February 8th, 2012
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC., B.A., M.A. House of Commons
Dear Mr. Harper,
The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC ), representing many thousands of members across Canada is alarmed at the potentially devastating risks to the environment posed by the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal to build a pipeline to carry tar sands bitumen from Bruderheim Alberta, to the deep water port of Kitimat British Columbia, and from there by ocean tanker to the markets of Asia.
The building of this pipeline over a 1,177 km land route will present extraordinary challenges, and the passage of hundreds of thousands of barrels of bitumen crude oil per day along its length, will create multiple opportunities for accidents which could cause irreparable ecological damage. The pipeline will pass through the unforgiving Northern Rockies and the Coast Mountains of BC, over wetlands, flood plains and bird sanctuaries; and will cross, or come very close to, more than 800 streams and rivers, 600 of which are fish spawning habitat . The bitumen will then be transported by ocean tankers which must negotiate the very treacherous and ecologically sensitive waters of the BC shoreline before heading out into the broader ocean.
In 1925, members of the National Council of Women of Canada were concerned about the leakage of crude oil from ships and placed this issue on the agenda of the International Council of Women. Then the concern was the damage to birds caught in the slicks of crude oil discharges. This remains a serious issue to-day, especially as the number and size of the oil tankers have increased. As we have noted, further challenges, and significant risks lie along the rugged and sensitive shoreline route to the ocean, where if accidents happen they are exceedingly difficult to remediate.
We expect that the established environmental Regulatory Panel will hear many voices who share our concerns, as well as the economic arguments that will be put forward by proponents of the pipeline. NCWC has always urged the government to take a “precautionary” approach. To-day, this involves a thorough examination of the life cycle of a proposal and consideration of all the probable costs in every stage and circumstance. We feel that the long term costs cleaning up an oil- spill , the environmental damages and loss to livelihoods in the event of an oil-spill, should all be considered. We are strongly of the opinion that if all these factors are included in a comparative evaluation that the Regulatory Panel will not recommend approval of the pipeline.
Should this be the case, we urge your Government to accept the Panel’s decision.
NCWC is an inclusive group of voluntary sector member groups and individuals across Canada, with no monetary interest in the issue, which adheres to democratically developed policies speaking to the health of the environment, family and society. We respectfully urge you to keep an open mind and act in a “precautionary” manner in the best interests of all Canadians.
National Council of Women of Canada
|NATIONAL OFFICE P.O. Box 67099 Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E4||
IN FEDERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN
|TEL: (613) 232-5025|