“It’s not acceptable,” McCuaig-Boyd told Postmedia Tuesday. “Trespass and vandalism are never acceptable.” On Sunday morning, Beaverlodge RCMP were called to a complaint of vandalism at an oilfield site.
“It is believed a piece of construction equipment was used to dig up some of the pipeline, which caused severe damage to the pipeline,” said Grande Prairie RCMP Const. Michelle Mosher.
She said the vandals caused between $500,000 and $700,000 in damage to the pipeline, which was still under construction.
Alberta’s provincial government has been pushing for pipelines, and says its climate leadership plan was the reason Ottawa approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3 project late last year.
McCuaig-Boyd said although she thinks the pipeline safety message is getting out to the majority of people, the weekend vandalism means the government perhaps needs to do more.
“There’s always those extremes on either side that are never going to change their minds,” she said.
“I’m sure they’ll get caught. We’re safe with our pipelines, we do good work. It’s unfortunate this happens, but I trust the RMCP will do good investigation.”
The area around Hythe, about 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, is no stranger to violent environmental activism.
There were hundreds of acts of vandalism against the natural gas industry through the 1980s and 1990s in northwest Alberta, many against AEC West, a company operating wells near Trickle Creek.
Wiebo Ludwig was convicted of sabotaging oil and gas wells in the 1990s around his Christian community of Trickle Creek Ranch, near Hythe, because he believed flared hydrogen sulphide and sour gas were linked to birth defects and miscarriages occurring in the community.
After appeals to the government to intervene went unheard, Ludwig took action into his own hands, pouring sour crude oil on the lobby carpet of government offices in Grande Prairie.
In April 2000, Ludwig was convicted for his role in bombing a Suncor well site near his home, vandalizing a Norcen Energy well by pouring concrete into it and counselling an RCMP informant to buy explosives. Despite the conviction, Ludwig maintained his innocence. He served 19 months in jail.
In 2008, RCMP investigated a link between Ludwig and threatening letters sent to media warning Encana to cease operations south of Dawson Creek and near his home of Trickle Creek. Following these letters, there were six explosions on local pipelines.
Ludwig was arrested in 2010 but was released without charge.
Ludwig was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011 and died in April 2012.