Northern Gateway passes panel scrutiny

Proposed pipeline given 209 conditions for approval

A Joint Review Panel has recommended that the federal government approve the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project project, subject to 209 required conditions.

The panel found that, providing it meets the conditions set out in its report, the project would be in the public interest to proceed.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said the next day (Dec. 20) that she had not yet seen the report, but planned to go through it over the Christmas break.

“I haven’t read it, but it has got 209 conditions, and it has got a long way to go.”

Barnett noted all 209 panel conditions must be met – and possibly more could arise – before it can get the federal nod.

“Environment Minister Mary Pollock has said that, depending on what the federal cabinet decides, the proponents are part way – a very small way – to meeting one of British Columbia’s conditions, and that was to pass the environmental review.”

Meanwhile, the BC NDP are calling on Premier Christy Clark to take action to protect B.C.’s economy and environment and stop the Enbridge pipeline from proceeding.

“Throughout the review process, British Columbians demonstrated their overwhelming opposition to the Enbridge pipeline, including the B.C. government’s own submission to the panel,” said NDP Leader Adrian Dix.

“The premier must match her actions to her words and tell Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper that B.C. opposes the Enbridge pipeline and will take the actions necessary to ensure it does not proceed.”

However, Barnett said the premier has already taken a “very clear” stance that her the five conditions must be met before the province will approve the project.

“She was a premier standing alone. No other premier in Canada has stood up for the types of conditions she did.”

Barnett said another of Clark’s conditions – spill response – is of utmost importance.

“That spill response for marine and land has to be addressed … one of the most important conditions will be [ensuring] that there is no spill, and if there is a spill, how are you going to respond to it in a quick manner so creeks, streams, oceans and lakes are protected. We have to take care of those things.”

The other three conditions: Aboriginal and treaty rights must be addressed; First Nations are provided with opportunities to participate in the project; and B.C. receives compensation in a fair share of the financial benefits of the pipeline have all yet to be resolved, she noted.

“They’ll have to prove to First Nations that their concerns have been addressed; and I guess if their concerns have been met, then they’ll negotiate a fair revenue for them.”

Barnett explained she understands the Enbridge project leader has also agreed to work toward meeting the five conditions, noting she “saw that on the news.”

The panel concluded the environmental burdens associated with the project can generally be effectively mitigated and continued monitoring, scientific research and adaptive management could further reduce adverse effects.

It found Northern Gateway had taken steps to minimize the likelihood of a large spill through its precautionary design approach and safety systems, and after mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects resulting is “very low.”

Clark’s five conditions have been accepted in principal by Alberta.

Barnett said she believes that Alberta and B.C. working together on those conditions has “set the guidelines” for the rest of the country to follow suit on other resource projects.

She’d like to see all this cross-provincial work set down in the Energy Act or another piece of federal legislation, she added.

The local MLA noted that, even if passed in Ottawa, the province will still have the power to refuse to grant environmental permits necessary for the pipeline to proceed.

“The tough part of the whole process is the permitting process … that’s where it comes down to the work on the ground.”

However, Barnett added a cautiously optimistic word.

“The positive part is it got a little way [ahead]. But, if they can’t meet the conditions, it won’t move.”

The report and more information is available on the panels website at www.gatewaypanel.review.gc.ca.