Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolve to stand firm, together, in 2013.

I had a wonderful visit in mid-December from a two of the actors (Georgina Beaty and Anita Rochon) from Architect Theatre working on The Pipeline Project, which is a theatre development project about, you guessed it, Enbridge's Northern Gateway proposal.

They were on the road through northern BC in November and December and came to spend a couple of hours in Driftwood Canyon. We (I!)talked as we walked across the arched bridge over Driftwood Creek and later over a cup of tea back around our kitchen table. It made me realize how long I’d been living here, how many environmental projects we’d been involved in over those years, and how the stories are still the same. Threats of economic disaster if we don’t do what is being asked of us, while industry insists that what we ask in terms of safeguards or alternatives is impossible. Neither has proved true.

Anita Rochon
(photo courtesy project facebook page)
Telkwa, for example, is still a thriving community even without a coal mine or coal bed methane. It is possible to take the lead out of gasoline, it is possible to shut down beehive burners, and it is possible to create a park in the Babine Mountains. And, praise be, there will be no fracking in the Sacred Headwaters.

This last important victory demonstrates that it is also possible for First Nations to work with the non-native community – both on economic projects like the Kyahwood Forest Products and the sale of salmon at Moricetown and on environmental campaigns to protect wild salmon from fish farms or oil spills.

This was not the case when I moved to Smithers in 1977. It was still a regular practice for the fire chief to ask town council for permission to have his crew practice burning down “derelict” buildings – buildings that were often shelters for otherwise homeless Wet’suwet’en. It was not uncommon for Wet’suwet’en to be asked to leave stores and restaurants. Back when they were called Carriers.

Things have, in many ways, changed. Beautiful totem poles stand in front of Smithers Secondary and Northwest Community College. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en is located in downtown Smithers. The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre owns the building that used to house the jail. School District 54 has just published Niwhts'ide'ni Hibi'it'en – The Ways of Our Ancestors: Witsuwit’en History and Culture Throughout the Millennia. 

Turn the crank and you can hear, among other things, a Wet'suwet'en greeting here at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park.
(photo courtesy project facebook page) 

The Wet’suwet’en went through a long process educating both themselves and our community about their history and culture. Work began in earnest in 1984 when the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en launched a suit that claimed ownership and jurisdiction over their territory and led to an exhaustive recording of traditional knowledge that has left us all the richer. Even though Chief (sic) Justice Allan McEachern wrote an insulting decision denying even their existence as a people, the process of gathering that information, of talking to each other, had a very powerful and positive effect. We all knew what had happened in the past, knew that steps had to be taken to repair the injustices of that past. And the Wet’suwet’en demonstrated clearly that they still existed and held onto many political and cultural practices we had pretended were in the past. The Supreme Court’s overturning of McEachern’s decision on Delgamuukw and Gisday Wa was welcome, of course, but a transformation had begun.

Which brings me to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel. While it will be disappointing, we shouldn’t be surprised if the panel makes a decision as insulting and misinformed as McEachern’s was. But it will be too late.  We have listened to the oral presentations from community members and read the technical evidence and cross-examinations from interveners. We have spoken to each other and there is no going back. We have heard hundreds of stories from across the province and we know how many of us oppose this project. We have educated ourselves and each other about the sham economics of the project and the environmental impacts of tar sands expansion, pipeline construction and oil spills both globally and locally. We cannot “unknow” this.

This is part of what I said as I poured tea for two young actors sitting around a table that had seen hard labour in the offices of the Telkwa Foundation, the Smithers Human Rights Society, and the home of Walter and Peggy Taylor, people who stood up against social and environmental injustice throughout their long lifetimes. We are honoured to be able to sit at this table every day and gather energy from those who have come before us.

So raise a toast to what we’ve learned this past year, and make a resolution to stand firm, together, in 2013.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Save all our coasts

Our travels have brought us (via Via's the Ocean) all the way to Halifax. This morning we were missing the Smithers Save our Coast event so we mounted our own little demo at the Halifax (very industrial) harbour.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Widening Gyre

We were driving (yes, driving) across the prairies, often sandwiched between semis carrying heavy machinery, steel pipes, or huge plastic barrels; pickups carrying men and equipment to service oil wells, pumping stations; vehicles rumbling into tank farms or out to the grain fields peppered with black tanks and pumping stations. The arteries of oil. 

All of that big sky, big wind and only one or two old windmills on the whole route; it wasn’t until we drove past Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario that we came across solar panels, a huge field of them. And in Shelburne, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, a line of ghostly windmills, their ponderous blades revolving in and out of sight through the fog. 

Driving, people say. You need oil just like the rest of us. In other words, shut up. As if it’s all or nothing. As if we have to accept whatever the oil industry does without question. As if the questioning doesn’t have any impact on production methods, cleaner processing, or more efficient use. 

But this isn’t what I want to say. With all this activity, it seems as if we’re all chasing our own tails. If  we put the oil produced on one side of the equation and all the energy that went into the oil extraction and refining processes, into the trucks driven, the steel manufactured to make those trucks, the equipment, the pipelines, the tanks, the drills, flying the workers back and forth to the oil and gas fields, well, what is the net energy gain? The estimates range from 1.5/1 to 5/1 for tar sands oil– that means for every unit of energy put into the process, from 1.5 to 5 units of energy are produced, a much lower amount than in the past. This, of course, doesn’t take into account the carbon footprint, the pollution of downstream ground and river water, the air and ground pollution as the oil is burned, the plastic manufactured from that oil settling into the landfills, snagging on trees, washing up on beaches, killing seabirds and other creatures. 

