Spectra Energy Corp of Houston, Texas, today announced that the company has signed a Project Development Agreement with BG Group PLC, based in the United Kingdom, to jointly develop plans for a natural gas transportation system from northeast B.C. to serve BG Group’s potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Prince Rupert.
A release from Spectra Energy and BG Groupsays each company will initially own a 50 per cent interest in the proposed transportation project. Spectra Energy will be responsible for construction and operation and BG Group has agreed to contract for all of the proposed capacity.
The approximately 850-kilometre, large diameter natural gas transportation system will begin in northeast B.C. and end at BG Group’s potential LNG export facility in Prince Rupert.
A fact sheet released by Spectra says the project would provide 50 to 60 permanent jobs on completion and about 4,000 jobs during construction.
The Spectra BG project will be the fourth using BC’s strategic position on the Great Circle Route to Asia to export liquified natural gas. TransCanada has signed a deal with Shell for a pipeline, Coastal GasLink, that would initially carry up to 1.7-billion cubic feet a day of gas to the Shell Canada project at Kitimat The Pacific Trails pipeline, could carry more than 1-billion cubic feet a day to the KM LNG partners ship where Apache, EOG and Encana are building a terminal at Bish Cove, south of Kitimat. The fourth project, BC LNG, would use either existing pipelines or share one of the proposed Kitimat pipelines to produce LNG for customers at a barge-based floating terminal at what is sometimes called North Cove, between the KM LNG project at Bish Cove and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project which would be close to the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter.
The Spectra release says the new transportation system will be capable of transporting up to 4.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. The project will connect with the Spectra Energy facility at Fort St. John, the centre of the still growing shale gas production and exploration in the northeastern BC.
Greg Ebel, president and chief executive officer, Spectra Energy says in the release:
We are excited to be partnering with BG Group, a recognized world leader in natural gas and more specifically, LNG. This project offers B.C. a unique opportunity to access new markets, strengthen its energy infrastructure, engage stakeholders in economic growth and job creation, and ultimately secure the province’s position as a competitive energy leader.
Furthermore, today’s announcement initiates our next wave of investment opportunity in B.C. We are ideally positioned to create further value for our investors by leveraging surplus B.C. natural gas supplies and facilitating its export to high-demand markets in Asia. This, in turn, will provide multiple opportunities for further investment in our gathering and processing facilities in the province.
Doug Bloom president of Spectra Energy Transmission West adds in the release:
For more than half a century, Spectra Energy has been a part of communities in B.C. This project will build on our expertise and track record of delivering natural gas responsibly, listening to the needs of Aboriginal and local communities, and protecting the environment, as we help deliver on B.C.’s energy potential.
Working together with affected stakeholders and based on preliminary assessments of environmental, historical, cultural and constructability factors, early conceptual routes have been developed. Spectra Energy and BG Group will continue engaging with interested and affected stakeholders, including Aboriginal and local communities, environmental organizations and regulatory agencies, to further refine the project route.
As is now common with proposed energy projects for northwestern British Colulmbia, Spectra has set up a website for consultations Energy for BC.
Spectra says: “The new outreach initiative is designed to engage with stakeholders on the jobs, revenues and environmental benefits that natural gas can create in British Columbia.”
Spectra also makes the usual commitment to “spend the next several years closely conferring with stakeholders and working through the permitting process for the proposed transportation system.”
What is it about the islands in Douglas Channel? First, Enbridge gets in to a lot of hot water, so to speak, for erasing the islands in Douglas Channel in an animation promoting the Northern Gateway Pipeline. See for example The Vancouver Sun on back on Aug. 16, 2012, when it picked up a story from the Times Colonist – Enbridge map sinks islands, angers critics. The controversial video segment showed Douglas Channel wide open for navigation, rather than marked with about one thousand square kilometres of mountainous islands. This map, created by the Leadnow.ca and Sumofus.org websites was widely used by the media to show the difference. Enbridge later amended its video with a disclaimer that it is “broadly representational.” A video by Shortt and Epic Productions “This is Not An Enbridge animation” showing the beauty of northwestern BC quickly went viral.
As this was happening, the United States government Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a map that shows Liquified Natural Gas import and export terminals across North America, a map that adds an island to the Channel–“Douglas Island.”
In fact, the map manages to get a lot about Canadian LNG projects wrong. It locates the BC LNG project on the non-existent Douglas Island. The company’s name Douglas Channel Energy Partnership actually gives the proper location this way
south of the Moon Bay Marina, within the District of Kitimat and the asserted traditional territory of the Haisla Nation. The site is approximately 10 km southwest of Kitimat and 7 km north of Bees Cove Indian Reserve 6 (Bish Cove)
The small cove where BCLNG will put its barges to create the LNG is often locally called North Cove.
It appears that in Oregon, the Coos Bay LNG project is becoming as controversial as the Northern Gateway project is in Canada.
The issues outlined by Templeton include the threat of expropriation (called “eminent domain” in the US and also a key issue in the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline on the plains). There are arguments on jobs versus the environment, especially the perceived threat to wild rivers and salmon spawning grounds. Finally one issue that is lower on the agenda in northwestern BC but a big worry in Oregon, the potential for a devastating earthquake along the Cascadia fault.
