Enbridge's Bad Week

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 itdoesn’t look like it can buy Enbridge support for its Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker projectin 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 DanielPatrick told Dogwood Initiative staff a few months ago that if the majority ofthe people affected didn’t support their pipeline-tanker project, then Enbridgewould 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 WestCoast and stop all oil pipeline discussions.”

Only 16%supported “Enbridge’s Community Advisory Boards to address concerns andminimize environmental impacts” and 7% of respondents “Demand a Federal public inquiry such aswas performed by Berger on the Mackenzie proposal”

First Nations opposition grows

Three First nations whose lands and waters would be affected by theproposed 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 terminusof 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 raisingconcerns about proposed pipeline and tanker port. Recently the Haislasent a letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency andEnbridge Inc., objecting to Enbridge’s plans.

Dolores Pollard, The newly electedchief councilor of the Haisla Nation signed the letter which said,”The potential impacts of oil spills associated with the proposedproject are of significant concern,” The letter indicated theirconcerns related to “Enbridge’s ability to safeguard the environment.”In language that should send shivers through investors, suppliers andcustomers in China and Asia, the letter said the Haisla, “will takeevery necessary step, including resort to the courts, to continue theprotection of our people and our rights.”

The CarrierSekani Tribal Council (CSTC) also recently went public with concernsabout Enbridge’s project. in a letter to the editor of the PrinceGeorge 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 claimedeconomic benefits of this project, and the potential environmentalimpacts, and in 2006 our council of eight nations determined that theimpacts of this project far outweigh the benefits.

[The jobs promised] in comparison to the potential of an oil andcondensate spill in any one of our 100 plus salmon and other fishbearing 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 thehostile reception that Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel  received when hemet the Haida. Guujaaw, Haida Nation President was quoted as sayingthat Enbridge’s plans were ‘ludicrous’ and ‘unbelievable’, and willnever be allowed to happen.

“Speaking to two top executives from Enbridge Inc. at a publicgathering in Skidegate Friday), Guujaaw said the project would put theentire Haida way of life at risk for nothing more than the chance forinvestors and company officials to make money.” Citing the impacts ofoil spills on Haida way of life, Guujaaw and Haida Hereditary Chiefscondemned the project and committed themselves to stopping it. (Click here for  thefull account of the meeting.)

Given the Haida’s success in using the court and direct action toforce the Crown and logging companies to increase levels of protectionand rejig  decision-making processes, Mr. Patrick must beingreconsidering the wisdom of Northern Gateway right about now.

Local Governments voice concerns

Organized concern about the impacts of the pipeline itselfand the approval process are also growing among municipal governments. Recently the City Council of Smithers senta letter to Conservative Environment Minister Jim Prentice calling for a publicinquiry. Other town councils in the region are considering motions similar to Smithers.

Smithers joins the thousands of voices in the north calling fora 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.

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