All the oil pumped down Enbridge's North B.C. pipeline will be spilled

One way or the other, every gallon of tar sands crude oil that Enbridge wants to pump down its proposed B.C. pipeline will be spilled into our environment. All of it. Every drop.

Any crude that Enbridge doesn’t first spill into our B.C. lakes, rivers, streams, Great Bear Rainforest and wild coastline, will instead become a gigantic burnt oil spill dumped into our destabilizing atmosphere and acidifying oceans.

This spill will be so large that it will wipe out all efforts by all Canadians to cut climate pollution. Once spilled it will continue for centuries to turbo-charge our weather systems, over-acidify our oceans, harm people and damage the ecosystems we depend on. It takes nature thousands of years to remove burnt oil once it is spilled into our air and oceans.

So I propose we start calling this pipeline what it really is – Enbridge’s “Northern Gateway Pipeline to our Atmosphere” (ENGPA).

How big a burnt oil spill are we talking about?

The amount of new climate damage that Enbridge and a handful of private oil companies propose to pump down ENGPA and into your future air and water is 150 million tonnes of CO2 (150 MtCO2) each year. That is the “wells-to-wheels” climate pollution unleashed by pumping an additional 800,000 barrels a day of new tar sands crude into our atmosphere. And that doesn’t even count the climate damage caused by shipping the stuff half way around the world.

A burnt oil spill of this magnitude is:

  • more climate damage than all fossil fuel burning in 76 nations -- combined
  • more climate damage than all the cars, trucks and road transport in Canada
  • nearly double the climate damage from all coal-fired power in Canada
  • eight times the climate damage B.C. citizens must to cut this decade by law

Picture filling nearly a million barrels with oil. Lined up side to side they would run along the highway from Vancouver past Chilliwack, Hope, Merrit, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and nearly out to Glacier National Park. You’ll have to fill 44 barrels every second during the 6 hour drive. Then imagine racing back and lighting all of them on fire. That gigantic cloud of burnt oil spilling up into our atmosphere is what ENGPA will add to our atmosphere every day if we build it. Now imagine getting up the next morning doing it all again. And then again on the next day. And the next. For decades.

Double standard will wipe out all efforts by all Canadians to cut climate pollution

The two biggest sources of climate damage in Canada outside the tar sands are road transport and coal-fired power plants. Approving the Enbridge’s “Northern Gateway Pipeline to our Atmosphere” is equivalent to doubling the number of cars and trucks in Canada, or almost tripling the amount of our coal-fired power plants.

On the one hand the Harper Government says climate change is a real threat and our Prime Minister has promised the world repeatedly that Canadians will cut our climate damaging emissions by at least 17 per cent this decade. Recently the Harper Government wrote laws requiring Canadians to make big cuts in the climate damages coming from our cars, trucks and coal-fired electricity.

And yet simultaneously the Harper Government turns around and does everything they can to allow a few private oil corporations (now 40 per cent foreign controlled) to dramatically increase the climate damages they pump out of Alberta by even more.  This one Enbridge pipeline alone will unleash climate damages equal to 22 per cent of Canada’s emissions…which will more than erase the 17 per cent cut Canadians must make.

Our Prime Minister calls this rush to obliterate the climate efforts of everyday Canadians a “no brainer”. I certainly agree about the “no brainer” part … but probably not in the way Mr. Harper intends it.

So, will Stephen Harper create a double standard where he forces Canadians to cut back while helping foreign-owned oil companies operating in Canada (such as China's state-owned Sinopec and the Chinese Communist Party’s China Investment Corporation) to pig pile it on?

More in Climate Snapshot

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Thanks for revealing the contradictions that most politicians and citizens don't want to accept.

It Is So Simple

It is so simple. I wish! Every day the world consumes the equivalent of 225 million barrels of oil equivalent in total energy. Say no to Canadian Oil? Okay. People do not want hydro electricity? Okay. People do not want 100,000's of massive wind mills in their backyards. Okay. People do not want to have to pay 3x more for solar electricity. Okay. People do not want coal power. Okay, say good bye to 50% of our electricity in Canada and the US. It is so simple, people want to all move to the equator so we consume no electricity, natural gas, and oil so stay warm, light our homes, produce our basic materials for clothes, our homes, and the automobiles that will get us all to the equator from way up here in Canada! Sounds like a plan! Keep on writing, excellent work here!

Pipeline Abandonment

They start projects like this and look at the current impact.  They need to look at the lifelong impact though.  Not just now, but until the pipe is out of the ground.  Are they going to dig it back up - or will it be spilling for decades after they are done using it. 

That in conjunction with the mess now of producing and burning it should be enough to offer much further reflection on the viability.

Reply to Small Town Hick

Abondonement of pipelines? If pipeline is abonded, we are not going to leave hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil in it at $100 per barrel. Seepage from residual oil is required by Canadian law to be remediated and there is an entire industry that responds to deal with these sites. Same policy applies to gas stations when they are sold and the zoning perscriptions for the land change. In these instances the law requires the soil to be cleaned. I hope this answers your question?

I agree, it is so simple

Joseph Fournier, nobody is saying "no to Canadian Oil." People are saying "no" to a radical expansion of the tar sands. The reason is that it is so big and so dirty a source of energy that radical expansion of it threatens the prosperity of future generations. People are saying we have enough oil production in Canada, we need -- like the IEA says -- to transition to alternatives that don't destabilize our climate to the point of "catastrophe".

We most certainly are going to leave millions of barrels of oil in the ground. We don't have a choice unless we repeal the laws of physics and chemistry. The only question is how big a carbon bubble we are going to inflate before we are forced to pop it.

Oil Powered Vehicles Deadly to People and Animals

The energy released by the burning of the oil is also deadly to people and animals. 1.2 million people are killed per year in motor vehicle collisions and pretty much all of these vehilices are powered by oil. Hundreds of millions of animals are also killed. I calculated that the oil spilled by BP in the gulf could have killed more animals if it was not spilled and burnt in motor vehicles instead.