We are deeply disappointed, but not surprised, with the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) recommendation to approve the Northern Gateway pipeline with 209 conditions.
We have to ask, what conditions could you possibly put in place that would undo the catastrophic damage from a tanker spill in the stormy Hecate Strait?
The panel’s recommendation flies in the face of overwhelming evidence, which informed the input of multiple interveners at the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings. There is no such thing as a spill-proof pipeline. All it would take is one spill to irreversibly damage any of the 800 streams and rivers, dozens of communities, traditional territories of First Nations, and the irreplaceable Great Bear Rainforest. The pipeline proposal is a recipe for ecological and social disaster and that is why it should not be built.
Today`s report dismisses the established constitutional rights of B.C. First Nations who have banned the pipeline and tankers from their territories. It ignores the conditions set out by the B.C. Government, which did not support the proposal, and it clearly goes against the will of the B.C. public who are overwhelmingly opposed to this project. While the NEB JRP report recommends approval with conditions, the bottom line is that there is no scenario under which this pipeline would be in the best interests of B.C. and Canada. It is simply not worth the risk.
This decision to push ahead against all evidence seems to indicate that the NEB itself is not up to the task of protecting the health and environment of Canadians from risky energy projects. Of the 1162 stakeholders who presented to the panel, only two spoke in favor of the proposal. Experts repeatedly demonstrated the near impossibility of cleaning up a tanker spill. The actual risks of a pipeline rupture or tanker accident were shown to be dramatically higher than Enbridge’s calculations. It was also proven that the risks to environmentally, culturally, and economically irreplaceable places could not be mitigated. Very little of this input appears to be reflected in the NEB decision.
The NEB process also failed to take into account the climate impacts of new pipelines and the tar sands oil needed to fill them. In an era of catastrophic climate change, ignoring the carbon impacts of new pipelines is willful ignorance that our children and grandchildren will pay heavily for.
Canadians deserve a real conversation about our energy future. A conversation that is not about the fastest way we can dig up and burn dirty oil, but a conversation about how we can harness our innovation and transition to a smart, modern energy economy.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
Jen Mayville, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 228; 905-330-0172 (cell); jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca