The Other Oil Sands Pipeline Project: Northern Gateway

Outside Magazine Online   March 22, 2012

By Adventure Ethics

If the U.S. doesn’t allow the northern half of the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, Canada is just going to sell its oil to power-hungry China. That’s one of the common rebuttals to opposition of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would allow oil derived from oil sands (known colloquially as tar sands) from northern Alberta to flow to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Whether or not the full Keystone XL gets built, Canadian pipeline builder Enbridge wants to connect Edmonton with the port of Kitimat in northern British Columbia, where oil would be loaded onto tankers and shipped through the Douglas Channel, headed to Asia and California. Called the Northern Gateway Project, the pipeline would run 730 miles, traversing the Rockies and Coast mountain ranges before its terminus in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest contiguous tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world.

Raincoast Conservation Foundati
on, a team of conservationists and scientists, opposes the project due to what it considers grave threats placed on the B.C. coast and its aboriginal people should an oil spill occur. Chris Darimont, the group’s director of science and a B.C. coast surfer, attracted Patagonia’s attention to the pipeline plans. Subsequently, Patagonia ambassadors and surfing filmmakers the Malloy brothers became involved. The result is Groundswell, a short film the brothers shot last year during a sailing and surfing expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest. The film, due out in October, will serve to advocate against the pipeline and for the rainforests and its inhabitants.

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