Northern Gateway Pipeline

Tue, 2014-03-18 11:00Erika Thorkelson
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Concerned Engineers Warn of Flaws in Enbridge Northern Gateway Tanker Plan

Northern Gateway route to Kitimat

A group of engineers has released papers warning us not to trust the numbers provided by Enbridge when it comes to tanker traffic associated with the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

Concerned Professional Engineers (CPE) is a group of four engineers living in British Columbia with specializations in areas such as probabilistic methods in engineering, naval architecture, small and large materials handling, and cold climate design. Between them they claim more than 100 years experience in design related to industrial projects.

The group’s spokesperson Brian Gunn first became involved in conservation issues when he retired from his long career in civil engineering and bought a dude ranch in the wild interior of BC. Delving into the world of wilderness tourism, he became aware of the tense relationship between developers seeking to take advantage of the region's abundant natural resources and those residents who wished to preserve it.

Tue, 2014-02-25 09:23Tim McSorley
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Feds Show "Lack of Political Will to Implement Law" for At Risk Species

humpback whale mike baird

A new court ruling means that the dozens of animal species that are at risk of extinction across Canada may finally receive the support they need.

A federal court judge found that the Canadian government has been breaking the law in not following through on its obligations under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The act, established in 2003, obliges the government to develop and implement recovery strategies for animal species in Canada at risk of extinction.

In her ruling, federal court Justice Anne L. Mactavish found that “there is clearly an enormous systemic problem within the relevant Ministries, given the respondents' acknowledgement that there remain some 167 species at risk for which recovery strategies have not yet been developed.”

Mon, 2014-02-03 11:36Heather Libby
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209 Ways to Fail: Northern Gateway Conditions Demystified

Douglas Channel, near Kitimat B.C.

After Northern Gateway’s lengthy, contentious joint review process, putting any faith in the ability of the National Energy Board to hold Enbridge accountable may feel foolish. And yet, the National Energy Board (NEB) may be the closest thing to an ally in government this project provides.

Right now, the Northern Gateway oil tanker and pipeline project is in a holding pattern while the federal cabinet reviews the recommendations from the NEB's Joint Review Panel. Barring delays or injunctions from any of the pending legal challenges, cabinet will announce its decision sometime in the next five months.

While there are, of course, all number of other legitimate hurdles, including ongoing First Nations legal challenges and the possibility the province could deny necessary permits, as of right now, cabinet approval and the 209 conditions recommended by the NEB are the only federal government-mandated steps standing in the way of bitumen-loaded tankers and Douglas Channel. Isn't it time they deserved a closer look?

Tue, 2014-01-21 11:48Carol Linnitt
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Group Calls for Formal Ethics Inquiry into Spy Watchdog Turned Enbridge Lobbyist Chuck Strahl

Public interest group Democracy Watch released a letter (link to pdf) to ethics commissioner Mary Dawson Friday, requesting she launch an inquiry into former Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl in the wake of revelations that he's working as an Enbridge lobbyist while also serving as Canada’s top spy watchdog.

The letter points to rules in the Conflict of Interest Act that require public office holders to manage their private life to avoid conflicts of interest. Strahl’s work as a lobbyist, Democracy Watch suggests, invites conflicts of interest, rather than prevents them.

Recently the Vancouver Observer revealed Strahl had registered in B.C. as an Enbridge lobbyist. As the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), some questioned Strahl’s suitability to judiciously oversee the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the spy agency involved in the monitoring of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline hearings.

Democracy Watch also notes that Strahl violated the waiting period meant to prevent former public office holders from using their government contacts to advance private corporate interests.

Fri, 2014-01-17 16:36Carol Linnitt
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Caribou, Humpbacks May Legally Stand in Way of Northern Gateway Pipeline, According to B.C. Nature Lawsuit

humpback whale

Not even a month has passed since the federally appointed Joint Review Panel (JRP) released its official report recommending approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, pending the fulfillment of 209 conditions. Yet already two separate suits have been filed against the integrity of the report, with groups requesting cabinet delay a final decision on the pipeline project until the federal court of appeals can assess the complaints.

One of the suits, filed today by the Environmental Law Centre on behalf of B.C. Nature (the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists), requested the panel’s report be declared invalid and that cabinet halt its decision on the pipeline project until the court challenge is heard. The second suit, filed by Ecojustice on behalf of several environmental groups claims the panel's report is based on insufficient evidence and therefore fails to constitute a full environmental assessment under the law.

Chris Tollefson, B.C. Nature’s lawyer and executive director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, says “we have asked that the federal court make an order that no further steps be taken by any federal regulator or by Cabinet until this request is adjudicated.”