Unlike in Oregon, LNG projects are generally perceived positively in the northwest and all three are going ahead, although not as quickly as originally planned due to market volatility among prime potential customers in Asia.
The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel today denied a request from Skeena Bulkley Valley MP to reconsider its decision not to hold the questioning round of final hearings in Kitimat. The JRP is still reserving its decision on locations for final arguments.
The panel had previously decided to hold those hearings in Prince Rupert, Prince George and Edmonton.
In its ruling on Cullen’s request, the JRP said:
Your request for the Panel to reconsider its decision on the locations for the questioning phase of the final hearings did not contain any new information that was not considered by the Panel in its original determination. As such, your request is denied. The Panel further notes that no decision has been made with respect to the location for the final hearings for final argument. As indicated in Procedural Direction #8, these locations will be announced at a later date.
Cullen had also asked to be allowed to question government participants in the hearing. That request was also denied because filed the request after the deadline. Cullen also plans to question Northern Gateway witnesses and so the JRP reminded him that:
In accordance with the Panel’s letter of 25 July 2012, you are reminded that the names of the witnesses or witness panels you intend to question and an estimate of how much time you will need to question each party or witness panel is to be submitted by 3 August 2012.
Enbridge Northern Gateway today filed a massive 11-volume study with the Joint Review Panel outlining possible scenarios for oil spills along the route including the Kitimat and Morice Rivers in British Columbia.
The study, carried out by three consulting firms, Stantec Consuting and AMEC Environmental & Infrastructure both of Calgary and RPS ASA of Rhode Island, is called “Ecological and Human Health Assessment for Pipeline spills.”
Overall the models created by study appear to be extremely optimistic, especially in light of recent events, such as the damning report on by the US
National Transportation Safety Board and the finding of violations by the US Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration with Enbridge operations during the 2010 Marshall, Michigan, spill and subsequent cleanup difficulties encountered by Enbridge.
The executive summary of the report begins by saying
This document presents conservatively developed assessments of the acute and chronic risk to ecological and human receptors in the unlikely event of a full bore pipeline break on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Three representative hydrocarbon types (condensate, synthetic oil
and diluted bitumen) were evaluated with releases occurring to four different rivers representing a range of hydrological and geographic characteristics, under both low-flow and high-flow conditions. The analysis indicates that that the potential environmental effects on ecological and human health from each hydrocarbon release scenario could be adverse and may be significant. However, the probability of the releases as considered in the assessment (i.e., full bore rupture, with no containment or oil recovery) is low, with return periods for high consequence watercourses ranging from 2,200 to 24,000 years. Therefore, the significant adverse environmental effects as described in this report are not likely to occur.
So the study says that it is “conservative” that means optimistic, that a full bore pipelink break with no containment or recovery is “an unlikely event” and would probably occur every 2,200 and 24,000 years. Not bad for a pipeline project that is supposed to be operational for just 50 years.
The summary does caution:
The analysis has also shown that the outcomes are highly variable and are subject to a great many factors including the location of the spill, whether the hydrocarbons are released to land or directly to a watercourse, the size of the watercourse, slope and flow volumes, river bed substrate, the amount of suspended particulate in the water, environmental conditions (such as the time of year, temperature and wind speeds, precipitation, etc.), the types of shoreline soils and vegetative cover and most significantly, the type and volume of hydrocarbon released.
The highly technical study is Enbridge’s official response to those intervenors who have “requested additional ecological and human health risk assessment studies pertaining to pipeline spills” and a request from the Joint Review Panle for more information about “the long term effects of pipeline oil spills on aquatic organisms (including the sensitivity of the early life stages of the various salmon species), wildlife, and human health.”
The report presents modelling on the release of three hydrocarbons, diluted bitumen, synthetic oil and condensate at four river locations along the pipeline route for their potential ecological and human health effects, under two flow regimes (i.e., high and low flow), broadly representing summer and winter conditions.
Modelling was done for four areas:
• Chickadee Creek: a low gradient interior river tributary discharging to a large river system
located up-gradient from a populated centre within the Southern Alberta Uplands region
• Crooked River: a low gradient interior river with wetlands, entering a lake system within
the Interior Plateau Region of British Columbia
• Morice River: a high gradient river system along the western boundary of the Interior
Plateau Region of British Columbia
• Kitimat River near Hunter Creek: a high gradient coastal tributary discharging to a large
watercourse with sensitive fisheries resources, downstream human occupation, and discharging to the Kitimat River estuary
In one way, the study also appears to be a partial victory for the Kitimat group Douglas Channel Watch because the model for the Kitimat River is based on a spill at Hunter Creek, which has been the subject of extensive work by the environmental group, but the consulting study is markedly optimistic compared to the scenario painted by Douglas Channel Watch in its presentations to District of Kitimat council.
The study describes the Kitimat River:
The hypothetical release location near Hunter Creek is southwest of Mount Nimbus, in the upper Kitimat River watershed, and flows into Kitimat River, then Kitimat Arm, approximately 65 km downstream. The area is in a remote location and maintains high wildlife and fisheries values. The pipeline crossing near Hunter Creek is expected to be a horizontal direction drilling (HDD) crossing. The release scenario
assumes a discharge directly into Kitimat River…
The streambed and banks are composed of coarse gravel, cobbles and boulders. Shoreline vegetation (scattered grasses and shrubs) occurs in the channel along the tops of bars. Vegetation is scattered on the channel banks below the seasonal high water mark and more developed (i.e., grasses, shrubs and trees) bove the seasonal high water mark.
