VANCOUVER – Today is World Oceans Day and to mark the occasion, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs organized an anti-pipeline protest aimed at protecting our coasts, they say. With the federal government’s decision on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project expected within the next ten days, the timing is particularly poignant.
Protesters gathered at Sunset Beach and marched over the Burrard Street Bridge to Vanier Park, where a rally was held. The bridge was closed temporarily, disrupting traffic in the area. A police officer escorting the group on motorcycle was struck by a vehicle doing a U-turn. He requires surgery to repair a fractured knee resulting from the accident.
The master of ceremonies at the rally was Cecilia Point of Musqueam Nation. According to organizers, the goal of the event was to raise awareness about the dangers the pipeline poses to the country’s waters and to send a message to the provincial and federal governments that, “we will not jeopardize our children’s future for corporate profit.”
Enbridge spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht had the following statement about the protest: “Northern Gateway respects the fact that people want to voice their concerns on the issue of responsible resource development. We share those concerns. As an energy transportation company, we look to be part of the dialogue on these important issues. We all need to come together to find workable solutions on a shared responsibility that affects us all.”
The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen, described as a molasses-like substance. Some studies suggest it sinks in turbulent water conditions and in the event of a spill, could not be properly cleaned up. Hundreds of scientists have also taken on the cause, sending a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to reject a federal panel report supporting the proposal. They say the analysis by the joint review panel did not properly evaluate the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, which would result from expanded oil sands production. However, supporters of the pipeline point to its economic benefits and new regulations which hold the pipeline companies liable for all costs and damages related to oil spills. In B.C., the provincial government has set out five conditions for supporting any oil pipeline project, which include a “world-leading” oil spill response and prevention on both land and at sea.
With files from the Canadian Press.
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