Line 9, a controversial Enbridge pipeline reversal, was approved by the National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) on March 6, upsetting many people in the process.
The 38-year-old pipeline will carry diluted bitumen 830 kilometres from Sarnia to Montreal and will cross every tributary that drains into Lake Ontario.
If it ruptured, the impact of a large-scale oil spill in southern Ontario would be devastating, and nearly impossible to remedy.
The clean-up costs of such an incident could range from $1 billion to $10 billion.
Public opinion is at its strongest when all of the proponents support a single unified view and have the same agenda.
In the case of Line 9, there has been massive negative public response, but the information race to stop Line 9, like many other environmental conundrums, failed for a lack of coherent and consistent opposition.
On different fingers of a single hand you have the anti-colonialists, concerned landowners, grassroots supporters, environmentalists and First Nations’ groups demanding free, prior and informed consent.
To the anti-colonialists, stopping Line 9 and thwarting industry is part of a greater plan to stop the Alberta Tar Sands altogether and in some cases, regain historically Indian-controlled lands and sovereignty.
Landowners along Line 9 worry about a decrease in the value of their properties.
Anti-Harper, grassroots supporters are into anything the counter-culture does subversively.
Anti-tar sands activists hate hydrocarbons in general and want the word oil eliminated from the social lexicon.
First Nations activists argue the land a section of the pipeline is buried on belongs to them.
On the other hand you have the oil lobby, whose points, though not necessarily compelling, are at least coherent — their one voice, continuously and consecutively uttering the words “good for the economy.”
The relevant veracity of a single-public opinion is judged by its level of support, its coherence, and, lastly, its foundation in truth.
Every finger of the opposition’s hand is against the reversal of the pipeline and may be rightly so, but few of those fingers have worked in unison to clench a fist simultaneously.
Combined efforts are needed, not fragmented opposition, scattered and whimpering over twitter, hashtag “let’s stop something.”
The fight to stop Line 9 is lost. If the pipeline ruptures it’s no one’s fault but ours.