Early this morning, activists with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR) and folks from Idle No More Central Oklahoma staged a mock “oil spill” outside of the Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City to highlight Devon’s dangerous involvement in the Tar Sands Gigaproject. In addition to the mock oil spill, passionate activists held signs that symbolized the many devastating oil spills caused by the industry’s carelessness and neglect while chanting, “No Devon! No Tar Sands! No destruction of Native lands.” Among the spills listed was Devon’s own Jackfish leak, when a malfunctioning producer well spewed a plume of bitumen-laced, high-temperature steam into the air for nearly 36 hours on Beaver Lake Cree Nation Territory. Activists also handed out flyers to passerby that contained a link to a newly launched page specifically for Devon, www.gptarsandsresistance.org/devon the text of which is included below.
Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) is one of the largest oil and gas companies on the continent, and they’re working tirelessly to poison numerous communities and fuck up countless ecologies. Disregarding proper tribal consultation and the ecological consequences of tar sands extraction, Devon plans to double their extraction of tar sands on Beaver Lake Cree Nation territory within the next decade–continuing to carve up their traditional hunting lands with evermore roads, seismic line easements, and pipelines, as each new well compounds the risk of a catastrophe like the Cold Lake spill.
Devon’s in-situ sites at the Jackfish and Pike projects accounted for 8% of their Q2 hydrocarbon production, while the total reserves in their leased areas for these projects amount to nearly one fifth of the accessible reserves on all of their leased lands. This highlights the impetus for their involvement in one of the riskiest and intrinsically devastating hydrocarbon plays on the continent.
Every mode of hydrocarbon extraction has its own limitations and risks. The industry shitheads that tell you different are lying to your face. The damage done to surrounding communities, from extraction and transportation to the point of refining, is at most a calculation of public-image blowback–including fines and lawsuits–against their insatiable desire for profit and investor confidence. The fact that 80% of recoverable hydrocarbons in the Athabasca Tar Sands can only be reached by in-situ extraction methods also serve to illustrate that it’s not out of benevolence or concern for safety that this is their chosen method, but rather a strategic decision to have a stake in long-term tar sands extraction after the bitumen recoverable by surface mining has long disappeared.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation
On the Front Lines of Tar Sands Extraction
Among other First Nations, The Beaver Lake Cree Nation stands at the frontline of Devon’s tar sands projects: the lands they rely on for sustenance–they hunt and fish on lands they’ve lived on before settlers stepped foot on this continent –have been cut into by 13,483 miles of seismic lines, over half a thousand miles of road infrastructure, and over 2.5k miles of pipelines. [http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/05/08/federal-and-provincial-governments-lose-appeal-against-first-nation-oil-sands-lawsuit]
What the industry paints as a benevolent project promising economic growth is, in reality, slow industrial genocide. Two main herds of caribou that the Beaver Lake Cree rely on for hunting have declined in population over 70% in the past fifteen years. [http://www.ienearth.org/what-we-do/tar-sands/] Rates of cancers related to hydrocarbon extraction have increased exponentially in communities that surround the extraction sites, as both routine and unexpected toxic releases occur.
Industry and colonial government go hand in hand–in order for this bullshit to occur, they must disregard the health and safety of countless communities and deliberately violate treaties the Canadian government has made with First Nations. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation filed a lawsuit in 2008 asserting that in approving and backing the expansion of tar sands infrastructure projects, the colonial governments of Alberta and Canada have accrued over 17,000 treaty violations. Despite the colonial governments’ attempts to have this case dismissed, the Court of Appeal of Alberta rejected this motion and is rightfully allowing the case to proceed–calling the future of tar sands extraction in Treaty 6 territories into question.
Of course, we hope there’s no future for tar sands extraction.
And is it any surprise that John Richels, Executive Director and President of Devon Energy, should also sit on TransCanada’s Board of Directors?
- John Richels: President and Executive Director of Devon Energy, and Independent Director on TransCanada’s Board of Directors.