Nikki Skuce: “We need a government who will listen to the science, apply the precautionary principle and stand up for our coast and fisheries.”
The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project proposes to build two parallel pipelines 1,170 kilometres (727 miles) from Alberta’s tar sands to British Columbia’s coast at Kitimat. If approved, the pipelines would traverse the salmon-bearing Upper Fraser and Skeena watersheds, cross nearly 800 streams and rivers, and would introduce oil tanker traffic to the province’s northern coastal waters. The project is currently undergoing a federal review process. ForestEthics is directly engaged in the review process as an Intervenor, with legal representation from Ecojustice.
Enbridge filed its formal project application to the National Energy Board on May 27, 2010. This triggered a public regulatory review process led by a Joint Review Panel (JRP), consisting of the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). The JRP has been criticized for its lack of transparency, its legal inability to address and accommodate First Nations Rights and Title, and the narrow scope of issues being addressed.
The JRP panel includes only three members – none of whom are from British Columbia – who will determine the extent to which the project meets the public interest. They are:
When the hearings are done, the three panelists will make an assessment based on whether or not the proposed project is in the public interest. Their recommendation will be forwarded to the Minister of Natural Resources who eventually signs-off on the decision. The Harper Government through Bill C-38 changed the rules in June 2012 to allow Cabinet to overturn the JRP’s decision.
Community hearings have taken place along the proposed pipeline and tanker route. More than 4,000 people registered to speak for up to 10 minutes about their concerns for the project (LINK to audio files here?). Community hearings will take place in Vancouver and other locations starting again in January 2013. Formal or technical hearings, where experts and the proponent are cross-examined, are scheduled to start September 4th in Edmonton and end in Prince Rupert December 18th. The final recommendation from the Panel on Enbridge’s pipeline and tanker proposal is now mandated to come by the end of 2013.