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  • 05/13/09--13:36: Study Before Drilling Seas
  • Excerpts:

    Secretary Salazar heard from Alaskans about the devastating effects of oil spills on our marine environment. In fact, as even the Bush administration Interior Department was forced to admit, there is a 40 percent chance of a large oil spill in the Chukchi Sea if leasing goes forward as Bush had planned. And as everyone admits, there is no technology that exists to clean up such a spill in the Arctic’s icy waters. What’s more, there is not enough scientific data to truly assess the impacts of drilling on the Arctic environment. As the Bush administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service said in 2006, there must be an “initiation of a comprehensive research program” before any leasing plans move forward.

    …The air in America’s Arctic today is filled with excitement. The Inupiat people, as they have for thousands of years, are getting ready for spring whaling, and for the first time in years can do so without fear of indiscriminate and insensitive oil and gas leasing.

    Secretary Salazar has the opportunity to use science and the traditional knowledge of the people who understand the Arctic ecosystem to come up with a leasing program that maintains, as the law and common sense require, “a proper balance between the potential for environmental damage, the potential for the discovery of oil and gas, and the potential for adverse impact on the coastal zone.” The court’s opinion shows that careful reasoning of the law is behind him — and that, in the end, in a lawful and rational society, informed decision-making is still important.
     


    0 0

    Jun 9, 2009

    Excerpts:

    The message was a call for permanent protection of the Arctic Refuge and urgent action to address climate change. Gathering in their homeland, in what is arguably one of the most central and charismatic landscapes in the climate change debate, the Gwich’in and their allies challenged leaders to follow science and not politics, and to push for strong carbon emissions targets.

    The event was part of a weekend long “Celebration of Land and Life,” marking 20 years of holding a line in the sand, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. Ironically though, the threat of rising temperatures and a global climate crisis has become another critical threat to the region, and though no drilling has occurred there, the area is seeing some of the most extreme impacts of climate change and global warming.
     


    0 0

    Excerpts:

    Sarah James from Arctic Village shared impacts she’s seen from climate change in Northeast Alaska. James is the chairwoman of the Gwich’in steering committee and she has lived in Arctic Village her entire life. She said that people there are still solely dependent on caribou, 75 percent to their food is still wild meat — caribou, moose, fish and other small animals and birds and duck.

    “Climate change is very real in the Arctic. It’s placing the animals — disturbing to the animals — their way of life and in return they affect our life. In my lifetime, you know, I see a lot of growth. A lot of vegetation that comes in as it gets warmer and warmer.

    “We don’t get cottonwood trees. A cottonwood tree is down the road from me, which it never was. I remember back from 1950, and that’s really strange. And we never had beaver. Now beaver is something that we have here. So as the climate change come in the animals come in with it, the growth. And many, many lakes was lost within the Gwich’in nation,” James said. “A lot of lakes dried up.

    “I think this is a violating of human rights. I think we need to take it to U.N. and say you know we got to stop what we’re doing to the Earth.”
     


    0 0

    Excerpts

    In a preliminary decision Thursday, the service picked the "no action" alternative from a range of options in environmental studies.

    …The FWS decision was welcomed by many in communities near the refuge who feared it would open a pristine area to oil and gas development.

    "I'm very happy, on behalf of the tribe," said First Chief Michael Peters of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in Tribe at Fort Yukon. "This means a lot to us. I commend Fish and Wildlife."
     


    0 0

    Excerpts:

    Native Alaskan groups who depend on whaling and a coalition of environmental groups sued the federal government Tuesday, seeking to block a Shell Oil subsidiary from drilling next year in the Beaufort Sea.

    The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, a federally recognized tribal government representing Alaska North Slope communities, asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a drilling plan the Minerals Management Service approved in October.

    Hours later, a coalition of 10 environmental groups and Arctic communities filed a second action with the San Francisco court, claiming the MMS did not properly evaluate the effects of the proposed drilling, including the risk of a major spill.
     


