Thousands Tell Big Oil Where to Put Their Pipeline

B. McPherson

Scenes from Monday's Demonstration

Thousands of British Columbians told Enbridge and KinderMorgan what to do with their pipeline plans. Braving blustery weather and rain, people converged on the BC Legislature lawns to hear speakers and show their solidarity in opposition to Big Oil and their pipeline plans.

Organized by a group called Defend our Coast and working with other environmentally active groups as well as First Nations and labour groups, people from all ages turned out to express their opinions. The youngest came in strollers and the oldest came in wheel chairs. The peaceful, orderly crowd stood listening to those whose lives have already been affected by the Alberta Tar Sands, how pollution and oil spills have killed the land where they live and how we need to stop the pipeline building through our land.

The organizers emphasized the necessity of a peaceful, respectful gathering and that is what they got. The crowd was overseen by police and security stationed on and about the legislative buildings. The security people spent some time filming the good citizens of BC.

There was one act of civil disobedience. It is against the rules to pound anything into the legislative lawns. Some of the demonstrators pounded stakes to hold up black cloth that would be the same length as an oil tanker. Authorities left the banner alone.

Enbridge is trying to gain approval for its Northern Gateway Project which is a double pipeline that would carry the tar sands to the BC coast for loading into tankers to be refined in Asia. The tankers would be loaded with what is called “condensate” that can dilute the sandy sludge enough to have it flow. Condensate is a witch’s brew of poisons and carcinogens. A spill of either the bitumen or the condensate would devastate the surrounding area. If it spilled into the water, the poison would spread and kill, spread and kill.

What’s at Stake – an incomplete list

1.       Pipelines and their dangers. The route chosen for the Northern Gateway runs through the Great Bear Rainforest, an untouched wilderness which shelters many endangered and rare species. The proposed terminus would have supertankers threading their way through treacherous, stormy seas, posing huge risks to whales. A grounding of one of these behemoths would do incalculable damage to the coast.

2.       Alberta Tar Sands which are largely developed through foreign corporations for the benefit of multinationals is adversely affecting the rivers and lands that surround the developments. The people and wildlife have become mere footnotes in the rush for riches.

3.       Site C Dam, proposed on the Peace River would flood rich farmlands. The taxpayers of BC would foot the billion dollar bill for building the dam which would be needed to heat the bitumen in the proposed pipelines. The industrial rate for electricity is far lower than residential rates. The amount of electricity required to heat and pump the tar sands is staggering.

4.       Jobs – some people believe that they might get jobs helping to build pipelines. There is no guarantee that if approved, one single job will be given to BC residents. The government has signed the TILMA agreement that prevents giving any advantage to BC job seekers. Temporary foreign workers are becoming more commonplace edging out those who expect to be paid a living wage.

If you care about this province and this country, do what you can to prevent this environmental and economic crime.

If they build it, it will leak.

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