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Earthgauge Radio September 13, 2012: From the frontlines of the Northern Gateway pipeline struggle

September 14, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m excited to be back at CKCU to kick off the second season of Earthgauge Radio! On this the September 13 edition of the program, we hear a couple of interviews live from the frontlines of the Northern Gateway pipeline struggle in B.C. On the show today:

  • Art Sterritt – Executive Director for the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative
  • Rafe Mair – former BC Cabinet Minister and popular radio talk show host

I visited British Columbia a couple weeks ago and had the opportunity to speak with a number of individuals who are actively engaged in the movement to stop Enbridge from building a twin pipeline from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the coastal B.C. port of Kitimat. Having just returned I can tell you that this issue is really heating up and will only become more so in the months to come.

It’s been an eventful summer with the premiers of Alberta and B.C. publicly squabbling over Northern Gateway, media baron David Black proposing to build a $13 billion oil refinery to process tar sands bitumen in Kitimat, and the resumption of public hearings that are taking a closer look at the controversial project. Northern Gateway is indeed becoming a defining battle not  only for Canada’s environmental movement but for the very energy future of this country. Given the high stakes not just for BC and Alberta but for the entire country, I thought this would be a good place to kick off our second season of Earthgauge Radio.

I have two interviews on today’s program. First we hear from Art Sterritt – Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative who will explain why First Nations along the BC coast are so opposed to the Northern Gateway proposal and how Aboriginal opposition may well prove to be an insurmountable obstacle for Enbridge and the Harper government to overcome in the efforts to build this pipeline.

We also hear from a former BC Environment Minister and well-known radio talk show host Rafe Mair. Having worked inside the provincial government at the highest levels, Mair knows very well how politicians, bureaucrats and corporations will try to sell unpopular ideas to a skeptical public so you’ll want to stay tuned to hear what he has to say about this.

Earthgauge Radio is broadcast every Thursday morning at 7:00-8:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. Online at www.ckcufm.com with podcasts on iTunes. ‘Like’ us at www.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio.

Earthgauge Radio kicks off season 2 tomorrow morning on CKCU!

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Tune in to CKCU FM 93.1 tomorrow morning from 7:00-8:00 AM for the launch of the second season of Earthgauge Radio! On tomorrow’s show, I’ll be bringing you two interviews from the frontlines of what is shaping up to be one of the defining environmental struggles in recent Canadian history: the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

I was out in B.C. this summer and I had the opportunity to speak with a number of individuals who are actively engaged in the movement to stop Enbridge from building a twin pipeline from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the coastal B.C. port of Kitimat. In the wake of an eventful summer in which the premiers of Alberta and B.C. have been publicly squabbling about the project, media baron David Black has proposed building a $13 billion oil refinery to process the tar sands bitumen in Kitimat, and the public hearings looking at the controversial project have now resumed, Northern Gateway is indeed becoming a defining struggle for the very energy future of this country. Given the high stakes, this is a great issue to kick off our second season of Earthgauge.

On the show tomorrow, we’ll hear from Art Sterritt, the Executive Director for the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative, and Rafe Mair, the former B.C. Environment Minister and well-known talk/news radio host.

Tune in tomorrow and every Thursday on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. If you miss the show, you can always download the podcast in iTunes. Just search the podcasts for ‘Earthgauge’ and you’ll find us. Also please visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page.

Pro-development B.C. community says no to Northern Gateway

September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

In Public Opinion Research conducted by the District of Fort St. James 198 respondents indicated a significant majority (86%) opposed the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

The following letter was put on the Joint Review Panel registry last Friday, and spells out the enormous difficulty industry and the Harper government face in getting tar sands pipelines built to the B.C. coast. It’s not just the so-called “foreign-funded radicals” who are opposed to this project. Even industry towns such as Fort St. James that have typically relied on natural resource exploitation for their economic livelihoods are deeply troubled by the Enbridge pipeline proposal.

This story first appeared in the Vancouver Sun: Pro-development B.C. community says no to Northern Gateway | Vancouver Sun.

Dear Sir or Madam,

On Wednesday July 18, 2012 the District of Fort St. James Mayor & Council passed a unanimous resolution to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. The District registered as a Government Participant in the Joint Review Panel process in 2011, without a decision at that time to formally support or oppose the project but to listen objectively to information as it was shared. The decision of Mayor and Council to oppose the project came after extensive community consultation with their residents as well as numerous presentations by Enbridge to Mayor and Council.

