Pipe­line re­view doesn’t go far enough, group says

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION -

OT­TAWA The Na­tional En­ergy Board will con­sider the im­pact of more oil tankers from the pro­posed Trans Moun­tain pipe­line on marine life out to 12 nau­ti­cal miles off the B.C. coast­line.

But the Rain­coast Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion, one of the groups which sued Ot­tawa over the orig­i­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view of the pro­ject, says that dis­tance does not cut it.

Misty MacDuf­fee, a con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­o­gist at the foun­da­tion, says the dis­tance — and the fact that groups like hers have just five weeks to sub­mit ev­i­dence about their con­cerns — sug­gests to her this sec­ond re­view is just a po­lit­i­cal ex­er­cise and may re­sult in an­other court chal­lenge.

AT-RISK SPECIES

The sec­ond round of en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment comes af­ter the Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal threw out ap­proval for the pipe­line pro­ject in Au­gust, cit­ing in­suf­fi­cient con­sul­ta­tion with In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and the lack of at­ten­tion paid to the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts from in­creased oil tanker traf­fic off the coast.

MacDuf­fee says lim­it­ing the zone for as­sess­ment to the 12 nau­ti­cal mile ter­ri­to­rial limit will leave out a num­ber of at-risk species like blue whales and fin whales, and that the NEB should look at the im­pact all the way to what is known as the Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone, which is 200 nau­ti­cal miles off­shore.

Robert Steed­man, chief en­vi­ron­ment of­fi­cer of the NEB, says the dis­tance de­ci­sion was based on the com­ments re­ceived from in­ter­ested par­ties and that con­cerns about any species at risk can still be raised by in­ter­ven­ers in their sub­mit­ted com­ments.

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