Wildlife and fish values for the Kitimat River are high: it is important for salmon stocks, which also provide important forage for grizzly bears, bald eagles and osprey on the central coast. The Kitimat River estuary, at the north end of Kitimat Arm, also provides year-round habitat for some waterbirds and seasonal habitat for staging waterfowl.
There is considerable recreational fishing, both by local people and through fishing guides, on Kitimat River, its estuary and in Kitimat Arm. There is also likely to be a high amount of non-consumptive recreational activity in the area, including wildlife viewing, hiking and camping. The Kitimat River estuary, for example, is well known for waterbird viewing.
While no fish were captured at this location during the habitat survey, salmonoid fry and coho salmon were observed downstream. Previously recorded fish species in the area include chinook, coho and chum salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and steelhead trout.
However, the next paragraph appears to show that a full bore rupture on the Kitimat River would have widespread consequences because it would cover a vast area of First Nations traditional territory, saying
Aboriginal groups with traditional territories within the vicinity of the Kitimat River hypothetical spill scenario site include the Haisla Nation, Kitselas First Nation, Kitsumkalum First Nation, Lax-Kw’alaams First Nation and Metlakatla First Nation.
It also acknowledges:
Oral testimony provided by Gitga’at First Nation and Gitxaala Nation was also reviewed in relation to this hypothetical spill scenario, although the traditional territories of these nations are well-removed from the hypothetical spill site.
The report then goes on to list “the continued importance of traditional resources” for the aboriginal people of northwestern BC.
especially marine resources. People hunt, fish, trap and gather foods and plants throughout the area and traditional foods are central to feasting and ceremonial systems. Food is often distributed to Elders or others in the community. Written evidence and oral testimony reported that Coho, sockeye, pink, and spring salmon remain staples for community members. Halibut, eulachon, herring and herring roe,
various species of cod, shellfish, seaweed, and other marine life are also regularly harvested and consumed, as are terrestrial resources, including moose, deer, beaver, muskrat and marten. Eulachon remains an important trade item. Written evidence provides some information on seasonality of use and modes of preparation. Seaweed is dried, packed and bundled and preserved for later use. Each species of
salmon has its own season and salmon and other fish are prepared by drying, smoking, freezing or canning. Salmon are highly valued and often distributed throughout the community…
Some areas used traditionally are not depicted geographically. Upper Kitimat River from the Wedeene River to the headwaters has long been used for trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering of various foods. Fishing, hunting and gathering activities take place along the lower Kitimat River and its tributaries. Marine resources are collected in Kitimat Arm, Douglas Channel, and Gardner Canal. Old village and
harvesting sites are located along the rivers and ocean channels in this vicinity.
Intertidal areas are important and highly sensitive harvesting sites that support a diversity of species. Many intertidal sites are already over harvested and are therefore vulnerable. Conservation of abalone has been undertaken to help the species recover. Some concern was expressed in oral testimony regarding the
potential for archaeological sites and the lack of site inventory in the area. Oral testimony made reference to the Queen of the North sinking and the potential for a similar accident to result in human health and environmental effects.
A spill at Hunter Creek
The model says that all three types of floating oil in Kitimat River under high-flow conditions would reach approximately 40 kilometres downstream from Hunter Creek while low-flow conditions showed variation.
Under what the study calls low flow conditions, most condensate would evaporate. The bitumen would cause “heavy shore-oiling” for the first 10 kilometres, with some oiling up to 40 kilometres downstream.
The most sedimentation would occur for synthetic oil, and the least for condensate. Synthetic oil under both flow conditions would have the largest amounts deposited to the sediments. This is because of the low viscosity of synthetic oil, which allows it to be readily entrained into the water where it may combine with suspended sediments and subsequently settle. Synthetic oil under high-flow conditions would result in the most entrained oil and so the most extensive deposition to the sediment. Diluted bitumen, for both flow conditions, would result in the most deposited on shorelines, with the remainder (except that which evaporated or degraded) depositing to the sediments.
The condensate also would also have significant entrainment, but higher winds prevailing in under low flow conditions would enhance evaporation and rapidly lower concentrations in the water as compared to high-flow conditions. In all scenarios, a large amount of entrained oil and high concentrations of dissolved aromatics would move down the entire stretch of Kitimat River and into Kitimat River estuary.
Long term scenario
The modelling appears to be extremely optimistic when it reaches four to six weeks after the pipeline breach, especially in light of the continued cleanup efforts in Michigan, estimating that the “fast-flowing” nature of the Kitimat River would disipate all the different forms of hydrocarbon in the study saying
a fast-flowing coastal river like Kitimat River, with gravel or cobble bottom would be affected by a large volume of crude oil released in a short period of time.
Oiling of shoreline soils is heavy in the reaches between the release point and 10 km downstream, becoming lighter to negligible beyond 10 km. Deposition of hydrocarbons to river sediment is greatest for the synthetic oil and diluted bitumen (high flow) scenarios extending up to 40 kilometres downriver, with predicted hydrocarbon concentrations in sediment approaching 1,000 mg/kg dry weight. Deposition of hydrocarbons to river sediment is considerably lighter for the diluted bitumen (low flow) and condensate scenarios. In these scenarios, oiling of river sediment is negligible….
