enbridge‘s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Enbridge doesn’t want to go to court to prove that they can push oil-filled tankers past unanimously hostile communities. Even if they won they would lose, and who knows if they would win? Imagine newspaper photography of those tankers floating through protest flotillas.

I’ve heard Enbridge described as a relative do-gooder amongst Canadian petroleum companies, and that they might turn gun-shy if the Northern Gateway project faces too much local resistance. This could be just that resistance.

My understanding is that the tar sands projects won’t need the extra transport capacity for years to come, as long as the US keeps accepting that kind of ugly oil. But there’s every reason to think that American states may increasingly tariff tar-derived petroleum because it’s comes with an environmental subsidy that lower carbon fuels — which the US wants to specialize in — don’t. If Syncrude and Suncor and the lot can’t get their oil out the side door to Asia because the First Nations won’t let them, they could have trouble finding markets, maybe within the decade.

Assuming we don’t taper them off on climate and environment and health grounds first.

Declaration .pdf here, video of the press release below. It starts with Eric Swanson of the Dogwood Initiative, some footage of the First Nations reps afterwards. You won’t have trouble telling the difference.

1 comment:

a momentous day. thank you thank you 1st nations coalition. may you not face even more annoying pressure from o&g interests in years to come. and if you do, may many other people have your backs.

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