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Campaign update: Trans Mountain Pipeline project
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Campaign update: Trans Mountain Pipeline project

[dropcap style="default"]Y[/dropcap]et another pipeline and tanker project to export bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to Asia or the United States is being reviewed by the National Energy Board (NEB). The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project would include approximately 990 km of new pipeline between Edmonton and Vancouver and expand a marine terminal in the Fraser River delta. Traffic from this terminal through the Salish Sea would increase from the current five to an estimated 34 oil tankers per month. Nature Canada and BC Nature, represented by University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, are jointly intervening in the review to ensure that nature is well-represented at the NEB hearings, expected to commence in January 2015. The first job of our team of scientists and lawyers was to carefully review the project proposal –a 15,000-page application from the proponent Kinder Morgan—and submit so-called Information Requests to identify deficiencies in the project proposal. We asked Chris Tollefson (CT) from the Environmental Law Centre about the preparations for the hearings. Nature Canada (NC): Let’s start off by talking about Information Requests (IRs). What can you tell us about the process of submitting these requests, and what do you hope to achieve? Chris Tollefson (CT): Project proposals are long, technical documents, but they can at times be somewhat vague. Sometimes, a proposal will state something, but not provide enough supporting detail to give people a full understanding of what it actually means in a concrete way. Other times, a proposal might altogether fail to address an issue that we see as important to the overall viability of that project. Information Requests are a way for interveners and the public to fill in those gaps. Once the proposal is released, intervening groups can send the proponent questions on specific aspects of the proposal seeking clarification and additional information. NC: So what did your team see as some of the main issues that you sought out information on? CT: Some examples of big issues are project impact and oil spill impact on IBAs and marine birds, and impact on caribou habitat from the pipeline corridor. Examples of things we asked for additional information on are further details on how marine bird indicator species were chosen, baseline data to assess impacts on marine birds, how impact from chronic oiling on marine birds is assessed, and additional details on the pipeline’s impact on the Wells Gray and Groundhog caribou herds. By asking for this information, we hope to achieve greater certainty that this project is environmentally sound and, where the proponent has neglected to study areas that it should have, send them back to the drawing board to figure out a stronger, safer project. NC: What are the next steps? CT: The proponent will provide the requested information to intervenors by June 4. We and our experts will review those answers to determine whether they are adequate. If the proponent does not provide adequate information, we can ask follow up questions in the second round of IRs in the Fall. We will also get a chance to provide our own written evidence in November. According to the NEB’s schedule, the oral hearings will take place in early 2015, with the panel’s report expected in July 2015. NC: Finally, with respect to the oral hearings, the NEB has indicated that intervenors will not be able to ask questions of witnesses of the proponent or governments, unlike at the Northern Gateway hearings. What is the impact of this decision? CT: Cross-examination is perhaps the most important part of any hearing. It’s the only opportunity to get at the heart of the matter. For example, during the Northern Gateway hearings Enbridge experts argued that diluted bitumen floats, but during cross-examination it became clear that this was not always the case. It was also through cross-examination that we established that Enbridge’s main metric for assessing impacts on caribou mortality was completely flawed and without scientific basis. We believe that the NEB is making a serious error in eliminating cross-examination and we (and other groups) are considering ways to get this error remedied before it does irreparable harm to the process.

Reject Northern Gateway Pipeline say Nature Canada and BC Nature
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Reject Northern Gateway Pipeline say Nature Canada and BC Nature

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="320"]Image of a young bear Photo by: Tom Middleton[/caption] In our final submissions to the Joint Review Panel, Nature Canada and BC Nature are urging the Panel to recommend that the federal government reject the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. Nature Canada and BC Nature are submitting that Enbridge, the pipeline proponent, has underestimated the environmental risks of the Project. Northern Gateway would further threaten woodland caribou, a species at risk, with increased mortality from predators and impacts of habitat fragmentation on the caribou’s ability to feed and breed. Enbridge also failed to examine the risks associated with a worst-case scenario oil spill, such as in the globally significant Scott Islands Important Bird Area nor the potential impact of oil spills on marine mammals such as orcas and grey whales and open ocean wanderers such as albatrosses and shearwaters. Nature Canada and BC Nature have been ably represented by a legal team led by Chris Tollefson at the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre. Final arguments of the Joint Review Panel are expected to commence in June with recommendations to the federal government rendered by the end of 2013.

