Archive for the ‘Oil and gas’ Category

Concerned about the contamination potential increased oil exploration and fracking could bring to their land, the Blackfeet Nation in northwestern Montana has signed an agreement with a hi-tech water treatment company to help keep fracking waste out of their water systems.

Exploration for oil has exploded on the Blackfeet Reservation. The people have worked hard to protect sacred sites around the area and hope the contract with Ecosphere Technologies will protect the water.

Missoulian reporter Tristan Scott has the full story:

    The Blackfeet Nation signed an exclusive letter of commitment with the water treatment company, Florida-based Ecosphere Technologies Inc., which has ties to Whitefish and will soon introduce its chemical-free treatment method to reservation lands leased for “fracking.”

    The fracking process involves pumping millions of gallons of water into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale formations and create pathways for natural gas to flow back to the surface. The process is controversial because about 70 percent of the fracking fluid remains underground, and the flow-back water contains oil sheens, heavy metals and bacteria. The refuse must then be collected and trucked off site for disposal or storage.

    Ecosphere Chairman and CEO Charles Vinick said his company’s patented treatment process, called Ozonix, involves a non-chemical method of recovering and sanitizing all of the water pumped underground. The process uses ozone to decompose contaminants and chemicals in the flow-back water, precluding the need to truck the discharge off site. Instead, Vinick said the highly ozonated water can be recycled and reused for continuous fracking operations, saving energy companies money, protecting the environment and preserving the community’s water supply.

Jenna Cederberg

Crews are still working to cleanup the area along Cut Bank Creek on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwest Montana where oil spilled almost a month ago.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that soil and water contaminated with oil is being hauled off the area where 20 barrels of oil spilled.

A faulty pipe on land leased by FX Energy of Salt Lake City caused the spill, which was originally unreported. Any where from 420 to 840 gallons were leaked and as of Aug. 7 only half had been cleaned up.

    So far, 13 55-gallon drums have been filled with oil and water, and contaminated soil filled up 18 nylon tote bags that each have a capacity of 2,000 pounds.

    One of the key challenges of the project was moving the heavy barrels and bags out of the ravine.

Also in the story, the Tribune reported the spill might change how the Blackfeet manage their oil leases.

    Don Judice of the BLM, which regulates oil and gas activity on the reservation, said the agency is evaluating the possibility of requiring FX, and other companies operating on the reservation, to replace old collector lines. The BLM has sent the company a notice of violation for not reporting the leak.

    Officials with the BLM, Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Indian Affairs will participate in a final inspection of the cleanup to make sure the oil is recovered and the environment protected, he said.

Jenna Cederberg

The Censored News blog – dedicated to indigenous peoples and human rights – was one of the first places to report the oil spilled from a broken pipeline onto the Blackfeet Indian Reservation last week.

Details are still thin so far, but it looks like around 400-600 gallons leaked.

The Censored News story was posted Sunday. More traditional news organizations had the story Monday afternoon, but didn’t include much about the damage on the reservation.

Thanks to Destini Vaile (Blackfeet) and Reed Perry for sharing on the blog.

Jenna Cederberg

Courtesy of ICTMN

The True Language of a Pow Wow Drum
Preserving language is an ever important task for Natives everywhere. This includes the language of the drum – a kind of communication that some fear few understand today.

ICTMN chronicles Doug Goodfeather’s (Lakota) knowledge of the language.

    The Battle of the Little Bighorn is told in a series of six victory songs (called When the Battle Happened) sung in order, Goodfeather said, explaining that the songs tell of defending the women and children, what happened with Custer, events leading up to the battle, and the battle itself.

    In addition to learning the words, drum groups singing those songs accompany them with three kinds of drumbeats—honor, round dance, and straight beat– which differ in pattern and tempo, he said, alluding to the complexity behind what appears straightforward to casual pow wow attendees.

Grannies with Gumption: Standing up to Corporate Giants in Canada and Ecuador

These indigenous women have made great strides for their people and the environment by not backing down to big corporations.

As ICTMN reports, it was their strength that helped curb big oil intimidation in their areas.

    Chevron didn’t stand a chance before the ire of indigenous villager Maria Aguinda. Enbridge quailed before the determination of Saik’uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas.

    Both women, 4,300 miles apart, refused to take no for an answer. They stood up to two corporate giants and won. Aguinda, 61, spearheaded rural Ecuadoreans’ fight against Chevron, accused of polluting the Amazon for decades, and helped them win a $9.5-billion judgment against the company. Thomas, 47, was instrumental in beating back Enbridge’s attempts to get several Canadian First Nations to sell rights of way for a pipeline to send oil from the tar sands to the Pacific coast. As the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8, these two women, both grandmothers, continued their respective fights for their people’s right to live on clean, productive land.

Tribe sues feds over reservation raid
The Yakama Nation is claiming in a lawsuit that the federal government violated the tribe’s treaty rights when it raided a reservation cigarette manufacturer.

The suit wants an order requiring the FBI to notify the tribe before it enters the reservation. It also seeks punitive damages, the Yakima Herald reports.

