The British Columbia government has rejected Enbridge’s proposal for the Northern Gateway pipeline. Provincial officials reported that Enbridge failed to address the environmental concerns of the public. This decision comes after months of campaign work to stop this destructive project by First Nations and grassroots groups like the Dogwood Initiative, Forest Ethics, CAN-Canada, and Environmental Defence. The final decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline now sits with the federal government.
RT @TckTckTck Fight isn’t over, but it’s a battle well won: British Columbia’s govt REJECTS @Enbridge #NorthernGateway: ht.ly/lAPQy
The British Columbia Government rejects the Northern Gateway project because Enbridge failed to prove it could respond to a spill. When explaining why the B.C. government rejected the pipeline project, Environment Minister Terry Lake explained, “Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond.”
If ever built, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project would facilitate a 30% expansion of the oil sands, Canada’s fasting growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Fully exploiting the oil sands could release more climate pollution than the USA and China have combined through their entire histories. It could surpass all the oil ever burned by humanity.
The carbon emissions from the Northern Gateway are a threat to the planet, but the pipeline itself is a direct threat to the Canadian environment. The Northern Gateway pipeline would carry over half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the oil sands to the rugged B.C. coast crossing cross over 1,000 streams and rivers, including the salmon-bearing Fraser and Skeena watersheds.
The Northern Gateway pipeline project is two pipelines heading west from Alberta to the North Coast of B.C. The $5.5 billion, 1,177 km project would have the capacity to carry 525,000 barrels of oil sands per day to a coastal port, where it would be exported in tankers. Officials of B.C. will give a final defense of their rejection of the pipeline to a Joint Review Panel on June 17th. The Panel will then present a report of its findings to the federal government. Over the past 18 months, the federal Harper administration has been accused of bowing to the interests of oil companies and making oil sands exploitation a national priority despite the public outcry against it and the threat it poses to public health, ecology, and the climate.
The tar sands (also known as oil sands) are deposits of bitumen crude oil mixed with sand. Recent technological advances have made it possible to extract this oil and refine it into viable gasoline. Most of the deposits are within Alberta, Canada, inside the old-growth boreal forest and Athabasca watershed. The tar sands are estimated to be the second largest deposit of oil in the world. Allowing full industry access to the tar sands will not only be devastating to public health and the local environment, but leading climate scientist James Hansen has called the tar sands “game over” for the global climate.
While development of the tar sands oil is by almost all accounts potentially disastrous for the planet, it could greatly benefit a few vested interests, including the Canadian government. Tar sands development promises to be so lucrative that it has become a major driver of politics and policies in the Canadian government on the federal, provincial, and international level. In an effort to accelerate the construction of pipeline infrastructure necessary to carry tar sands crude to refineries and foreign markets, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration has made efforts to gut environmental regulations and review processes. Influence has also come from foreign markets, as the United States and Canada have seen lobbying efforts spring up from those who can benefit from tar sands production.
- B.C. rejects Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal (CBC News)
- B.C. rejects Enbrdge Northern Gateway proposal in final written submission (Vancouver Observer)
Reports and Useful Links
- The Facts – Enbridge Northern Gateway (Forest Ethics)
- Oil Sands Reality Check site
- 10 Facts About the Alberta Oil Sands (DeSmogBlog)
- Indigenous Environmental Network: Tar Sands and Indigenous Rights
- NRDC, NWF, Sierra Club, and the Pipeline Safety Trust Report on the safety of oil sands oil and pipelines
- Stanford University study finding that oil from oil sands leads to 23% higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude oil.
- Toxic Pollution in the Athabasca River and its tributaries: Research conducted by Erin Kelly and David Schindler of the University of Alberta
- Scientific American on the myth of environmental reclamation and restoration
- Northern Gateway Project opposition (Flickr)
- No Tankers protest (Flickr)
- Indigenous opposition to Northern Gateway Project (Flickr)
- British Columbia capitol building (Flickr)
- Pipelines in winter (Flickr)
- Pipelines through mountains (Flickr)
- Pipelines over bodies of water (Flickr)
- Oil Sands extraction In Alberta (Flickr)
- Oil sands plant in Alberta (Flickr), and here (Flickr)
- Environment Minister Terry Lake (Flickr)
- “British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project, including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents…Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.” – Environment Minister Terry Lake