Petroleum is used to make a million things – some of them valuable and useful, others junk. There is a a range of ideas about what is wasteful, what is useful, and what is essential, but we can all question ourselves when we pick up a packet of 300 brightly-coloured hair elastics for $1.99 or ask for a plastic bag to hold the plastic bag holding 100 extra strength garbage bags we’re buying so we have a place to put the plastic packaging we’re going to throw out. You just have to see Chris Jordan’s amazing photographs of albatross chicks who died from eating a colourful diet of plastic whirling in the Pacific gyre Chris Jordan's amazing photographs to realize how far-reaching and destructive this is.It makes Yeats’ “Second Coming” all the more prescient.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

4000 Reasons Festival

In June, I took part in an event in Smithers to celebrate all the people who stood up to speak to the Joint Review Panel expressing opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern  Gateway pipeline project. (See Masset Hearings and 4000 Reasons). The event, organized by the Driftwood Foundation, included an afternoon of poetry and performance, a wild salmon barbecue, and an evening concert featuring many regional performers, including Wet'suwet'en dancers, Rachelle Van Zan Zanten, Alex Cuba, Magpie Ulysses, Miriam Colvin, Travis Hebert, and Los Gringos Salvajes. Videographer Taylor Fox has created a very moving video collage of the day: to view it, Click here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Meet 'Dil Bit': The Enbridge Testimony Stephen Harper Doesn’t Want Heard

by Miranda Holmes

Many voices have been heard during these hearings, yet one has remained silent: the oily character at the centre of the debate. I think that’s a shame and so I am using my time before the panel to allow this character’s case to be made.

Hi, my name’s Dil Bit. That’s short for Diluted Bitumen, but I feel like I’m amongst friends here, so let’s not be too formal.

I come from the tar sands and, as you know, Alberta totally digs me. Alberta’s so generous she wants to share me with everyone.

If she gets her way, I’ll be passing through British Columbia a lot in the future, so I thought I should introduce myself properly.

As fossil fuels go, I’m a bit unconventional. But, as Alberta’s favourite son Steve will tell you, I’m totally ethical. (And don’t let those jet setting celebrities tell you any different.)

I’m also way better than conventional crude oil.

For instance, my total acid concentrations are up to 20 times higher than conventional crude. My sulphur content is up to 10 times higher and I’m up to 70 times thicker. Pretty impressive, eh?

Yeah, it’s true I can be a bit abrasive. Bits of quartz, pyrite, silicates, sure I carry them around. It’s just the way I’m made.

So conventional crude doesn’t have my grit. So what? No need to point out, like those granola eaters at the Natural Resources Defense Council did, that putting me in a pipeline is “like sandblasting the inside of the pipe.”

I don’t know why the Americans have taken against me, because – like so many of them – I pack some serious heat. Thanks to my true grit and my thickness (I like to think of it as strength), I make pipes hotter than conventional crude - and harder to monitor. In fact, pipelines carrying me are16 times more likely to leak.

See? I told you I was better.

I’m Alberta’s most precious resource. You think she and Steve are going to let just anyone transport me? No way.

For my travels through British Columbia, they’re going to use Enbridge, a fine, upstanding company with an excellent track record. Why, it took Enbridge 10 years to spill half as much oil as the Exxon Valdez. And they didn’t just spill it in one spot – they spread it around.

Regulators in the US thought the three million litres of me Enbridge spilled in Michigan was so funny they compared the company to those great comedy characters the Keystone Kops.

If Enbridge maintains its current success rate it should be able to meet Steve’s federal standards, which allow undetected pipeline leaks of less than 2% of capacity per week.

For the Northern Gateway project that means Enbridge could legally leave 11 million litres of me a week behind on my way to Kitimat without getting into any serious trouble. And why should they? Eleven million litres of me would be more than three times funnier than Michigan, right?

That’s good news for me, because I’ve heard there are some mighty pretty places in northern BC and I think it would be a shame not to get to know them better.

And it’s good news for BC, because your premier’s promising lots of jobs out of oil and gas exports, and cleaning up after me will sure keep people employed.

Sorry if any of the spots I’m going to wreck is one of your favourites, but I’ve got to keep Alberta happy. You know what she’s like. 

Miranda Holmes is a former journalist who spent a decade working on toxics and genetic engineering for Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in Canada and the UK. She has also worked on human rights and development issues. She is now an associate editor of the award-winning Watershed Sentinel magazine. She made this presentation to the JRP in August in Comox.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Job creation

I was on a recent kayaking trip to Nuchatlitz Provincial Park on the west coast of  Vancouver Island. We stocked up on groceries in Campbell River and I was wearing my "I've got this sinking feeling" T-shirt. (If anyone knows who designed this great shirt, please let me know because I'd like to credit them here.)

Two people in the grocery store came up to me (separately) and said they liked the T-shirt. One woman said she didn't like the project, but thought it was a done deal. Don't worry, I said. It's not going to happen. Keep speaking up. The other woman said she'd be going/coming up there/here (north) if she was needed. Later on, another couple told me the same thing.

Meanwhile the technical hearings are taking place right now - you can find summaries at the Northwest Institute website.

Now even though I've probably read too many John LeCarre novels where the lengths to which industry and government will go to protect economic interests is always nerve-wracking, I was more than a little creeped (to use a word my kids used to employ) to read an article in The Guardian Weekly: Shell spending $1 bn on security. It details the extent to which oil companies will go to maintain an unwelcome and environmentally destructive infrastructure. The article begins: "Shell is paying Nigerian security forces tens of millions of dollars a year to guard their installations and staff in the Niger delta....The oil giant also maintains a 1,200-strong internal police fore in Nigeria, plus a network of informants." Its budget for security in Africa, the article says, is number three after the total security budgets of the countries of South Africa and Nigeria.

I guess that's one way oil creates jobs.

Another perhaps unexpected job creation project that can likely be credited to the oil industry right here in Canada comes from the establishment of Alberta's counterterrorism unit. According to a June 6 Globe & Mail article, "After labelling certain environmental and first nations groups as extremists and radicals, Canada’s federal government, along with the country’s top law enforcement and spy agencies, have set up a counterterrorism unit in Alberta in order to protect the province’s natural resources and infrastructure."

The job spinoffs are amazing.

