Alton Gas, Canada

Mi’kmaq communities and non-Indigenous allies have been actively opposing the completion of the Alton Gas project near Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. They are building the solutions in the pathway of the problem.


Description

Mi’kmaq communities and non-Indigenous allies have been actively opposing the completion of the Alton Gas project near Stewiacke, Nova Scotia.

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Basic Data
NameAlton Gas, Canada
CountryCanada
ProvinceNova Scotia
SiteAlton, southern Colchester County
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Other
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAlton Gas proposed to create two salt caverns in order to store natural gas underground, with the intention to build up to 15 more. The project is designed to draw nearly 10,000 cubic metres of water daily from the Shubenacadie River estuary and push it through a 12-kilometre underground pipeline to the cavern site. There, the water will be pumped underground to flush out salt to create the caverns. The brine created by the salt dissolution will then be pumped back to the estuary for release into the river system (Campbell, 2019)

Once at peak brine generation, an estimated 10,000 cubic metres of brine will be released into the river each day for up to 10 years or until all caverns have been hollowed out (Hubley, 2016). The storage caverns are needed by AltaGas subsidiary Heritage Gas, which sells natural gas in the Halifax area and to utility Nova Scotia Power, which generates 22 per cent of its electricity from natural gas. Heritage Gas wants to stockpile its product during the colder months to protect its customers from price shocks when demand spikes. Each of the caverns are expected to be about 80 metres high by 50 metres wide. The caverns would be linked to the nearby Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline, about 60 kilometres north of Halifax (Macdonald, 2018).
Level of Investment (in USD)100,000,000.00 (CAD)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population 1,906 (Population of the town of Alton) to 36,091 (Population of Colchester County)
Start Date10/10/2016
Company Names or State Enterprises Heritage Gas from Canada - AltaGas subsidiary, Heritage Gas, is interested in caverns for natural gas storage so it can stockpile its product.
AltaGas Ltd from Canada - Proponent Alton Gas is subsidiary of AltaGAs
Relevant government actorsSipekne’katik First Nation

Millbrook First Nation

The Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative (KMKNO) (the organization which is the consulting agent for 12 of the province’s 13 Mi’kmaw communities) . Sipekne’katik is not a part of this.

Nova Scotia provincial government

Stewiacke Town Council

Nova Scotia Department of Energy

Nova Scotia Department of Environment

Federal Government

Federal departments of Natural Resources Canada and the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFishers

Council of Canadians https://canadians.org/

Ecology Action Centre https://ecologyaction.ca/

Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club Foundation https://www.sierraclub.ca/en/atlantic

Nova Scotia Fracking Research and Action Coalition http://www.nofrac.com/

Canadian Youth Climate Coalition http://www.climatenetwork.org/profile/member/canadian-youth-climate-coalition-cyccccjc

Divest Dalhousie

https://www.facebook.com/DivestDal/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Mi’kmaq Nation
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
They have built a strawbale house, a greenhouse, gardens, a chicken coup and other infrastructure at the Alton site
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesDuring the fall of 2016 Mi’kmaq opponents of the Alton Gas project, supported by non-Indigenous allies, set up a truckhouse along the banks of the Shubenacadie River near the Alton Gas brine dumping site. The right to have a truck house is explicitly laid out in the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty.

During the fall of 2016 Mi’kmaq opponents of the Alton Gas project, supported by non-Indigenous allies, set up a truckhouse along the banks of the Shubenacadie River near the Alton Gas brine dumping site. The right to have a truck house is explicitly laid out in the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty. This has been a cite of mobilization and resistance as well as a physical and symbolic assertion of Mik'maq sovereignty.

Mi'kmaq water protectors spent all winter in the truck house. And then on May 23, 2017, they set up a Treaty Camp along the entrance to the Alton Gas work site, effective blocking the company from working on the project. Since that time, they have built a strawbale house, a greenhouse, gardens, a chicken coup and other infrastructure at the Alton site, where Mi'kmaq water protectors live year round.

This case is a beautiful example of the strategy of "putting the solutions in the pathway of the problem".

Groups resisting the projects have cited Bill111 to argue again the development. It is an act to address environmental racism in Nova Scotia. (Hubely, 2016).

In March 2019, Mi'kmaq matriarchs serve an eviction notice to Alton Gas, enacting Mi'kmaq sovereignty in the face of state and corporate violation of their rights..
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project has been significantly delayed and continues to be delayed. Final outcome is yet uncertain. Resistance to the project has created new alliances and networks of mobilization.

The importance, in fact legal duty, to consult First Nations has been underscored and strengthened. New forms of resistance - material and symbolic - have been forged at the Resistance camp.
Sources and Materials
Links

Flier
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(Greenland-Smith & Poulette, 2019)
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(stopaltongas, n.d)
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(Howe, Miles, 2016)
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(Hubley, Jake, 2016)
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(Cooke, 2018)
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(Lewis, R.J., n.d.)
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(Treaty Truck house Against Alton Gas, n.d.)
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(Macdonald, M, 2018)
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(Candian Press, 2017)
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(Dorey, 2014)
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(Campbell, Francis, 2018)
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(Summers, 2016) "Alton Gas Refuses Public Examination of Consumer Savings Promise". Halifax Media Co-op.
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(Canadian Press, 2019) Alton Gas goes to court to remove protesters from work site. CBC News.
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(McSheffrey, 2019) Mi’kmaw matriarchs serve eviction notice to Alton Gas. Global News.
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(Campbell, 2019) Alton Gas protesters ordered off site, ending two-year occupation. Chronicle Herald.
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(Tutton, 2019b) Opposition to Alton Gas get small designated zone for ‘peaceful protest’. Global News.
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(Tutton, 2019a) Nova Scotia court grants injunction against Mi’kmaq protester at Alton Gas site. Global News.
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Media Links

Video of Mik'maq resistance to Alton Gas
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Other Documents

Shubenacadie River
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Treaty Truck House Camp - Strawbale House Image sourced: https://fundrazr.com/b1Il98?ref=tw_84WTga_ab_7oSEq7XAsMH7oSEq7XAsMH
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Alton Gas Figure Figure from open letter "PSA: Respect water, respect life − Stop Alton Gas"



https://nsadvocate.org/2019/01/22/psa-respect-water-respect-life-stop-alton-gas/?fbclid=IwAR3_2wARx50Lwd927QdXEzddRonGOhEYuOfFER8zacxnOJsjoaFnKwRFQ2g
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Meta Information
ContributorJen Gobby
Last update10/04/2019
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