Photo: What on earth do the tar sands have to do with defending your coast?

(Credit: Jodi Stark)

The David Suzuki Foundation said "Tell your story. Defend your ocean". So, I am.

My story starts with an ocean conservation organization that I started, then it takes a detour to the tar sands, and makes its way back to the health of the coast.

I live and work and raise my family on a quiet little island off the BC coast, where the orcas come to rub their bellies and where Finnish settlers came to create a utopian commune many years ago. I started an organization here to protect the health of the ocean that we all depend on and worked alongside other passionate ocean defenders for many years.

Despite our hard work and dedication, the threats not only continue, they increase. Dramatic cuts to marine research, environmental impact assessments, the fisheries act, coast guard, and now, the looming threat of oil supertankers on our coast.

This is where the story takes a twist to the tar sands, because it is the dirty and corrosive oil from the tar sands that would get piped through BC's through forests, mountain ranges and fish-bearing streams to get loaded onto supertankers that would then navigate the treacherous route from Kitimat out to China, risking the health of the ocean and all those who depend on it along its way.

As we unify our voices to oppose the pipelines and protect the coast from the threat of oil spills, we can't forget to address the source of the issue — the tar sands developments that will fill the very pipelines we are opposing.

Currently Shell is proposing to expand the Jackpine Mine, which if approved, will disturb 12,700 hectares of land, mine out 21 kilometres of the Muskeg River, will results in a 5.2% increase in tar sands gig emissions which is equal to 562,000 cars on the road per year.

While the clearest link from the tar sands to the ocean is from the threat of an oil spill from supertankers, the less obvious, but exceedingly important, impact is from climate change. Tar sands development is one of the world's largest contributors to climate change. Climate change is causing sea level rise, water temperature increase and ocean acidification which is wreaking havoc on many marine ecosystems.

BC is currently preparing the largest act of peaceful disobedience in Victoria, BC on October 22 to defend our coast. Participating in this event is a wonderful way of showing opposition to oil tankers and honouring the importance of the ocean. But, concurrently, it is critical that we continue to fight pipelines at the source — tar sands.

Right now you have the opportunity to send in your written comments opposing the expansion of the Shell Jackpine Mine. Deadline for submissions is October 1, 2012.

Defend your coast. Say no to tar sands expansion.

By Jen Lash


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Sep 18, 2012
8:28 AM

"Tar sands development is one of the world's largest contributors to climate change," you say. At 6% of Canada's 2% contribution to global greenhouse gases, that's about 1/10 of 1%. There are many valid issues to be discussed, but let's stick with the facts.

Sep 17, 2012
8:17 PM

I pray for the good of all living things. I don't like oil spills for it kills wildlife, pollutes the sea-bed and kills fish. Oil spill is expensive to clean…companies will have to increase the price of fuel to cover cost of cleaning the oil spill (not immediately but the companies will do). Of course the consumer will be factored in this mess and will pay. I love breathing the cool clean air we have here in BC. This is my take on this issue of oil pipelines and its dangers.

Sep 17, 2012
7:08 PM

I'm saying NO to tar sands expansion, God gave us this earth we need to take care of it, the future depends on it. Please protect our oceans!

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