WWF Canada Blog:
Oceans

News, views and analysis from our team as we work to create solutions to conservation challenges facing our planet.


Today’s Northern Gateway Recommendation Fails Canada and Science

Today we are dismayed, together with our eminent Canadians for the Great Bear  and thousands of others by the report of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel (JRP) which regrettably recommends the approval of the Enbridge pipeline proposal.

Although the JRP sought to patch the many holes in Enbridge’s plans with 209 conditions, the fact remains: Supertanker traffic in the Great Bear will expose Canada’s West Coast to the risk of a spill that no one can manage, with consequences that are entirely unacceptable:  Spilled oil would foul hundreds of kilometers of shoreline and kill untold marine life and birds. Everyone who depends on this ecosystem, from fishing and tourism industries to First Nations communities, would be affected.  We have seen, in the case of the Exxon Valdez disaster, that the damage will be profound and long-lasting.   Have we really not yet learned this hard lesson?

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) surfacing while feeding at a bubble net, east of Promise Island, Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada © Andrew S. Wright  / WWF-Canada

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) surfacing while feeding at a bubble net, east of Promise Island, Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada © Andrew S. Wright / WWF-Canada

Not everyone will have the chance to see the giant mouths of feeding whales break the ocean surface along the cedar-lined shores of Whale Channel. Few among us will ever catch a rare glimpse of a white Spirit bear in the ancient rainforest. Yet a great many Canadians can appreciate the majesty and the values of this very special place.  The Great Bear, like other unique wild places, is a part of our heritage and a part of what makes us Canadian. Many of us across this land can understand truly what is at stake.

The Exxon Valdez spill area covered more than 200,000 square kilometres of Alaska’s coast. The same size spill is shown superimposed above against a map of B.C.’s coast.  Note: This is not a spill trajectory model for a spill on the BC coast.

The Exxon Valdez spill area covered more than 200,000 square kilometres of Alaska’s coast. The same size spill is shown superimposed above against a map of B.C.’s coast.
Note: This is not a spill trajectory model for a spill on the BC coast.

The petroleum industry wants to move its product offshore and often promises to place safety first and to build “world-class” oil spill response capabilities.  But past environmental disasters have shown us that, in their wake, the industry’s focus shifts to diverting blame and limiting financial liability. Referring to Enbridge’s tanker spill response plans, the Province of B.C. said in its closing submission to the JRP, “‘Trust me’ is not good enough in this case.” The truth is that B.C.’s oil spill response preparedness is woefully inadequate to cope with current risks, much less risks associated with the proposed hundreds of supertankers.  The vast majority of the oil spilled from a tanker is never recovered.  Tanker oil spills are unmanageable.

The Canadian government has repeatedly stated that it will only approve a project if it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. Enbridge has failed to demonstrate that it can safely ship diluted bitumen by pipeline to the coast and by tanker through the Great Bear Sea.

When something is priceless, you do not let anyone place it at risk. This proposed project, even with the JRP’s many conditions, poses too great a risk for people, species and ecosystems. We call on Canada to reject it.

 


  • ACP

    An alternative would be to continue pipe along the coast to southern port or Vancouver. If the companies took their time to build keeping it quiet so as to minimize disturbances within forest and to the animals, then it may gain public support. The pipe would reduce risk of spills in region. Utlize a smalll crew and quiet the equipment. The success would be due to the care taken to make way through the forest with minimum disturbance. Animals will adapt. Canada may gain some of its tarnished reputation back and this would satisfy First Nations who are not opposed to resource development however want to see it done responsibly (Atleo, Jan 2014).

  • Kirk Bauder

    It’s just a matter of time. Greed will kill the west coast! Then what? I told you so? The Government is as much to blame as the oil companies. All the protesting and petitions in the world will not stop this. A blind man could see this coming. Money, money, money, money!

  • http://twitter.com/theirmind theirmind

    In the end to be contaminated until when? The valuable ocean resources do not care?

  • Aron MC

    everyone new this was going to happen. its all to do with money. Can’t stop people with the big bucks. they do what they want to do and the Government just hands over our land and Country to the big icons and companies.

  • Allan D Clarke

    So who is coming up with alternatives ? Oil company’s want money people want work and energy and even with the amount of oil naturally produced would need to be managed to maintain safe environment so how do we accomplish this while doing the best to improve and maintain and protect our environment and wild life I think we can do both and need to just how and who’s doing the work or thinking on this. If money was no question what could be done to address this problem ? I also think this provides massive opportunity for research and development in many areas as well as educational and economical what could be used to make some serious ground in wild life and environmental protection what the WWF has been doing very well in for years. But I agree that’s a huge risk is there a different way ?