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June 1, 2013

RELEASE: Victory as British Columbia Government Opposes Northern Gateway Tar Sands Pipeline

Spirit Bear

The decision means it is highly unlikely the Northern Gateway pipeline [search] - to carry Alberta’s filthy tar sand bitumen to China - will commence any time soon. Ecological Internet is pleased to have successfully been the first to lead international opposition to the project, achieving with many others the second major delay to the flawed proposal. Concerns expressed over the inability to cleanup spilled bitumen in water apply equally to the flawed Keystone XL pipeline, for which President Obama is now clear to deny approval. One down, one to go!


By Ecological Internet, http://www.climateark.org/
Contact: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org

(Madison, WI) - Ecological Internet (EI) is enormously pleased to note British Columbia (B.C.), Canada’s thumbs down to the proposed Northern Gateway tar sand pipeline. Announced yesterday, the decision virtually guarantees that the flow of filthy tar sands oil from Canada’s interior to China will not commence through a Western Pacific route any time soon. EI was the first to protest internationally on the issue, doing so since 2010, over a full year earlier than other global affinity efforts – successfully laying the groundwork for the victory.

EI’s President, Dr. Glen Barry, states: “The B.C. pipeline victory against tar sands ecocide is the result of innumerable instances of valor by indigenous, local, and global tar sands protesters. Yet is also again clearly demonstrates Ecological Internet and online colleagues’ ability to be at the vanguard of environmental protest, helping mobilize online large global coalitions that are ultimately successful. This is a stunning victory - we achieved together - and illustrates the importance of funding small ecological opposition groups, and taking strong biocentric positions against environmental risk.”

In urging a Canadian federal review panel to reject the $6 billion plan, the province of British Columbia noted the lack of a cleanup plan for inevitable spills, and the many unknowns about how highly corrosive bitumen behaves after spills, particularly in water. The pipeline would have crossed remote and extremely difficult terrain; through pristine rivers, temperate rainforests, and marine environments, that would be devastated in the event of a spill. The province’s opposition has probably doomed the pipeline, or at least will tie it up in endless litigation.

The Northern Gateway project – composed of two separate pipelines – would extend about 700 miles from the Alberta tar sands to a tanker port on the northern coast of British Columbia. It would have the capacity to ship more than 525,000 barrels of oil per day. The rejection of the pipelines – which were to have given Alberta an outlet to Pacific coast ports and markets in China – further raises the stakes on another controversial tar sands pipeline, the Keystone XL.

Dr. Barry notes: “The reasons given in rejecting the Pacific tar sands pipeline are just as valid for the Keystone XL, and provide President Obama a marvelous opportunity to reject a new generation of toxic fossil fuel addiction, that will gravely intensify abrupt climate change. Global ecological sustainability requires urgently cutting greenhouse gas emissions, through keeping tar sands and coal in the ground, and protecting and restoring old-growth forests. We need to work together for all such policy simultaneously, and not over-focus on one element of the battle, or we face global ecosystem collapse.”

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The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project as proposed included a twin pipeline system between Edmonton, Alberta and a new marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia, which would carry tar sands oil by pipeline across B.C., to be loaded onto supertankers at an ocean terminal, and onward to Asia. Canadian tar sands production would have been able to expand by 30% - escalating the terrible ecological impacts upon the Canadian boreal forests and its water, carbon and ecosystems.

The pipelines would go through B.C.'s sensitive Pacific North Coast ecosystem, and threaten First Nations’ land and salmon economy. One mishap – such as project developer Enbridge’s broken pipelines fouling the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo rivers – would bring disastrous results and long-term loss of marine life, pristine waterways, and sensitive coastal ecosystems.

All along, First Nation opposition has been strong and united, making clear the pipeline would never be allowed over their land, and with suggestions of massive civil disobedience if approved. The pipelines could not be constructed without breaking First Nation unity through financial inducements, or simply seizing their land.

In mid-2010, Ecological Internet launched our signature Internet protest targeting the B.C. provincial government and the Enbridge Northern Gateway joint review panel considering the project’s environmental approvals [1]. At one time the volume of protest emails sent was so large that efforts were made to block them, which after EI took counter-measures, instead were accepted and acknowledged. Nearly one half of a million protest emails were sent.

The pipeline had already been delayed for at least a year in December of 2011 by the review panel who noted “significant public interest in the Northern Gateway project.” After spearheading that delay, Dr. Barry noted: “Ecological Internet is thrilled to have played a small yet important part amongst such massive anti-tar sands opposition. These delays make it possible for us together to continue highlighting how clearcut mining boreal forests, fouling water and land, to transport haphazardly through important ecosystems, to be burned causing abrupt climate change is simply not acceptable.”

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[1] Action Alert: Enbridge Northern Gateway Tar Sands Pipelines Heading West to Asia Must Be Stopped Too - http://www.forests.org/shared/alerts/sendsm.aspx?id=bc_tarsands_pipeline