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Enbridge Gateway Pipeline

Posted by the Council of Canadians – June 18, 2014

'No Means No' rally in Vancouver tonight against the Northern Gateway pipeline. Photo by Leila Darwish.
‘No Means No’ rally in Vancouver on June 17, 2014 against the Northern Gateway pipeline. Photo by Leila Darwish.

Blog: Harper approves Northern Gateway pipeline, June 17, 2014

Pipeline basics: The Enbridge Northern Gateway project involves two pipelines. One pipeline would ship 525,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta to the coastal community of Kitimat. The other pipeline would move 193,000 barrels a day of condensate, which is used to dilute tar sands bitumen so it can flow through the pipelines, to Alberta.

The route: The pipelines would cross a 1,177 km path through northern B.C. including more than 50 Indigenous territories. It would cross ecologically sensitive areas including hundreds of salmon-bearing rivers and streams, the Great Bear Rainforest and mountainous and landslide-prone lands. Tankers would bring the crude through ecologically sensitive coastal waters known for being perilous, including high winds and waves.

OppositionMore than 130 Indigenous communities and First Nations have endorsed the landmark “Save the Fraser Declaration” which opposes the project based on the upholding ancestral laws, title, rights and responsibilities. Opposition to the pipeline proposal has also been expressed by the Union of BC Municipalities and Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers City Councils. The Council of Canadians, alongside many other social justice and environmental organizations, actively oppose the project through campaigns, events and grassroots mobilization. Public polling in B.C. demonstrates the majority of residents do not support the project.  Many suggest that opposition will include future legal battles, particularly over Indigenous rights, as well as acts of non-violent civil disobedience. There are multiple reasons why opposition to the project is strong and growing. This notably includes the pipeline’s role in helping to drive unsustainable expansion in the tar sands and the risks to the environment, subsistence livelihoods and the tourism and fishing industries from a pipeline and tanker spill. The transport of tar sands crude – bitumen – poses heightened spill risks. Bitumen is more viscous and corrosive then conventional crude oil and needs to be mixed with diluents (solvents such as naphtha and natural gas condensate) and transported at higher pressures and temperature.

Where does government stand? There is an ongoing Joint Review Panel mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board that is reviewing the environmental impacts of the proposed project and whether it is in the national interest. A decision is expected in late 2013. Prime Minister Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver are actively promoting the project and have already stated that the project is in the national interest. Former interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae and former interim NDP leader Nicole Turmel have both raised concerns about the project, and have suggested that the NEB decision may not fully address these concerns. The Alberta government promotes the project. The B.C. government is withholding their opinion on the project until the results of the NEB review are available.

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