Harper Betrayed BC when he said Yes to the Northern Gateway Pipeline
Accepting the pipeline was an abdication of responsibility. It is fitting that neither Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or his cabinet remained behind to talk to reporters. That was left for the Liberals, NDP and Green parties. Harper betrayed BC when he said Yes to the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May dismissed the Nation Energy Board’s (NEB) “report” as an Enbridge publicity document. The industry still does not know how to clean up dilbit and she said the bill for Enbridge’s spill on the Kalamazoo is now expected to reach $1 billion.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair noted that the government’s failure to govern extends to their obligations to the First Nations. They left that to the “proponents of the pipeline.” (i.e. – Enbridge)
On the surface, BC’s Minister of Environment, Mary Polack, appears to have given a reassuring response. She says that, as of yesterday, only one of BC’s five conditions was met.
Though many question whether the NEB’s review is worthy of that name, the BC government’s first condition was “a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel and subsequent approval by federal cabinet that the project proceed.” They said nothing about the adequacy of that review. The responsibility for determining if their was a real environmental review has been left to the courts. As stated, Ms Polack can truthfully say the condition was met.
BC’s Green party believe there should be a sixth condition. These tankers would be carrying diluted bitumen, which sinks to the bottom when spilled in the ocean. This makes it unlikely that even the best trained and equipped marine response team (condition four) would be able to handle a spill.
“The BC government has stated that they have the power to stop the Enbridge pipeline through the 60 required provincial government permits. Yet so far the government has largely sat on the sidelines, neglecting to make any concrete commitments one way or the other.
“… This is our coast they are putting at risk. British Columbians expect Northern Gateway to be rejected by their provincial government, and we expect it today,” said B.C. Green Party leader Adam Olsen”
In their original press release, the BC government said their answer is “no” until:
“Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project”
Yesterday the Minister talked about Enbridge having to establish appropriate relations with First Nations and giving them opportunities, but made no reference to “Aboriginal and treaty rights.”
While this may be an oversight, it is also a clause we must ensure is respected.
BC’s First Nations were quick to issue a statement about the approval of the pipeline which I am going to quote in its entirety:
Today, we unequivocally reject the Harper Government’s decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway tanker and pipelines project and First Nations will immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project.
We have governed our lands, in accordance to our Indigenous laws, since time immemorial.
Our inherent Title and Rights and our legal authority over our respective territories have never been surrendered. Our inherent rights are human rights constitutionally enshrined, judicially recognized and embodied in international legal instruments including the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This project, and the federal process to approve it, violated our rights and our laws. We are uniting to defend our lands and waters of our respective territories. Our rights and laws compel us to act. Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tanker and pipeline project exposes all communities from Alberta to the Pacific Coast to the undeniable risk of pipeline and supertanker oil spills. First Nations and the majority of British Columbians believe this project poses an unacceptable risk to the environment, the health, the safety and livelihoods of all peoples throughout this province. We will defend our territories whatever the costs may be.
Council of the Haida Nation
Gitanmaax Band Council
Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs
Neskonlith Indian Band
Office of the Wet’suwet’en
Saikuz First Nation
Tsetsaut / Skii km Lax Ha
Wet’suwet’en First Nation
Williams Lake Indian Band
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council
Coastal First Nations
St’at’imc Chiefs Council
Tahltan Central Council
Yinka Dene Alliance
BC Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Summit
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
In a press release, issued yesterday, Ecojustice noted that 96% of the comments submitted to the NEB oppose the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
The Northern Gateway pipeline would lock Canada into at least another 30 years of oilsands development and undermine efforts to slow climate change. The 1,177 km pipeline would cross hundreds of fish-bearing streams, rivers and lakes; fragment endangered wildlife habitat; and clear the way for up to 220 new tankers to carry bitumen through the narrow passages of B.C.’s north coast to Asian markets each year. It will also cut through the traditional territories of more than 40 First Nations and Aboriginal groups – many of which stand in opposition to the pipeline.
“If anything, the hearings proved that Enbridge cannot be trusted to build and operate a pipeline that exposes some of our most precious watersheds and ecosystems to the risk of a catastrophic oil spill,” said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigner with ForestEthics Advocacy.
