Northern Gateway Pipeline

Shooting the Messenger: Tracing Canada’s Anti-Enviro Movement

Vivian Krause

When former environment minister Jim Prentice held his introductory lunch with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson in November 2009, Prentice described to Jacobson how he had been shocked during a visit to Norway to find heated opposition to the Alberta oilsands during a public debate over state-owned StatOil ASA’s investment there.

This information was contained in a cable from Jacobson, which was obtained by WikiLeaks and posted by a Norwegian paper.

Prentice was clearly feeling the heat from a global campaign by environmental organizations to frame oilsands oil as “dirty” because of its energy-intensive extraction, which make for Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The public sentiment in Norway shocked him and has heightened his awareness of the negative consequences to Canada’s historically ‘green’ standing on the world stage,” the cable reported.

Internal Documents Show Feds Doubted Their Own First Nations Consultation Process for Northern Gateway Pipeline

Internal documents obtained by B.C.'s Haisla Nation show the federal government had concerns about the consultation approach proposed for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline since at least 2009.

The documents, requested by the Haisla Nation nearly four years ago, were released through Access to Information legislation recently and show the federal government was warned it wasn’t fulfilling its duty to consult Aboriginal peoples as required under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.

An Environment Canada e-mail included in the documents contained a list of concerns regarding the consultation process, stating, “it is not clear that [the process] would meet the honour of the Crown duty.”

The e-mail also acknowledged “First Nations were not involved in the design of the consultation process” and that there was a “lack of clarity” concerning First Nations’ rights and title.

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross said he received the trove of documents with “mixed emotions.”

We’re very satisfied to know the staff of Environment Canada agreed with us in terms of the inadequate process in place to address rights and title,” Ross said. “But it’s disappointing this information is in our hands now when we can’t do anything with it legally or politically.”

Five Poll Results That Are Gonna Cause Oil Execs Some Headaches

Alberta Oil Magazine just published its National Survey on Energy Literacy, the culmination of 1,396 online interviews of a representative sample of Canadians conducted by Leger.

The results are particularly interesting coming from Alberta Oil, a magazine destined for the desks of the energy sector’s senior executives and decision-makers.

Summing up the survey’s findings about “The Issues,” Alberta Oil editors write that opposition to energy projects is “not just for West Coast hippies anymore.”

Indeed. There are quite a few nuggets in the survey’s findings that are probably causing a headache or two in Calgary’s corner offices this week. We round up the Top 5.

1) Opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline is just as serious as opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline — if not more so, according to the survey. What’s more, the more highly educated citizens are, the less likely they are to support Trans Mountain or Northern Gateway. Hmph, maybe the anti-pipeline crowd isn’t all unemployed hippies after all?

Bill C-46 Could Transform Pipeline Liability Law in Canada. But Will it Be for the Better?

This is a guest post by Ian Miron, Ecojustice staff lawyer. 

Proposed pipeline liability regime steps in the right direction, but leaves too much wiggle room for polluters.

At this very moment, Canada’s liability regime is woefully inadequate when it comes to making sure that polluters pay in the event of a pipeline rupture or oil spill. That means that Canadian taxpayers like you would shoulder an inappropriate degree of the risk in the event of a serious pipeline accident, like Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan.

According to recent estimates, that spill — the largest in United States history — cost more than $1.2 billion to clean-up. By comparison, Canada’s strictest liability law would have only made Enbridge automatically liable for a paltry $40 million, while providing the company with an opportunity to wriggle off the hook for any further costs. 

Now consider that a number of controversial new pipeline projects have been proposed in Canada, each bigger than the last. Between Enbridge’s Northern Gateway (525,000 barrels per day), Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion (890,000 barrels per day) and TransCanada’s Energy East (1.1 million barrels per day), thousands of Canadians may find pipeline infrastructure — locking us into a fossil-fuel economy for another generation — snaking right through their backyards.

Pipelines and the Erosion of the National Energy Board’s Credibility

burnaby mountain, protest, kinder morgan

This is a guest post by Karen Campbell, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

The dramatic events unfolding on Burnaby Mountain — where more than 100 protestors have been arrested and charged with civil contempt — has turned a white-hot spotlight on Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the National Energy Board (NEB). And both parties are looking a little worse for wear.

Between injunctions and arrests, the furor over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has suddenly surpassed that other pipeline, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, in terms of controversy. You will recall that despite vociferous opposition from most First Nations and northern B.C. communities, the federal government approved Northern Gateway in June 2014. That approval is now the subject of dozens of legal challenges, including three applications filed by Ecojustice lawyers on behalf of our clients.

