Read this report from the Watershed Sentinel on last weekend’s National Energy Board hearings in Comox on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and supertankers on BC’s coast. In addition to the consistent testimony in opposition to the plan, over 2,000 people rallied outside the hearings to say no to Enbridge. (March 31, 2012)
Speaker after speaker poured out their passionate pleas to an impassive panel at the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings in Comox, BC, March 30 & 31. Some described in loving detail their ocean-side worlds and the terrible weather on the north coast. Others discussed the economics (risk versus benefit) of the 1,170 kilometre pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat BC, where the diluted bitumen would be loaded on tankers to travel the narrow passages of BC’s west coast Great Bear Rainforest. A few short-term construction jobs, no royalties, and the enormous financial and ecological risk of oil spills on land and sea, in order to provide oil to Asia do not add up for British Columbians of most walks of life.
Brian Voth, a forest worker from North Island, described the beauty of San Josef Bay: “If it was fouled by an oil spill, that would break my heart,” and concluded, “If there was an oil spill, the broken hearts would be piled higher than high.”
The reasoning was exquisite. Kathy Smail from Cortes Island pleaded: “The environment is not a stand-alone subject. As we all know, shifts in the environment alter everything around us. Our economies, our health, our social well-being, our cultures. As our earth warms and our weather changes and our propped up economic house of cards collapses, what we could have left is the safety net of a relatively intact environment that shelters and nourishes us. It is hopelessly optimistic of me to even wish for such things but I am compelled by my grandchildren, my community, and the uncertain future for all creatures to strive for this. I implore you to do whatever you are able to halt the Northern Gateway Project.”
Outside the hearing room on a chilly Saturday afternoon, over 2,200 islanders rallied, cheering, singing, and promising that their resistance and support of First Nations would be strong. They came from one end of Vancouver Island to the other, Port Hardy to Victoria, to be a part of the “Our Coast, Our Decision – No pipelines, No tankers”rally. They drummed, they cheered the dancers from the Ko’moks First Nation, they stood in awe listening to Ta’Kiaya, the 11-year-old singer from Sliammon across the water in Powell River. Their signs expressed the same range of thoughts and feelings as the speakers inside. Many protested the threat of oil spills. One sign read “Big Steve, Keep your Pipeline in your Pants.” Artists from the community had spontaneously pitched in with beautiful signage and some people unconnected to the rally organizers hung a 30-foot banner at the bridge to Comox, “No Pipelines, No Tankers”, write it here along with giant cut outs of local animals.
Video by the Peaceful Direct Action Coalition, Comox Valley, BC: