Environmental Justice

Yellowstone River Oil Spill Aroma in the Air

GLENDIVE, Mont. – An oil pipeline leak into the Yellowstone River last weekend still is being assessed, but . . .

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-01-20/environment/yel . . .

Yellowstone River Oil Spill Aroma in the Air

PHOTO: Last weekend's oil spill along the Yellowstone River appears to be similar in size to the 2011 spill pictured here, which also affected the Yellowstone River. This spill took months to clean and cost $135 million, but cleanup efforts for the current spill have been hampered because of the frozen river and wintertime conditions. Photo courtesy of the EPA.

PHOTO: Last weekend’s oil spill along the Yellowstone River appears to be similar in size to the 2011 spill pictured here, which also affected the Yellowstone River. This spill took months to clean and cost $135 million, but cleanup efforts for the current spill have been hampered because of the frozen river and wintertime conditions. Photo courtesy of the EPA.

January 20, 2015

GLENDIVE, Mont. – An oil pipeline leak into the Yellowstone River last weekend still is being assessed, but a Bridger Pipeline company spokesman says it’s estimated that about 50,000 gallons of Bakken crude spilled into the water upstream of Glendive.

Dena Hoff, a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, ranches and farms downstream from the spill. The river runs along the edge of her property.

“It’s a fourth of a mile from my house and you can smell it, even though it’s under the ice,” she says. “How are they going to clean it up?”

In 2011, an ExxonMobil pipeline leaked into the Yellowstone River, spilling about 63,000 gallons. Cleanup costs for that spill totaled about $135 million.

Hoff says this spill should be a clear sign the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is too risky, as it would also cross the Yellowstone River. And as was the case in 2011, Hoff says there are many questions about the damage in the latest spill that will likely take months to answer.

“For the people in Lower Yellowstone Irrigation District, what’s going to happen to their irrigation water?” she asks. “What’s going to happen to the paddlefish at the intake diversion, where the paddlefish come up every May?”

Hoff was out of town when the spill happened Saturday morning. She says even though she lives near the spill zone, she was not informed about what was going on until she started asking questions about why there were “so many lights down by the river,” and heard from a friend the water coming out of the faucet “smelled like oil.” The city of Glendive gets its water from the Yellowstone River.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service – MT

– See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-01-20/environment/yellowstone-river-oil-spill-aroma-in-the-air/a44092-1#sthash.MwcfJyCv.dpuf


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Addiction to sugar leads to diabetes: Traditional indigenous foods combat fatal disease, restore communities.

by Don Harrison. January 22 2015.

cooked.riceroot.NT_-300x161 GIANT-300x225

Diabetes is a national epidemic. Whether you are Indigenous or not, addiction to sugar and a sedentary lifestyle are causing this harmful disease to sky rocket. It is also clear to see by the headlines today that diabetes is now known as the silent killer. One reason for the spike in cases seen across Turtle Island is the addiction to sugar. It is in most things, in one form or another of what we eat today, and this over consumption has lead us to become overweight as well. One major reason is the loss of traditional diets consumed by people. Diets low is sugar and high in rich soluble protein. And even if folks think they are not eating sugar, they still may be getting sugar due to eating carbohydrates-that turn to sugar in the body. Indigenous communities are fighting back today by returning to traditional foods that are metabolized buy the body better. One example is riceroot. It is more digestible as a nutrient rich carbohydrate source, but does not spike blood sugar levels, causing unsafe levels in the body. Riceroot is a traditional food source that was used by the Coast Salish for thousands of years and has now been the focus by many to restore vital food option.  As well as choosing healthier options, strategies designed to educate the public on safer food options are needed as well. Many people are just not aware that what they are eating has the potential to build really unsafe eating habits. Elders and community leaders fostering community programs focused on eating traditional diets, are reaching out to community members to educate, empower and employ volunteers. The goal is holistic food sovereignty, rooted in environmental and social justice. When a community is responsible for it’s food growth, they are tapped into what is needed to make that happen, and food grown in the region reflects the regions history and restorative community goals  of empowerment and providing for the future.This leads to stronger community ties and a vision that self empowerment is connected to sustainability and environmental connections.

Squamish council votes down LNG pipeline drill tests “I’ve been pretty clear that I don’t think this [LNG project] is in the best interests of the community,” said Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman.


