Position Paper for Environmentalists Non-Government Organizations on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project Overview Enbridge is Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company. Founded 61 years ago, it is the single largest transporter of crude oil and petroleum products in North America. On May 27, 2010, Enbridge submitted a regulatory application for a $5. 5 billion project named Northern Gateway Project (NGP). This pipeline project consists of a twin pipeline system transporting petroleum and condensate from Bruderheim, Alberta, near Edmonton, to the marine terminals in Kitimat, British Columbia.
Crude oil or petroleum is used to make gasoline, lubricants for machinery, asphalt, plastics, and many others everyday necessities. Condensate is a chemical and petroleum mixture used to dilute tar sands crude oil for easier pipeline transport. The eastbound pipeline is projected to be 36” in diameter and 1,177km in length, and will deliver 525,000 barrels of oil per day from Bruderheim to Kitimat. The westbound pipeline, the same length as the eastbound pipeline, is to be 20” in diameter, and it will transport 193,000 barrels of condensate per day from Kitimat to Bruderheim (Enbridge, 2011b).
This project is currently undergoing a comprehensive and rigorous regulatory review to weigh the stakeholders’ interest regarding the adverse effects on the environment. By the end of 2013, the Joint Review Panel (JRP) will determine whether or not to permit Enbridge to carry out the project. Key Stakeholders & Their Positions on NGP The NGP has a diversified group of stakeholders. Amongst them, some of the major players are – in no specific order and not limited to – Enbridge, China(Sinopec), the Canadian government, Aboriginals, and environmental advocates. Enbridge
Enbridge, the project proponent, want to see it happen. It claims that the pipeline will strengthen the nation’s position as a global energy producer, build global alliances, and facilitate further investment in Canada. It points out that the thousands of jobs created by the project are also favourable. No doubt that the pipelines will make Enbridge a frontier in the oil industry, creating immense amounts of profit for its shareholders. Sinopec Sinopec, one of the big Chinese backers of the project, is in partnership with Enbridge, along with other Chinese companies supporting the pipelines.
They already own oil sands resources in Canada and have invested roughly $20 billion in the oil sands (Grigg, 2012). The Chinese are extremely interested in the project because of high energy demands in China: the estimated potential demand for oil is at 820,000 barrels per day in northern China (Grigg, 2012), making the country the biggest buyer of the exported fuel. Canadian Government Exporting petroleum to Asian countries such as China is what Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants. The fact that the pipelines will increase the GDP by $270 billion in the next 30 years (Beatty, 2011) is too appealing to the government to reject.
Because of the numerous environmental issues, however, not all parties of the parliament agree with Harper. Adrian Dix, the leader of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia (BC NDP), has promised to withdraw the deal if he is elected in the upcoming British Columbia provincial election (Fowlie, 2012). Christy Clark, the current premier of British Columbia, with Environment Minister Terry Lake, have announced that B. C. will consider the NGP only if it meets five conditions they outlined, which are (Fortems, 2012): 1. Completing the environmental review process.
In the case of Enbridge, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed. 2. Deploying world-leading marine oil-spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B. C. ‘s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments. 3. Using world-leading practices for land oil-spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines. 4. Addressing legal requirements regarding aboriginal and treaty rights, and nsuring First Nations provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project. 5. Ensuring British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers. Since the pipeline will put B. C. at 100% of the marine risk and a significant portion (56%) of land-based risk (Fortems, 2012), Clark notes that B. C. needs to be promised its fair share to even consider the pipeline.
Aboriginals Aboriginals, as mentioned in the fourth condition put forward by Clark, play a large role in the project. There are more than 130 First Nations groups in Western Canada, including both treaty and non-treaty nations. More than 50% of the proposed pipeline route is placed in First Nations’ territories, and they are actively opposing the project (NRDC, 2011). They are primarily concerned that it will compromise their way of life, which depends on water for their livelihood, culture, and health. Water is a significant part of their way of life and is jeopardized by the pipelines.
