12,000 barrels of oil recovered in Arkansas pipeline spill

Video Player at http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/World/ID/2365995159/?sort=MostRecent

Exxon Mobil Corp. says crews have recovered about 12,000 barrels of oil near Mayflower, Arkansas, after the company’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon.

The pipeline carries Canadian heavy crude oil from Patoka, Illinois to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast.

A company statement released Sunday afternoon said crews were steam-cleaning oil from property, and that 22 homes are still in the process of being evacuated.

Fifteen vaccum trucks and 33 storage tanks have been deployed to the spill area.

The company said the 51-centimetre pipeline had been shut down as crews tried to prevent the spilled oil from reaching a nearby lake.

Exxon said no oil had reached Lake Conway, known as a fishing lake stocked with bass, catfish and bream. The company said it deployed about 2,000 metres of boom near the lake “as a precaution.”

It said cleanup operations were being co-ordinated with the Department of Emergency Management and other local authorities, and that the cause of the spill was being investigated.

Authorities from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are on site and have categorized it as a “major spill,” meaning that it’s greater than 250 barrels. The cause of the spill is now under investigation.

On Monday federal regulators proposed that Exxon Mobil pay $1.7 million in civil penalties for safety violations linked to a pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 238,000 litres of crude oil into Montana’s scenic Yellowstone River in July 2011.

The spill fouled approximately 110 kilometres of the Yellowstone River’s banks, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a massive, months-long cleanup.

The latest spill comes at time when proponents of the proposed Keystone X-L pipeline have been trying to convince Washington to give the seven billion dollar project the green light.

Opponents of TransCanada Corp.’s plan to pipe Alberta oilsands bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast denounce it as an environmental catastrophe in the making.

© The Canadian Press, 2013

Exxon cleans up Arkansas oil spill amid debate over Canada-to-US pipelines

Ruptured pipeline in Arkansas is second incident in a week and comes as US debates controversial Keystone XL project

Exxon Mobil was working to clean up thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower, Arkansas, after a pipeline carrying heavy Canadian crude ruptured, a major spill likely to stoke debate over transporting Canada’s oil to the United States.

Exxon shut the Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from Pakota, Illinois, to Nederland, Texas, after the leak was discovered on Friday afternoon, the company said in a statement.

Exxon, hit with a $1.7m fine by regulators last week over a 2011 spill in the Yellowstone River, said a few thousand barrels of oil had been observed.

A company spokesman confirmed the line was carrying Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude. That grade is a heavy bitumen crude diluted with lighter liquids to allow it to flow through pipelines, according to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (Cepa), which referred to Wabasca as “oil sands” in a report.

The spill occurred as the US State Department is considering the fate of the 800,000 bpd Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude from Canada’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast.

Environmentalists, concerned about the impact of developing the oil sands, have sought to block its approval. Supporters say Keystone will help bring down the cost of fuel in the United States.

The Arkansas spill was the second incident this week where Canadian crude has spilled in the United States. On Wednesday, a train carrying Canadian crude derailed in Minnesota, spilling 15,000 gallons of oil.

Exxon expanded the Pegasus pipeline in 2009 to carry more Canadian crude from the mid-west to the Gulf Coast refining hub and installed what it called new “leak detection technology”.

Exxon said federal, state and local officials were on site and the company said it was staging a response for a spill of more than 10,000 barrels “to be conservative”. Clean-up crews had recovered approximately 4,500 barrels of oil and water.

“The air quality does not likely present a human health risk, with the exception of the high pooling areas, where clean-up crews are working with safety equipment,” Exxon said in a statement.

US media said the spill was in a subdivision. Mayflower city police said the oil had not reached Lake Conway nearby.

The US Environmental Protection Agency categorized the rupture as a “major spill”, Exxon said, and 22 homes were evacuated following the incident.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation confirmed that an inspector from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration had been sent to the scene to determine what caused the failure. The Environmental Protection Agency is the federal on-scene coordinator for the spill.

Some environmentalists argue that oil sands crudes are more corrosive than conventional oil, although a CEPA report, put together by oil and gas consultancy Penspen, argued diluted bitumen is no more corrosive than other heavy crude.

The US Department of Transportation earlier this week proposed a fine of $1.7m for Exxon over pipeline safety violations relating to a 2011 oil spill in the Yellowstone River. Exxon’s Silvertip pipeline, which carries 40,000 barrels per day of crude in Montana, leaked about 1,500 barrels of oil into the river in July 2011 after heavy flooding in the area.