Just as it would be nice if some of Shell's security money went into addressing the environmental devastation its oil projects have caused in Nigeria, it would be nice if the Canadian government kept funding those scientists studying the effects of climate change and created jobs in alternative energy. The folks we stayed with in Nuchatliz rely almost entirely on solar - and that's on the wet coast. Go figure.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Think tankers and what comes along with them

I received notice of this August 24 presentation in Smithers from the Friends of Morice-Bulkley - as always, it's the stories people tell that really illustrate the impact of oil spills - and bravo to the folks who take the time to share their stories, as so many have done at the Joint Review Panel hearings.

A coalition of First Nation organizers and conservation organizations are sponsoring Dr. Riki Ott, a renowned marine toxicologist and oil spill expert on a speaking tour throughout British Columbia in August.  Friends of Morice-Bulkley are hosting Dr. Ott at the Old Church in Smithers on Friday, August 24 at 7 pm. Everyone is invited to this free event.

In her talk, "Think Tankers -- and what comes along with them", Ott shares stories of accidental activists from the Exxon Valdez spill, the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, the Enbridge Michigan spill and more, showing the devastating costs of our fossil fuel dependency on communities across North America. Her stories show what ordinary people are doing to create more self-reliant, sustainable, and democratic communities. Ott engages the audience to imagine what it would take to transition off fossil fuels and confront the dangerous expansion of corporate power – and inspires people to take action.

Ott says, "I spent a year in Gulf of Mexico communities after the BP oil disaster, warning people what to expect based on my experience with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In Cordova, Alaska, we learned that the oil industry does not know how to clean up oil – there would be a cover up, not a clean up. Sure enough, people in the Gulf are sick, wildlife is sick, tons of oil is still everywhere, and the government and oil industry are working together to minimize the appearance of damages and BP's response costs."

Ott found this same story of deception and harm is repeating in Michigan communities after the Enbridge pipeline tar sands spill in July 2010. Ott is working with community organizers in Michigan to launch a pilot community health survey in areas impacted by the tar sands spill. "In Michigan, we're dealing with incredibly toxic oil – pretty much the same stuff that the Canadian government wants to bring through BC. Tar sands oil is concentrated in the heavy particulates that harm the respiratory system, the reproductive system, immune function, the central nervous system, the stomach, bladder, liver, skin, and more. The diluents – the chemicals used to dilute the thick tar sands – also are linked with a host of human illnesses."  

 "I want to share these stories and experiences with people in British Columbia because you still have a chance to prevent the harms that have happened in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and Michigan. It's far better to fight to stop the pipelines and tankers now than to loose your health, your traditional foods, and your families after a spill."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Welcoming the salmon home

It's a bit unnerving to see all the people gathered on that bridge, but here are the people of Moricetown and the surrounding communities gathering to welcome the salmon back into the river and express their concern about the possible impacts of the proposed pipeline.

The caption on the photo reads :"On July 27, 2012, once again, members of the Wet'suwet'en nation, hereditary chiefs, Moricetown elected chiefs,  representatives of local governments and other residents of the valley came to Moricetown to celebrate the return of the salmon in the river and to express their opposition to proposed Enbridge rarsands/bitument pipelines."

On Monday, July 30, Smithers welcomed the people from the Hazeltons who were forced to come to Smithers to make their oral presentations to the Joint Review Panel. Once again, the presentations were thoughtful, respectful and charged with emotion at the ways in which people's lives could be affected by this project. Each participant said a resounding, "No!"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Come out to support Hazelton

People who signed up to speak to the Joint Review Panel in Hazelton will have to come to Smithers to make their presentations because it's a "safe and secure" location - which, translated from JRP lingo, means there are fewer Indians around; the JRP forced the Heiltsuk of Bella Bella  to paddle across to Denny Island to present their testimony last week - a hearing that Enbridge didn't bother to attend. For the full Tyee story, click here:  The Tyee story.

The Hazelton people will be speaking in Smithers tomorrow (Monday, July 31) beginning at 9 pm at the Hudson Bay Lodge - if you can, come out to support them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kootenays to Kitimat Caravan

Bill Metcalfe sent me a link to a story he wrote for The Nelson Daily:  Keep an eye out for these folks - last I heard they were in Fort St. James for the JRP hearings there:

About 40 Nelson residents gathered outside Nelson City Hall at noon today to support the four-person Kootenays to Kitimat Caravan, which left immediately after the rally for stops in Castlegar, Grand Forks, and points north. The caravan is travelling in opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
“We are here to say three simple things,” Keith Wiley, one of the caravaners, said at the mic. “No pipeline. No tankers. No problem."

"The massive opposition to this project is a turning point for Canada and Canadians," Wiley said. He and the other caravaners, all men who are no longer young, were affectionately dubbed "The Geezer Brigade" at the rally.

The half-hour event moved along briskly, with a few short speeches and an upbeat but determined mood. Local politicians from federal, provincial, and municipal governments attended and spoke.

To read the rest of the story...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

JRP Oral Presentation Summaries

If you haven't found the time to read through all the oral presentations to the Joint Review Panel, Friends of Wild Salmon has posted summaries and photos of the presenters from all the sessions to date (and will keep adding them as they take place). JRP Oral Presentation Summaries. In the over 800 presentations made to date, only one person has said the risks associated with the proposal are ones we should take.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cowboys and Indians

What a fiasco. It seems like the Calgary cowboys of the Joint Review Panel or their minders are afraid of the Indians. They've just announced that they're moving the Hazelton hearings to Smithers ( See Opinion 250). The only other community where hearings were delayed because of security issues was in Bella Bella. You'd think the Ontario member, Hans Matthews, a member of the Wahnapitae First Nation, would be able to reassure them on these matters.

In the meantime, people of all shapes, sizes, and colours have continued to line up across the northwest to voice their opposition to the pipeline proposal. In Prince George today hundreds of people gathered to demonstrate their feelings and former Smithers resident Kelly Giesbrecht made a powerful presentation - I've copied it in below:

Good afternoon,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

I have just a brief statement for the record.