    0 0

    Excerpts:

    A North Slope village united Wednesday with some of the heaviest hitters in the environmental community to challenge a plan by Shell Oil to drill off Northwest Alaska this summer.

    The legal challenge to Shell's approved drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Groups recently filed a similar challenge to Shell's plan for exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's northeast coastline.

    The focus of Wednesday's request is the Chukchi exploration plan, approved by the federal Minerals Management Service last month for a Shell subsidiary. The groups allege that the plan doesn't comply with federal environmental laws, relies on outdated science and fails to adequately evaluate the potential impact of a major oil spill.

    …REDOIL and the village are joined by The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife, as well as several other environmental groups.
     


    0 0

    Excerpts:

    One of Alaska's most eroded villages is appealing a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit that claims greenhouse gases emitted by oil, power and coal companies contribute to climate change endangering the tiny community's survival.

    Oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC are among two dozen defendants named in the lawsuit originally filed in 2008 by the city of Kivalina and a federally recognized tribe, the Alaska Native village of Kivalina.

    The case, filed in federal court in San Francisco, was dismissed in October, prompting the appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

     


    0 0

    Excerpts:

    We spend hours at the table splitting our salmon. Both young and old hold the ulu as we cut hundreds of wild salmon that feed us during the long, cold winter months. Everyone has a job and everyone contributes, even the tiniest ones. Aiden, my 4-year-old great-nephew, is charged with washing our fish and taking care of his younger brother, younger cousin and, this summer, a younger sister.

    There are many more stories about our traditional heritage that need to be heard, written and shared, especially because our way of life is being threatened by the proposed Pebble Mine and its industrial mining district. The large-scale mining could directly threaten the salmon that Alaska Native people have depended upon for thousands of years to sustain our culture. Anglo American, the company behind the project, says that the mine won't harm the fish. But, we know better. Salmon are very sensitive to change, and we do not want to be the experiment that sees if wild salmon and a massive open pit mine can co-exist. The risk is too high. The pristine waters and undeveloped lands of my home are one of the last strongholds for wild salmon, and we are fighting to protect this. Please join our efforts to stop the Pebble project and to protect the salmon that we hold sacred. Quyana.
     


    0 0

    May 21, 2010

    A group of Alaska Natives fighting oil and gas drilling off Alaska’s coasts journeyed this week to the Gulf of Mexico. There they witnessed first-hand evidence of the oil spill from last month’s rig explosion.


    0 0

     

    In the long, ongoing battle over Alaska’s Pebble Mine, the people who would be most affected by it — the residents of Alaska’s Lake and Peninsula Borough — are voting on an initiative designed to prevent the mine from becoming a reality in the wild and pristine Bristol Bay region.

    A company known as the Pebble Limited Partnership hopes to develop the mine roughly 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and just north of Iliamna. Pebble Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in North America, involving the excavation of billions of tons of raw ore containing copper, gold and molybdenum.

    Nearly 1,200 registered voters in the borough are already mailing in ballots to officially stake out their positions on the controversial mine and the related Save Our Salmon initiative, which would prohibit the Lake and Peninsula Borough from issuing permits for mining projects that would threaten to destroy salmon habitat.

    The Wilderness Society’s Tribal Advocate, Lydia Olympic, is one of a very few people who have been going door to door in an effort to educate people in the region about the effects of the proposed Pebble Mine on salmon habitat, as well as cultural traditions and subsistence activities for residents of the area.

    Legal challenges from Pebble Limited Partnership and the state of Alaska are sure to follow if the initiative passes, but what’s  at stake is the largest remaining wild sockeye salmon run in the world, which sustains the world’s richest commercial wild-salmon fishery; the habitat for tens of millions of salmon that spawn in the streams of the Bristol Bay watershed; and the subsistence ways of life of Alaska Natives who depend on fishing to feed their families. Sixty-five percent of the borough’s residents Alaska Natives, and most continue to practice traditional subsistence fishing activities that have sustained their people and culture for thousands of years.

    If Pebble Mine were developed, Native communities in southwest Alaska  would be subjected to pollution from the mine, which has the potential to be larger than Utah’s infamous Bingham Canyon Mine, which has contaminated drinking water for thousands.

