News Release. July 23, 2012
(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver) Critics of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline are objecting loudly in response to the Province of B.C.’s grandiose announcement regarding five minimum requirements that must be met for the province to consider the construction and operation of heavy oil pipelines within its borders. Several days ago, Enbridge, notorious for its minimal pipeline safety standards, also promised to increase pipeline safety for the proposed project. A clear majority of First Nations continue to be strongly opposed to the proposed project along with environmental groups and the majority of British Columbians, based on its deadly potential for extreme environmental destruction and devastation.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, stated, "Both the Province of BC and Enbridge refuse to acknowledge that people have clearly said ‘no’ to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. No amount of miniscule increases to safety, or a provincial policy paper that ultimately allows the Christy Clark government to approve the proposed pipeline, provide any assurances that the land and waters will be protected. Enbridge has an alarmingly high track record of pipeline spills and environmental degradation, and an equally disturbing history of failing to acknowledge or address its negligent safety standards and practices unless forced to. Enbridge has consistently failed to meaningfully consult with Indigenous peoples on whose territory its pipelines traverse. The Province of B.C.’s new minimum requirement that legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights must be addressed is meaningless- it is absolutely obvious that legal requirements must be not only addressed, but completely met.”
He continued, “Despite the U.S.’ scathing condemnation of Enbridge’s incompetent response to the ravaging oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the worst spill in U.S. history, the Canadian and B.C. Governments are somehow still welcoming Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline with open arms. Due to the nature of heavy oil spills, there is no conventional clean-up remedy available, and oil sinks. Due to massive cutbacks, there are limited funding resources to immediately respond to spills. Quite frankly, both Premier Clark and Enbridge are completely missing the boat; ‘it’s not about the money, it’s about the environment, stupid.’”
Critics of the proposed Northern Gateway project have sound reason for their opposition:
• From 1999 to 2010, Enbridge had 804 spills total with 168,645 barrels spilled. This equals approximately 26.81 million litres, or 7.08 million gallons.
• As recently as June 18, 2012, Enbridge spilled 230,000 litres in Elk Point, Alberta.
• Enbridge pipelines have consistently spilled oil when they run through relatively flat terrain with regular weather conditions. The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would run through extremely varied terrain with a rocky coastline and unpredictable coastal weather.
• The proposed pipeline would facilitate tar sand expansion by 30%, Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse emissions.
Grand Chief Phillip concluded, "The proposed pipeline would cross over 1000 streams and rivers, including the salmon bearing Fraser and Skeena watersheds that are the life-force of First Nations throughout the province. Promising to increase pipeline wall thickness for major tributaries is simply not enough, and neither is the B.C. Government’s illusory ‘trust us’ approach to regulation. Based on Enbridge’s track record, the question of a pipeline spill is not ‘if’ but ‘when.’ We do not take any comfort in the corporate social responsibility rhetoric that Enbridge is vainly pumping out in efforts to save its bottom line. We call on all Canadians to join with the increasing number of people who say ‘no’ to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. Above all, we demand that Aboriginal Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights, be fully upheld.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (604) 684-0231
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.