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My Testimony to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel

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My Testimony to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel

This is what I said to the Enbridge Joint Environmental Assessment / Energy Board hearings. It was great to hear the noisy demonstration outside, and be able to go outside and catch the last few inspiring speakers. The photo shows the crowd still there when I came outside. Thanks to everyone who showed up to the demo!


24404. MR. ERIC DOHERTY: First of all, I want to say that I’m honoured to be here on unceded Coast Salish territory speaking against this pipeline proposal.

24405. My name is Eric Doherty; I’m a former marine engineer. I worked for the Canadian Coast Guard for 11 years, including in oil spill clean-up, and I know how difficult or even futile this can be even in perfect conditions.

24406. As an environmental consultant, I did research [and] project management for the B.C. Hydro green electricity resources of British Columbia map in 2002. More recently, as a transportation planner, I co-authored the report Transportation Transformation, Building Complete Communities and a Zero Emission Transportation System in B.C.

24407. And I’m also a member of the grassroots climate justice group, Rising Tide, Coast Salish territories which is outside right now making considerable amount of noise, but I’m very glad that it’s not disturbing the presentations in here. It’s a rather pleasant background, I think.

24408. However, I’m here speaking as an individual and representing no particular group. My views are my own this evening.

24409. And I want to start off by telling you why I care about global warming and why I’m so concerned that, if my information from the January 8th oral statement online workshop is correct, that you are refusing to consider the emissions -- the greenhouse gas emissions, both from the tar sands and from the burning of this bitumen once it refined and arrives at its final destination. And I’d actually like to ask you whether that is correct?

24410. MEMBER BATEMAN: Mr. Doherty, the format for this evening, in fact for all of the oral statements, is for the Panel to listen. We don’t engage in a discussion and so for that reason, we would not be responding at this particular time. It is an issue we’re live to.

24411. MR. ERIC DOHERTY: Thank you.

24412. Okay, I’m going to tell you why I care about global warming so deeply and actually why I’m no longer a marine engineer and I’m now an environmental consultant and transportation planner.

24413. I went to Central America in 1997 and I met with a group of women who were working on a CIDA-funded project. And just had a pleasant dinner with them, a pleasant evening’s discussion, and went on my way. And, you know, was -- took pictures and came back from my holiday and was able to show people that I’d done more than just go to Spanish school and sit on the beach on my holiday. And then, a few months later, I discovered that Hurricane Mitch devastated the whole region I had visited.

24414. Some of those women lost their whole families, their grandparents, their children, their parents, their aunts, their uncles. It would be like a First Nations’ village here that had been there for centuries and centuries and maybe -- maybe thousands of years being wiped off the map. And that was the first mega storm that was attributed to global warming. And that’s still somewhat controversial.

24415. It’s no longer controversial that global warming is killing people today. It’s no longer controversial that global warming is the threat to our society. It’s no longer controversial that when you travel into the interior of B.C., you can’t go anywhere without seeing the dead pine beetle trees. Global warming has already devastated lives. It’s already killed millworkers who have been killed in Burn’s Lake by a mill explosion.

24416. So if you’re wondering why people are outside making a lot of noise rather than just coming into this very intimidating space where they’re not even allowed to have the public behind them, that is one of the main reasons.

24417. We’re dealing with a point right now in history, where if we don’t turn things around, if people like you don’t stand up and say, “No, business as usual is no longer an option” -- if you don’t say that, we’re going to be into the world that groups like the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Energy Agency -- all of these organizations are saying that we’re headed towards a world that’s four to six degrees warmer and I suppose you have a general idea of what that means.

24418. I think that this hearing should have been held in Richmond when people could have said if this pipeline and other projects like it go ahead, this hotel will be underwater, and that’s not a big deal really. Richmond’s not a very big place, you know, a couple hundred thousand people.

24419. Think about Bangladesh. Think about the Bay Islands in Honduras. Think about whole countries, whole indigenous nations having to move thousands of kilometres away from their island nations that disappear completely.

24420. And I want to read something to you from NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, from a piece that he wrote in the New York Times, published May 9th, 2012, Game over for the Climate. This is regarding the oil sands:

“If Canada proceeds and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate. Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty (20) to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.”

24421. Civilization is at risk. Civilization is at risk because so many highly qualified, ethical, good people are continuing to support business-as-usual, are continuing to pretend that this is just another little environmental problem, that global warming, that the over-heating of our planet is something that can be pushed off for another day, to another generation. It’s a big difficult problem, but we do have solutions and I’ve done a small piece.

24422. This is the report Transportation Transformation: Building Complete Communities and a Zero-Emission Transportation System in B.C. This is a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and is available from their website. This is just a small prescription of what we could do here in B.C. to live well without tar sands oil. We no longer need oil to get around. That’s what the tar sands are about. The tar sands are about moving people and things. It’s a transportation issue.

24423. If you really think about it, the solutions are already on the table. What it needs is a commitment from people like you to say yes, we can live without tar sands oil. We can ride on trolley buses. We can ride on electric trains, things that can be done right now, not 20 years, 40 years from now in technological development. We have the tools.

24424. And just the final thing I’d like to say is that we had electric trains in this region operating over a century ago. Why are we burning tar sands oil when we know about the climate crisis today?

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