The contentious regulatory process for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project, which began in May 2010, was finally approved by the government of Canada on Tuesday June 17th. The National Energy Board (NEB) has given the green light to the $7 billion pipeline project that would ferry tar sands bitumen from Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, B.C.
The project is subject to 209 conditions recommended by the Joint Review Panel in In December 2013. However, the panel’s independence is questionable given that they approved the project even though 1,159 people spoke against the pipeline at community hearings while only two spoke for it.
The 209 conditions fall into three phases: pre-construction, construction and pre-operation, and ongoing operations. The conditions include watercourse crossings, animal habitat, marine spill prevention and cleanup and shipping agreements. Many of the conditions are administrative, and others contain vague, unenforceable language.
Over 300 prominent scientists expressed a number of concerns about the science in the Joint Review Panel’s conditions:
- Failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings,
- Considered only a narrow set of risks but a broad array of benefits, thereby omitting adequate consideration of key issues,
- Relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation,
- Contradicted scientific evidence contained in official government documents, and
- Treated uncertain risks as unimportant risks, and assumed these would be negated by the proponent’s yet-to-be-developed mitigation measures.
Despite widespread opposition from hundreds of scientists, 130 aboriginal groups and millions of Canadians, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford declared the project to be “in the public interest.” The Northern Gateway pipeline will expand the Alberta oil sands and bring oil supertankers which will imperil B.C.’s rich coastal ecosystems and salmon-bearing streams. The concept of tar sands pipelines are at odds with the wealth of scientific evidence telling us we must eliminate GHGs by weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels.
Northern Gateway’s 1,177km pipeline would pump 525,000 barrels of Alberta oil sands bitumen per day, on to 220 super tankers annually in Kitimat on B.C.’s northwest coast. The ships would traverse the Douglas Channel, bound for Asia and California refineries.
Despite the ruling of Harper’s Conservatives, efforts to oppose the pipeline are far from over. There are a number of legal challenges. This includes legal challenges to the Conservatives downgrading of species at risk (including the humpback whale) to clear the way for the pipeline project. The Harper government has slashed budgets and eliminated jobs at environment Canada. They have also restricted public comment and even changed the NEB Act in 2012 with the Omnibus Budget Bill (C-38) which eliminated several environmental laws.
Immediately following the ruling, the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) announced that it will file a suit challenging the pipeline’s approval on behalf of the Federation of B.C. Naturalists (B.C. Nature).
In addition to legal challenges a strong majority of people in British Columbia have also demonstrated that they oppose the project. A B.C. group called the Dogwood Initiative has teamed up with aboriginal groups in support of “Let BC Vote,” an effort to allow citizens in the province to vote on the project.
The Premier of B.C., Christy Clark has five conditions which have yet to be met. The BC government does not support the project. Municipalities like Kitimat, Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers have rejected the project along with the Union of BC Municipalities which has passed a resolution opposing the pipeline.
Both the leaders of the Federal Liberals and the NDP oppose the pipeline.
“Over 130 First Nations across B.C.? They all say no. Three-hundred scientists? They all say no.” Said NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. “The prime minister endorsed this pipeline publicly three years ago. No matter what evidence, how many people speak out, how many people stand up against him, he keeps pushing this project.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said a tanker spill, “would be catastrophic for B.C.’s pristine north coast and its economy.”
Construction of the pipeline could begin as early as seven months from now.
© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Governments Draft Principles for a Clean Energy Strategy
Conservatives Suppress Arctic Ice Loss Research
Historic Canadian Supreme Court Ruling Dis-Empowers Fossil Fuel Industry
A Not So Happy Canada Day for the Environment
Good News for the Environment on Canada Day
Canadian Conservatives Undermine Democracy and Environmental Protections
Canada’s Conservatives Downgrade Humpback Protection to Move Forward with the Northern Gateway Pipeline
The Merits of Carbon Pricing in B.C.
Top Canadian Environmental Defense Issues in 2013
Harper Government’s Tragic Environmental Record is Cause for National Shame
The Tar Sands Have Higher Emissions Profiles than Previously Thought
Increases in Tar Sands Production Will Guarantee the Worst Impacts of Climate Change
The Tar Sands and IEA’s Three Climate Change Scenarios
Conservative Convention Ignores the Environmental Abuses of Harper and His Government
Scientists and Activists Hold US Press Conference on Conservatives’ Tar Sands Agenda
Canada’s Ruling Conservatives at War with Science
Canadian Conservatives Cut Research Funding but Spend on Fossil Fuel Pipeline
Taxpayers Money to Promote Fossil Fuels Brought to you by Canada’s Ruling Federal Conservatives
Canadian Government Uses Security Agencies to Target Environmental Opposition
Canadian Energy Espionage in Support of the Tar Sands
Video – The Tar Sands Give Canada the Worst Climate Record in the Western World
Canadian Implications of Obama’s National Climate Strategy
Leading Canadian Economist to Tell Europeans about the Climate Impacts of the Tar Sands
Climate Scientists’ Urge Canadian Minister to Back-off Expanded Fossil Fuel Production
Canada to Fight EU Proposal Labeling Tar Sands as Dirty
Canada’s Ruling Conservatives Take Another Swipe at Environmental Protections
Canada is Banking on Carbon Capture to Offset Tar Sands
Enbridge withdraws from Canada’s Carbon Capture Farce
Canada at Odds with US and China on Climate Change
Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition on the Keystone XL Pipeline
Canada’s Hopes for an Environmentally Friendly Federal Leadership Now Rest with Justin Trudeau
Report Urges Canada’s Federal Conservatives to Regulate Oil and Gas Sector to Meet GHG Targets
Canadian Conservative Minister Attacks Climate Scientist
Canada Withdraws from UN Efforts to Combat Desertification
Canada Pulls out of Kyoto
Canada is an Environmental Pariah at Rio+20
Canada’s Ruling Conservatives are Trying to Silence American Scientists
Canada’s Ruling Conservatives Muzzle Scientists
Canadian Conservatives Silence Opposition to the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline
Canadian Conservatives Admit to Killing Environmental Dissent
Conservative Budget Guts the Environment
Canadian Government Spending on Dirty Projects
Canada is a Dirty Energy Superpower
Canada has the Dirtiest Oil on Earth (Video)
Report: Canadian Government is Not Helping Business Prepare for Climate Change
Report: Canadian Businesses are Unprepared for Climate Change
Merkel and Harper: Two Opposing Energy Visions
Canada’s GHG Ranking
Canada’s Green Provincial Report Card
Action to Defend Canada’s West Coast from Big Oil