Enbridge Fields Sea Of Questions Over Proposed Pipeline
By 250 News
Prince George, B.C. - Representatives from the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project faced the expected gamut of questions surrounding the proposed $5.5-billion dollar twin pipeline at a public information session in Prince George this evening.
And while their answers may or may not have satisfied those who posed the questions, the one gap that could not be bridged was with members of the local First Nations communities, who do not want the pipeline in any shape or form.
Approximately 60 people attended this evening's public presentation portion of the four-hour session, and remained for the 45-minute Q-and-A afterwards. Northern Gateway President, John Carruthers, spent about a half-an-hour going over the specifics of the proposed 12-hundred kilometre Enbridge Inc. pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C.; the comprehensive federal review process the project is going through; the economic benefits to the country, as a whole, and the province, in particular; and the rigorous steps being taken to protect both the land and marine environments.
Some highlights from Carruthers presentation:
- the economic benefits to Canada will be $270-billion dollars over the next 30-years, including construction; BC would see a $1.2-billion dollar increase in tax revenue over the life of the project, $165-million dollars in tax revenue during construction; and Central BC would see a $10-million dollar increase in local property tax revenue per year
- Enbridge is going above requirements to ensure marine safety, requiring double-hulled ships, B.C. pilots brought on board those ships to navigate the inside channel, tethering the ships to a tugboat lead for additional safety, and the establishment of spill response capacity right in Kitimat (right now, response would have to come from Vancouver)
- the proposed main pipeline would move 550-thousand barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Kitimat, the second smaller pipeline would move 193-thousand barrels of condensate back to Bruderheim (currently that lighter oil is imported to the coast and moved by rail to Alberta)
- statistically, due to significant advancements in pipeline technology in terms of its strength and how it's made, new pipelines can transport 99.9998-percent of the product safely
Questions from those in attendance afterwards focused on Enbridge's recent spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan this past summer and what measures were being put in place to assure the same thing would not happen with this pipeline. When asked whether the company's board of directors would be willing to be held personally responsible for a spill, Gateway President, John Carruthers, did not comment, he does say the corporation would accept full responsibility and deal with it completely.
In response to a question about environmental studies done on the Northern Gateway proposal, spokesperson Paul Anderson, says there have been 40 different studies undertaken and all are available on the project's website. In particular to sensitive water crossings, Anderson says the company met with a number of key stakeholders, including fisheries experts, to determine the best location to cross each river and stream.
Concerns from area First Nations were raised by the Chief of the Saik'uz First Nation, representing five bands in the Yinka-Dene Alliance and the Vice-Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council. Saik'uz Chief, Jackie Thomas, was given 10-minutes to speak and detailed the Alliance's steadfast opposition to the project. Thomas says almost one-quarter of the pipeline crosses their traditional land, in the critical Fraser River watershed, and they have made it clear oil from the tar sands will not be permitted on their territories. She says while Enbridge claims to respect First Nations' traditional ways, the company consistently refuses to respect their rights and acknowledge their authority. Thomas says the company is putting faith in the federal joint review process, but that process can't resolve First Nation concerns with the project.
"It's simple, if you respect our protocols and our laws, then you must abide by our decision," she says. "If you refuse to respect our laws, we will use every means available to us under indigenous, Canadian, and international law to enforce our decision." Thomas says Enbridge's recently announced plan for a 10-percent equity-stake in the project for aboriginal communities is an insult and First Nations will not trade the safety of their rivers for cash. Carrier Sekani Vice-Chief, Terry Teegee, says First Nations have opposed the route for more than five years now and he wants to know at what point Enbridge will give up on the project.
Northern Gateway President, John Carruthers, acknowledges there has been opposition, but says there has also been some favourable response from aboriginal communities and says the project needs to go through the mandated process.
"We are very much trying to be responsive to the rights of aboriginal communities," says Carruthers. "And certainly we have to comply with all the laws of Canada, including those that are attributed for aboriginal communities."
He points out that part of the JRP process is to look at the rights of aboriginal communities and assess what the impact is, "so the Joint Review Panel will have that consideration and we'll need to fully comply with it."
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