Campaigns against tar sands don’t make Northern Gateway viable

According to Barbara Yaffe’s most recent column in the Vancouver Sun, “Knocking oilsands bolsters Northern Gateway”, the actions of environmental groups, in exposing the environmental impacts of the Alberta tar sands, are making it more ‘imperative’ that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project proceed as the U.S. becomes increasingly unwilling to buy tar sands oil.

Even if the U.S. market for tar sands oil one day dries up (recent studies show the tar sands are now the largest source of crude oil in the U.S., and that isn’t about to change any time soon), that doesn’t mean that the people of British Columbia should be forced to bear the risks of fleets of supertankers carrying tar sands crude through dangerous and fragile coastal waters to Asian markets. The risks posed by the Northern Gateway Project are immense - with the proposed pipeline crossing more than 1,000 rivers and streams, and oil super tankers plying BC’s northern coast, it would just be a matter of time before invaluable ecosystems, cultures and local economies were hit hard by an oil spill. Ms. Yaffe acknowledges this, but she’s wrong in stating that fears of a faltering U.S. market for tar sands crude weaken the arguments against the Northern Gateway project. Fear may ramp up Enbridge’s determination to build the pipeline, but the arguments against the pipeline are stronger than ever.

People in BC have the right to stand up to industry and put their future and well being first. With Coastal First Nations declaring their waters a tar sands oil tanker free zone, and 80% of British Columbians supporting a legislated tanker ban on the north coast, it has never been clearer that the Northern Gateway Project is not wanted in BC.  A greater awareness in the U.S. of the tar sands’ devastating environmental impacts and America’s growing resistance to tar sands oil doesn’t put that into question.

EmmaH.JPGBy Emma Hume, Legal Intern, West Coast Environmental Law