Enbridge's Bad Week
Haida Nation President Guujaaw who this week voiced strong opposition to Enbridge project . Photo: Oscar Dennis
Things got a whole lot worse for Enbridge on October 2nd when a freighter struck a rock along the Douglas Channel. For First Nations and many others it's proves that allowing oil tankers on our coast is too risky.
A $100 million slush fund can buy you a lot of things, but it doesn’t look like it can buy Enbridge support for its Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project in northern BC.This week municipal and First Nation voices joined the growing choir of opposition. The result, the future of the tanker-pipeline project is more uncertainty than ever. Enbridge CEO Daniel Patrick told Dogwood Initiative staff a few months ago that if the majority of the people affected didn’t support their pipeline-tanker project, then Enbridge would cancel it. They better start getting ready.
Poll shows northern opposition growing
Enbridge likes to point to it's industry funded "Gateway Alliance" as evidence of support for it project, but do northerners really support Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline?
A recent on-line poll by the Terrace Standard shows that 63% of the respondents voted to “Flat out reject oil tankers on the West Coast and stop all oil pipeline discussions.”
Only 16% supported “Enbridge's Community Advisory Boards to address concerns and minimize environmental impacts” and 7% of respondents “Demand a Federal public inquiry such as was performed by Berger on the Mackenzie proposal”
First Nations opposition grows
Three First nations whose lands and waters would be affected by the proposed pipelines and oil tankers are starting to rattle their sabers. The Haisla, Carrier Sekani and Haida all voiced opposition to the project this week.
The Haisla's territory, located at the terminus of Enbridge’s proposed 1,200 km twin pipeline and the site of the proposed supertanker port, arguably have more at stake in this project than other First Nations. They are now raising concerns about proposed pipeline and tanker port. Recently the Haisla sent a letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Enbridge Inc., objecting to Enbridge’s plans.
Dolores Pollard, The newly elected chief councilor of the Haisla Nation signed the letter which said, “The potential impacts of oil spills associated with the proposed project are of significant concern,” The letter indicated their concerns related to “Enbridge's ability to safeguard the environment.” In language that should send shivers through investors, suppliers and customers in China and Asia, the letter said the Haisla, “will take every necessary step, including resort to the courts, to continue the protection of our people and our rights.”
Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) also recently went public with concerns
about Enbridge's project. in a letter to the editor of the Prince
George Citizen, Terry Teegee the Vice Tribal Chief of the CSTC disputed Enbridge's claims about jobs and impacts. Chief Teegee wrote,
"Our tribal council has done extensive research into the claimed economic benefits of this project, and the potential environmental impacts, and in 2006 our council of eight nations determined that the impacts of this project far outweigh the benefits.
[The jobs promised] in comparison to the potential of an oil and condensate spill in any one of our 100 plus salmon and other fish bearing streams is simply not worth the risk.
The letter also states that the existing process does not have the jurisdiction to consult with First Nations and criticizes Enbridges failure to produce a detailed breakdown of the jobs they claim the Northern Gateway Project will provide.
Finally, and perhaps most devastating to Enbridge's plans was the hostile reception that Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel received when he met the Haida. Guujaaw, Haida Nation President was quoted as saying that Enbridge's plans were 'ludicrous' and 'unbelievable', and will never be allowed to happen.
"Speaking to two top executives from Enbridge Inc. at a public gathering in Skidegate Friday), Guujaaw said the project would put the entire Haida way of life at risk for nothing more than the chance for investors and company officials to make money." Citing the impacts of oil spills on Haida way of life, Guujaaw and Haida Hereditary Chiefs condemned the project and committed themselves to stopping it. (Click here for the full account of the meeting.)
Given the Haida's success in using the court and direct action to force the Crown and logging companies to increase levels of protection and rejig decision-making processes, Mr. Patrick must being reconsidering the wisdom of Northern Gateway right about now.
Local Governments voice concerns
Organized concern about the impacts of the pipeline itself and the approval process are also growing among municipal governments. Recently the City Council of Smithers sent a letter to Conservative Environment Minister Jim Prentice calling for a public inquiry. Other town councils in the region are considering motions similar to Smithers.
Smithers joins the thousands of voices in the north calling for a public inquiry before any new pipeline is approved.
Overall, a bad week for Enbridge. I wonder what all the high-priced consultants Enbridge has working in the north trying to drum up support (paid for by big oil money) have to say for themselves now.