Enemies of Enbridge
Opposition forces to intensify campaign against energy firm’s pipeline project
By Gordon Hoekstra, Prince George Citizen 27th Aug, 2010
Northern B.C. First Nations and others critical of Enbridge’s proposed $5.5-billion pipeline are ramping up their efforts to publicize their concerns in part to coincide with the first set of preliminary federal regulatory hearings.
The first hearing in B.C. is scheduled in Kitimat next Tuesday. The second B.C. hearing will take place in Prince George on Sept. 8. A hearing has already been held in Alberta.
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, which is helping organize a protest rally to coincide with the National Energy Board-led hearing in Prince George, has put out a blanket invitation to First Nations throughout the province, Canada and the world to join the rally. “We want a strong public display of opposition to the whole proposal,” said Carrier Sekani Tribal Council chief David Luggi.
Luggi expects hundreds of people to show up for the protest.
The hearings, led by the National Energy Board, are not yet tackling the merits of the pipeline project. Instead, the federal panel is asking for input on a draft list of issues and any additional information Enbridge should be required to file. The three-person panel is also asking for input on where public hearings should be held.
Luggi says the tribal council will not be making a presentation at the hearing, but expects that several of its First Nation members will do so.
First Nations’ critics of the pipeline have said the environmental risks of a spill are not worth any economic benefits, which they expect to be small or non-existent.
A similar protest is being held at the hearing in Kitimat, where organizers also expect hundreds of protesters. A protest is being organized in Vancouver simultaneously with the Kitimat event.
These protests are taking place against a backdrop of heightened concerns since BP’s major oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and a major oil spill last month on Enbridge’s pipeline in Michigan.
There have been other demonstrations of public protest of the Enbridge project through northern B.C.
Following a recent Enbridge presentation to the Smithers town council, the Likhts’amisiyu clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation called on Enbridge officials not to “trespass” on their traditional territory.
Three kayakers are set soon to begin a twomonth, 900-kilometre paddle from Kitimat to Vancouver to highlight the risk of an oil spill on the coast from tanker traffic.
The 1,170-kilometre proposed Enbridge pipeline is meant to carry crude from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat for export overseas. Condensate, a kerosene-like liquid used to thin crude to allow it to be transported in pipelines, will be shipped back to Alberta on a second, smaller pipeline. The main thrust of the project is to open a new market for Alberta oil sands in Asia, particularly China, which has a growing appetite for oil. Calgary-based Enbridge has touted the economic benefits of the project, as well as saying the pipeline will be built the highest safety standards.