Pipeline Approval a Move Backwards

The federal cabinet’s approval of the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline is a decision that could define our times. We are witnessing the final stages of a protracted wrestling match between our future and our past.

Can we afford to let this decision stand? Aren’t our children—born and unborn—depending on us?

I’m not going to go into all the reasons why we must end our fossil fuel addiction and should be moving on to a clean energy future. You’ve heard it before.

But this decision could be different. It could be a game-changer. The Northern Gateway Oil sands pipeline could be a turning point because of the huge opposition in British Columbia—unparalleled in Canadian history.

• 130 First Nations and over 10,000 residents have said “No.” They told the environmental assessment panel that it was simply too risky and they wanted nothing to do with it. Period.
• Over 300 independent, respected, scientists asked the government to reject the conclusion of the panel based on numerous scientific errors and dubious assumptions.
• There are at least five legal challenges from First Nations, with many more in the works.
The panel charged with reviewing the scheme ultimately approved the oil sands pipeline anyway, despite making over 200 of their own “recommendations” (concerns).

B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s provincial government now holds all the cards. Clark, too, had a number of concerns. In fact, she set out five conditions that would need to be met before the more than 60 required licenses and permits would be granted by her government.

Those conditions clearly haven’t been met.

We were at a similar crossroads a decade ago when the government of Alberta fought tooth and nail against then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Since that time Canadians have been repeatedly misled on climate change: “Action is coming” . . . “Regulations are coming” we were told by a succession of federal governments, but all we got were more oil sands mines and more of the dirtiest oil on Earth. Classic bait and switch, petro style.

The battle over the Northern Gateway and Keystone oil sands pipelines is the defining moment of our time, and the world is watching.

Rejecting these dirty and dangerous oil sands pipelines can end the suicidal petro cycle in which we’ve been ensnared. This is an opportunity for our leaders to abandon their reckless pandering to international oil companies and get down to the job of building a green and safe future for our children.

Isn’t it time to reject the past and embrace the future?

John Bennett is Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.