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker struck a reef in Prince William Sound off Alaska and spilled 250,000 barrels of crude oil.

‘Pipeline Company Bullies’

Andrew Nikiforuk
A farmer’s plea for protections against petro firms who ‘take our lands.’

On February 28th Dave Core gave an impassioned presentation about “pipeline company bullies” before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

The media were not there.

But the 58-year-old farmer and landowner, an expert on pipeline regulation, directly contradicted the testimony of National Energy Board (NEB) chairman Gaétan Caron as well as that of Mark Cory, Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

Both Caron and Cory reassured the Senate Committee that pipeline regulations were safe and orderly in Canada.

But that’s not what Core, who supports fair pipeline development, has witnessed over the last 20 years.

He told the Senate that the NEB, which is now overseeing the Northern Gateway hearings, is a captive regulator that does not work for Canadians but “protects the interests of pipeline companies.”

He documented oil-pipeline spills that had not been cleaned up in Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

And he provided evidence that the National Energy Board has left the industry off the hook for multibillion-dollar abandonment liabilities on 70,000 kilometers of federally-regulated pipelines. In other words, pipeline companies can abandon their corroded steel pipes in the ground (a hazard to groundwater and livestock) and walk away.

Core is the founder of the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA) which represents the legal interests of landowners across the country. It is a landowner’s version of Idle No More, the aboriginal movement now contesting the abuse of power by the Stephen Harper’s omnibus bills.

The Ontario-born farmer has been advocating for changes to Canada’s pipeline regulations since 1993. He knows more about the institutional history of the NEB than most of the nation’s reporters.

Here are a few excerpts from Core’s dramatic and timely presentation:

Kitchen table nightmare

“My goal this morning is to bring perspective to the issues of landowners when confronted by pipeline companies. That is, the issues when private property owners, like yourselves, come up against government supported and subsidized corporations that are allowed to come packing with government regulations to take our lands, our rights and leave us with annual risks, liabilities, a duty of care that we do not want, costs and the pipeline junk which includes the resulting safety and liability issues of historical contamination and pipeline collapse when the companies pack up and leave.

“Before I proceed I would like you to pretend you are sitting around a kitchen table with your family and a ‘land agent’ has just left you with a brown envelope with a Section 87 Notice, an NEB Regulatory Notice, stating that a pipeline company is going to put a pipeline in your backyard and the easement agreement and the compensation offer are included.

“The stress has only just begun. Next come teams of land agents, the men trained in profiling and in telling every tale they can to get the deal signed while they sit at your kitchen table drinking your coffee. He/she might even be your neighbour’s son or daughter. It is like you have stepped into a spaghetti western with cowboys coming to your door, not packing a gun, but a big smile, lots of lies and packing government regulations that allow them to threaten you if you question them.

“As can be seen in the transcripts of your previous guests’ presentations to date, pipeline companies have no real accountability to anyone and they haven’t since 1959….The self-admitted ‘industry partner’ Gaétan Caron, chair of the NEB, said nothing to you but that everything is wonderful, safe and sustainable. Well, it is not, and it is time everyone understands what is really going on.”

No spill liability

“Mr. Corey from Natural Resources Canada stated that pipeline companies are fully responsible for cleaning up spills. Then why are there spills and contaminated properties across Canada that have not been cleaned up? As I pointed out at the recent abandonment cost estimates hearing there is contamination in the Enbridge and TransNorthern pipeline corridor just east of Toronto, that has been there for 20 years. And more has recently been uncovered as Enbridge does integrity digs to repair the polyethylene coating disaster on line 9 in preparation for reversal. I also have a letter I read, at the hearing, from a Manitoba resident complaining of an Enbridge spill on her property that had never been cleaned up. I also know of other spills where landowners have signed confidentiality agreements and cannot talk about what was left behind. The NEB regulations and oversight protects companies from having to do due diligence to landowners.”

A revolving door of special interests

“The NEB and the industry have a revolving door when it comes to employees. Brenda Kenny, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) President was a long time employee at the NEB, as were a number of other CEPA people past and present. At the recent abandonment-cost-estimates hearing, two of the regulatory people representing Enbridge had just recently worked at the NEB as regulatory officers….

