Terrace, B.C. — Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal does not serve the public interest and must be rejected, Ecojustice lawyer Barry Robinson said in a closing argument at project review hearings today.
Robinson, who acted on behalf of ForestEthics Advocacy, the Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation throughout the hearing process, argued that Enbridge has failed to complete the environmental assessment as required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
“There are basic questions that remain unanswered,” said Robinson. “Will diluted bitumen sink or float if there is a spill? What is the abundance of killer whales and humpback whales in the tanker shipping lanes?”
Natural Resources Canada, in its written submission, also said that Enbridge’s identification of landslide risks along the pipeline route was incomplete.
Enbridge has said that the environmental assessment is an iterative process and that many of the studies and final designs will be completed after the project is approved. Environmental groups, represented by Ecojustice, argue that the identification of risks and mitigation measures must be complete before the project is approved.
“We believe that Enbridge’s past performance speaks louder than its future promises,” Robinson said. “The company has not proved that it has made any substantial improvements since its disastrous Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan three years ago.”
In March of this year, the National Energy Board issued an order to Enbridge after finding its existing pipelines lacked emergency shut-down buttons and backup power to shut down systems at many of its pump stations in case of emergency.
“Enbridge has proved over the last three years during the JRP that their project will be a disaster for the environment and that they have no social license to operate,” said ForestEthics Advocacy senior energy campaigner Nikki Skuce. “Northern Gateway will never be built because they will never overcome the obstacle of opposition in B.C.”
A staggering 96 per cent of written comments submitted to the Joint Review Panel and nearly all the oral statements made over the past two years oppose the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline — submissions made by engineers, doctors, fishers, loggers, farmers, teachers and biologists.
Ecojustice submitted over 150 pages in final arguments.
Hearings on the proposed pipeline conclude next week. The Joint Review Panel has until December 31, 2013 to make its recommendations to the federal government.