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NWT chapter opposes Arctic Gateway pipeline

Peter RedversThe Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter is opposed to the Arctic Gateway pipeline.

In a letter to the editor of the Northern News Services, they critique the proposed 100,000 barrels per day pipeline that would move diluted bitumen the 2,400 kilometre distance from northern Alberta through the Mackenzie Valley to the port of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean.

Chapter activist Peter Redvers writes, “Mining bitumen in Alberta causes massive destruction of natural environments, including land, water, and wildlife, with the potential for devastating downstream impacts in the NWT. Transporting bitumen also create major risks. First, it has to be diluted with natural gas compounds, such as naptha, in order to flow through a pipeline, which makes it much more flammable than crude oil. Second, as noted in a recent federal government report and as demonstrated during the Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan, it is heavier than crude oil and therefore more likely to sink in water when spilled, coating the bottom of water bodies, damaging aquatic ecosystems, and making it extremely difficult to clean up.”

He adds, “Furthermore, production, transportation, and use of bitumen from the Alberta tar sands results in some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, contributing to what is the most daunting threat facing us and the future of our planet: the cascading impacts of climate change, with melting ice caps and glaciers, wide scale droughts (and forest fires, in our case), more dramatic weather events, and acidification of our oceans.”

Redvers concludes, “I must admit that many people didn’t initially believe that our territorial government would seriously consider transporting diluted bitumen down the Mackenzie Valley by pipeline. Or, ironically, by barge (which is also under consideration), given that it is climate change that is contributing to such low water levels in the Mackenzie River that fuel barges couldn’t make it to Tuktoyaktuk this summer! Or that the minister responsible for energy regulation in the NWT would become the champion for such a foolish and reckless proposal (so much for a reasoned and impartial post-devolution regulatory framework). But we now realize that there are leaders in our government seriously considering an Arctic Gateway pipeline. To them, we say strongly, loudly, and with our own serious intent: NO!”

Further reading
A south-to-north Alberta to NWT tar sands pipeline by 2020? (November 2014 blog)
NWT premier promotes 100,000 bpd ‘Arctic Gateway’ tar sands pipeline (October 2014 blog)
Alberta explores more pipeline routes (February 2013 blog)

Photo: NWT chapter activist Peter Redvers.