Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Call to Arms - The Case For Fighting Back Against the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Rafe Mair, writing in The Tyee, makes a powerfully compelling argument for British Columbians to do whatever it takes to stop Harper and Alberta from imperiling our province's coastline with tar sands supertanker traffic.

It's not a matter of if there's an accident, it's only a matter of time and it's only a question of how often and how much devastation will be inflicted on British Columbia.   Mair predicts that British Columbians will turn out en masse to stop this monstrosity and warns that we must be prepared to go to jail for it.  But he adds that if enough of us stand against it there won't be remotely enough cells to hold us.

Something else there won't be.  There won't be a provincial government willing to risk the electoral blowback of sitting back as hundreds, probably thousands of its voters are bused off to jails for their beliefs.  It's one thing to throw reprobates behind bars.   It's another matter all together to imprison previously law-abiding, upstanding citizens for acting as their collective conscience dictates.

I personally have no experience of this sort of civil disobedience.  But there's always a first time for just about everything.

While I have framed this as a British Columbia issue, it's actually a national issue.  If you're not from BC you need to ask yourself if you're prepared to sit by and let Harper do this to your Canada?  Are you willing to take a stand against this?  I also hope that a good many of the Keystone XL dissidents throw their support behind the effort to kill off the Northern Gateway.  If we're going to stop a despot like Harper and his tar sands patrons, we're going to need all the help we can get.

Please  read Rafe Mair's column.  Then follow this link to see an interactive graphic of what will happen to the British Columbia coast when the tanker accidents begin.  If you haven't experienced the Hecate Strait it's really difficult to convey just how violent and treacherous those waters can be and how rapidly the strait can go from calm to outright fury.  I nearly drowned there, saved only by being able to keep bailing until a sudden storm just as suddenly passed.  I have seen a very large yacht whose deck and cabin had been peeled back like a sardine tin from just one wave. As noted by EnergyBC, storm waves of 20-30 metres have been recorded in that strait.  Now try to visualize a wall of water 100-feet in height.  "Of particular concern is the  rapidity within which the seas can increase, often within hours."  I have lived to tell you that is no exaggeration.   And yet Harper and his home province think it's just dandy for heavily laden supertankers to ply those waters?  To hell with them.


By the way, the Hecate for whom the strait is named was the Greek goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, ghosts and necromancy.   Her name was slapped on that strait for very good reason.  Liberal Supporter kindly drew my attention to the 2008 Canadian/US Coast Guard report on the Tanker Exclusion Zone for the BC coast.

So how do they figure out the Tanker Exclusion Zone?   Brace yourself.   The TEZ line defines an area off the BC coast where a disabled tanker would likely drift ashore before rescue tugs could reach it in "unfavourable weather conditions."  Yet that fiend Harper is content to have 220 tankers transiting directly across that zone, rolling the dice, every year.


LMA said...

Your fight in B.C. is the fight of all Canadians who care about preserving wilderness and biodiversity.

For those of us who are not in B.C., can you provide a link for offering financial support? Are there petitions online that we can sign?

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure it will be so hard to find a provincial government that disagree's with you about how they would react. Christy Clark wants tankers on our coast.

The Mound of Sound said...

Christy is one election away from unemployment. Sorry anon but I'll bet on Rafe's assessment.

LMA said...

Found a couple of petitions over at Forestethics and Greenpeace, so I'm now part of the fight. Guess a lot of the action is on Facebook and Twitter, and I'm out of the loop.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, LMA. So far my only contact has been with the Gi'it Gat tribe of Hartley Bay. Their village sits just around the corner from the proposed tanker port. Their livelihood is largely fishing. They're also the brave souls who took to their small boats in the dark of night to rescue the passengers of the sinking BC ferry Queen of the North which now rests in 600 feet of water and lies at the threshold of the proposed tanker facility.

These people are true heroes in British Columbia and they're resolved to stand and fight Enbridge and Harper if it comes down to that.

I have never been an activist of any sort but this cause is so compelling I feel I have no choice.

LMA said...

Absolutely right. According to Bill McKibben who was in Vancouver a couple of days ago, there are tons of people ready to fight.

Have read that Enbridge has offered First Nations landowners a 10% equity stake ($550 Million) in exchange for right of way. If the damn pipeline gets built, and when, not if, the oil leaks/spills start, all the money in the world won't restore the ecosystem for decades to come.