First nations and environmentalists promise to continue opposition to Northern Gateway pipeline
By LARRY PYNN, VANCOUVER SUN
December 19, 2013 3:15 PM
Children draw on the ground with chalk during a demonstration against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday November 16, 2013. Similar events were held in more than 100 communities across Canada as a show of opposition.
Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS
This is the beginning of the next phase of opposition - and by no means the end.
That's how aboriginals and environmentalists reacted Thursday to the National Energy Board recommendation to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway project with 209 conditions.
Arnold Clifton, Chief of the Gitga'at First Nation from Hartley Bay, said the disappointing recommendation that Enbridge should proceed is "by no means the final say on this project" and urged the federal government to reject it.
"All tankers en route to Kitimat must pass through our territory and we will continue to protect our resources and culture from the severe damage this project would cause. All options are on the table."
He said he would withhold further comment until he has a chance to more closely study the conditions set out by a Joint Review Panel that examined the Enbridge proposal.
Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, stressed that the battle is far from over.
"Really what happened today was more like throwing fuel on a fire," he said.
West said that "opposition to this project is widespread and passionate. This NEB decision will only anger British Columbians and inspire more people to get involved, to make sure this project isn't built."
The group said that more than 9,000 British Columbians submitted written statements to the NEB and 1,161 persons spoke publicly at community hearings- and all but two people were opposed.
"It's too bad that in this decision oil interests trumped science, facts, and the powerful opposition" to the project, said Nikki Skuce, ForestEthics' senior energy campaigner.
Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, argued that "the unbroken wall of opposition to this toxic project remains united. Together we will do what it takes, from court cases to civil disobedience, to ensure this pipeline never gets built."
The Joint Review Panel said in a statement that the project would cause no significant adverse environmental effects, adding that the cumulative effects for certain populations of woodland caribou and grizzly bear "are likely to be at the low end of the range of possible significance."
The panel also concluded that the "environmental burdens associated with project construction and routine operation can generally be effectively mitigated and that continued monitoring, scientific research and adaptive management could further reduce adverse effects."
The panel said in the statement that "the environmental, societal and economic burdens of a large oil spill, while unlikely and not permanent, would be significant." It added that Northern Gateway "had taken steps to minimize the likelihood of a large spill through its precautionary design approach and its commitments to use innovative and redundant safety systems The Panel also found that, after mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects resulting from project malfunctions or accidents is very low."
Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon said the decision shows a "shocking disregard" for the evidence to a Joint Review Panel that investigated the Enbridge proposal and to the views expressed by British Columbians.
"Today's announcement does not mean that this pipeline and tanker proposal has been approved," Vernon said. "The federal cabinet needs First Nations' approval and social license from British Columbians, and they have neither. British Columbians have made it clear that we don't want tar sands pipelines or tankers putting salmon, jobs and communities at risk of oil spills."
The Raincoast Conservation Foundation also expressed disappointment that special interests prevailed over the public will.
"We were hoping the NEB had heard the concerns of British Columbians, but obviously political and corporate oil agendas supercede the interests of the citizenry," said Misty MacDuffee, Raincoast biologist. " . . . I guess we shouldn't be surprised when a pipeline most British Columbians don't want is given the thumbs up."
The panel's conditions, which would be enforced by the National Energy Board, include requirements, in part, for Enbridge to:
- develop a marine mammal protection plan.
- prepare a caribou habitat restoration plan.
- develop a training and education monitoring plan.
- prepare enhanced marine spill trajectory modelling.
- develop a research program on the behaviour and cleanup of heavy oils;
- conduct pre-operations emergency response exercises and develop an emergency preparedness and response exercise and training program.
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