A British Colombia town has rejected the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project that would ferry 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen each day from Alberta to the west coast.
On Saturday April 12, voters in Kitimat said “no” to Enbridge and the Canadian Conservative’s
proposed oil pipeline, terminus and super-port that would subject the west coast to hundreds of oil bearing supertankers each year.
As the fate of the Keystone XL is being debated, the ruling Canadian conservatives are looking for alternatives that will also embolden the case for the Keystone, particularly the argument that suggests the government will find alternative markets if the US decides not to proceed with the Keystone.
While the Keystone would take the oil south to the US Gulf Coast the two alternative routes would take the oil East (the Energy East pipeline) and west (the Northern Gateway pipeline). All three routes would ultimately use supertankers to ferry the oil abroad.
There are several reasons why the town of Kitimat, BC, rejected the 650-mile-long Northern Gateway pipeline, terminus and super-port. There is growing awareness about the local environmental and health dangers of extracting tar sands oil and the global impacts on climate change. Questions are also being raised about the safety of pipelines and threats posed by oil tanker traffic along Canada’s fragile and pristine west coast.
Previously the government of BC indicated it was opposed to the Northern Gateway project. Export of the oil sands is not the only fossil fuel that has become an import public issue. Voters in the Bellingham area rejected the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal when they elected four conservationist-backed members to the Whatcom County Council in November.
Despite a continent wide multimedia advertising campaign, the Canadian government and Enbridge have not succeeded in winning over the people of BC. If these votes are any indication, British Colombians are decidedly opposed to fossil fuels being transported and refined on the coast.
If their future style of governance is anything like the past, Canada’s
ruling Conservatives will ignore the democratic will of people in the province of BC and rubber stamp the project in June.
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