Joint Review Panel Hearings Hazelton, July 30, 2012

The National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) community hearings for Hazelton, BC, were held in Smithers on July 30, 2012. In an attempt to provide you with a sense of what was said at those hearings, we are publishing excerpts from the oral statements. For those of you wishing to read the complete text of a statement, it is available on the JRP website at prtcptngprcss/hrng-eng.html

“As I’ve outlined, I’ve lived in areas in Canada with both a recent and not so recent experience of a fishery lost for generations to come. I have lived with what comes after, and my experience suggests we need to do everything to ensure we do not risk what we have here in the Skeena. A tar sands oil pipeline does not belong here. If built, it will spill oil and it will negatively impact one of the most amazing wild landscapes, diverse ecosystems, culturally vibrant and distinct regions in the world.” – Rod Brown “I continue to be blown away by the Gitxsan’s connection to their culture and their undeniably strong connection with the land and their territories. Yet, in spite of the many hardships they still face, the Gitxsan are doing really well, largely because of the food security that the salmon and the rivers provide. Imagine their land and rivers, which bring salmon from the ocean, contaminated by oil spills. The social costs of that would be absolutely enormous, if not unimaginable. If you think there are social problems now, if the salmon are gone or if the salmon were to be heavily impacted by this pipeline project, do we dare imagine this? As well, the few jobs that would be created by this project and the insulting pittance like beads and blankets from the 1800s that is being offered as a buy-in to the project do not even come close to compensating for the loss of the wild salmon food source. There is no compensation that could ever replace that.” – Ricki Kneifel

“As a responsible citizen of Canada, I am unwilling to let Enbridge proceed with their Northern Gateway Project. I am unwilling to let the greed of a few destroy our land and waters, which are the legacy of our children and their children. I am unwilling to take on the inherent risk that this pipeline and the tankers pose to the welfare of Northern B.C. and to the province of B.C. while shipping our raw resources overseas. I am unwilling to stand by and watch the First Nations people along the route have their cultures ignored and destroyed. I am unwilling to let power and profit speak louder than the land and the water. I can’t eat money, I can’t drink oil. None of us can.” – Stacey Brown “Enbridge has not proven itself to be a very competent pipeline company. There was another spill last Friday, apparently. There’s been 804 reported spills since 1999 to 2010, and another four major ones in the last two years. They’re not very good at this. The proponents of Northern Gateway say that it will create 1,000 permanent jobs, but other sources say it’s more like 78 in British Columbia and 26 in Alberta. Even if it were 1,000 permanent jobs, it doesn’t compare to the 50,000 jobs in commercial fishing and eco tourism in British Columbia that depend on an unspoiled coastline and a vibrant fishery. All these jobs will be gone when an oil spill happens. And it’s just a matter of time. Given Enbridge’s track record, it won’t be very long in coming.” – Kathy Larson “I also think that you’re tasked with -- in fact, I know that you’re tasked with thinking about our national interest and I think those concerns about tearing at the fabric of community actually scale up to thinking about our national community. You’ve heard a lot of testimony -- and I don’t need to recount it all for you -- of people speaking not to the actual terms of reference for this but to broader issues about their feelings of disenchantment with the government, to their feelings of disillusionment with the way that the Omnibus budget bill was put through, the way that the government is aggressively forwarding these kinds of developments. I think that that disenchantment is important. I think it’s important because it again speaks to the relationships that we have among each other. Canada is a democratic nation. I think those relationships are important in terms of how we work as a nation. You’re seeing more squabbles happen between provinces. You saw the B.C. Premier, Christy Clarke, walk out of a National Energy Strategy meeting in discord over, again, this proposal. And just recently I heard the media accessed government documents that say the government fears a rise of eco-terrorism. I think that it’s important to consider these things as the product of a divided society. It’s important to consider the way that these tensions are being produced by this project. Our national interests must be to have a united country, and if this is tearing at the fabric of the Federation of Canada, we need to be very careful how we move forward.” – Tyler McCreary

