Winona LaDuke: You can’t make this stuff up.
At the end of the fossil fuel era, the plan is to transfer the liability to Native people.
And it’s not going to work.
Dressed up as “equity positions”, or “reconciliation”, across the continent, corporations and governments are trying to pawn off bad projects on Native people.
The most recent case was the attempt to stick the Navajo Nation with a 50 year old coal generating plant – Navajo Generating Station.
That’s after BHP Billiton, the largest mining corporation in the world dumped a 50 year old coal strip mine, with all sorts of environmental and health liabilities, on the tribe.
Always good to get rid of liabilities on some poor people you’ve taken advantage of for fifty years or so.
It didn’t work, the Navajo Nation rejected the offer.
Now here’s a new one – a really good one in Canada.
It turns out that no one really wants a tar sands pipeline.
Well, except some pipeline companies, the Koch brothers, Syncrude and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Here’s the skinny: The Trans Mountain would “twin” another pipeline making this a 1,150 km pipeline with a 800,000 barrel a day capacity.
That existing pipeline is currently Canada’s only way to get oil to Chinese markets.
That pipeline was originally purchased for $4.5 billion in August of 2018 from Kinder Morgan, who faced stiff opposition in the courts and in the streets.
Trudeau purchased that pipeline, for the people of Canada, and the next day the Court of British Columbia ruled that all permits were null and void on the pipeline, as Indigenous people had not been consulted and had to give consent.
Fast forward to January of 2019, when the value of the pipeline, now dubbed ‘TMX’ (I call it Trudeau West) has dropped about $700 million in value.
A pipeline without approvals, is a risky thing, getting riskier by the day.
Interest payments on a pipeline project are also pretty hefty. Robyn Allan, an independent economist critical of an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline, says financial statements show the existing pipeline suffered a C$58 million loss in the first four months that the government owned it.
Economists disagree on the interest payments on just pipeline debt- it’s somewhere between $149 and $249 million annually, and that’s a chunk of change.
That’s a lot of money. No time better to send that debt over to the First Nations.
After all, most of the Canadian First Nations have poverty rates four times the national average, a lack of potable water, and inadequate infrastructure.
It makes perfect sense that a First Nation, or coalition of First nations should assume Canada’s debt and liability on a mega project which will wreak environmental and economic havoc.
Enter Reconciliation Pipeline
Clever, for sure in the political spin. “Let’s make it the Reconciliation pipeline. Through majority Indigenous ownership, it can improve Indigenous lives throughout the West. How? By returning profits made from shipping resources to market to the traditional owners of the land from which those resources came,” their website explains.
“Project Reconciliation wants Indigenous peoples to use capital markets to take a majority ownership stake in Trans Mountain. It also wants to create a Sovereign Wealth Fund to create intergenerational wealth to improve Indigenous lives across the West by investing in infrastructure and renewable energy projects.”
That’s one bid for the risky pipeline.
Two more “competing” First nations coalitions allegedly seek to buy the pipeline.
The ‘Iron Coalition’ from Alberta has invited 47 First Nations and about 60 Métis organizations in the province to sign up for the effort, which was endorsed by the Alberta-based Assembly of Treaty Chiefs last fall.
And then there’s a third- the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, comprised of First Nations already along the infrastructure’s route, impacted by the present 300,000 barrel a day tarsands pipeline, to be “ twinned” should a miracle occur in financing.
That’s three coalitions all preparing a bidding war for a pipeline project which faces massive opposition.
The whole initiative, Rueben George, of the Tsleil-wauluth First Nation, and leader in the opposition to the pipeline calls this new development “ a new smallpox blanket.”
Economically, he’s probably right. MORE