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Statement of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL)

RIO + 20

Shell Oil and the Arctic

DSCN1183-150x150Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL) is a movement of Alaska Natives of the Inupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Tlingit, Eyak, Gwich’in and Denaiana Athabascan Tribes who came together in June 2002 in Cordova, Alaska to form a powerful entity to challenge the fossil fuel and mining industries and demand our rights to a safe and healthy environment conducive to subsistence. REDOIL aims to address the human and ecological health impacts brought on by unsustainable development practices of the fossil fuel and mineral industries, and the ensuing effect of catastrophic climate change. We strongly support the self-determination right of tribes in Alaska, as well as a just transition from fossil fuel and mineral development to sustainable economies and sustainable development.

The three core focus areas of REDOIL are:

  • Sovereignty and Subsistence Rights
  • Human and Ecological Health
  • Climate Change and Climate Justice

DSCN1189-300x225Alaska’s Indigenous peoples health, culture and subsistence way of life are at threat by current energy development proposals which disproportionately targets Alaska Native homelands and continually puts our subsistence way of life at risk. Current Energy policy of the US calls for more extensive fossil fuel extraction and development within Indigenous Territories, which will have profound impacts to the communities. At this time, there are many areas in Alaska that are under threat, and our Alaska Native peoples are in duress…

At this time, Shell’s eyes are on the prize of the Arctic Oceans-the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Alaska’s coastal Indigenous Inupiat currently object strongly to the presence of Shell Oil in the waters that provide them with their Inupiat Whaling way of life, but also their other subsistence needs which are provided by these oceans.

In the words of Robert Thompson, Inupiat of Kaktovik, Alaska and Chairman of REDOIL:

“I am Inupiat, we have been in the Arctic for 12,000 years, possibly longer. Our culture depends on a clean Ocean; our culture has evolved because of the marine mammals and our dependency on them, which is a vital part of our subsistence livelihood. I am concerned because there is no convincing information from Shell or anyone else that oil can be cleaned up in the Arctic Ocean from within broken ice, from under the ice or in large waves, in the dark, during storms or a combination of these situations. A very small amount of oil spill equipment is available in the arctic and there are no means to deploy even if there was. There are very few boats, and in winter, there is absolutely no way to get boats to spill sites. There also is no proven ability to track oil under the ice, in the dark of winter and in storms. There have been no studies done to determine how long oil will remain toxic in cold water. I am concerned that the use of dispersants may have dire consequences on all marine life as well and I question what are the effects of in situ burning on people? Additionally there is no plan for cumulative effects of oil related activity. There also has been no discussion of future plans. Lastly, I am concerned about climate change and the effects of 27 billion barrels of oil, once consumed on our environment. We are already witnessing serious effects of climate change on our natural environment in the North; the animals of the ocean and land are being affected profoundly. Until these questions have been addressed satisfactorily to Inupiat, Shell Oil has no business in the Arctic Oceans. We appeal to all for support at this time as operations may ensue next month in July.”

Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of REDOIL states:

“Indigenous Peoples have the inherent right to continue our own way of life; and that this right is recognized and affirmed by civilized nations in the international covenants on human rights. Article 1 of both the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights read in part:

…In no case may a people be deprived of their own means of subsistence

Subsistence is our life, our identity, our culture, our spirituality, our connection to the lands…Ancestral ways that have been passed down generation to generation of hunting, fishing, and gathering. Our whole livelihood as Indigenous Peoples is inter-dependent on our ancestral homelands, for us to maintain our way of life; our homelands must remain untouched and intact. The US govt.; SHELL oil company; and corporations must be accountable and address the issues that have been raised by communities and entities that have taken the position in opposing drilling in the Arctic Oceans. The Obama Administration has put out the red carpet for Shell Oil in the Arctic without any real thought to the dire consequences, and Americans should pressure their government to change course before it is too late. This issue is about violations to Indigenous rights in the North, who will stand up for us, and with us to fight multi-national interests?”

Contact:

Robert Thompson, Chairman of REDOIL (907) 640-6119/ bolothompson@hotmail.com
Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of REDOIL (907) 750-0188/ redoil1@acsalaska.net

Audio file of Presser (June 21, 2012)

Audio File of Greenpeace & REDOIL Presser at Rio+20 on Shell out of Arctic

Clayton Thomas-Muller of REDOIL comments after Arctic Shell Press Event

Coverage on CBC National News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/06/21/rio-earth-summit-arctic-canada.html

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