Atlantic Canada – Cherri Foytlin, a US Gulf Coast mother of six, advocate for the region and organizer with Idle No More - Gulf Coast, is traveling along Canada’s Atlantic Coast this week as part of a contingency urging the Canadian government to reject TransCanada’s proposed Energy East export pipeline project. If built, the proposed pipeline would be the largest tar sands pipeline in North America, shipping 1.1 millions barrels per day of mostly tar sands oil from Alberta to ports along the Atlantic coast. Foytlin will be warning Canadians about the hazards of the pipeline, including the high probability of a spill and the callous disregard many oil companies have for impacted communities in the wake of a disaster.
More than four years after BP’s well blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, oily materials still wash into coastal marshes and beaches, once-thriving oyster beds are decimated, fishermen have not been fully compensated for their losses, and countless clean-up workers and local residents still suffer from health issues caused by exposure to oil and toxic dispersants. BP’s lawyers are now maneuvering to back out of a economic and health damages legal settlement they wrote and once agreed to, while coastal residents, businesses and ecosystems continue to suffer.
Foytlin says she has little reason to believe TransCanada would treat Atlantic Canadian communities any differently.
“In the eyes of this industry, our communities are expendable, our lives don’t matter - this is what we have learned from the BP Disaster. We are trade-offs in the quest for ever-increasing profits. Time after time, spill after spill - from Alaska to Louisiana, from Michigan to Arkansas, to spills right here in Canada, this industry has proven that it cares more about it’s own PR, more about it’s own bottom line, than they do about our communities, our lives and our children’s lives.”
Looking forward to a transition away from the use of fossil fuels to a future that includes clean energy, green jobs and an equitable and just society, Foytlin adds that communities in Canada and along the US Gulf Coast are natural allies when it comes to making that transition a reality.
“My region – the Gulf Coast has 45% of the U.S. oil refinery capacity, 51% of the natural gas processing capacity, and is home to more than 40 ports that serve as gateways for the fossil fuel industry between North America and the world. We will not back down. We stand with communities across Canada and will do whatever it takes to stop the extraction, transportation, refining and storing of toxic, dirty, archaic fossil fuels. We must stop the destruction of our earth, of our communities, and instead prepare for a bright future for our children and for future generations.”
More information on the tour, organized by the Council of Canadians, along with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Ecology Action Centre, Fundy Bay Keeper, Stop Energy East Halifax, 350.org and Leadnow can be found at http://www.canadians.org/energyeast-atl-tour.
A collection of writing by Cherri Foytlin can be found at http://bridgethegulfproject.org/blogs/cherri-foytlin.
Photo: Cherri Foytlin at the Peoples Climate March (photo credit: Karen Savage)