Re: Invitation to tour tar sands

Fort St. James Sustainability Group shares their response to an invitation from Enbridge to tour tar sands.


A member of the Fort St. James Sustainability Group was recently invited by Enbridge Northern Gateway to attend a tour of the tar sands in August.

Kandace Kerr declined the  invitation, and passed the invite on to the rest of the group for their consideration.

Not one member was interested in going. We cannot help but wonder why Enbridge Northern Gateway is extending this invitation.

In their written final argument, Enbridge Northern Gateway reminded us that in 2010 they requested the Joint Review Panel (JRP) not include in the list of issues to be considered the topics of environmental effects of tar sands production and the impact of the project on greenhouse gas emissions and emission reduction.

In 2011 the JRP accommodated their request, and any discussions of those topics during the hearing process were repeatedly stifled by the panel and Enbridge’s lawyers.

Had those topics been included in the list of issues, interveners, including ourselves, would have been able to question both Enbridge Northern Gateway and their funding partners (oil producers) on the environmental effects of the tar sands and impacts on greenhouse gas emissions during the JRP process.

Our question to Enbridge Northern Gateway is: why is a tour of the tar sands being offered now? And why to us?

We did not let non-inclusion of the issues of environmental effects of tar sands production or the impact of the project on greenhouse gas emissions and emission reduction get in the way of educating ourselves on these subjects; as a matter of fact, we have been educating ourselves for years through both industry and non-industry publications, reports and documentaries.

And we did not let the non-inclusion of a review of the environmental effects of the tar sands stop us from mentioning it during our participation in the JRP process.

In our written final argument we submitted to the JRP that it clearly is not in the public interest to approve a project that has the potential to significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate climate change.

One should wonder what the role of the tar sands operations was in the recent flooding in Alberta.

Our research has provided us with a wealth of information on the environmental effects of the tar sands and the potential for impact by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project on greenhouse gas emissions.

Coupling that with Enbridge Northern Gateway’s “facts” and discussions during the JRP process, we have all the information we need.

Our findings have contributed to our group’s opposition to the proposed project.

In conclusion, we would like to remind Enbridge that in our oral statements some members of the sustainability group addressed the broader issue of the dependence we have on gas and oil.

We expressed the need to stop this growing and self-destructive reliance on a form of energy that is contributing to our planet’s destruction.

We stated our desire to have government and industry both nationally and internationally put great minds and finances into developing more sustainable forms of energy.

For us to visit the tar sands operations would only serve to solidify our position of opposition to the Northern Gateway project.

Ethically, we cannot and do not accept the invitation.

After discussions amongst ourselves many of us believe the reality of the tar sands operations is devastating enough, given the standard industry images and the material we have read and seen.

We are concerned that any tour developed by the proponent of this project would be structured in a way to put forward a biased perspective of this devastating reality.

Regardless of Enbridge Northern Gateway’s reason for inviting us to attend their guided tour, the members of the Fort St. James Sustainability Group have no reason for, or interest in, attending.



Fort St. James Sustainability Group


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