“The integrity and health of the watersheds through which the pipeline runs and through which the oil is shipped is of interest to Enbridge only as far as they are forced by legislation and public pressure to look after it. This is being borne out quite beautifully by their attempt to make the pipeline better quality now after being confronted with public pressure. Enbridge is a corporate entity, and its ability to return a profit to shareholders is not impacted when a spill occurs. They would be perfectly viable if there were no more salmon in the Skeena system or if Douglas Channel were covered in bitumen. So while the engineers with whom I had the pleasure to work were diligent and conscientious people, they are under the dictate of making sure that there will be a large enough return to shareholders when the project is done. Everything else is secondary.” – Christoph Dietzfelbinger “What I’d like to speak about today is the fact that the First Nations whose land this pipeline will cross are unified in their opposition to this project. They have voiced this very strongly. The communities along the pipeline route will have told you again and again -- and you see in the people in the room here who will tell you again and again -- that they are also opposed to this project. They have said ‘no’. The majority of British Columbians listening to these voices have also said ‘no’. It’s the heart voice of these people, of the First Nations, of their commitment to the landscape and I am deeply concerned about what might follow from such a decision. Should this decision be ‘yes’, what happens then? And I’m very concerned about this. People -these concerned citizens you’ve heard from -- they’re parents, they’re teachers, they’re people with families. They are not radicals. They’ve been vilified and misrepresented by our elected government, and so these people will be forced to make very difficult decisions between whether they will abandon the landscape that supports them, as they’ve told you again and again, or whether they will have to organize, raise dissent in illegitimate means, possibly ….” – Emily McGiffin “I think about my grandpa, who loved this country so much that he fought for it in the Second World War. And I remember him standing in his kitchen on his -- on his farm each and every year on Remembrance Day listening to “Taps” on CBC on his little radio that buzzed and cracked and he would stand there in full salute with tears streaming down his cheeks because he fought hard for this country and he watched friends die. As a family and as communities, we’ve built our sources of income, our identity and our culture around a way of life that’s threatened by a pipeline and pushed by the government we fought for. And does this government -- this country we call home, this democracy, how does it plan to proceed with so many fighting against it? Emily McGiffin brought a very good point. I know we’re not supposed to talk about civil disobedience, but it is a risk. It is serious. And I’m offended that she was cut off for bringing it up because it is truly important. The only way I can see this Enbridge pipeline being built is over the bones of the people who live here. And for the record, you can count that my bones will be among them alongside of my fellow Canadians standing up for our country and our home.” – Shannon McPhail

“The Wet’suwet’en have a word for their territory. It’s called “Yintah”, and “Yintah” means much more than just the physical territory. It implies this inherent interconnection where the land, the water, the fish are dependent on the health and wellbeing of the people and the health and wellbeing of the people are dependent on the land, the water and the fish. So it’s this interconnected whole which cannot be divided into parts. And this is not a view unique to the Wet’suwet’en or to the Gitxsan, but it’s something that’s shared amongst communities in the Northwest and it’s something that I feel strongly in my day-to-day life in Hazelton. And I have seen in this process that this way of understanding the world doesn’t really fit into the little boxes of impacts that Enbridge and just this whole sort of way of looking at and understanding the project tends to do. You can’t divide impacts into environmental, social, cultural, economic in sort of tidy little boxes that are easily mitigated because these things are just so deeply interconnected and intertwined that impacts sort of follow these long tentacles and are very difficult to trace sort of the eventual impacts down the line.” – Sarah Panofsky “I’ve been logging for, oh, 30 years or so, and I’ve watched that industry just really hit the tank just because of short-term -- by “short-term”, I mean like decades-long rather than maybe centurieslong. Just there used to be one, two -- oh, half a dozen big mills from Terrace to here that aren’t here any more. And now I’m watching the few loggers that are left here cutting the trees down and sending them off to -- most of it’s going over to China or Japan, which is quite ludicrous, in my opinion. And I think it’s the same thing with this resource that we’ve got in Alberta, to ship it out wholesale like that is -- it’s going to make a lot of dollars real fast for probably 10 or 20 years, maybe. But I was just watching John Baird talking on the news the other day and he was disappointed in Christie Clarke saying that, if B.C. didn’t get some of the action, maybe no pipeline. And it’s -- like I’m speaking as a Canadian, too. To me, it makes a lot more sense if you’d recommend that maybe they -- the government make it a little bit more enticing for these companies to refine the oil here and instead of making a pipeline across this -- the mountains and the rivers and -- I mean, it’s just nuts to me, the risks that are involved here.” – Brian Larson

