Pipeline opponents allege B.C. concerns ignored by feds 0
Reaction to the approval of the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline by a federal joint-review panel has sparked furious rebuke from opponents of the project, with legal action and other wrangling predicted.
On Thursday afternoon in Calgary, the joint-review panel approved, with 209 conditions, the pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat in northern B.C.
The raw bitumen delivered will then be loaded on tankers for export primarily to Asia.
BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix called the decision “disappointing.” He accused the panel of ignoring the B.C. public and said the battle to stop the pipeline isn’t over.
“We’re going to fight in every way possible,” Dix told a media conference. “The fact of the matter is it will be British Columbians who pay the economic cost (of a spill).”
He lashed out B.C. Premier Christy Clark, accusing her of abdicating the power of the province to stop the project.
Oil tankers will have to navigate some tight channels and ocean-dependent industries have accused Ottawa of placing Alberta’s prosperity over their own.
Gregg Holm of the B.C. Tuna Fishermen’s Association said fisheries along the coastline are of particular concern.
“Everyone making their living from the ocean is probably concerned about this,” he said. “I can’t see how there’s not going to be an incident. It seems to me it’s not a question of if there will be a spill, it’s a question of when.”
Meanwhile, Enbridge, the company behind the pipeline proposal, said it will work to meet the 209 conditions as well as provincial government demands.
“The team will also work towards meeting British Columbia Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions for heavy oil pipeline development, of which the panel’s recommendation is one,” Northern Gateway Pipelines said in a news release.
Conditions include plans related to First Nations development and fisheries, which must be approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president Stewart Phillip doubted the project would ever be completed.
“The joint-review panel sidestepped all the issues and the weight of evidence and the incredible groundswell of opposition to this project,” he said. “They just simply threw 209 conditions at it and scurried out the backdoor.”
Phillip said there’s still huge issues of insurance and legal liability related to the project that haven’t been addressed.
“The real winners in today’s decision are the legal profession.”
The reaction of politicians, industry leaders and environmentalists to pipeline decision:
- “Time after time, Premier Clark and the Liberals have undermined their own ability to stand up for B.C.’s economy and environment.” Adrian Dix, Leader, BC New Democrats
- “It means that this pivotal, job-creating project has been examined from every angle and found sound.”John Winter, President and CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce
- “It will just be a matter of time before there is a major spill that devastates our marine environment.” Spencer Chandra Herbert, Environment critic, BC New Democrats
- “This endorsement demonstrates that resource development can occur while also protecting our environment.” Neil Lane, Executive director, Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada
- “Together we will do what it takes, from court cases to civil disobedience, to ensure this pipeline never gets built.” Mike Hudema, Climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace
- “This pipeline represents a much-needed energy infrastructure project which would strengthen Canada’s export potential.” Ron Watkins, President, Canadian Steel Producers Association
- “We don’t want tar sands pipelines or tankers putting salmon, jobs and communities at risk.” Caitlyn Vernon, Campaigns director, Sierra Club BC
- “It is not acceptable to have the Harper administration pushing for the project as though it is an economic boon.” Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
- “Enbridge proved that it does not have the competence to build Northern Gateway safely over our wild salmon watersheds.” Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director, ForestEthics Advocacy
- “We are frankly, very disappointed with the lack of First Nations consultations on the project.” John Neville, President, BC Nature