    On Feb. 16, FBI agents swarmed King Mountain Tobacco, deep within the reservation, and seized company records and computer equipment.

    Under the 1855 treaty, the Yakamas reserved their exclusive use of the reservation and authority over its land and people.

    According to the lawsuit, the federal government violated those rights by conducting the raid without first contacting tribal leaders.

Jenna Cederberg

The Toronto Globe & Mail has Q&A with “Avatar” director James Cameron, who toured the oil sands in Alberta for three days this week and then joined First Nations leaders to ask Canada to protect the area from development.

The aboriginal community of Fort Chipewyan is downstream from the oil sands. The Lubicon Cree First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Duncan Lake First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are among those directly affecged by development there.

Cameron’s actions weren’t universally welcomed. As the Globe & Mail points out, the Edmonton Sun ran Cameron’s photo under the headline “Dipstick!” and also wrote an editorial calling him a hypocrite.

And Montana’s governor, Brian Schweitzer, took a poke at Cameron, accusing him of “blowing smoke,” according to the Associated Press.

“Any of these people who say they don’t like the oil sands, you ought to ask them if they’ll invite you to their house, and unless they’re living naked in a cave and eating nuts, they are totally dependent on petrol,” Schweitzer said.

Gwen Florio

Way of life: Whale bones from past hunts sit in the village of Point Hope. The leaders of the Inupiat village do not support offshore oil exploration because of the potentially heavy toll an oil spill would have on wildlife and the indigenous lifestyle. (AP/Al Grillo)

Way of life: Whale bones from past hunts sit in the village of Point Hope. The leaders of the Inupiat village do not support offshore oil exploration because of the potentially heavy toll an oil spill would have on wildlife and the indigenous lifestyle. (AP/Al Grillo)

Dave Olinger and Mark Jaffe of the Denver Post bring us this story from Point Hope, Alaska, a community of 700 Inupiat people who’ve spent years fighting plans for offshore drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

As Olinger and Jaffe report:

    Shell Exploration and Production Co. was set to start exploratory drilling this summer — until the gulf spill and a U.S. Department of the Interior drilling moratorium.

    “We recognize there are issues in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, which is why we canceled drilling this summer,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an interview.

    Shell, which has spent $2.2 billion for Arctic leases, is pressing to start drilling next summer.

Alaska has the nation’s largest offshore oil reserves after the Gulf, but there’s been far less drilling there. The BP spill in the Gulf raises questions about whether it should proceed at all.

“That spill in the gulf, it could have been our ocean,” Point Hope Mayor Daisy Sharp tells the Post. “It’s sad to say, but in a way I’m glad it happened. Maybe now people will take a closer look at offshore oil drilling.”

The story comes with a great audio slideshow by Post photographer Andy Cross. Check it out.

Gwen Florio

A Canada Goose covered in some oil walks near the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek, Mich., on Tuesday. A pungent odor is hanging over the Battle Creek area and the Kalamazoo River valley a day after 840,000 gallons of oil leaked into a creek that feeds into the river. The oil leaked Monday from a 30-inch pipeline that carries about 8 million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, in Canada (AP Photo/The Battle Creek Enquirer, John Grap)

A Canada Goose covered in some oil walks near the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek, Mich., on Tuesday. A pungent odor is hanging over the Battle Creek area and the Kalamazoo River valley a day after 840,000 gallons of oil leaked into a creek that feeds into the river. The oil leaked Monday from a 30-inch pipeline that carries about 8 million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, in Canada (AP Photo/The Battle Creek Enquirer, John Grap)

An oil spill in Michigan that’s sending oil into the Kalamazoo River has raised alarm among aboriginal leaders in Canada.

Those leaders say the 840,000-galllon spill is further evidence that British Columbia should nix a proposed pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to British Columbia, according this Canadian Press report.

Enbridge, based in Calgary, wants to build the pipeline that would end in the coastal community of Kitimat. But as Canadian Press reports:

    But Enbridge’s affiliate, Enbridge Energy Partners LP of Houston, is responsible for the Michigan spill and a B.C. First Nations coalition says it’s further proof why the proposed Northern Gateway project should be scrapped.

    Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt says despite Enbridge’s claim that the Northern Gateway project will be a model of safety, such a spill could happen in B.C.

Sterritt is recently returned from visiting scene of the disastrous British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

And Coastal First Nations president Gerald Amos tells Canadian Press that such a spill in British Columbia would be devastating to First Nations peoples heavily dependent upon marine resources.

Gwen Florio

Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team members take to the field to play an exhibition game in Centre Island, N.Y., earlier this week. (AP Photo/Newsday, Patrick E. McCarthy)

Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team members take to the field to play an exhibition game in Centre Island, N.Y., earlier this week. (AP Photo/Newsday, Patrick E. McCarthy)

“Frustrated and tired” Iroquois Nationals head home
This Montreal Gazette story describes the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team as “very frustrated and tired” as they head home after losing a high-profile battle to travel to the World Lacrosse Championships in England on their Haudenosaunee Confederacy passports. Jessica Shenandoah, Iroquois Confederacy secretary, says that “it hasn’t killed our effort. We’re still going to continue it. This is not the end.” Watch a video, here.