I am a Canadian citizen and lifetime resident of Northern BC, originally from Smithers and living in Prince George since 1996.

I am here today as I cannot rely on either my current elected officials, or my current provincial or federal governments to represent, or even consider, my views and opinions on this matter.

I oppose the development of this pipeline.

I am deeply concerned about the irreversible, negative impacts it will have on Northern BC's economy, environment, lifestyles and cultures,  as well as on Canada's international reputation and credibility.

This pipeline is not in the public interest and does not contribute to national security - quite the opposite. This pipeline is an embarrassing proposition. It is unnecessary and unwanted.

There is a better way forward.

Thank you.

 Way to go, Kelly!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Steelhead on their upstream journey in Canyon Creek

Francois Depey sent this story and photo - thanks Francois.

Saturday,  June 16, 2012

I like waterfalls!  So, I check them around, once in a while.

We went to the lower fall at Canyon Creek, a tributary of the Bulkley River.

The water drop is located only 9 Km as crow flies, from the mouth of Canyon Creek (at the Bulkley River), a bit of a longer distance “as water flows” or “fish swims”…

What a pleasant surprise to see those fish jumping to make their way upstream.  Since I am not a fish expert nor a fisher at all, I was spoiled to be there with a fish specialist who could right away identify those fish as steelheads.

I learnt that steelheads spend one winter in the Bulkley before heading up to smaller tributaries when the water level is right for them to swim up.  It is a matter of timing.  They don’t have to fight the strong current of the Bulkley in springtime.  The fact that they spend the winter months in the river means that if an oil spill would occur at that time or in early spring, they would be a prime target.

Unlike salmon, steelhead do the round trip from their spawning grounds to the ocean up to four times (or maybe more!?) in their lifetime.  That is an exciting nomadic life, I guess.

Watching them fighting their way to their spawning ground in Canyon Creek is not a sight I would be prepared to sacrifice for all the oil/tar sand in the world!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Masset Hearings and 4000 Reasons

The Terrace and Prince Rupert presentations have wrapped up and, this afternoon and tomorrow, the JRP is in Masset. Also tomorrow, we'll be gathering in Smithers for the 4000 Reasons Festival sponsored by the Driftwood Foundation to celebrate those who are speaking in defence of our communities.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a history of Burns Lake by Pat Turkki published in 1973 - an amazing collection of people's stories. At the end, she quotes Herman Hesse:

For every man is not only himself, he is also the unique, particular. always significant and remarkable point where the phenomena of the world intersect once and for all and never again. That is why every man's story is important, eternal and sacred.

This is very much the spirit in which we put together the festival - to honour each person's story.

If you come in the afternoon (to the rotunda at Smithers Secondary  School), you'll also hear musicians and local poets reading their own work and work from The Enpipe Line: 70,000+ kms of poetry written in resistance to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal. Admission to the afternoon is by donation; there's a $15 salmon BBQ at 5 pm and a gala concert in the evening (see link above for details). Price: $25.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The harlequin ducks are back on Driftwood Creek

We've been out looking for a couple of weeks now, wandering the edges of the creek, noting the rise and fall of the water, the muddy and nutrient foam tricking our eyes into seeing ducks bobbing in the back eddies.


This morning, just across from a small viewing platform in Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, we saw the usual three: two males and a female. We stood high up on one bank of the creek; they hopped up onto rocks on the other side and we all had a good look at each other.

There's a fascinating Species at Risk Study that outlines their use of creeks for breeding - they tend to form long-term bonds and the females will take up to four years to reach reproductive maturity. Having clear, fast-flowing streams seems to be essential to their survival because they feed on the "invertebrates in the substrate" - i.e. all the little creatures wriggling around in creek gravel. Dippers eat from the same table. 

If you've read my submission to the Joint Review Panel (see Tuesday, April 24 - Congratulations to our community), you'll know why seeing these ducks this morning, and a dipper two days ago,  has such significance.They are markers of the ways in which home is both one specific and familiar place and also connected to the greater world in ways we barely comprehend.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Terrace hearings begin this evening

The oral statements begin this evening in Terrace - I encourage anyone who can to check them out - the statements in Smithers proved to be powerfully unifying for all of us concerned about this project.

Transcripts are available (see link on right), plus you can listen in. Bravo to all of you who have signed up and don't forget - you can still make a written presentation.

Order of Appearances for Oral Statements

Terrace, 7 May 2012 7:00pm – 9:00pm

􀂾 Ken Beddie
􀂾 Patrick Butler
􀂾 Christopher Gee
􀂾 Inke Giannelia
􀂾 Aaron J. GreyCloud
􀂾 Anne Hill
􀂾 Greer Kaiser
􀂾 Jupiter MacDonald
􀂾 Roderick Bruce Meredith
􀂾 Terry Walker

Terrace, 8 May 2012 9:00am – 12:00pm

􀂾 Robin Austin
􀂾 Matthew Beedle
􀂾 Frances Birdsell
􀂾 Rob Brown
􀂾 Amanita Coosemans
􀂾 Jim Culp
􀂾 Ian Gordon
􀂾 Bessie Haizimsqu
􀂾 John How
􀂾 John Jensen
􀂾 Mikael Jensen
􀂾 Brian Kean
􀂾 Amy Klepetar
􀂾 Lori Merrill
􀂾 Andrena Moore
􀂾 Dustin Quezada
􀂾 Laszlo Ratkai
􀂾 Sheree Ronasen
􀂾 Roberta (Boby) Wagner
􀂾 Allen Wootton

Terrace, 8 May 2012 1:00pm – 5:30pm

􀂾 Judith Chrysler
􀂾 Richard Clair
􀂾 Mark Collins
􀂾 Jezz Crosby
􀂾 Francoise Godet
􀂾 Paul Hanna
􀂾 John Krisinger
􀂾 Alexander Lautensach
􀂾 Alan Lehmann
􀂾 Larisa Tarwick
􀂾 Jane Treweeke
􀂾 Brenda V. Wesley

