The Dawson Creek Daily News newspaper last Wednesday received a second letter linked to a string of natural gas pipeline bombings in the Dawson Creek, BC, area dating back to last fall. It threatens more action and gives EnCana Corp. a deadline for removing its oil and gas facilities.
EnCana facilities have become a frequent target of sabotage by those opposed to energy development in the Dawson Creek area. Last week the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stepped up its investigation of two recent bombings along EnCana natural gas pipelines. The company and law enforcement have been tangling with a bomber or bombers since last fall (see NGI, March 30; Jan. 19; Dec. 8; Nov. 10).
"From an investigative standpoint the contents of the letter continue with the disturbing and dangerous actions that have occurred over the past year," said Tim Shields, RCMP spokesman. "Many local residents could consider this letter to be a form of blackmail. Blackmail against industry and the residents living in the area who are directly threatened each time an explosion occurs."
The latest letter outlines a timetable for oil and gas activities to cease, and calls the previous six explosions "minor and fully controlled."
"Any act that directly threatens the lives of people living and working in the area is not minor. Make no mistake, the explosions that have occurred were extremely violent in nature and it is very dangerous to the local community. We have been very fortunate that nobody has been hurt or killed and our ultimate goal is to ensure the safety of our local residents and oil and gas workers," said Shields.
RCMP investigators from INSET -- the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team -- are continuing to follow-up on recent tips from the community and are asking anyone with additional information to forward it to police.
The letter addresses EnCana in its salutation and reads:
"You simply can't win this fight because you are on the wrong side of the argument. So stop pushing people around here.
"Cease all your activities and remove all your installations. Return the land to what it was before you came, every last bit of it, including your fancy gas plant at Kelly Lake before things get a lot worse for you and your terrorist pals in the oil and gas business. Use your excessive earnings to install green energy alternatives instead. That can be negotiated here but there will be no negotiation with you on fossil fuel activities. FULL STOP!!
"You have 3 months to convince the residents here and the general public that you will commit to this program meaning that all actions against you will cease for three months from the time of this note. We can all take a summer vacation including your security personnel and the RCMP who have not helped you to date anyway -- which was the whole point of the six minor and fully controlled explosions: to let you know that you are indeed vulnerable, can be rendered helpless despite your megafunds, your political influence, craftiness, and deceit in which you trusted.
"Don't press the issue in your pride and greed and force worse things to happen. In the meantime, give the people here room during these three months to talk about these problems unmolested by any further interrogations and/or investigations so that they can speak their minds without reprisal.
"You have 5 years to shut down and remove all the oil and gas facilities you have established over the last 8 years in our territories of the Tomslake and Kelly Lake districts. Don't Delay!!"
People with information regarding the attacks, or the letters are asked to contact their local police department, CrimeStoppers, or to call the dedicated tip line at (866) 994-7473. "We know that the actions of whoever is responsible are not supported by the community and residents in the area," said Shields.
An EnCana spokesman said the company was not commenting on the letter or its contents.
Groups opposed to industrial development in the northern section of BC neighbor Alberta -- including oil and gas drilling and pipelines -- are unlikely to cease their legal and illegal efforts to stop it. However, "extra-legal obstruction" of development won't become widespread unless the groups join forces, which isn't likely, a researcher has found.
"Five potential sources of opposition can be identified: individual saboteurs, eco-terrorists, mainstream environmentalists, First Nations and the Metis people," wrote University of Calgary Professor Tom Flanagan in a recent report funded by Canadian energy company Nexen Inc. "All except the Metis have at various times used some combination of litigation, blockades, occupations, boycotts, sabotage and violence against economic development projects which they saw as a threat to environmental values or aboriginal rights."
Flanagan wrote that the groups are unlikely to cooperate because of "different social characteristics and conflicting political interests."
In assessing the risks to developers from the five types of opponents, Flanagan said resource industries in northern Alberta "will undoubtedly face both violent and nonviolent obstruction in the future." However, the risk is greatest from saboteurs and Treaty 8 First Nations, each of which represents a "medium overall" threat, he wrote.
Saboteurs offer a high risk of individual incidents but a low risk of coordination necessary to disrupt operations on a wide-scale basis, Flanagan wrote. While First Nations have a "long history of past blockades...there is no history of successful coordinated action that could impede industry on a large scale, and First Nations in the area have generally refrained from violence."
Northern Alberta is a difficult area for eco-terrorists to operate and there has been no history of true eco-terrorism in the region, Flanagan wrote. Similarly, few mainstream environmentalists live in the region. The Metis "have no history of obstructive action."
It isn't just the energy industry that faces legal and illegal threats from activists. A consortium of U.S. and Canadian scientists working on a seismic study of the Coast Mountains in BC heard from an activist last Tuesday when he claimed responsibility for destroying a seismic shot, which had been scheduled for blasting last Friday.
"I took this action alone, without the participation or knowledge of any other person, association or organization. I accept full and sole responsibility for my action and look forward to the consequences," wrote activist Ingmar Lee in his statement, as reported by The Vancouver Sun. The paper reported that the seismic field work involves about 50 student volunteers and is not intended to yield information on oil or natural gas.
Flanagan's paper is titled "Resource Industries and Security Issues in Northern Alberta." It is available at the Canadian Defense & Foreign Affairs Institute website, www.cdfai.org, in the "Publication Archive" under "Nexen Papers."
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