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article imageDozens of Keystone XL pipeline protesters arrested in Canada

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 26, 2011 in Environment
Ottawa - Beginning with a mid-morning solidarity rally on Monday, hundreds of protesters in Ottawa, Canada faced risk of arrest as they followed with a demonstration on Parliament Hill against the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.
Dozens of protesters have been arrested who crossed over a barricade at the Peace Tower on Monday, and several hundred are reported taking part in the demonstration. Although promoted as a peaceful and non-confrontational demonstration, The Globe and Mail reports police were “out in force.”
Greenpeace, organizer of the rally and sit-in, claims Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has a “wreckless agenda” focused on tar sands development which, instead, should
build a green energy future that promotes climate justice, respects Indigenous rights and prioritizes the health of our environment and communities.
“This isn’t about condemning anybody that works in the tarsands or oilsands industry. this is about presenting choices,” said Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace campaigner, Postmedia News reports.
Among those arrested were veteran activist Maude Barlow and Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union.
The protests are also supported by members of first nations. Earlier this month, the Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of American Indians formally announced they were against the Keystone XL.
Among concerns for the first nations are destruction of sacred lands, water, air, hunting and fishing areas, tribal sovereignty, and a lack of government monitoring.
Communities near the oil-sands are experiencing higher cancer rates as well as tumors being found in moose, oiled beaver dams and inedible fish. “It’s a really tragic situation,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, an aboriginal organizer, the Globe and Mail reports.
New documents revealed by Friends of the Earth show the US State Department was showing a bias in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline during the environmental review process.
Additionally, the documents show Paul Elliott, a Keystone lobbyist with connections to Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential bid, offered to lobby the Canadian government for the State Department, claiming “TransCanada can be an asset” for the US government.
As opposition to the pipeline grows, Canadian officials are coming out in its defense. Last week, energy minister Joe Oliver called pipeline critics a threat to “security.” The Canadian government has already approved its portion of the $7 billion pipeline which will extend from Alberta to the Texas Gulf coast, passing over the massive Ogalla Aquifer in the US heartland which provides drinking water for around 2 million people.
The Canadian government and TransCanada argue the pipeline is safe and will provide some 20,000 jobs.
In a news release on Monday, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said land reclamation at the tar sands site are providing evidence of a thriving environment. CAPP quoted co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, “I’ve seen the land reclamation progress at oil sands sites,” he said. “It’s a necessary, staggeringly complex process and evidence shows the land will be reclaimed as thriving ecosystems after oil sands are developed to help meet the world’s growing energy needs.”
Environmental activists counter the oil sands create massive amounts of greenhouse gases, are detrimental to air and water quality and threaten wildlife.
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