As public hearings on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline begin today in Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada stands at a proverbial fork in the road.

Will we choose a new energy future for Canada? Or will we settle for an unsustainable fossil fuel economy that destroys more than it creates?

One thing is certain: This is a Canadian issue that matters to Canadians.

More than 4,000 people have exercised their democratic right to have their say at the hearings. The pipeline proposal has struck nerve with B.C. residents, many of whom have concerns about what the project means for them and the place where they live, and it is critical that their input be considered before the project can go ahead.

Ecojustice will also be there, on behalf our clients: Living Oceans Society, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and ForestEthics.

We and our clients believe the pipeline is unsafe, unsustainable and unnecessary.

Barry Robinson, the Ecojustice staff lawyer who will be representing our clients at the hearings, was featured on the Bill Good Show last week. Check out what he had to say about the project HERE.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would span 1,176 kilometres, linking Alberta’s tar sands — home to some of the world’s dirtiest oil — to B.C.’s north coast, so waiting tankers can ferry Canadian oil to Asia. The pipeline would cross hundreds of fish-bearing streams, rivers and lakes, cut through untouched tracts of wilderness and animal habitat, and put everything within its reach at risk for environmental degradation.

It might create jobs in the short-term or temporarily boost our economy, but it will also increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and further fuel the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. The project would introduce tanker traffic in B.C.’s unpredictable coastal waters, increasing the chances of a serious oil spill and endangering the marine environment we have spent years trying to protect for B.C.’s killer whales.

We need to look no further than the disastrous Alaska’s Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 and its effects on the AT1 killer whales for a cautionary tale.

The whales are a living legacy of a spill that unleashed 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s coastal waters more than 20 years ago. Since surfacing in the massive slick left behind by the tanker, the pod has been unable to produce any calves. One by one, the pod members are dying off, and scientists believe the pod has no chance for recovery.

We can’t take that chance in B.C., which is home to more than 1,900 at-risk species. Like us, they rely on the environment to sustain life — to provide the things they need to live.

Given recent attacks on the environmental community, it is clear the stakes are high, but we also believe the opportunity to forge a new path have never been greater.

These hearings and the dialogue that will come out of them could be the starting point for a conversation that is long overdue in Canada — one that seriously questions how we can move away from unsustainable fossil fuels and start following a more sustainable blueprint for energy consumption. It starts now.

You can help us say NO to unsustainable energy and YES to a greener future by making a donation today.

Although we aren’t scheduled to appear at the hearings until September, we will be following them closely and offering our take on things.

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