It is only a matter of time before an oil spill happens and endangers the land, the water, and the forests. One particular forest, the Great Bear Rainforest, is the only habitat for the Kermode, or spirit bear. The Aboriginals worked hard to protect it, and allowing pipelines to intrude into sacred forest would eventually drive spirit bears to extinction. As Nature Canada argues, “It’s simple. When you move oil, you spill oil. It’s not a question of if a spill will occur – it’s a question of when” (2012). The illustration below from Nature Canada (2012) illustrates how one spill would impact B. C. waters. Illustration 1) Environmentalists – Non-Government Organizations It is not only the forests that are in danger: the whole economic well-being of communities that depend on fisheries and forests is threatened as well. The oil sands are the fastest growing source of global warming pollution in Canada (NRDC, 2011). For the purpose of oil extraction, massive toxic waste lakes are created (Grigg, 2012). In addition, toxic air and water pollution, as well as habitat and species destruction are inevitable. It is estimated that 100 million tonnes of carbon pollution are released into the atmosphere per year (NRDC, 2011).
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council some of the places and species around B. C. that would be placed at risk by the pipeline are (2011): * Fraser River * Stuart River – Sockeye and Sturgeon * Fraser Lake – Trumpeter Swans * Skeena River – Wild Salmon * Sutherland River – Babine Lake Rainbow Trout * Morice River – Chinook and Steelhead * Zymoetz (Copper) River – Steelhead * Kitimat River – Recreational fishing * Skeena River Estuary – Salmon and Waterbirds * Great Bear Rainforest – the Spirit Bear * Douglas Channel – Whales
Moreover, according to Environment Canada, the Douglas Channel is the world’s fourth most dangerous watercourse (Grigg, 2012). Enbridge has proposed that 250 tankers, each the size of four football fields connected, would be crossing this Channel from Kitimat before heading through the Hecate Strait. These gigantic vessels need close to 2km to come to a full stop, which only increases the risk of an oil tanker disaster when gale force winds are common in their route of export. Also 580kms of narrow routes, reefs, storms, tide rips, fog, extreme waves, and complex courses await them (Grigg, 2012).
The dangerous Channel is modified and shown differently – very misleading – in the Enbridge’s pipeline route video clip. (Illustration 2. Source: Eaves, 2012) This report will be focusing from the environmentalists’ – non-government organization (NGO) – and their positions on the NGP. Enbridge’s Corporate Social Responsibility Policies Enbridge defines Corporate Social Responsibility as follows (2012a): * Conducting business in a socially responsible and ethical manner * Protecting the environment and the safety of people * Supporting human rights; and Engaging, learning from, respecting and supporting the communities and cultures with which we work Enbridge states that it will “conduct its business in an open, honest, and ethical manner” and “engage stakeholder clearly, honestly, and respectfully” (2012a). Then how is one supposed to interpret the following chart altered by Enbridge? (Illustration 3. Source: West Coast Environmental Law, 2012) The economic implications of the NGP are clearly visible. It is the economic dream, or as Enbridge would argue, “It’s not just a pipeline; it is path to the future” (2011b).
As the commentary on its project overview video clip says, NGP is the “path to prosperity, the path to increase in trades, the path to building global alliance, and the path to strengthen Canada’s economy” (Enbridge, 2012d). The pipeline will create approximately 62,700 jobs during a three year construction and approximately 1,146 long term jobs once in operation – of which, 561 jobs are in B. C. (Enbridge, 2011c). It offers a promising increase in tax revenue and increase in GDP in the next 30 years (Beatty, 2011); however, at what cost?
