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?
Meanwhile in B.C., our government passed a law requiring our citizens and businesses to cut climate damage by 33 per cent in the next decade. That is going to take a lot of hard work and money to pull off. To help meet our goal we pay $25 for every tonne of CO2 we spill into the atmosphere. But this one proposed pipeline across BC would wipe out all our climate efforts more than eight times over. Not only does it wipe out our efforts but neither the private oil companies nor China plan to pay a carbon tax on it like we have to.
In fact, we could literally stop using all fossil fuels in B.C. -- turn off the heat in all buildings, abandon all vehicles, ships, planes and close every factory and industry and fossil fuel power plant – and not come close to offsetting the climate damage that will be spilled from this proposed pipeline.
Will our BC Premier Christy Clark approve a project that makes a complete mockery of the very climate efforts her government requires of its own citizens? Will there be a double standard where she gives the thumbs up for China to dump as much of our Crown-carbon that they want without even paying any carbon tax, but make it illegal for British Columbians to do the same? Will her recent hiring of a former Enbridge lobbyist as her new chief-of-staff bias her decision? Will foreign interests get a better deal than BC citizens on our own nation’s oil?
The 150 MtCO2 of new climate damage guaranteed to be spilled as a result of the proposed ENGPA will wipe out all efforts by all Canadians to cut climate pollution.
The world’s most important climate scientist, James Hansen of NASA, said that this plan by private oil corporations to radically expand extraction of climate damage out of the tar sands will mean “game over” for our climate. The staid International Energy Agency says that we need to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure or bring on a climate “catastrophe”.
Despite the clear threat, a few private oil corporations, with the aid and blessing of the Harper and Alberta Governments, are already actively pushing two more gigantic pipelines across BC in addition to Enbridge’s “Northern Gateway Pipeline to our Atmosphere”.
The Enbridge documents show that private oil corporations operating in Alberta plan to ratchet up the climate damage they extract from the tar sands to a staggering one billion tonnes of CO2 per year by 2035. That is double the climate damage from all fossil fuel burning for everything else in Canada. It will overwhelm every effort by every other part of Canadian society to stop climate change.
These private oil corporations will also need to build the equivalent of fifteen more pipelines the size of the one existing pipeline (foreign-owned Kinder Morgan TMX) that currently crosses B.C.
Along the way every single one of those additional billions and billions of gallons of tar sands oil will get spilled into our environment…one way or the other.