EnCana Avoids Trial on Charges of Canada Wildlife Act Violation in Suffield National Wildlife Area
Calgary (January 12, 2009) – The Suffield Coalition is disappointed to have learned last week that the Crown has stayed the case against EnCana on charges of violating Canada’s Wildlife Act. EnCana was scheduled to be tried on March 19, 2010, almost five years after EnCana installed a section of pipeline in the CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area without a permit (in March 2005). Numerous adjournments and a preliminary hearing were held in Medicine Hat, but now there will be no trial.
“The Suffield NWA is a fragile haven of wildlife and species at risk,” says Carla Sbert from Nature Canada. “It requires strict adherence to environmental laws and conservation measures, supported by prosecution of any violations.”
Since EnCana’s first court appearance on this charge on December 6, 2007, the environmental assessment of EnCana’s proposal to drill within Suffield National Wildlife Area has concluded with the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) recommendations released on January 28, 2009. The Government of Canada’s response to the Panel’s report was expected last summer, but is yet to be released.
The reasons for the Crown’s decision to abandon the case are not fully clear to the Coalition. The many deficiencies in the environmental management of the NWA seem to be part of the reason. Eleven of the Joint Review Panel’s 27 recommendations are designed to address these management issues. Some efforts are underway to address these deficiencies. For example, EnCana’s exiting operations within the NWA are clearly regulated under a permit as of December 2008.
“The Suffield Coalition will continue to follow EnCana’s existing activities closely to ensure the effective protection of the Suffield NWA,” assured Alberta Wilderness Association’s Cliff Wallis. “We are also waiting for the Government of Canada to accept the Panel’s recommendations and deny approval of EnCana’s project and the significant impacts it would have on wildlife.”
For more information:
Cliff Wallis, Alberta Wilderness Association: 403-607-1970
The Suffield Coalition comprises seven groups: Alberta Wilderness Association, Federation of Alberta Naturalists, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta Group for the Environment, Grasslands Naturalists, and Nature Canada.