Trans-Alaska oil pipeline with mountains in the background. Alternatives Journal Photo © ALCE \


I am a resident of Kelowna, BC. I am not a member of any environmental organization, i.e., Greenpeace, David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, etc. I’m not even an official member of the Green Party, although I did vote for them in the last Federal election. I’m just an average BC citizen who doesn’t want to see our coast along with First Nations and our wilderness become victims of the tar sands. Specifically, I’m referring to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.

I’m not sure if the Federal Government suffers from a short memory, or maybe just a selective one, but let’s not forget about the Enbridge spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, which still hasn’t been completely cleaned up. This is just one of over 800 spills that Enbridge has been responsible for in the last 14 years. Also, let’s not forget about other spills through the years, including the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska and the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The area under threat from Northern Gateway and the resulting oil tanker traffic includes the Douglas channel and the Great Bear Rainforest – home to First Nations and fragile wildlife, including the rare white Spirit Bear, of which there are fewer than 400 left. It is vital that we keep this area of BC as pristine as possible. I am aware of proposed liquefied natural gas projects for the area. Let’s just say that tar sands bitumen is a completely different animal from liquefied natural gas.

I’m under no illusion that we can eliminate our usage of oil tomorrow. However, we must be wiser about how we use the oil we have. Instead of exporting raw bitumen, the Federal Government should seriously explore increased refining capacity at the site of the tar sands in Alberta. Such an undertaking would not only benefit Canada’s economy by creating more refining jobs, but the finished product would be far less environmentally risky to export. However, we must keep the Great Bear region free of oil!

At the same time, while we need to consider how we use our oil, the Federal Government needs to get serious about increased renewable energy in Canada – something that, to this point, they seemingly are reluctant to explore on a large scale.

So what am I doing to protest Northern Gateway? I have an online petition that I started over a year ago: “Save BC’s Great Bear Region from Enbridge’s Tar Sands Pipeline!” To date I have over 20,000 signers. I’m aware that parliament doesn’t vote on online petitions, but I’m hoping they’ll recognize that many oppose this project. I have heard that at least 60% of British Columbians oppose this pipeline. Also, should the NDP win the BC election in May, it will be that much harder to move forward with this pipeline as the NDP is firmly opposed to it.

I ask British Columbians and other Canadians to consider signing my petition. If you do so, then share it through social media and email with your friends and family.

Let’s ask ourselves a very important question: Is roughly 200 long-term jobs really worth taking on such a huge risk for BC? I know my answer. What’s yours?

James MacGregor
Kelowna, BC

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