Day 7 of the Cancun Negotiations
Today was the first day of being inside at COP16 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Canadian Youth Delegation had its first action against Offshore Drilling and Tanker traffic. Oil tanker traffic promotes the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, which is one of the root causes of climate change. I spoke out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. Enbridge, a Canadian oil company proposed a pipeline project called the Northern Gateway that would stretch twin pipelines between the Tar Sands and Kitimat, on B.C.’s North Coast. From Kitimat, more than 225 tankers a year would carry crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to markets overseas. I am concerned about the risks of allowing tankers full of oil to pass through the waters off the coast of BC. The commercial fishing industry and First Nations fishing and harvest industries are dependent on the waters through which the tankers would be allowed to pass. The waters themselves are a diverse ecosystem, home to many species of sea birds, sea mammals, and many important fish including salmon and halibut.
If the Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat and exportation is allowed to proceed, it would create unacceptable economic, social and environmental risks. The Exxon-Valdez spill and recent spills in the Gulf of Mexico and Michigan are powerful reminders that safety technologies fail. If oil tankers are allowed in B.C.’s dangerous coastal waters, it will be matter of when, not if, there will be an oil spill. Last Thursday a group of 61 BC First Nations vowed to stop oil from Alberta’s controversial tar sands from going through the province to reach the international market place. Standing on the steps of the company’s headquarters in Vancouver my cousin, Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation said: “Enbridge, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for uniting us.”