Break Your Silence, Premier Clark
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Break Your Silence, Premier Clark

As the federal government soldiers on in its quest to fast-track the Northern Gateway pipeline over the objections of Canadians everywhere, British Columbians continue to worry over the future of their coastlines and marine environments -- and how an oil spill would affect the tourism and fisheries industries upon which so many residents depend.
Many are looking to Premier Christy Clark and urging her to break her silence and support the majority of British Columbians who oppose this project. Nature Canada and BC Nature,  joint intervenors in the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel’s hearings into the pipeline, have issued an open letter to the Premier. Here's the main message:
...We are deeply disturbed by the BC Government’s failure to date to take a position on this risk laden project that threatens irreparable damage to the environment and economy of coastal British Columbia.    Our submission of evidence to the Joint Review Panel last December, which focused specifically on threats to marine birds and mountain caribou ... revealed significant deficiencies and faulty conclusions in the proponent’s Application, especially in regard to potential impacts on marine birds.
It is all the more shocking to learn that economist Robyn Allan, in her research on the economics of the Northern Gateway Project, has found that, to quote from her report Proposed Pipelines and Tanker Spill Risk for BC of May 6, 2012,
“the pipeline is designed to expand from the initial capacity of 525,000 barrels per day to 850,000 barrels per day—a 60 percent increase in capacity. The condensate pipeline is designed to expand from 193,000 barrels per day to 274,000 barrels per day—a 40 percent increase in capacity. All that is required for this expansion, once the pipelines are built, is the addition of pump stations and pump units.”
In other words, the stated annual volume of Enbridge’s crude oil tanker traffic through the hazardous channels connecting Kitimat to the open ocean would build up from the 220 tankers estimated in the Application to 340 or more tankers, increasing significantly the serious risks associated with the lower figure.   There are no mandatory requirements for further impact assessments to consider the higher risks associated with increased throughput in the pipeline and tanker traffic.
The discovery of this buried information illustrates the importance of a comprehensive environmental and economic assessment of the NGP with public input representing a broad range of interests.   Most disturbingly, the Federal government has chosen to interfere in the customary independence of the Joint Review Panel assessment of the project by proclaiming its strong support for it and demonizing opponents.  Furthermore, the Federal government has undertaken to weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and opportunities for public input as part of the 2012 Budget, so that the Act is subject to review only by the Finance Committee which lacks the scrutiny of environmental experts, thereby seriously undermining the democratic responsibilities of the Federal government.
With respect, Premier Clark, we believe it is time for BC to exercise its right to withdraw from the Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement, whereby BC surrendered  its right to have a say in whether the project should proceed.   We appreciate that BC signed the Agreement in good faith that the National Energy Board would be able to carry out a fair and impartial review of the NGP, but suggest the Federal government has broken its side of the agreement by its interference in the JRP review.
We also urge you to break your silence and support the majority of British Columbians who oppose this project.  There is already adequate evidence on the public record that the Northern Gateway Project is not in the interests of  Canadians, and particularly British Columbians who will bear the brunt of any environmental disaster from the high avalanche hazards and unstable nature of the Coast Mountains through which the pipeline must pass, the dangerous conditions for navigation in winter through the Douglas Channel and offshore islands, the risks to salmon  and other wildlife from oil spills, and to the livelihoods of thousands of people on the coast, native and non-native.   As premier, your responsibilities lie in protecting the environment and interests of your constituents in BC, rather than the interests of largely foreign-owned oil companies with investments in the Alberta oil sands.

Prime Minister Chooses Resource Exports Over the Environment in Federal Budget
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Prime Minister Chooses Resource Exports Over the Environment in Federal Budget

Yesterday, the federal government released a budget that makes it easier to rush headlong into potentially damaging industrial projects, makes it harder for Canadians to have a say about major development in their own backyard, and risks the things Canadians depend on for their health and safety – water, food, air and ecosystems. This weakened environmental oversight will apply not only to future projects, but to those currently being assessed, such as the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Changing the rules mid-process like this will not result in smarter, safer development, but in the opposite. This budget does propose $50 million over two years to support the implementation of the Species at Risk Act, which is important for protecting our most vulnerable wildlife. However, Nature Canada is particularly concerned about plans to amend the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations that expands a loophole in the Fisheries Act. Now, diamond and coal mining companies will join metal mining companies in being allowed to dump toxic waste into Canada’s living lakes. The federal government’s number one job is to protect the health and safety of Canadian citizens. By issuing a budget that clearly favours the interests of industry over a healthy environment, this government isn’t fulfilling that primary role. Instead, the government is removing the safety net that Canadians have come to expect from our environmental laws, at the expense of our communities, ecosystems and long-term economy.