More to Whiteclay than beer

The Nebraska town of Whiteclay is notorious for the 4 million cans of beer it sells every year, mostly to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, just across the border in South Dakota. But as Mary Garrigan of the Rapid City, S.D., Journal writes here, a lot of people also depend upon the hamlet for groceries.

Upgrade for Seattle shelter for homeless Native American youth

Labateyah House in Seattle, a refuge and a place of healing for homeless Native American youth, is about to get an upgrade. It was founded in 1992 by Native American activist Bernie Whitebear and today is an open house where homeless youth ages 18 to 22 can find a place to stay, schooling and life skills, according to Tonya Mosely of KING 5 News, here.

Alaska village youth attempt boating rescue; also involved in fending off 2007 griz attack
These two young men appear to be the ones you want around if you’re in trouble, according to The Village, here, the rural blog of the Anchorage Daily News. Michael Rock and A.J. Nakarak of Shaktoolik came to the aid of brothers clinging to a buoy after their fishing boat was swamped. And, about three years ago, they also intervened in a grizzly attack.

Vote on federal recognition for Native Hawaiians expected soon

Native Hawaiians could finally be treated the same as the nation’s other indigenous groups – but only if a U.S. Senate vote on federal recognition is taken before fall elections, according to the AP, here. That’s because the majority in the Senate might change after November, meaning that it could be years – if ever – before the matter comes up again.

Gulf tribes seek advice on BP oil disaster
Native American tribes who live along the Gulf of Mexico coast in Louisiana are seeking advice from other indigenous groups who’ve dealt with environmental disasters, according to this Voice of American story. They’ve talked to Alaskan Natives about the Exxon Valdez disaster, and also indigenous people in Ecuador about the largest environmental lawsuit in history, against Texaco over toxic waste.

Gwen Florio

    Members of First Nations whose reserves are in British Columbia returned from a visit to the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico more determined than ever to keep supertankers off their coast.

    “Everywhere we went people told us the same thing: if you have a choice when it comes to big oil development, don’t do it. And if you do, prepare for the worst,” says Gerald Amos, a Haisla Nation counselor, in this report posted on Marketwire:

      Coastal and inland First Nations in B.C. are fighting Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude oil from Alberta to a tanker port at Kitimat, B.C. and bring 225 crude oil tankers per year to B.C.’s northern coastal waters.

      The delegation learned of the BP spill’s impact on the Gulf Coast’s fishing economy from the president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association.

      “Shrimp are to Louisiana what wild salmon are to B.C.,” said Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations, an alliance of nine Nations from B.C.’s central and north coast. “The shrimp fishermen told us that their economy is gone, but worse than that they risk losing a huge part of their fishing culture. That’s a message that hits close to home for our people who depend so heavily on fish and seafood.”

    Members of the delegation met with the United Houma Nation, whose people live on the Louisiana coast and are directly affected by the spill

    “It was powerful to meet the Houma and share our experiences as indigenous people,” says Amos. “The oil spill just adds to a whole lot of other impacts on their territories. They fear this oil spill could be the straw that breaks their culture’s back.”

    First Nations across Canada have been uniting to oppose more development of the tar sands. (See video above.)

    Gwen Florio


Complaint filed against Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge
The Rapid City (S.D.) Journal writes here that a formal complaint has been filed against the founders of the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge after participants questioned the event’s credibility. The Journal’s Ruth Brown writes that “Some participants were upset by the fact that Red Cloud said that the riders would be warriors as part of the vision that he had. The vision claimed that 1,000 warriors would travel to seven of the sites of the biggest massacres of Native Americans in the United States and collect their dead souls.” Organizer Jim Durham of Hot Springs, S.D., also goes by the name of Jim Red Cloud.

Native American groups challenge Plains pipeline plan
Also from the Rapid City Journal, we’ve got this story about Native and environmental groups joining to fight TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, that would run from the tar sands near Hardisty, Alberta, to oil refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. Along the way, it would cross Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Navajo photographer documents his nation

It’s called “One Nation, One Year,” and it’s the culmination of Navajo photographer Don James’ quest to document his own nation. He spent an entire year photographing his people, driving 10,000 miles and taking more than 100,0000 photographs, according to this Associated Press story. He hopes his book will dispel stereotypes.

Lawsuit: City manager disparaged Native employees

The Commerce City, Colo., manager called Navajos “lazy” and said that keeping up “clean” appearances was not a priority for Navajo people, according to a lawsuit filed against city officials. Stephanie Salazar, who was the director of economic development in the city, told 9News, here, that City Manager Gerald Flannery made the comment to her during a meeting in November 2007. She said that when she complained, she was fired.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend, everyone, and check back later for stories and images from the Arlee Powwow.

Gwen Florio