“The proposed route here, when you get through the mountains, what a dangerous and unsafe route with very poor access. This whole highway gets shut down for days some winters. It takes some days to get there to clean up, and that’s on the highway. And this pipeline route is way off the highway. The route from Kitimat to the ocean -ocean is very narrow. It’s dangerous. It’s crooked and there’s islands in there, and there’s already, in the past, been boats run up on the rocks. Just ships going down there with crude oil is a disaster waiting to happen. An oil spill anywhere down there would be genocide to the people living there. In international Courts, the last few years they’ve been dealing with people who participate in genocide.” – Frank Lindsay “So I think if we look at the big picture and look at what’s sustainable, the only thing I’ve seen sustainable -- because I’ve been involved with all of it. I’ve seen the boom and bust of the oil industry. I’ve seen the boom and bust in the logging industry. I’ve seen guys go bankrupt after being -- making a lot of money. The only thing that seems to remain, and Mother Nature keeps healing it, is the environment. And we have one of the best rivers in the world. The last strain of wild salmon and steelhead are running in the Skeena system. I don’t know how we can even think of putting that at risk.” – Gene Allen

“I think most of the people that are here, we were born in this area. We all grew up together. We played together in the rivers with the fish. I mean, we live off of these rivers. We live off of these areas. We grew up in these mountains. The community that we live in, the area, I mean, it’s not just the people but the land makes the people and the people make the land. And I just -- I wouldn’t even threaten this, ever, at all. I wouldn’t even think about threatening this. It’s way too special and sacred and obviously I get worked up talking about it.” – Kaleigh Allen

“I currently live in Telkwa and work in Smithers as a biomedical engineer and technologist, a job that not only takes me all over the north but also brings me into constant contact with technology. It is my job to fix and maintain all the equipment used to diagnose and treat patients. Being shown the latest and greatest new technology quite frequently, I have learned a few valuable things in my career that apply to this proposed pipeline. First, everything fails, without exception. It will break, it will fail. If there’s not somebody there to fix it, sometimes it causes harm to life, sometimes it causes harm to an entire area, community and way of life. Second, in this day and age the equipment is being built using the theory of a finite lifespan. There is not a lot of profit to be made in reliable and long term any more. Gone are the days when things were built to last forever, and if you build something with a finite lifespan it will under-perform, without fail. Third, the salesmen will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to buy the product.” – Rebecca Goalder “Haida Gwaii has often been described as a magical place, and it truly is. It is a place where we exercise our hunting and gathering skills once again. A place where we are on the beach daily and we enjoy the abundance of crab, halibut and razor clams. We have created amazing memories on Haida Gwaii and we will continue to do so for many, many years to come. Are we willing to give this up to Enbridge? No. Through my experiences on the rivers and the oceans, I have some very vivid pictures in my mind and, of course, I have many, many photos that capture the essence of the role the rivers and oceans play in our daily lives. The images of family, friends, my two precious sons standing on the banks of the clean river holding fishing rods, salmon in hand, the majestic views, strolling through the clean ocean up to our knees as we dip net for crabs. The laughter, the sun, the fun, we are not willing to give this up for Enbridge.” – Kathy Dodd “It would be nice, and I look forward to the point in this process where we move past the idea of whether or not this is an acceptable or safe or reasonable project. I think the history of the oil industry is a fact, the spills and leaks and ruptures and inevitability of disaster at large and small scales is part of doing business. That’s been expressed repeatedly. The uncertainty of natural circumstances, particularly in this region, are well founded. And I think, collectively, that we’ve gone past that point and I look forward to when this process can -can clearly move from the exploration of that into more constructive dialogue around what is the best thing that we can do with this resource that we have and what is the greatest good that it can do for our planet.” – Brian Huntington