Pushed Aside: Northern Gateway Tanker Traffic Would Oust Marine Birds from Feeding Zones
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Pushed Aside: Northern Gateway Tanker Traffic Would Oust Marine Birds from Feeding Zones

Image of Common Terns Protests continue against the Northern Gateway project. From economic arguments (here and here), to more grassroots opposition, the groundswell against this project grows. In earlier posts I summarized the risks marine birds would face from artificial lights and overhead wires. But as more and more tanker traffic invades their traditional marine habitat – more than 200 a year -- birds would be forced to make way. And we know from experience that many bird species don’t respond well to such disruption. Marine bird species vary widely in their sensitivity to boat traffic. Most studies measure this by recording something called flush distance –that’s the distance at which birds leave an area when vessels pass by. Large flocks of Common Scoters are known to flush at distances between 1,000-2,000 metres, while Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklets and Common Murres require a buffer of more than 150 metres to eliminate most instances of disturbance. For the Pelagic Cormorant, it’s more than 200 metres. Researchers have recommended a buffer of 600 metres from shore for Black Guillemots. Why is this a big deal? Temporarily startling a bird may not seem all that serious, but flushing weakens birds by causing them to waste precious energy, or by preventing them from feeding. It can reduce the amount of fish foraged for feeding chicks. And these distractions would be near constant; huge tankers would pass through the feeding grounds of millions of seabirds about every other day if Gateway is approved. In assessing the pipeline project’s impact on marine birds, Enbridge referred to several studies on the Marbled Murrelet, a slender-billed, permanent resident of B.C.’s coast.

Marbled Murrelet: Tom Middleton
One study reported that most small boats were able to approach within 40 metres before the birds reacted. Similar distances were reported in an Alaskan study that observed Marbled Murrelets in proximity to boats of a range of sizes. A 2008 project studied the closely related Kittlitz’s Murrelet and reported that birds recovered from displacement within a day. But the issue of displacement of marine birds by vessels is more complex than suggested by simple measures of flush distances and duration. The Alaskan Marbled Murrelet study cited by the proponent to suggest that the species is relatively insensitive to disturbance by boats also found that staging adults that were holding fish (presumably to be delivered to chicks) tended to swallow their fish when boats approached. A lost meal may represent a considerable energetic expense for Marbled Murrelets, which often forage at great distance from their nests. And within species, not all birds are the same. Juvenile birds flush at greater distances and more frequently than do adults. And birds are likely to leave the feeding areas completely if disturbed by boats late in the breeding season. The effect of being shunted aside by giant tankers is made worse, depending on which area the birds are forced to vacate. If a bird’s traditional feeding area happens to be in a shipping lane, for example, a bird may not have the chance to adequately fill up before beginning a long migratory journey. In written evidence submitted to the joint review panel assessing the merits of this pipeline proposal, our experts found Enbridge’s analysis of the potential impacts from vessel traffic to be “too simplistic”, “incomplete” and “inadequate.” (The review of the project's potential effects on marine birds was written by avian expert Anne Harfenist.) One reason: Enbridge’s application focused largely on bird sightings far from the actual shipping lanes where displacement would take place. From Enbridge’s application:
“the majority of Surf Scoter vessel survey observations were recorded in sheltered inlets and bays along Douglas and Principe Channels ... The majority of remaining observations were along shoreline areas bordering the proposed approach routes. Surf Scoters remain in intertidal and sub-tidal habitats along shallow, protected bays, fjords and estuaries during foraging; as such they tend to be geographically separated from the majority of Project-related marine transportation.” (emphasis mine)
In other words, Enbridge chose two species that congregated far from the tanker traffic lanes, and then used those findings to argue that all marine species would be insignificantly affected. An adequate assessment would have examined bird species that overlap spatially with vessel traffic; for example, Ancient Murrelet, a species of Special Concern found in more open waters. Meanwhile, the three-person joint review panel continues to hear from concerned Canadians. If you aren’t attending one of the panel’s public sessions, take your concerns directly to the Prime Minister. You can also still submit a letter to the Joint Review Panel; the deadline to do so has been extended to August 31, 2012.

