Thursday, September 27, 2012

Canadian Enviros Sue To Halt Enbridge Northern Gateway Project

Sep 26: A coalition of Canadian environmental groups are taking the Federal government to court over what they call "its continued failure to implement the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and fulfill its legal responsibility to protect endangered wildlife living along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and shipping route." The lawsuit challenges the Canadian government's multi-year delays in producing recovery strategies for four species that would be affected by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project -- the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou. The habitat for all four species, which lies along the proposed pipeline and shipping route, would be impacted by the construction and operation of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

    The groups said the recovery strategy for each of these species is at least three years overdue. The Canadian government has delayed completion of recovery strategies for 188 at-risk species; in many cases, these delays stretch years past the mandatory deadlines set out in SARA. Currently, 87 recovery strategies are more than five years overdue. Sean Nixon, staff lawyer with Ecojustice said, "Delay threatens the survival of our endangered wildlife. That's why the deadlines in SARA for producing recovery strategies are mandatory. SARA is a good law that could help endangered species recover. The real problem is that the federal government won't implement it."

    Ecojustice filed the litigation in Canadian Federal Court, acting on behalf of five environmental groups: the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club B.C., Wilderness Committee and Wildsight. The groups said the loss of habitat is the key cause of decline for more than 80 per cent of Canada's species at risk. In order to survive and recover, at-risk animals and plants need protection of their critical habitat. After a species has been listed under SARA, the federal government is required by law to produce a recovery strategy that identifies the species' critical habitat based on the best available scientific information and Aboriginal traditional knowledge.

    The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a massive 1,177 km double pipeline project (36" & 20") to transport 525,000 bbl/day from the Edmonton, Alberta area to Kitimat, British Columbia and Canadian ports to market oil internationally and to the Western U.S. It is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken between the two Canadian provinces. The Project promises economic opportunities to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups across northern British Columbia and Alberta. With an estimated capital cost of $5.5 billion, Northern Gateway is expected to create thousands of job opportunities for regional residents throughout project construction and operations, while providing approximately $36 million of property taxes annually. Enbridge says the "Northern Gateway will be a model of world-class safety and environmental standards." The project is currently in the study and environmental review phase, with actual construction planned for from 2013 to 2016.
    Access the release from Canadian environmental groups with background on the lawsuit (click here). Access the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project website for extensive information on the project (click here). [#Wildlife, #EnergyOilSands]
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