Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Apathy, silence and non action are our greatest threat

The most important outcomes for Redhand attending the IWC were:
• connections made with many wonderful committed passionate creative individuals;
• global network building with major conservations organisations;
• raised awareness of where the Kimberley is, that it is one of the last wilderness on the planet and the threats of industrialisation that this very small intact corner of the planet is facing and
• increased awareness of the impacts of oil and gas exploration and expansion is having on all marine life and all the oceans of the planet

This following video is dedicated to all the magnificent people Redhand has just spent the last week with, protesting, advocating, lobbying, laughing, connecting, crying, singing, activating and achieving.

As the full moon rose over Agadir, the International Whaling Commission meeting for 2010 came to a close. The Commission spoke about the quota of whales that can be slaughtered, the technical methods of capture and slaughter. Even the issue of who are the most aggressive in the Whale Wars of the Southern Oceans, Sea Shepherd or the Japanese whalers?

However, some of the most vital associated issues and concerns currently heavily impacting on the surviving whales and other cetaceans around the world were never really given the vital attention they deserve : the toxic levels of contamination currently being identified in all marine meat, climate change and the impacts of the oil and gas industries on our oceans.

The cancerous growth of the oil and gas industries all around the planet, with their thousands of massive (often rusty) tankers that meander around the oceans, the thousands of kilometers of piping, thousands upon thousands of oil/gas platforms and exploration rigs and all the associated drilling and seismic testing with all its underwater interfering noise pollution has never been really looked at from a birds eye point of view or heard from a fish’s ear.

One outcome of IWC62 was a workshop on oil and gas exploration - prompted by the ongoing problems of gray whales around Sakhalin, by long-term concerns about oil exploitation in the Arctic feeding grounds, and more immediately by the Gulf of Mexico oil leak crisis.

WWF pointed out that conservation achievements were made, in particular praising the decision to investigate the impacts of oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic, which the group describes as "critical in the wake of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico". Considering these multinationals octopus like invasions around the whole planet, why has this study going to be limited to the Arctic only?

How hypocritical of the Australian Federal Government to pontificate on the world stage about the well-being of whales when their current Use It or Loss It policy imposed on the current oil and gas lease holders is already playing madden havoc in the underwater world, particularly off the west coast of Australia.

I had word from a friend from Broome today “was in JPP yesterday and I can hear the thoomp thoomp of the seismic testing in the rocks. Woodside have two or three boats off the JPP and Quondong coast at the moment. That sort of noise will surely upset the whales and muck up any whale survey figure”

So Woodside, supported by our State Government are currently undertaking illegal seismic testing without the appropriate and necessary environmental approvals. If this company can do this, operate outside legislative laws and procedures, without fear of the prosecution, right under our noses, and in full view of the world, then what else are they doing that is out of sight and out of mind?

But what Redhand wants to know is where are the voices of the Broome’s Tourism Industry, the professional and amateur fishing people and the cruise boat operators. Now is the time that these people to start educating themselves about the effect this proposed invasive of the oil and gas industries into their economic territories is going to have on their businesses and lifestyles.

I know the Tourist Impact Report said “that the largest proposed LNG precinct in the world will have no consequences as long as the tourists don’t see it”. However, I was kind of hoping that maybe some of the membership of these interests groups would have enough sense to look a little deeper than that. Redhand would like to suggest that maybe the Bob Masters of the world could undertake a field excursion and visit peers in the Mexico Gulf, maybe Florida just to collect some hardcore facts. This could be a good place to start.

Now is the time for all of us to activate, to get out there in your boats and boots, meet these seismic boats when they come in for supplies, write letters to the all levels of Government and all their relevant departments, ring your radio talk back shows, write letters to the editor, sing really loudly, connect with like-minded people, hold information days, talk about it to everyone you meet and basically start to make a general nuisance of ourselves.

If Woodside (on behalf of all the joint ventures) can operate outside the law than Redhand suggests that we challenge their every illegal move.

Friday, June 25, 2010

International Whaling Commission Day 4 Agadir 2010

Day 4 at the International Whaling Commission was full of surprises. A singing dancing whale, curiosity of the AVAAZ organisation (The World in Action) entertained delegates, tourists, media and security alike to the sounds of Imagine There's No Whaling. A line formed of people wanting their photos taken with the Whale.

A principle from a local primary school came down to join the anti- whaling activists with one of her students and together with members of Sea Shepherd, sticky taped some of the students beautiful drawings of whales on the wall outside where the Commission is meeting. This simple act of action was especially powerful with many delegates coming to views these children's very innocent impressions of whales.

