What’s the Best Way to Stop Extraction? Delay, Delay, Delay.by Bryan Farrell / Waging Nonviolence
Earth First Journal 5/28/14
The knock on environmental protests is that they oftentimes only appear to delay the inevitable — be it forcing a coal-fired power plant to shut down for just one day or forcing the construction of a pipeline to be rerouted. But what if those delays really were more than symbolic victories? What if they amounted to something really powerful that actually imposed serious costs on industry? Well, that’s exactly what a new study says.
According to researchers from the University of Queensland, Harvard Kennedy School and Clark University, conflict has become a major contributor to the cost of projects in the mining, oil and gas industries. The researchers looked at 50 planned major extractive projects and found that local communities launched some sort of “project blockade” in half of them, leading to 15 percent of the projects being suspended or abandoned.
“There is a popular misconception that local communities are powerless in the face of large corporations and governments,” said Daniel Franks, Deputy Director of UQ’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining. “Our findings show that community mobilization can be very effective at raising the costs to companies.”
The research, which is based on confidential interviews with 45 high-level industry officials, found that delays caused by conflict with communities can result in the loss of $20 million per week for mining projects valued between $3 billion to $5 billion. One company’s costs reached $6 billion over two years — more than 10 percent of its annual operating profits. In general, though, protests were most successful when they took place early on, during the planning and construction phases of a project. continued here