Voices from the Enbridge Hearings
Kids from "Wild Pups" speaking at a rally outside the Enbridge hearings in Victoria. Photo: Caitlyn Vernon.
An amazing diversity of voices speaks with courage, passion and conviction for the protection of B.C.'s coast. Some shed tears, some calmly deliver compelling research. All, overwhelmingly and completely, oppose Enbridge.
Read Caitlyn's story in the Georgia Straight.
Sierra Club BC staff, volunteers and local group members joined with other concerned citizens to speak to the Joint Review Panel and to rally outside the hearings in support of everyone who was speaking inside. We also supported other presenters by listening to the audio stream. Read the presentations by Caitlyn Vernon and Ana Simeon.
Next week the Joint Review Panel will be hearing from residents of Vancouver. For those in Vancouver you can watch the video feed of the proceedings from the public viewing site, and from anywhere you can listening to the audio stream. If you are preparing to speak to the Panel, we have provided some background resources here.
Even though the panel's terms of reference bafflingly exclude the project's impact on climate, a number of speakers eloquently focused on global warming as an inextricable part of the project's footprint that must be considered if the assessment is to be meaningful. Many also commented on the exclusion of the public from purportedly public hearings.
Here are some of the excerpts from the heart-felt and well-researched presentations we heard in Victoria. They inspired us and strengthened our resolve - let them inspire and uplift you as well!
"We have to stop the infrastructure for fossil fuels. We have to phase out fossil fuels. That is our moral obligation to our children. Your moral choice, your only moral choice is to say no, we have to stop the infrastructure for fossil fuels. We have to phase out as quickly as we can. That is really clear. (...) It's about me as a parent, as a parent of kids. I'm not talking to you as a scientist, I'm talking to you as a parent." Peter Nix, former researcher for the oil industry
"I understand you have not been given the mandate to consider the climate impacts of this project, yet as the body tasked to assess its environmental impacts, how can you not? In the face of what we know about the current pace of climate change, the local impacts of transporting oil cannot be separated from the global impact of burning that oil any more than running the trains through the concentration camps in Germany in the 1930s and ‘40s could be separated from what happened there.
I’d like to end with these words from James Saiers, who was a former dean of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, who opened a climate conference saying, “The only thing we have to do to be sure that we leave a ruined world for our children and grandchildren is to do exactly what we are doing now”. Jane Kilthei, retired midwife
"Canadian government scientists have now confirmed what everyone who pays attention has known for some time, that the tar sands are contaminating rivers and lakes far from the development site. They also consume and destroy vast quantities of fresh water, the stuff of life, and they are the poster child for global warming. Mr. Harper has fired many of Canada's climate scientists, but that will not make global warming go away any more than the apocryphal ostrich prevents calamity by hiding its head in the sand." Caspar Davis, retired lawyer and member of Sierra Victoria local group
"I have met and are still in contact with Alaska fishermen who were put out of business by the Exxon Valdez grounding and spill. That was stuff that people thought could be cleaned up. Our entire coast is being risked to supply tar sands bitumen to a foreign country with questionable standards for their benefit to enrich the shareholders, the pipeline companies, and very little benefit to the people of B.C.I am testifying today for all the good people who would lose their livelihoods in a bitumen spill, and this includes clam diggers, tourist operators, any sea-based industry for the many people who make an honest living from our northern waters. I have fished and worked with First Nations communities who truly value our coast." Richard Lucier-Larson, Metis and retired skipper of self-owned tuna fishing vessel
"The operation of the project would transmit millions of barrels of dilbit to market, enabling and causing its eventual combustion, releasing globally significant amounts of greenhouse gasses. This is highly relevant and material. The decision on building the pipeline is being made now and so the consideration of all these relevant consequences should be made now. If there is a legal reason that prevents this Panel from considering the end use emissions I hope that you would report that as a factor which prevents you from conducting a proper assessment." Tom Hackney, sustainable energy consultant, Victoria
"This project is not in Canada’s public interest because, as a planet, we are on the verge of environmental collapse. I’m aware that your panel considers global warming to be beyond its scope on the grounds you are concerned with oil transport not extraction. But if transport is expanded, so is extraction. And the oil sands are a notorious contributor to global warming.
You’ve included “cumulative effects” under the topic of environmental effects in your terms of reference. I believe an increase in tar sands production and hence global warming is certainly a “cumulative effect.” Terry Dance-Bennink, retired academic and member of Sierra Club Victoria local group
"I'm from a family of coastal people that's been in the fishing industry for over three generations, and I feel that the threat of an oil spill is simply too great for our fish, for our natural environment, and the people that work within this industry, which is so critical to the economy of British Columbia.
I personally am against the Enbridge pipeline. My family is against it. Everyone I know is against it. Everyone I know within the fishing industry in British Columbia is against it. I'm pretty sure the fish are against it, and I know that most of the communities that are sustained by the beauty and bounty of our coast are against it." Peter Sundberg, manager of a company that provides energy conservation services for buildings