Terrace, 9 May 2012 9:00am – 12:00pm

􀂾 Randall Rodger
􀂾 Robert Hart
􀂾 Andre Jean Carrel
􀂾 Donald J. Bruce
􀂾 Betty Geier
􀂾 Paul Geier
􀂾 Nada Last
􀂾 Troy Peters
􀂾 Cheri Reidy
􀂾 Shekina Smart
􀂾 Colette Stewart

Terrace, 9 May 2012 1:00pm – 5:30pm

􀂾 David Duddy
􀂾 Walter R. Fricke
􀂾 Malcolm Graham
􀂾 Sam Harling
􀂾 Noel Reidy
􀂾 Mia Reimers
􀂾 Amy Spencer

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lynnda McDougall - This pipeline will be stopped!

Good morning.  Welcome back to Smithers.

My name is Lynnda McDougall.  I currently work at the Smithers Public Library, but since I moved to the Bulkley Valley in 1971 I've been a substitute high school teacher,  a bookkeeper and a business owner.  I spent 20 years of my career in resource-based industries, through both boom and bust times: first in forestry as a tree-planter, slasher/bucker and a stump to dump logging contractor, then in mining exploration as an office manager/bookkeeper for a diamond drilling firm.  For 8 years, I worked with First Nations  at the Dze L k'ant Friendship Centre.

Throughout this length of time,  and breadth of experience, I have never encountered an issue that has united and galvanized the people of the Pacific Northwest like the threat posed  to our livelihood and our very way of life by the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

I am not a scientist, but you will be hearing from many of them, detailing the atrocious assault on our watersheds that a pipeline rupture, or worse yet, an oil tanker spill would deliver. 

I am not a scientist, but I am a mother and grandmother and a 41 year resident of this wonderful region and when I look at the map of the pipeline route , memories come flooding back – memories of activities and places I had assumed I would share with my grandchildren, now under threat of degradation and extinction:  camping, boating and trout fishing at Owen Lake – spill into the Morice? GONE!  Homesteading on the banks of the Bulkley River at Quick and Telkwa, drawing drinking water in buckets from the river, summer and winter;  swimming, tubing, rafting from Walcott to Quick – NOT IN
BITUMEN POLLUTED WATER!  Swimming lessons at Round Lake with my daughter NOT A CHANCE!  A family wedding on the beach at Grey Bay on Haida Gwai?  Black tar balls don't enhance white bridal gowns and deformed, toxic seafood doesn't provide a delicious wedding dinner.

I am not an expert, but I do recall a sudden storm in November of 1978 when hurricane force winds blew, and over 10 inches of rain fell on Terrace and area in 2 days.  The resulting floods  and mudslides devastated the entire NW:  44 washouts on HWY 16 between  Hazelton and Terrace alone, bridges gone; CN rail tracks, including a train with 2 crew members from Smithers, swept into the Skeena River;  over 6000 acres of timber blown down in the Chapman Lake area alone and the PNG natural gas line ruptured in the Telkwa Pass cutting off the primary heating source to Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

This incident is relevant today because it highlights the difficulties in trying to repair infrastructure in rugged terrain, in poor weather and with few transportation options. From Smithers to the west coast, we have ONE road and ONE rail line.  When these are impassable or compromised, the only alternative is aircraft.  Mountain flying is hazardous at the best of times and inclement weather simply makes it impossible.  

In 1978 PNG repair crews were delayed, first because of weather, and then by conditions as described by PNG's sales & service manager of the Terrace district, John Low, in a news story:

“Unless the service is restored Wednesday, the area will find itself without a major source of home heating. Low said the major break in the line occurs about 26 miles upriver from Copper River Bridge on Highway 16. Twelve men - as much as the site can hold - have been flown in by helicopter, and they face the task of building a four inch bypass line 200 feet up a 70 degree slope, across 1000 to 1500 feet on top of the ridge, and back down the slope. Machinery has no access to the area, and Low said the men are
doing all the work by hand. Two welding machines are the only equipment being used on the site.”

It took more than a week to restore natural gas service to tens of thousands of people,and a full two years to rebuild the roads, bridges and rails to the previous state.  

These are the conditions facing anyone trying to repair an oil pipeline leak, and then it won't be natural gas dissipating into the air, but heavy, toxic bitumen poisoning our waterways, killing our fish and destroying our environment.

We Northerners are a sceptical lot. 

We have seen the results of projects built by those who don't live here or understand the realities of our climate and geography:  the beautiful buildings designed by southern architects that are cold and draughty and leak, the mega projects that flood our farmland and dislocate our First Nations. 

We don't believe Enbridge's empty promises and smooth assurances – we've talked to the people affected by Enbridge's 2010 spill along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and heard about the slow initial response, subsequent denial of compensation, the reprehensible treatment of claimants and the continued ruination of sections of the river. 

We know that under Canadian law, the total liability to Enbridge for an oil tanker spill is a paltry $40 million – the BC taxpayer will be paying the rest of the billions required.

We don't believe the Harper government's argument that this project is in the national interest- at least not OUR nation.  China will make out very nicely! Greedy Oil producers, many of them foreign owned and controlled, will reap record profits to be shipped offshore along with the bitumen and Canadian jobs. 

The Harper government would have us believe we need the revenue generated by Northern Gateway to pay for our social programs, but we know that eliminating the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to already profitable oil companies would provide that funding. 

We are astonished anew, each day, as the Harper Government announces proposed changes to laws that will strip us of our environmental protection and regulatory review processes, including that of this very panel.  We urge, no we implore you, as the people of conscience we hope you to be, to join the people of Northern BC in condemning this project.