Redhand was in attendance at media interviews with Minister Peter Garret and although unable to question him at the time was able to secure his ears afterwards.

Redhand was adept in raising several issues in regards to the proposed LNG precinct at James Price Point, with the Minister. Redhand spoke about the Kimberley and its coast and its importance to the Humpback Whales as their nursery, breeding grounds and their migratory passageways.

Redhand mentioned the need for protection of the dinosaur's footprint highway that runs the entire length of the coastal strip from Crab Creek all the way north to Cape Leveque and the 86 scientists from 16 countries that have signed a letter of support for Dr Tony Thulburn and his findings. And raised concerns that the National Heritage Council have publicly stated that there are no areas of heritage values of the western side of the Dampier Peninsular. Minister Garret informed Redhand he has just appointed Professor Carmen Lawrence as the new Chair of the Australian Heritage Council

The Minister went on to tell me that he is very aware of the issues and that he is accessing information for all sources and also speaking with Indigenous people and others.

He told me that he will be looking very closely at the proposal when he receives it and he assured Redhand that he will give this proposal serious consideration under the Biodiversity Act. Redhand raised the concern that under this Act only fauna and flora that are endangered or in danger of extinction has protection under this Act and there is concern that because the Kimberley has no extinctions or endangered species and therefore has little too no protection of anything under this Act.

Redhand stated that the Minister knows and understands Broome and its cultural richness ant that it is not a industrial town. Redhand remained the Minister that Redhand had walked him through a Remnant rainforest (Vine thicket) with the Broome Botanical Society nearly twenty years ago so he should remember the value of these specialized pockets of unique flora communities.

Minister Garret came across sincere in his replies both to Redhand's questions and concerns but with a new leader at the helm today and a women at that, who knows, maybe we have to start all over again to educate the next one Minister that is!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Backdown at International Whaling Commision 23rd June 2010

It was a great start to day 3 of the International Whaling Commission for Redhand with the security personnel assisting Red to hang the banners that had been dragged across Morocco for the last five weeks.

Redhand was able to distribute a considerable number of environsKIMBERLEY’s The Kimberley Coast Remarkable and Threatened and the Wilderness Society’s WA Crunch time for the Kimberley and 10 Reasons why the Browse LNG Development should NOT go on the Kimberley Coast pamphlets to nearly all the delegates who entered the Commission meeting today.

Several copies of The Kimberley Cetacean Survey 2009 produced by Kimberley Whale Watching (www.kimberleywhales.com.au) were placed on display and attracted a lot of attention and interest.

Kimberley At the Crossroads
, The case against the gas plant a SAVE THE KIMBERLEY (www.savethekimberley.com) booklet was exhibited and Redhand was lucky to retain one copy because several delegates were requesting copies. And the Stickers that Redhand had were all a great hit, with some delegates seeking additional ones, from Monday.

A number of grass root organisations: AVAAZ.org The World In Action, has a online petition and Redhand strongly suggests that everyone get on line and support this organization, they are doing amazing things and working very hard here in Agadir.

The Sea Shepherd crew are well represented and surfersforcetacans.com another Australian grassroots team have retain an strong but peaceful presents and the majority of interactions with delegates, the media and the local security has all been very positive.

Redhand was also able to convey the following messages to Australian Minister Peter Garnett as he enter the meeting this morning: “to save the Kimberley Coast”, “no more oil and gas exploration and exploitation of the Kimberley Coast” The Kimberley was the Nursery for the Humpback Whales and are the very same whales Australia was trying to save in the Southern Oceans” and “NO MORE MONTARAs or BP’s Gulf of Mexico devastation.” Because Redhand was the only protester there at that time, Red received a lot of media attention but whether it will be aired is another issue.

Hands Off Country Standing Up for the Planet

Monday, June 21, 2010

International Whaling Commission 21 June 2010 Agadir

All Non Government Agencies have been removed from the Commission Meeting and are not to return until Wednesday. The Commission is now meeting behind closed doors and apparently the very future of the IWC is on the Agenda

Greenpeace softens line on whaling

June 21, 2010

JUST over two years after Greenpeace last ran direct action against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic, the environmental organisation has joined calls for a deal - even if it is hard to digest.

The world's original anti-whaling group has signed on to a joint statement, with the World Wildlife Fund and the influential US Pew Environment Group, that would allow commercial whaling in the northern hemisphere.

In exchange, it wants ''a phase-out of all whaling in the [Antarctic's] Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary'', said Greenpeace oceans campaign head Sarah Duthie.

