Posts Tagged ‘ Mining ’

A Walk Through the Tar Sands

The Indigenous Environmental Network, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club, UM Climate Action Now, and the No Shipments Network

Formally Invite you to:

A Walk Through the Tar Sands:

A night of first hand accounts regarding the most destructive industrial project on the face of the planet

Join us Wednesday, June 2nd, for a screening of H2Oil, the internationally acclaimed documentary on the Alberta Tar Sands, followed by a presentation by Marty Cobenais, head of the Indigenous Environmental Network’s campaign against Tar Sands pipelines, along with George Poitras, former chief of the Fort Chipewyan Tribe, one of the communities suffering the direct and disastrous effects of Alberta’s oil sands mining.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 6:00PM

Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Av, Missoula, MT

The Alberta Tar Sands constitute the largest portion of U.S. imported oil. They have also been called out in the international community as the most destructive industrial project on the face of the planet. This fall, Missoula could play host to the creation of an industrial shipping corridor that would serve Tar Sands mines for decades to come. Come learn from people with first hand experience with the Tar Sands operations and their effects on the local communities of northern Alberta. There are many reasons to oppose the proposed corridor, and to be informed of issues across the border is to be more powerful in our fight at home.

Marty Cobenias is a longtime native activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network and currently works out of Minnesota on IEN’s campaign opposing proposed Tar Sands pipelines.

George Poitras is the former chief of the Fort Chipewyan tribe and has spoken to the international community about the devastation of the Alberta Tar Sands. Fort Chipewyan resides just downstream of the Tar Sands mines. The residents of the community, mostly Cree First Nations, Dene First Nations, and Metis people suffer from exceedingly high rates of rare cancers, and have taken a strong stand against the up-river mines.

H2Oil is the internationally acclaimed documentary on the devastating effects of Tar Sands mining on the land and the people, and specifically the challenges that Canada’s First Nations people face in trying to find justice in their struggle against the mines.

For more information contact: noshipmentsmissoula@googlegroups.com

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Also, on June 5th

Grammy Award Winning Indigo Girls and Acclaimed Native activist Winona LaDuke appear in Pablo with local and regional activists to raise awareness for a clean energy future

A panel entitled “Environmental Justice in Montana:  Protecting the Land for Future Generations” will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5 at the Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre at the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Mont.
The event will call for increased resistance to fossil fuels and full investment in clean energy across Indian Country and the United States.

Native activist Winona LaDuke will moderate the panel, which includes four dynamic speakers:

  • Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations of Canada, speaking on the impacts of tar sands oil development;
  • Gail Small of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, who will talk about her community’s ongoing struggle to stop coal development;
  • Francis Auld, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes cultural preservation officer will address sacred sites;
  • Rich Janssen, acting director of the CSKT Natural Resource Department will address environmental concerns of the Flathead Reservation.

Environmental Justice Panel

With

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations of Northern Alberta, Rainforest Action Network’s Freedom From Oil Campaigner;

Gail Small, Native Action, Executive Director,

Francis Auld, CSKT cultural preservation;

Rich Janssen, CSKT Acting Director of Natural Resources.

Topics: Alberta tar sands oil, transportation of oil, coal extraction, coal bed methane and the connection between natural resources exploitation and poverty.

Moderated by Winona LaDuke

Short performance by Indigo Girls

1:30 p.m.

Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre

Salish Kootenai College

58138 U.S. Highway 93 (theater first turn on right as you enter campus from south)

Pablo, Mont. 59855

Schweitzer Waves White Flag on Big Rigs

(reposted from 4&20 Blackbirds) (we hope they’re not angry)

By JC

super sized

It seems that in lieu of any rational economic development proposals from Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-Imperial/Exxon) to mitigate the impacts of the collapse of the housing construction (timber) industry and Stone Container, it is best to lay down and let another multinational corporation walk all over us:

“If I could wave a magic wand and get Stone Container open again and get the timber industry going again, I’d do that,” Schweitzer said Friday. “In lieu of that, $68 million worth of road work and flaggers and utility work along the highways – I guess we’ll take it. It’s $68 million worth of jobs [associated with the Kearl big rig project].”

Well, no. 32 million of those 63 million oil dollars are the cost of transport. Not jobs or mitigation costs. Those are dollars paid to out of state/country employees to move the dang things–not jobs for locals. Never mind that the project will disrupt traffic along highways 12 and 200 in western Montana, and create safety hazards and emergency response nightmares. It’s full speed ahead, damn the EA:

“[Schweitzer] scoffed at fears that western Montana will become a permanent vessel for big rigs to the Canadian oil fields and elsewhere.

