Pipelines and battle lines

With Keystone XL on hold, the Northern Gateway project becomes a priority


After the U.S. delayed its decision on whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil sands bitumen from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quick to stress his government’s renewed enthusiasm for exporting more oil to Asia. He called it “an important priority” for Ottawa.

With those words, the heated pipeline fight shifted from Keystone to the Northern Gateway project in British Columbia, where Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., hopes to lay a 1,172-km oil sands pipeline to the port town of Kitimat. For environmentalists, the economic benefits—estimated by Enbridge to add $270 billion to Canada’s GDP over 30 years—don’t outweigh the risk of an oil spill, something Enbridge experienced with much publicity in July 2010, when one of its pipes burst into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Nathan Lemphers, a Pembina Institute analyst, says Northern Gateway’s route leaves it vulnerable to landslides and avalanches, increasing odds of a rupture. He also points to the B.C. coastline, where an oil tanker spill could devastate salmon stocks and wipe out the region’s orcas, according to a 2010 report by the Raincoast Conservation Society. Alongside such disquiet are concerns over Aboriginal land rights.

The $5.5-billion proposal began its review process with public hearings in Kitimat on Jan. 10. Among its supporters is the Kitimat Terrace Industrial Development Society, which expects the project to create 150 to 200 jobs in the community. “We feel confident this project can be done to the highest standards,” says executive director Alexander Pietralla. Oil companies are also supportive, with several putting up $10 million to back Enbridge during the regulatory process.

Alberta’s pro-industry EthicalOil.org website recently attacked environmental groups, accusing them of accepting funds from “foreign special interest groups.” Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver echoed that sentiment when he wrote in an open letter that foreign environmentalists “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological ends.” With rhetoric like this, the Northern Gateway fracas might make the Keystone seem like child’s play.

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Pipelines and battle lines

  1. The unchecked Alberta Oil sands excavations now are all
    already based on pure economic greed and for decades now to no producer,
    government in reality now real cares about the environmental aspects firstly in
    Alberta , so never mind any environmental concerns abut the BC too..

  2. Hi
    Good article.  I think one needs to consider who is funding the meetings for both sides.  I wonder when outside of Canada oil companies fund enbridge why that is not considered radical and foreign special interests groups?

  3. The so called Northern Gateway is in the press with a 5.5 billion dollar cost.  This, is the lowest it will possibly be!  Cost overruns are viewed by Canadians as “what’s new?” and “so what?”. Going in low is a safe gambit.

    The 3 western provinces pushing this have yet to tell the Electorate how much each individual province is going to pay for the build  and where exactly is that money coming from?

    The Alberta Conservatives have recently been busted for stealing public pension funds left in their trust. http://albertathedetails.blogspot.com/2011/12/alberta-pensions-at-risk.html  Since the post went up 8 long serving Conservatives have resigned,   This source undoubtedly is where Alberta expected to tap from.

    If they treat the pension funds like they did on the Heritage Trust rip off 120 billion dollars plus(they admitted to 90 billion) they will freeze the profit of the fund at 4% taking all above and strip regularly  profits above 4% and take them into General Revenues.

    The push to get this job done has the oil lobby telling us it is the next national work project setting to work some 165,000 people.  Pretty big talk eh?

    Presently in Alberta there is a make work program in effect for the oil patch costing Alberta taxpayers some 8 billion dollars a year.  As reported by the Calgary Herald, companies are taking home a million dollars profits for drilling dry holes.  Meanwhile workers are reporting 1 weeks work out of 3 or 4 weeks.  This is marginally better than EI.

    Several things come into play here: Foremost it keeps thousands of people off the EI roles so Harper and Conservatives can brag about how good things are under their domain and Harper can pick up a free coffee overseas as a economic leader. 

    Secondly, there are more Americans working in the Oil patch than Albertans.  These workers are not properly registered so pay little or no taxes and cannot collect EI.  This blanket bail out provides them with income.

    This is all simply evolution. Nearly two decades ago now, Alberta took advise that they could not grow “big industry” because of the lack of educated people in Alberta” .  They made policy changes (as is their right) to freeze money paid to universities while increasing funding and shortening courses in the various trade schools.

    As was predictable and well planned, Alberta young people would  fill the blue collar and labor jobs while foreign students took over the managerial jobs. Now, decades past foreigners hold most if not all our executive positions, their friends close to them and Albertans are the minions.

    If we look to the history the employment will be 1000 people out of 165.000 jobs.

    I will be supporting the Alberta Liberals in the coming election.

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