Lee Brain may claim to be "no one in particular," but after a speech delivered last weekend to a pipeline review panel, many identify him as the oil man's son who "does not see eye to eye" with his father.
Brain delivered his stirring speech in Prince Rupert on February 18 to Canada's Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel. As the Vancouver Observer highlighted, it was "the most moving moment" of the hearings.
The proposal to run a pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia has been fought by many environmental and aboriginal groups. According to their website, the government-mandated Joint Review Panel is working to "assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act."
Growing up in Prince Rupert as the son of an EPCM contractor, 26-year-old Brain is an unlikely pipeline opponent. A few years ago, his father sent him off to experience the oil industry first-hand. His month-long experience on one of the world’s largest oil refineries in rural India gave him serious doubts about the future of the oil industry.
"It's time for us to dismantle the institutions that are beginning to imprison us," he said.
Brain told the panel he witnessed villages that had slowly become impoverished -- he believes this occurred after a refinery project arrived carrying a slew of troubles, from a pipeline break to cheap labor issues.
Brain said that his experiences left him believing that "those who work in industry can get excited about growth and yet subsequently, can turn their eyes off towards any adverse impacts they are creating as a result."
Looking to the future, he suggested moving away from fossil fuels, and focusing on a new energy economy. Although Brain was interrupted for presenting an argument over oral evidence of his personal experience, his speech was met with loud applause and a standing ovation, according to the YouTube description.
Brain concluded his speech by asking whether people will choose to embrace a new way of life or "a predictable path that leads to the slow, inevitable decline of a civilization."
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel describes the panel's mission on its website, stating they are "an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel will assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act."
According to Reuters, many groups that oppose Keystone XL are also against Northern Gateway:
They say the route of the pipeline is too dangerous, owing to seismic activity, frequent landslides and other natural hazards that could lead to oil spills. They also say the chemical makeup of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the pipeline is more corrosive than conventional oil, a contention that has not been proven by independent study.
Enbridge claims their pipeline follows a safe route and uses new technologies which will cut down on rupture risks.