I am a Northerner, by choice and by temperament. Northerners can be fiercely proud, independent, resilient, responsible, rowdy and resourceful.  We have our differences and divisions, but in the face of a common and pervasive threat we will work together to defeat this project.  We love this country, it is our home, and we will protect it. We will become the radicals the Harper government accuses us of being: radically informed and radically involved. WE WILL STOP THIS PIPELINE!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kate Brooks - my children's questions

Good Morning. Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

The dinner table conversation at my house has been challenging in the last months as we have studied the proposed Gateway Pipeline Project and tried to figure out what it would mean to us to have a pipeline constructed so close to where we live.

My children are 13 and 10 and as a family my husband and I spent a lot of time with them reading articles in the press, following blogs, and watching videos and dvd’s on the proposal. We also spent time at the Enbridge website since much of the press has been pretty unfavourable.

As the statistics and reports added up….over 600 pipeline leaks in the past years with a particularly bad one in the Kalamazoo river in Michigan… my children’s questions began to pile up too…questions and statements for which we as parents had no answer…

“Most of the pipeline leaks are old pipes, Mom, so are they going to keep putting in new pipes on this pipeline, or will these ones get old and leak too?”

“Mom, the Queen of the North ferry hit a rock while making a simple turn and it sank and is still leaking oil. If the queen of the north made a mistake, a supertanker can make one too.”

“Yeah Dad, I watched Enbridge’s video on all the safety features they have in place but how much will that help? I bet BP and EXXON promised there would be no accidents when they set out their proposals and look what happened. “

“ But Mom, the Kalamazoo river cleanup is a mess. When the engineer at the Enbridge website says he doesn’t think there is going to be a problem, I think he is wrong. I don’t believe him.”

“So Dad, the bears need the salmon, and the trees need the bears eating the salmon, so what happens if a spill destroys the salmon? People are not the only ones with needs in the world, you know.”

“A leak is just one of the problems Mom…what about the construction? Won’t it have hazards too? What about avalanches and earthquakes? Won’t it create a big mess?

“Dad, if I was in charge, I wouldn’t let this pipeline be built.”

 “Mom, why are they sending the oil to China? We know there is going to be an oil crisis…I think they should save the oil for ME.”

My children are blessed to live surrounded by wild space. There is always something to be aware of here: The oolican are running, the salmon are running, the cranes are moving north, the geese are moving south, the loons are back, there is fresh bear poop on the path to the wild berry patch, the coyotes woke me up---they were so loud I thought they were in the driveway, the moose are in the driveway between us and the car and we need to get to town.

They appreciate the beauty and wildness here, the spaciousness, and the complexity, even while complaining all the way up the trail to the breath- taking view.

But they are now beginning to think that the only way to protect a place is to not let anyone in because as my 13 year old wrote in his school report--“The road to an oil spill is paved with any kind of intentions, good or bad, and while good intentions will certainly prevent a spill for awhile, it won’t forever. How would we feel if we were almost any animal on the pipeline route when a spill happened?….Do we really want the BC coast to become known as the Land of the Black water? Why is this happening?….To make money may be the clear answer, but our ecosystem is one of the most rare and precious on earth. We’re already harming it with fish farms and over fishing….Is money the only thing we need in the world? Do we need nothing to be proud of and protect?”

It became clear after reading this and listening to their discussions with us that the important issue for my children is to protect a landscape and home they love and take pride in.The important issue for me is safety I want my kids and family to be safe and healthy and one of the things I need for that is a clean environment.

We were drawn to looking at the safety record of Enbridge because my kids want to protect the environment for themselves and all creatures. I want them to be safe and healthy and in the end it really amounts to the same thing.

Perhaps because of their naivety and innocence, they see what so many cannot-- that money is not what truly sustains us….Wild land with wild creatures, clean air, soil and water and community….these are what truly keeps us alive. These are what feed us. No amount of money will ever clean up a disaster….that has been shown the world over. Despite the millions of dollars companies keep in the bank for that ‘just in case’ scenario…it never covers the true cost. Never. It takes lifetimes for the earth to heal.

Part of my reason for speaking today was to ask for your help in protecting a place that is worth protecting. It’s a healthy place and the risks of this project seem too great. The other reason is to show my children the importance of standing up, whether nervous or not ( and I am incredibly nervous), to ask for that help. You, as a panel and as individuals, have a huge responsibility, and opportunity and that is the power to weigh all the arguments.

I ask you to please listen to the wildness of this land, and everything and everyone that lives and thrives on it; Please go for a walk here and look at the big picture…. Please weigh our concerns in at least equal measure, if not more, to profit.

If we could, we’d like to pose one question. ”If Enbridge was told that the pipeline would be closed forever if there was even one leak, what would they do differently with their planning?"

Right now, we as a family have no confidence that Enbridge would be able to provide an acceptable answer, and until they can we ask you to please say No to the Enbridge pipeline proposal. 
Thank you.

Paul Glover - landslides

Oral presentation to NEB Joint Review Panel
April 24, 2012

Welcome Sheila, Hans, and Ken.  Thank you for coming here to hear us. We appreciate the opportunity to take part in the review process.

I understand that you’d rather not hear things that you’ve already heard from other presenters, so I will try to tell you some things you haven’t heard yet.

My name is Paul Glover.  I am 57 years old.  I’ve lived in the Bulkley Valley for 37 years, and have raised my three daughters here.  I plan to spend the rest of my life here.  I chose this area for its wild landscapes, its intact ecosystems, and clean water.  I have spent a lot of time in the mountains, forests, and along the streams and rivers throughout this region.  I greatly value that I can safely drink from any mountain stream…and I do. 

I know you’ve heard a lot about the instability of the land along the proposed pipeline’s route.  You’ve surely heard of the dozens of incidents where landslides in this region have cut powerlines, closed roads, blocked rivers, taken out railways (even pushing a freight train into the Skeena in 1978),…and severed pipelines. 

You know that we already have some pipelines in this area, that carry natural gas to the communities and industries across the region. And you’re no doubt aware that, since the time they were built in the late 1960s, these pipelines have fairly routinely been ruptured by landslides.  These include incidents where gas was cut off to communities for days at a time.

