CFS backs legal battle against oil companies

Co-operative Financial Services is backing legal action by the Beaver Lake Cree Nation to stop expansion of ecologically disastrous tar sand developments.

Chief Al Lameman and other senior members of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation are in the UK to enlist support for their legal proceedings and to highlight their plight. 

Tar sand developments are destroying the Beaver Lake Cree’s reserve-home and traditional lands in Alberta, Canada, impacting upon their constitutionally protected treaty rights. The Beaver Lake Cree have therefore commenced a legal challenge to protect the ecologically integrity of their traditional territories, citing over 15,000 infringements of their rights and are seeking an injunction against new developments.

CFS will be helping the Beaver Lake Cree demonstrate the impact of tar sand developments on their traditional way of life, in preparation of their legal case.

Chief Lameman said: “The animals, fish, plants and medicine that sustain us are being destroyed. Caribou and elk will not come near the disturbance caused by oil wells and the hundreds of kilometres of pipelines, seismic exploration lines and access roads criss-crossing our land. We thank CFS for their support. The tar sands have global consequences and are an issue for all.”

Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Total have tar sands projects or expansion plans that could be impacted if the Beaver Lake Cree legal action is successful. Shell’s Orion Hilda Lake tar sands project is within the area potentially affected and currently produces 10,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), with approval for growth to 20,000 barrels this year and potential to produce 40,000 bpd. BP announced earlier this month that it has started evaluating its Kirby tar sands leases in the area, which could support production of up to 70,000 bpd. 

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability at CFS said: “We already know that commercialisation of tar sands risks massive environmental damage. If the Beaver Lake Cree Nation are successful in their ground-breaking legal challenge and other indigenous groups follow, oil companies could also be looking at massive investment damages.”  

While in the UK, the Beaver Lake Cree will be helping to launch CFS and WWF-UK’s new ‘Toxic Fuels’ campaign. The campaign will raise awareness of the emerging global trend to extract oil from unconventional sources such as Canadian tar sands and US shale oil. In addition to local ecological devastation, the extraction and production of these fuels emits between three and eight times more carbon dioxide than conventional oils. If unchallenged, this trend risks making attempts to avoid dangerous levels of climate change almost impossible. 

David Norman, WWF-UK Campaigns Director said: “Climate change is happening faster and stronger than previously predicted and is impacting on ecosystems around the globe. Tar sands are already Canada’s largest single greenhouse gas emitter and mean that Canada will not meet its international obligations on climate change. As global citizens Canadian politicians need to stop the expansion of their oil sands operation. Tar sands have no place in a low carbon global economy.”

In this article

Join the Conversation