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Spills and Strikes may put Marine Ecosystems in Danger
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Spills and Strikes may put Marine Ecosystems in Danger

[caption id="attachment_16447" align="alignleft" width="152"]Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] Energy East, Northern Gateway, TransMountain. None of these projects are just about pipelines carrying crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to tidewater. They’re also about the increased traffic from the giant oil tankers that will carry the oil through the Bay of Fundy, Hecate Strait and Salish Sea. All three of these seas are ecologically priceless, renowned for their abundant birds, fish, whales, and other marine mammals. The Bay of Fundy alone has 14 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), home to over a million shorebirds, not to mention its populations of Humpback, Fin, Minke and endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. [separator headline="h3" title="What is the scientific evidence about the risks of an Exxon Valdez-sized spill?"] Such an oil spill could be catastrophic for birds, whales, fisheries and tourism in all of these waters. What is the likelihood of a successful clean up if there is a major spill? Skepticism is justified given the underwhelming clean-up efforts of the small April 2015 oil spill in Vancouver harbor and the gigantic 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Both spills occurred in benign weather, on calm seas, and close to oil spill emergency responders.Right Whale What are the chances of a successful clean up of a major oil spill in the Hecate Strait where storm seas can reach 26 metres in height? In the Salish Sea with its powerful winter storms, narrow channels and many navigation hazards? Or in the Bay of Fundy with its even worse weather and four- to nine-metre tides? [separator headline="h3" title="Ship Strikes of Whales…"] …especially endangered North Atlantic Right Whales hit by Saint John-based oil tankers, are another challenge. We estimate that up to 24 more oil tankers will be needed to carry the Energy East crude oil every month. Fewer than 400 North Atlantic Right Whales are left, so even one ship strike is too many. [separator headline="h3" title="Nature Canada Intervening in Energy East Hearings"] Nature Canada has applied to be an official intervener in the upcoming Energy East hearings to stand up for Canada’s seas and the birds and whales that live there. With your support, we will provide science-based evidence on the risks of oil spills and ship strikes, assess the environmental impact an oil spill or increased ship strikes would have, and make recommendations to mitigate those impacts. Our approach is critical to ensuring the oil companies and governments are held accountable so that these marine ecosystems are sustained for our children and grandchildren—not to mention the birds and the whales! Together, we’ll bring nature’s voice to the Energy East pipeline hearings. Your special gift today will help protect the Right Whale, one of the most critically endangered species on Earth. With your support, we can protect nature from oil tankers!

Grabbing headlines: Nature Canada speaks up on Northern Gateway
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Grabbing headlines: Nature Canada speaks up on Northern Gateway

As one of only two organizations physically present during the hearings on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project, Nature Canada was high on the media's list of organizations to contact for comment when the devastating decision by the federal government to approve the project came through on June 17, 2014. Paul Jorgenson, Nature Canada's Senior Communications Manager, was on hand to answer pressing questions from various media sources keen to hear what Nature Canada had to say about the disappointing decision to give Northern Gateway the greenlight despite piles of evidence forecasting a one in four chance of an oil spill within the pipeline's lifetime. [separator headline="h2" title="Nature Canada speaks to Global BC"] [video type="youtube" id="BpNL4GZ2yzg?list=UUR0YvwuHcoRZ3VH621rIJNg"]   [separator headline="h2" title="Nature Canada speaks to Radio Canada"] [video type="youtube" id="j_-A4988ZnM"]   [separator headline="h2" title="Nature Canada speaks to CHED 630"] [video type="youtube" id="mKMokfzzVjk"]

Leading environmental organizations concerned about federal government’s decision to give Northern Gateway the go-ahead
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Leading environmental organizations concerned about federal government’s decision to give Northern Gateway the go-ahead

OTTAWA (June 17, 2014) Nature Canada and BC Nature have expressed their profound disappointment at the federal government’s decision to conditionally approve the Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal. “It is most disconcerting that the federal government has chosen to gloss over the risk of oil spills and the environmental harm that such spills would cause,” said Stephen Hazell, interim executive director of Nature Canada. “The expert evidence before the Panel was that there is one in four chance that a pipeline has a major spill in its lifespan – those are worse odds than playing Russian roulette.” The University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre represented BC Nature and Nature Canada, at the hearings. Four separate Enbridge expert witness panels were questioned for a total of over twenty-five hours, at 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. Nature Canada and BC Nature were one of only two environmental coalitions that participated throughout the hearings. Nature Canada also expressed solidarity with First Nations and remote northern communities who have not been adequately consulted despite having the most to lose personally, economically and ecologically. - 30 - [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager 819-208-8230 (cellular) | pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 | mtanaka@naturecanada.ca[/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h3" title="About Nature Canada"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_half_last]  

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.

Kinder Morgan’s PR nightmare unfolds after oil spill benefit claimed
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Kinder Morgan’s PR nightmare unfolds after oil spill benefit claimed

It is hard to imagine that an oil spill could have positive economic effects for the people and communities directly affected by such a disastrous event. Surprisingly (or not!), that’s just what Kinder Morgan claimed in its 15,000 page application to the National Energy Board to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia. The statement, which Kinder Morgan says was taken out of context in an interview given to the Canadian Press, states: “Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions and cleanup service providers.” While Kinder Morgan is working hard to clean-up its image, we’re preparing for Nature Canada’s participation in the Trans Mountain pipeline hearings by conducting the required research to develop our testimony and defend our environmental rights. We urgently need to raise $50,000 by June 30th to ensure we have a solid case to present during the hearings. Will you help us? Every little bit counts!

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