Friday, December 9, 2016

Pardon me if I rant a lot

Before I moved to Alberta because of my husband’s work, I was a happy third-generation British Columbian. I have lived in more than one of BC’s ecosystems, by its ocean, its rivers, its lakes. Now I live in southern Alberta and am concerned about this province as well. I am determined to do my one small part in saving both provinces from a crude oil disaster of massive proportions.

As others have said...
“Industrial economy is killing the planet.”
“Any option is a better option than a dead planet.”
“The good news is: there are other options.”

North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, flow through Alberta and Saskatchewan before joining together in Manitoba, then emptying into Hudson's Bay.

Jasper National Park, a Canadian wilderness of exquisite beauty.

The black line shows the present pipeline, the blue one its "twin"...I can see from this map that the pipeline and its proposed twin pass through some of my favourite places.

The prime minister of Canada recently approved the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which starts in northeastern Alberta and, in southern Alberta, crosses the Rocky Mountains, right through the middle of Jasper National Park.

The proposed twin pipeline will cross the Saskatchewan River, cross many of Alberta’s and BC’s mountain ranges, rivers and provincial parks, then end on the shore of southwestern British Columbia, to load crude oil to be exported across the Pacific Ocean, where an oil spill could cause a monumental ecological disaster.

A "city" of oil tanks overlooking Burrard Inlet
 with North Vancouver's industrial area and
a cargo ship in the distance.

The satellite map at has the proposed pipeline route superimposed on it. That route goes through places where I used to live, places where my friends still live.
Lower Fraser River, British Columbia

The river closest to my heart is BC’s Fraser River. I was born in a hospital overlooking the Fraser, and as soon as I was old enough to understand that fact, I was filled with pride, for the river was beautiful then and pretty much unsullied by ‘progress’!

I learned early that rivers are not stand-alone entities. For every major river there is a vast river system...tributaries, lakes, ponds, shores and habitats... for animals and birds as well as for fish.

Fraser River, coming down the mountain near the old town of Spuzzum.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline will no doubt have to be built alongside the Fraser at some point, on one shore or the other, either for a short distance or a long one. And it will have to go under or over the Fraser, to reach Burrard Inlet.

Pipelines are not the only danger awaiting our two provinces, but to me they are one of the scariest.
In addition: once the pipeline has carried its crude oil across Alberta successfully, it must then cross British Columbia, made up of valleys, lakes and rivers...yes, and mountain ranges one right after another, with lakes and rivers in between. BC's mountain valleys, with their readily-available fresh water, have long been a boon to ranchers, farmers and orchardists. But what crop can grow after an oil spill?

Alberta has 129 rivers. I don’t know what the Kinder Morgan people have decided about getting crude oil over or under rivers in Alberta, but they have a bigger job awaiting them in British Columbia which has more than 1000 rivers.
After crossing both Alberta and BC, we come to the Pacific Ocean.

For instance, take the Columbia River, which is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The Columbia rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between the states of Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and has 14 tributaries.

The Columbia’s drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven US states as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. According to the International Energy Agency in 2014, the Columbia provides more than 40% of total US hydroelectric power.

 Now of course, the Kinder Morgan pipeline route isn’t going to cross over or under all, or even the majority, of these 1129 rivers.

However no pipeline across Canada’s two western provinces can avoid every body of water,  each of which is a potential victim of an oil spill.

Kinder Morgan’s expansion will be enough to bring its export up to one oil tanker a day, perhaps two, and one of those days a possible spill can destroy much of southern BC’s beauty.

After crossing both Alberta and BC, we come to the Pacific Ocean.

Most, but not all oil tankers make it across the ocean successfully. Are Canadians willing to risk that “not all” possibility? 

Every day a loaded oil tanker will have to navigate through Burrard Inlet, under two bridges, through BC’s beautiful Gulf Islands, then make its way past Vancouver Island and out into the wide open Pacific Ocean. This map shows BC’s Gulf Islands, and the Canada-US border. An offshore oil spill could easily move into American waters.

Yes, to get to the open ocean, tanker captains can face the possibility of a spill in southwestern Canada and the northwestern US — despoiling the coastline of each country, each with its islands, fjords, bays, inlets, coves, and rivers.

Most, but not all oil tankers make it across the ocean successfully. Are Canadians willing to risk that “not all” possibility? 

An ocean is an ecosystem that makes even British Columbia’s lakes, rivers and vast wilderness look paltry. The Pacific Ocean’s ecosystem is huge, beyond my ability to describe.

I worked in Vancouver for many years. It is not just an ordinary city. Think of Stanley Park, that beautifully wooded jewel: almost as old as New York’s Central Park, and quite a bit bigger...1000 acres vs 843 acres in New York.
If you want to argue about downtown dangers: a murder in Stanley Park is not the everyday ho-hum event it is in Central Park, New York.
Yes, there are some shady parts of Vancouver, with drunks and druggies and ladies-in-waiting, but most of the city is clean, bright, and beautiful—some parts with sparkling water and beautiful beaches, some with a view of the mountains, and others with comfortable, happy neighbourhoods.

One oil spill—just one—could ruin it all.

Note: while the prime minister also vetoed the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, he went ahead and approved, also, the Enbridge 3 pipeline in the province of Manitoba, a line that also crosses the US border.

One out of three possibly disastrous pipelines is insufficient, Prime Minister Trudeau!
Hoping to link this post to Lady Fi's wonderful meme
Our World Tuesday



Penelope Puddlisms said...

You certainly found your voice on this issue in a very good way, Kay, and I am appreciating the details in this post. I think the already existing pipeline along the route needs upgrading so something needs to be done or deteriorating products will cause serious damage eventually. In North Surrey, the pipeline portion has quietly been in place for years with little attention paid to it as housing grew rapidly around it. So a review of some of its current locations needs to be addressed. Neither man nor beast truly wants this risky business in their neighborhood but what already exists needs work and some of it rerouted somewhere. As for one extra oil tanker a day … such numbers are often underestimated and can grow quite quickly.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wonderfully informative post, Kay. Thank you. A spill is not "when", it is "if" and people are in denial if they believe otherwise. Sigh. We are so dragging our feet in turning to clean energy. Argh.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

p.s. Jasper is so beautiful - such a gorgeous photo. Why they need to cross rivers is beyond me.........

Lady Fi said...

Agreed! We need to be better custodians of our world!

Birgitta said...

Great informative post! Beautiful photo!

Jenn Jilks said...

It is a horrible thing. I just don't know what is ti to done.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh I'm sad to learn about this Kay ... and I'm sure I already should have,. I would have hoped that your country was better than ours is soon going to be. We are living with an upcoming disaster on so many fronts here, but the ecological one is what frightens me most, since damage done won't be repairable.

NatureFootstep said...

so much yet to see. Wish I would be young again.

Gattina said...

All these oil transporting ships are poison to the ocean ! How many times one sank and killed animals and plants and spoilt the beaches ! It should be forbidden !

Phil Slade said...

Hi Kay. Thank you for that detailed story. I am afraid that all countries see the planet as something to exploit for greed and not as something to preserve for future generations. It's just the same here - cover everything in concrete as if economic wealth is everything and when the future will prove this wrong.


There are so many disasters waiting to happen. And as Phil commented in a 'round about way..
It's all greed, and all kinds of wrong.

From the past... protesting something like this may stop it for now, but a future politician can change it all.

photodoug said...

Kay, no need to apologize for ranting. It is time people got excited about their environment and began to make noise. Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Wagner said...

That Jasper shot is stunning. I hope you make it to Sedona. And thanks for letting me know you checked out my creative writing blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

Very interesting post. Beutiful photos!