For decades the community of Fort St. James has relied on an established forest industry as our primary economic driver and employer. Residents in Fort St. James are comfortable with industry and the economic opportunities it brings in regards to natural resource extraction and value-added manufacturing. Residents of Fort St. James are keen to diversify their economy and participate actively in economic opportunities as they arise. They are also wary of situations where industry seeks to profit while local residents shoulder the risk and long-term environmental costs.

Our community members are strongly devoted to Fort St. James largely in part to the quality of life enjoyed as a result of access to clean water and vibrant wilderness. Our residents participate in lifestyle activities such as hiking, swimming, canoeing, boating, fishing, hunting, trapping, sailing and camping at our doorstep on Stuart Lake, Stuart River and Pitka Creek as well as other wilderness areas as part of our local environment. Many of our residents rely on our environment for their way of life, through hunting, fishing, foraging (berries, mushrooms, medicinal plants, etc.), logging, and trapping by sustainable practices. Notable animal species in our area include grizzly bear, black bear, sockeye salmon, fisher, wolverine, cougar, moose, white tail and mule deer, and the trumpeter swan.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline as proposed would have a pumping station located just South of our municipal airport, and would cross the Stuart River and the Pitka Creek, which flows into the Stuart Lake and provides the aforementioned opportunities relating to recreational wilderness access as well as integral habitat for the animal species listed above. Many residents rely on ground water wells or access drinking water from the Lake and nearby waterways. Rural residents living nearby the proposed pump station location use their property for both commercial and personal farming activities. Recreational vehicle users of snowmobiles and ATVs have an extensive network of trails, many of which would cross where the proposed pipeline would run, raising concerns over motorized vehicle access restrictions as a result of National Energy Board legislation and threatening impacts on our developing tourism industry.

The message strongly conveyed by residents to Mayor and Council was that NO AMOUNT of potential economic benefit could outweigh the potential risks should a spill occur in or nearby the Stuart River and Stuart Lake. For residents, their connection to the land base and natural water sources is too intertwined for consideration of an industrial activity which puts their livelihoods at risk. Read more…

Earthgauge Radio August 2, 2012: The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline (encore edition)

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge Radio this week, we continue with our ‘best of’ summer series with a program originally broadcast back in January on an issue that only continues to grow in importance: the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

I have 3 interviews on today’s ‘encore’ show:

Hearings of the National Energy Board looking into the pipeline proposal got underway in B.C. back in January with over 4000 people scheduled to speak as intervenors. The oil industry in Canada and the federal government are pushing hard to see that the pipeline is built, yet opposition to the project, particularly among First Nations communities along the proposed pipeline route, is fierce. Just last week at a meeting of Canadian premiers, BC premier Christy Clark insisted that her province should receive more economic benefits if the pipeline is built as BC is shouldering all the environmental risk. Alberta premier Alison Redford, who is trying to push forward a national energy strategy, promptly rejected Clark’s demands.

So what’s all this about? If constructed, the Northern Gateway pipeline would transport heavy bitumen oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the north coast of BC. The pipeline company Enbridge wants to build two 1200km pipelines – one would take  500,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude across the Rockies to Kitimat on the B.C. coast, where over 200 supertankers a year would take the oil for export to the U.S. and Asia. A second pipeline in the other direction would take a natural gas condensate back to the tar sands, which helps the oil flow through the pipe. The pipelines would cross hundreds of rivers and streams and pass through a region renowned for its salmon, wolves, bears and other wildlife. It would also help to triple the production of tar sands crude, which is among the dirtiest and most destructive forms of energy, thereby greatly increasing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Although the National Energy Board hearings looking into the costs and benefits of the project have not yet concluded, the federal government has already weighed in with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying that the pipeline is in the national interest and must proceed while federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has labelled those opposed to the project, which includes environmentalists, fishermen, ranchers, ordinary citizens and First Nations, as foreign-funded radicals.

Not surprisingly, the proposed project has sparked an eruption of opposition among those who see the possibility of an oil spill as a critical threat to the environment and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. Northern Gateway would have to cross the lands and waters of many BC First Nations, the vast majority of whom are opposed to the project, some maintaining that it must be stopped at almost any cost. Last December, 130 aboriginal groups in B.C. said they were joining forces to use “whatever means necessary” to stop the project.