We are just one-third of the way through the Kinder Morgan project review, and frustration with the NEB’s stripped-down process — a product of federal environmental law rollbacks tucked into the 2012 budget bill — is steadily mounting, and may have serious implications for other projects, namely TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

“Citizen Interventions” Have Cost Canada’s Tar Sands Industry $17B, New Report Shows

Oil companies and fossil fuel investors seeking further developments in the Alberta tar sands have been dealt another setback with the publication of a report showing producers lost $17.1 billion USD between 2010-2013 due to successful public protest campaigns.

Fossil fuel companies lost $30.9 billion overall during the same period partly due to the changing North American oil market but largely because of a fierce grassroots movement against tar sands development, said the report — Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development.

A significant segment of opposition is from First Nations in Canada who are raising sovereignty claims and other environmental challenges, added the report, which was produced by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Oil Change International (OCI).

Tar sands producers face a new kind of risk from growing public opposition,” Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at IEEFA, and one of the lead authors on the report, said. “This opposition has achieved a permanent presence as public sentiment evolves and as the influence of organizations opposed to tar sands production continues to grow.”

Oil in Tankers Not Our Responsibility, Says Kinder Morgan, Recalling Exxon Valdez Lessons

exxon valdez cleanup provides lessons for kinder morgan

This is a guest post by Glen Thompson. It originally appeared on Abbotsford Today the Watershed Sentinel and is republished here with permission.

Once the oil leaves the dock, Kinder Morgan holds no obligation or responsibility, even 10 metres out – that’s the carrier’s liability.”

At the last two information events in Chilliwack, Kinder Morgan brought a large team of professionals and specialized aids to cover an exhaustive range of issues. Resembling a Royal Commission, everything concerning the proposed pipeline was in the tow of a Subject Matter Expert and neatly secured in a rolling briefcase.

The first audience was the full Board of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and the second, an invited group of government regulatory officials, community leaders and representatives of major environmental organizations. Audiences with a formidable amount of assembled oversight.

The new pipeline, it seems, is as complicated as the first mission to the moon, with a robust 15,000 page draft plan, guiding a small army of civil engineers, scientists, and project leads. It took no less than nine expert presenters with technical analysts standing by, to present an hour and a half project overview to the FVRD Board.

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Sitting two rows deep, the project leads extolled advanced science and gleaned wisdom distilled from forensic analysis of past catastrophes. The presentation team successfully stick-handled their way through the Boards member’s queries; air quality, the depth of the pipeline in deep rooted agricultural crops, financial compensation capacity and riparian protection.

Canadians Don’t Share Federal Government Priorities on Energy and Economy, Opinion Research Shows

public opinion research, northern gateway pipeline

The average Canadian doesn’t place the economy above other concerns like education, health care and environment according to a a public-opinion survey analysis performed by the Privy Council Office (PCO), a group of the Prime Minister’s top advisors, in January.

As the Canadian Press reports, the research suggests major federal government policies don’t line up with Canadian priorities.

The analysis followed public opinion research of 3,000 survey respondents and 12 focus groups, conducted by NRG Research Group, on behalf of the Finance Department. The PCO is not obligated to routinely make its research public.

The research showed Canadians have “little enthusiasm” for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, “even among supporters,” the January 25 PCO report on the findings states. Since then the pipeline was federally approved.

New BC Nature Lawsuit Challenges Cabinet’s Approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

Barnard Harbour, Douglas Channel, Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Dogwood Initiative

A new lawsuit filed Monday challenges the federal Cabinet's decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The suit, launched by the Federation of BC Naturalists, or BC Nature, asks the Federal Court of Appeal to allow an application that declares the pipeline’s June 17, 2014 approval invalid. Today is the last day parties may apply to the Federal Court to initiate a judicial review of the project's approval.

BC Nature filed a previous lawsuit in January 2014 against the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) recommendation the federal government approve the pipeline. That suit, filed by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre (ELC), is still ongoing and challenges the JRP’s justification of “serious harm” to caribou and grizzly bears as well as findings regarding the consequences of a potential major oil spill.

In the lawsuit filed today, we argue that due to fundamental flaws in the JRP’s report, Cabinet was deprived of the legal authority to make a final decision on the pipeline,” Chris Tollefson, ELC Executive Director and lawyer for BC Nature, said.

I Signed the “Let BC Vote” Pledge, And Here’s Why

let bc vote, dogwood initiative, enbridge northern gateway pipeline

Last week I signed the Let BC Vote pledge. You could say I’m late to the party. More than 200,000 British Columbians signed before me. I’ve been aware of the Dogwood Initiative-led campaign since it launched, and I’ve watched the numbers grow. But I wanted to reason it through before deciding with conviction that it is part of my path forward.

For the last few years I’ve worked in my community and beyond to help build the momentum we need to stop Enbridge Northern Gateway. I’m not trained as a leader or organizer. I came to this work before I felt ready, and I learned on my feet. I’ve made my share of gut decisions in the heat of battle, and learned to be grateful when I have the luxury of examining every angle of a campaign before I commit to it.


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