“Landowners are not just stakeholders. Like you, Honorable Senators, we are property owners. We bought our property as a place to live, a lifestyle choice, an investment, to ranch our cattle, to crop farm or run any other business zoning allowed. We did not request pipelines. We live, raise families and work on these properties, yet we have had pipelines enforced on our backyards, that do not respect our stewardship or legal obligations. Our name is on title and the NEB legislation leaves our future to the whim of pipeline companies and their regulatory partners.”

Expropriation of land without compensation

“In 1988, Section 112 of the NEB Act was created and the legislation was then reworked in 1990 since it was not properly done in 1988. A senator at that time stated that the legislation was questionable from a landowner rights perspective. It created new restrictions to the landowner’s right to farm over the pipelines and also restricted 200 more feet of our land along the pipeline. That is 100 feet on each side of the 60 foot easement. Our original easements gave us the right to farm over the pipelines and stated that the company was to compensate for any land taken for the operation of its pipelines. Those old 60-foot easements are now 260 feet, that is, four-times the width with no compensation.

“Section 112 was created to allow pipeline companies the right to leave pipelines in the ground that are too shallow, corroded, too thin and designed with ineffective protective coatings that compromise safety. These regulations protect the companies and their shareholders from the cost of upgrading its infrastructure and addressing those safety issues. It is easier to restrict the activity of farmers over the pipelines than repair them. Imagine restricting traffic forever rather than upgrading a deteriorating overpass.

“For 20 years we have been asking that regulations be changed to have pipelines buried 6 feet deep and provide thicker pipes in rural areas because we farm over the pipelines and are concerned with our safety and the safety of the pipeline. The CSA standards are only 24” of cover and thicker pipes in highly populated areas. We have pictures at our web site of pipelines with only 1 foot of cover. They should be dug up, replaced and buried deeper.”

Harper’s ‘criminal penalties for farmers’

“In the Omnibus Bill C38 (May of 2012) NEB regulations were changed to put monetary and criminal penalties on farmers if they do not ask permission to cross pipelines; on summary conviction, a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year; on conviction on indictment, a fine of up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment up to five years. Too bad the presidents of the pipeline companies do not suffer the same consequences for polluting miles of private property. Instead they get multimillion-dollar pensions.”

Canada’s pipeline abandonment scandal

“In 1985 there were five abandonment regulations that held the companies responsible for removal of pipelines upon abandonment. Mr. Vollman, Past Chair of the NEB, an engineer at the time, was responsible for creating a document called “Discussion Paper on Negative Salvage Value.” It discussed the issue of abandonment, pipeline removal and the collection of funds to finance the process. A year later, in 1986, the NEB gave notice to the industry that it would do nothing with the issue.

“In 2002, CAEPLA invited the NEB to come to Sombra, Ontario to view farming practices and we made a presentation on the abandonment and funding issue. The Chair of the Board, Mr. Vollman, an engineer at the time, and Mr. Gaétan Caron were both present, and Mr. Vollman stated that the issue had been looked at but could not be resolved. He never mentioned the 1985 document.

“CAEPLA accidently came across the document in 2007 and upon research found that the five abandonment regulations that called for the removal of pipelines at abandonment in 1985 had been changed a number of times, and now the regulations state that abandonment can now be approved in place.

“In the meantime, two abandonment hearings and hundreds of thousands of dollars of landowners money later, the NEB has ignored its judicial burden-of-proof at hearings and decided to collect money, 50 years late, for only 20 per cent removal of pipelines. It has ignored the legal evidence provided by landowners that clearly shows pipelines must be fully removed to protect landowners from liability. At one point the Board even changed its 2008 judicial decision that protected landowners (20 per cent removal and 80 per cent maintained into perpetuity) to a scheme of just 20 per cent removal at the behest again of CEPA without a hearing.”

Transferring wealth to pipeline companies

“With the coercive power of expropriation, of forced entry behind them, pipeline companies have landowners over a barrel. An oil barrel.

“But it is an oil barrel that does not truly reflect the real economic costs of bringing it to market. Part of that cost is borne by farmers and ranchers and other rural landowners who are coerced into non-market transactions. Non market transactions that are effectively a transfer of wealth from one group of owners to another. From the owners of farms and ranches to the owners of shares in pipeline companies. A transfer of wealth from rural to urban Canada. A transfer from middle class and often less affluent, to the affluent….

“Real property rights imply the right to choose. The right to say no if need be. The right to freely and voluntarily deal or not deal as you see fit…. Government should not be in the business of facilitating the transfer of wealth from farmers, ranchers, and taxpayers to the shareholders of pipeline companies.” [Tyee]

Read more: Energy, Environment

Tyee contributing editor Andrew Nikiforuk is both an Alberta landowner and a reporter. Find his previous Tyee articles here.

