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article imageJoint Review Panel urges approval of Northern Gateway pipeline

By Grace C. Visconti     Dec 20, 2013 in Environment
Calgary - Today, the long awaited Joint Review Panel released a lengthy report recommending approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline but with 209 conditions. Environmental groups vow to stop it for the sake of our climate, land and water.
The long awaited Joint Review Panel released their report advising that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline should be approved calling the recommendation “in the best interest of Canada.” There are 209 conditions included in the recommendation before the final approval is made by the federal government. But negotiations are far from over since First Nations‘ issues have not been addressed. Furthermore, passionate environmentalists vow to “exercise all powers from legal action to civil disobedience to block the project.”
By the time Enbridge works the financial agreements out with everyone, the cost of the pipeline could go from $6.5 billion to approximately $7.9 billion and ending with a final price tag of $10 billion (Reference: CHQR770 Audio link at end of this article).
Another concern is the difficulty in managing this extensive pipeline due to the remote areas it will pass through. Depending on the severity of oil spills, the damage done in remote areas of B.C. and/or on the coast could be quite costly. Surprisingly, the dollar limit that the Joint Review Panel recommended for Enbridge’s liability in cleaning up oil spills fell short. It went from an estimated billion dollar amount down to millions. If not enough money is set aside for clean ups after oil spills, then Canadians would be forced to cover the cost which could potentially be in the billions if simultaneous oil spills were to occur.
Then there is the question of exactly how safe tanker traffic will be on the coast by Kitimat. In Enbridge’s depiction of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline tanker route, the map was erroneously illustrated with about 1,000 square kilometers of islands missing from the Douglas Channel. The number of islands and narrow passageways indicates how difficult navigation of tanker traffic would be. View "Enbridge depiction of clear tanker route sparks outrage" to see the difference between the presentation and the actual number of islands in proximity to Kitimat.
In the CBC article "Pipeline map: Have there been any incidents near you? From small to large-scale spills to fires, explosions and worker deaths," the documents show more than 1,000 incidents have occurred since 2000 and suggest that the rate of overall incidents has actually doubled in the last 10 years. As reported by Canada.com, here is an example of what happened in Alberta this summer: "Cold Lake oil spill leaking for months: Documents." Another article in Vice about the same spill goes further in describing what happened in "A Mysterious oil spill in Cold Lake, Alberta Can’t stop won’t stop." In the article and photo animation by Global News, "Crude Awakening: 37 years of oil spills," numerous Alberta oil spills are indicated through the years. Additionally, this page of maps and photos illustrates visually the extent of oil spills there have been overall in Alberta so it is not surprising why many people in B.C. are very concerned.
For a look at today’s announcement, check out a special report by CBC. The segments in this special report reveal the comments of Enbridge’s Janet Holder on First Nations‘ opposition to the deal and CBC’s Evan Solomon who interviews Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Other interviews and reactions can also be viewed at this link.
Joshua MacNab, B.C. director at the Pembina Institute, made a statement today in response to the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation for approval with conditions. The Pembina Institute with 50 staff in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Northwest Territories use research, advocacy and consulting as tools toward the goal of leading Canada to a clean energy future. “The panel chose to exclude the environmental impacts of oilsands development, concluding there is not a ‘sufficiently direct connection’ between the project and oilsands expansion. However, our analysis shows the greenhouse gas pollution generated by filling the Northern Gateway pipeline would be equivalent to adding over three million cars a year to Canada’s roads.”
The concerns of Canadians were still unaddressed reflected in the final written argument to the Northern Gateway panel. Joshua adds, “Canadians raised significant concerns about this project — from the risks of spills to the impacts of the oilsands’ growing greenhouse gas pollution. Many First Nations along the route oppose the project, and the provincial government also concluded that Northern Gateway has been unable to address British Columbians’ environmental concerns.”
Another response to this decision came from Ecojustice, a national charitable organization dedicated to defending Canadians’ right for a healthy environment. The organization is made up of lawyers and scientists who set legal precedents and strengthen environmental laws that protect and restore the environment for the present and the future. Devon Page, executive director of Ecojustice, made a statement today: “It’s not over until it’s over. And in the case of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the fight is far from over. While we’re deeply disappointed with the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation that federal Cabinet approve the risky project, we’re not giving up. There’s simply too much at stake.”
Devon believes that the Northern Gateway pipeline will introduce an unprecedented increase in tanker traffic on the west coast with a great risk of a “catastrophic oil spill” spelling disaster for the hundreds of fish-bearing streams, rivers and lakes with a great possibility of fragmenting fragile ecosystems and endangering animal habitat. “In response to the panel’s report, we’ll be doing what we do best — pooling our legal and scientific resources to come up with innovative ways to change the game and achieve incredible results for the environment and all Canadians.” Go to the Ecojustice website for more information and if you’re interested in donating to the cause.
ADDITIONAL LINK
CHQR770 Talk Radio Audio Vault
Go to December 19, 3:00 p.m. Then drag the white bar to 7:00 minutes and listen to the end. Then go to 5:00 p.m. (December 19). Drag the white bar to 17:10 and listen to 27:28.
In 2010 Greenpeace activists occupied Enbridge’s offices in downtown Vancouver  demanding the pipe...
In 2010 Greenpeace activists occupied Enbridge’s offices in downtown Vancouver, demanding the pipeline giant withdraw its Northern Gateway Pipelines application
Greenpeace / Tanya Ross
The worst Alberta oil spill in 35 years dumped about 4.5 million litres of oil into a wetland area a...
The worst Alberta oil spill in 35 years dumped about 4.5 million litres of oil into a wetland area at Evi, Alberta, on May 5, 2011.
Rogu Collecti / Greenpeace
Greenpeace protesters oppose Enbridge s Northern Gateway pipelines that would ship tar sands oil to ...
Greenpeace protesters oppose Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipelines that would ship tar sands oil to the northern BC coast and to support a ban on oil tanker traffic on the northern BC coast
Greenpeace
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project involves a new twin pipeline system running from near Edmonton...
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project involves a new twin pipeline system running from near Edmonton, Alberta, to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia
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