You have probably heard that in late November, 2003, the natural gas pipeline to Prince Rupert was washed out by a mudslide.  But I doubt that you’re familiar with the comments that Attorney General Rich Coleman delivered in the BC provincial legislature three days after the slide.

This is what he said:

“The landslide actually took place on Friday. It was about a thousand feet across — about 350 metres. It took out a natural gas pipeline. This is an event that takes place in this particular area of British Columbia about once every two to three years. There's a lot of unstable ground there, and it does cause some difficulties. The gas line was taken out.

“Over the weekend we were unable to actually get in there to repair the line, because the unstable ground was still there, and the weather was too severe for people to get in there. They are working on it now. They expect to try and get in there and finish this to get the gas line operating in the next three to five days.”

(From Hansard, Debates of the Legislative Assembly, MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2003, Afternoon Sitting, Volume 19, Number 5)

It turned out that Prince Rupert was actually without natural gas for 10 days.  That’s how difficult it can be to get in and fix a pipeline.

When the gas pipeline was being planned, if someone had said (as someone surely must have), “I am concerned that your gas pipeline will be hit by a landslide and break,” do you think that Pacific Northern Gas would have replied, “Well, yes, that might happen—there ARE a lot of landslides around there.”? 

NO, of course they would not say that.  Any company in that position will assert that the very latest and best technology is being used;  that thorough risk assessments have been done;  that the route has been carefully chosen;  that they can deal with any problems;  that they care about the environment more than anything else…and so on. 

They might even say, “We have lots of pipelines in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and they are NEVER hit by landslides!” 

A company does what it needs to to meet its objectives—which are, primarily, to make profits.  I have no doubt that this is Enbridge’s primary objective, too.  And I believe that Enbridge is overlooking the obvious risks of operating in this terrain, blinded as it is by the pot of gold it sees waiting at the end of the rainbow, in Kitimat. 

For this reason, I am not comforted by Enbridge’s reassurances of how its modern technology will make its pipeline safe through some of the most unstable terrain on earth.

You panel members might know Don Thompson, past president of the Oil Sands Producers Group.  You probably don’t know, though, that he was scheduled to speak to the Smithers Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 21 last fall about the benefits of tar-sands oil production.  We could expect that he would also have put in a few good words for the Northern Gateway pipeline.  But we actually don’t know what he would have said because he didn’t get to make his presentation.  He had to drive from Terrace to Smithers that morning, and the highway was blocked by a landslide.

This landslide was cleaned up within a couple days, but it came down the same path as a much larger one had in 2007, blocking the highway for days and burying two people in their vehicle, killing them.  If you have driven that stretch of road as you carry out your work during this review process, you will have passed the large pile of stones at the side of the road that is their memorial cairn.

There is no warning that one of these slides is about to occur, except that precipitation is often a factor—something we have lots of in the Coast Mountains. And almost all climate models predict increasingly warmer and wetter weather for this area:  More landslides can be expected.

Others have already brought up Enbridge’s pipeline spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, in the context of Enbridge’s record of 804 pipeline spills between 1999 and 2010.  “Most of them very small!” Enbridge hastens to clarify. 

But not the Kalamazoo spill, that the EPA estimates leaked more than a million gallons of Alberta crude into the river. 

But you already know this.  The point I want to make is that the spill occurred in flat country, easy to access, with many resources nearby to draw from.  Yet it has still proved to be much harder to clean up than Enbridge or the EPA anticipated.  By the time it is finally done to the satisfaction of the EPA, work will have been ongoing for more than two years straight. 

EPA on-scene coordinator Ralph Dollhopf says that Enbridge has struggled to locate all of the oil.  "Every time we go back to look, we find more," he is quoted as saying. "The river is causing the oil we are targeting to always move."

Please consider, Ken, Hans and Sheila, that our waterways are quite different than the easily navigable Kalamazoo.  If the river there is moving the oil around, imagine what our whitewater streams and rivers would do with it.

And what else do I take from this?  That Enbridge is quick to say how prepared they are in case there is a spill; how expert they are at cleaning one up.  But really, it’s clear they don’t have much of a handle on what’s involved.  No one does.  It’s a nearly impossible task.  If oil gets into our rivers, it will be there for a long time.  

And finally, you have certainly heard about the Enbridge pipeline outside Chicago that was ruptured, and burst into flames, when it was struck by a force of nature that is perhaps even more unpredictable than landslides:  that is, young men in cars.  In this case they were drag-racing on a closed road.  Most people don’t realize that this pipeline is buried for most of its length except for a 30 or 40-foot stretch that is above-ground.  And this is the part that happened to be hit.

What are the chances of that???  Quite slim, certainly.  Do you think this possibility ever crossed anyone’s mind during the risk assessment?   It is very difficult to factor unpredictable human actions into these assessments, and yet it is often just such actions that cause problems. 

My point here is that I take no comfort in a green-light risk assessment regarding oil pipeline infrastructure in an environment that WE KNOW is unpredictable and unstable.  We CAN confidently predict that there will be floods and landslides.  There may be earthquakes.  What else could possibly occur that we cannot even imagine as we contemplate this project from our homes and offices, our coffee shops and our community halls, our riverbanks and our ocean beaches?

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Carlie Kearns - Houston Tsunamis

Good morning. I’m Carlie Kearns.

I moved to Houston with my husband in August 1974.

Our first outdoor adventures here were fishing trips along the Morice River. It is an amazingly beautiful, pristine, and powerful river! 

We’ve camped, canoed, boated, and fished most of the river from the Morice West Bridge to Barrett Station Bridge. We’ve caught Chinook, Pink, and Coho Salmon; Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, and Dolly Varden. We’ve seen abundant wildlife and birds along the river and picked berries and mushrooms nearby. It is idyllic! More people every year access this area for the fishing and the wilderness experience - locals as well as people from across Canada, the U.S., Asia, and Europe. 