“That’s not the proposal at all,” he said. “This is temporary for 200 loads and nobody’s proposed a permanent corridor. That’s why it’s an (environmental assessment) and not an (environmental impact statement).”

Except, Governor Big Oil, Exxon did “Propose to create permanent ‘High/Wide Corridor’s through Montana”, as revealed in this MDOT presentation prepared by MDOT Director Jim Lynch last July:
permanent corridor

Of course, in the another quote from him in the Missoulian article, he contradicts himself by saying he’ll try harder the next time a proposal like this comes along:

The governor said he pitched hard – “but I’ll pitch even harder next time” – to see that the equipment to be hauled through the state is built “in some place like Great Falls or Cut Bank or Havre, as opposed to being built in Korea.”

So you say we need an EIS if it is going to be a permanent corridor? Then you’d better order Exxon and MDOT to get to work on an EIS. Or are you just a liar? How dumb do you think we are that you think we can’t read and put 2+2 together???

Even Missoula’s City Council recognizes the falsehoods behind those who want to dismiss this project as a one-off needing just an EA, and have prepared a resolution dated May 10th, 2010 that one would assume would be presented to City Council soon:

WHEREAS, the construction required for these large loads will create a permanent high/wide corridor through Montana and Missoula that will attract the interest of additional oversize trucking projects destined for Alberta, as set forth in the draft Environmental Assessment’s (EA) Past, Present and Reasonably Foreseeable Impacts section and in MDT Director Jim Lynch’s 2009 “Proposed High and Wide Corridors Briefing” to a Montana Legislature committee; and

WHEREAS, the draft EA’s Purpose of the Project does not address the creation of a permanent corridor to serve future oversize;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Missoula City Council hereby declares that complying with the spirit and letter of MEPA and NEPA will require environmental review taking the form of a programmatic joint EIS under MEPA and NEPA and urges MDT to begin such a process in cooperation with affected or involved federal agencies, fully involving the public and exhaustively evaluating the impacts of creating a permanent high/wide commercial transportation corridor from the Port of Vancouver to the Alberta tar sands.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 10th day of May, 2010.

So folks, get out there and make sure this resolution passes City Council, and get on Schweitzer’s case about his blatant lying here.

And the Clark Fork Coalition noted in its Take Action bulletin that:

“The Port of Lewiston anticipates that “If one oil company is successful with this alternate transportation route, many other companies will follow their lead.” It is obvious that this route is planned to be a permanent industrial corridor to be in use for the forseeable future.”

Somebody needs to get his head out of Imperial/Exxon’s ass the sand and call for a full blown EIS.

Like we said, Otter Creek funds will not support Montana schools

So here it is. After months of public comment in opposition to the Otter Creek coal lease, after public protests from every corner of the state, and even after five activists tried to halt the ‘yes’ vote to lease coal in the State capital building less than a month ago, the Montana State Land Board still leased Otter Creek. Because of the actions of various organizations and individuals opposed to the lease, Otter Creek gained increasing national attention, and in many ways the coal fight waged in Appalachia has begun to move west. But let’s settle for a moment on a more local issue that persisted throughout the Otter Creek sale.

The issue was the awkward shift in Schweitzer’s and the Land Board’s rhetoric regarding how the lease money would be spent. The shift regards Montana’s public schools.

Both Brian Schweitzer and Linda McCulloch, in an effort to move public opinion in favor of the lease, “promised” that the money would be used to support Montana’s public schools, institutions that certainly need all the financial help they can get right now. In fact, according to Article X, Section 5 of the Montana State Constitution, 95 percent of the revenue generated from such a sale should be apportioned to the public school system with the remaining five percent headed for the permanent trust. However, the law has been interpreted by state policy makers over the years in such a way that schools see almost no benefit from the sale of public lands. When money from leases goes into the school pot, the same amount of money is taken out of the part of the general fund that also supports public education. The result for Montana schools in terms of an increase in funding? Zero.

Governor Schweitzer knew this. So, when high school students and teachers began talking about this very slippery and possibly unconstitutional loophole months ago, certain members of the Land Board shut their mouths and song and danced their way off the education funding stage. The theater they turned to next, however, was the Land Board meetings themselves, where the Governor promised money to anybody and everybody that could make him, and his dirty coal lease, look good.

Now, much of the money that was promised on that public stage was, and is, desperately needed by those groups, but in many ways Schweitzer had no real ability to promise Otter Creek coal cash to fund them. His only real decision in the matter was whether or not to cut funding to those groups in this time of financial crisis. It is the role of the 2011 legislature to decide how the $85 million from the Otter Creek lease, or rather the $85 million in relieved general funds, should be spent, not the Governor’s.

