Predictable cabinet decision on Enbridge project launches the fight to stop pipelines, tankers on the BC Coast

Today’s unsurprising federal Cabinet decision to conditionally approve Enbridge’s pipeline proposal means that the fight to stop this risky project is just beginning.

This afternoon, the federal cabinet ‘announced’ its Enbridge decision like a thief in the night. Issuing a release and not being available for questions spoke volumes about the administration’s confidence in its ability to answer questions.

“From the opening week of NEB review of the proposed risky pipeline and tanker scheme to ship out raw bitumen, and Joe Oliver’s open letter blasting anyone with the temerity to oppose the project, today’s Cabinet decision had been a foregone conclusion,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich­–Gulf Islands. “We will continue to fight this ill-advised, reckless and dangerous scheme and we will stop it from ever being built.”

Despite the project’s federal approval, there remain significant hurdles that must be cleared before construction can begin, including numerous legal challenges from the BC and Alberta First Nations along the proposed route.

“Canadians don’t want a pipeline to ship our oil off to China, when Eastern Canada depends on expensive imported oil from Venezuela and the Middle East,” said Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “This project would bring enormous environmental risks while doing nothing to create Canadian jobs, or to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

“The Federal government continues to ignore the will of British Columbians,” says Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party. “The fact is, Kitimat is opposed to this project. First Nations are opposed. British Columbians are opposed. It’s time for the Provincial Government to draw a line in the sand, and reject the Northern Gateway project.”

“This is the wrong decision for the Canadian environment,” said Andrew Park, an ecologist at the University of Winnipeg and the Green Party Environment Critic. “It’s the wrong decision for the First Nations and coastal communities that will be affected by the transport of dilbit in pipelines and tankers, and it’s the wrong decision from the viewpoint of Canada’s planetary responsibility to fight climate change and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

If completed, this Enbridge pipeline would transport dilbit, a toxic mixture of oil sands bitumen and chemical diluent, for 1170 kilometers from northern Alberta to the port of Kitimat. Once in Kitimat, the dilbit would be loaded onto super tankers and shipped through the 260-km Hecate Strait, a narrow channel crowded with islands and prone to storms and thick fog. The cleanup costs for a single spill have been estimated at over $9 billion.