Nature Canada, Nature Alberta Call for Inquiry on Nothern Gateway Project
November 13, 2009 (Ottawa) - Nature Canada today sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and key members of the federal cabinet urging a comprehensive and independent public inquiry on the proposed Enbridge Gateway Project.
Gateway Pipeline Inc. proposes to construct and operate pipelines, 1,170 km in length, between an inland terminal near Edmonton, Alberta and a marine terminal near Kitimat, British Columbia. Approximately 500 km of the pipeline will be in Alberta, and 670 km in British Columbia. The project will include an export oil sands product pipeline, an import condensate (a hydrocarbon) pipeline, terminal facilities, integrated marine infrastructure at tidewater to accommodate loading and unloading of oil and condensate tankers, and marine transportation of oil and condensate.
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Prime Minister, Ministers,
Nature Canada and Nature Alberta, along with BC Nature, participate in and provide national leadership to the Canadian Nature Network, an alliance of more than 100,000 naturalists and conservationists in over 360 affiliated local and provincial organizations from coast to coast to coast.
On behalf of Nature Canada and Nature Alberta, we write to add our voices to that of BC Nature and other BC community and environmental groups in urging the Federal Government to undertake a comprehensive and independent public inquiry on the proposed Enbridge Gateway Project.
Nature Canada is the national voice of naturalists in Canada, representing more than 40,000 individual members and supporters in every province and territory. Our mission is to protect and conserve wildlife and habitats in Canada by engaging people and advocating on behalf of nature. Nature Canada also works towards the protection of ecological integrity of federal protected areas, including National Parks, and of Canada's Important Bird Areas (IBAs).
Nature Alberta (formerly Federation of Alberta Naturalists) is a federation of 42 natural history clubs, representing close to 5,000 members across Alberta. We have been long time advocates of responsible land use development and as such, the proposal of the Northern Gateway Pipeline is of great concern for Nature Alberta. Nature Alberta shares the concerns outlined in the letter written by BC Nature and supports the call for an independent public inquiry.
As has been noted by BC Nature and other concerned groups, the proposed Joint Review Panel process is limited in scope, with a strong focus on mitigation measures for the project, which assumes the project should proceed. In our view, the scope of the Enbridge Gateway Project's potential implications is much larger than the scope of the proposed review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The project has long-term implications for the health of BC's northern and central coastal ecosystems and communities, as well as for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts that are important to many Canadians. Of particular concern to us are the potentially devastating effects of oil and condensate spills (including chronic bilge discharges) from the development of an oil port at Kitimat and from tanker traffic on the north and central coast of BC. The project implies lifting the tanker moratorium which has for 37 years acknowledged the unacceptable risk of tanker traffic to these fragile coastal ecosystems, including Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and 28 IBAs in the Charlotte Basin, which are important habitat for breeding, migrating, or wintering marine birds (seabirds, marine waterfowl, shorebirds, and/or marine raptors). We also have concerns about the impacts of the construction and likelihood of spills from a pipeline that would cross over 800 streams and rivers in salmon-bearing watersheds, further fragment caribou and grizzly habitat and potentially affect 6 IBAs along its proposed route from Edmonton to the Pacific coast.
For these reasons, Nature Canada and Nature Alberta add its voice to the call for a comprehensive, independent public inquiry that looks at whether the project should proceed, taking the West Coast Oil Port Inquiry in 1977/78 as a model.
We would be pleased to provide further information on the IBAs mentioned in this letter and to further discuss our views.
 Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, from Bev Ramey on behalf of BC Nature, dated April 14, 2009; and letter to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Ministers responsible for Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Transport, Natural Resources and Indian and Northern Affairs, from the Dogwood Initiative, et al, dated August 17, 2009.