VICTORIA, British Columbia, April 16 (UPI) -- There's too much at stake in British Columbia to warrant construction of a major oil pipeline planned for Asian exports, a protest organizer said.
The Canadian government backed plans by Enbridge to build its Northern Gateway pipeline to carry oil from tar sands projects in Alberta province to the coast of British Columbia.
Leila Darwish, a Sierra Club organizer of a protest planned against Enbridge, told local broadcaster NEWS 1130 that the Northern Gateway would pose a major risk to the regional environment.
"We know that oil spills happen, it's not a matter of if but when," she said. "If it happens on our coast, we're going to lose so much and I think we all stand to lose in this province."
The Northern Gateway project gained momentum after the U.S. government delayed plans for the Keystone XL pipeline to transit Alberta crude to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
Critics of oil sands characterize it as the dirtiest type of oil because it is energy-intensive to produce and it lingers in the environment if spilled.
The government said was looking was ways to reduce emissions from oil sands operations.