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Photo by Andrew Wright, Living Oceans
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Photo courtesy of Environmental Defence
Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipelines will not be built. Not now. Not ever.
Regardless of the federal government's reckless approval Tuesday, June 17 (conditions or not), the pipeline is destined for legal purgatory for years.
Enbridge's efforts to force its way past the incredible opposition in BC of First Nations, British Columbians and the provincial government will only strengthen the resolve against the pipeline.
The tar sands oil that the Northern Gateway pipeline would carry cannot coexist with a safe climate.
The only question is, are we going to do ourselves (and the climate) a favour and harvest our country's vast potential as a leader in innovation in clean technology, or will Canada be dragged through years of a going-nowhere energy plan based on last century's high-carbon fuel?
Everyone can see the project's sheer recklessness and incredible risks of shipping tar sands oil over the Rockies, through the Great Bear Rainforest, across 800 rivers and streams, to be put onto tankers expected to navigate some of the most treacherous waters in the Pacific Northwest.
The public has witnessed the federal government ignoring First Nations rights, muzzling scientists, silencing concerned citizens and weakening environmental laws - all in a desperate effort to push tar sands and pipelines.
But risky energy projects like Northern Gateway have changed the game. It has catapulted climate change, and the state of our democracy, to the forefront of a national discussion, where tar sands development is no longer seen as inevitable. Major tar sands mines are being cancelled, pipelines are being indefinitely delayed, and oil is staying in the ground.
The uncertainty around these high-risk, high-cost, high-carbon projects has raised the question in the minds of many: when is the government going to accept the end of last century's dirty energy?
The tar sands represent a mere 2 per cent of Canada's economy. We don't need to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
Hannah McKinnon is national program manager for Environmental Defence.
What enviro groups have to say
"We are witnessing the final stages of a protracted wrestling match between our future and our past. The science is done and the jury is in: the world cannot afford any more dirty tar sands oil."
John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada
"The federal government is intent on recklessly expanding the tar sands regardless of how it affects communities, the environment or the planet."
Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
"This decision represents the first and lowest hurdle in a long race for Northern Gateway that its backers are unlikely to finish. Despite the noise today, it is near certain that this pipeline won't be built. First Nations and the majority of British Columbians reject this project and the unnecessary risks it burdens them with."
Elizabeth Shope, Natural Resources Defense Council
"It's time to modernize Canada's pipeline review process to include upstream carbon pollution in all future reviews of oil sands infrastructure projects."
Erin Flanagan, Pembina Institute
The Northern Gateway project consists of two pipelines - one carrying natural condensate east from Kitimat to the tar sands, and another carrying heavy crude in the other direction for shipping to Asian markets.
718,000 barrels per day combined capacity of the pipelines
1,177 kilometres Total length of Northern Gateway pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, BC
130 First Nations groups opposed to the project
209 Number of conditions put on the pipeline's approval by the National Energy Board
1972 Inaugural year of ongoing informal moratorium on heavy tanker traffic in shipping channels off Kitimat