“While Enbridge has overcome another hurdle with this federal approval, the company continues to face a wall of opposition in B.C. that won’t come down until Northern Gateway is dead.”
Erin Flanagan, analyst at the Pembina Institute, said “The oilsands sector is already Canada’s fastest-growing source of carbon pollution, yet there are no federal regulations to limit that growth. We are very concerned about Cabinet’s decision to approve a project that will allow oilsands development — and its associated carbon pollution — to grow faster at a time when industry and regulators are failing to manage the impacts and risks of current production.”
Six thousand volunteers have signed up with the Dogwood Intiative to gather signatures for a citizens movement similar to that which brought about the repeal of the HST in 2010. Dogwood launched a website called LetBCvote.ca.
Other BC’s environmental groups have put up online petitions you can sign:
- BC’s Sierra Club has an online letter to Premier Christy Clark that you may sign by clicking here
- SumOfUs has a petition you can sign here
- The Wilderness Committee has an online letter that you may sign here
As Tom Mulcair pointed out, the acceptance of this pipeline is “already an election issue in British Columbia … that’s why the more than (province’s) more than twenty Conservative MP’s are hiding under their desks right now.”
The NDP, Liberals and Greens all promise to set aside the Northern Gateway Pipeline decision, if they form the next government, and all intend to develop the oil sands.
Both Mulcair and May believe the bitumen should be processed in Alberta. That would add 40,000 jobs to the local economy. May said if you kept production of bitumen to 2 million barrels a day and processed it in Northern Alberta “you would not have these fights over pipelines.”
Though no one wants a spill, May said oil spills are less damaging to the environment. Gas and oil evaporate, bitumen settles and you end up with situations like the Kalamazoo where they are still cleaning up after three years.
She stressed the fact that cleaner pipelines are needed for refined oil, otherwise you damage the product.
Mulcair had a suggestion that would protect BC’s $ 14 billion tourist industry. The pipelines should go east from Alberta and the oil tankers navigate through the St Lawrence.
Other Articles about the Propoesed Northern Gateway Project on the ECOreport:
- Enbridge will not Build the Northern Gateway (Regardless of what the Government does)(RLH)
- Harper’s Government Says Science is on Their Side (video of Question period in Canadian Parliament) (RLH)
- Will the Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal go Forward? (RLH)
- The Misleading Half Truths from our Oily Friends (Opinion from someone on the route) (IO)
- Thousands of Canadians take to the streets to Defend Our Climate (RLH)
- What we told Enbridge (from the Yinka Dene Alliance, who occupy 25% of the proposed Pipeline Route)
- For Humpback Whales, Timing is Everything (from BC Sierra Club)
- Kitimat Votes No! to the Northern Gateway Pipeline (results of the plebiscite)(RLH)
- My Opposition to the Northern Gateway Proposal (From someone on the route)
- Time to Embrace Clean Energy Options (Opinion from someone on the route) (IO)
- Kitimat Residents Saying No! to A Pipeline (Impending plebiscite) (RLH)
- First Nations Treaty Rights Stand to Protect us All (Reprint from Watershed Sentinel)
- Enbridge Explains the Northern Gateway (email to the ECOreport)
- Lawsuits Filed over Flawed Joint Review Panel for Northern Gateway Pipeline Recommendation (RLH)
- Will the Northern Gateway Proposal Ruin BC’s Economy? (RLH)
- Northern Gateway Reinforces Commitment to Building a Safer, Better Pipeline Stronger (Enbridge press release)
- BC Government Reaffirms All Five Conditions must be met before Support for Northern Gateway will be Considered (BC Government press release)
- Northern Gateway Panel Approval Ignores Massive Opposition in BC (from WIlderness Committee)
- Joint Panel Recommendation to Support Northern Gateway Pipeline Ignores Strong Opposition of First Nations and Citizens (From David Suzuki Foundation )
- Joint Panel Review Recommends Approving the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project (Press Release)
- Defend Our Climate Rallies Draw Thousands Across Canada (ENS reprint)
- A Single Spill Could Wipe Out Economic Gains from Northern Gateway (from the University of British Columbia)