Greenpeace's change of heart surprised some. ''I think they're kidding themselves,'' said Darren Kindleysides, the director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, in Agadir yesterday. ''They are giving up on the moratorium on global commercial whaling.''

But on the eve of what Environment Minister Peter Garrett forecast would be the single most important International Whaling Commission meeting in 30 years, the Greenpeace shift signified a spreading mood for compromise.

The outcome will not necessarily favour Greenpeace, or Australia, which wants a five-year phase-out of all Antarctic whaling.

In a split from previous trans-Tasman solidarity, New Zealand is being praised by a pro-whaling source for its ''true leadership'' in trying with the United States to broker a deal Japan could accept.

A key negotiator is former NZ prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, whose work on the compromise began three years ago with the Pew Foundation in a meeting at the UN in New York.

He will be joined by more high-level ministers and officials at the IWC's 62nd annual meeting than ever before, in another pointer to a deal being made.

Japan's delegation will be led by the director-general of its powerful Fisheries Agency, Katsuhiro Machida, and vice-minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yasue Funayama.

They will build on a proposal first put forward by the Chilean IWC chairman, Cristian Maquieira, who suggested 400 minke whales and 10 fin whales could be taken in the Antarctic for the next five years, in a total global commercial hunt of 1312 whales.

This is 200 whales fewer than were harpooned last year around the world through loopholes in the 24-year commercial whaling moratorium. In Japan's case, it would mean a cut of about 100 whales on last summer's protest-disrupted Antarctic hunt, and better than a halving of the 935-whale ''scientific'' quota it awards itself.

Tokyo argues that now it has made the tough decisions, it's time for Australia to make some too. But Mr Garrett said Australia was not alone in its hardline opposition, with Latin American and many European countries agreeing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kimberley Humpback Whales threatened by oil and gas and no marine protection

JUNE 20, 2010

Call for action from Garrett in Morocco

While pregnant Humpback Whales arrive off the Kimberley coast Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett arrives in Morocco ready for a fight with Japanese whalers.

The Kimberley Humpbacks, one of the largest populations in the world, are arriving on Australia’s Kimberley coast on their annual migration from Antarctica to give birth to their calves and mate.

Meanwhile the State and Federal Government are investigating an industrial port for up to 1,500 supertankers per year and associated shipping and a gas processing facility for oil and gas company Woodside petroleum in the same place the first Humpbacks arrived on May 24th, north of Broome.

The industrial port on the Kimberley coast would threaten the Humpback’s migration as well as cut through the southern calving ground. Environment groups and locals are calling on the State and Federal Government to move the project south to an already industrialised area.

“The impacts of this industrialisation on an undeveloped coast would be catastrophic.” said Louise Middleton, an environmentalist from Broome, Western Australia.

“This Humpback population is twice the size of the East Coast population and calves and mates in seas off a coast that has not been developed. It’s one of the few populations that can be observed from land that is undisturbed.” said Ms Middleton.

“As a sign of things to come, seismic testing is happening, in the migration pathway as whales are coming through.” Ms Middleton said.

“We were promised marine sanctuaries by the Federal Government at the last election but unfortunately they seemed to have disappeared off the radar.” said Ms. Middleton.

‘We have an international obligation to protect Humpback whales and the Federal Government are at the International Whaling Commission in Morocco now, loudly advocating on their behalf. They cannot claim to be protecting whales by opposing harvesting, when at the same they are putting whales at risk in their calving grounds. If they don’t want to be accused of hypocrisy, they must ensure that whales are protected at home as well as in other parts of the world,” said Ms Middleton.

Media Contact: In Morocco Ph 0648862352

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Caught in the oil - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Caught in the oil - The Big Picture - Boston.com

One of the last untouched beautiful wilderness left in the world


American ABC Nightline - "The Kimberley" - The most beautiful place on earth

It is hoped that the current devastating oil and gas spillage currently taking place in the Gulf of Mexico will open the eyes of the supporters of the proposed world's biggest LNG precinct being build at James Price Point. All it takes is one accident and everything is lost.

Hands Off Country

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shell chief happy but millions of people in the Niger Delta are not

Visit http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/06/04/2919023.htm for an enlighting interview with Shell Australia new Boss women.

The new head of Shell Australia has indicated the company will press ahead with plans to build the world’s largest 14 train LNG gas precinct in the Kimberley, at James Price Point, just outside of Broome.

The Director of Shell Australia, Ann Pickard, comes from Wyoming in the United States and is proud of this states oil & gas industries. She also states that her greatest work was in Africa, well, that speaks volumes; just look what she has left behind. Now, she wants to push the Shell greed barrow into the Kimberley.

