Pipeline activists put out call to fortify northern B.C. blockade

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      The fight against pipelines could ultimately go down in the woods off a remote logging road in northern B.C.

      After all the public hearings are done, the regulatory permits issued, and the legal challenges exhausted, the battle against oil and gas pipelines may move to a Native camp near Kilometre 66 of the Morice River forest-service road.

      To get to this place last summer, a Victoria woman known in activist circles as Zoe Blunt and many others travelled more than a thousand kilometres in a caravan from Vancouver to Houston, a small town in the Bulkley Valley.

      From there, it’s a two-hour drive to a bridge where some members of the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have set up a blockade against the coming pipelines.

      “The gauntlet has been thrown down,” Blunt told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      This spring, a call has gone out to fortify the camp. Volunteers are needed to help build pit houses and gardens. Blunt, a director of the Forest Action Network whose real name is Tracie Park, is organizing a team to work with the Unis’tot’en from May 6 to May 24.

      “People are saying, ‘We’re not going to leave willingly. You will have to force us off,’ ” Blunt said. “They’ve drawn the line.”

      The Unis’tot’en count as many as nine pipelines that may cross their territory, conveying heavy crude from the tar sands of Alberta and natural gas from the hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—fields of B.C. to the northwest coast in Kitimat.

      These include Enbridge Inc.’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline. Public hearings on the $6-billion project conclude in Prince Rupert on May 18.

      Northern Gateway and the others will be preceded by the Pacific Trail Pipelines stretching 463 kilometres to deliver gas from the fracking wells of Summit Lake, B.C., to Kitimat. A joint venture of Apache Canada Ltd. and Chevron Canada Limited, the project was granted an environmental-assessment certificate by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office in 2008.

      The pipeline is an integral part of the two companies’ plan to export 200 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas over a 20-year period, which the National Energy Board of Canada approved in October 2011.

      Apache Canada didn’t grant the Straight an interview. In a February 25, 2013, news release, the joint-venture partners announced a $200-million benefits agreement with a consortium of 15 First Nations groups, including the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, in connection with the pipeline component of the LNG project.

      No Unis’tot’en camp spokesperson was available for an interview before the Straight’s deadline.

      When Blunt was in the camp in August 2012, she manned the coffee and tea station while others helped build a meat smokehouse, latrines, and a water system. She witnessed the Unis’tot’en turn away a forestry crew that came to clear the Pacific Trail Pipelines route.

      Maryam Adrangi, an organizer with the activist group Rising Tide: Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, also spent time at the Unis’tot’en camp last summer.

      “People in urban centres think of the North as this expansive land where no one lives, and I think going up really showed that, no, that’s not actually the case,” Adrangi told the Straight by phone. “This is land that people need to protect because people depend on it.”

      Adrangi’s group is helping arrange transportation for volunteers going to the camp this spring. “It’s an essential and pivotal point,” she said of the Unis’tot’en resistance. “It means stopping the fracking operations that are destroying and polluting water in northeastern B.C. It means not allowing other pipelines that the PTP [Pacific Trail Pipelines] would pave the way for.”




      Apr 18, 2013 at 2:19pm

      I've been watching the Unis'ot'en camp for almost a year now and they were the first to echo my personal concerns regarding energy corridors for natural gas simply being an excuse for tar sands pipelines to follow behind using the excuse that, "there's already an existing pipeline route".

      Kitimat must be protected at absolutely all cost because that stretch of mountains and forest is the last untouched region of temperate rianforest on Earth. It must not be developed.


      Apr 18, 2013 at 5:58pm

      When I first heard of the land clearing I thought that this is a move to put in the Gateway pipeline. Harpers mind was made up long ago. We have to show him that the people will not be pushed around by big business and government. Big business and government do not live on and depend on the land, they only exploit it and leave the damages to us.

      Vye Young

      Apr 19, 2013 at 7:09am

      We must stop Harper & Christy Clark. Both areof the same cloth.

      Joseph Gold

      Apr 19, 2013 at 7:39am

      We have been taken over by the Oil industry in a Coup D'etat. It has happended here. Wake up Canada. Take the verbal gloves off and join this expose of the Big Business takeover of the Land called Canada. This government is anti government. Their concept of Canada is of a land mass as a treasure filled resource base to rape and pillage for profit. People and Community do not matter any more. Write; Speak;and March. Do Not Be Silent.

      freddy fraser

      Apr 21, 2013 at 4:42pm

      You use the oil in some form so quit bitching we all need the oil to maintain our lifestyle unless you want to go back to the dark ages


      Apr 21, 2013 at 7:00pm

      Hey dumbass, we do not benefit from this pipeline. We ship oil to china, then buy it back at a higher cost, gas prices will rise and our environment will fall.


      Apr 30, 2013 at 6:51am

      jobs created. bad idea? stay on welfare. good idea?