It says that within four weeks of the end of the acute phase of the spill scenarios, concentrations in river sediments and river water would decline becoming quite low at the end of two years.
As for the affects on plants and invertebrates:
Oiling of shorelines would be extensive, particularly at assessment locations within 10 kilometres of the pipeline break location, under both the high and low flow scenarios, for synthetic oil and condensate. High loadings occur as far as 25 kilometres downstream, again asusming that damage would begin to disipate after four weeks declining over the next one to two years. Predicted effects are generally less severe for the diluted bitumen spill scenarios, due to lower expected loading of oil onto shorelines. Low to negligible shoreline oiling would occur for Kitimat River under most of the scenarios at the 40 kilometres assessment location and points downstream. Based on this assessment, very little oiling of shorelines would extend to the estuary and the environmental effects would be minimal.
The study goes on to say that the “model suggests that there would be no significant risk to fish health based upon chronic exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons for the oil spill scenarios in Kitimat River or the potentially affected areas within the estuary, either at four weeks or one to two years following the hypothetical spill events. Risk to developing fish eggs in Kitimat River and estuary at four weeks and one to two years again indicate no significant risk to developing fish eggs in spawning gravels.”
It also claims that “chronic risks” to wildlife would be minimal, with some elevated risk for “muskrat, belted kingfisher, mallard duck, spotted sandpiper and tree swallow,” if they were exposed to synthetic oil. The muskrat, mallard duck and spotted sandpiper
could be vulnerable to bitumen and diluted bitumen.
It then claims that “no significant effects of chronic exposure (to all hydrocarbons) would occur for grizzly bear, mink, moose, river otter, bald eagle, Canada goose, herring gull or great blue heron for the Kitimat River hydrocarbon spill scenarios.”
Again, it appears from the sutdy that the spotted sandpiper would be most vulnerable to “bulk weathered crude oil exposure” includingcondensate, diluted bitumen and synthetic oil.
For the Kitimat section it concludes:
In the unlikely event of an oil spill, recovery and mitigation as well as the physical
disturbance of habitat along the watercourse would be likely to substantially reduce the exposure of wildlife receptors to hydrocarbons as compared to the scenarios evaluated here.
The Pacific Northwest Fishing Reports website is calling on anglers to boycott all communities, including Kitimat that haven’t taken an official stand opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
The site run by someone called “Old Jake” covers DFO Region 6 and Region 7a “in an effort to give sport fishing enthusiasts more options when it comes to our wonderful sport.”
Its about page says:
What makes this website unique is that it is not run by professional fishing guides or anyone who profits directly from fishing, we are local sports fishing enthusiasts here simply because we love the sport. Why is this important to you? Because we don’t have to make a sale on our fishing reports.
The boycott notice was first posted by “Old Jake” on March 31, but only came to wider attention in the past weekend when the link was widely circulated among the angling and guiding community and by environmentalists on social media in northwest BC, some of it in reaction to the oil spill in Sundre, Alberta.
In the post, “Old Jake” says in the introduction:
[T]he deck is really stacked against our pristine lakes and rivers.
Support our boycott on all business in communities which are not willing to protect our environment in hopes of getting a financial handout from Enbridge. Let us send a clear message to communities who don’t respect our environment enough to protect it.
Please do not boycott small fishing businesses that reside outside of any community boundary, because they are as much a victim of those who support oil for greed.
The letter says, in part:
Greetings fellow sport fishing enthusiasts, I am writing this to all of you, all over the world because we desperately need your help on two major fronts, both could permanently extinguish fishing as we know it for our generation and that of our children’s and possibly much longer.
The first and foremost problem is the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project which the Prime Minister of Canada appears to be declaring a project that will go ahead regardless of the National Energy Board Hearings.
The second is Fish Farming, and its unregulated ability to hide scientific facts, its attacks on free speech and attempts to silence those who dare to speak out against them.
First Nations have done their part, they stood up and spoke, all against Enbridge and Alberta’s need to cash in on the horrific oil sands that are killing the Athabasca River, and sending this toxic mess into the Arctic Ocean….
Here is where we have a problem, the cities, towns and villages appear to want it both ways, they want your tourist dollar, and they also any dirty Oil Dollar they can get as well.
We need you; the people of the world to write to the majors of each community and ask them why tourists could come to a community that won’t protect its natural resources. Why should tourists come and spend their money if the leaders of these communities don’t take a stand in protecting our lakes and rivers from the worst threat ever in the history of British Columbia.
Ask these majors (sic probably means mayors) how many people will come to visit if we end up with a mess like they did on the Kalamazoo River.
Here is the list, where the author equates opposing Enbridge with supporting the environment
Prince Rupert – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Terrace – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Kitimat – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Kitwanga – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Hazelton – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Kispiox – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Moricetown – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Smithers – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Telkwa – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Houston – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Granisle – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Burns Lake – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Fraser Lake – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Vanderhoof – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Prince George – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
The Northern Gateway Joint Review secretariat has issued a draft final report on the May 30 procedural conference concerning the final two phases of the hearings, questioning and final arguments. There was strong support from some participants, including Northern Gateway, for holding portions of the questioning round and final arguments in Kitimat.
