As the world’s fossil fuel energy resources are depleted, public relations firms working for energy companies, shipping companies, and the Wall Street brokerages that own them, increasingly attempt to pit indigenous peoples and environmentalists against organized labor and local governments hoping to cash in on the final wasting of the planet. Yet, despite these disingenuous and inflammatory deceptions, the reality of the choices involved are becoming clearer.
Whether it’s shipping the Northern Cheyenne Nation’s coal from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, or shipping the Athabasca Chipewyan Nation’s oil from the Alberta Tar Sands, the potential environmental devastation of the coastlines of western Canada and the US — from developing major new shipping terminals to export this coal and oil to China — is likely to rival that of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster that devastated the Houma Nation.
In the October 15 IC article about Lummi Nation’s opposition to a proposed coal shipping terminal in the middle of their treaty-reserved fishing area, reporter Teri Hansen quoted Jewell James of the Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office as saying, “This is not about jobs versus the environment. It is about what type of jobs are best for the people and the environment.”
In a letter to the editor in the October 24 issue of Cascadia Weekly, a newspaper reporting on the Salish Sea territory that encompasses the Lummi Nation, Kate McCracken wrote, “I do not support shipping tens of millions of tons of raw materials to a direct economic competitor of the United States, providing cheap energy for their poorly regulated manufacturing industry that is actively displacing U.S. workers. I do not support sacrificing environmental health, and in turn placing local agriculture and fishing at risk, in the name of a multinational investment banking firm (Goldman Sachs owns 51% of SSA Marine) known for dirty business practices and for playing a major role in the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent recession that has put millions out of homes and work.”
Not exactly the choices Wall Street toadies would like us to think about, but the choices we nevertheless face.