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Science of Coercion

Published: June 24, 2019, Author: JayTaber
Science of Coercion

By their choice of headline–framing the issue of First Nation sellouts as a “public relations problem for opponents” of Trans Mountain–the editors of the Vancouver Sun have taken sides with the oil industry. As the conflict between protectors of the Salish Sea and the oil industry heats up on the heels of the National Energy Board approval of Trans Mountain, the netwar (networked psychological warfare) by the Government of Canada and mainstream media against the Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples unfortunately includes the projection of power using the science of coercion.

This blatant bigotry–aimed at undermining the Coast Salish environmental and spiritual alliance–is an open invitation to violent organized racism.

On the American side of the border, the Trans Mountain BP Cherry Point terminal is the locus of anti-Indian organizing in the forthcoming war over treaty fishing rights.

The U.S. EPA rollback of water quality standards–at the behest of the oil industry–is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act as well as standards set by the Washington Department of Ecology in conjunction with Northwest Treaty Tribes. As Chinook salmon and Orca whales take center stage in the Salish Sea recovery effort, it is worth remembering the 1972 oil spill at a Cherry Point oil refinery that wiped out 92% of herring stocks, contributing to the decline of salmon whose diet depends on herring.

It is worth recalling that BP conducted a media campaign in support of bomb trains. While BP Cherry Point is gearing up to fight the tribes–whose salmon and crab fisheries are in the way of the BP dream of a carbon corridor from Cape Flattery to Cherry Point–we remind readers that it was the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that led to the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history.

As Fred Felleman reported in 2012, BP led the effort to lift the crude oil export ban, and “is investing in the highly polluting Alberta tar sands that are connected by pipeline to its Cherry Point refinery and marine terminal.”

As Felleman notes, “In 2000 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitted BP to build a new tanker dock at Cherry Point without conducting an environmental impact statement.” In 2005, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals mandated that the Corps prepare a full EIS and re-evaluate whether the permit is in compliance with federal law–the Magnuson Amendment–“to reduce the risk of an oil spill caused by increasing the number of tankers transiting the narrow waterways through the San Juan Islands.”

Between June 2007 and February 2010, BP had 829 refinery violations compared with 33 for the rest of the industry. In 2011, federal prosecutors sought to revoke BP’s criminal probation that had been on and off since 2001, stating BP is a “recidivist offender and repeated violator of environmental laws and regulations.” In 2012, BP Cherry Point was fined $81,500 by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries for willfully violating workplace safety and health rules.

My six-part special report on the Anti-Indian Movement in Whatcom County, 2013-2017, is a case study about the dark side of white power on the Salish Sea. The report focuses on fossil fuel export versus indigenous peoples, or perhaps better stated — Wall Street versus human rights.

Now that Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude oil exporters have replaced coal exporters as the industrial opponents of Lummi Nation treaty rights, the funding available for building anti-Indian resentment has increased exponentially. Only the power of moral sanction—catalyzed by community-based research, education and organizing–can stop them.

Photo: Lummi Nation Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office

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