No Pipeline is a Good Pipeline

BY DAN MESEC, Smithers Interior News, February 03, 2010

Around these parts Enbridge and their pipeline proposal is a hot topic. Here
in Smithers, a lot of people know what is at stake if they ever put one into
production. A few weeks ago residents of North Dakota had a wake up call
about what it means when Enbridge comes into a community.

On Monday Jan. 11, Enbridge Energy Partners LP., said that a segment of its
Lakehead oil pipeline registered a leak and the pipeline was shut down and
an investigation took place. And what the investigation report said was that
only a small 3,000-barrel leak occurred, and amazingly enough there was
absolutely no environmental impact and it didn’t interfere with service to

They went on to say that when the leak was registered on their system they
immediately shut down the pipeline and began the clean up. There was no
immediate word whether or not animals and ecosystems were affected but
considering their past spill record, there is probably a lot of damage we
don’t know about.

When I heard this it made me think of all the work that has gone into
keeping Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project out of the Northwest, and gave a
clear example of what the risk is for adopting one of these projects.
Earlier this year Enbridge said that if they started the Northern Gateway
Project they “guaranteed” there would be no spills over this precious land.
Well in my opinion, it’s all precious land no matter where you are and if
Enbridge can’t keep a grip on its existing pipelines how will it fare with a
new one, cutting through more of our disappearing landscape.

Although Enbridge is standing by their earlier statements that no animal or
plant life was affected by the spill there is still much speculation from
environmental groups on both sides of the border calling for independent
inquiries into the extent of the 3,000 barrel spill.

Over the last year living in the valley I’ve had the opportunity to sit in
on a number of lectures and events surrounding the environmental issues that
directly threaten this land.

The one that stands out the most, especially when we’re talking about
Enbridge, is the ‘Story With Two Ends’ presentation by renowned Canadian
authors Ian McAllister and Andrew Nikiforuk.

Last summer McAllister and Nikiforuk visited a number of places, including
Smithers, to talk about two issues concerning the proposed Enbridge Northern
Gateway Project.

Nikiforuk, a freelance business writer in Calgary made the argument that we
need to start investing and developing renewable energy sources because
Canada is in a unique spot to do so, however we are still too dependent on
oil and for every step forward we’re continuing to take three steps back.

McAllister showed us what is really at risk if this project goes ahead and
that is the amazing wild life of the B.C. coast, the animals and diverse
ecosystems all covering B.C. from top to bottom.

It’s a proud day when people stand up for what they believe in, and there
has been a lot of that going on in the valley. Residents of the Bulkley
Valley live here for the wild landscape, and when that landscape is
threatened, watch out, because no matter what corporation comes through the
valley with a new proposal, the people hold the ultimate key and there is no
way they will let this wonderful land be destroyed by a faulty pipeline and
empty guarantees.

All Photography © Ian McAllister unless otherwise noted.
Pacific Wild
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