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Bad news for pipelines

John Bell

March 1, 2012

The hearings into the environmental, economic and social impact of the Northern Gateway pipeline have been pushed out of the national headlines by “Robocalls” and “Vicileaks”. But that doesn’t mean things are going Stephen Harper’s way.

The Enbridge backed pipeline project would see 700,000 barrels per day of Tar Sands synthetic crude pumped through some of the most environmentally sensitive areas of BC. There it would be loaded onto mammoth tankers to be shipped through the dangerous waters between the mainland, the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island. Literally thousands of individuals, environmental groups and First Nations have signed up to testify, almost all of them in opposition to the project.

Now the City Council of Prince Rupert BC has unanimously voted to formally oppose the pipeline. Prince Rupert is the third BC municipality to turn thumbs down on the Northern Gateway, joining Terrace and the Skeena and Queen Charlotte Regional District.

Prince Rupert went further, calling on the government to ban all tanker traffic in the coastal waters.

As February ends, the hearings head to Haida Gwaii First Nation, where most depend on those waters for life and livelihood. Opposition there will be huge.

All this makes a mockery of charges from Harper and his Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, that opposition is financed and led by shadowy “foreign” radicals.

On the same day as Prince Rupert said “No pipe”, Enbridge CEO Pat Daniels decided to announce his retirement. Everyone at the embattled energy corporation was quick to deny that the departure had anything to do with Northern Gateway’s sinking prospects.

Northern Gateway isn’t the only pipeline project in the news. Kinder-Morgan, which already has a pipeline pumping 300,000 barrels a day to Vancouver area ports, wants to spend $3.8 billion to double its capacity. A recent oil spill, and rising awareness of the risks involved is resulting in growing opposition in the Lower Mainland.

Vancouver City Council is debating a resolution demanding Kinder-Morgan consult with it. Polling in the Burnaby area show that only 28 per cent supports the expansion, with the same percentage calling for the pipeline to be shut down entirely. Local MP Kennedy Stewart (NDP) said that Kinder-Morgan had been trying to keep this project under the radar while Enbridge took the heat, “but now I think the cat’s out of the bag really.”

“This doesn’t have local support, it doesn’t have B.C.-wide support, and I would expect it doesn’t have national support either,” Stewart said.

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