This prime fish & animal habitat is downstream from where the proposed oil pipeline would parallel, then cross, the Morice River and parallel the Gosnel.

In the spring, when the Morice becomes a raging brown torrent, our explorations eventually took us to Babine Lake and Rainbow Alley – a world-renowned fly-fishing paradise. In the spring and summer fishermen congregate in Rainbow Alley and Nilkitkwa Lake to fish for rainbow trout.  As you know, this area is also at risk -- 80% of the Babine rainbow trout spawn in the Sutherland River downstream from the proposed pipeline crossing of that river.

We’ve also enjoyed fishing and boating in the Douglas Channel where I’ve seen whales, halibut, crab, rock cod, salmon, starfish, multitudes of birds, and vast beds of kelp.
The cycles of nature sustained by the rivers, lakes, and ocean are immense – waterways truly are the life blood of this province. 

I am horrified by the thought of an oil pipeline through this area and oil super tankers traversing within the confines of the Douglas Channel.
Oil spills are inevitable.    

Last June I wrote a letter to the Houston Today newspaper expressing my concerns about the risk of spills. The following week Mr. John Carruthers, President of Northern Gateway Pipelines, responded by stating in his letter to the editor: Enbridge delivers almost a billion barrels of hydrocarbons a year through its pipeline system with a safety record of 99.99 percent.

So they do NOT safely deliver almost 100,000 barrels per year at their current volumes? (1,000,000,000 x .01)  

The planned pipeline would carry an average of 525,000 barrels of bitumen per day. Using Mr. Carruthers’ statistics we could then expect total spills or leaks of almost 100,000 barrels somewhere along this line within 6 years. Hopefully his statistics are wrong and his letter was meant to be re-assuring – perhaps not - but at least he’s given us fair warning.

I am aware of two Enbridge crude oil spills in 2011:  28,000 barrels northeast of Peace River Alberta in May and 1,500 barrels from the Norman Wells line in the Northwest Territories in June.

There was also an Exxon Mobile rupture of a 12” pipe under the Yellowstone River spilling 1,000 barrels that resulted in the evacuation of residents, closure of water intakes, and the fouling of the river banks for almost 50 miles downstream.

The Norman Wells pipeline spill was discovered by Dene hunters – a pin-hole leak apparently – that wasn’t noticed by the Enbridge up-to-date monitoring technology. Most of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline traverses a remote wilderness and is under ice and snow for 4 months of the year. How much damage would a pine-hole leak or leaks cause along this line and how far would the oil travel before it was discovered?

At the Hearings here in January, Elsie Tiljoe spoke of her experience of being shaken out of bed when she was a child. She lived in the Houston area. That could have been the magnitude 8.1 earthquake centered in Haida Gwaii in 1949. 

I don’t know if tremors from the 9.2 magnitude March 1964 Alaska earthquake were felt in Houston but tsunamis from that quake caused damage in B.C., Oregon, & California.
The magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Alaska in November 2002 was also felt in the Houston area. An article written by Grace Hols and published in Houston Today states:
Workers at the Equity mine site noticed a strange thing in the Main Zone pit the morning of Monday, November 4.   A boat that is normally tied up about a foot out of the water was adrift among slabs of ice in the pit. The last time they had seen the pit, it was frozen right over with a layer of ice four inches thick...You can see where a surge wave had come through and pushed the ice up, said Mike Aziz, operations manager at the Equity site. ...”

I have a photo of the tailings pond taken by Mike Aziz, Operations Manager, on November 4th 2002, the day after the quake. The shoreline is littered with slabs of ice that were washed up by the mini tsunami.
The proposed pipeline would run within a few kilometers of Equity Mines.

The Natural Resources Canada website states that in an earthquake “The plates can either slide past one another, or they can collide, or they can diverge...The west coast of Canada is one of the few areas in the world where all three of these types of plate movements take place, resulting in significant earthquake activity.”  

I hope you verify this additional hazard.

I’d like to remind you of the Enbridge track record for spill clean-up.
Remember the Kalamazoo River spill of July 2010? 
I have a quote from a news release of October 6th 2011.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a directive today requiring Enbridge to take additional steps to clean up the July 2010 oil spill that damaged over 36 miles of the Kalamazoo River system. The directive requires Enbridge to submit plans by Oct. 20, 2011 for cleanup and monitoring work expected to last through 2012. Failure to comply could result in civil penalties. The EPA directive lays out a performance-based framework for assessing and recovering submerged oil in the river and cleaning up oil-contaminated river banks.” 

The Kalamazoo river spill happened in July 2010. The US Environmental Protection Agency found it necessary to give Enbridge a clean-up directive over a year later and they expect the clean up to carry on throughout 2012 – 2 ½ years from the time of the rupture

Imagine how much irreparable damage has been done by this spill. Despite their up-to-date monitoring technology and clean-up strategies, 36 miles of the Kalamazoo River is damaged, eco-systems destroyed.

I hope you have data about the damage, costs, and clean-up efforts for the Kalamazoo, the Peace River and the Norman Wells spills.

I feel sickened that the Enbridge pipeline proposal is even being considered seriously and that it is being pushed by the Harper Government.

The risks to the B.C. Fisheries; the First Nations territories and culture; the tourist industry; the pristine wilderness; and the ecosystems all along the proposed pipeline route, the Douglas Channel, and the Pacific coastline, are not worth any amount of financial gain. 

The risks are clear. The benefits are not. 

Thank you for listening to the local people all along the line who are speaking out against this project. This is our home.

Letter from John Carruthers in Houston Today (online) June 2011
Montana oil spill fouls Yellowstone River   The Associated Press  (online)
Peace Spill: (online)
Saved Letter about Kalamazoo and online EPA press release
Houston Today newspaper article November 2002 (Houston Public Library)
Natural Resources Canada website (online) (earthquakes data)
Photo of Equity Tailings Pond Taken by Mike Aziz Nov. 4/2002 (included & saved)