I recently began to write what will be a series of blog posts related to #LANDBACK.
(see: My introduction to LANDBACK )
I am learning about and working for #LANDBACK because Indigenous friends tell me this is how I/we white people can best support them. And because I continue to be alarmed at the environmental chaos we are experiencing, and will increasingly experience. I believe Indigenous leadership is our best hope to do what we can to slow down and try to deal with the increasingly devastating consequences of what we have done to Mother Earth.
As I said in the introduction cited above, I believe the first time I heard of the concept of #LANDBACK was when I became aware of the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia as they tried to protect their beautiful lands and clear, clean water from the construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline.
Fossil fuel infrastructure has been the focus of environmental concern for many years. The location of fossil fuel infrastructure, including refineries and pipelines, is often an example of environmental racism. Pipelines have a terrible record of spills and devastating damage. Construction of pipelines often requires eminent domain to force landowners to allow pipeline construction on their land. Permission many would not give voluntarily.
One of the reasons for the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March I participated in was to call attention to the abuse of eminent domain for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
(see: First Nation-Farmer Unity March )
The rate and volume of fossil fuels getting to refineries via pipelines determines the availability of fossil fuels to burn. Without pipelines, the rate of greenhouse gas emissions would have been greatly reduced.
The pipeline companies tell landowners they will set aside the rich topsoil of the land, and put that back on top of where the pipeline lies. That usually is not done. Instead the rich topsoil is mixed with the underlying clay. Not only does that reduce the fertility of the soil for crops to grow in, the clay mixture interferes with drainage from the fields. Areas of standing water also impair crop growth.
Using trains to transport oil is a dangerous alternative.
The Lac-Mégantic rail disaster occurred in the town of Lac-Mégantic, in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, Canada, at approximately 01:15 EDT, on July 6, 2013, when an unattended 73-car freight train carrying Bakken Formationcrude oil rolled down a 1.2% grade from Nantes and derailed downtown, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-seven people were killed. More than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed, and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination of the townsite. Initial newspaper reports described a 1-kilometre (0.6 mi) blast radius.Wikipedia Lac-Mégantic rail disaster
The Northwest dodged a bullet December 22, 2020, when yet another oil train derailed and caught fire. By the end of the disaster in Custer, Washington, the derailment spilled 29,000 gallons of crude oil from North Dakota, much of which burned in the ensuing blaze that lasted a full eight hours. Cleanup crews did the best they could, but as much as 8,000 gallons of crude oil will continue to contaminate the site.A TIMELINE OF OIL TRAIN DERAILMENTS IN PICTURES
Since 2013, North America has seen at least 21 oil train accidents—and counting by Zane Gustafson and Eric de Place, Sightline Institute, Feb 26, 2021
I don’t know if it is still the case, but oil trains once traveled through large population areas. I didn’t get any interest from friends to attend this “demonstration” in downtown Indianapolis in 2016, so I had to ask a stranger to take this photo.