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Sat, 2014-04-12 21:28Emma Gilchrist
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Kitimat Votes ‘NO’ to Enbridge Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline in Local Plebiscite

Kitimat residents have voted against the Northern Gateway pipeline, with 58.4 per cent of ballots in the city’s plebiscite being cast against the project, as of around 9 p.m. Saturday. In total, 1,793 voted against the proposed project, while 1,278 or 41.6 per cent were in favour.

3,071 ballots were cast, marking a high turnout (62 per cent) in the community of roughly 4,900 eligible voters at the terminus of Enbridge’s proposed oil pipeline. Fifty-six per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the last municipal election.

We’re celebrating with the Haisla outside in the park…and they’re surrounding the Douglas Channel Watch with thank you signs. They’re performing a drum song right now,” said Patricia Lange from Douglas Channel Watch.

It’s a really powerful moment.”

The vote, although non-binding, is an important part of the public relations battle being waged over Enbridge’s project. Enbridge brought in teams of paid corporate canvassers from out of town, placed full-page ads in northern newspapers and launched a “Vote Yes For Kitimat” website.

This vote is confirmation we are going to stand firm and say no to the influence of big oil,” Lange said.

Fri, 2014-03-14 14:02Emma Gilchrist
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Columbia River Coal Pollution Lawsuit Against BNSF Railway Moves Forward As New Research Raises Air Quality Concerns On Seattle Rail Lines

A lawsuit against the BNSF Railway Company will proceed after the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington rejected the company’s motion to dismiss a Clean Water Act lawsuit filed by Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club and six other groups.

The Riverkeepers say BNSF trains are spilling coal into the Columbia River while en route to the coal-fired power plant in Centralia, Wash., and Canadian ports for export. A video shows the organization’s executive director Brett VandenHeuvel finding piles of coal along the river and holding a flask of coal-polluted water.

Coal contains arsenic, mercury and lead, which pollute water and harm aquatic life. According to BNSF’s own calculations, coal trains can lose 500 pounds of coal from each car.

If plans to export more coal to Asia from Oregon, Washington and B.C. go ahead, up to 20 more coal trains a day would travel along the Columbia River, according to Columbia Riverkeeper.

The court’s ruling comes shortly after scientists at the University of Washington published a groundbreaking study on air quality impacts from train traffic in Washington State. The study was published in the international journal Atmospheric Pollution Research.

The scientists, who raised money for their research from the public, tracked particulate matter, linked to heart attack, stroke, respiratory problems and lung damage. They found living close to rail lines significantly increases one’s exposure to particulate matter.

Fri, 2014-01-24 08:58Emma Gilchrist
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Keystone XL Could Boost Global Oil Consumption By 500K Barrels A Day

A new study from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) focuses on a greenhouse gas impact of the Keystone XL pipeline that hasn’t received much attention: how the pipeline could affect the global oil market by increasing supply, decreasing prices and therefore driving up global oil consumption.

Even if those effects are small in global terms, they could be significant in relationship to Keystone XL and U.S. climate policy, argue Peter Erickson and Michael Lazarus, senior scientists in SEI’s U.S. Center, in a new paper, Greenhouse gas emissions implications of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The more suppliers there are in the market for oil, the more they compete and that drives down prices for consumers,” Erickson said.

Climate policy and analysis often focuses on energy production and consumption, but rarely considers how energy infrastructure might shape energy use and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Keystone XL pipeline proposal to connect Canadian tar sands production with the Gulf of Mexico’s refineries and ports have brought these questions to light. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will only approve Keystone XL if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

To gauge the pipeline’s potential impact, Erickson and Lazarus built a supply-and-demand model using publicly available supply curves and peer-reviewed demand elasticities (the extent to which changes in oil consumption respond to changes in oil prices).

They examined three possibilities — 1) That the Keystone XL permit is rejected, and the same amount of oil would reach the market by other means; 2) if half of the oil reaches the market anyway; and 3) that none reaches the market.

For the last two cases, the researchers found the pipeline’s impact on global oil prices, though modest (less than one percent), would be enough to increase global oil consumption by hundreds of thousands of barrels per day.

Tue, 2013-12-24 09:48Emma Gilchrist
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The Day a Federal Panel Overruled B.C. — And Nobody Noticed

On the afternoon of Dec. 19th, as the National Energy Board’s recommendations on Enbridge’s oil tanker and pipeline proposal for B.C. were released, I tuned into CBC Newsworld and CTV News Network to see the coverage unfold live.

Over and over again, the opposition to the project was described as “First Nations and environmentalists.”

Wait a second. Just six months ago, the province of British Columbia submitted its final argument to the National Energy Board’s joint review panel, requesting the panel reject the project. “Trust us” isn’t good enough, the report read with regard to Enbridge’s promises about oil spill response.

The province cannot support the approval of or a positive recommendation from the (panel) regarding this project as it was presented,” said the province.

The report was covered by all major media. And, as far as the panel was concerned, that was B.C.’s final word on the project. Why then, when the panel recommended approval of the project last week, did most reporters fail to reference the fact the decision directly overruled the will of the province?

Tue, 2013-12-17 16:23Emma Gilchrist
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Countdown Is On: British Columbians Anxiously Await Enbridge Recommendation

bc enbridge recommendation

In the summer of 2009, Dave Shannon found himself sitting in Dieter Wagner's backyard.

Wagner, a former colleague at Kitimat's aluminum smelter, had convened a meeting of locals concerned about Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal, which would see oil piped across British Columbia and loaded onto tankers in Kitimat.

I’m an engineer, so industry is necessary, but some industries aren’t a good idea. This is one of them,” 67-year-old Shannon says. “I never was an activist throughout my whole life. This one just caught my attention.”

As the small group enjoyed tea and biscuits in the sunshine, they plotted how to fight back against Enbridge.

We were spinning our wheels, wondering what to do to get going,” Shannon recalls. “We had no idea what was about to happen, but we thought it might be something we should worry about.”

The group dubbed themselves “Douglas Channel Watch” and registered as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings, meaning they could present evidence and cross-examine Enbridge’s witnesses.

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