Pipeline Opponents: This Means ‘War’ June 18, 2014Posted by rogerhollander in British Columbia, Canada, Energy, Environment, First Nations.
Tags: british columbia, canada oil, carbon emissions, david suzuki, enbridge, environment, First Nations, greenpeace, lauren mccauley, northern gateway, roger hollander, Stephen Harper, tar sands, tar sands pipeline
First Nations and other British Columbia citizens promise direct actions, protests and legal battles to thwart Northern Gateway project
“It’s official. The war is on,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told a crowd of hundreds who had flooded the streets of Vancouver late Tuesday following the announcement that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline.
Phillip, who is president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told reporters that people are prepared to go to jail over this fight, “because that’s what it’s going to take.”
Phillip’s statement exemplified the widespread condemnation and vows of resistance that swiftly followed news that the Canadian government had greenlighted the controversial project.
The 1,177 kilometer pipeline will carry 200 million barrels of tar sands crude each year from Alberta to a terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia, where it will be loaded onto oil tankers.
Blocking a major intersection, the Vancouver protesters wielded signs and chanted: ‘No pipelines!’, ‘No tankers!’ and ‘Defend our coast!’
“The only thing we can do now is raise our voices together and have a peaceful protest, to make a strong statement that this is not okay,” Mona Woodward, executive director of the Aboriginal Front door society, told a reporter from the Vancouver Observer.
A diverse crowd gathered in front of the CBC News headquarters in the B.C. city to voice their anger at a government that they say blatantly chose to neglect the people and the environment over big business.
“It’s more than disrespectful […] it’s the end of safe drinking water, it’s also the end of Mother Earth,” Woodward continued.
Opponents of the pipeline also flooded social media with vows of resistance and pictures of Tuesday’s demonstration.
Canadian Indigenous groups, which have long-fought the pipeline, are vowing to defend their land and their sovereignty ‘without surrender.’
In an unprecedented show of unity, 31 First Nations and tribal councils have signed a letter announcing their intention to “vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project.”
“We have governed our lands, in accordance to our Indigenous laws, since time immemorial,” read the statement, which was distributed by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “Our inherent Title and Rights and our legal authority over our respective territories have never been surrendered.”
“This project, and the federal process to approve it, violated our rights and our laws. We are uniting to defend our lands and waters of our respective territories,” the statement continued. “We will defend our territories whatever the costs may be.”
“We will defend our territories whatever the costs may be.”
—alliance of 31 First Nations
Even with the project tied up in courts, organizers are preparing more immediate direct actions and demonstrations on the ground.
On Wednesday, the First Nations group Kootenays for a Pipeline-Free B.C. is holding a rally under the banner “Occupy the Pipeline Everywhere!” at the Chahko Mika Mall in Ottawa.
Women with the Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of six First Nations who live directly along the pipeline route, are vowing to “do everything we can to protect our water,” as alliance coordinator Geraldine Thomas Flurer told The Tyee.
Gitga’at First Nation women are planning to a suspend multicolored crocheted “chain of hope” across the more than 3.5 kilometer-wide Douglas Channel this Friday, in what they are describing as a symbolic blockade against oil tankers.
Echoing the sentiment of many who are specifically directing their anger over the pipeline at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Chief Phillip said during the Vancouver rally: “Harper has declared war on British Columbians and First Nations, he will absolutely not be welcome into this province in the future.”
Considering the mounting opposition, many believe this is a project destined for failure. As noted Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki wrote following news of the pipeline’s approval, “This conversation is far from over.”
Suzuki added: “In approving it, the government is aggressively pushing an unwanted project on an unwilling public. I don’t believe it will be built.”
Our Fight Against the Northern Gateway Pipeline Has Just Begun
Like more than two-thirds of British Columbians and 130 First Nations, I’m outraged that the federal government wants to proceed with the Enbridge Northern Gateway twinned pipeline. In approving it, the government is aggressively pushing an unwanted project on an unwilling public. I don’t believe it will be built.
British Columbia and Canada have too much to lose: rich coastal ecosystems known as the Galapagos of the North, the vast Great Bear Rainforest, vibrant First Nations’ communities and some of the world’s last healthy salmon streams, among other treasures. B.C.’s communities are built on the understanding that healthy ecosystems lead to prosperity.
All this is at risk from a pipeline that will carry heavy oil across nearly 800 rivers and streams and onto supertankers travelling B.C.’s coastal waters. It’s hard to imagine a riskier project.
Yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway heavy oil pipeline despite a mounting outcry from Canadians.
This is not the time to increase our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. Building the Northern Gateway pipeline is out of step with what an overwhelming body of scientific evidence is telling us: We need to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades if we hope to guard against the worst impacts of climate change.
We can do better. The oil sands represent the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions in the country. Instead of supporting their unfettered expansion, we should be investing in a renewable-energy future that eliminates our dependence on fossil fuels. Building the Northern Gateway pipeline only ensures that emissions from the oil sands will continue to grow and Canada will again fail to be part of the solution to global warming.
I’m not giving up on a clean energy future for my children and grandchildren.
British Columbians say they don’t want this pipeline. Increased tanker traffic and the possibility of heavy oil spills threaten the same marine areas that the province, First Nations and local communities are working to protect through marine plans.
This conversation is far from over. Next steps will likely include court challenges and actions by Canadians and First Nations, whose concerns have so far been ignored. I urge you to remain hopeful and join me to make your voice heard for a responsible energy future.