Today I went to Dundas Square, one of the busiest intersections in Toronto to join Rhytms of Resistance-Toronto,“a political samba-inspired band that plays for environmental and social justice.” The band was raising awareness about some of the tar sands pipelines that will threaten forests, waterways, fish habitat, and communities along and near the pipelines. What a way to spend Earth Day, eh?
They were also letting people know how to plug into the resistance against the pipelines! The band’s groupies, who I gladly joined, were letting people know about a rally happening at the Enbridge Annual General Meeting in Toronto on May 9th. I learned about the Yinka Dene Alliance, one of the leading groups of First Nations opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline, who will be in Toronto on May 8th and 9th to say “No” to the proposed pipeline.
Members of the YDA are traveling from BC to Toronto for the Enbridge AGM and they will be stopping in Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg along the way. Once I am done writing this diary entry, I am going to invite all my friends in those cities. It is Earth Day after all—great excuse to spread the word on how to resist environmentally destructive projects.
I am so glad that so many people are piping up (pun intended) about these pipelines. These pipelines would contaminate water, fish sources, and human health. Communities would be put at risk for the profit of a few greedy oil and gas corporations. Diary, that just isn’t fair!
I mentioned the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would bring dirty tar sands to the west coast of British Columbia for export; but I still haven’t mentioned the tankers that would come to collect that oil. They would have to travel through ecologically sensitive areas and through waters which are known to be rough because of the high winds and waves. Do we really want to repeat some of the horrible oil spills which have destroyed fishing communities and continue to impact human health and livelihoods? This sounds just too risky!
There is also another pipeline which would bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Kitimat as well: the Pacific Trails Pipeline. This LNG would be primarily from shale gas development in northeastern BC. This type of gas development involves injecting water and unidentified chemicals into underground shale rock formations at very high pressures in order to extract natural gas below the surface. This process uses up tons of water, while also contaminating groundwater and local drinking water.
But those aren’t the only pipelines blazing through British Columbia. Kinder Morgan is trying to increase the amount of tar sands crude that would be transported through the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a pipeline which brings tar sands to southwestern BC. There has been local opposition to the pipeline expansion which would require twinning the pipeline and putting communities at significant risk.
Looking east, there is the Trailbreaker project which would bring tar sands across the Prairies, Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec, and finally to the coast of Maine, USA. The pipeline has faced growing opposition from communities across the route. And rightfully so. In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline leak put over a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River which flows into the Great Lakes. Enbridge may be okay with polluting the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, but I won’t sit by and just watch it happen.
And I am not the only one!
This Earth Day, there were over 10 communities that took action specifically against pipelines, tankers, and tar sands expansion. In Montreal, Quebec there was a march so huge that “more than two hours after it began, a large crowd was still waiting to begin at the starting point.” Right on!
Diary, I am so inspired that I am going to explore more ways to take collective action against environmentally destructive operations.
Happy Earth Day, -maryam