The JRP released the draft report on June 6, 2012. The JRP’s original plan for final hearings for questioning will take place in three locations Prince Rupert, BC, Prince George, BC and either Edmonton or Calgary, AB.
The JRP had argued that the three locations were centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access. The most contentious issue was that the plans bypassed Kitimat, which is to be the terminal for the Northern Gateway pipeline and the shipping point to send the diluted bitumen to Asia.
The Joint Review secretariat reports that eight participants wanted a hearing at Kitimat. According to the report, Northern Gateway suggested that the discreet issue of “shipping and navigation” could be moved to Kitimat, due to the local interest. Northern Gateway told the JRP that they would have upwards of 10 to 20 witnesses on the issue of marine environment, as well as related support personnel and asked for a early scheduling decision because their “experts on this issue would be arriving from distant locations and need some timing certainty for their appearance.”
The JRP says the District of Kitimat agreed with Gateway and also suggested issues relating to the marine terminal component of the Project, potential impacts on aboriginal interests, environmental effects of the marine terminal and construction through the coastal mountains.
Cheryl Brown, of Douglas Channel Watch, suggested that issues relating to the “marine terminal site” could be added to this location.
According to the JRP report, the Haisla Nation recommended that hearings be held in the town and not Kitimaat village. Both the Haisla and District of Kitimat emphasized that there would be no logistical issues in terms of accommodation or transportation. “Both groups noted that many hearings have been held in the community in the past, without any problems,” the JRP report notes.
The Haisla noted that if there were no hearings in Kitimat, the nation would prefer that hearings on its issues be held in Vancouver.
The JRP said the majority of parties either took no issue with Prince Rupert or suggested an additional venue be added (such as Kitimat), but five participants questioned why Prince Rupert was considered as it is not directly along the proposed pipeline route.
Those interested in the Alberta hearings appeared to be evenly split over whether the hearings should be in Edmonton or Calgary.
In the conference, as it had in an written submission, Coastal First Nations suggested that Vancouver be added as a final hearing location with videoconferencing of the hearings to both Prince Rupert and Kitimat because of the number of counsel, witnesses and experts coming from, or flying through Vancouver.
The Wet’suwet’en Nation repeated that they would like to have hearings either in Burns Lake or Smithers if more hearing locations were added.
The Gitxaala suggested potentially having Gateway’s cross-examination in one location and cross-examination of intervenors in other locations more convenient to them (i.e. Gitxaala in Prince Rupert). Gateway opposed this idea, stating that if an issues based hearing is going to be adopted, it should be used in its entirety.
All of the participants in the conference agreed that a location be centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access. The JRP notes: “The Haisla in particular noted the centrality of Kitimat and the fact that all three Project components are contained in their territory. The Wet’suwet’en noted that it is important that its hereditary chiefs be able to witness the hearings.”
Most of the participants in the conference supported the use of technology and remote access during the final hearings. The report notes:
The Haisla raised some general concerns about the integrity of the evidence obtained and, for that reason, is of the view that parties who seek to have their witnesses participate remotely should first have to obtain the consent of those that would cross-examine the witness. The Haisla also agreed that procedures need to be implemented to ensure that the information is being provided by witnesses and not prompted by others.
According to the JRP report: “The use of video conferencing facilities was generally seen to be preferable to teleconference capability only. The Wet’suwet’en noted the importance of seeing those providing evidence.”
The Haisla and other parties argued that Aboriginal groups need a clear understanding of the Project before answering questions on potential impacts; questioning Gateway witnesses will assist with that. As such, issues of Aboriginal and treaty rights, the potential impacts of the Project on Aboriginal interests and consultation should be addressed last.
The Government of Canada agreed that it made sense to have issues relating to Aboriginal interests and consultation addressed after other technical issues. Gateway did not believe that these issues needed to be addressed all together at the end of the entire hearing. Rather, issues relating to Aboriginal and treaty rights and interests could be heard at the end of the coastal hearings (either in Prince Rupert or Kitimat). Issues relating to Aboriginal and treaty rights and interests could similarly be dealt with at the end of the Prince George hearings to address these issues for the pipeline component of the Project.
There was also discussion over the location of final arguments.
The JRP suggested that final arguments take place in Prince Rupert and either Edmonton or Calgary with mechanisms to allow parties to participate remotely.
Northern Gateway and ten other participant recommended that final arguments take place in Kitimat instead of Prince Rupert. One party suggested that final argument should take place entirely in one single location (Calgary or Edmonton) while again there was pretty well an even split between the two Alberta cities. Again, the Coastal First Nations suggested that Vancouver be added as a final hearing location with videoconferencing of the hearings to both Prince Rupert and Kitimat.
