|By Marketwired .||
|December 20, 2013 01:39 PM EST||
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 12/20/13 -- First Nations, environmentalists and representatives from northern communities held a press conference today in response to the 209 conditions on the Enbridge pipeline announced yesterday by the Joint Review Panel (JRP) of the National Energy Board (NEB).
"The JRP's conditions are so flawed they are to be ridiculed," said Gerald Amos, Chair of the Wild Salmon Coalition, introducing today's session. "They do nothing to protect communities, the land and the ocean from a catastrophic oil spill, and the people of BC will not let this pipeline be built."
"The JRP, in their 209 recommendations, did not take into consideration the facts presented to them by thousands of people," said Des Nobels from the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union. "The NEB failed to protect us from the very real danger posed by moving tar sands oil through this region. To suggest that any of these conditions could reduce this risk to our coastal fishing economy and our way of life is sadly mistaken."
With the JRP recommending this pipeline be approved with conditions, it is now before Stephen Harper and the federal cabinet.
"The majority of people in BC are opposed to Enbridge's pipeline and the question many people were asking me yesterday is what can we do now to stop it. There are basically three main ways we can stop this pipeline: in the courts, through political organizing and through direct action," said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director at ForestEthics Advocacy. "We are hoping the politicians do the right thing and listen to the people before things get more serious because this issue has the potential to end up making Clayoquot Sound look like a walk in the park."
The groups highlighted the Hold The Wall initiative started by the Yinka Dene Alliance, in which, in the past two weeks alone, 15,000 people have pledged to stand with First Nations to stop this pipeline from being built. The groups called on the people of BC to get involved in the campaign.
"Over 160 First Nations from western Canada have joined together to use aboriginal laws to ban tar sands oil pipelines and tankers. We will not sit by and watch our laws be broken and our territories put at risk. Individual nations will decide how to proceed but it's safe to say that First Nations have expressed their desire to do whatever is necessary to ensure this project does not proceed," said Amos.
Some have gone so far as to say that First Nations have a veto over projects, highlighting the more than 400 projects in Canada that have been stopped by First Nations challenges based on their land and title rights. Also amongst the strongest concerns regarding this proposal are those from northern BC residents who will have the pipeline run through their backyard.
"The people who live along this proposed pipeline route participated in the review process believing that our voices meant something. The JRP recommendation and the weak 209 conditions prove the breakdown of democracy in this country, the priority given to big oil, and the abandonment of communities like mine. We are not going to stand for this," said Kandace Kerr of the Ft. St James Sustainability Coalition.
The NEB decision also drew specific concerns regarding the conditions applying to the impact on whales and other species, as well issues related to the risks associated with diluted bitumen.
"They have approved this project knowing that it is impossible to clean up after a spill -- they call the devastation that will ensue 'temporary and insignificant,'" says Karen Wristen, Executive Director of the Living Oceans Society. "The people of this coast would be forced to live in fear for their culture, their livelihoods, even their health and safety. No one should have to live like that. Coastal communities will stand with First Nations and the thousands of Canadians who know this project is wrong for Canada to stop this pipeline from being built."
Chair, Friends of Wild Salmon Coalition
United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union
T.Buck Suzuki Environmental Association, Prince Rupert
Ft. St James Sustainability Coalition
ForestEthics Advocacy Tar Sands Campaign Director
Executive Director, Living Oceans Society