Meanwhile, industry and the Harper government say exploiting Canada’s abundant tar sands is vital for prosperity, particularly in light of a decision of US president Barack Obama last December to delay approval of the equally controversial Keystone XL pipeline which would transport tar sands crude to the Gulf of Mexico. Given this delay, Harper said recently that, “it is particularly essential for this country that we have the capacity to sell our energy products into the growing markets of Asia.”

And back in March the Harper govt really put the boot to environmental groups by releasing a Budget that would allow the Conservative Cabinet to overrule any final decision of the National Energy Board, effectively rendering the hearings a useless token exercise. And if this wasn’t enough to satisfy the PM’s contempt for all things environmental, the government also announced $8 million in new spending to investigate the political activities of charitable orgs by which just about every observer takes to mean those pesky environmental groups. The Harper government has also retroactively limited the time length of reviews of major resource projects, thereby effectively cutting short the NEB hearings, which, because of the sheer massive scale of the project were scheduled to continue into next year. Now they could well be over within a matter of months.

These measures have only seemed to galvanize opposition both to Gateway and to the federal government’s heavy-handed tactics in dealing with this issue. Add to all this the report released just last week by the US National Transportation Safety Board, which was looking into an oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. The Safety Board characterized Enbridge as “Keystone Kops” who ignored safety procedures while suffering “pervasive organizational failures.”

One thing we can say for sure – a long and bitter fight lies ahead with some calling it the most significant environmental battle in Canadian history. So given that it’s been in the news once again and will continue to be for some time to come, today on Earthgauge Radio I re-broadcast our special program from January of this year on Gateway. First we hear from Emma Gilchrist of the Dogwood Initiative who talks about some of the possible environmental impacts of the project and updates us on the progress of the NEB hearings. Then we hear from the respected geologist David Hughes who discusses whether there is even a need for the project from the perspective of Canada’s strategic energy reserves. And finally for the political perspective I speak with the journalist Murray Dobbin who fills us in on how the federal government is manoeuvring to ensure that the project be approved despite all the opposition to it.

Earthgauge Radio is broadcast every other Thursday morning at 7:00-8:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. Online at http://www.ckcufm.com with podcasts on iTunes.

Bill McKibben speaks out against tar sands expansion and the Northern Gateway pipeline

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Video courtesy of The Common Sense Canadian and The Tyee from a speech activist and author Bill McKibben gave in Vancouver yesterday. The rally was organized on the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill to oppose both the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s planned expansion to its Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver.

An excerpt: “Don’t let them ever call you a ‘radical’. The radicals work at Kinder Morgan and Enbridge. They are willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere in order to make money.”

Northern Gateway pipeline would threaten whales: DFO

March 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Gateway pipeline would threaten whales: DFO.

Oh dear. Yet another strike against Northern Gateway. I think Postmedia’s Mike DeSouza is deserving of a big thumbs-up for his continued work on exposing the truth about Northern Gateway. Now we learn that the proposed pipeline “threatens critical habitat of humpback whales off the coast of British Columbia, say newly released internal federal documents from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.”

You can find more details on these internal government documents here.

 

Earthgauge radio podcast January 26, 2012: Fighting the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge radio this week, we’ll be talking about the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Hearings of the National Energy Board looking into the pipeline proposal got underway in B.C. this month with over 4000 people scheduled to speak as intervenors. The oil industry in Canada and the federal government are pushing hard to see that the pipeline is built, yet opposition to the project, particularly among First Nations communities along the proposed pipeline route, is fierce. We take a look at the potential environmental impacts of the pipeline, the strategic energy security implications of liquidating tar sands oil, the economics of the project and the political context. Right click here to download the entire show.

We have 3 interviews on our special show today:

If constructed, the Northern Gateway pipeline would transport heavy bitumen oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the north coast of BC. Although the National Energy Board hearings have just begun, already the federal government has weighed in before the environmental panel has even had a chance to do its work and make a recommendation on whether or not to proceed with the project. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already said the pipeline is in the national interest and must proceed while federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has labelled those opposed to the project, which includes environmentalists, fishermen, ranchers, ordinary citizens and First Nations, as foreign-funded radicals.