Northern Gateway Pipelines Inc. (Gateway or applicant)
Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL)
Alexander First Nation (AFN)
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)
Cenovus Energy Inc (Cenovus);
Nexen Inc (Nexen);
Suncor Energy Marketing Inc (Suncor) and Total E&P Canada Ltd (Total)
Coastal First Nations (CFN)
Communication Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP Union)
Council of the Haida Nation (Haida)
District of Kitimat
East Prairie Metis Settlement (East Prairie)
Horse Lake First Nation (Horse Lake)
Enoch Cree Nation,
Ermineskin Cree Nation,
Samson Cree Nation
Kelly Lake Cree Nation (Cree Nations)
Fort St. James Sustainability Group (FSJ)
Gitxaala Nation (Gitxaala)
Government of Alberta
Government of Canada
Haisla Nation (Haisla)
Living Oceans Society,
Raincoast Conservation Foundation and ForestEthics Advocacy (Coalition)
MEG Energy Corp. (MEG)
Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NWI)
Office of the Wet’suwet’en (Wet’suwet’en)
Province of British Columbia (BC)
Sherwood Park Fish & Game Association (Sherwood Park F&G Assn)
Goffinet said the District had been aware of the problem of the JRP bypassing Kitimat for the questioning and final argument phases of the hearings and took steps to register for the planning meeting to be held in Calgary on May 30.
Goffinet, saying he was speaking on behalf of Mayor Joanne Monaghan and the entire council, said as many members as possible will attend, along with District staff, listening in to the conference call from a board room in the District offices in City Centre.
The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel questioning hearings and final arguments will bypass Kitimat and most of the communities along the proposed pipeline route, according to a letter to all intervenors from the JRP prompted by questions from the Gitxaala Nation.
The Joint Review Panel has not yet issued an official and final procedural directive concerning the final hearings, and in response to the Gitxaala letter, the JRP secreteriat will convene a conference on May 30, in Calgary to set up that procedure. The three panel members will not be present at the conference.
In the letter to the intervenors, the JRP proposes:
Final hearings for questioning will take place in three locations. The Panel intends to hold these hearings in Prince Rupert, BC, Prince George, BC and either Edmonton or Calgary, AB. These locations are centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access. Would fewer than three locations be appropriate? What are your comments on the locations chosen by the Panel?
As for the final argument hearings, the Joint Review Panel says:
The Panel anticipates allowing parties to present final argument either: (i) orally;
or (ii) in writing. On an exception basis, parties may request permission of the
Panel to allow final argument on a specific topic both in writing and orally.
The Panel anticipates holding hearings for final argument in two locations;
namely Prince Rupert, BC and either Edmonton or Calgary, AB. Mechanisms will
be established to allow parties to participate remotely (i.e. via telephone or other
electronic means). Do you have any input on these locations?
For the questioning period, the Joint Review Panel says it anticipates that it will sit from Monday to Saturday for two week periods, followed by a one week break. Standard sitting hours would be from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Cheryl Brown, representing the Kitimat group Douglas Channel Watch, has already objected to the fact the Joint Review Panel has apparently decided to bypass Kitimat.
The location of the panel should include Kitimat as it is the community
experiencing the highest impact from the project -land and marine. The citizens
of Kitimat need to have the opportunity to hear the proceedings and how it will
potentially impact their future. Accommodations can be provided in Terrace with
bus transportation provided if needed and this is standard practice for other large
events. Air travel into Terrace/Kitimat is reasonable with good transportation to
Kitimat. Rupert has some exposure to the project but to justify that the hearings
take place there due to adequate facilities, that it is central and has reasonable
transportation access is not valid. Rupert is not central for the Northwest and the
issue of getting from the terminal to the city by ferry is hardly reasonable.
The proposed schedule seems adequate. For intervenors with limited financial
resources any length of stay outside their own area can be difficult.
Note that in its letter the JRP asks: “Would fewer than three locations be appropriate?” There is no suggestion that the number of locations be expanded.
This is despite the fact throughout the hearings, Sheila Leggett, the chair has repeatedly told intervenors in each location to hold back their comments until the final hearings. In addition, during the intervenor phase of the hearings, questioning was not permitted, only statements on local or traditional knowledge.
The JRP letter to intervenors goes on to say
The Panel intends to have questioning on oral evidence completed prior to
questioning based on written evidence pertaining to the List of Issues.
Questioning of witness panels will proceed at each location based on issues.
These issues largely mirror the List of Issues set out in the Hearing Order (dated
5 May 2011) and discussed in the Panel Session Results and Decision (dated
19 January 2011). The Panel intends to address each issue listed below in
relation to the entire Project at only one location. The location for each issue is
(a) Potential Impacts of the Proposed Project on Aboriginal Interests
(socio-economic matters; asserted and proven Aboriginal and treaty
(b) Environmental Effects
(c) Socioeconomic Effects
(d) Consultation (with the public and Aboriginal groups)
(e) Safety, Accident Prevention and Response (related to the marine
terminal and marine transportation)
(a) Potential Impacts of the Proposed Project on Landowners and Land
Use (pipeline crossings; depth of cover; impacts on agricultural soils)
(b) Routing (general route of the pipeline and route selection criteria).
General location of the facilities and siting of a marine terminal.
(c) Design, Construction and Operation
(d) Follow up and monitoring
(e) Safety, Accident Prevention and Response (related to the pipeline)
Edmonton or Calgary
(a) Need for the Proposed Project (supply and markets; commercial
support; economic feasibility)
(b) Potential Impacts of the Proposed Project on commercial interests
(c) Financial and Tolling Matters (tolling structure and methodology;
proposed financing; financial responsibility of the applicant)
The letter asks, “Do you have any additional issues for each hearing location or any input on the general format identified?”