    Lydia is an Alaska Native from the village of Igiugig on Lake Iliamna and the Kvichak River, which drains into Bristol Bay. She grew up fishing, and still returns home each summer to help her family catch salmon and gather food for winter, but spends most of her time organizing and teaching people about development proposals that threaten Bristol Bay’s salmon, wildlife, and Native culture.

    “This land of bounty has provided for our families, our culture and our traditional way of life for tens of thousands of years,” Lydia said. “This land is what we call home. We need our lands and waters to stay pristine to continue living healthy lifestyles. We will still be here long after the mining companies have left.”

    It is estimated that Pebble Mine, if developed, would extract more than 10 billion tons of rock, making it potentially larger than the Bingham Canyon Mine, which was also developed to excavate copper, gold and molybdenum. The Utah mine — where six billion tons of rock have been excavated, so far — covers nearly 27,000 acres with a pit that is three-quarters of a mile deep and more than 2.5 miles across, and has a groundwater contamination zone that extends for 72 square miles.

    Acid leaching from the Utah mine’s waste rock has tainted drinking water for thousands of residents of Salt Lake City, and the mine’s “north zone” is so contaminated that it has  been proposed as a federal Superfund site.

    Concern that Pebble Mine could cause the same kind of environmental damage in Alaska has unified a vast coalition of sport and subsistence-fishing interests, commercial fishermen and seafood processors, Native groups, former state and federal regulators and elected officials, conservation groups, and even churches.

    Pebble Limited Partnership, which includes Northern Dynasty Minerals and the giant mining company Anglo American, has waged its own public relations campaign to convince the public that the mine would be an economic boon to the Lake and Peninsula Borough region.

    Who has won the hearts and minds of the Alaskans who would live closest to the Pebble Mine?

    Residents’ votes are due by Oct. 4. After that, we’ll have an answer.


    0 0
  • 05/13/09--13:36: Study Before Drilling Seas
  • May 13, 2009

    Excerpts:

    Secretary Salazar heard from Alaskans about the devastating effects of oil spills on our marine environment. In fact, as even the Bush administration Interior Department was forced to admit, there is a 40 percent chance of a large oil spill in the Chukchi Sea if leasing goes forward as Bush had planned. And as everyone admits, there is no technology that exists to clean up such a spill in the Arctic’s icy waters. What’s more, there is not enough scientific data to truly assess the impacts of drilling on the Arctic environment. As the Bush administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service said in 2006, there must be an “initiation of a comprehensive research program” before any leasing plans move forward.

    …The air in America’s Arctic today is filled with excitement. The Inupiat people, as they have for thousands of years, are getting ready for spring whaling, and for the first time in years can do so without fear of indiscriminate and insensitive oil and gas leasing.

    Secretary Salazar has the opportunity to use science and the traditional knowledge of the people who understand the Arctic ecosystem to come up with a leasing program that maintains, as the law and common sense require, “a proper balance between the potential for environmental damage, the potential for the discovery of oil and gas, and the potential for adverse impact on the coastal zone.” The court’s opinion shows that careful reasoning of the law is behind him — and that, in the end, in a lawful and rational society, informed decision-making is still important.
     


    0 0

    Jun 9, 2009

    Excerpts:

    The message was a call for permanent protection of the Arctic Refuge and urgent action to address climate change. Gathering in their homeland, in what is arguably one of the most central and charismatic landscapes in the climate change debate, the Gwich’in and their allies challenged leaders to follow science and not politics, and to push for strong carbon emissions targets.

    The event was part of a weekend long “Celebration of Land and Life,” marking 20 years of holding a line in the sand, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. Ironically though, the threat of rising temperatures and a global climate crisis has become another critical threat to the region, and though no drilling has occurred there, the area is seeing some of the most extreme impacts of climate change and global warming.
     


