B.C. Liberal failures on Enbridge pipeline project put caribou populations at risk

VICTORIA- The B.C. Liberals’ failure to fully participate in the Joint Review Panel (JRP) on the Northern Gateway pipeline puts caribou populations at risk, say the New Democrats.

“A recent B.C. government report highlights threats to endangered caribou herds posed by the Enbridge pipeline route,” said New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming. “But the Liberal government has failed to bring this important evidence before the panel.”

The report, authored by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations senior biologist Dr. Dale Seip and Elena Jones of Resources North, an independent research think-tank funded by government and industry, concludes that the endangered Bearhole/Redwillow herd is in rapid decline. A map of the pipeline produced by Jones depicts its impact on the caribou habitat, which for the Bearhole/Redwillow herd could be catastrophic.

At JRP hearings on Nov. 5, B.C. Nature/Nature Canada’s cross-examination of Enbridge representatives about these documents was cut short because the scientists who had prepared the documents were not being called as witnesses by the province of B.C.

Fleming noted that the province failed to participate in the phase of the hearings where this issue arose.

“After giving away decision-making power to the federal government, the Liberals failed to meet the deadline to submit evidence 10 months ago,” said Fleming. “Then, instead of attempting to submit the report late, the government did not even participate in the portion of cross-examination in Prince George which would have been a key opportunity to bring up wildlife issues.”

On Wednesday, B.C. Nature/Nature Canada filed a motion seeking a ruling from the JRP on the admissibility of these critical new documents.

Fleming noted that the province of B.C. has already taken the position that it will not support the motion by making a witness available for questioning on the documents in question.

“British Columbians have been let down by the Liberal government’s mishandling of the Enbridge proposal,” said Fleming. “They should not add another chapter to their ongoing failures by ignoring evidence that links the project to major threats to this caribou population.”

Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats are listening to the overwhelming majority of British Columbians opposed to the Enbridge project and have proposed a “made in B.C.” review that would reassert B.C.’s control over the decision and ensure the voices of citizens, businesses, First Nations and communities are properly heard.

A copy of the report can be found here.