British Columbia's oceans, climate and First Nations at risk from Enbridge pipeline review process
VANCOUVER – Living Oceans Society, the Pembina Institute, and ForestEthics are calling on the federal government to significantly strengthen the proposed environmental assessment for the proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline. If built, the dual pipelines would extend from the Alberta tar sands to the British Columbia coast, requiring tankers to ship both crude oil to markets in Asia and the US, and condensate, a product used in tar sands production, to Alberta. Preliminary research indicates that this project will be responsible for 6.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year – the equivalent of 1.6 million more cars on the road annually.
Enbridge has applied for approval to build the pipeline from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and the National Energy Board (NEB). These two agencies are working together to conduct a Joint Review Process (JRP) to assess the pipeline proposal. The groups are concerned that the scope of the Joint Review Process is too narrow and fails to consider risks to climate and the health of the oceans posed by the pipeline.
“This pipeline is inextricably linked to the expansion of tar sands projects, which will in turn increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions ,” said Nikki Skuce, Energy Campaigner with Forest Ethics. “The tar sands are the fastest growing source of climate pollution in Canada, and these impacts must be assessed by the government’s process.”
“We remain perplexed by the federal government’s complete about face on the longstanding tanker moratorium”, said Oonagh O’Connor of the Living Oceans Society. “For over 30 years, coastal residents have lived with the understanding that a long-standing moratorium has protected their communities, the environment, and the coastal economy from the threat of oil spills. To ignore this moratorium shows a lack of concern for the people who work and live on this coast.”
In addition to the environmental issues, the groups are concerned that the proposed Joint Review Panel does not address legal obligations to First Nations. The pipeline and tanker routes would cross through the traditional territory of dozens of B.C. First Nations.
“The draft Terms of Reference fail to ensure that legal obligations to consult First Nations are fully satisfied before the panel begins, which means that the prospect of protracted court cases with First Nations could delay the process, and waste time and money for all,” said Karen Campbell of the Pembina Institute.
Through their counsel, Ecojustice, the organizations have made many recommendations regarding the proposed process, including: ensuring that First Nations concerns are fully satisfied before the panel proceeds; calling on the federal government to consult extensively about maintaining the tanker moratorium in advance of the panel process; and including the impacts of tar sands expansion.
Oonagh O'Connor, Living Oceans Society, (250) 973-6580
Karen Campbell, Pembina Institute, (604) 928-2258;
Nikki Skuce, ForestEthics, (250) 877-7762