Nature Canada

Mackenzie Gas Project Should Not Proceed, Nature Canada Tells Review Panel

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Carla Sbert , Nature Canada’s conservation program manager, presented Nature Canada’s closing remarks to the Joint Panel Review investigating the Mackenzie Gas Project on Nov. 28-30, 2007. Read Remarks.The Mackenzie, Canada’s last great wild river, is threatened by a massive pipeline project. Learn more about it.

November 27, 2007 (Inuvik) Nature Canada is set to argue strongly against the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project in its closing remarks to the Joint Review Panel this week in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

Mackenzie River, NWTPhoto: Fritz Mueller

Nature Canada will advise against moving ahead with the “basin-opening” pipeline project, arguing that the proponents have not made a fair and accurate accounting of the project’s effects on bird populations and bird habitat, including the region’s sole federally protected area, the Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

“We have serious concerns that the long-term, irreversible environmental effects of such massive industrialization are taking a back seat to near-term energy demands,” said Nature Canada’s Carla Sbert, who is attending the hearings November 28-30. “The Mackenzie River Basin’s wildlife will pay the price.”

If it proceeds, the pipeline project, estimated to cost at least $16.2 billion, will trigger the transformation of the Mackenzie Valley from largely intact wilderness to industrial landscape. Pipeline crossings will fragment habitat for birds, bears, caribou and wolves, and harm fish and fish habitat by increasing sediment deposition into the rivers and streams of the valley.

“The full impact of the project on the lands, water and wildlife of this unique environment will leave an unacceptable footprint, and important bird habitat like the Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary would be permanently damaged,” said Julie Gelfand, President of Nature Canada. “We have come to the conclusion that the proponents have not, nor do they have plans to, sufficiently address this project’s impacts on birds and critical boreal forest habitat.”

The Mackenzie Gas Project could also have a significant impact on global warming in Canada’s north. Oil companies hope to use natural gas extracted from the Mackenzie region to fuel expansion of tar sands development at Fort McMurray, Alberta. Tar sands operations are projected to be the largest single addition to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, producing 70 megatonnes by 2010, or 12 percent of Canada’s Kyoto target for that year.

“The natural gas from these pipelines won’t even be used to heat Canadians’ homes; it will fuel tar sands operations, the dirtiest oil extraction process on Earth, which produces 5 times as much greenhouse gas as conventional oil production,” said Sbert.” This is simply bad for wildlife and our environment.”

Nature Canada has also spoken out against a rush to industrialize the north when there does not yet exist an interconnected network of protected areas preserving the boreal forest.

In previous testimony made on behalf of Nature Canada, the conservation group argued that protected areas like the Kendall Island sanctuary help to limit the cumulative effects of development upon the natural landscape, and that more land needs to be set aside before any pipeline projects can be considered.

“We can’t predict all the implications of a project this massive in an area so poorly studied, which is why protected areas are so important,” said Sbert. “Protected areas provide insurance that some of this wilderness landscape will escape the worst effects of development, and they are essential yardsticks for measuring how unprotected areas are changed by development. If we can’t measure the effects of current development, we will never be able to predict them, or learn to reduce them, in the future.”


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Nature Canada spokesperson Carla Sbert will be staying at the Eskimo Inn during the closing remarks, and can be reached there at (867) 777-2801.

Carla Sbert
Manager, Conservation Programs and Legal Issues
Nature Canada
From Nov.28 to Nov.30: (867) 777-2801 (Eskimo Inn, Inuvik, NWT)

Julie Gelfand
President, Nature Canada
(613) 562-3447 ext. 231

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Nature Canada is a member-based non-profit nature conservation organization dedicated to protecting nature, its diversity, and the processes that sustain it. With strategies based on sound science and passion for nature, Nature Canada effects change on issues of national significance, including bird conservation, wilderness protection, species at risk and national parks.

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