I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been told by industry and government insiders that while the expansion of the tar sands may be a terrible thing, there’s simply no way to stop it.
Well, we’ve found a way.
President Obama has just said No to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, meant to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas. Its approval was the subject of a fierce lobbying campaign by oil companies and the Harper government, with Prime Minister Harper himself calling it a “no-brainer.”
But Big Oil lost this round, thanks in large part to an unprecedented grassroots uprising. Ordinary people, including hundreds that risked arrest in peaceful protests in the U.S. and Canada, came together to support action on climate change, human rights, and environmental protection. They said no to Keystone in a way that made it impossible for elected officials to ignore.
But the Harper government and the tar sands industry have set their sights on a new pipeline – Enbridge’s proposed ‘Northern Gateway’ from Alberta to the coast of BC. They are pushing hard, with Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver labelling anyone who cares about climate change, the rights of First Nations or keeping BC’s coast oil spill-free as “radicals.”
These concerns are not radical. What is radical is a democratic government trying to silence anyone who disagrees with them. What is radical is risking our climate for short-term economic gain.
The truth is, producing the extra 525,000 barrels per day needed to fill the new pipeline will require massive expansion in the tar sands, further fuelling climate change and the devastation of water, land and air in northern Alberta.
The pipeline would pass through the unceded traditional territory of dozens of BC First Nations, who are resolutely opposed to the project. And it would threaten the stormy northern BC coast with spills from the hundreds of supertankers bound for Asia.
Even Enbridge admits that spills are inevitable, and this pipeline that would cross over 1,000 streams and rivers that are vital habitat for salmon and other species, including within the Great Bear Rainforest.
Every step on this path is a disaster waiting to happen, but each can be prevented. Today we’ve witnessed the power of the grassroots, the power of people joining together for a common cause. Let’s use this momentum for an even greater victory.