oil and gas

Stories of Oil and Organics

Man with scarf gestures with his hands emphatically. Book cover inset.

Mika Minio-Paluello works his magic at the University of Alberta. Photo credit: Trevor Chow-Fraser

On Terra Informa this week, we will dive into a raw milk story following Richard Griebel and Kathy Charpentier in Castor, Alberta. Next, we will transfer to Bloomfield to listen to Michelle Lutz’s story of her organic farming with a hospital in Michigan! Finally, we will travel with Mika Minio-Paluello to explore a special oil road, along with stories of repressive governments, secret police, Canadian attack helicopters, and more.

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Nature on the Brink

Courtesy: Courtney Johnson

Courtesy: Courtney Johnson

On Terra Informa this week,we look at stories of nature on the edge. From the Yasuni ITT in Ecuador and the failing fight to keep it protected from developers, to two stories from our archives. One on the Banff Spring Snail; an endangered species, and the other on the idea of ‘just sustainability’ and how a necessary shift in our perspective on what it means to be sustainable may include a cultural shift.

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Ecuador Abandons Unique Amazonian Nature Reserve

Take an area about one fifth of the size of Banff National Park, or around one eighth the size of the city of Edmonton. That’s roughly 120 thousand hectares and that is the size of Yasuni ITT (Ishipingo-Tambococha-Tiputini)  in Ecuador. What makes Yasuni ITT special, however, is that the area contains more reptiles than the entire continent of Europe, as many birds and mammals as the entire country of Canada, and in one hectare, there are more tree species than Canada and the US have combined.

Yasuni ITT was meant to preserve the country’s biodiversity and make a stand against global climate change. But, less than a month ago, the Ecuadorian government announced they were pulling the plug on the initiative, and allowing oil exploration to go forward in the area. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart talks to a Professor of Ecology and an Ecuadorian exchange student to get a better idea of what this announcement means for Ecuador.

More on this story: Amazonwatch, The Ecologist, Ecuadorian Government’s Yasuni ITT website

Girl Gone Wild: Banff Springs Snail

From the time we’re little, most of us are told to be proud of what makes us unique – what sets us apart. But what if the thing that made you different was also the thing that made you vulnerable? On this week’s edition of Girl Gone Wild, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips brings us the story of the endangered Banff Springs Snail from wildlife documentary filmmaker Jamie Pratt.

More on this story: Parks Canada, CBC Calgary, Girl Gone Wild documentaries

Just Sustainability

Julian Agyeman is chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University in Boston-Medford, Massachusetts. His research focuses on the intersections between social justice and sustainability, an idea which he terms just sustainability. He describes just sustainability as “the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems”. Kathryn Lennon spoke with him about the need for the sustainability movement to broaden its work beyond ecological and conservation issues, to include issues of inequality and social justice.

More on this story: Julian’s Blog 

What’s Happening

Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Green Solutions

From September 20th to the 22nd, youth in Orillia Ontario are invited to take in the Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Green Solutions. It’s the 4th annual event of it’s kind, brining together young leaders from across the province of Ontario to partake in activities and workshops, everything from bird watching, to learning about First Nation traditional medicine. Its for people in grades 9 to 12, so if you, or someone you know might be interested in building your leadership skills and learning more about conservation, don’t miss it.

Public Lecture on Oil, Gas, Fracking and the Yukon!

In Whitehorse, Yukon on September 17th, be sure to head to Beringia Centre for a public lecture on how the proposed oil and gas and fracking industries might affect people in the Yukon. Journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk is leading the event, and is also hosting a workshop during the day on understanding the oil and gas industry. It’s 5 bucks at the door, everyone’s welcome!

What is the universe made of? The case of dark matter and dark energy.

Have you ever wondered what the universe was made of? Well, at the University of Alberta on September 18th at 7 p.m. You’re invited to attend a public lecture about dark matter and dark energy. It’s a free event, but to reserve tickets, head to gpsa-symposium.eventbrite.ca

The 13th Annual Gorge Waterway Cleanup

Grab your boots and gloves and join in on the 13th annual Gorge Waterway Cleanup in Victoria on September 21st. Every year the community gets together to make a difference in the local environment and protect Canada’s shoreline. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at noon.

Shifts

We all have decisive moments when the decisions we make can drastically shift the direction of our lives. In some cases, that shift is felt generations later. Taken from our archives, the show includes us talking to some fairly ordinary people who found creative ways to shift the balance of power in favour of the environment. Toby Heaps tells us why he felt the world needed a magazine that focused not on corporate profits, but on corporate social responsibility. Tim DeChristopher recounted the day that he decided a controversial auction of oil and gas leases couldn’t go ahead, and how he stopped it. Finally, Liane Lowe explained how watching a documentary shifted her outlook on the environment. Plus, we take a look back at some of the biggest shifts in environmental resistance throughout history. All that on this week’s archive show courtesy of your pals at Terra Informa!