Anyway, Redhand was wondering if Ann has been back to her beloved state of Wyoming and seen for herself how these industries have impacted on the communities, the environment and the social fabric. Has Ann ever been to Pinedale, in Wyoming, who stage a three-day event called the Rendezvous. One of the highlights is a rodeo that celebrates the rich Western cow town heritage that residents, like Chopper and Lyn Grassell, say is changing too fast.

LYN GRASSELL, a Pinedale Resident: When we moved here, it was ranching. It was small. You knew everybody on the street. And now it's oil and gas. It's a lot of oil and gas.

I think that there's a big push from the agricultural side to keep that, keep the kids knowing how to ride horses, and come to the rodeo, and experience all that. But then you have oil and gas that's coming in. It's just a whole new group of people.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The Green River Valley of Wyoming is in the middle of a natural gas boom. Pinedale, in rural Sublette County, is ground zero. It's where companies, like EnCana USA, have rushed to take advantage of the current energy crisis and have started a massive drilling operation in the Jonah Field, considered the richest natural gas deposit in the country.

PAUL ULRICH, EnCana Oil and Gas: We think we've got about 13.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas here in the Jonah Field. That's enough to heat America for about two-thirds of a year, you know, give or take a little bit, a lot of natural gas.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Tax revenues from gas have made Sublette County the second-richest per capita in the country and its teachers the highest paid in the state. Gas money is also building an $18 million pool and recreation center.

But as the rigs move closer and closer to the edge of town, lighting up the Western Sky at night, some residents say the price they're paying for the good things is too high.

LYN GRASSELL: Our school districts -- I sit on the school board, and we have an annual budget of $7 million. Well, we had an extra $25, $30 million to spend this year. So it's great for the community financially. We've never had more wealth.
But I came here when you knew everybody, and it was quiet, and it was always safe. I'd give back all the money to have it the way it was.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Once the least-populated area in the least-populated state, Sublette County has mushroomed sevenfold in just six years. Oil field workers called roughnecks have come in droves, along with support personnel, to take advantage of salaries ranging from $60,000 to $80,000 a year. That's the reason roughneck Stephen Trosclair returned to his native Wyoming.

STEPHEN TROSCLAIR, EnCana Oil and Gas: The other jobs that I worked, I always hit that ceiling of 40 hours a week. Out here, nobody is really concerned about overtime, at least during a boom. And so it's not unusual for guys to get 100 hours-plus in seven days.

LINDA BAKER, Upper Green Valley Coalition: This place stops my heart every time I look at it.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Environmentalist Linda Baker, who has lived in Pinedale for 25 years, says the onslaught of the new workers is causing problems.

LINDA BAKER: This year alone, we anticipate an additional 11,000 workers coming into Pinedale to work on the gas rigs. We're a town of 1,600 people. We don't have the infrastructure to accommodate all those folks, so they're having to go out and live in man camps and in really uncomfortable conditions, and they come into town and raise hell.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Sheriff Wayne Bardin says crime is up. And for the first time, Pinedale has a drug problem: methamphetamines, a well-known stimulant.
WAYNE BARDIN, Sheriff, Sublette County: You find it everywhere. Naturally, the workforce out in the gas fields use it because they can work more hours, but then it finds its way into our schools. It's in the community, and it doesn't discriminate against anybody.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: And do you have enough police officers to go after the problem?
WAYNE BARDIN: Right now, no. Just to give you a little idea of how hard it is to keep people, since 2005, January of 2005, we've gone through 35 people. And we only have a police force of 32 people.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: And with a shortage of police officers, even weeknights can be a problem, when the town's four bars are crowded and more disturbances are reported.
"Help Wanted" signs are all over town, not just for police officers, but for all kinds of work.

MAYOR STEVE SMITH, Pinedale, Wyoming: There's a fine line between having enough slack in the line, if the fly's not dragging...

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Fly fishing guide and newly elected mayor Steve Smith says jobs are hard to fill because there is a shortage of affordable housing.

MAYOR STEVE SMITH: The prices of homes and housing and land have gone up significantly, especially in the last five or six years. That does affect people that are trying to come to this community to make a living as a school teacher, or as a deputy sheriff, or a child care specialist, or washing dishes at a local restaurant.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: What used to be a quiet street where ranchers drove their cattle through town is now a busy, noisy highway.

A mile off the main road, Bruce and Mary Wolford are so fed up they've sold their log cabin on an acre and a half and are leaving.