Economist questions financial benefits of Alberta oil sands

THERE ARE A few things that economist Robyn Allan wants people to know about oil pipelines proposed for British Columbia.

For starters, that Canada, and even Alberta—where the heavy crude oil that will feed those pipelines is mined—has relatively little to gain from projects such the Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipelines.

Another point that might surprise many: according to Allan, the development of the Athabasca oil sands (also called tar sands) could actually increase Canada’s dependence on questionable trade partners in the Middle East.

“The economic case that has been presented is one of glowing support,” she told the Straight in a telephone interview. “That perspective is biased, it misrepresents the fact, and, in some cases, it’s bogus.”

Allan, an expert witness at the Northern Gateway hearings, will present those arguments (among others) and the economics behind them at a forum in Burnaby scheduled for tomorrow (March 27).

Ahead of the event, she discussed the alleged misconceptions described above.

First, that oil sands bitumen—the technical term for the heavy crude Alberta wants to export through B.C. ports—is a boon for the country’s economy too great to miss.

Allan suggested that if the priority of oil sands development is to strengthen the economy, there are better ways to go about it.

“The oil sector in Alberta primarily plans to extract bitumen from the oil sands and export it raw—diluted with imported condensate—to other countries,” she explained, “where they will do the upgrading and refining, and where they capture the real economic wealth from the product.”

According to Allan, if the goal was to strengthen Canada’s economy, bitumen would be upgraded at facilities in Alberta (creating jobs and adding value to the petroleum product), and then moved east where there is a domestic demand in Ontario and Quebec.

“Eastern Canada needs about 775,000 barrels of oil a day and there is not enough oil to go around,” she said. “We cannot meet the energy security needs of Asia at the same time as meeting our own.”

A second claim that Allan challenged is that the development of the oil sands is about minimizing dependence on oil-rich nations with questionable records on human rights.

Allan explained that because much of Athabasca bitumen is slated for export, eastern Canada will have to continue to import oil from foreign sources.

She also called attention to the issue of condensate, a mixture of hydrocarbons that the industry uses to dilute bitumen to a point where it is light enough to flow through pipelines.

Canada does not have enough condensate to meet the oil sand’s needs, Allan noted, which is why the Northern Gateway proposal is for a twin pipeline. Diluted bitumen will flow west from Alberta, and condensate will move east from B.C. ports.

Where will that condensate come from? The same trade partners in the Middle East that oil sands advocates argue they are helping buyers move away from, Allan emphasized.

“We’ll have a situation where we’re importing oil in eastern Canada,” she said, “and where we’re importing condensate, increasingly from the Middle East, in western Canada.”

The only long-term benefactors will be “a handful of multinational corporations and national oil companies owned by foreign governments,” Allan added.

“These pipelines should not be built,” she said. “There is no economic benefit.”

Allan’s presentation, “The Economics of Oil Pipelines and Tankers,” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (March 27) at Confederation Centre (4585 Albert Street) in Burnaby.

You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.

Alberta tests Athabasca River to gauge Suncor site leak’s toxicity

More than a day after industrial waste water leaked from a Suncor Energy Inc. site into the Athabasca River, the oil-sands giant and the province were still trying to determine which, if any, toxic materials were carried into the major Alberta waterway.

On Monday, staff at the Suncor oil-sands base plant north of Fort McMurray discovered a pipe carrying water that had been used in bitumen extraction and upgrading had frozen, cracked and was leaking into an outfall pond near the river for at least several hours. They were able to halt the flow at 4 p.m. the same day.


Ex-Suncor chief calls pipeline squeeze issue of Canadian ‘sovereignty’
Suncor leads attack over Kinder Morgan pipeline prices
ENERGY Suncor writes off $1.5-billion as upgrader fortunes fade

Video: Athabasca spill adds to Alberta oil’s image problem

Map of Suncor’s operations in the Athabasca oil sands

Video: Will America’s energy resurgence hurt the oil sands?

Video: Nebraska approves new, less environmentally damaging route for Keystone pipeline

Video: How oil sands players are collaborating on environmental innovation
Late on Tuesday, Suncor confirmed some of this industrial waste water flowed from the pond into the Athabasca River.