So what is this project all about? Well, basically the company Enbridge wants to build two 1200km pipelines – one would take  500,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude across the Rockies to Kitimat on the B.C. coast, where over 200 supertankers a year would take the oil for export to the U.S. and Asia. A second pipeline in the other direction would take a natural gas condensate back to the tar sands, which helps the oil flow through the pipe.

The pipelines would cross hundreds of rivers and streams and pass through a region renowned for its salmon, wolves, bears and other wildlife. It would also help to triple the production of tar sands crude, which is among the dirtiest and most destructive forms of energy, thereby greatly increasing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Not surprisingly, the proposed project has sparked an eruption of opposition among those who see the possibility of an oil spill as a critical threat to the environment and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. Northern Gateway would have to cross the lands and waters of many BC First Nations, the vast majority of whom are opposed to the project, some maintaining that it must be stopped at almost any cost. In December, 130 aboriginal groups in B.C. said they were joining forces to use “whatever means necessary” to stop the project.

Meanwhile, industry and the Harper government say exploiting Canada’s abundant tar sands is vital for prosperity, particularly in light of a recent decision of US president Barack Obama to delay approval of the equally controversial Keystone XL pipeline which would transport tar sands crude to the Gulf of Mexico. Given this delay, Harper said recently that, “it is particularly essential for this country that we have the capacity to sell our energy products into the growing markets of Asia.”

One thing is for sure – a long and bitter fight lies ahead with some calling it the most significant environmental battle in Canadian history.

We’re taking a hard look at this project on Earthgauge today. First we hear from Emma Gilchrist of the organization Dogwood Initiative who talks about some of the possible environmental impacts of the project and updates us on the progress of the NEB hearings. Then we hear from the respected geologist David Hughes who discusses whether there is even a need for the project from the perspective of Canada’s strategic energy reserves. And finally for the political perspective I speak with the journalist Murray Dobbin who fills us in on how the federal government is manoeuvring to ensure that the project be approved despite all the opposition to it.

We also have our usual segment with Kathy of Ecology Ottawa who updates us on local environmental events and campaigns. I’ve listed a few of the upcoming events below and you can click here to see a complete list with full details.

Contact us at earthgaugeradio ‘at’ gmail.com. Please do get in touch if you have story ideas, a comment on something you’ve heard or want to get involved or contribute to the show. You can also download our podcasts on iTunes. Just type “earthgauge” into the search bar and you’ll find us.

January 31, 2012
City Council Meeting – Environment Committee
When: January 31, 9:30 to 11:30 am
Where: City Hall, Andrew S. Haydon Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West

February 1, 2012
City Council Meeting – Transportation Committee
When: February 1, 9:30 to 11:30 am
Where: Champlain room, Ottawa City Hall
Phone: 613-580- 2424 ext. 21624

February 1, 2012
The World We Want – An evening with Francis Moore Lappé
USC Canada presents an inspiring evening with the visionary author of the groundbreaking Diet for a Small Planet (1971), Frances Moore Lappé. Based on her new book, EcoMind, Lappé confronts our current myths about markets, food, and environmental issues, challenging us to change the way we think so we can create the world we want.
When: February 1, 7:30 to 9:00 pm
Where: St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, 310 St. Patrick Street

Wednesday February 1 and 8, 2012
Weekly environmental choir rehearsals
Just Voices is Ottawa’s only environmental and social-justice theme choir. They have been singing at events around the capital since 2003. They welcome new members at any time, and prior musical experience is not necessary. For more information, visit http://www.justvoices.ca.
When: February 1, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Where: The Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave

February 6, 2012
City Council Meeting – Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee
When: February 6, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Where: City Hall, Honeywell Room

February 9, 2012
City Council Meeting – Environmental Advisory Committee
When: February 9, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Where: City Hall, Andrew S. Haydon Hall

February 9, 2012
Green Drinks Ottawa
Green Drinks is an open invitation to anyone interested/working/studying all things environmental.  Come and join us for interesting, and inspiring conversation.  We’re an informal, self-organizing network and meet every second Thursday of the month.  For more information, contact: greendrinksottawa@gmail.com.
When: February 9, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Where: Fox and Feather Pub & Grill, 283 Elgin street

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