BRUCE WOLFORD, Pinedale Resident: We've really, really liked this place. It was just perfect. A car would go by. And 20 minutes later, another car would go by. Sundays, it was absolute quiet; now, it's just pandemonium. You get motorcycles going by with the radios turned up. You get the boom, boom, boom cars going by, radio, and just one after another.

MARY WOLFORD, Pinedale Resident: And because of the gas and everything, prices have gone so high, we can hardly afford anything around here anymore.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: And emissions from the gas fields have put smog into the air, some days covering the valley with a cloud, according to conservationist Bruce Gordon.

BRUCE GORDON, Conservationist: The skies are different. The haze and pollutions are getting exponentially magnified year after year, especially as we see this happening.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

State budget rewards polluters but punishes environment and families

In a closed briefing to business and community groups on the State budget, Premier and Treasurer Colin Barnett said that this budget strongly reflects the policy agenda of the Liberal-National Government. Sadly, an examination of the budget reveals this agenda as one that places the environment as one of the Government’s lowest priorities.

The second budget produced by the Liberal-National Government continues the established trend of running our environmental regulators on the smell of an oily rag. Much less than 2% of the overall State budget is dedicated to the increasingly impossible tasks of reducing carbon pollution, managing waste, regulating polluting industries, controlling land clearing, managing national parks, reducing air pollution, protecting the marine environment and all the other functions of the State environment portfolio.

When you consider that environmental protection is the responsibility of States under the Australian Constitution, this is grossly inadequate. The inevitable consequence of this budget frugality will be increasing impacts on our environment, increased threats to our biodiversity and health, and carbon pollution skyrocketing out of control in WA.

For a realistic assessment of the environmental consequences of this year’s budget, one must look beyond the environment portfolio. On the other side of the ecological balance sheet, the budget increases the already very significant taxpayer subsidies for polluting and destructive industries in Western Australia.

For example, the budget earmarks over $100 million towards assisting the development of a polluting LNG processing plant on the Kimberley coast – in the middle of the southern hemisphere’s most important hump-back whale calving ground. If it goes ahead, this development would be responsible for increasing WA’s greenhouse emission by 25% on its own.

Premier Barnett has stated that the Kimberley is the Government’s number one environmental priority, and a small allocation has been made to allow for the creation of a new marine park at Camden Sound, North of Broome. This funding is welcome; however the government’s environmental credentials in the Kimberley must be weighed against the heavy taxpayer investment in opening up the north for damaging and unsustainable industries.

Expenditure in the energy portfolio, which could hold the key to a clean renewable energy future, is even more alarming. The budget reveals that more than 99% of capital expenditure by the government’s energy utility will fund polluting fossil-fuel generation; less than 1% will be spent on renewable energy.

And if this is not bad enough, the budget totally fails to account for the massive economic liability that will be passed on to future Western Australians as a consequence of Western Australia’s rapidly increasing carbon pollution.

The Rudd government have delayed the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme for the moment, but some price on carbon will inevitably be introduced in some form in the future. Failing to disclose this cost to householders who will be forced to bear that cost because of decisions made to subsidise polluting industries today is duplicitous.

The EPA have advised that WA carbon pollution is likely to increase by an alarming 75% in the next few years. Decisions made today will determine whether Western Australia unlocks its clean energy potential, or locks into a future where Western Australian’s will be forced to pay higher and higher carbon polluting costs.

The disparity between the government’s treatment of the environment and polluting industries is echoed just about everywhere you look in the budget papers.

For example, water charges for households will be increased, but Collies rapidly expanding coal-fired power industry will continue enjoy huge volumes of water almost totally free of charge.

Mining companies receive even more handouts as part of the State Governments $80 million mining exploration incentives package (they already receive generous tax concessions for expolration activities from the Commonwealth), but taxpayers will have to pick up the bill for environmental damage caused by mining as the government continues it’s policy to exempt miners from paying bonds to cover the cost of rehabilitation.

And while families pay more for power, the budget continues the generous energy subsidies enjoyed by mining and other industries supplied from the grid in regional areas.

Financially this budget is in surplus, but that fails to account for the massive environmental and economic liability that will be transferred to future generations as a consequence of the Barnett Government’s overwhelming focus on expanding and subsidising unsustainable and polluting industries in WA.

by nevillenumbat

Exclusive: Underwater Oil Plumes Exposed

ABC News has new video showing oil plumes 40 miles out in the ocean, just southwest of the Deepwater Horizon. So far, three large underwater islands of oil have been discovered, some 20 miles long by 6 miles wide. The new found plumes will surely increase the outrage against BP as the company tries for the seventh time to stop the leaking oil.

BP has previously denied the existence of these plumes.