The rally in Simms Park last Saturday was one of about 140 across Canada held to show a united wall of opposition to pipelines, reckless tar sands expansion and runaway climate change.
At the end of this year, the National Energy Board will deliver its decision on the Northern Gateway Project — the two pipelines that would travel 1,170 kilometres across the rugged, mountainous terrain of the northern Rockies of Alberta and the Coast Mountains of B.C.
They will also cross nearly 800 streams and rivers, including sensitive salmon-spawning habitat in the upper Fraser, Skeena, and Kitimat watersheds.
Once delivered to a marine terminal in Kitimat, the diluted bitumen (dilbit) will be loaded onto supertankers three times the size of the Exxon Valdez (1,155 feet long and 200 feet wide), which will travel through the narrow fjords out of Kitimat and through Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, some of the most treacherous waters on earth.
The National Energy Board’s environmental review panel began its assessment of the Northern Gateway Project in January 2010. As reported in The Star on Nov. 18, speakers at the hearings in Vancouver were unanimous in their opposition to the project.
However, the hearings and the voices of the people who made presentations to them were rendered moot by a clause in one of the Harper government’s omnibus bills giving the final decision on the project to cabinet.
That means that three years of the panel’s work now appear to be pointless because the decision rests not with the NEB or even with Parliament, the elected representatives of the people of Canada, but with Harper’s hand-picked ministers.
Given the government’s open support of Enbridge’s plan, including its commitment of $120 million for a research plan named the Northern Gateway Project, its decision is predictable.
Finally, the development of Alberta’s tar sands threatens runaway climate change.
James Hansen, the world’s most prominent climate scientist, puts it simply: “It doesn’t make sense for the rest of the people on the planet. We are getting close to the dangerous level of carbon in the atmosphere and if we add on to that unconventional fossil fuels, which have a tremendous amount of carbon, then the climate problem becomes unsolvable.”
That means that climate change will be unstoppable.
Our federal MP, John Duncan, and our provincial MLA, Don McRae, both support the Northern Gateway Project. If you don’t, please let them know. It’s important.