The following is an oral statement made by Karl Jensen, a concerned Vancouverite, delivered to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel.
Hello, my name is Karl Jensen. I would like to express my gratitude to the panel for allowing me to speak today. Making an oral statement is a commitment that I made in the fall of 2011 when I first heard about the Enbridge Hearings through a friend of mine, Alex Batko. Since then I have learned more about the project than I ever expected I would.
In my initial investigation into the Northern Gateway proposal I found that there were two categories of information. The first was the information that Enbridge wanted us to have through their marketing. As expected they focused on the positive economic benefit to Canadians. The second category of information focused on the environmental risk that the project would carry. The majority of information on the environmental risk came from groups that would essentially be labelled as ‘terrorists’ by our Government.
If we can improve the lives of all Canadians through the development of our country then it is important to me that we evaluate projects such as this to determine if the risk is worth the reward. My concern back then was that I did not have the information that I needed to contribute an opinion of my own in public. I needed access to an un-biased economic assessment of the project.
Enbridge provided the public with it’s numerous research documents prepared by consultants, but there was no way I was going to be able to read and comprehend their findings. I am not an economist, I program video games for a living. When I approached my friends and co-workers about the project their typical response was one of familiarity with the project in name only as a result of their access to mainstream media. I realized that most people, myself included, do not have the time and energy that is required to fairly engage in the evaluation of projects like Northern Gateway.
I approached my mother who is a retired economist. I felt like there was no one more qualified to read, understand, and explain the subject matter than her. Initially she was also not well informed about the project, but she did have the time and expertise required to read and understand the submitted Enbridge materials.
Within a week she had identified a few major issues with the project based on the information that Enbridge provided. Over the following year she would uncover a series of issues that had gone largely unnoticed by other experts in her field and the media. As she began to explain the issues over dinners I started to gain confidence in my own ability to understand the situation and move towards forming my own opinion.
Since signing up to deliver an oral statement, I made it a priority to visit the region of British Columbia that is being put at risk. In July of last year I was able to take a two week trip to Haida Gwaii with eight of my friends. We crossed the Hecate Straight by ferry, and spent a week kayaking around the islands of Gwaii Haanas National Park. This trip further reinforced my belief that we must protect the delicate ecosystem in that area.
Due to my limited time today I won’t be able to describe all of the points that lead me to believe that the economic and environmental case that Enbridge has put forward is faulty. I believe that the following five points that I have chosen are enough to justify my decision to recommend that The Northern Gateway Pipeline should not be built.
These five major issues are dangerous to Canada because they contribute to a project plan that provides no real economic benefit to our country. However they are exceptionally dangerous to Canada because over the long-term it is likely that we will face a net economic loss.
I can’t possibly support a project that does not participate in creating a better economic future in Canada for my family. I can’t possibly support a project that represents an un-mitigatable risk to the environment in British Columbia.
I would like to conclude with a public message to Enbridge.
It would be in all of our best interest if you focused on the following:
Once I have seen that plan we can have a conversation, because at this point in my life I have no time for your misleading & insulting ad campaigns.