So, what was all that brouhaha about promised funds for disabled benefits and teachers and schools across the state? Theater. It was the stage of public relations upon which the façade of public support was erected.

Schweitzer needed this sale to look good, and in many ways the recent blackmailing of public officials was just an attempt to pick up the fallen PR pieces from the sale itself. But, the blackmailing backfired and we were given another round to wage the fight against the leasing of Otter Creek resulting in the retraction of the letter requirement amidst national negative attention for the Governor.

So in the end, schools probably won’t get their money, and many of those who were promised funds by the Governor might not see a dime either. But, if they do, it won’t be Schweitzer’s fault.

Northern Rockies Rising Tide Blackmails the Governor

Members of Northern Rockies Rising Tide and several members of the Missoula community hit the streets during last night’s First Friday to give Brian Schweitzer a taste of his own medicine. That being, of course, blackmail–or rather, black mail. In response to Schweitzer’s request that community leaders write letters of approval regarding his decision to lease the Otter Creek coal tracts to Arch Coal Inc. before he will release frozen Stimulus funds, NRRT passed out over 400 envelopes addressed to the governor, each literally containing a piece of black mail, and urged community members to affix their own return address and mail them in.

Schweitzer’s decision to lease Otter Creek has been faced with widespread opposition from environmental advocates, high schoolers, ranchers, and other Montana citizens. His reasoning, that he doesn’t want “any community to use coal money that didn’t want to use coal money,” is obviously a thinly veiled attempt to bolster his approval ratings, and apparently, Schweitzer would rather twist the arms of Montana’s communities than face the reality that his decision is an unpopular one.

Breaking News: Governor Schweitzer a Total Scheisser

Montana’s Coal Cowboy Attempts to Blackmail Local Officials to Support Coal Mine.

Governor Schweitzer–in what is very likely a violation of the Montana State Constitution and most certainly a violation of what most nice, respectable people consider to be civil and decent–is attempting to coerce county governments to proclaim their support for the State Land Board’s recent decision to undersell 572 million tons of coal reserves in the Otter Creek valley to mining giant Arch Coal.

Schweitzer, apparently, sees it as a grave injustice to allow communities that do not support coal development (“whether because they don’t live near hydrocarbon production or other reasons,” in the words of the infinitely wise and eloquent governor himself) to receive state money garnered from said development.

Aside from the blatant illegality of withholding state stimulus funds from local officials until they pay Schweitzer his desired ransom (namely, their dignity), the point that the governor is trying to make (“if you don’t like America, you should move your ungrateful commie ass back to Russia,” essentially) is also problematic. It is this very logic which has, throughout the years, guided the Coal Cowboy in his myopic and asinine political crusade on behalf of the fossil fuels industry.

The issue of Otter Creek coal, however, is not: If we don’t strip mine our last remaining hydrocarbon resources, then we won’t have any money for roads, education, disability services, etc. That’s a ruse, a false dichotomy.

Rather, the actual and utterly exigent problem we face today, right now, here in the real world, runs more along these lines: if we don’t make immediate and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions (from coal and other fossil fuels) then we will continue to see an increase in global-warming caused natural disasters, eventually resulting in an unstoppable positive feedback loop of catastrophic proportions–a total global calamity who’s victims will be (and already are) the people who have contributed the least to its cause.

For more on this, check out:

George Ochenski’s perspicacious observations in the Missoula Independent

The New York Times out-of-state-take on the issue.

The Missoulian’s philosophy on the subject

The Governor’s blackmail letter to the Missoula County Commissioners.

Land Board decides to lease Otter Creek Coal tracts! (Tomorrow!!!)

Come to Helena tomorrow to tell the Land Board Hands Off Otter Creek Coal!

This is it folks…our last chance to tell the Land Board to not develop any new coal on our State School Trust Lands.  Tomorrow at 9am at the State Capitol Building in Helena the MT State Land Board will make a decision that will effect the future of our climate.  The Land Board will vote on whether or not to accept a bid submitted yesterday by Ark Land Co. (a subsidiary of the world’s second largest coal mining company Arch Coal) of nearly $86 million on the 572 million tons of state owned coal in the Otter Creek Coal Tracts.
Arch Coal has already won a contract to lease the privately owned portion of Otter Creek which makes for a grand total of 1.3 BILLION tons of coal to be mined.  This will produce 2.6 BILLION tons of CO2 emissions when the coal is burned.  And to make matters worse Arch coal has said that most of this coal will be sent to China and India to be burned making this coal exempt from pending climate legislation in the U.S.
This is our last chance to publicly speak out to the Land Board!