It also asks intervenors questions like: “What parties’ witnesses do you anticipate questioning during the final hearings? What issues do you anticipate you will ask questions about? How much time do you anticipate you will require for questioning for each issue?
The panel says it is considering a process for expert witnesses which would entail having expert witnesses for parties with conflicting opinions seated together in a single witness panel and questioned at the same time, mainly about issues that “are highly technical in nature” so the panel can “assess complex expert evidence, understand differences, and focus on certain technical issues in an efficient manner.”
The letter goes on to say that the panel intends to permit “questioning of witnesses by telephone and is exploring other remote means.”
However, the letter to the Joint Review Panel from Cheryl Brown of Douglas Channel Watch clearly shows the kind of problems faced by those “directly affected” by the pipeline if they live in rural northwestern British Columbia.
Technology is limited as I am rural and do not have high speed internet. Could
the use of local video conferencing facilities be utilized. The panel needs to consider that there are many intervenors that are independent in the process and do not have resources to participate that others may have. It bears on the JRP
to ensure there is the ability of all to participate in the process in a reasonably fair and equitable way and the panel needs to consider other ways to configure the hearings
Telephone questioning during the NEB KMLNG (Kitimat LNG) hearings in Kitimat in June was awkward to say the least, and often plagued by technical problems in getting lines up and staying connected. Telephone questioning also meant that the energy industry lawyers actually in the hearing room at Riverlodge had a distinct advantage over the remote questioners.
The letter of the Joint Review Panel by Cheryl Brown of Douglas Channel Watch also outlines the issues the environmental group will be trying to bring before the panel:
Here are issues that need to be addressed within the communities highly affected
•Routing: through the tunnel and the difficult terrain of the Kitimat River,
•Siting of the marine terminal,
•Safety, accident prevention response related to the terminal and marine
transportation, environmental effects on the estuary, Douglas Channel
and marine route.
•Socioeconomic and environmental effects are different across the entire
pipeline. To address then in one place does not allow for adequate
participation by intervenors from other areas to address the areas that are
of concern. A significant number of intervenors are without funding and
are privately involved in the process. The hearings have to acknowledge
•Aboriginal interests are unique to different areas and the costs for travel to
one place would be a burden.
•Consultation with the public needs to be represented in more locations.
The public that has been involved as intervenors do not have resources to
travel. The panel needs to consider this.
Brown goes on to say that the use of expert panels “sounds interesting” but she adds she is “not sure how one would interact with the panel. More details are required.”
The Joint Review Panel’s proposed schedule, which basically eliminates effective participation by those most affected by the pipeline, raises a key question at the national political level. Is the fact the panel is skipping most of the communities involved a return to the National Energy Board tradition that it is nothing more than a private club for Calgary energy lawyers or is it a result of pressure from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver to speed things up?
The controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway twin pipelines, if approved, will transport bitumen from Alberta to the port of Kitimat and condensate from Kitimat to Alberta. Although there is significant opposition to the pipeline in British Columbia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made clear the pipeline is a national priority. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has repeatedly condemned people who oppose the pipeline as “radicals.”
Update: District of Kitimat, Haisla Nation to question JRP schedules bypassing Kitimat
In separate e-mails to Northwest Coast Energy News, Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan and Haisla Nation Chief Counselor Ellis Ross both say they will be file objections with the Joint Review Panel questioning the JRP’s position in bypassing Kitimat in both the questioning round and final arguments.
The Gitga’at First Nation at Hartley Bay report that a large oil slick has been spotted in Grenville Channel near Hartley Bay. It is believed that the oil is coming from the USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski, a U.S. army transport ship that sank in 1946 with 700 tonnes of bunker fuel on board.
A news release from the Gitga’at says the oil spill is between between two and five miles (four to eight kilometres) long and 200 feet wide (70 metres) inside the Grenville Channel.
A Canadian Coast Guard vessel from Prince Rupert is expected in the area sometime this afternoon.
The Gitga’at are sending their own Guardians to take samples and have chartered a plane to take aerial photos of the spill, the release says.
“If this spill is as big as the pilots are reporting, then we’re looking at serious environmental impacts, including threats to our traditional shellfish harvesting areas,” says Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at Nation. “We need an immediate and full clean-up response from the federal government ASAP.”
The USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski was carrying Bunker C when it sank. The First Nation says the Canadian government has been saying it would remove the oil and munitions from the ship since 2006, but with no results.
“Right now we’re focused on getting a handle on the size of the spill and the clean-up that’s required,” says Clifton. “But this incident definitely raises questions about the federal government’s ability to guard against oil spills and to honour its clean-up obligations. As a result, our nation has serious concerns about any proposal to have tankers travel through our coastal waters, including the Enbridge proposal.”
The spill is just the latest in a series of spills of bunker oil and diesel coming from the Zalinski and the BC Ferry Queen of the North, which sank in 2006. Despite government assurances of clean-up, both wreckages continue to leak fuel, fouling the marine environment, and heightening the fear of future oil spills.
The Gitga’at depend on the ocean for 40 per cent of their traditional diet.
