[Marxism] A Stand in the Forest

Brian Shannon brian_shannon at verizon.net
Sat Jul 1 14:38:20 MDT 2006

The oil and gas will always be there. But who will preserve the forest?

"spur development" - Apparently, what the world needs now is another  


A Stand in the Forest

For 30 years the Dehcho Indians have resisted a planned natural gas  
pipeline through one of North America's last great wilderness areas  
in an effort to preserve their land and way of life.
By Tim Reiterman, Times Staff Writer
July 2, 2006

Fort Simpson, Canada

After the ice broke up and the ferry began running on the Liard  
River, two rangy Indians with weathered faces and easy gaits  
shouldered a sack of beaver and muskrat pelts for the spring fur  
auction and took a rifle for bear protection.

On their short hike through the woods to the ferry landing, Jonas and  
Roy Mouse paused as they often do, heads bowed and caps in hand, at a  
rosary-draped cross that marks the spot where their aged mother  
collapsed and died several years ago. The cross stands alongside an  
oil pipeline that was dug through their forested homeland and that  
the brothers say for eight years drove away animals that they hunt  
and trap for a living.

Today, the middle-aged brothers, members of the Dehcho First Nations,  
are facing another encroachment on their aboriginal way of life: an  
even bigger, 800-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would bisect the  
tribe's traditional territory and help spawn industrial development  
in Canada's vast boreal forest, one of the last intact stretches of  
the Earth's original forest cover.
Many Dehcho fear that hundreds of trucks will disrupt their quiet  
communities, that construction camps will breed drug and alcohol  
abuse, and that the massive project will drive away caribou, moose  
and other wildlife that sustain people like the Mouse brothers.

In the long run, they fear the project will spur a wave of oil and  
gas prospecting that will bring more pipelines and roads and so many  
newcomers that the Dehcho could become a powerless minority in the  
land they have occupied for many centuries.

The pipeline would tap into 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in  
three well fields north of the Arctic Circle. It would move the gas  
south along the Mackenzie River to Alberta province, where it would  
be used to fuel a massive oil extraction project or sent directly to  
markets in Canada and the United States.

"It is a significant new supply source," said Imperial Oil spokesman  
Pius Rolheiser. One trillion cubic feet could serve all of Canada's  
gas-heated homes for a year, he said.

The project is expected to spur development of other natural  
resources in the Territories, an area that is almost three times  
larger than California but has only 42,000 inhabitants.

"You are going to get a lot of lateral pipelines built into the  
system," said Chris Theal, research director at Tristone Capital  
Inc., a worldwide energy investment bank.
Although the pipeline's right-of-way would be constructed during  
winter to minimize permafrost damage, scientists working for the  
energy companies acknowledged that it would increase the exposure of  
wildlife such as grizzly bears and woodland caribou to hunters or  

[re. permafrost, for what has happened to the oil pipe line in  
Alaska, which is built on permafrost, see relevant section of the Al  
Gore movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."]

Fort Simpson Mayor Duncan Canvin, a former Mountie who owns the  
town's only liquor store, said he wants business from pipeline  
workers to stimulate the stagnant economy. "Even an aging [person]  
with a coronary would like a pulse now and then," he said.

The last big pulse for Fort Simpson came in the mid-1980s when a  
pipeline company buried a 12-inch oil line along more than 500 miles  
of the Mackenzie Valley.

The line was built over the objections of the Dehcho, recalled  
Menicoche, the legislative representative here, who said the project  
provided some jobs but not much lasting economic benefit.

The proposed high-pressure gas line would run through largely  
undisturbed areas parallel to the existing oil pipeline near here.

 From a helicopter, the old right-of-way looks like a grassy roadway  
through an endless expanse of forest. It passes about 100 yards from  
the Mouses' cabin on the Liard.

Although the brothers take charging bears and subzero temperatures in  
stride, coping with the pipeline was a traumatic experience.

When the moose and beavers disappeared for seven or eight years, Roy,  
59, said they had to move to a second cabin deeper in the woods


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