Australia, US push fossil fuel projects ahead of indigenous rights amid extreme heat

Intro

As parts of the US, Australia and the Arctic experience record heat, both Australian and US authorities appear determined to support fossil fuels as much as possible, despite legal efforts by indigenous peoples in both countries. In Australia, where eastern areas suffered extreme heatwaves and deadly bushfires over the weekend, the Government has introduced legislation to overturn a Federal Court decision that had ensured no project could go ahead without the specific signed consent by all native parties – the decision was effectively putting on hold the massive proposed Carmichael coal mine by Indian mining giant Adani in Queensland. In the US, amid extreme temperatures in the Arctic, Texas and Oklahoma,  a Federal Court refused an application by the Standing Rock tribes to for a temporary stay to the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline as a court case is heard on the matter,  while the Pope speaks up for the rights of Native peoples to protect their land.  In both Australia and the US, it has been revealed that the fossil fuel companies involved in the projects have records of environmental accidents.

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Key Points

  • As the legal battles over the Dakota Access Pipeline in the US continue, the Pope has weighed in, insisting that Native peoples have rights over their own lands, a seemingly direct assault on President Trump’s approval of the project. Veterans are now heading back to Standing Rock to support the tribes opposing the pipeline on their land, as protests continue across the country.  The swathes of people fighting the pipeline to preserve clean water and land rights have had their concerns validated by the revelation that the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco have filed 69 accidents over the past two years to the National Response Center.

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QUOTES

  • “We’ve always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir. Well, maybe it’s starting to stir now” – NSIDC Director Mark Serreze
  • “The Government’s recently-announced interest in supporting, and even subsidizing,  the construction of a number of new coal-fired power plants can only mean that the Coalition Government has abandoned all pretence of taking global warming seriously. That the Prime Minister should make such an announcement after we’d learned that 2016 was the hottest year on record globally was perverse, to say the least.” – Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University Dr Clive Hamilton
  • “The right to development of lands must be balanced “with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories. This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth.  In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail” – Pope Francis
  • “The Lakota people believe that the pipeline correlates with a terrible Black Snake prophesied to come into the Lakota homeland and cause destruction. The Lakota believe that the very existence of the Black Snake under their sacred waters in Lake Oahe will unbalance and desecrate the water” – Sioux tribal lawyers

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