Seeing the Light: Province of British Columbia Joins Opposition to Proposed Enbridge Pipeline

A Spirit bear, or Kermode bear, in British Columbia



The rains were unrelenting this week in northern British Columbia.

The rivers swelled; the trees greened; a fabled white Kermode bear, as known as the Spirit bear, brightened afternoon commutes along Highway 16 as it was spotted foraging in the soggy foliage near Terrace, BC.

So perhaps the Gitga’at First Nation administration staff described it best when they compared Friday’s news to, “sunshine breaking through an overcast day.”

The news was that the Province of British Columbia, much to the surprise of many skeptics, had formally announced its opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

To be clear, the province wasn’t the only one voicing its concerns. It was among dozens of intervenors who stated their opposition in cumbersome documents filed as the deadline for written final arguments approached on May 31. The written arguments followed months of cross-examination before a Joint Review Panel (JRP), tasked by Canada’s National Energy Board, to assess Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. That pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands, through northern BC to the northwest coast, where it would be loaded onto tankers destined for Asian markets.

Intervenors included First Nations, conservation groups, politicians and individuals. ForestEthics Advocacy was among them. In a 150-page plus document, also filed Friday, it urged the JRP to reject the proposal for its very significant shortcomings. Firstly, pipeline proponents put forth an environmental assessment that was woefully incomplete. Anyone who followed the hearings heard repeatedly that Enbridge’s planning is preliminary at best, with such things as baseline data and oil spill response planning set aside until after project approval.

Next, there’s no denying that pristine Canadian landscapes would be harmed, both in the construction and operation of the pipeline; not to mention the likelihood of an oil spill, which has the potential to wipe out the Pacific salmon stocks that tourism, commercial fisheries and First Nations rely on.

Finally, British Columbians would stand to lose all this with very little to gain. The return for Canadians is minimal: economic expansion is limited mostly to the tar sands.

Despite obvious reasons for rejecting the project, it was unclear what BC’s Liberal government would decide, particularly so soon after its May election win. Prior to the election, Premier Christy Clark played coy with Enbridge and the Alberta government, suggesting that approval would only be given based on five conditions—one being a share for BC in Alberta’s oil revenues.

So, today’s announcement comes as a pleasant surprise. Indeed, a ray of sunshine after seemingly endless rain.

The province’s submission focused on Northern Gateway’s unfounded promises: “NG has asserted that it will be able to effectively respond to all spills. … However, NG has presented little evidence about how it will respond in the event of a spill.” Emphasis theirs. It continues:

“NG should not be granted a certificate on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning once the certificate is granted. The standard in this particular case must be higher. And yet, it is respectfully submitted, for the reasons set out below, NG has not met that standard. ‘Trust me’ is not good enough in this case.”

This marks the second time in recent months that the BC government has responded to concerns about industrial impacts on pristine landscapes. In a major victory in December, it struck a deal with Shell to withdraw from its tenure to drill for coalbed methane in northern BC’s Sacred Headwaters.

Unfortunately, the province doesn’t have the final say. Neither does the panel reviewing the proposal. That was taken away months ago by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has decided his Conservative government should determine the fate of BC’s coastline. But this most recent development proves that when citizens shout loud enough, there may be a light at the end of the pipeline.

Sign, Sealed and Delivered: We’ve Submitted Our Official Complaint about the Phony SFI Eco-Label


Just now, I passed through security at the US Federal Building in downtown Seattle to submit our official complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). I also carried 2,800 individual consumer complaints and over 8,000 petition signatures from ForestEthics supporters. If you sent a message to the FTC, yours is one of them.

My mission: to stand up for forests and consumers by submitting ForestEthics’ complaint about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to the FTC. Learn more about why the SFI eco-label is bad news for our forests.

The FTC is a major US federal agency that protects consumers from fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices. The FTC’s “Green Guides” were introduced to provide guidance to companies that want to call their products “green” and make sure it’s true… Apparently, SFI didn’t read the memo.

We know that SFI is a timber industry funded and governed greenwashing scheme. Now it’s time for the rest of the world to find out that SFI’s “eco” certification label on paper products is nothing more than a rubber stamp for clearcutting forests, harming wildlife, and spraying poisons on communities and watersheds.

Are you on social media? If so, do your part and make sure the rest of the world knows what SFI is really about…

SHARE this post on Facebook

View the post:

TWEET this:

ATTN @FTC: Please help stop @SFIProgram, a false forest “certifier” run by the timber industry. #scams via @ForestEthics

SFI is not a label we can trust. Will you help us to stop SFI’s greenwashing of the destruction of North America’s beautiful forests by spreading the word?

The (un)Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Greenwash is Going to Lose. Here’s Why


ForestEthics’ mission is to protect forests and wild places. Together with our activists and funders large and small, we protect forests and wild places. That’s why we’re taking on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and its phony eco-label. And we think we’re making some serious headway. After all, they wouldn’t threaten a lawsuit against us unless they were intimidated by our community’s work, would they?

Why are we targeting the Sustainable Forestry Initiative?

It’s hardly uncommon for companies to mislead consumers—we’re deluged by advertising that tells us that we’ll be thin, young and irresistible if we buy this cream or drink that vodka. But the SFI takes corporate deception to a whole new level. The program’s approach is seduction through “certification.”

SFI is a major barrier to protecting North America’s forests, because it provides green cover to the loggers and manufacturers who are plundering our forests. Plus, it’s the most widely used forest certification scheme on the continent. Big Timber knows that Americans care about forests and want wood products from trees that are responsibly and sustainably harvested. But instead of changing their forestry practices, huge players in the timber industry created, and now fund and govern, a sham certification that deceives consumers who care. SFI’s greenwashing permits huge clear-cuts, destroys wildlife habitat, and uses chemicals and fertilizers that can harm people and ecosystems. It has got to be stopped, for the sake of the planet and the people.

Why are we exposing the SFI now?

The future of America’s forests is being determined now. Consumers want environmentally responsible products, and the US green market is exploding. Valued at $230 billion in 2005, it is now estimated at between $500 and $750 billion and projected to double in the next 10 years1. To meet the demand, businesses are under increasing pressure to project a “green” image. The SFI was created to put a green spin on standard forestry practices, often without doing anything more (often less!) than state and federal laws require. The more forest destruction is greenwashed, the more acceptable forest destruction becomes. We can’t allow this deceitful, unaccountable industry to twist the truth, conceal the facts, and exploit consumer values.

SFI is at a tipping point. Our collective activism is exposing the logging behind the logo. Together, by educating consumers and manufacturers, we are making SFI certification a mark of shame. Recently, four more big brands committed to move away from the SFI, bringing the number of corporate commitments to 24. As a movement, we have to continue to halt SFI in its tracks–and we have to do it now.

SFI has warned ForestEthics to “cease-and desist”—we won’t. Instead, we’ll continue to fight SFI in the court of public opinion. Are you in?

Join the movement by signing our petition to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Be sure to sign soon, because we’ll be making a splashy delivery sometime very soon. Stay tuned!