Westward Passage for Canada's Tar Sands Oil Also Challenged
Republicans opponents in Congress and many of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination commenting on Obama's decision to hold off approval of the Keystone XL pipeline frequently make the argument that if the US decides not to allow such a project the obvious result would be that Canada's tar sands oil - regarded by most environmentalists as the "dirtiest fuel on the planet" - would simply shipped "straight West" for consumption by the asian energy market, most notably by Chinese companies looking to diversify their imports.
This argument, however, misses that a fight equal to that waged against the Keystone pipeline in the US is being fought by campaigners against Enbridge's Northwest Gateway Pipeline that would carry tar sands oil west from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia.
Like their counterparts in the US, those concerned site environmental concerns as their primary reason for opposition. The Vancouver Sun reports that opponents of the pipeline "don't buy the assurances" of Enbridge to transport the oild safely. They fear a spill by even one massive tanker could wreak havoc on marine life and coastline.
Environmentalists opposed to the project say it creates risks that have not previously existed on B.C.'s north coast — specifically, oil-carrying supertankers navigating the same rock-shrouded channels that sank B.C. ferry Queen of the North.
Oil spills are common on the B.C. coast, but they tend to be small and involve petroleum products such as diesel fuel from vessels that disperses relatively quickly. Canadian Coast Guard statistics show more than 550 "marine pollution incidents" in B.C. in 2011 as of mid-December, about 27 per cent of them level-three incidents requiring "cleanup or threat mitigation measures."
For environmentalists, the conclusion is obvious: Despite shipping advancements the risks are just too great.
And though this may be new on the rader of many in the US, this battle is not new, as noted in another recent report from the Vancouver Sun:
The mostly B.C.-based environmental groups have been fighting the proposed Enbridge pipeline for years.
There are about a dozen such groups, including the Dogwood Initiative, ForestEthics (with offices in B.C. and the U.S.), West Coast Environmental Law, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.
Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.