A Turning Point for the Spirit Bear Coast

by Frances Beinecke, President, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

For the very first time, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has publicly stated that the environmental risks associated with the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline outweigh the economic benefits.

Clark’s statement marks a decisive shift in her position on the $5.5 billion venture — until now, she has failed to take a definitive stand on the project.

The pipeline, proposed by energy giant Enbridge, would carry 500,000 barrels a day of the world’s dirtiest oil from the Alberta tar sands to the Spirit Bear Coast, where it will be loaded onto supertankers for export and forced to navigate through treacherous, wildlife-filled waters, including a channel six times narrower than the passage that sunk the Exxon Valdéz.

The pipeline’s route will pass through British Columbia’s ancient coastal rainforest, home to orcas, humpbacks, wolves and some of the very last Spirit Bears on Earth. Its world-class salmon runs have supported the region’s First Nations peoples for thousands of years.

Just one tar sands spill could destroy all that forever.

NHL Hall of Famer and former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter explains what’s so special about the Spirit Bear Coast—and why it’s so important to protect it. Watch the video now.

Clark voiced her concerns just days after federal investigators announced that Enbridge had likely violated two dozen regulations when it spilled more than a million gallons of tar sands oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 — the most costly pipeline accident in U.S. history.

“I think Enbridge has some pretty important questions to answer,” Clark told reporters in Kamloops, British Columbia, according to The Globe and Mail. “That kind of spill that happened in Michigan is not acceptable in British Columbia.”

In an independent poll, 66% of British Columbians said they oppose allowing crude oil supertankers through British Columbia’s inside coastal waters, including 50% who said they were strongly opposed. In addition, more than 70 First Nations are united in total opposition to the pipeline and its oil tanker traffic. Even celebrities like Kevin Bacon have lent their support to the cause.

But try as they might, they can’t stave off Enbridge by themselves. It’s critical that Premier Clark respect the wishes of the First Nations and the residents of British Columbia by rejecting the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The British Columbia government now has a choice to make. The country can heed the lessons learned from the Kalamazoo spill, or ignore that harrowing wake-up call at its own peril — and put the Spirit Bear Coast one spill away from disaster.

Now that Premier Clark has voiced her concerns about this potentially devastating project, it’s time to build on that momentum and urge her to take the next critical step. Call on Premier Clark to stand up to Big Oil and oppose the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and oil tankers that would endanger the entire Spirit Bear Coast.


Related Stories:

Enbridge Spoof Lands Cartoonist in Hot Water

Keystone XL, the Bad Boyfriend We Can’t Shake

Enbridge Promises It Learned Its Lesson From Previous Massive Oil Spill, Won’t Happen Again



Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M5 years ago

Already signed for the cause, and we all have to still stand strong and make sure Premier Clark keeps standing up against Big Oil. Prime Minister Harper, along with Premier of Alberta are getting desperate to get oil from the tar sands to Asian markets.

Lynn C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you for the opportunity to sign the petition. I have high hopes, but expectations that have been tempered by disappointment whenever big money is involved. Maybe this will be a nice surprise.

Suzie Hughes
Susan Hughes6 years ago

This is an important one to sign I think. One person... trying to make a difference in Canada and she needs our help.

"Now that Premier Clark has voiced her concerns about this potentially devastating project, it’s time to build on that momentum and urge her to take the next critical step. Call on Premier Clark to stand up to Big Oil and oppose the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and oil tankers that would endanger the entire Spirit Bear Coast.

Fiona T.
Past Member 6 years ago

Hope there's a band new start

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V6 years ago


Mark Donners
Mark D6 years ago

what the hell is wrong with savage Canada? They continue to keep that psychopath terrorist Harper in office, they accepting club seals in a nightmare bloodbath, they welcome pet and ex race horses from the US to slaughter them in their unlimited sadism along with importing tortured dog fur, any wildife populations they see they want to exterminate with the same bloodlust as Hitler. They hate the environment, allowing their god Harper to clearcut what's left of their forests, and Harper isn't satisfied with destroying Canada, that terrorist is a threat to future of the entire earth. Osama is a saint compared to that Harper horror from hell.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman6 years ago

Already signed up for Causes :-) Thanx for post!!!...

Anita Wisch
Anita W6 years ago

Animals must be protected.

Carrie Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Laura R.
Laura R6 years ago

Enbridge built a pipe on my property in 2000. It will need access to the new pipe for maintenance and repair. Routes will need to be kept open across both public and PRIVATE lands forcing perpetual intrusions. There are weekly flyovers to inspect the route. The helicopters fly VERY low and are VERY loud and can be heard long before they can be seen. This could drive species along the route away from their historic grounds and could have devastating consequences. During construction, the companies do whatever they want despite govt regulations/landowner agreements. There is NO govt oversight during construction, NO response when landowners call in. Think about remote public lands where there are no landowners to witness the damage occurring and report it. Once the pipe is laid it opens the door for more pipelines to be installed. One of Enbridge’s (supposed) selling points was that it was following EXISTING pipeline routes. Since there was already an existing pipeline, Enbridge CLAIMED the impacts of its installation would be minimal. The devastation is the same as if it was an original pipe in an area and it is PERMANENT. Enbridge claims to have learned its lesson from the MI spill. That is false. It has a terrible safety record. One of its leaks near Crystal Falls in MI’s Upper Peninsula in Nov 1999 was in a boggy area and the oil entered the aquifer. That can NEVER be cleaned up. Also research Enbridge’s history prior to 1997 when its name was IPL. It is eye