Enbridge: Corporate Social Responsibility or Greenwashing?

Tar sands mining in Alberta, 2008 (Wikimedia Commons)

Energy transportation giant Enbridge is pursuing a 1,097 mile crude oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, through northern Minnesota, ending in Superior, Wisc., raising concerns among Native American and those concerned with the environment. The proposal is currently before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for review.

At the same time, Enbridge has a Corporate Social Responsibility statement outlining its commitments to “sustainability.” In the introduction, it defines Corporate Social Responsibility as “conducting business in a socially responsible and ethical manner; protecting the environment and the safety of people; supporting human rights; and engaging, learning from, respecting and supporting the communities and cultures with which we work.”

Enbridge Line 3 carries tar sands crude, a particularly dirty form of fossil fuel. The tar sands mining, processing  and pipelines have negatively affected the First Nations Peoples of Canada. Enbridge’s plan calls for replacing an old and failing pipeline with a larger one along a new route. This includes a 337-mile stretch across Minnesota, passing through the Mississippi headwaters region and prime wild rice waters, affecting Anishinaabe people. A major spill here would be devastating.

Some could applaud Enbridge for having a sustainability plan. Others might refer to it as greenwashing, which, Wikipedia explains, is “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”

Let’s take a look at Enbridge’s sustainability statements and how they apply to the Line 3 proposal. Continue reading

Alberta Implements UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples; Owning Our Racial Bias Event; St. Augustine Protest

Hats off to the Canadian Province of Alberta. According to a recent blog posted by the Parliament of World Religions, Alberta is the first North American government to to implement the United Nations  Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Parliament expressed its hope that Alberta’s actions “will set an example and inspire the rest of the world will follow in order to achieve a more peaceful, just, and sustainable future.”

Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley outlined expectations for a renewed and improved relationship with indigenous peoples in a mandate letter she sent to Cabinet Ministers on July 7. It read in part:

The UN Declaration is broad-reaching and has the potential to impact how we work with indigenous peoples in myriad ways. This is why I am asking you now, as Cabinet Ministers, to conduct a review, including budget implications, of your Ministry’s policies, programs and legislation that may require changes based on the principles of the UN Declaration. …

As you move forward in this analysis, you will need to work closely with the Indigenous leaders. The anticipated establishment of engagement tables with each of the three Treaty areas could be the vehicle for this engagement later this fall. …

Owning Our Racial Bias: An Interfaith Dialogue

Epiphany Episcopal Church in Plymouth will be holding an interfaith dialogue titled: Owning our Racial Bias: A Multicultural Interfaith Dialogue Seeking Reconciliation and Healing. It will be Sunday, Sept. 27, 4-7 p.m. It will include a youth panel discussion and an adult panel sharing their own life stories and visions for a healing future. The event will end with a free meal and an opportunity for all attending to be in dialogue. The event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.

Indigenous-Led Group Opposing St. Augustine Celebration

The city of St. Augustine is getting ready to celebrate its 450th anniversary on Sept. 8, “Founders Day.” According to the augustine.com website, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. The event will include “a re-enactment of Pedro Menéndez’s 1565 landing on these shores, a procession of hundreds through the city streets to the Cathedral Basilica, and a commemorative mass at the Cathedral with dozens of Catholic bishops from Europe and the Americas (including Cuba and the Vatican) as well as the King and Queen of Spain in attendance to honor the establishment of America’s first parish.”

The group Resist 450 is organizing protests, saying the event is celebrating genocide. It is organizing kayaks and canoes to meet and protect the Menendez landing. It also is questioning the city’s use of public funds supporting the event, saying it violates Article 1 section 3 of the Florida Constitution, which states, “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination.”