Most Canadians have never seen it. But it is perhaps our nation’s most treasured natural feature...the Mackenzie River.
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The entire Mackenzie Valley is now threatened by Canada’s biggest natural gas pipeline project ever. The Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP), likely to cost at least CDN $7 billion, includes three major natural gas production fields north of Inuvik and two underground natural gas pipelines (the longest is 1,220 km) to carry the gas south along the Mackenzie Valley to northern Alberta. Other pipelines would be built connecting other gas fields to the main pipelines.
If it proceeds, this mega-project will trigger the transformation of the Mackenzie Valley from largely intact wilderness to industrial landscape. The environmental impact would be massive.
It will fragment habitat for bears, caribou and wolves.
|Oil companies hope to use the gas to fuel expansion of tar sands development at Fort McMurray, Alberta. Tar sands projects are projected to be the largest single addition to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, producing 70 megatonnes by 2010, or 12 percent of Canada’s Kyoto target for that year.
- It will harm fish and fish habitat by increasing sediment deposition into the rivers and streams of the valley from constructing pipeline crossings.
- It will permanently damage important breeding or staging areas for millions of geese, tundra swans and other migratory birds. Read about the Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
- It will cause forests to be clear cut and heavy machinery deployed to construct the infrastructure and the new underground pipelines which would tunnel under or cross 580 rivers and streams along the way.
- It will trigger a rush of oil and gas development in the Mackenzie Valley, which would accelerate further damage to wildlife and ecosystems.
- It will increase greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by heavy equipment and from the cutting of boreal forests, destruction of wetlands, and melting of permafrost.
- It will accelerate climate change in the Mackenzie Valley. Even now, thawing permafrost is collapsing roads and buildings. Warmer, drier summers are causing the worst forest fires ever. Infestations of southern insects, especially the spruce budworm, are likely. Depletion of Arctic sea ice will likely push polar bears, walrus and some seals into extinction within 50 years.
The Mackenzie River
1: Mackenzie’s rank on list of longest rivers in Canada.
4, 241: the Mackenzie’s length in kilometers – more than half as long as Canada is wide!
1,805,200: the Mackenzie’s drainage area in square kilometers – twice the size of the entire province of B.C.!
306,000: number of cubic kilometers of fresh water Mackenzie gives to Arctic Ocean each year.
1789: The year explorer Alexander Mackenzie followed the full length of the river to its mouth.
The environmental assessment has been inadequate in measuring the full impact of the project on the lands, water and wildlife of this unique environment. Read the Nature Canada report explaining how the environmental assessment has been inadequate so far.
In June 2005, Nature Canada formally endorsed the Mackenzie WILD Declaration opposing the Mackenzie Gas Project. The Mackenzie WILD Declaration, also endorsed by such groups as Sierra Club of Canada, Ecology North, Council of Canadians, the Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance and the Wilderness Society calls on Canadian governments to: support Canada’s commitments to protect the global atmosphere, protect the biodiversity and ecology of the Mackenzie Valley, ensure sustainable, healthy Mackenzie Valley communities and respect the rights of Mackenzie Valley Indigenous Peoples. Learn more.