Come with us tomorrow and give the Land Board an earful about how mining and burning that much coal just plain sucks.  After all, the only way to truly sequester carbon is to LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND!
Contact us for rideshare information.

Statewide Day of Action Against Otter Creek Coal

On, Tuesday, March 16  citizens from around the state marched against the Land Board’s proposal to Lease Otter Creek. The statewide

Mr. Kins if you please
Statewide day of action again Otter Creek Coal Lease

day of action was held to urge the remaining members of the Land Board to nix the project to lease 1.3 billion tons of coal beneath Otter Creek to mining giant Ark Land Co., a subsidiary of Arch Coal Inc.

Montana currently boasts only a few small coal mines within the state boarders, but some of the biggest reserves in the country. And, just over the line in Wyoming at the largest coal strip mines in the country, industry tears at the land, poisons the water, and disregards the rights of locals, which is exactly what is now being proposed for Montana. Arch Coal has just recently integrated itself into the largest mine in the Powder River Basin through the purchase of the Jacobson Ranch, and they are looking to expand their reach into Montana markets. The company has also stated publicly that they intend to sell the coal they mine at Otter Creek to expanding Asian markets, thereby circumventing any possibility of strong climate legislation on the national level.

From all ends of the state, Montanan’s have vocally opposed the lease proposal through rallies, written comments, public testimony periods, and actions. This Thursday (Tomorrow!) the Land Board will decide whether to lease the coal once and for all, deciding the fate not only of those who live in Otter Creek, but of all Montanans.

Otter Creek Catering Co. Serves Land Board Just Desserts

“This stuff is just so versatile, I can’t believe people can’t eat it!”
-Brian Schweitzer
Chairman of Otter Creek Catering Co.

Menu

Otter Creek Catering Co. Menu

Saturday evening, March 13th, Democrats from around the state gathered to preform their ceremonial duties of boozing, schmoozing, and chewing at the annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner in Helena. Per the special request of the three remaining Land Board members still intent on leasing the Otter Creek coal tracts (Brian Schweitzer, Linda McCulluch, and Monica Lineen), the Otter Creek Catering Company was invited to provide appetizers and entrées for the event.

The Catering Company, chaired by the venerable Governor Schweitzer, offered Democrats generous helpings of the only thing the Land Board deems fit to come from Otter Creek: coal.

In addition to serving entering Democrats delectable dishes of bitumen (slow roasted in a subtle but succulent sulfur-thorium seasoning, suggesting undertones of mercury), the Catering Co. also provided dinner guests with menus detailing the Company’s other exquisite options for the evening. Among the most popular dishes of the night were the Open Pit Roast, the Fly Ash Salad, the Strip Mine Steak, and for dessert, Settling Pond-ue and Dead Mousse.

In addition to giving the Otter Creek Catering Co. the contract for Saturday’s event,  Schweitzer, McCulloch, and Lindeen, being such friends of coal, invited coal himslef to the dinner. Mr. Otter Crick, a representative from the northern Powder River Basin, was selected by the governor himself to greet the dinner guests on behalf of all Montana bitu-men.

Otter Creek Catering Co.

Otter Creek Catering Company: Serving the Land Board just desserts

Land Board waffles, Hellgate High School students protest Otter Creek lease

On Tuesday, February 16, the Montana State Land Board once again made a mockery of the “democratic process,” ignoring the solid and heartfelt arguments of the public as it moved to give Otter Creek away for a pittance, caving under pressure from mega-corporation Arch Coal. At the previous meeting of the Board, a bonus bid of 25 cents per ton was set as a supposed minimum sale price to avoid subsidizing controversial aspects of the Otter Creek mining proposal, such as the Tongue River Railroad. However, a majority of the board members are apparently so desperate to destroy the pristine alluvial Otter Creek valley in southeastern Montana that when no companies accepted the already undervalued price by the February 9 bidding deadline, they voted 3-2 to lower the asking price and try again.

February 16th Mt Land Board meeting

Environmentalists, Northern Cheyenne tribal members, educators, students, ranchers, business people, and Northern Rockies Rising Tide attended the meeting to tell the land board to stop the proposed ecocide at Otter Creek. Gov. Brian Schweitzer received particular attention from the public commenters as he was confronted about his corrupt business affairs such as the $100,000 campaign contribution he reportedly received from Arch Coal Co., the primary corporate interest in Otter Creek.

The only response the land board received by the February 9 bidding deadline was a letter from Ark Land Co., an Arch Coal subsidiary, asking for the price to be lowered. Arch Coal already holds the lease on adjoining coal tracts owned by Houston-based Great Northern Properties. As the state and private lands are positioned in checkerboard fashion, it is widely accepted that the coal could not be feasibly mined by Arch without access to both the Great Northern and Montana School Trust Lands at Otter Creek.

