Toronto350.org expresses its support and solidarity with the First Nations and people of British Columbia opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. This project is unwise, unethical, and legally dubious.
The sole purpose of this pipeline is to expand Canada's ability to export fossil fuels, into a world where they have already been used to an unacceptable and deleterious degree. The government of Canada has accepted the need to keep climate change below the 2˚C threshold where scientists say it will become "dangerous", and yet it has not acknowledged that meeting this target requires phasing out the use of fossil fuels. We cannot possibly meet this obligation if we continue to build huge new export corridors for the oil sands. For this reason, Toronto350.org condemns the construction of any new fossil fuel export infrastructure, and calls on the government of Canada and the governments of Canada's provinces to develop credible plans for phasing out fossil fuels on a timescale suitable for avoiding dangerous climate change.
In addition to climate change, this pipeline carries harms and risks that make it unacceptable. It will cut a huge gash across some of British Columbia's most pristine and rugged wilderness - as well as through the constitutionally-protected territories of First Nations who have been virtually unanimous in opposing this reckless and short-sighted project. Further, the proposed tanker traffic creates the virtual certainty of a bitumen spill off the coast of British Columbia, endangering fisheries and tourism and further violating the rights of British Columbia's First Nations and threatening the welfare of all B.C. residents.
Enbridge has proven incompetent in the safe operation of pipelines. Between 1999 and 2008, Enbridge's operations experienced 610 spills that released 132,000 barrels (21 million litres) of hydrocarbons into the environment. Collectively, these spills represent about half the volume of the Exxon Valdez spill of 1988. Spills inevitably accompany pipeline operation, and Enbridge has been taking inadequate action to minimize them. As of May 2013, Enbridge was breaking National Energy Board safety rules at 117 of its 125 pump stations across Canada, and 83 of its pump stations are missing emergency shut-down buttons. Concerns about Enbridge were highlighted in the Province of British Columbia's May 2013 statement to the Joint Review Panel. Enbridge's poor safety record raises questions about the wisdom of entrusting the company with new pipeline capacity and a more dangerous product to ship.
Canada's federal government has continually shown a bull-headed determination to develop the oil sands regardless of the economic, human, and environmental costs that will carry. This is not the way to create prosperity for future generations of Canadians. Humanity must control its greenhouse gas pollution, and doing so will require shutting down infrastructure that is already operating, as well as cutting short the lifetime of any inappropriate new infrastructure that is built. Spending billions - and imposing all the risks of the Northern Gateway pipeline - simply does not make sense in today's world.
We hope that Canada's courts will recognize the degree to which the federal, B.C., and Alberta governments have inappropriately tipped the scales in favour of oil sands development, as well as the strength of the claims of B.C. First Nations to not having this project imposed upon them.