With a decision on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline looming in the U.S. – and scrutiny of the environmental effects of the oil sands ramping up – the leak comes at a delicate time for Canada’s energy industry.

“Once it hit the approved discharge point, it was diluted with water that is intended for release and then flowed into the river,” said Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal.

Suncor doesn’t yet know the amount of industrial waste water released – or its makeup – but Ms. Seetal said staff believe the industrial waste water was so diluted, the potential for harm is low.

“We don’t anticipate any impact on the river. But as a precautionary measure, we are continuing to analyze river samples downstream from the release,” she said, noting an investigation will continue.

Although it is not clear exactly what was in the mix of the leaked industrial waste water – otherwise known as “process-affected water” – Suncor was unable to exclude the possibility it included tailings. Tailings are the leftovers of oil sands production, and can contain fine silts, unrecovered hydrocarbons, and materials including naphthenic acids, ammonia, and mercury – all toxic to aquatic organisms and mammals.

The leak comes during a week when Industry officials are touring an NBC TV crew around the Fort McMurray area, filming at various sites (but not Suncor) for a news story about the Keystone pipeline and the significance of the massive oil-sands reserves to the U.S.

Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development was notified by Suncor at 1:45 p.m. Monday afternoon that the valve was open “and their process water was flowing,” spokeswoman Jessica Potter said. At 2:30 p.m. Monday, Suncor said the water flow had been reduced to “a trickle.” By 4 p.m., the line had been “completely shut down.”

Ministry staff are now investigating and are also testing the river, and will decide whether any punishment is required.

Environment Minister Diana McQueen said the Redford government takes these types of incidents seriously, and even in the face of critics who say Alberta’s environmental laws aren’t robust enough, the quick response from both government and the company shows otherwise. “I’ve got to tell you, our team – as soon as they were notified – was there on the scene,” Ms. McQueen said in an interview.

People living and working downstream of the plant, including native communities, were notified of the release on Monday afternoon as well.

But with many questions about the water leak still unanswered, Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam – a long-standing opponent to oil-sands development being ramped up – said the Suncor industrial waste-water leak is one of the reasons he and other chiefs went to Ottawa last week to announce they would continue to oppose proposed pipeline projects to transport crude from Alberta’s oil sands.

“It just goes to prove, accidents do happen,” Chief Adam said on Tuesday.

Water-quality issues have become an increasing concern in Alberta’s oil-sands region. In January, a peer-reviewed study by a research team including Environment Canada scientists found levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in lakes near the Athabasca oil sands have risen roughly at the same pace as development.

Suncor operations were not affected by the incident.

With a report from Shawn McCarthy and Josh Wingrove

NEW FACTSHEETFree Trade is fracking with our future ~ Council of Canadians

Why BROKE should be concerned about all the trade deals – NAFTA, FIPA, CETA, FTAA, etcetera

Subject: NEW FACTSHEET: Free Trade is fracking with ourfuture ~ Councilof Candadians

Here’s our new factsheet on fracking and trade agreements with a focus on how Lone Pine Resources is challenging Quebec’s fracking moratorium and asking for $250 million in compensation. The factsheet provides information about how NAFTA, FIPA and other investment deals put democracy and the environment at risk. It is available in both English and French through the weblinks below:


NAFTA and Canada’s FIPAs allow expropriation for a public purpose, like the fracking moratorium, but still give investors the right to be compensated at fair market value even where a public purpose is demonstrated



Emma Lui

Water Campaigner

Council of Canadians

BROKE hosts Robyn Allan talk March 27


Robyn Allan Poster_final (8.5x11).jpeg

Wanda Chow
By Wanda Chow – Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: March 05, 2013 9:00 AM
Updated: March 05, 2013 9:32 AM

Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) is hosting a talk by economist Robyn Allan on Wednesday, March 27, 6:30 p.m. at the Confederation Centre, 4585 Albert St., in Burnaby.

Allan, an expert witness at the hearings into Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, will speak on the economics behind oil companies’ energy strategy.

Both Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline are aimed at supplying export markets with oil sands bitumen from Alberta.

BROKE is raising concerns about the oil tanker traffic that will result—more than a supertanker per day in Burrard Inlet alone.

“Until we have a sensible conversation as a country about how we best develop our oil resources in a socially, fiscally and environmentally responsible way for the benefit of all Canadians—and what that looks like in terms of pipeline capacity—we’re going to continue to be bombarded by these unnecessary oil pipeline proposals,” said a BROKE press release.