Dangerous High-Wire Act: Birds Face Collisions with Power Lines from Northern Gateway Project
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Dangerous High-Wire Act: Birds Face Collisions with Power Lines from Northern Gateway Project

Image of a Black Oystercatcher, Shutterstock Public hearings continue as Canadians voice their concerns about Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. In addition to the roughly 4,000 citizens who have signed up to take part, thousands have also written letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other elected officials with a clear message that this pipeline is not in the public's interest. That certainly holds true for B.C.'s wildlife too. Last week, I summarized the risk that artificial lights – from tankers, towers and other infrastructure – pose to marine and migratory birds. But there’s another highwire hazard B.C.’s birds could face: Collisions by birds with power lines are a cause of mortality in many species. In written evidence submitted by Nature Canada and BC Nature to the joint review panel, we highlighted a few of the many studies that show this risk: A review by Golder Associates (2009) notes that "fatal impact from transmission lines have been recorded in 350 species of birds worldwide and in some cases the level of fatalities are speculated to have contributed to declines in local and regional bird populations.” In another 2005 review of avian collisions, Erickson et al. summarized that “waterfowl including ducks, geese, swans, cranes, and shorebirds appear to be most susceptible to collisions when powerlines are located near wetlands.” A 2010 review published in Bird Conservation International examined the issue at a global scale and concluded that “many large ... wetland birds and some smaller, fast-flying species are prone to colliding with overhead wires... waterfowl, shorebirds... are among the most frequently affected avian groups and collision frequency is thought to be an influential factor in ongoing population declines in several species.” Similarly, a 2001 study for Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation noted that “birds that fly fast in tight flocks at low altitudes such as waterfowl and shorebirds appear to be particularly susceptible to collisions with wires ... raptors are also frequent victims of wire kills.” Wires as collision hazards are especially important where raptors, like bald eagles, concentrate – places like salmon streams, or migration and staging areas. Young birds learning to fly are also particularly vulnerable. The Kitimat estuary and marine waters, where Enbridge proposes to establish its port for oil tankers, is just the kind of migration and staging area that should be avoided. Yet despite overwhelming evidence that collisions with wires can be a significant cause of mortality in marine birds, Enbridge dismisses the issue as so rare as to not merit attention. None of the so-called "key indicator" species -- those species that, in Enbridge’s view are representative enough of all marine birds to be included in their impact studies -- were shorebirds, yet it is shorebirds in particular that face danger from collisions with wires. As the rhetoric grows and the heat rises on this highly contentious project, it’s important that those without a voice of their own – B.C.’s marine wildlife – are not forgotten. You can lend your voice to the cause by sharing your opinions with Canada’s Prime Minister.

Stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline
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Stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline

Image on an Otter
You can't protect something once it’s gone.Imagine it: Pollution from tanker traffic. Devastating oil spills. Destruction of pristine habitat for sea otters, killer whales, seabirds, caribou and even iconic spirit bears.That’s what’s awaiting British Columbia’s northern coast and hundreds of species of birds, animals and other wildlife that thrive in this region if we don’t take action right now. The controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline project proposes to carry tar sands oil from Alberta across the Rockies to the northern B.C. port of Kitimat. Giant tankers -- some nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall -- loaded with crude oil headed for Asia would navigate through the pristine and rugged northern B.C. coast at the unbelievable rate of about one every second day. If given a go-ahead, the pipeline project would: •    Fragment the boreal forest, home to birds and other wildlife, including Woodland Caribou and Grizzly Bears. •    Expose the Great Bear Rainforest, home to wolves and the iconic Spirit Bear, and 30 internationally recognized Important Bird Areas teeming with marine birds, fish and other animals to potential oil spills and pollution from increased tanker traffic. •    Risk irreversible harm to the livelihoods of many coastal and aboriginal communities. Image of a map of oil spill damageNature Canada and BC Nature have officially registered to participate as interveners in the environmental assessment of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. As interveners, we are providing expert testimony about the impact that the pipeline and increased tanker traffic will have on marine birds, Important Bird Areas, and other wildlife like the woodland caribou. But we need you too. Raise your voice! Send your letter and be part of our efforts to protect B.C.’s fragile coast from tanker traffic and oil spills. We’ll take your message directly to the panel when we take part in the public hearings. It's simple: when you move oil, you spill oil. It's not a question of if a spill will occur -- it's a question of when. Our country’s wildlife is depending on us to speak up on their behalf and put a stop to the Northern Gateway Pipeline project before it’s too late. Add your voice and send your letter today!

