Community hearings for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project began this week in Kitamaat Village, BC, bringing local, national and international attention to a project which, by all accounts, is of enormous significance to the people of Canada.

The facts

The Enbridge proposal involves construction of two pipelines and a marine terminal for shipping petroleum products.

  • Each pipeline would be approximately 1,170 km in length – one carrying half a million barrels of petroleum products per day from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, BC; and the other carrying condensate (required to thin the petroleum for transport) back eastward. {1,2}
  • Once in Kitimat, the products will be loaded onto supertankers that will travel through the Douglas Channel, past Hartley Bay, and on to California and China.
  • The proposed pipeline and tanker routes cross more than 700 streams and rivers, the Fraser and Skeena watersheds, and the traditional lands and waters of dozens of First Nations. {3}
  • Enbridge has announced it has 10 industry supporters for the project, each of which is providing $10 million to help the project through the regulatory process. Identified supporters include China’s second-largest oil producer, Sinopec. {4}

As with any large industrial proposal, the Enbridge pipeline has its advocates and its opponents and the next year promises an important opportunity for Canada to get the decision right. It is a lifetime chance for this country to demonstrate true democracy in action. The key is the provision of excellent, accurate and accessible information so that the decision making playing field is levelled and the debates are open, fair and free.

Because our mission is to work for the creation of an equitable and sustainable economy that can provide good livelihoods and a healthy environment, Ecotrust Canada has registered to make an oral statement to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel, along with thousands of other Canadian companies, organizations and individuals. We will have 10 minutes to present what we know and what we think.

Why we are involved

Ecotrust Canada works to build a conservation economy. As a registered Canadian charity – and not a lobby group – we work hard to green and grow long-term, sustainable economies in coastal British Columbia. In doing so, we support Aboriginal rights and title and strongly believe communities of people in place are best suited to make decisions that affect their lands and waters. This belief has seen us working with individuals, businesses and First Nations in the areas impacted by the proposed pipeline project for over 15 years. We have come to call them friends as well as clients, colleagues and business partners.

As Gerald Amos of the Haisla First Nation has eloquently stated {5}, many pipeline opponents are not opposed to development, or proposals that yield long term, permanent, sustainable jobs they can be proud of. But considering the risks of piping oil through their territory and shipping it through their waters to the foods, forests and waters necessary for life and livelihoods, 61 First Nations{6} have definitively rejected the Enbridge proposal.

Ecotrust Canada respects this wisdom and, as an organization, we will speak to the issue at hand from our own knowledge and experience when we get the chance.

You can comment too

Those who did not sign up to make an oral statement can submit a written letter of comment to the panel until March 13, 2012. The address and online comment forms are available on the Panel’s website at www.gatewaypanel.review.gc.ca.

References and Links

  1. Project Description from Gateway Panel site.
  2. Volume of Oil from proponent’s website
  3. Number of Streams and Rivers. 700 in Financial Post. Other sites say over 1000, at least 870, 5 major salmon rivers.
  4. Enbridge Supporters include Sinopec. Canada.com and Financial Post
  5. Amos, Gerald. No Apology Forthcoming. Kitimat Daily.
  6. 61 Nations declare their opposition: Save the Fraser Declaration Press Release.