Download the show here.

Tim DeChristopher and his supporters, surrounded by media, raise their fists in the air outside a Utah court house.
Tim DeChristopher thanks his supporters on 3 March, 2011 after being convicted of two felonies for disrupting an oil and gas lease auction. Photo by Ed Kosmicki.

Corporate Knights
Where we choose to work can say a lot about ourselves. It can be risky – scary even – to try out something new. Take Toby Heaps, who started itching to write for a magazine that asked whether business and the planet can play nicely together. When he found out no such magazine existed yet, he started one. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke with Toby Heaps, co-founder and president of Corporate Knights.

More on this story: Cutting the Red Tape to Building a Pan-Canadian Electricity SuperhighwayMeet Ralph Nader’s Secret Weapon: Toby Heaps

Tim DeChristopher
Even for those of us who have a connection to an environmental issue, it doesn’t always seem obvious how to act on it. Sometimes the opportunity to shift from ideas to action… finds you. American environmental activist Tim DeChristopher faced that dilemma in 2008 when, in the final days of its administration, the Bush government rushed 116 oil and gas leases to auction without environmental review. Myles Curry spoke to DeChristopher in 2011, before he was sent to a federal prison for the choice he ended up making.

Liane Lowe
Sometimes a piece of art can make you rethink your work. Reading a line in a book that makes things fall into place. Seeing a painting that shows you something new about the place where you live. Or seeing a movie that re-affirms the balance you try to strike. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips talked to Liane Lowe, an environmental accountant in Vancouver, about her experience seeing the documentary Peace Out.

5 Great Shifts
The global environmental movement has come a long way from wilderness land preservation and sustainable yields. While names like John Muir and Henry David Thoreau still dominate the rhetoric of an environmental conservation ethic, its history extends back far longer and from many different places. For example, did you know that the first nature reserve in the world was established by the King of Sri Lanka in 200 BC? For as long as people have carelessly pillaged their immediate environments, there have been equal and opposing forces against them. Terra Informa correspondent Marcus Peterson brings you 5 Great Shifts in Environmental Resistance: An Abbreviated History of Tree Hugging.

More on this story: Chipko Movement (PDF), Green Belt MovementFriends of the MSTDr. Vandana Shiva’s Blog

GMO Moratorium, Land Claims, and Oil Prices

This week on Terra Informa, stories from Ontario and the Andes about Indigenous-led shake-ups of land. First, we dig into the reasons Peru’s Indigenous farmers helped push for a national moratorium on GM crops. Then we’ve unearthed the latest update on long-running Algonquin land claim negotiations in Ontario. Finally, it’s the crude, dude: This week’s Ecobabble splashes cold water on the myth of a single global price for a barrel of oil.

GMO Moratorium, Land Claims, and Oil Prices

Farmers sharing potatoes in Peru’s Potato Park [Photo: iied.org]

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GMO Moratorium in Peru

Peru: it’s where you get your coffee, your maise, and your potatoes. You’ll be able to eat and drink your Peruvian products feeling a little better after listening to this next interview. At the end of 2012, the Peruvian government passed a ten year moratorium on GMO products coming in and out of the country in an effort to preserve indigenous agriculture and biodiversity.Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart spoke with Marc Griebel, the communications coordinator for the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative. Marc explores the reasons for the moratorium and the international affect he hopes to see in the future, specifically in Canada. Marc was born and raised on a family farm in rural Alberta, and is currently completing his thesis on biocultural heritage. We reached him in Cusco, Peru at the Potato Park.

More information: IPCCA resources on other international environmental movements lead by Indigenous people, ANDES Potato Park

Land in Ontario Under Algonquin Land Claim 
Beautiful lakes, full lush forests, and a place to call home for many families. It’s hard to believe that such vast land has been in the midst of negotiations for many years. In 1983, the Algonquins of Golden Lake, Ontario presented to the government of Canada a claim to Aboriginal rights  and a portion of the Ottawa and Mattawa river watersheds. The claim contend that the Algonquins have continuing ownership of 8.9 million acres of historical land. Following a legal and historical review of the Algonquin claim,Ontario agreed to enter into negotiations with the Algonquin’s in 1991. Since then there have been many changes to the negotiations. To further explain, Sam Piercey spoke to Government of Ontario representative CB Pappin.

Ecobabble: The Price of a Barrel of Oil
You probably hear it so often you don’t even think twice about it: The price of a barrel of oil. There’s a global price, and it goes up and down, and cable news guests rant about it. Well, to understand some of the biggest industrial projects in North America right now, you have to let go of that idea. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has more, with this week’s Ecobabble.

