Report highlights alternative transportation options for Northwest

ForestEthics and Enbridge lock horns over words as environmental group promotes alternative transportation methods in report.

  • Oct. 30, 2011 4:00 p.m.

Environmental watchdog group ForestEthics is hoping that a newly published report from them will get the ball rolling on initiatives to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

The group released Thursday afternoon a report which included information compiled from the Pembina Institute on sustainable transportation methods.

The four case studies includes active transportation (cycling, walking, etc) in Whistler, a ride sharing program in the Kootenays, public transit systems in Wisconsin, electric vehicles in use in Terrace, and potential for enhanced passenger rail service between Edmonton and Prince Rupert.

“The truth is we need to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels,” said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigners for ForestEthics. “So what are some [things] that people are doing that that can work in a rural context and what are some initiatives that residents are taking?”

The report calls on leadership from all levels of government to provide incentives and leadership to provide a green shift in the economy.

“I think that not all solutions will work everywhere that you are but I think there are opportunities for people to think outside the box and pull from these case studies in order to apply them here across the north,” she said.

In releasing this report, ForestEthics were in part reacting to a perceived opinion by Enbridge’s CEO Pat Daniel that residents of Northern B.C. are hypocrites for opposing the pipeline yet benefitting from energy infrastructure, from lights to functioning kitchens.

Pat Daniel’s remark, provided by Enbridge, is, “They say, not in my backyard, not in your backyard, not in anybody’s backyard. They basically say, no to energy infrastructure development, whether it’s oil sands and we hear that a lot in this city, whether it’s pipelines, whether it’s refineries, whether it’s power stations, whether it’s transmission lines. But, they are the very same people that say yes to light switches, to cooked food, to school buses, to ambulances and to gas pedals. And you can’t have it both ways.”

Enbridge Northern Gateway’s Communications Manager Paul Stanway said Daniel never called anyone a hypocrite.

“The point he was trying to make was about society in general. That we demand all the goods and services and transportation that existing fuels can supply for us, but some people take the attitude they don’t want anything to do with the transportation and development of those traditional fuels. You simply can’t have it both ways,” said Stanway.

Skuce remained unconvinced.

“Whether they use the word hypocrite or not, that’s what they’re saying,” she said.

She added that she believes peak oil — the point where global extraction of oil hits its peak — is coming within the decade, while companies like Enbridge and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers say it may be as long as 150 years.

Therefore she wants to see the shift in green living made more rapidly.

Stanway also took issue with wording within the report which stated “Enbridge wants the status quo — to keep us addicted to fossil fuels so that they can go on making money transporting it.”

In fact, he said, renewable energy is the fastest growing segment of their company.

“Enbridge is one of the largest renewable energy suppliers in the country,” he said. “We’re involved in wind power, solar power. These are all issues we deal with on a daily basis.”

He added, “We’re very interested in developing new sources of energy and seeing those energies adopted.”

He said the reality is that it will take a number of decades for the shift to renewable energy sources to take place and in the meantime the world will continue to need existing sources of fuel.

“We don’t make any apologies for doing that.”