NEWS RELEASE · 18th October 2011
Over the last 3 years I have been studying the Enbridge proposal with interest. When I first heard about the proposal I immediately thought of the economic opportunity and how it might affect Kitimat. I heard that Enbridge would be holding a meeting in Kitimat called a Community Advisory Board (CAB). I expected as a City Councillor to receive an invitation but did not, so I found out where this meeting was being held and attended.
I was questioned at the door as I did not have an invitation but as I was recognized I was allowed in. This first meeting was tumultuous to say the least. The (NGO’s) Non Government Organizations and environmental groups in attendance expressed concerns about the question not asked. “Is this pipeline even necessary?” and “why not a full public inquiry?” like the one struck the last time this project was proposed.
As Enbridge completely controlled the meeting it was very one sided and was obviously a sales pitch not a true CAB panel. The NGO’s and Environmental groups where not satisfied that the process was or would be fair and decided to not participate. I decided that I would stay so I could at least be aware of Enbridge’s plans and I hoped I could establish a communication link so at least council would have some isight.
I participated at all the CAB meetings until it became apparent to me that being there would not further the interests of Kitimat, and in fact may harm Kitimat’s ability to truly be informed and consulted, and furthermore Enbridge was using my participation by saying that they had Local Government participation in there process.
I have to say I did learn a lot from being at these meeting, that Enbridge was not interested in the opinion of the community but only how to get there project through the regulatory process and to solicit locals to carry their message to the rest of the community.
On many occasions I asked for a commitment from Enbridge to make the CAB a truly community based process that was independent and would have teeth to actually make recommendations that would have to be, not just listened to, but acted upon. They responded by appointing the President of the Chamber of Shipping as a spokesman for the Kitimat CAB. The President does not live in Kitimat and is in conflict as his organization stands to benefit greatly by an Enbridge project going forward. Further a MOU was proposed that stated a similar goal, it was presented to Enbridge but never to my knowledge acted upon.
I also argued against the exclusion of the media, even though Enbridge said the CAB is to enlighten the public about the project, truly they only want to influence the public and not have a balanced view.
The makeup of the CAB is also of great concern to me it consists of or did before I resigned mostly those that would benefit monetarily and only a few that where actually there to protect the interests of the Community.
I became an intervener for the Proposal with the (NEB) National Energy Board and their (JRP) Joint Review Panel and as such I receive all the information and evidence submitted to them, I have to say it is a daunting task as this project is very controversial with environmentalist, First Nations, the Oil and Gas industry, and concerned citizens across Canada, and the submissions are in the hundreds if not the thousands.
So now to the point, do I support or not support the Enbridge Gateway Project?
• Enbridge stated that they will give 1% of their profit to the community, they fail to say that this amount is at their discretion, and is inclusive to all the communities they do business in around the world. Far smaller amount when you look at it that way, if indeed there is any profit to distribute.
• Economics, I have trouble supporting projects that leave nothing behind for the community, true there will be 20 – 30 jobs at the terminal and some service jobs in support of the terminal and pipeline but little else. The big promises are Kitimat could have the control center, or a pilot station, or corporate offices, or spill response headquarters, how about a high tech weather station manned 24/7. How about the taxes they would pay, be aware most go to the Province and the Federal Government not Local Governments directly affected by this project.
• Canada has a Fund to help pay for oil spills a small amount compared to the cost of cleanup of a major spill, this fund was established as a result of a requirement that the oil companies contribute to it, that has changed now there is no requirement for the oil companies to contribute any longer, the fund comes into effect after the owner of the vessel responsible spends to their maximum liability. This is dictated by regulations and is a paltry sum.
• Clearly Enbridge has a terrible record of dealing with the public fairly, you need only look at how the people in Kalamazoo where treated.
• There is good evidence that many of the regulations in place today do not adequately protect the public and the environment or us the Tax payer.
• Oil company lobbyists paid by Enbridge and others push the governments to reducing the environmental oversight and to minimize the time it takes the regulators to approve projects all the while the (MOE) Ministry of Environment is being downsized and regulations are being weakened.
• Pipelines will fail; it is not a question of if, as nothing is for sure in this world. And when it happens the potential of Enbridge even being aware of a leak in time to minimize it is in question, or being able to stop any leak in a timely manner.
• Tankers and Oil spills, this is the big one, scientists admit that the type of oil that Enbridge is proposing to ship is virtually impossible to clean up under many of the circumstances that are an everyday occurrence on the Douglas channel and along the coast of BC
• Promises by Enbridge to establish and pay for upgrades to our coastal traffic systems are hollow, they talk a big talk but, where is the money, they expect Canada to invest in the appropriate infrastructure to support their project. I have seen no new radar stations, or satellite systems, or any other ground based systems being paid for by Enbridge just empty promises.
• Spill response; Enbridge says they will invest in cashes of response equipment all along the coast, that’s good but how long is the response time and who will man the equipment, if indeed it is possible to reach a stricken vessel in stormy seas. Enbridge have a long way to go to satisfy me that the response with inadequate equipment will be sufficient to recover any of the (dilbit) diluted bitumen when a spill happens.
• Scientists all agree Equipment to clean up an oil spill in our waters is nonexistent, how will we clean anything up when we have no technology to do it.
• Tugs and marine services another fine opportunity for the region but they are already here.
• I could go on and if you need any more information you can find it in the thousands of pages already produced by Enbridge, and interveners on the NEB web site dedicated to this proposal.
As you can clearly see I have grave concerns about this Project.