Review of Enbridge oilsands pipeline doesn't stack up

June 29, 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. — When compared to the review of the Mackenzie Gas Project, the proposed environmental assessment of the Enbridge Gateway oilsands pipeline falls short, according to an analysis released today by the Pembina Institute.

The size of the Joint Review Panel and a lack of regional representation are two key concerns, said Karen Campbell, Staff Counsel for the Pembina Institute.

"The Enbridge Gateway project arguably poses greater environmental risk when you consider oilsands extraction, the pipeline route and crude oil tanker traffic on B.C'.s North Coast. Despite this, it's not being held up to the same level of scrutiny as the Mackenzie Gas Project," Campbell said.

The Mackenzie Gas Project's major component is a 1,300-km pipeline that would carry natural gas from the Northwest Territories to Alberta. The Joint Review Panel for that project was comprised of seven people, including four from the Northwest Territories, three of whom are aboriginal.

The Enbridge Gateway pipeline, on the other hand, is a 1,170-km twin pipeline that would transport oilsands petroleum between Alberta and Kitimat, B.C. If approved, it will open B.C.'s North Coast to crude oil tankers. Yet only three people, none of whom are from B.C., have been appointed to the Joint Review Panel that will review this project. A First Nations person from northern Ontario is the only aboriginal representative, despite the fact the pipeline affects at least 64 First Nations communities.

"The narrow composition of the Joint Review Panel is a real issue, particularly given the concerns identified by communities across northern British Columbia," Campbell said.

Even the Mackenzie Gas Project assessment, despite following a better process, is problematic. After six years of review, the federal and territorial governments have indicated they will only fully implement 10 of 115 recommendations directed at them.

"The credibility of the process is definitely at stake if the government can disregard the input of communities and the hard work of the panel," Campbell said. "It is a real cause for concern."

While the Joint Review Panel will make recommendations about the project, the final decision about whether or not the project will proceed is ultimately a political decision of the federal government.

Download our comparison chart of the Mackenzie Gas Project and the Enbridge Gateway oilsands pipeline.

Read our blog on why we can't trust the environmental assessment process for a fair decision on Enbridge oilsands pipeline.

Karen Campbell
Staff Counsel, Pembina Institute
Tel: 604-928-2258

The Pembina Institute is a non-partisan sustainable energy think tank.


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