Vancouver – As a decision looms from the Joint Review Panel (JRP) reviewing the case for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines, ForestEthics Advocacy released a report summarizing evidence from the hearings.
The report highlights gaps in evidence used by Enbridge, relating to its oil spill response plan and the pipeline’s proposed route, as well as the lack of adequate baseline studies to assess impacts of the project to aboriginal culture and on the unstable coastal terrain the pipeline would cross. In addition, say the authors, the process did not address climate change or environmental impacts in the tar sands , despite accepting economic evidence based on tar sands expansion.
“Anyone who participated in the hearings repeatedly heard Enbridge say further planning would be done during ‘detailed engineering,’” says ForestEthics Advocacy’s senior energy campaigner Nikki Skuce, who co-authored the report. ”It deferred the majority of its evidence until after approval, when there would be no opportunity for public scrutiny. Upon closer review of the evidence, it’s undeniable that the JRP should reject this project.”
Given the lack of information provided by Enbridge and compelling evidence and arguments against the project from British Columbia residents, the provincial government, First Nations, municipalities, unions and environmental groups, the report concludes that Northern Gateway should never be built.
At the Northern Gateway Project hearings, the NEB heard oral statements from 1,239 people. More than 9,000 individuals and groups submitted letters of comment. Over 220 intervenors registered to test Enbridge’s application and evidence, and submit their own evidence. Overwhelmingly, participants came out against Northern Gateway and the risks associated with this proposed tar sands pipeline and tankers on the northwest coast.
“We hope that the JRP will conclude, as most participants in the process did, that Enbridge Northern Gateway is not in Canada’s national interest and must be rejected,” Skuce said.
Enbridge submitted its application in May 2011, and the JRP hearings took place over 18 months between January 2012 and June 2013. ForestEthics Advocacy was an active intervenor throughout the process, with representation from Ecojustice and in coalition with the Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
The panel has until December 31, 2013, to make its recommendations to the federal government, who now has the authority to approve or reject the project regardless of the JRP decision.