In following the discussion and commentary on social media in the hours leading up to an announcement from the federal government on Northern Gateway, one thing is clear: there is an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
I stand in opposition to the Enbridge pipeline for many reasons, the biggest of which is that Enbridge has a less than stellar record with their pipelines. It’s also been reported they had broken safety regulations at 117 of 125 pumping stations across Canada. And there are those pesky issues regarding how Enbridge deals with landowners,spills and potential contamination.
Personally, I wouldn’t allow Enbridge to run a water hose across my backyard if the house was on fire, that’s how strongly I feel opposed to the company as a corporate citizen – period.
And many British Columbians and First Nations feel the same way. The risk combined with Enbridge’s record is a strong motivator for many.
But the strong possibility that the Enbridge proposed pipeline will end up in courtroom challenges for years even if it is approved, leaves the possibility open that another project will come forward to get bitumen from the Alberta oil-sands to the West Coast of BC for export- one that is perhaps more palatable.
Members of the Harper government travelled to the US recently, to reassure the Americans that an export route through B.C for Alberta oil was going to be forged.
Just weeks earlier, the Aquilini group announced it was going to partner with Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings in a pipeline that has received support from several other First Nations along the route. It was claimed at the press conference that some First Nations groups that opposed Enbridge, were now lending support to this proposal.
With many British Columbians counting on First Nations opposition to Enbridge operating through their territories to stop the flow of bitumen to the pristine waters along our coast, it raises the question of what will happen if First Nations support grows for another proposal along the same route?
It’s the elephant in the room everyone is stepping around and avoiding at all costs, because it challenges many people opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway project to examine the roots of their opposition.
If you are opposed to Enbridge because you feel First Nations must be consulted and in agreement, are you ok with a pipeline First Nations are in favour of?
Are you opposed to every pipeline that plans to transport bitumen across a precarious route through northern BC to tankers along the coast?
Is there a middle ground for you, or no room to maneuver at all because you want to see the oil-sands in Alberta shut down altogether?
Compelling questions that British Columbians need to ask themselves when you look at the bigger picture of the reality that the Harper government indeed will do what it must to export that product.
Therein lies a big issue for many in British Columbia when it comes to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. It’s kind of hard to say you oppose bitumen flowing through Enbridge when the same product is flowing through the Kinder Morgan pipeline right now. A spill in the waters of Burrard Inlet would still be just as devastating, but many are taking the put your head in the sand approach instead.
There are no easy answers, no matter what the reason is behind your opposition, or mine, but this is where I am coming from. Like many, I don’t see any assurances that a spill of diluted bitumen in the ocean, or on land, or in a river could be cleaned up or dealt with, without massive, possibly irreparable harm to the environment. Harm that could last generations, and have devastating impact on marine and wildlife. And for me, it doesn’t matter if it’s Enbridge or another company behind a diluted bitumen pipeline to the coast, it’s not going to fly with me.
The risks are just not worth it: