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Harper Gov't Cancels Nearly 3,000 Environmental Reviews On Pipelines & Projects.

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Tories Cancel 3,000 Environmental Reviews

OTTAWA - The Harper government’s budget legislation has forced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to cancel nearly 3,000 screenings into potential environmental damage caused by proposed development projects across Canada, including hundreds involving a pipeline or fossil fuel energy, according to published records.

Out of 2,970 project reviews that were stopped by the legislation that rewrote Canada’s environmental laws and weakened federal oversight on industrial development, 678 involved fossil fuel energy and 248 involved a pipeline, including proposals from Alberta-based energy companies, Enbridge and TransCanada.

The numbers were calculated using the agency’s new online database that is still undergoing some revisions, additions and corrections.

“Federal environmental assessment is only one among many regulatory instruments aimed at ensuring that projects do not cause significant adverse environmental effects, and it is important to note that these smaller projects will still be subject to relevant federal and provincial laws, regulations and standards,” said Isabelle Perrault, a spokeswoman for the agency.

She explained that Environment Minister Peter Kent has decided to continue a “screening-type assessment” for 18 projects that were already undergoing reviews before Parliament adopted the budget bill, which also offered new tools for the government to authorize water pollution, investigate environmental groups, weaken protection of endangered species, and limit public participation in consultations and reviews of proposed industrial projects.

Perrault was not immediately able to confirm whether all projects on the list would face a mandatory environmental review from another regulatory body.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of his cabinet have said their reforms would strengthen environmental protection while removing administrative delays that could harm the economy.

But Gregory Jack, the director of a Natural Resources Canada task force on energy security, said last February that industry stakeholders saw “an opportunity to use (Enbridge’s proposed Northern) Gateway (pipeline) to push for (the) need for regulatory reform.”

Jack’s assessment was delivered in a presentation, released to Climate Action Network Canada through access to information legislation, at a meeting discussing the government’s efforts to deploy diplomats to defend oil and gas companies and fight international efforts to slash the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global warming.

“Sadly in Canada right now when the oil industry says jump, the government asks how high,” said Hannah McKinnon, campaigns director of the network, a coalition of environmental, labour union and faith-based groups. “The government must be beginning to regret this approach though, as public opinion rails against Northern Gateway and the gutting of environmental regulations.”

Kent did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Megan Leslie, the NDP’s deputy leader has asked the environment minister to consider public consultations on drafting effective regulations for the new environmental laws.

Some of the cancelled reviews include coastal projects involving seismic testing, considered to be harmful to marine species, as well as a controversial proposal to reverse an Enbridge pipeline, and the construction of a new crude oil terminal and pipeline infrastructure for TransCanada’s Keystone route.

Leslie said she understands the need to improve the evaluation process, but she doesn’t believe such a large number of projects would no longer require a review overnight.

“It’s beyond comprehension,” said Leslie in an interview Thursday. “It makes this assessment process look like a farce.”

Mdesouza(at)Postmedia.com

Twitter.com/mikedesouza

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency reviews cancelled on July 6, 2012. Some projects cross over into more than one province or territory. The agency has said it may revise some numbers on the new database since the totals by province and territory do not appear to match up exactly with the national totals.

Alberta: 348

British Columbia: 492

Manitoba: 87

New Brunswick: 141

Newfoundland and Labrador: 152

Northwest Territories: 6

Nova Scotia: 151

Nunavut: 1

Ontario: 561 EAs

PEI: 24

Quebec: 295

Saskatchewan: 638

Yukon: 1

http://www.canada.com/technology/Harper+government+cancels+environmental+reviews+pipelines+other+projects/7135779/story.html

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Yes, and when enviromentalists say 'boo', they still get in their cars after.

As for the gov't, i'm glad they're cutting the things they'd just ignore anyway. Saves money and time.

We'll continue raping the earth. Meh.

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Lol, Dix will assess: One pipe line plan. Government cut: 492 assessments. Conclusion: Doesn't matter.

Your jokes posts, I like them.

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And yet, all we hear about is Enbridge on the west coast. Really, of the 492, how many of them actually have as much klout as Enbridge's?

As an aside, I suggest you hit the ignore button on my posts if you don't like them. Much better than being a passive-aggressive jerk on this forum.

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Typical big business just gets away with what it wants. So much for government serving the public.

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I'm in Kitamat right now. People all over this town are talking about Enbridge and their pipeline. Funny thing is that they all know how dangerous it is to the environment. Especially the damn Albertans (which there are many), would love to sacrifice B.C. to be rich. I've also heard (by talking to locals here) that most oil companies just buy Indians off of their land with cars/trucks/materials etc just to move them. If that isn't corruption, I don't know what is.

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Sadly, this is old news: the Harper regime has been silencing environmental scientists, and environmental research for a long time now. In my estimation, it began with the sovereignty battle over the Arctic, when he wanted to silence environmentalists from revealing the catastrophic problems that will arise if that ice disappears.

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Northern Gateway: Enbridge Oil Spill Cleanup Plans Not Specific For Diluted Bitumen, Say Scientists

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Enbridge Inc.'s response plan for a potential spill of Northern Gateway oil into the pristine waters off British Columbia doesn't take into account the unique oil mixture the pipeline would actually carry, documents show.

Enbridge (TSX:ENB) officials confirm the spill response plan they have filed with the federal review panel studying the pipeline proposal deals with conventional crude, not specifically the diluted bitumen the pipeline will carry.

But Enbridge says the two react the same way once spilled.

However, documents obtained under access to information show a scientist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans argued vigorously for a chance to do more research.

Kenneth Lee submitted a research proposal last December saying the matter requires further study because Enbridge's plan had "strong limitations due to inaccurate inputs."

"The Northern Gateway pipeline proposal lacks key information on the chemical composition of the reference oils used in the hypothetical spill models," wrote Lee, head of DFO's Centre for Offshore Oil Gas and Energy Research, or COOGER.

Lee sought approval to conduct a series of studies through to 2015, when final tests on the "toxic effects of reference oils to marine species" would be completed.

That deadline suggests the results would come too late for the Northern Gateway review panel as it reviews the environmental impact of the pipeline. Its hearings end next April and the panel reports back to government by the end of next year.

Lee noted his research would also be used by the Canadian Coast Guard, the agency that would be in charge of overseeing a spill into Canada's waters.

He wrote the Coast Guard is "uncertain" whether traditional methods to contain an oil spill and clear contaminated water would be effective if deployed in a Northern Gateway spill.

The Fisheries Department did not respond to questions about whether Lee's group was given the go-ahead to do the research.

Lee was informed this spring that his job and the research centre he runs is at risk of being eliminated as a result of federal budget cuts.

Reached by phone, Lee said he was not authorized to comment on the proposal but confirmed that he and his staff have been notified their positions are on a list of positions that could be cut.

"We were on an affected (position) list at one point. And we're still on that affected list, but COOGER will still exist."

Lee is an internationally renowned expert on oil spills and was tapped last year to join a U.S. scientific committee studying the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Northern Gateway's twin pipelines would carry natural gas condensate to Alberta and diluted oilsands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be transferred to tankers for export.

Opinions differ on whether a spill of diluted bitumen would react so dramatically differently from spills of other crudes.

Bitumen is oil extracted from oil sands. It's thick and heavy like molasses, though a diluted version is what would be moved through the Enbridge pipeline if the $6-billion project gets approved.

That's about all everyone — including Calgary-based Enbridge, the B.C. government, pipeline engineers, spill response experts and environmentalists — can agree on.

What they cannot agree on is whether characteristics believed to be associated with diluted bitumen — also known as dilbit — lead to higher risks of pipeline fractures and consequently, oil spills.

There is also no agreement on whether diluted bitumen behaves differently in water than conventional crude oil once it is spilled.

Ray Doering, manager of engineering with the Northern Gateway project, and Elliott Taylor, one of the company's oil spill experts, said a combination of factors, over time, will prompt diluted bitumen to get denser.

For example, when the lighter properties evaporate, the heavier stuff remains, so it may sink. Or turbulent water or wave action could cause it to sink. Or if the oil gets mixed with sand or sediment — like it probably would in a river or a stream, or close to a shoreline — then it would sink.

But both say that's true of all crude.

"The toolbox that is going to be put together for this project will start with the same type of equipment that you use for any type of oil spill because we know that initially, that behaviour is going to be just like any other crude oil," said Taylor, a marine geologist and oil spill response expert with Polaris Applied Sciences.

"If it gets into water it’s going to float, so you would use the same techniques as long as those techniques are effective and address the behaviour of the oil at that stage.

"If it does get heavier, as it weathers and picks up some of those sediments, whether that’s at the shoreline or in the river, we would still go after that."

But the Natural Resource Defence Council, a U.S environmental group, argues dilbit has a higher acid concentration than conventional crude oil.

It also maintains that even when diluted, dilbit is still more viscous than conventional crude. To keep the crude fluid, the pipeline transporting the product will then have to operate at a higher temperature, said policy analyst Anthony Swift.

"In general, higher temperatures increase the rate of chemical reactions," he said in an interview. "In addition to internal corrosion, a pipeline operating at higher temperature is also going to increase the rate of external corrosion."

Swift points to the July 2010 spill where an Enbridge pipeline rupture caused millions of litres of crude to spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded the rupture was caused by cracks in the pipeline due to corrosion that wore away the pipeline's protective coating.

But what exactly caused the corrosion still needs to be thoroughly examined and until it is known, due diligence is needed, Swift said.

"The real question is — and it's a question that hasn't been clearly evaluated by regulators — does the combination of higher acid content and higher pipeline operating temperature pose a long-term risk to pipelines due to internal corrosion?" he said.

Enbridge refutes all of the Natural Resource Defence Council's claims.

"We know from our own data that there are no higher levels of internal corrosion associated with diluted bitumen than there would be for any other type of conventional oil that we move," said Doering.

"There are no differences to external corrosion either because those conditions don't change."

Doering added that all products that move through a pipeline must be of a certain viscosity in order for it to be "pipelineable."

As a result, the temperature set for transporting diluted bitumen would be the same as for moving all other types of crude.

"It operates at normal temperatures because it has been diluted with condensate or diluant (light hydrocarbon product), so it has the same properties as conventional oil," he said.

"It doesn't need to operate at higher temperature and higher pressures."

A study done for Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions, a government-funded research and development agency, in 2011 appears to support Enbridge's claims.

Jenny Been, a corrosion engineer, compared data for four types of dilbit crude with heavy, medium and light conventional Alberta crude oils.

Still, the B.C. government maintains that if a marine spill were to happen along the West Coast, diluted bitumen is more likely to sink than conventional crude oil.

"A greater degree of difficulty is involved in recovering bitumen and more remediation is required should an unintended release occur, particularly once bitumen sinks into the water column or into soils," a technical analysis released by the government last month says.

The National Transportation Safety Board's report on the 2010 Michigan spill also found that two days after the spill, the denser oil fractions had sunk to the bottom of the river bed, prompting Enbridge to clean it up by gathering up the bottom sediments and disposing them.

In the spring of 2011, a reassessment still found a "moderate-to-heavy contamination of 200 acres (80 hectares) of the river bottom," the report said.

Enbridge acknowledged that some properties in spilled diluted bitumen could eventually sink.

"Initially, it will have the same behaviour as conventional crude oil," Doering said.

"Over time, the condensate — the diluant used to blend — can begin to evaporate and the property of the diluted bitumen becomes denser."

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I just know that Brad Marchand is behind this whole Embridge thing somehow.

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Phase 1: Collect $$$

Phase 2: ???

Phase 3: Get to Heaven

It's all part of Harper's master plan. If we don't cut government waste, like scientific research, we won't be able to subsidize giant foreign-owned corporations any further, which could be bad for the economy. Durr...

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Spill from Hell: Diluted Bitumen

Poisoned air. Sunken gunk. A clean-up nightmare. What we're learning from the oil sands 'DilBit' dump into the Kalamazoo River.

kalamazoospill600px.jpg

On a July morning in 2010 in rural Michigan, a 30-inch pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners burst and disgorged an estimated 843,000 gallons of thick crude into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. This was no ordinary crude -- it was the first ever major spill into water of diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands.

The cleanup challenges and health impacts around Kalamazoo were unlike anything the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ever dealt with, and raise serious questions about the preparedness in British Columbia to respond to such a disaster on the B.C. coast -- or the Vancouver harbour.

Each year, increasing numbers of tankers filled with diluted bitumen leave Vancouver loaded from the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline from northern Alberta to a terminus in Burnaby.

Tankers exiting Vancouver harbor must transit through the shallow Second Narrows channel during "high slack water" -- a short tidal window of about 20 minutes that provides loaded tankers with less than two metres of under-keel clearance.

Citizens concerned about these shipments have been assured that extensive preparations have been made to respond to an accident, and that an array of skimmers and floating oil booms are on-hand to contain any spilled oil. But what if the "oil" in these tankers doesn't float?

Unlike conventional crude, diluted bitumen or "dilbit" is a mixture of unrefined tar that is often heavier than water and "diluent." This is usually a cocktail of volatile solvents like naphtha or natural gas condensate that allows the thick bitumen to be pumped through the pipeline.

A toxic cloud released

The local residents and EPA responders near Kalamazoo quickly learned that bitumen and diluent do not stay together once released into the environment.

Volatile portions of the diluent containing toxic fumes of benzene and toluene began off-gassing in the area, impacting the health of almost 60 per cent of the local population with symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, coughing and fatigue. Clean-up crews were issued respirators to protect them from toxic fumes.

Local residents interviewed by the Tyee reported that even weeks after the Kalamazoo spill, they could still smell the fumes up to 50 kilometres away. The local health department went to door-to-door in the days after the spill to assess acute symptoms. They also instituted a voluntary evacuation within about one mile of the river to limit people's exposure to benzene fumes -- a known carcinogen.

Residents near the Kalamazoo River talk about how the spill affected them. Source: National Resource Defense Council.

Sunken tar sinks to bottom

As the lighter chemicals evaporated into the surrounding area, the bitumen portion began to sink to the bottom and become mixed with river sediments. Conventional clean-up equipment such as skimmers and oil booms proved useless in recovering the large amounts of submerged oil that now covers an area of river bottom estimated to be approximately 200 acres.

"This was the first time the EPA or anyone has done a submerged cleanup of this magnitude," Ralph Dollhopf, the EPA Incident Commander for the Kalamazoo spill told the local media.

"I would never have expected... that we would have spent two or three times longer working on the submerged oil than surface oil. I don't think anyone at the EPA anticipated that, I don't think anyone at the state level anticipated that, I don't think anyone in industry anticipated that."

In the absence of any previous experience in dealing with spilled Alberta bitumen, the EPA had to "write the book" on figuring out how to recover large amounts of oil that doesn't float.

Twenty months after the spill these expensive recovery efforts continue, and 30 miles of the Kalamazoo River impacted by the spill remain closed to swimming, boating, fishing or even wading for the foreseeable future. A recent video details the aftermath of the spill on local residents.

Clean-up 10 times what oil spills cost

Enbridge now estimates that clean up costs of the bitumen spill will cost more than $720 million. The company exceeded their insured clean-up coverage of $600 million last fall and the clean up is far from over. Compared to other spills of heavy oil, this Kalamazoo bitumen spill has been colossally expensive. A study of historic oil spills in the U.S. reported the average clean-up cost for heavy crude of $18.95 per litre. The Kalamazoo spill has so far cost over 10 times that much and counting.

Additional questions have been raised about the volume of oil discharged by the broken Enbridge pipeline. To date, the EPA reports recovering 1,146,803 gallons of oil -- 35 per cent more than the volume Enbridge reported was spilled. The EPA declined to comment on this discrepancy or on the proportion of the spill that sank, citing disclosure concerns around an ongoing investigation. The EPA also declined to estimate the proportion of oil that has so far been recovered.

If a bitumen spill happens here

All of this raises troubling questions about the risks associated with a potential tanker spill near the Lower Mainland. Unlike rural Michigan, large numbers of people live or work close to Burrard Inlet or shorelines that might be impacted by a bitumen accident.

In the days following the Kalamazoo spill, authorities advised local residents within approximately one mile of the river to remain indoors or leave the area to limit their exposure to toxic fumes. Obviously that would not be practical in the Lower Mainland, home to more than two million people.

3riverspill600px.jpg

What happens when bitumen mixed with distillate pours out of pipeline. Source: Friends of Earth.

Any plume of volatile distillate would also likely be carried by prevailing winds up the confined airshed of the Fraser Valley. A recent spill of crude oil at a Kinder Morgan storage tank near Abbotsford demonstrated the impact that toxic fumes can have on local residents in the area.

As the lighter portions of the spill begin to evaporate, the progressively heavier bitumen would likely begin to sink -- rendering useless the conventional clean-up equipment designed to recover floating oil. Carried within the water column, accumulating on the ocean bottom or becoming entrained in marine sediments -- a spill of Alberta bitumen might prove impossible to contain.

Contacted in 2011 by The Tyee, Dr. Carl E. Brown, research manager of Emergencies, Science and Technology Division at Environment Canada confirmed that "a concern with bitumen fuels is their density is quite high and chances are if those materials were spilled into the marine environment, those products might sink."

A recent review of existing technologies to respond to a bitumen spill stated:

"If the spilled oil eventually assumes neutral buoyancy and becomes suspended between the water surface and the bottom, then it is unlikely that any response technologies can be successfully applied to significantly control the spill."

Bitumen laden tankers slated to multiply

A potential accident involving diluted bitumen in Vancouver harbour is obviously not the only concern regarding tanker transits through B.C. waters. Last November, the Island Trust expressed concerns to Transport Canada about preparedness for bitumen spills associated with tankers that routinely pass through the Gulf Islands. As of yet, there has been no reply.

Whether they realize it or not, British Columbians may soon see more and larger tankers carrying bitumen travelling through B.C. waters. Kinder Morgan will announce this month whether they will proceed with a $3.8-billion plan to double existing pipeline capacity from Alberta to Burnaby. Port MetroVancouver supports expanding capacity to allow larger SuexMax tankers, with 1,000,000 barrel capacity, into Burrard Inlet.

There is also the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, which if approved would result in large numbers of tankers carrying both diluted bitumen and volatile distillate on the north coast.

What does that mean for public safety and the environment? Competent individuals and sophisticated equipment are on standby to respond to a conventional oil spill. Yet these preparations may prove to be a Maginot Line of defence should "unconventional crude" ever be spilled off the B.C. coast.

http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/03/05/Diluted-Bitumen/

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So, what can someone actually do to help stop this pipeline from happening?

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So, what can someone actually do to help stop this pipeline from happening?

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Harper Government Tries To Block MP's Questions At Pipeline Review

The NDP's natural resources critic claims the government is trying to shut him up when it comes to questioning federal bureaucrats at the joint review panel looking into Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

Nathan Cullen's request to cross-examine officials from the departments of the environment, natural resources, transport and fisheries and oceans was met by a letter from the Department of Justice asking the panel to deny his appeal.

