Tag: Salish Sea

Givers and Takers

My piece de resistance — Netwar at Cherry Point — turns one on April 1st.

This case study about the dark side of white power on the Salish Sea focuses on fossil fuel export versus indigenous peoples, or perhaps better stated — Wall Street versus human rights.

For some, the beloved San Juan Islands beckon as paradise in a world of total chaos. For Warren Buffett, BP and other major energy investors, they are collateral damage in the pursuit of oil portfolio profits.

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Dire Warnings

Unlike the communities of Prince William Sound or the Gulf Coast, communities on the shores of the Salish Sea and in the San Juan Islands haven’t yet experienced beaches and boats covered in crude oil, with carcinogenic toxic fumes causing them to evacuate seaside resorts, homes and businesses. And unlike Lac Megantic, Quebec, communities on the I-5 corridor between Portland, Oregon and Blaine, Washington haven’t yet experienced the devastation of a ‘bomb train’ in their towns. But with the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban in December 2015, unless communities get organized now, that day will come.

If communities on the Columbia River and Puget Sound want to avoid disastrous oil spills like those that wiped out fish and wildlife in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, the Bakken Shale crude spills resulting from the 2014 bomb train explosions in Alabama, Alberta, New Brunswick, North Dakota and Virginia serve as dire warnings of what can happen with a Salish Sea shipping disaster–on land or sea. While shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude by rail has made Warren Buffett (Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad) and Bill Gates (Canadian National Railway) a bundle, the tourism, fishing and real estate industries of the Salish Sea stand to suffer from fossil fuel export.

Hoping to cash in on creating crude zones on the Salish Sea and Washington coast, oil and coal exporters in 2014 began laundering money through the Washington Republican Party to elect pro-carbon candidates to the Washington State Legislature. When the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians took a position against fossil fuel export in 2013, Buffet began pouring money into Tea Party-led PACs that distinguished themselves by promoting anti-Indian racism on the radio and in newspapers near the Cherry Point oil refineries, that, in 2016, are preparing to capitalize on the lifted oil export ban.

Like the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, exporting crude oil and petrochemicals from the four refineries on the Salish Sea is a disaster waiting to happen. The devastation of a superspill — due to the looming dramatic increase in the volume of oil tanker traffic from Port Metro Vancouver, Cherry Point and Anacortes — would be beyond most people’s imagination.

While residents of the San Juan Islands and surrounding area remain relatively complacent about this ominous threat, residents of neighboring Gabriola Island, in August 2015, rallied against a proposal  from the Pacific Pilotage Authority of Canada to moor cape-size oil tankers in the Gulf Islands. Something to think about.

Netwar in the Northwest: Wall St. vs the Salish Sea

The Native American rally in Seattle, to protect the Salish Sea from fossil fuel export developments in Washington and British Columbia, is a sign that Netwar in the Northwest is escalating. Indeed, coal and oil exporters — hoping to cash in on creating a colossal carbon corridor for Tar Sands bitumen, Powder River Basin coal and Bakken Shale crude — are already laundering money through the Washington Republican Party to help elect pro-carbon candidates to the Washington State Legislature.

While the rally to save the Salish Sea was led by American Indian tribes, it was supported by environmental groups, and as noted in a series of articles on the totem pole journey led by Lummi Nation elder Jewell James, mainstream churches involved in programs like Earth Ministry are taking an active role in adding their voices to those of Native Americans and organizations like Sierra Club, to stop the madness of fossil fuel export from North America to Asia.

Sometimes lurking in the shadows of Idle No More, and always seeking to hijack the growing “movement” against fossil fuel consumption and pollution, however, is 350.org– a Rockefeller Foundation-funded NGO (led by Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben) that misdirects activists into fruitless activities like college campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns. While 350 Seattle was not the primary participant in the referenced rally, 350.org is the key player in the People’s Climate March distraction scheduled for September 20-21 in New York.

Netwar in the Big Apple: Wall St. vs the Indigenous Peoples Movement explains in more detail how pied pipers like Klein and McKibben function as agents of Wall Street who lead naive youth and gullible adults astray. For the credulous, photo-ops with Wall Street-created celebrities like Klein and McKibben might make them feel virtuous or important, but for tribal authorities challenging the fossil fuel industry, they are a dead end.

Fantasies about political power that NGOs like 350.org promote on behalf of their Wall Street benefactors allow pooh-bahs like Klein and McKibben to manipulate well-intentioned citizens into meaningless activities, thus dissipating the energy they bring to the environmental and human rights movements. Countering this insidious subversion of civil society requires shining a light on the dark corners of the non-profit industrial complex; following the money is a good place to start.

Fossil Fuel Frauds

The corporate behemoths behind the fossil fuel export bonanza, proposed for terminals on the Salish Sea, combine a rare breadth of hubris with a colossal depth of deviousness. Given their plans to turn the San Juan Islands into a fossil fuel corridor, congesting Rosario Strait and the Special Operating Area of Boundary Pass with thousand-foot-long colliers and tankers, the track record of these behemoths is worth considering. As SSA Marine, Peabody Coal and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) made news by corrupting elections in fall 2013, they are particularly worth singling out.

Having decimated Appalachia and Black Mesa, the name Peabody is synonymous with ecological devastation and environmental racism. Settling a lawsuit last year for illegally bulldozing a registered Native American archeological site at Cherry Point, SSA Marine is little better. BNSF is largely responsible for the inadequate safety standards for oil tanker cars now exploding on our country’s railroads.

Since BNSF is a major player in promoting export of Tar Sands and Bakken Shale crude from refineries and terminals in Washington State, the fact that BNSF has consistently put profits before public safety should make communities along BNSF rail lines concerned. As Sightline reports, exploding oil trains are due largely to BNSF lobbying against enhanced rail tanker safety laws.

The Politics of Land and Bigotry

On March 8, 1996, the Center for World Indigenous Studies convened a conference at the Day Break Star Center in Seattle to consider strategies for a new public consensus about constructive environmental policies and cooperative relations between Indian nations and the people of the United States. As a participant in The Politics of Land and Bigotry conference, I joined in the dialogue about the portentous movements in America intent on promoting interracial discord and a growing politics of fear. As we considered strategies and new proposals for forging a coalition actively committed to achieving a new public consensus, we listened to reports and recommendations on the Wise Use Movement, the Anti-Indian Movement, the future role of Indian governments, the politics of racial division and the political polarization in America.

Co-sponsors of the conference for forging a new coalition committed to countering interracial discord and the politics of fear included the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, noted in my June 1, 2013 article Northwest Indians Oppose Transport and Export of Fossil Fuels.

Today, the politics of land and bigotry promoted by Wall Street, Tea Parties and Christian Patriots again threatens the Salish Sea region between Seattle and Vancouver. As a fascist movement against environmentalists and indigenous peoples, the Wall Street/Tea Party convergence is counting on intimidation and thuggery to maintain power and privileges based on wealth and race. Unless moral authorities once again step forward to protect activists and journalists who support Coast Salish nations in their quest to save the Salish Sea, threats like the one noted in my February 8, 2014 IC Magazine editorial Gateway Pacific Terminal Consultant Threatens Journalists will be emulated by the Tea Party and Christian Right. Shining a light on organized racism is our job; excoriating the groups, individuals and politicians “who breathe life into that racism and resentment” is theirs.