Bright Lights, Big Problems: Northern Gateway Poses Risk to Marine Birds
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Bright Lights, Big Problems: Northern Gateway Poses Risk to Marine Birds

Image of a Horned Grebe by Vladimir Morozov For those who don't already know, Nature Canada is one of those radical groups opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. And while many have offered intelligent, well-stated rebuttals to this odd claim (try this, and this), we all know such talk is a diversion.

The real issue is the project itself, and whether it's in the public interest.
As an official intervenor, we've submitted written evidence, with BC Nature, that argues Enbridge has failed to adequately consider the potential effects of the project on marine birds, birds listed under the Species at Risk Act, Important Bird Areas and Woodland Caribou.
For those not inclined to read the nearly 100 pages of scientific analysis -- but who still wish to be informed about this, one of the largest proposed infrastructure projects in recent memory, we'll break it down in manageable bits for you. So let's get started.
Bright Lights, Big Problems
The negative impacts of artificial lights on marine birds – loons, grebes, albatrosses, geese, swans, terns among others – are well documented. Lights cause birds to veer off their normal migratory pathway, or delay migration. Birds can circle platforms for extended periods, collide with lighted structures, or even become so disoriented they collide with the ground.
Birds have large eyes and optic lobe which provides them with excellent vision; birds that are active at night sport retinas containing a compound that enables superior night vision. Marine birds have an additional aid; an internal magnetic compass helps them to navigate during migration between breeding and wintering areas. But red light is exceptionally attractive to marine birds and interferes with the magnetic compass, causing disorientation. That’s why lights from, say, an oil platform can be bad news for marine birds indeed.
Artificial light may also expose seabirds to predators that wouldn’t otherwise see them. In fact, the nocturnal behaviour of many species at their breeding colonies is thought to be an adaptation to decrease predation, and birds keep activity to a minimum at the colonies on moonlit nights. The proposed shipping route for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project passes in close proximity to significant marine bird breeding colonies, effectively trumping the birds’ best laid defensive efforts.
Enbridge dismisses effects on marine birds of lights as “rare and short-term.” However, reports of impacts on marine birds of artificial lights on moving or anchored vessels are readily available in the literature or through discussion with local fishermen. Enbridge could even look to earlier, similar project assessments.
For example, the NaiKun application for development of a wind farm in Hecate Strait considered the potential impacts of lights related to its project on local marine birds. Similarly, the Bird Avoidance and Lighting Plan, prepared for ConocoPhillips (2011) in support of their sea drilling program, notes that:
“birds often can be attracted to and disoriented by artificial lights, especially during periods of low ambient visibility, which may result in potentially fatal drownings, exhaustion, or collisions (Cochran and Graber 1958; Verheijen 1981, 1985; Rich and Longcore 2006). Although the effects of lights on Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders specifically have not been determined, studies have demonstrated that seabirds and migrating birds at sea are particularly susceptible to deleterious effects of artificial lighting (Telfer et al. 1987, Le Corre et al. 2002, Russell 2005, Montevecchi 2006).”
The negative impact of artificial light on marine birds is a widespread, well-known phenomenon. The dismissal by Enbridge of impacts of artificial lights at the terminal, on moving vessels and on vessels at anchor as a cause of death or injury to marine birds is indefensible in light of the state of knowledge about this issue.
This is just one way in which the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project poses risks too great to nature; it’s by no means the only one. We'll highlight others in upcoming blog posts.The information summarized above is based on our formal submission to the panel; the section on marine birds was written by Anne Harfenist, an expert on marine bird ecology, demography and behaviour with a 31-year career in bird conservation. For more information, and sources used, read our written evidence.

