After the Mayflower spill, make our voices heard
We support First Nations and communities who are opposing dirty energy projects. In the last decade, communities in and around Canadian forests have been confronted with a new threat to their livelihoods: the unchecked expansion of the tar sands in Alberta.
It’s not only tar sands mining that puts community health on the line – it’s also the precarious pipelines and tankers that would transport highly corrosive tar sands products. Enbridge’s proposed project, Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project, could increase Canada’s tar sands production by 30%. The proposed pipeline route would run 1,170 kilometers (730 miles) from Alberta’s tar sands to the coast at Kitimat, BC.
We stand with communities opposing the project whose health is jeopardized by the mining operations. We stand with coastal communities whose fisheries and harvesting of shellfish and seaweed could be devastated by a tanker spill.
Several First Nations live downstream from the tar sands, one of the most environmentally destructive project on earth. They rely on the rivers, lakes and forests nearby for access fresh water and sustenance, like fish.
Fort Chipewyan, a community located 600 kilometers (370 miles) north-east of Edmonton, Alberta, lies 250 kilometers (155 miles) downstream from tar sands development. The community, including the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, have repeatedly raised concerns about the impacts on tar sands development on their health and the health of the surrounding ecosystems they depend on.
A 2009 study by the Alberta Cancer Board confirmed that the people of Fort Chipewyan are experiencing higher than normal rates of cancer1. Deformed fish, declining numbers of waterfowl and strange tasting water have added to residents' concern.
In February 2009, we teamed up with the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations to place a full-page ad in USA Today, depicting Canadian tar sands oil oozing over the continental United States.
Transporting bitumen, the thick, tarry substance derived from Alberta’s mines, is risky business. With over 600 spills from 1999 to 2008, Enbridge has an appalling environmental record. It’s no wonder communities along the proposed pipeline route are standing together to oppose the project. We support and mobilize those voicing valid concerns.
With an office in Smithers, BC along the proposed pipeline route, we work regularly with First Nations and community-based groups to raise awareness and raise our voices to stop this project. We let people know about how to engage in federal Joint Review process. Through collective efforts, over 4,000 Canadians have signed up to speak out against the project when the review process opens to public participation in Spring 2012. We are also encouraging the submission of written comments to which we’ve gathered thousands to date. Deadline to send a letter is August 2012.
The Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska. The British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Between 1999 and 2009, there were 1,275 marine vessel incidents along Canada’s Pacific coast, including collisions, explosions, groundings, and sinkings.
The question isn’t if tankers transporting Enbridge’s tar sands would have a spill. In the notoriously treacherous seas off of British Columbia’s coast, the question is when Enbridge would have a disaster. It’s no wonder coastal communities stand together in opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project. It would throw over 200 tankers into the stormy waters of BC’s North Coast. Should a spill occur, local economies which depend on fisheries and tourism would be devastated.
In March 2010, nine of BC’s Coastal First Nations declared a crude oil tanker ban in their traditional territories. ForestEthics recognizes their rights and title, and we stand with them in solidarity for a tanker-free coast for Canada’s North Pacific Coast.
1. Alberta Cancer Board – Division of Population Health and Information Surveillance. (2009, February). Cancer Incidence in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta 1995-2006. Retrieved from < www.ualberta.ca/~avnish/rls-2009-02-06-fort-chipewyan-study.pdf >.