December 19, 2013 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada and BC Nature joined together today to express their profound disappointment at the decision of the Joint Review Panel to recommend the Northern Gateway pipeline project be allowed to proceed. Throughout the hearings, these joint intervenors have raised a host of concerns with the project including its impact on endangered caribou populations and Enbridge’s disquieting minimization of a catastrophic oil spill in a globally important hotspot for marine biodiversity.
“Leading experts tell us that this pipeline has a one in four chance of spilling at some point during its lifetime. That’s 25 per cent,” said Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “Think about that for just a second. Those are worse odds than Russian roulette. In a game of Russian roulette, there’s only a one in six chance of catastrophe,” Davidson stated.
Thanks to legal representation from the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre, BC Nature and Nature Canada were highly engaged in the hearing process, questioning four separate Enbridge expert witness panels for total of over twenty-five hours, in four locations, over a five month period. These cross-examinations addressed a variety of deficiencies with Enbridge’s application including caribou habitat analysis, species recovery following oil spills, chronic oiling and spills probability analysis. BC Nature and Nature Canada also brought several important procedural motions and secured the late admission into evidence of key material on threats to endangered caribou populations.
“From the beginning, we argued that Enbridge underestimated the project’s risks,” said Chris Tollefson, Executive Director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre. Tollefson continued, “Their assessments dramatically understate the risk to endangered species. Not only that, but they’ve failed to analyze the consequences of oil spills and properly estimate the likelihood of an oil spill from tankers along the BC coast.”
BC Nature expressed solidarity with First Nations and remote northern communities who will be at great personal, economic and ecological risk if this project goes forward. “We are frankly, very disappointed with the lack of First Nations consultations on the project,” said John Neville, President of BC Nature. Neville continued, “It’s unfathomable how anybody could recommend a project of this size go forward without adequately listening to the very people who will be most affected by it.”
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About Nature Canada
Nature Canada is a national charitable organization that works for a vision of Canada as a place where threatened species are protected, wildlife habitat is preserved, and people embrace a culture of conservation in their everyday lives. We are the Canadian co-partner in BirdLife International, a global partnership of conservation organizations that conserve birds, habitat and global biodiversity.
As the only two environmental non-profit organizations present at the hearings with official intervenor status since the Panel hearings started, Nature Canada and BC Nature are at the forefront of representing the interests of Canadians who love their natural heritage and oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline project.
About BC Nature
BC Nature is a provincial charitable organization whose motto is to “know nature and keep it worth knowing”. It aims to provide over 5,000 naturalists and 53 clubs in BC with a unified voice on conservation and environmental issues; and to foster an awareness, appreciation and understanding of the natural environment so that it may be wisely used and maintained for future generations.
About the UVic Environmental Law Centre
The Environmental Law Centre is a non-profit society that, in partnership with the UVic Faculty of Law, established and operates Canada’s first public interest environmental law clinic program. Through this program, the ELC provides pro bono legal representation and assistance to conservation and community organizations, and First Nations throughout BC. It also advocates on a wide range of environmental law reform issues.