In a showdown over fossil fuel development versus preservation of the environment, Squamish Council voted narrowly to deny FortisBC permission for test drilling for a natural gas pipeline that would feed the proposed $1.6-billion Woodfibre LNG export plant.

The main concern is the test drilling would disturb the ecologically sensitive Howe Sound, home to dolphins, eagles, salmon and bears.  The estuary is also described by conservationists as a veritable “rainforest” of eco-diversity.

Newly elected Mayor Patricia Heintzman, and three other councillors rejected FortisBC’s permit application in a four-to-three vote Tuesday night.  More than one hundred people crammed the council building to witness the ruling.

“I’ve been pretty clear that I don’t think this [project] is in the best interests of the community,” said Mayor Heintzman on Wednesday.

“The way I’ve seen the project outlined – where Fortis’ pipeline is, the compressions stations, the impact of Woodfibre LNG on the [Howe] Sound – I don’t think it’s a positive for the community in the long term,” the mayor added.

FortisBC denies its drilling would cause significant environmental harm and said the council decision was “unfortunate.” The company is now evaluating its next steps.

“Obviously, we are disappointed in the decision that council made last night,” said spokesperson Trevor Boudreau on Wednesday.

“The soil samples are required – it’s part of the regulatory review of the proposed route. It’s to make sure we have confidence we can build [the pipeline] and we’ve built one in this area in the past.”

The spokesperson added that FortisBC’s planned “horizontal directional drilling” would go 50-70 metres below the Squamish riverbed, and far away from any wildlife.  It’s the same technology that was safely used when the company moved its pipeline on the Fraser River to make way for the Port Mann Bridge expansion, he added.

Squamish enviro standards not met

But the proposed drilling did not meet Squamish District’s environmental guidelines for riparian areas, the mayor said.  She added that Squamish’s standards are higher than the province’s guidelines.

Councillor Doug Race voted in favour of the pipeline tests, and said the standards do not restrict all industrial development.

“I don’t think the purpose of these guidelines is to sterilize the land, and say absolutely no development.  What it does do is recognize sensitivity, allows development that meets certain criteria,” Race told council.

The purpose of the drilling was to test the feasibility of the rock and soil for the company’s hoped for $530-million Eagle Mountain pipeline.  The pipeline’s sole purpose is to feed natural gas for the Woodfibre LNG plant.

An international conglomerate run by Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto would operate the export plant.

Province final ruler on pipeline

Ultimately, the Squamish council’s approval may not needed for the pipeline and an approval may be in the works regardless.  That’s because the province will make the final decision on the project, and the Clark government has made LNG development a top economic priority.

FortisBC said two provincial authorities — the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and the Oil and Gas Commission — have already given approval for its pipeline plans.

Orcas near Woodfibre LNG proposed facility - Shannon Cunningham

Orcas spotted near the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant.  Photo by Shannon Cunningham.

Estuary a “rainforest” of eco-diversity

Still, environmental groups celebrated the council’s decision, citing the preciousness of the eco-system.

“It’s one of the most bio-diverse eco-types anywhere on the planet.  Estuaries are where you got the mixture of the freshwater and the ocean water,” said Edith Tobe, with the Squamish Watershed Society.

“It’s like a tropical rainforest… [in terms of] the amount of plant and animal life.  A rich mixture of the soils, sediments and plants that really thrive in these conditions.”

“When I dig my hand into the estuary mud, it’s full of those little wiggly invertebrates.  That’s the whole reason we have so much diversity. There’s so much food for the birds, the fish, the otters that live in the estuary,” Tobe added.

The society says the Squamish Estuary is also a haven for migratory birds, including bald eagles and FortisBC’ test drilling, though limited, would have impacts.

“It’s not a benign activity,” said Tobe.

Mayor Heintzman herself was also a well-known anti-LNG councillor before she ran for the council’s top job in November.

She suggested Wednesday that FortisBC might opt to come back with a new proposal that better addressed the council’s concerns.

The province’s Environmental Assessment Office will host two public open houses for the LNG proposals:

  • Woodfibre LNG project – Jan. 28, from 4 pm to 8 pm at the CN Roundhouse & Convention Centre in Squamish.
  • FortisBC pipeline –  Feb. 11, from 2 pm to 8 pm at the Sea to Sky Hotel, 40330 Tantalus Way in Squamish

FortisBC - map Eagle Mountain - Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Project

Map of FortisBC “Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Project” — company illustration.