    0 0

    Jun 25, 2009

    Excerpts:

    Sarah James from Arctic Village shared impacts she’s seen from climate change in Northeast Alaska. James is the chairwoman of the Gwich’in steering committee and she has lived in Arctic Village her entire life. She said that people there are still solely dependent on caribou, 75 percent to their food is still wild meat — caribou, moose, fish and other small animals and birds and duck.

    “Climate change is very real in the Arctic. It’s placing the animals — disturbing to the animals — their way of life and in return they affect our life. In my lifetime, you know, I see a lot of growth. A lot of vegetation that comes in as it gets warmer and warmer.

    “We don’t get cottonwood trees. A cottonwood tree is down the road from me, which it never was. I remember back from 1950, and that’s really strange. And we never had beaver. Now beaver is something that we have here. So as the climate change come in the animals come in with it, the growth. And many, many lakes was lost within the Gwich’in nation,” James said. “A lot of lakes dried up.

    “I think this is a violating of human rights. I think we need to take it to U.N. and say you know we got to stop what we’re doing to the Earth.”
     


    0 0

    Jul 3, 2009

    Excerpts

    In a preliminary decision Thursday, the service picked the "no action" alternative from a range of options in environmental studies.

    …The FWS decision was welcomed by many in communities near the refuge who feared it would open a pristine area to oil and gas development.

    "I'm very happy, on behalf of the tribe," said First Chief Michael Peters of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in Tribe at Fort Yukon. "This means a lot to us. I commend Fish and Wildlife."
     


    0 0

    Dec 16, 2009

    Excerpts:

    Native Alaskan groups who depend on whaling and a coalition of environmental groups sued the federal government Tuesday, seeking to block a Shell Oil subsidiary from drilling next year in the Beaufort Sea.

    The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, a federally recognized tribal government representing Alaska North Slope communities, asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a drilling plan the Minerals Management Service approved in October.

    Hours later, a coalition of 10 environmental groups and Arctic communities filed a second action with the San Francisco court, claiming the MMS did not properly evaluate the effects of the proposed drilling, including the risk of a major spill.
     


    0 0

    Jan 21, 2010

    Excerpts:

    A North Slope village united Wednesday with some of the heaviest hitters in the environmental community to challenge a plan by Shell Oil to drill off Northwest Alaska this summer.

    The legal challenge to Shell's approved drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Groups recently filed a similar challenge to Shell's plan for exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's northeast coastline.

    The focus of Wednesday's request is the Chukchi exploration plan, approved by the federal Minerals Management Service last month for a Shell subsidiary. The groups allege that the plan doesn't comply with federal environmental laws, relies on outdated science and fails to adequately evaluate the potential impact of a major oil spill.

    …REDOIL and the village are joined by The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife, as well as several other environmental groups.
     


    0 0

    Jan 29, 2010

    Excerpts:

    One of Alaska's most eroded villages is appealing a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit that claims greenhouse gases emitted by oil, power and coal companies contribute to climate change endangering the tiny community's survival.

    Oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC are among two dozen defendants named in the lawsuit originally filed in 2008 by the city of Kivalina and a federally recognized tribe, the Alaska Native village of Kivalina.

    The case, filed in federal court in San Francisco, was dismissed in October, prompting the appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

     


    0 0

    Apr 7, 2010

    Excerpts:

    We spend hours at the table splitting our salmon. Both young and old hold the ulu as we cut hundreds of wild salmon that feed us during the long, cold winter months. Everyone has a job and everyone contributes, even the tiniest ones. Aiden, my 4-year-old great-nephew, is charged with washing our fish and taking care of his younger brother, younger cousin and, this summer, a younger sister.

    There are many more stories about our traditional heritage that need to be heard, written and shared, especially because our way of life is being threatened by the proposed Pebble Mine and its industrial mining district. The large-scale mining could directly threaten the salmon that Alaska Native people have depended upon for thousands of years to sustain our culture. Anglo American, the company behind the project, says that the mine won't harm the fish. But, we know better. Salmon are very sensitive to change, and we do not want to be the experiment that sees if wild salmon and a massive open pit mine can co-exist. The risk is too high. The pristine waters and undeveloped lands of my home are one of the last strongholds for wild salmon, and we are fighting to protect this. Please join our efforts to stop the Pebble project and to protect the salmon that we hold sacred. Quyana.
     