According to Wikipedia, the Zalinksi was enroute from Seattle to Whittier Island, Alaska, when it struck rocks at Pitt Island on Grenville Channel 0n September 26 1946, 55 miles (88 kilometres) south of Prince Rupert. The ship sank within twenty minutes, while her crew of 48 were rescued by the tug Sally N and the passenger steamer SS Catala. According to a report in The Vancouver Sun on September 30, 1946, at the time of her sinking she was transporting a cargo of at least twelve 500-pound (230 kg) bombs, large amounts of .30 and .50 caliber ammunition, at least 700 tonnes of bunker oil, and truck axles with army type tires.
Oil was first spotted leaking in Grenville Channel in 2003 and the wreck of the Zalinski was identified later that year by a remotely operated undersea vessel.
Hartley Bay is the entrance to Douglas Channel where tankers will go to Kitimat for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and three liquified natural gas projects.
The British Columbia New Democratic Party has written to the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel formally opposing the controversial pipeline project, while at the same time supporting the Kitimat LNG projects, as long as there are strong environmental controls on those projects.
A long letter from NDP leader Adrian Dix to the panel concludes by saying
as the Official Opposition, we have carefully weighed the risks and benefits of the NGP to British Columbia, and to Canada. After much consideration and consultation, we have come to the conclusion that the risks of this project far outweigh its benefits. We believe that the NGP will cause significant adverse economic and environmental effects and is not in the public interest. Therefore the NGP should not be permitted to proceed.
The letter also calls on the federal government to legislate a permanent ban on tankers for the west coast. The letter goes over the history of the Exxon Valdez spill
Eight of 11 cargo tanks were punctured, releasing about 258,000 barrels of crude oil, most of which was lost in the first eight hours. There were widespread ecological and economic impacts….To this day, vital shore habitats remain contaminated, the herring fishery has been closed for 15 seasons since the spill, and herring are not considered recovered. The clean-up costs alone are estimated at $3.7 billion…Wildlife and natural resource damages range from $8.5 billion to as high as $127 billion…. Related to the economic hardship felt by families and communities, a wave of social problems followed – alcoholism, high divorce rates and even suicides swept through the Sound’s small towns….
We simply cannot let this happen in British Columbia: the risk is just too great. Therefore, we are calling on the federal government to legislate a permanent moratorium on oil tankers and oil drilling activity on B.C.’s north coast to ensure the ecological integrity and economic and social vitality of the lands and waters of this unique region.
The letter also takes Premeir Christy Clark to task for not taking a stand on the Northern Gateway Issue
The Government of British Columbia agreed to the Joint Review Panel (JRP) process, limiting its ability to give voice to B.C.’s interests. In addition, the Province did not seek government participant status and has failed to exercise its intervenor status to fully represent the interests of British Columbians.
We note that other government agencies including an Alberta municipality, the Province of Alberta and Alberta’s Transportation Ministry, as well as the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, Department of Justice, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada have registered as government participants in the JRP.
We also note that the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and a number of local
governments have passed motions opposing the NGP. These include: the Village of Queen Charlotte, Sandspit, Masset, Port Clements, Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers.
As the Official Opposition, we take our responsibility to represent and to protect the interests of British Columbia and British Columbians seriously. We have listened to the concerns and diverse perspectives of constituents throughout the province and we have met with stakeholders and experts about the NGP.
The letter also expresses concern about the fairness of the Joint Review Process
Four New Democrat MLAs are actively participating in the JRP, as intervenors or as presenters. Three of these MLAs represent constituencies that will be directly impacted if the NGP proceeds. The fourth MLA is our environment critic. All of them, like the thousands of other British Columbians who are participating in the JRP, are doing so in good faith.
We are very troubled by statements of the Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources that have caused several commentators and JRP participants to question the objectivity of the process and ask if its outcome is predetermined.
Dix is quick to point out that the New Democrats are not against sustainable economic development.
The importance of sustainable economic development International trade and responsible resource extraction are essential to B.C. and Canada’s economy.
International trade creates good-paying jobs and vital communities. To this end, we are committed to building on our tradition of further developing trade relations with China and other Asia Pacific markets to build a strong B.C. economy.
Further, we have been clear about our support for the Kitimat liquefied natural gas project while emphasizing it comes with the serious responsibility to ensure strong environmental protections. We acknowledge that all resource development and extraction has inherent risks.
Other points in the NDP letter were:
The tanker traffic to ship Alberta oil to Asian markets will require lifting of the current tanker moratorium and the Tanker Exclusion Zone, and will put the British Columbia coastline at serious risk of devastating environmental and economic damage from potential oil spills;The NGP will traverse remote and highly valued areas of B.C., and will cross almost 800 streams. The risk of spills from the proposed pipeline will put these valuable
environments and species, such as salmon, at risk;The impact of an oil leak or spill would be most severely felt by First Nation
communities. As has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, First Nations must be consulted effectively and be respected on a government-to-government level;• The greenhouse gas emissions generated by NGP-related oil sands development will
contribute to the economic, social, and environmental costs of climate change;
The NGP provides few long-term and sustainable economic benefits for British
Columbia, while shipping raw bitumen forgoes important value-added economic
development opportunities involving upgrading and refining the oil in Canada;• The NGP is forecast to increase Canadian oil prices for Canadian consumers.