As opponents to mining at Otter Creek faced an increased number of comments by mining proponents, primarily paid union officials pontificating to the all-democrat Land Board about job creation, the meeting took on a more contentious tone than previous ones. Testimony included more direct verbal attacks on the land board members themselves, particularly the Governor. One protester breifly shouted down Gov. Schweitzer about ten minutes into the his twenty minute speech justifying the leasing of Otter Creek (a speech so full of strange non sequiters, including a very bizarre metaphor comparing democracy to a grapefruit, that many of the Governor’s listeners walked away more confused than convinced). As Schweitzer was rambling on about coal bid prices and other purposely convoluted economic rhetoric, the person in the “peanut gallery” yelled out “Your three minutes are up, Governor!” referring to the three minute time-limit set on public comments.

Hellgate students at the courthouse

Students from Hellgate high School in Missoula, MT march against the leasing of the Otter Creek Coal Tracts

Only Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Steve Bullock, Montana Attorney General, voted against lowering the bid price.

Later in the afternoon on February 16, students from Hellgate High School in Missoula marched with chants and picket signs from their school, across the Higgins Street Bridge on the Clark Fork River, to the Missoula County courthouse in protest of the Land Board’s plans to give away Otter Creek to be mined. This is the second protest by high school students in as many weeks about Otter Creek. One week prior, on February 9, students from nearby Big Sky High School left class early in a similar protest.

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Watch the Video:

See our VIDEOS page for full testimonials from Helena.

No bids on Otter Creek, students stage walkout.

The Montana State Land Board received no bids for Otter Creek coal by the 5pm deadline Monday, February 8th.  Though four of the five members of the Land Board voted to receive bids from companies to mine 616 million tons of coal at Otter Creek, near Ashland, MT, the only response submitted was a letter from Ark Land Co. saying that the price was too high.  Ark, a subsidiary of St. Louis based Arch Coal Co., and infamous for swindling property owners out of their families’ lands in Appalachia for King Coal’s war on mountain tops, is reported to have stated that the royalty price of 12.5 percent was more than Ark is willing to pay.  Though no alternative royalty rate appears to have been suggested, state law requires a minimum of 10.5 percent for coal mined from any state-owned land in Montana.

The Land Board convenes next Tuesday, February 16th, in Helena to discuss their next course of action.  They have the option of lowering either the royalty or bonus bid prices in hopes of winning over some bidders.  They could also decide to stay true to some board members’ December 21, 2009 affirmations that the state will not subsidize Otter Creek development through rock-bottom prices.

“The State of Montana will not subsidize the Tongue River Railroad,” said Gov. Schweitzer during the December 21st meeting, referring to the rail line proposed to provide easy access for Otter Creek coal to the national rail system.  The railroad has been opposed by area property owners and ranchers for over three decades due to excessive ecological, social and economic impacts it would impose on the Tongue River area.

Big Sky students rally against Otter Creek coal.

In Missoula on Tuesday, February 9th, about 100 students from Big Sky High School walked out of class early to protest the proposed leasing of Otter Creek coal, and to send a message to the Land Board that students do not want coal mined in their names.  The Otter Creek coal tracts are located under state school-trust lands, which means all income the state receives from exploitation of those lands should be used to fund the state’s education system.  After leaving classes in defiance of Big Sky administrators’ efforts to enforce school authority, many students then marched about a mile to the busy intersection of South & Reserve where they held a rally, chanting slogans such as “No blood for money!  We gotta keep Otter Creek!”

“We, as students from Big Sky High School, do not want our school funding to come from coal,” said Allison Lawrence, one of the protesters at the rally.  “We would rather live with old books than get blood money for shiny new computers.”

Students walking out of class in protest.

On Thursday, February 11, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will submit its official recommendation to the Land Board about a next course of action to be taken at the February 16 meeting.  It is worth mentioning that the only member of the Land Board to vote against leasing Otter Creek at the last meeting is Denise Juneau, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the very institution that would supposedly benefit financially from mining Otter Creek!  If other members who voted for leasing the coal tracts only on the condition of getting maximum income from the lease stay true to their words, then next week’s meeting could result in an end to this whole misguided attempt to destroy pristine Montana land.  A refusal to lower the bid and royalty prices may effectively protect Otter Creek… for now.

Join Northern Rockies Rising Tide and others at the next Land Board meeting, 9:00am on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at the Montana State Capitol in Helena.  Help us make sure that Montana’s top politicians know that their attempts to mine Otter Creek are lacking the consent of Montanans!