Growing Opposition to Canadian Oil Sands Pipelines

It has been a busy day for Alberta's oil sands. First, as reported by AFP, a coalition of major American environmental groups including NRDC, Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation put out a report this morning titled, Tar Sands Pipeline Safety Risks that suggests Canadian tar sands oil is more corrosive than conventional crude and can be linked to an Alberta pipeline spill rate that is 16 times greater than what would be considered normal in the U.S.

"As Canada delivers a greater and greater percentage of our oil, their corrosive products will take a greater and greater toll on our pipelines," said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the NRDC's international program and a report co-author.

"That creates a huge safety risk we are not prepared for yet." (AFP).

This shouldn't just be worrisome to U.S. regulators who are considering approvals for the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, it should also concern Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, who are being asked to shoulder the increased risk of the same corrosive oil, this time flowing through the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, a pipeline that would cross thousands of salmon bearing streams and rivers in some of the most remote and pristine areas of the province. Good luck finding and responding to an oil spill when you've got to check a pipeline that spans the entire province.

Fortunately, and this is the second major story of the day, BC First Nations aren't buying Enbridge's equity offer in the Northern Gateway Pipeline (original release here).What's more, they're saying that Enbridge is disrespecting First Nations by not taking "no" for an answer. The First Nations note that aboriginal title rights according to the Canadian Constitution would be broken if the pipeline were to receive a green light.

And finally, Canada is one step closer to having a legislated oil tanker ban off the North coast of British Columbia. Liberal MP Joyce Murray's private members' bill, C-606 is expected to be debated towards the end of March.

“We are now one step closer to a legislated oil tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast – the only way to protect our oceans and communities from a catastrophic oil spill,” stated Murray. “If disaster were to strike in our northern coastal waters, B.C. – and Canada as a whole – would never be the same.”

As always, one of the most important things you can do as an informed citizen is to write your local MP and tell them that you oppose Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline, while supporting a legislated tanker ban off the North coast of British Columbia.

Phewww! A busy day!