Enbridge Fails to Make its Case on Northern Gateway Pipeline
As you surely have heard, hearings for the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project (NGP) begin today in northern BC. Enbridge is proposing to build a pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands to a port at Kitimat, British Columbia. After travelling nearly 1,170km through pristine wilderness and First Nations homelands, tar sands oil would be loaded on tankers and sent through treacherous waters to Pacific markets.
Nature Canada and BC Nature are jointly participating in the review of the NGP due to our deep concern about the project's potential impact on wildlife, including birds, and their habitats. With the limited funding we received from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency we have concentrated our review on the potential impacts of the project on marine and terrestrial birds and their habitat, including Important Bird Areas (IBAs), and terrestrial wildlife and habitat along the proposed pipeline route, with a focus on Woodland Caribou and birds at risk.
Over the many months of hearings starting today, the Joint Review Panel will hear oral evidence from other interveners and from thousands of interested persons -- apparently all 'radicals'
or foreign-backed stooges
-- who have registered to share their views about the project.
Our written submission was prepared by our three experts, specializing in marine bird ecology, demography and behaviour; marine and terrestrial bird species at risk; terrestrial and marine bird distribution, abundance and ecology, Important Bird Areas; wildlife habitat and management, and applied biology on the industry-wildlife interface.
Enbridge has failed to adequately assess the potential effects of the project on marine birds, birds listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), IBAs and Woodland Caribou. Without additional assessment, the Panel will not have an accurate understanding of the potential impacts of the project and of a project-related oil spill on marine birds.
In short, what's wrong with Enbridge's proposal?
- Enbridge ignores important potential impacts of the project on marine birds, like artificial light induced mortality, collisions, chronic oiling and others.
- Enbridge has failed to consider the effects of a potential oil spill on several Important Bird Areas that protect huge seabird colinies.
- Enbridge has also failed to consider the potential impact of oil spills on open ocean wanderers such as albatrosses and shearwaters.
- Along the pipeline route, Enbridge has failed to assess the potential effects of the proposed pipeline on freshwater wetland IBAs and on several bird species at risk.
- As for caribou, it is clear that the project is a significant cumulative increment of risk for the Little Smokey, Narraway, Hart and Telkwa Caribou herds, whose habitat the proposed pipeline corridor bisects and which are listed under the Species at Risk Act as Threatened.
- Enbridge acknowledges there will be impacts on caribou, but they incorrectly identified caribou mortality in winter as the determining factor for population viability, despite recent literature that clearly documents that summer mortality is prevalent. Based on this error, they then find that there will be insignificant impacts on caribou from the project.
- Our written evidence shows, however, that the Northern Gateway Pipeline project will exacerbate the current decline in the Little Smokey, Narraway, Hart and Telkwa Caribou herds through cumulative effects and increased mortality. The pipeline will likely contribute to the extinction of two or more of these Woodland Caribou herds.
Stay tuned for more details on our findings in the coming months, including spotlights on some of the amazing birds and seabird colonies that are threatened by the Northern Gateway project. And if you want to participate, even if you didn’t register for the hearings, you can still share your views with the Panel by submitting a letter of comment
before March 13, 2012.