Environmental groups vow to stop oil pipelines and tankers
Growing global campaign backs up First Nations’ declaration to keep B.C.’s coastal waters free of oil spills
VANCOUVER — One day after the twenty-first anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a powerful coalition of environmental groups are putting Enbridge and governments on notice that they will step up their activities to support a Coastal First Nations’ declaration made on Tuesday to keep tar sands oil tankers out of their ancestral territories on Canada’s Pacific North Coast.
“We stand beside Coastal First Nations in their unwavering opposition to the threat oil spills present to coastal communities, as well as those along Enbridge’s proposed pipeline route,” said Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics. “As major environmental groups, we are unanimous in opposing this project and we, too, will take action to see that Enbridge and governments respect the First Nations’ declaration.”
Enbridge has proposed to build a 1,170 km ‘Northern Gateway’ pipeline that will flow more than half a million barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta’s tar sands out to the pristine Great Bear Rainforest. Once there, it will be loaded onto oil supertankers that would navigate the same coastal waters where the Queen of the North ferry sunk just a few years ago.
“The Great Bear Rainforest is recognized worldwide as a global treasure that requires protection. The risks from oil spills are too great -- to the spirit bears of this forest, to the orcas of the Pacific ocean, and to the wild salmon culture and economy,” said Stephanie Goodwin of Greenpeace. “We stand with three out of four British Columbians who support a ban on oil tankers inside coastal waters.”
Environmentalists have long worked to preserve an oil-free coastline. The idea of bringing oil tankers to B.C.’s North Coast was stopped dead in its tracks in 1977 by environmentalists, First Nations, local communities and fishermen who, among other things, took to the coastal waters and blocked an oil industry boat.
“Widespread opposition and action has stopped oil tankers and pipeline projects in the past and if necessary, it will again,” said Oonagh O’Connor of Living Oceans Society. “The risks from oil tankers and the consequences of spills haven’t changed and neither has public concern.”
The capacity provided by the proposed pipeline would allow the Alberta tar sands to increase their production of dirty oil by 30 percent, or 6.5 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
“For the sake of our climate and our coast, we are speaking in a unified voice to the boardrooms in Alberta, to potential customers in Asia and the halls of government in Victoria and Ottawa, that supertankers will not be allowed into coastal B.C.,” said Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative. Canadians have committed to taking action in the coming months including marches, demonstrations, swimming the Athabasca River, selling Enbridge stock, gallery exhibits, and cycling the length of the Great Continental Divide.
Stephanie Goodwin, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace, 604-761-6722
Eric Swanson, Corporate Campaigner, Dogwood Initiative, 250-858-9990
Jennifer Lash, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society, 604-696-5044
Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner, ForestEthics, 250-877-7762
George Heyman, Executive Director, Sierra Club BC, 604-312-6595
Jen Rice, Energy Campaigner, T. Buck Suzuki Foundation
Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law, 604-601-2501
Joe Foy, Campaign Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, 604-880-2580
Ian McAllister, Executive Director, Pacific Wild, 250-882-7246
Chris Genovali, Executive Director, Raincoast Conservation, 250-655-1229, ext 225
Pat Moss, Friends of Wild Salmon, 250-847-9693
Vicky Husband, Watershed Watch Salmon Society