Bedford Biofuels Continue to Threaten Tana Delta
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Bedford Biofuels Continue to Threaten Tana Delta

On 7 September we told you about the threats to Kenya’s Tana River Delta Important Bird Area from plans by the Canadian company Bedford Biofuels to establish a jatropha (biofuel) plantation. Since our post Bedford has been in touch to express their disagreement with our criticism of their project (see the comment posted). However, our concerns continue. Nature Canada has written to the Canadian government to bring our concerns to their attention and find out whether the government is supporting this project. We will let you know their response. 
 
In the meantime, here is a summary of the latest information provided by our BirdLife partners at Nature Kenya:
At the start of this week Bedford Biofuels and Nature Kenya met in Nairobi. Bedford was accompanied by their lawyer and more than 20 people from the Delta supporting the Bedford proposal. However unfortunately despite a long (around 5 hour) and at times rather tense meeting Bedford was not prepared to recognize the concerns of Nature Kenya and others from the Delta or willing to respect the land use planning process under way. 
 
In summary, Nature Kenya and others are worried that jatropha is untested, that Kenya has yet to adopt a biofuels policy and that 10,000 ha is too big to be a pilot. Also that the proposed project is within the very sensitive Delta floodplain and that there needs to be a land use plan for the Delta in place to provide a strategic framework before individual large-scale developments proceed. For all these reasons Nature Kenya is maintaining their challenge to the Bedford consent and hoping that the Kenyan Government will act on NEMA (the National Environment Management Authority) advice to cancel the Bedford consent. 
 
It is very encouraging to see the land-use planning process for the Delta now firmly underway. Between 14-17 September around 65 participants took part in a high-level meeting in Malindi to discuss the need for a strategic plan for the Delta. The Kenyan Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) hosted the meeting with NEMA and Nature Kenya jointly providing the Secretariat. It was attended by representatives from key Kenyan government ministries and agencies including NEMA, the Ministries of Finance, Lands, Agriculture, Environment and Mineral Resources, Water and Irrigation, Fisheries, Kenya Forest Services, Kenya Wildlife Service, TARDA (Tana and Athi River Development Authority), together with NGOs, media and international experts in the fields of land use and delta planning and environmental assessment. The meeting included a workshop plus a field visit into the Delta to provide the opportunity for participants to see the Delta and speak to the local people to understand the issues first hand.
 
The meeting closed by adopting a Communiqué of the Inter-Ministerial Consultative Meeting on the sustainable development of Deltas in Kenya. This confirmed the launch of the Tana Delta planning initiative, including agreement on a road map leading to the long-term sustainable development of the remarkable Tana River Delta in ways that will provide for economic prosperity, stable social conditions and lasting environmental quality.
 
Specifically the meeting agreed:
 
    • To the establishment of a local Tana Delta planning process which will be steered by a local committee (the Planning Implementation Committee) and will involve a combination of strategic planning and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) 
 
  • The output will be a long-term strategic land use plan representing a ‘truly sustainable’ future to the Delta.
   
  • That this process will combine scientific, economic, social and environmental evaluation tools alongside extensive public participation and will be a collaborative exercise involving all relevant government ministries and agencies, counties, districts and communities, Civil Society and NGOs, International Partners and investors
   
  • The process will take place over the next 18 months, with the support of DFID (UKAid).
 
Things are now moving quickly with the Inter-Ministerial meeting scheduled to meet again on Tuesday 27 September to discuss the terms of reference for the SEA. This is exciting news.
 
 

Double-hulled Tankers Won’t Protect Northern BC Coast From Oil Spills
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Double-hulled Tankers Won’t Protect Northern BC Coast From Oil Spills

Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline Project proposes to take tar sands oil from Alberta to the northern BC port of Kitimat for export to Pacific markets. Enbridge believes petroleum products can be moved safely through the northern BC coast, in part thanks to "modern and double-hulled" tankers.

In a report released last week, Living Oceans Society takes a close look at the limitations of double-hulled tankers and concludes they're not the panacea they're touted to be.
The risk of an oil spill in the northern BC coast is one of the main objections to this project. A spill could cause irreversible harm to the livelihoods of many coastal and aboriginal communities, the area's unique marine ecosystems, the Great Bear Rainforest and 28 Important Bird Areas.
A Joint Review Panel has been established to review the environmental assessment of the project, but a date for the hearings is yet to be announced. Nature Canada plans to participate in the review, together with BC Nature. However, opposition to the project is building and a proposed legislated ban on tankers in the area could put an end to this threat. Watch spOIL for a glimpse of the wilderness at risk.

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