Mon, 2014-01-13 10:49Carol Linnitt
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Legal Expert: "Inherent Challenge" in Having Enbridge Lobbyist Serve as Spy Watchdog

Chuck Strahl, CSIS, SIRC, Enbridge, Northern Gateway, DeSmog Canada

Recent revelations that Canada’s top spy watchdog Chuck Strahl is also a paid lobbyist for Enbridge and Northern Gateway Pipelines have Canadians in a rightful tizzy. The implications are grim, especially for citizens already concerned with federal overreach in the surveillance of environmental groups opposing the Enbridge's Northern Gateway oil pipeline and tanker proposal for B.C.'s coast.

Strahl is the federally appointed chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), an independent and non-partisan oversight agency designed to keep an eye on all activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

In November the Vancouver Observer released internal documents showing the federal government, the RCMP and CSIS had been working closely with the energy industry to address the issue of pipeline opposition and other barriers to energy development. Cross-sector responses between government and industry included the monitoring of environmental groups.

Lorne Sossin, dean of the Osgoode Law School at York University and specialist in constitutional law, regulation of professions and public policy, told DeSmog while Strahl may not be using his role as CSIS watchdog to advance the interests of Enbridge, the overlap of roles poses some threat to his perceived ability to perform as an independent adjudicator.

Fri, 2013-12-27 16:53Erin Flegg
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Enbridge Used Anonymous Companies to Propose Hydroelectric Dams in Salmon-Bearing Waters

IPPs Map

While Canadians have had their eye on the company's Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal, Enbridge has been quietly developing numerous new hydroelectric projects in major B.C. and Alberta waterways. Since 2011, Enbridge submitted water license applications for almost a dozen new projects, some located in the Skeena Watershed region and others along the Fraser River.

Researchers at the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust uncovered several numbered company applications and reports concerning projects that would have serious consequences for wildlife in the area. SkeenaWild executive director Greg Knox says the projects, designed to divert river water to power stations, would disrupt salmon spawning grounds and impair water flow that is crucial to sediment transport.

These streams are constantly producing gravel in the system which the salmon require for spawning. Without the large flow through the streams, there won’t be this large gravel production, and the gravel that’s there will eventually be washed away.”

The proposed projects require the construction of tunnels and pipes used to direct water away from the river. At certain times of year, very little water flows through wide sections of the rivers. 

Tue, 2013-12-17 16:23Emma Gilchrist
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Countdown Is On: British Columbians Anxiously Await Enbridge Recommendation

bc enbridge recommendation

In the summer of 2009, Dave Shannon found himself sitting in Dieter Wagner's backyard.

Wagner, a former colleague at Kitimat's aluminum smelter, had convened a meeting of locals concerned about Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal, which would see oil piped across British Columbia and loaded onto tankers in Kitimat.

I’m an engineer, so industry is necessary, but some industries aren’t a good idea. This is one of them,” 67-year-old Shannon says. “I never was an activist throughout my whole life. This one just caught my attention.”

As the small group enjoyed tea and biscuits in the sunshine, they plotted how to fight back against Enbridge.

We were spinning our wheels, wondering what to do to get going,” Shannon recalls. “We had no idea what was about to happen, but we thought it might be something we should worry about.”

The group dubbed themselves “Douglas Channel Watch” and registered as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings, meaning they could present evidence and cross-examine Enbridge’s witnesses.

Wed, 2013-12-04 10:09Carol Linnitt
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Taxpayers Still on the Hook for Oil Spill on B.C. Coast, Despite Federal Claims of "Polluter Pays" Regime

oil tanker in the burrard inlet in vancouver british columbia

A new report reviewing Canada’s tanker spill prevention and response regime released by a government-appointed expert panel has reignited concerns over the impact increased tanker traffic and a potential oil spill could have on the British Columbia coast. 

The 66-page review of Canada’s oil-spill response system makes a total of 45 recommendations to government and industry, including annual spill training exercises, geographically based risk assessments, improved emergency response times and increased funding for Environment Canada, Transport Canada and the coast guard.

The panel also recommends the removal of a current $161 million liability cap — a change the federal government is describing as a move to a ‘polluter pay’ scenario.

Yet Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, said the report’s recommendations do not hold industry accountable in the event of an oil spill:

Tue, 2013-11-05 13:44Emma Gilchrist
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Clark, Redford Pipeline Agreement Overlooks B.C.’s Final Argument to Enbridge Panel

premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford

Alberta and B.C. announced they’ve reached an agreement today to satisfy B.C.’s five conditions for supporting oil pipeline development in the province.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has also agreed to sign on to Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s national energy strategy. 

The announcement comes on the heels of all-night meetings between Alberta and B.C. officials. The condition in question was the fifth — B.C.’s call for a greater share of economic benefits from the pipeline in exchange for the environmental risks borne by the province.

However, it appears that condition has been punted to negotiations between B.C. and industry.

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