More information: What the Glut? Why Cushing is Bursting and Hurting Oklahoma’s Economy (NPR)CBC Radio’s This is That parody on Alberta oil planesWhat the Brent/WTI oil price spread tells us (Wall Street Journal)

From the Archives: Part 1 – Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline

This week on Terra Informa, we are re-airing the first part of our two part radio documentary ‘Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline’.

Terra Informa – NGP Documentary Part 1″>Download Part 1-Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices From the Route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline (29:09)

In the summer of 2011, members of Terra Informa set out on a journey to follow the path of the proposed Northern Gateway from its starting point in Edmonton to its terminus in Kitimat, on the coast of British Columbia. When we started our journey and our research, it was clear that this pipeline was going to create a storm of debate. Media coverage would be extensive, and probably influential. But we also wondered whether it would really capture the full range of thoughts and feelings held by those directly affected. This documentary is our attempt to delve a little deeper. It is the result of conversations we had over thousands of kilometers traveled, in communities with the most to gain, and the most to lose. What we found is that a seemingly simple pipeline is creating turbulence in some communities, while building solidarity in others.

For more on the Northern Gateway Proposal and our documentary, including FAQ’s, reports on the project and bonus audio, check out our special section of the website.

Shifts

We all have decisive moments when the decisions we make can shift the course of our lives. In some cases, the impact is felt for generations to come. Today we talk to some fairly ordinary people who found creative ways to shift the balance of power in favour of the environment. Toby Heaps tells us why he felt the world needed a magazine that focused not on corporate profits, but on corporate social responsibility. Tim DeChristopher recounts the day that he decided a controversial auction of oil and gas leases couldn’t go ahead, and how he stopped it. And Liane Lowe explains how watching a documentary shifted her outlook on the environment. Plus, we take a look back at some of the biggest shifts in environmental resistance throughout history. All that on today’s episode of Terra Informa!

Download this week’s show.

Tim DeChristopher and his supporters, surrounded by media, raise their fists in the air outside a Utah court house.

Tim DeChristopher thanks his supporters on 3 March, 2011 after being convicted of two felonies for disrupting an oil and gas lease auction. Photo by Ed Kosmicki.

Corporate Knights
Where we choose to work can say a lot about ourselves. It can be risky – scary even – to try out something new. Take Toby Heaps, who started itching to write for a magazine that asked whether business and the planet can play nicely together. When he found out no such magazine existed yet, he started one. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke with Toby Heaps, co-founder and president of Corporate Knights.

More on this story: Cutting the Red Tape to Building a Pan-Canadian Electricity Superhighway, Meet Ralph Nader’s Secret Weapon: Toby Heaps

Tim DeChristopher
Even for those of us who have a connection to an environmental issue, it doesn’t always seem obvious how to act on it. Sometimes the opportunity to shift from ideas to action… finds you. American environmental activist Tim DeChristopher faced that dilemma in 2008 when, in the final days of its administration, the Bush government rushed 116 oil and gas leases to auction without environmental review. Myles Curry spoke to DeChristopher in 2011, before he was sent to a federal prison for the choice he ended up making.

Liane Lowe
Sometimes a piece of art can make you rethink your work. Reading a line in a book that makes things fall into place. Seeing a painting that shows you something new about the place where you live. Or seeing a movie that re-affirms the balance you try to strike. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips talked to Liane Lowe, an environmental accountant in Vancouver, about her experience seeing the documentary Peace Out.

5 Great Shifts
The global environmental movement has come a long way from wilderness land preservation and sustainable yields. While names like John Muir and Henry David Thoreau still dominate the rhetoric of an environmental conservation ethic, its history extends back far longer and from many different places. For example, did you know that the first nature reserve in the world was established by the King of Sri Lanka in 200 BC? For as long as people have carelessly pillaged their immediate environments, there have been equal and opposing forces against them. Terra Informa correspondent Marcus Peterson brings you 5 Great Shifts in Environmental Resistance: An Abbreviated History of Tree Hugging.

More on this story: Chipko Movement (PDF), Green Belt Movement, Friends of the MST, Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Blog

Keystone XL Protest in Ottawa & Alberta’s Industrial Heartland

Last week hundreds of protesters gathered on Parliament Hill to oppose the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. Terra Informa spoke to one of the activists during the protest to get a first hand report and learn why so many people were willing to risk arrest. We take a look at biomonitoring, one of the most popular approaches to ecosystem management and assessment in Canada. And we investigate the rapid development of the oil and gas industry in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.

Download this week’s show.

Protesters in front of the Parliament Buildings last Monday. Photo by Greenpeace.

