Thursday, August 05, 2010


The oil company Enbridge has recently joined BP on the "most unwanted list" of corporate vandals because of its pipeline spill in Michigan. Not content with playing second fiddle to the head capo of corporate crime, however, Enbridge has for some time been preparing a made in Canada potential disaster to put it up with the big boys. I refer to the planned 'Northern Gateway Pipeline' from the Alberta Oil Sands to the Pacific coast in British Columbia. This project has attracted a wide variety of opposition from environmental groups to first nations whose lands will be threatened by the development. It has even been opposed by the BC Central Coast Chamber of Commerce because of the dangers that it hazards. The Pembina Institute, a Canadian think tank concerned with energy policy, has produced a very critical report outlining the problems with this project as well as with another proposed northern pipelines. Consult that website for further details.

Canadian labour, in the person of the BC section of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE BC) has also come out in opposition to Northern Gateway. Here's their statement from the website of CUPE BC.
CUPE BC opposes Enbridge tanker plans to navigate off coast
BURNABY—Citing this week’s Enbridge oil spill that has threatened a Michigan river and the earlier disaster by British Petroleum that devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, the B.C. division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees today joined First Nations and environmental groups in voicing opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

The project would involve super tankers carrying bitumen from the Alberta tar sands and navigating the coast of British Columbia, including the fragile Great Bear Rainforest.

CUPE BC says that any potential benefits of the Enbridge plan are outweighed by the high risk of another disaster like the BP oil spill. Enbridge itself has lost credibility in recent days with a pipeline leak that resulted in more than 3 million litres of oil flowing into the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan, coating birds and fish.

“As we’ve seen in Michigan and the Gulf coast, any kind of oil spill on our coast would have a tremendous impact on the natural environment and would impact wildlife, including salmon and the Kermode bear which is unique to the Great Bear Rainforest,” says CUPE BC diversity vice-president (aboriginal workers) Leanne Louie. “With the BP oil spill, the damage is irreversible. We can’t let that happen here.”

Penetration of the B.C. coastline by oil tankers is only part of a massive plan to build a 1,150-kilometre underground pipeline that will result in the transportation of 525,000 barrels of oil each day across Alberta and B.C. The federal government and its joint review panel are currently reviewing Enbridge’s application for the project despite the B.C. government’s 2006 promise to protect the Great Bear Rainforest.

Enbridge claims there is minimal risk of an oil spill. In reality, it’s not if but when an oil spill will occur,” says Sheryl Burns, co-chair of the CUPE BC environment committee. “The Campbell government says it wants to fight climate change. But by supporting the Enbridge application it’s doing precisely the opposite, since the pipeline will be a major incentive for increased production of climate-damaging oil from the tar sands. We should be creating green jobs instead that will employ British Columbians while also protecting our environment.”

In a letter to Premier Gordon Campbell, CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill reminds the premier of B.C.’s promise in 2006 to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. “We urge the provincial government to oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project altogether and honour the Great Bear Rainforest agreement it signed,” writes O’Neill.

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