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31.5.06

Oil Is Injustice

It's unfortunate that concerns about the environmental impacts of oil seem to focus so single-mindedly on the role of oil in contributing to global warming. This tends to obscure the fact that oil production has very immediate impacts on the environment -- and those impacts are not distributed evenly. All around the world, indigenous people are having their health and their way of life taken away from them by oil production. The Washington Post highlights the case of Canada's northern First Nations:

... "The river used to be blue. Now it's brown. Nobody can fish or drink from it. The air is bad. This has all happened so fast," said Elsie Fabian, 63, an elder in a native Indian community along the Athabasca River, a wide, meandering waterway once plied by fur traders. "It's terrible. We're surrounded by the mines."

... "The environmental cost has been great," said Jim Boucher, chief of the Fort MacKay First Nations Council, which includes Cree and Dene Indians, 35 miles north of Fort McMurray. He grew up on land that is now a clawed-out mine pit. But he has led his people into the mines by creating native-owned companies providing catering, truck driving, surveying and other services. "There is no other economic option," he said. "Hunting, trapping, fishing is gone."

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