British Columbia rejects Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project

• May 31, 2013
northern gateway pipeline

Creative Commons: Travis S, 2006

The British Columbia government has rejected Enbridge’s proposal for the Northern Gateway pipeline project. Provincial officials reported that Enbridge failed to address the environmental concerns of the public.

According to Environment Minister Terry Lake:

British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project, including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents.

Lake reports, however, that Enbridge failed to prove it could respond to a spill. He explained:

Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond.

Enbridge has a safety record that raises doubts: between 1990 and 2010, Enbridge pipelines leaked 161,475 barrels of oil in 804 spills, and the company has had over 600 recorded leaks and breaks in the last ten years. In 2010, a Enbridge pipeline rupture into the Kalamazoo River in the U.S. became the most costly spill in American history. An NTSB investigation found the $800 million spill to be a ‘wake up call for the industry.’  Recent studies have also suggested that Enbridge’s ‘state of the art’ leak detection technology actually misses 9 out of 10 spills.

This decision comes after months of campaign work to stop this destructive project by First Nations and grassroots groups like the Dogwood Initiative, Forest Ethics, CAN-Canada, The Sierra Club, 350.org, DirtyOilSands.org, Environmental Defence and many others.

The Northern Gateway pipeline project consists of two pipelines heading west from Alberta to the North Coast of B.C. The $5.5 billion, 1,177 km project would have the capacity to carry 525,000 barrels of oil sands per day to a coastal port, where it would be exported in tankers.

If ever built, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project would facilitate a 30% expansion of the oil sands, Canada’s fasting growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Fully exploiting the oil sands could release more climate pollution than the USA and China have combined through their entire histories. It could surpass all the oil ever burned by humanity.

The final decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline now sits with the federal government. Over the past 18 months, the federal Harper administration has been accused of bowing to the interests of oil companies and making oil sands exploitation a national priority despite the public outcry against it and the threat it poses to public health and ecology.

Though the Northern Gateway is not entirely defeated, British Columbia’s rejection of the project is a major and hard-won victory for the safety of the people of Canada, the environment, and the global climate.


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