Protestors denounce Alberta oil sands expansion

Protestors rally in Vanderhoof against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project

Peter Rodseth of Vanderhoof

Peter Rodseth of Vanderhoof

A handful of protestors convened at the office of John Rustad, Nechako Lakes MLA, on Wednesday, Oct. 24, to oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

Wielding signs of political chastisement and resistance to Big Oil interests, the group talked about how the $5.5-billion project threatens everything from Canadian sovereignty to the endangered Nechako white sturgeon.

Spanning the whole of northern B.C., the proposed 1,172-kilometre pipeline would transport bitumen from Alberta’s oils sands to the Pacific coast for export to Asia and the U.S. via hundreds of oil tankers.

June Wood, a community working group member of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative, said the pipeline would cross 800 streams and rivers, including the Stuart River, where the prehistoric sturgeon is known to forage.

“I’m opposed to the pipeline for what it could to the rivers,” she said.

Wood, also a member of the Federation of B.C. Naturalists and the Nechako River Alliance, said the rapid expansion of the oil sands had to be stopped.

“Without this pipeline, the tar sands would be limited to a certain amount of development,” she said.

Given the corrosive nature of the dilbit-infused product that Enbridge is proposing to transport inside the pipeline, a catastrophic spill on land would be inevitable, the protestors said.

“It’s bitch oil,” said protestor Peter Rodseth, a resident of Vanderhoof.

“It’s a bad substance and has an abrasiveness equal to diamonds… It’s just terrible stuff, and this area is so special.”

Another topic of concern among the protestors is the perceived alliance between Enbridge and the Canadian government, whose primary motivator is creating jobs and economic growth, they said.

Terry Teegee, tribal chief of the Carrier Sekani First Nation, which claims the rights and titles to territory that’s needed for the pipeline, said the federal government has skirted environmental reviews and Species At Risk legislation to advance the project through the regulatory approval process.

According to a 2012 report by the environmental defense group Forest Ethics, First Nations territories compose more than 50 per cent of the proposed pipeline and tanker route.

“They have to consult us. What’s more, we’re a government aside from the provincial and federal government,” said Teegee.

“We’re the last stand for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be coming out to speak.”

The protest was part of a province-wide day of action to stop the Enbridge project.