Today, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper granted federal approval for the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. Despite approval from the Federal Government and Canada’s National Energy Board, the has little no chance of ever being built because of strong resistance it still faces from First Nations and British Columbians. Already First Nations have committed to take the government to court over the pipeline, and hundreds of people have committed to do whatever it takes to stop this dangerous pipeline project.
“This pipeline is never going to be built–First Nations leaders and coastal protectors will see to that,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “With KXL dead in the water for the moment, it’s no wonder big oil companies are bailing on their tar sands investments, and that money is starting to flow toward sun and wind.”
The combination of public opposition, political vulnerability, and threats of First Nations legal challenges has even left financial analysts and the U.S. State Department with doubts that the pipeline will be built, saying that the project is “controversial” and “encountering significant opposition.”
“This project is doomed,”explained Jasmine Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation, which has vocally opposed the pipeline since they found out about the project. “My community and many others will uphold our Aboriginal rights and title to the fullest extent possible. And thousands of people in this province and country have committed to hold the wall with us.”
Saik’uz is affiliated with the Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA), an alliance of First Nations which took the lead in developing the Save the Fraser Declaration. The Declaration has over 130 First Nations signatories, all of whom are banning tar sands and tanker projects through their territories. These First Nations also have the support of the majority of people in British Columbia, with only 29% of people in the province saying that they want Northern Gateway approved.
This pipeline approval comes right before the start of the 5th Annual Tar SAnds Healing Walk taking place in Northern Alberta. The walk is organized by numerous First Nations and will shine even more light on the devestation that is happening at the source of these pipelines. Additionally, several of these Nations have brought federal and provincial governments to court for violating Constitutionally recognized Aboriginal Treaty Rights, further challenging the idea that Northern Gateway will ever be built..
In early June, over 1,000 people responded to the call from Indigenous communities to march in Vancouver as a commitment to protect the land and water from tar sands oil and pipelines, and thousands are expected to gather again tonight in communities across BC.
Approving this pipeline was the easiest part of building Northern Gateway that Stephen Harper had to do, and that along has taken years — construction is a whole new ball game, and one that Harper, and Big Oil is set to lose.