Enbridge states that it “takes pride in safely and reliably delivering energy to people” (2012a). Then how are 610 oil spills between 1999 and 2008 to be explained (Kheraj, 2012)? (Illustration 4. Source: Kheraj, 2012) Furthermore, how is average of 25 spills of varying sizes per year in the U. S (Yaffe, 2010) safe and reliable? Under the subheading of “Values” on Enbridge’s website (2012c), they state: Integrity * Maintain truth in all interaction * Do the right thing; do not take the easy way out Take accountability for our actions, without passing blame to others * Follow through on commitments Safety * Relentlessly ensure the safety of our communities, customers, contractors, partners and employees * Take a proactive approach to identifying and preventing safety issues * Take immediate action when a safety issue is identified * Continually seek ways to improve safety performance First of all, by modifying the Douglas channel and deleting the islands, Enbridge did not maintain truth in all interactions – which is stated as one of its values.
As for relentlessly ensuring the safety of communities, it is evident in the average number of spills in the U. S. that Enbridge failed again to keep its promise. As Jim Cooperman, the president of Shuswap Environmental Action Society, said “there is no technology that will make the project safe” (Fortems, 2012). The risks of the pipeline cannot be controlled. Even with the most advanced leak-detection technology there is no guarantee that it will be spill-proof (Fortems, 2012). Furthermore, as McGowan ;amp; Song (2012) presents the case about Enbridge’s 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.
After two years, workers are still struggling to remove residual crude oil that has sunk into the riverbed and wetlands. Kalamazoo River is more centrally located to the urban area compared to the locations of the proposed pipeline of NGP. If it takes more than two years to clean up a spill in Kalamazoo River, one can assume it will only take longer in the suburban areas of northern B. C. With prolonged clean up period, environmental damage increases. Hence, it can be extrapolated that once the oil spill occurs in the NGP pipelines, B. C. will face ecosystem catastrophe.
Regardless of how hard Enbridge attempts to make the NGP safe, it is evident that Enbridge will expose B. C. ’s primeval beauty to hazardous oil in the near future. Northern coastal B. C. is globally rare and is home to extraordinary ecosystem (NRDC, 2011). Therefore, Enbridge’s claims of ability to manage and mitigate the risks of the project, potential impacts are significantly higher – too much is at stake. Knowing what is in jeopardy, it is ethically wrong to permit the NGP. Conclusion There is nothing that Enbridge can do to allay the client’s concerns about the NGP.
The NGP has socio-economic benefits that are appealing to the shareholders of the company and to the government. Nevertheless, the risks are simply too high, and therefore, pipeline should not be approved under any circumstances. The five conditions outlined by Clark and Lake may satisfy the government requirements in allowing Enbridge to build the pipeline, but in the environmentalists (NGO) perspective, there is too much at stake to even consider. If NGP is approved, the minimal requirements from Enbridge would be those outlined by Clark and Lake.
On the whole, the potential environmental impact outweighs any prospective economic benefit. Reference List Beatty, P. (2011, Jun 23). Northern gateway pipeline is economic dream. Calgary Herald. Retrieved from http://ezproxy. library. ubc. ca/login? url=http://search. proquest. com/ docview/873646787? accountid=14656; http://gw2jh3xr2c. search. serialssolutions. com/? ctx_ver=Z39. 88-2004;amp;ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF8;amp;rfr_id=info:sid/ ProQ%3Acanadiannews;amp;rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal;amp;rft. genre=unknown;amp;rft. title=Calgary+Herald;amp;rft. atitle=Northern+Gateway+pipeline+is+economic+dream;amp;rft. au=Beatty%2C+Perrin;amp;rft. aulast=Beatty;amp;rft. aufirst=Perrin;amp;rft. date=20110623;amp;rft. volume=;amp;rft. issue=;amp;rft. spage=A. 17;amp;rft . isbn =;amp;rft. btitle=;amp;rft. title=Calgary+Herald;amp;rft. issn=08281815 Eaves, D. (2012). Lying with maps: How Enbridge is misleading the public in its ads. Retrieved from http://eaves. ca/2012/08/15/lying-with-maps-how-enbridge-is-misleading-the-public-in-its-ads/ Enbridge Inc. (2011a). Emergency preparedness and