Prince George, B.C.- About 300 people marched from the Prince George Court house to the Civic Centre Plaza this morning, to protest the proposed Enbridge twin pipeline.
They hoped to carry a message to not only the Joint Review Panel which is accepting submissions today in preparation of oral hearings which will be set for a later date, but to let members of the public see there is opposition to this project.
B.C. Association of First Nations Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the opposition to the proposed pipeline is growing “We view this proposal as being the wrong proposal in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He says the recent Enbridge spill in Michigan and the B.P. oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have risen awareness of the dangers of this kind of project “The Gulf disaster was a giant wake up call for North America.” Grand Chief Phillip says the recent spill in Michigan which saw tens of thousands of litres of crude spill into a stream that feeds the Kalamazoo River, have shown him that Enbridg’s response to a crisis was too slow and their method of dealing with a spill and clean up are antiquated and believes a spill is “inevitable.”
Lawyer Tim Leadem addressed the panel in its morning session and says there are two issues with this pipeline which have yet to be explored. 1.Sustainability, is this project sustainable from an economic environmental perspective, 2.Who is going to pay for the clean up costs when there’s an oil spill along the coast of British Columbia “As we know from the Exxon Valdez situation in Alaska and the recent B.P situation in the Gulf of Mexico, the costs of clean up can be extraordinarily high. I think B.P. is estimating its costs to run as much as $33 Billion. Now if those costs are not borne by Enbridge or its under writers and insurers, then its going to be borne by you and me, so we’re going to be paying for clean up costs over oil pipeline and shipment down the coast which the majority of British Columbians are opposed to.”
Leadem says the environmental issues don’t stop at Kitimat or the Canadian Border “The issue continues in China where that oil will be burned creating greenhouse gasses that contribute to global climate change and we all better be concerned about that.”
Leadem says his clients (Living Oceans Society, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Forestethics) are concerned as well about the remote location for the pipeline “You’ve got a very long pipeline, it’s got a few pumping stations along the way so there can be shut offs, but at the same time, we saw what happened with this company in Michigan when the pipeline broke near the Kalamazoo River. Lots of Oil went into that river before it was discovered and before the pipeline was shut down.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says this is not a First Nations issue “This is an issue for everyone who lives in the north and who made a decision to raise their family in the pristine environment we enjoy. We are not prepared to jeopardize that.”
The Joint Review Panel resumed sitting this afternoon, has another session slated for 7 tonight, and will hear submissions tomorrow morning as well. The hearings are being held at the Prince George civic Centre.