Nature Canada

Enbridge Insists on Pipeline Project to the BC Coast

On April 20,the world awoke to news concerning BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of us, myself included, weren’t even aware that there was a oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, let alone that something had gone terribly wrong. Today, most of us have clued in on the rig and its resulting oil spill and are reminded of another tragedy, the Exxon Valdez, once considered the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters…until BP’s Deepwater Horizon.

Five weeks following BP’s Deepwater Horizon, Enbridge filedaformal application to the National Energy Board (NEB) requesting permission to build a twin pipeline system running from Edmonton to Kitimat, British Colombia and a marine terminal in the latter one.

John Carruthers, President of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, wrote in a recent brochure advocating the pipeline project: “I certainly appreciate the importance that local residents place on the environment and I want to encourage all affected stakeholders and Aboriginal people to continue to provide feedback on our project.” He added “feel free to email me at with any questions you may have.”So feel free, many already have.


On March 23, more than 28 First Nations in British Columbia called for a halt to the project. The pipelines cross traditional lands and the increased tanker traffic (200-220 tankers a year) puts the future of the coastal waters on which they depend in potential jeopardy. Mr. Carruthers must have missed their emails as two months after the First Nations called for a halt to the project Enbridge formally filed, on May 27th, for construction of the pipelines.


Four days after the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines application, a solidarity rally was held in Kitamaat Village to protest the project. Even Amnesty International has ‘piped’ in, noting the project should not proceed without the free prior informed consent of the First Nations that would be affected by it. This standard was adopted in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by 144 states. Four states voted against the declaration: Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and you guessed it…Canada.


To further spice up the mix, a rather unusual ally in the fight against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines has emerged. Kinder Morgan Canada, owner of an existing oil pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast, stated in a news release that the Northern Gateway Project had not demonstrated adequate commercial support. Kinder Morgan believes that the better way is simply to increase the output of their own pipeline, rather than build another one. Kinder Morgan motives albeit not environmental, only add to the debate.


We at Nature Canada are opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway project because of the risk of an oil spill in the coast and the damage it would cause to the ecosystem and to livelihoods. We believe Greenpeace said it best, “Accidents happen. If oil tankers are brought to the Great Bear Rainforest, it’s not a question of if a spill will occur; it is a question of when, where, and how large. . . When you move oil, you spill oil. No amount of technology or process can eliminate human or mechanical error.”Just look at the Gulf!


This blog post was contributed by Nature Canada volunteer Stefan Kohut. Thanks for the insight, Stefan!


Photo by Pat Moss


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