Skip to content

UPDATE: Preparing for the fight against the Northern Gateway pipeline

Wet’suwet’en camp stands in the pathway of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

Reuters reports this evening, “Government and industry officials say a major delay in the Keystone XL decision would prompt increased efforts to push forward Enbridge Inc’s C$5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline across British Columbia to the West Coast… Pushing harder on that proposal ‘could be part of the discussions’ as Canada’s natural resources minister (Joe Oliver) meets with officials during his current visit to China, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokeswoman said on Thursday.”

In Bill McKibben’s letter tonight commenting on the delay of the Keystone XL project until at least 2013, he writes, “In the meantime, since federal action will be in abeyance for a long stretch, we need to figure out how best to support our Canadian brothers and sisters, who are effectively battling against proposed pipelines west from the tar sands to the Pacific.”

Northern Gateway involves two 1,200-kilometre underground pipelines. One pipeline would move 525,000 barrels a day of bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands region to Kitimat on the coast of the Pacific Ocean (to then be transported by 225 super tankers a year to Asia with a third to a half going to the United States), the other would move 193,000 barrels a day of condensate, which is used to dilute the bitumen from the tar sands so that it can flow through the pipelines. The federal government’s review of the project is expected to be completed by 2012, construction would begin in 2013, and the bitumen and condensate would flow by 2016.

In November 2009, now-CTV Power Play host Don Martin wrote that tar sands exports to China, “will require Canada, whose pipelines now head only north and south, to punch a hole in the Rockies and open up a crude flow to the west coast, from where oil could head overseas.”

A few highlights of the Council of Canadians opposing Northern Gateway:

1- This past August, Council of Canadians organizer Harjap Grewal joined with the Unistoten Clan of the Wet’suwet’en at their annual camp to build opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10196. This summer, the construction of a cabin – directly in the path of the proposed pipeline – was completed.

2- In May, Council of Canadians organizer Scott Harris attended a protest against the pipeline at the Enbridge annual general meeting in Calgary, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9035.

3- In April, the Council of Canadians helped to host a public forum at the Rhizome Cafe in Vancouver featuring Toghestiy, hereditary chief of the Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed) Clan, Mel Bazil, Lhe Lin Liyin (the Wet’suwet’en Warrior Society) co-founder, and Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en (People of the Headwaters) spokesperson, speaking about their resistance to this pipeline through their territory, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6513.

4- In September 2010, Grewal and Board members Pina Belperio and Garry John demonstrated in front of the hotel where Enbridge were hosting a cocktail reception to bolster support for the pipeline during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual general meeting, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4134.

5- In April 2009, we first expressed our opposition to the pipeline and joined with other organizations to call for a public inquiry into Northern Gateway, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=462.

National Energy Board hearings on Northern Gateway have been scheduled for January and June 2012. Thousands have already registered for this. The Council of Canadians has highlighted concerns that many of the NEB decision-makers come directly from the energy industry and that it is an unrepresentative and highly problematic regulatory body, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=3764. A decision on Northern Gateway by the NEB is expected by early 2013.

More soon.