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Sierra Daily

May 23, 2012

"This Used to be a Forest?"


“You know how they say ‘big money, big problems? That's what happened here. Fifteen years ago, when there were only two oil plants, moose would wander into the front yard and the lake was full of fish. Now, there are 20 oil plants and everyone has a job, but there are no more fish in the lakes and we haven't seen a moose here in years.”

That's Brian Bird, a resident of Gregoire Lake Reserve, an hour south of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, quoted in a beautifully reported article by Arno Kopecky in Toronto's Globe and Mail. Kopecky accompanies a delegation of Achuar Indians from the Peruvian Amazon who have come to Alberta to ask Calgary-based Talisman Energy not to drill for oil on their land and who--while they're in the neighborhood--visit their counterparts among Canada's First Nations, who give them a tour of the local oil sands fields. What they see does not inspire hope for their own future. 

"How do you eat?" asked [Achuar leader] Jiyucam Irar Miik.

"We go to the store."

"Has your economic situation improved?

"Money is there, but we fight over it non-stop. Nobody trusts each other.

"Do your children get a better education?"

"Good enough to work for the oil companies."

Much more in the full article here. Today in Ontario, Canada, the Six Nations Confederacy Council is rallying against Enbridge's plans for pumping corrosive tarsands oil through pipelines prone to rupture across their territory.

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.



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