Pipeline Threatens First Nations in British Columbia

from Wildlife Promise

Helping our neighbors in the ‘Great White North’ keep tar sands pipelines from destroying another wilderness.

British Columbia First Nations stand up together to protect free flowing rivers, sacred Great Bear Rainforest, and pristine landscapes.  Source: Beth Wallace, NWF

Tribal First Nations across British Columbia are being asked to give up their land, risk the health of their rivers and food, and jeopardize the livelihood of their culture and future generations – all because Enbridge wants to expand their Alberta tar sands crude production to reach Asian markets.

Enbridge Energy’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines have been entered into the review process of the Canadian Government.  This proposed pipeline would be a double whammy for wildlife and the communities that reside along the proposed route.

One pipeline would transport unrefined tar sands crude from Alberta to costal British Columbia where it would be loaded onto supertankers. A second pipe would transport condensate off of supertankers, pumping product back to Alberta for the future production of tar sands (condensate is an acutely toxic light hydrocarbon used to transform the thick tar sands into a product suitable for the pipeline transfer).

This proposed project would traverse through some of the most rugged, remote and pristine wilderness left in the northern hemisphere.

In December, ‘Friends of Wild Salmon’ requested that I share the story of the Enbridge oil spill - that happened in Michigan – with British Columbia residence that live along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline route.  NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center staff saw first-hand the lack of planning, response, and proper acknowledgment on the part of Enbridge when it comes to addressing an oil spill that’s located in a very populace and accessible location.

The tour called ‘ThinkPipeline’ recapped our experiences with the Enbridge oil spill and helped British Columbia residence consider the very high risks of having pipelines travel through their communities, land and rivers.

One Wet’suwet’en First Nation elder expressed grave concern over what happened in Michigan with the Enbridge oil spill. She was very concerned with the devastation that the Enbridge oil spill caused in Michigan…mentioning to me that their rivers run freely and fast on Wet’suwet’en land.  If there was an oil spill, there would be no way to control the flow of oil once it hit their waters. The Wet’suwet’en First Nations greatly depend on the salmon, and their habitats, for harvest to feed their families in the winter months. When a spill occurs, it would devastate their communities for generations.ThinkPipeline Tour - Source: Beth Wallace, NWF

I was told the amazing story of the Great Bear Rainforest - home to the extremely rare and sacred Spirit Bear. These two pipelines, and the supertankers, would travel right though the habitat of that bear – and many other costal wildlife.

As the tour progressed, and I had the opportunity to travel through areas of the proposed pipeline. I found it impossible to understand how a pipeline could even be proposed in an area as beautifully wild as northern British Columbia. Canada, residence of British Columbia and especially Enbridge really need to consider what they are sacrificing.  It’s not worth it.