By Neil Acharya
For Scott Niedermayer, the idea of an oil pipeline cutting through pristine wilderness in his home province of British Columbia doesn’t still well. Neither does a high volume of oil tankers penetrating the waters in and around the pacific temperate rain forest of coastal B.C.
That is why he’s lending his voice to the opposition of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project in Western Canada.
The proposed pipeline is undergoing an economic and environmental assessment by a joint panel as mandated by the Canadian government. But if the project goes ahead, the pipeline will stretch across the middle of B.C. from Alberta. “In my understanding, this bitumen is almost impossible to clean up,” said Niedermayer, who works as a hockey operations consultant with the Anaheim Ducks. “If an accident were ever to happen in a place like that, or any of the rivers or streams it crosses, it would have some pretty bad consequences not only for the people up there that rely on the area for their jobs but on the environment in general.”
Niedermayer is a volunteer with the World Wildlife Fund, which has partnered with the Coastal First Nations in their fight to oppose the pipeline. He became involved with WWF shortly after he retired from the NHL in 2010. Art Sterrit, the executive director of the Coastal First Nations, feels Niedermayer brings a lot to the table to support in support of the cause. “There are people that listen to Scott that wouldn’t necessarily listen to us,” Sterrit said. “The other thing he brings is his quiet dignity.”
Niedermayer is well aware his stance is under scrutiny, especially with proponents arguing the slated development will create jobs as well as provide added indirect economic benefits. “Democracies work with everyone having an opinion and by having people hearing as many of those as possible,” Niedermayer said. “I would like to think that everything doesn’t revolve around the dollar. It’s hard to see that in our society at times, but there are certain things that can’t be measured in dollars and cents. I’m 100 percent sure we don’t want to see oil pipelines in that part of the province and oil tankers in that area.”
Niedermayer’s roots in environmentalism stem from his younger days growing up in Cranbrook, B.C., where he first started to relish outdoor life. His drive toward environmental preservation has been molded in part by his two NHL stops in New Jersey and Anaheim. Both are located in teaming metropolises, which are in stark ecological contrast to the backdrops of his youth that he feels need safeguarding. “My biggest worry is to try and protect a special place that we have in B.C., in Canada, that is unlike anywhere else in the world,” Niedermayer said. “I would love for that region, the north coast of B.C. to remain a healthy environment. There is a sustainable economy there now with the fishery and tourism. If it can be well managed, hopefully it will go on forever. I don’t know if the other side can say the same thing.”