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article imageGreenpeace activists shut down Shell oil sand production

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 15, 2009 in Environment
Citing concerns for the safety of its employees as well as the Greenpeace activists, Dutch Royal Shell had temporarily shut down its oil sand development in Northern Alberta after the activists chained themselves to a 3 story dump truck.
25 activists moved onto the northern oil sands development at the Albion Sands Muskeg River, located in northern Alberta in the morning on September 15. The development produces 155,000 barrels of oil a day, and Dutch Royal Shell owns the majority of the company. The action taken by Greenpeace is a bid by the organization, known for its radical risk-taking, to send a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama to stop support the tar sands. Greenpeace said “The tar sands are at the leading edge of climate chaos. Climate leadership from President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and other world leaders means abandoning the dirty oil that is pushing our planet to climate collapse and forging a green energy economy and a healthy world for our children.”
Harper and Obama are meeting in Washington tomorrow to discuss, according to a White House Aide, the economy and energy. Harper, on the other hand, has vowed to try to dissuade the U.S. from its "Buy American" strategy during the hour-long meeting. Both Harper and Obama have talked about how a carbon "capture and sequestration" can mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions created by harvesting crude oil from Canada's oil sands.
Organizations like Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network, based in San Francisco say that the capture and sequester strategy does not work and the only effective way to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from the tar sands is to simply stop the operations altogether. The Rainforest Action Network also took action to draw attention to climate change Tuesday by hanging a huge (70 foot) banner in Niagara Falls from the American observation platform.
Greenpeace Climate Change Banner
Rainforest Action Network activists unfurled this 70 foot banner from the observation tower at Niagara Falls on September 15, 2009 to draw attention to the Climate Change and Canada's Tar Sands developments. Photo is courtesy of Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network
Greenpeace has sworn to stay on the Albion Sands operation for as long as possible. In a twitter message posted Tuesday evening, one activist said "Our blockade in Alberta is now 8 hours going strong - President Obama and Prime Minister Harper must show leadership and #stoptarsands.". That message was posted by NCGreenpeace via twitter at 9/15/2009 10:51:35 PM6:51 PM.
Shell was planning to have work resume in the parts of the mine that are not affected by the protesters, which is most of the mine. Shell is concerned about how the activists got past its "significant" security. A Calgary-based spokesman for Shell Albion, Paul Hagel, told Fort McMurray Today
“Clearly these activists are protesting against oil sands development. I can tell you that so far the interactions between Shell spokespeople and the activists have been extremely courteous and respectful." Hagel added that Shell Albion provided the protesters with food, water and bug repellent.
Greenpeace has opposed the tar sands development for years.
Copenhagen climate change negotiations will take place in just 82 days from now, and many Canadians are wondering what the Harper government position is. The government has been floating a new climate change plan, Canada's Offset System for Greenhouse Gases: Guide for Protocol Developers to businesses and provincial politicians, and leaks say that the plan favours oil sands developments. The offset plan has not yet been released by the government. The federal government is investing money in "Adapting to Climate Change," saying that climate change is unavoidable.
More about Greenpeace, Shell, Oil sands, Tar sands, Northern alberta
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