Open letter to MP Ryan Leef, re: Northern Gateway approval:
The word pipeline has always, in my experience, generated a lot of opposition. By its very nature, a pipeline puts distance between a resource and the community that lives with the effects of its extraction. Profits tend to move away too.
Is this the future of our landscapes, to be pieced apart and sold off to the highest bidder, leaving only a wasteland? I saw this word again and again in my inbox this week, as responses came in to the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, that would transport oil from the largest industrial project on earth, the Alberta tar sands, to supertankers that will run down the B.C. coast and off to Asia.
Incidentally, do you not find it odd that the tar sands were not considered related enough to the pipeline to merit inclusion in the government’s review? My opposition to your government’s decision includes the disempowerment of communities alluded to above (all of the First Nations and municipalities directly affected along the proposed pipeline and shipping routes), environmental and health risks to them and surrounding areas, all the way through to the global impacts of climate change.
As our technological abilities increase, we always seem to be trying to go beyond what we can do safely, and test out new ideas with extremely high stakes. From the Exxon Valdez to BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve seen again and again that we are not in control.
The pipeline technology used in Canada isn’t even designed for the raw oilsands-based mixture that would flow through Northern Gateway, that has proven to be more corrosive and results in substantially higher rates of pipe failure and more challenging clean-up than conventional crude.
We know climate change is happening. We see northern communities are scrambling to adapt to changes already being felt. Science and history tell us that these will only become more intense, and that crossing certain thresholds (that we won’t recognize until after the fact) could lead to cascading effects beyond our current imaginings. We know these things, yet we continue to persist in extracting oil to fuel our carbon economy.
To be able to eek out a few more years of easy living in what, in hindsight, will likely be viewed as an incredibly decadent, and short, era. I for one would rather we shifted our lifestyles, our infrastructure, and our economy away from oil.
Yes, it’s going to take a lot of work, and life won’t look the same. We may face some tough questions. But I’d rather we drive the shift than have it happen to us, which it inevitably will. That’s why they’re called non-renewables.
Ryan, you say you work for Yukoners. I’d like to think that includes all of my friends’ kids. Please stand up for their future, one where we don’t rely on increasingly rare, costly, ecologically devastating to extract, climate-change-inducing fossil fuels.