"It's a bit of an intimidation tactic," says Cullen. "All along, if you've been opposed or raised concerns about this pipeline, Mr. Harper's government has called you a radical or an enemy of the state. These are all tactics to say 'you're just going to have to accept what we tell you to accept.'"

Cullen is an intervener at the review. As such, he is allowed to question government and Enbridge witnesses at the hearings.

The Department of Justice does not argue that right. In the letter to the panel, Kirk Lambrecht, the general counsel for the Prairie Region, raises concern about the subject matter of the questions Cullen wants to ask.

He said Cullen's questions don't deal with "evidence that has been submitted by other parties during the joint review process." And that contravenes the panel's hearing order, or rules of play.

Questions for 4 different departments

Cullen wants to ask Environment Canada about its new, versus old, environmental assessment criteria. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act was completely overhauled in the spring.

His line of questioning for Transport Canada would deal with the independence of the review process and regulations on diluted bitumen (oilsands oil) compared to conventional oil.

From Natural Resources Canada he is looking for answers on overseas project promotion and carbon pricing. Finally, Fisheries and Oceans would field his questions about the Fisheries Act, habitat protection and water crossings along the pipeline.

"To allow such questions would undermine fairness to the witnesses, delay the proceedings and would not assist the panel in its assessment of the application," wrote Lambrecht.

Cullen has a different interpretation of the review's guiding principles. He thinks that any evidence that was submitted or needs to be talked about is open for discussion.

"If what the government is going to do and what the panel's going to do is say, 'If the word doesn't appear you can't ask a question about it,' it would narrow the conversation so much as to make the whole thing ridiculous," says Cullen.

The MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley expects to do his questioning at the hearings in Prince Rupert sometime in the next few weeks. The panel doesn't have a timeframe for making a decision on the Department of Justice's letter.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/08/29/pol-cullen-gateway-pipeline-hearings.html

Links to the changes in,

The Fisheries Act: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/29/pol-fisheries-act-changes-waterways-letter-conservatives.html

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/04/17/environmental-reviews.html

[snip]

'Hijacked by the foreign oil lobby'

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says running a pipeline through British Columbia's northern wilderness is a bad idea that can't be fast-tracked.

"Unfortunately, I think your role as minister of natural resources has been hijacked by the [Prime Minister's Office] spin machine. The PMO is, in turn, hijacked by the foreign oil lobby," she wrote in an open letter in response to Oliver.

May says there are other ways to diversify Canada's energy markets, other routes and other forms of energy.

"By characterizing this issue as environmental radicals versus Canada’s future prosperity you have done a grave disservice to the development of sensible public policy," she says.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/01/09/pol-joe-oliver-radical-groups.html

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Really simple things:

- Educate yourself and others around you.(Use social media)

- Petition your local, provincial, federal gov't representatives, via phone, email, and letter. (Ask others you know to as well, and ask them to ask others they know)

- Vote.....for whichever provincial or federal candidate or party that pledges to put a stop to this pipeline.

Education, Awareness, and Action, will help.

You can also join other existing campaigns if you like.

http://www.leadnow.c...nadas-interests

http://www.greenpeac...p-the-pipeline/

http://forestethics....-tanker-critics

http://www.facebook.com/stop.enbridge (This one has lots of info)

http://pipeupagainstenbridge.ca/

http://pacificwild.o...o-pipeline.html

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal is currently undergoing a federal review process, so make your voice heard now, and make it known to the politicians who represent you.

So either we stop the pipeline or we risk what's already happened in Kalamazoo, Michigan's and the subsequent coverup, here in B.C.

Here's what we could be facing as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TabdIyvRL7c&feature=related

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The NDP are not going to stop this pipeline. they will do their own review and then sell you on why it should happen.

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The NDP are not going to stop this pipeline. they will do their own review and then sell you on why it should happen.

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