“People who are profit-obsessed tend to perceive the world through reports and balance sheets, developers, shareholders and the banks who want to exploit capital and a host of small entrepreneurs controlled by the banks. Even as I speak, the Premiers are not arguing over how to protect the land, but over how to divide the profits. In contrast, most of the presenters to this Panel hold land-based values. They know the land is bigger than them. They are wary of short term affluence. I don’t want my grandchildren to freeze in the dark surrounded by useless consumer goods. We are but one expression of life in the gigantic bio system. To think it is ours to dominate is a corrupt paradigm. Uncontrolled production cannot continue indefinitely and is borrowing against our future wellbeing. It will consume the poorest first and then gnaws its way unrelentingly upward into the salons of the wealthy. We’re not saying no, as the federal government and corporations claim; we’re saying yes to the health of the land, to the bounty of the sea, to clean rivers, to controlling our own destiny, to respect for Aboriginal rights to territory and to future generations.” – Will Lawson “It seems like a giant backward step to view China as a trade partner that will benefit Canada. Is it really in our national interest to encourage a trading partner to make all the mistakes and pay the social costs of the industrial revolution which destroyed lives, lifestyles, rivers and landscapes in Europe? Is it ethical to do business with a nation where the factories have nets on the upper floors to prevent suicide by workers? Is that in our national interest? Is that good business sense? Do we really need more cheap plastic stuff made in those Chinese factories? Rather than taking a leadership role in seriously renewable energy, this resource extraction and export model will deplete our non-renewable resources and encourage another country to turn itself into a polluted wasteland.” – Gretel Miles “The idea of having a pipeline run through some of the most geographically unstable terrain in Canada all the way to the coast, only to be loaded onto supertankers that would then have to navigate the fourth most treacherous waters in the world is like a death wish for our magnificent province. One oil spill changed the coastline and generations of lives for many decades, if not forever. We will not let this happen here. I will stand arm-in-arm with my community members to protect our home. I am prepared to exercise my right to civil disobedience as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I feel that I have no other option; we have been abandoned by our federal government, we have been bullied and coerced by big oil companies.” – Carol Ponchett-Cassidy

“I knew then that corporate would do anything, would destroy anything for pennies, for nothing. Absolutely no feeling for the land, for what other people wanted or anything.” – Randall Shoop

“The rivers are alive and people here know the rivers are part of the planet’s circulatory system. They are the arteries of the earth and the oceans are the heart. Hearts and arteries, these are not organs to be tampered with; you poison them and you kill the body. We are all stewards of this body, this earth that we live on. We are all dependent on the earth. This is a fact; it’s not a radical concept. I’ve watched loggers and politicians and artists and lawyers and doctors and accountants and business owners and farmers and fishers and scientists and dentists and even web developers all rise to the occasion and speak out against this proposal. When you ask them, they all say pretty much the same thing, they feel they have no choice but to stand up and speak out. When you get such a huge cross-section of society speaking together like this, it suggests to me that this issue is big, that people will put their lives on the line.” – Sandra Smith “I’m an amateur warrior, fighting the superior, but love from my interior is going to light the way. I come from the earth and I come from the sky. I come from my mother and my father, no lies. I come from my grandmothers and my grandfathers too. I come from blood and I come from the moon. I come from the moon and I reach for the sky and I’ll fight until the day I die. No Enbridge pipelines. I get completely perplexed when I think about this idea of a pipeline from the tar sands to the ocean.” – Skyla Lattie

“I think that if sanity prevailed, the bitumen would be processed here. If it had to be processed, if we decided as a country that we must process that bitumen, it should be done here. The benefits should go here. They should help develop our country. We should have roads that are good. We should have health care that’s impeccable, as it used to be. We should have education that is free. We should have music and the arts in our education. And we see all those things taken away and we see a few elite that benefit from this and it just can’t be sustained.” – Tim Combs

“I feel that we should be thinking of our water over our economy, our safety over our economy, and be looking into small community economies rather than this false international economy, which is based, again, on corporations more than farming and food and water. And I feel that if we firstly pay attention to our water and our food and be it clean, then we’re not only going to have healthy communities, but we’re going to have a healthy nation. And that’s what will make our nation healthy. So please take this thought back to the national interest that we need to take care of our small communities and listen to the individuals which you’re here doing.” – Beverley (Erly) Combs

Produced by the Northwest Institute

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