Allan will explain “why saying “no” to these pipelines not only benefits the growth and development of B.C.’s economy, but all of Canada—including Alberta.”

Info: www.brokepipelinewatch.ca.

300+ First Nations members arrive in Ottawa after 1,600-km trek from Hudson Bay

OTTAWA – Wrapped in ceremonial white, hooded jackets, nearly 300 young people arrived Monday on Parliament Hill to cap off a marathon winter trek through the Canadian hinterland inspired by the Idle No More movement.

Hundreds more supporters filled the steps beneath the Peace Tower to greet the walkers as they made their way to the Parliament Buildings from nearby Victoria Island on the Ottawa River.

Amid the relentless pounding of ceremonial First Nations drummers and the chants and songs of marchers, dozens of speakers pleaded with the Harper government to alleviate the harsh living conditions on some reserves.

The group, known as the Nishiyuu Walkers, were celebrated as heroes as they were greeted with cheering and wild applause throughout the afternoon-long demonstration.

Their long walk began when David Kawapit Jr., a 17-year-old from the isolated community of Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec, decided to trudge the staggering 1,600 kilometres from the edge of Hudson Bay to Ottawa in support of better conditions for aboriginal people.

Kawapit repeatedly flashed his broad smile as he was surrounded by supporters in the march from Victoria Island.

Since the coldest days of January, when Kawapit and a half-dozen supporters embarked on their journey with snowshoes on their feet and their supplies in tow, their ranks slowly swelled to several hundred people.

Organizers said about 270 walkers in total completed the journey to Ottawa.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May jumped and cheered as the group ended their “awe-inspiring” trek.

She accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper — who opted instead to be in Toronto for the arrival of two giant pandas on loan from China — of ignoring the plight of Canada’s aboriginal population.

“It says a lot that Stephen Harper isn’t here, that he’s greeting the pandas,” said May. “It says a lot that we need to move heaven and earth to meet First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis with respect.”

A Facebook group, called The Journey of Nishiyuu and boasting more than 33,500 members, also derided Harper for attending a panda photo-op instead of greeting the walkers.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt agreed to speak with some of the young people who completed the trek, vowing to hear their concerns and tell them what the government is doing on behalf of First Nations.

“I’m going to be listening,” Valcourt said. “This is about informing myself about their concerns.”

During question period in the House of Commons, New Democrat Romeo Saganash said First Nations members need something more concrete.

“It’s too late for broken promises and paternalism,” Saganash said.

Valcourt said the government wants to help First Nations develop the skills and expertise they need to make the most of their natural resources.

The trek to Ottawa was arduous for many of those who took part.

When they arrived last week on the First Nation reserve of Kitigan Zibi, about 130 kilometres north of Ottawa, nearly two dozen of the walkers needed treatment for foot injuries.

Three members of the group were later sent to hospital in nearby Maniwaki, Que., treated, and released.

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Valcourt+meet+young+First+Nations+members+after+1600km+trek/8148743/story.html#ixzz2OajquZ1P

Paul Simon lends voice to B.C. group’s anti-pipeline commercial (With video)

Singer Paul Simon has added his voice to the lobby against oil tanker traffic on the west coast in a haunting new television commercial released on the 24th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The singer directly approved the use of his song in the video created by Coastal First Nations, said CFN Executive Director Art Sterritt.

The two-minute video begins with footage of the Exxon Valdez, and overlays crackling audio of its first call to the coast guard, “we’ve fetched up hard aground…” with Simon’s haunting lyrics “Hello darkness my old friend,” from The Sound of Silence.

Sterritt wrote a personal letter to Simon outlining CFN’s position on oil tanker traffic in coastal waters and the potentially devastating effect of a spill on the Great Bear region’s ecosystem and the cultures and communities of the west coast.

They received Simon’s go ahead to use the song for a nominal fee — “about the price of nice dinner out,” said spokesperson Andrew Frank.

Sterritt said if you transpose the geographic area affected by the Valdez spill onto the area tankers would travel down the west coast, a spill could theoretically stretch from Prince Rupert to Vancouver.

The video, which urges BC residents to “vote for an oil-free coast” will be uploaded to YouTube today, and will air in some areas of northern B.C. starting Monday. They are hoping for an angel investor to help foot the cost of airtime in southern B.C.

Coastal First Nations recently withdrew from the federal review process for the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Paul+Simon+lends+voice+group+anti+pipeline+commercial+Exxon/8145566/story.html#ixzz2ObHPbqzs