9 Reasons to Oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Posted on August 28, 2012

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These are not even all my reasons, but they’ll do for a start.

  1.  Fossil fuels cause climate change.  The heatwaves of Europe, Russia and the United States, droughts in the US, Australia and East Africa, floods in Canada, the US, Australia, Pakistan, China and Colombia, wildfires in Canada, the US and Europe are the result of CO2 humanity has already placed in the atmosphere, of 0.8oC of warming.  If we continue developing fossil fuel resources, we are on track for 5oC or more of warming—with unimaginable consequences.  Oh, and we’re acidifying the ocean, too.  Tar sands oil must stay in the ground.
  2. The ban on tankers in British Columbia’s inside passage will be lifted to permit shipment of the dirtiest oil on the planet.  With climate change promising to bring us unpredictable weather and more powerful storms, the idea of opening up some of the most beautiful, untouched sea lanes to oil tanker traffic is even more stupid than it used to be.
  3. It took Enbridge 17 hours to respond to the Kalamazoo oil spill, and only because people phoned up and complained.  The Northern pipeline route passes through some of the wildest, most pristine and most remote terrain on Earth, through mountain ranges and over 100s of streams.  In some of these places, there is no one to complain—until somebody notices that a stream has turned black a hundred miles downstream from a spill.
  4. Some of the areas the pipeline is passing through are so remote and in territories so rough that it would be almost impossible to bring in a clean-up crew.  Never mind carry out an effective cleanup, which hardly ever happens under the best of conditions.
  5. Enbridge cleanup plan is not even designed to cleanup the goop they propose to ship through the pipeline.  Really.  And that goop is different in many ways.  It sinks, for one thing, so an oil boom will be useless.
  6. If the corporation that is running the pipeline goes bankrupt from a cleanup—which is almost certain in the case of major spill—the mother company is still off the hook; citizens will have to foot the bill out of taxes.  The tar sands producers—the corporate entity with the real money—have carefully avoided liability for any spill.
  7. Stephen Harper’s government is in charge of monitoring Enbridge and they’ve fired most of their environmental surveillance officers.  Their history isn’t very good either.  They failed to oversee Enbridge effectively in respect of the Kalamazoo oil spill.
  8. The pipeline is passing through some of the most sensitive natural ecosystems anywhere and over 100s of streams, and we’re not even sure we can effectively clean up tar sands oil.
  9. British Columbia takes all the risks and gets rewarded with 59 full time jobs.  Most of the jobs building the pipeline will not go to British Columbians, but to specialists who go from pipeline to pipeline.