    0 0

    May 21, 2010

    A group of Alaska Natives fighting oil and gas drilling off Alaska’s coasts journeyed this week to the Gulf of Mexico. There they witnessed first-hand evidence of the oil spill from last month’s rig explosion.


    0 0

     

    In the long, ongoing battle over Alaska’s Pebble Mine, the people who would be most affected by it — the residents of Alaska’s Lake and Peninsula Borough — are voting on an initiative designed to prevent the mine from becoming a reality in the wild and pristine Bristol Bay region.

    A company known as the Pebble Limited Partnership hopes to develop the mine roughly 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and just north of Iliamna. Pebble Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in North America, involving the excavation of billions of tons of raw ore containing copper, gold and molybdenum.

    Nearly 1,200 registered voters in the borough are already mailing in ballots to officially stake out their positions on the controversial mine and the related Save Our Salmon initiative, which would prohibit the Lake and Peninsula Borough from issuing permits for mining projects that would threaten to destroy salmon habitat.

    The Wilderness Society’s Tribal Advocate, Lydia Olympic, is one of a very few people who have been going door to door in an effort to educate people in the region about the effects of the proposed Pebble Mine on salmon habitat, as well as cultural traditions and subsistence activities for residents of the area.

    Legal challenges from Pebble Limited Partnership and the state of Alaska are sure to follow if the initiative passes, but what’s  at stake is the largest remaining wild sockeye salmon run in the world, which sustains the world’s richest commercial wild-salmon fishery; the habitat for tens of millions of salmon that spawn in the streams of the Bristol Bay watershed; and the subsistence ways of life of Alaska Natives who depend on fishing to feed their families. Sixty-five percent of the borough’s residents Alaska Natives, and most continue to practice traditional subsistence fishing activities that have sustained their people and culture for thousands of years.

    If Pebble Mine were developed, Native communities in southwest Alaska  would be subjected to pollution from the mine, which has the potential to be larger than Utah’s infamous Bingham Canyon Mine, which has contaminated drinking water for thousands.

    Lydia is an Alaska Native from the village of Igiugig on Lake Iliamna and the Kvichak River, which drains into Bristol Bay. She grew up fishing, and still returns home each summer to help her family catch salmon and gather food for winter, but spends most of her time organizing and teaching people about development proposals that threaten Bristol Bay’s salmon, wildlife, and Native culture.

    “This land of bounty has provided for our families, our culture and our traditional way of life for tens of thousands of years,” Lydia said. “This land is what we call home. We need our lands and waters to stay pristine to continue living healthy lifestyles. We will still be here long after the mining companies have left.”

    It is estimated that Pebble Mine, if developed, would extract more than 10 billion tons of rock, making it potentially larger than the Bingham Canyon Mine, which was also developed to excavate copper, gold and molybdenum. The Utah mine — where six billion tons of rock have been excavated, so far — covers nearly 27,000 acres with a pit that is three-quarters of a mile deep and more than 2.5 miles across, and has a groundwater contamination zone that extends for 72 square miles.

    Acid leaching from the Utah mine’s waste rock has tainted drinking water for thousands of residents of Salt Lake City, and the mine’s “north zone” is so contaminated that it has  been proposed as a federal Superfund site.

    Concern that Pebble Mine could cause the same kind of environmental damage in Alaska has unified a vast coalition of sport and subsistence-fishing interests, commercial fishermen and seafood processors, Native groups, former state and federal regulators and elected officials, conservation groups, and even churches.

    Pebble Limited Partnership, which includes Northern Dynasty Minerals and the giant mining company Anglo American, has waged its own public relations campaign to convince the public that the mine would be an economic boon to the Lake and Peninsula Borough region.

    Who has won the hearts and minds of the Alaskans who would live closest to the Pebble Mine?

    Residents’ votes are due by Oct. 4. After that, we’ll have an answer.