News Headlines

Jim Prentice extols energy projects
Last week CIBC, one of Canada’s largest banks, called on the federal government to use energy mega-projects to stimulate the economy.  Jim Prentice, the former federal environment minister and now vice-chairman of CIBC, made the announcement. He suggested that by providing favourable conditions for large-scale energy projects, government could create jobs without the expense of stimulus programs. Speaking on the CBC’s Power and Politics, Prentice said that environmental assessments and other approvals are taking far too long. [Quote 4:28-4:34] He also stated that environmental reviews don’t always take economic considerations into account, and he recommended that final decisions should be left to politicians. CIBC estimates that up to a million jobs could be created over 20 years, if government creates positive conditions for energy projects. However, one of the frequent criticisms of mega-projects is that they tend to create mostly short term jobs, and that even those, all too often go to skilled outside workers, not local communities. Prentice spoke specifically about the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Newfoundland and Labrador, but also mentioned a number of other controversial projects that CIBC has their eye on.
More on this story: Toronto Sun, Chronicle Herald, Globe and Mail, CBC News

Green groups seek ban on new Ontario nuclear reactors
A coalition of environmental groups has gone to court to prevent the approval of two new nuclear reactors. A federal review panel recommended in August that the expansion of the Darlington facility go ahead. But in documents filed with the court, the plaintiffs say that the review could not have adequately assessed the project because no retractor design has yet been specified. They also raised concerns over its failure to consider the long term impacts of nuclear waste or to look into possible alternatives, such as green energy. The Canadian Environmental Law Association, Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and Northwatch collectively filed the request for a judicial review. If they’re successful, the project would go back to the review panel for further examination.
More on this story: Vancouver Sun, CBC News, Northumberland View, Toronto Star

First nations sue Alcan over water flows
In British Columbia, two first nations have launched a lawsuit against Alcan over water flows in the Nechako River. Alcan operates the Kenny Dam which diverts water from the Nechako to power their aluminum smelter near Kitimat. The Saik’uz and Stellate’en bands say that fish stocks have declined as a result of reduced flows and changes in the river’s temperature. The dam was built in 1952 and the first nations say that after decades of trying to negotiate a solution with the Alcan, the courts are the only option remaining.
More on this story: Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail

Protest in Ottawa Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

Last week, protestors gathered at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to voice their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would transport bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to Texas, where it would be upgraded into petroleum products. The US federal government has so far been supportive of the project with only the president’s signature still required. In Canada, the federal government has also been supportive, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling the project a “no-brainer”. However, several hundred protestors disagree, and they’ve been prepared to get arrested to demonstrate just that. Terra Informa Correspondent David Kaczan spoke to one protester, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo by phone from the site of the protest last week.

Northern Gateway Pipeline Special

This weeks show was originally aired in June 2010, however despite efforts from a number of different groups the Enbridge pipeline proposal to build an oil pipeline from the refineries in Edmonton to a new super tanker port in Kitimat on British Columbia’s coastline still remains on the table.

This week we bring you a special edition focusing on this proposal which has become one of the most controversial infrastructure proposals in decades. Later in the show we’ll examine environmental and economic perspectives on this proposal, but firstly we look at the potential effects on the First Nations communities along the route.

Download this week’s show

 

Environmental News

Traditional Food Health Effects

Relaxing of Yukon Caribou Hunting Restrictions

New Federal Budget

First Nations Perspectives

To build their controversial pipeline, Calgary Energy Company Enbridge will have to cross the territories of forty first nations. Unfortunately for Enbridge, these nations for the most part have registered staunch opposition to the development, despite the offer of millions of dollars in compensation. In June of last year, Terra Informa investigated some aboriginal perspectives in an effort to understand why opposition is so strong.

Amnesty International Canada: The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Endbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

Nadleh Whut’en First Nation

Pipe Up Against  Enbridge.ca (ad campaign)

Local Campaigns: No Tanks

In a reoccurring segment we call Local Campaigns, Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry investigated the No Tanks campaign. Based out of Vancouver, this organization is building community opposition to increased oil tanker traffic along Canada’s west coast.

No Tanks

Economics and Politics

There has been a significant push to proceed with the Northern Gateway Project and understanding what the potential economics of the pipeline is crucial to understanding why it is so important to Enbridge to proceed. Next on the show Andy Read is takes a critical look at the economics and politics of Canada’s petroleum market and where the Northern Gateway Pipeline fits in.

Map of North American pipelines

Proposed oil tanker routes

Environmental Concerns

There have been a number of recent incidents with oil pipelines and oil spills in general. With the Northern Gateway proposal, there will of course be some environmental impacts. Terra Informa correspondents Marcus, Brett and Robyn investigated the potential impacts this project and the spin-off effects it will have on the environment.

Pembina Report on the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Dogwood Institute on potential of oil spill

The Headwaters Initiative Project