The controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline project proposes to carry tar sands oil from Alberta across the Rockies to the northern B.C. port of Kitimat.
Giant tankers - some nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall - loaded with crude oil headed for Asia would navigate through the pristine and rugged northern B.C. coast at the unbelievable rate of about one every second day.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline poses unacceptable risks to the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Northern B.C. Coast:
- A spill could cause irreversible harm to the livelihoods of many coastal and aboriginal communities and the area's unique marine ecosystems.
- There are 29 Important Bird Areas in the Central and North B.C. coast and the whole area is a globally important one for marine birds, other marine animals and fish. This rich ecosystem would be exposed to oil pollution from increased tanker traffic and an impossible-to-rule-out oil spill.
- The pipeline would fragment forest habitat for the endangered boreal woodland caribou, and the Great Bear Rainforest, home to the iconic Spirit Bear.
It’s simple. When you move oil, you spill oil. It’s not a question of
if a spill will occur – it’s a question of when.
Nature Canada and BC Nature are jointly participating as interveners in the environmental assessment review of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project, which began January 10, 2012.
As interveners, Nature Canada and BC Nature are providing expert testimony about the potential impact that the pipeline and increased tanker traffic could have on marine and terrestrial birds and their habitat, Important Bird Areas, and terrestrial wildlife and habitat along the proposed pipeline route, with a focus on Woodland Caribou and birds at risk.
Marbled Murrelet, photo by Tom Middleton
Our written evidence was prepared by 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.
Final hearings into the proposed 1,177 kilometre pipeline began in September 2012 in Edmonton. The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, a non-profit society that provides pro bono legal representation and assistance to conservation and community organizations, will be representing BC Nature and Nature Canada for the balance of the Enbridge hearings.
With the help of the Environmental Law Centre, we will be questioning Enbridge on the evidence the company has submitted on the impacts of the project on birds, bird habitat and endangered species. Enbridge will also have a chance to cross examine the witnesses that BC Nature and Nature Canada have retained to analyze and raise questions about the proposal.
Spirit Bear, photo by John Conwest
Our members have also been vocal in showing their opposition to this pipeline, sending more than 12,000 letters to the Government of Canada.
But we need you too. Raise your voice!
Send your letter and be part of our efforts to protect B.C.’s fragile coast from tanker traffic and oil spills.
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, there can be no 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 colonies.
• 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.
4,160: Number of oil spills in Canadian waters from 2007 to 2009
2000: Year the Canadian Coast Guard last evaluated its capacity to respond to oil spills
200: Projected increase in the number of tankers per year on B.C.’s north coast as a result of the Northern Gateway Pipeline
: Number of Important Bird Areas threatened by the Northern Gateway Pipeline