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18. Juni 2014
Artikel in der Vancouver Sun zur Entscheidung der Harper-Regierung,
die Northern Gateway Pipeline bauen zu lassen
Nachfolgend finden Sie den Artikel der online-Ausgabe der Vancouver Sun vom 18.06. zur Entscheidung der kanadischen Regierung, den Bau der Northern Gateway Pipeline zu erlauben:
Northern Gateway pipeline approved by Harper government (…)
By Gordon Hoekstra, Peter O’Neil, Derrick Penner and Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun June 18, 2014
With the Harper government’s approval of Enbridge’s $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline on Tuesday, the project passed a critical hurdle that could see construction begin as early as the fall of 2015.
But the stage has also been set in British Columbia for a colossal environmental battle that could delay the mega-project.
Legal challenges by First Nations and environmentalists could drag on for years. There is even the potential for civil disobedience by opponents who have said they will do whatever is needed to stop the project, evoking the memory of logging protests two decades ago in Clayoquot Sound.
Hours after the announcement, hundreds of protesters blocked Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver, holding signs and shouting down the project.
The B.C. government has also hinted it may try to hold up the project if its five conditions for oil pipelines have not been met.
Enbridge, the Canadian oil industry, and the Alberta and federal governments want to loosen the stranglehold of the U.S. as Canada’s only export market for oil. Northern Gateway would open new markets for diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands in Asia, particularly China.
That, they say, will have huge economic benefit for Canada, diversifying the country’s markets and providing higher oil prices. The project will also provide thousands of construction and hundreds of permanent jobs, as well as tens of millions of dollars annually in taxes for the province.
In British Columbia, where opposition is strongest, First Nations, environmental groups and some municipalities argue any economic benefits are outweighed by the risks of an oil spill into B.C.’s salmon-bearing rivers or the ocean. Opponents also criticize the project because it will lead to more greenhouse gas emissions.
In approving the project Tuesday, the federal government said it accepted the National Energy Board-led review panel’s 209 conditions that must be met by Enbridge, 113 of which must be complete before construction can start.
‚The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfil the public commitment it has made to engage with aboriginal groups and local communities along the route‘, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a written statement.
Speaking in Terrace on Tuesday, Premier Christy Clark said Enbridge has not met B.C.’s four of B.C.’s five conditions for heavy oil pipelines. The conditions include a world-leading oil spill response system, First Nations support and a fair share of economic benefits for B.C.
‚They are trying to set an environmentally sound path for it,‘ Clark said. ‚But they are not there yet … (and) we don’t support it until they get there.‘
The NEB delivered its verdict just before Christmas last year when it concluded the ‚project’s potential benefits for Canada and Canadians outweigh the potential burdens and risks.‘
The conditions include Enbridge carrying $950 million in spill insurance coverage, thicker pipelines at rivers crossings, a plan to offset losses in Caribou habitat and its promised enhanced tanker safety plan. That plan includes the use of escort tugs, a new advanced radar system, and an increased spill-response system.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government did not add any additional conditions on Tuesday.
Rickford noted the project required permits and authorizations from Ottawa and the B.C. and Alberta governments. B.C. would be responsible for issuing about 60 permits.
And before construction can begin, Enbridge must get approval from the NEB for the final pipeline route, where objections will be heard in public hearings. More consultation with First Nations is needed, as outlined in the NEB conditions, Rickford said.
The federal government ceded the post-decision media frenzy to its opponents, with neither Rickford nor Industry Minister James Moore, Harper’s B.C. lieutenant, speaking to the media.
B.C.’s other 20 government MPs were also nowhere to be found in the House of Commons foyer after the decision.
Both NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said they will kill the project if they win the 2015 federal election.
B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said provincial permits could be withheld if B.C.’s conditions are not met. ‚If there are adverse environmental effects, then permits are not going to be granted‘, she said.
There are several authorizations required from the province, spanning as many as 12 different pieces of B.C. legislation, including land management, heritage conservation, forests, water, wildlife, parks, agricultural land, environmental management, commercial transport and industrial roads, according to Polak’s ministry.
Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said he was pleased with the federal decision. He acknowledged his company has a lot of work to do to meet the conditions imposed by the NEB, the B.C. government’s five conditions and to re-engage with First Nations that are dead set against the pipeline.
Monaco said it might be possible to have the pipeline in service by the fourth-quarter of 2018, but start up could be later than that, depending on how the process goes.
The federal government approval was welcomed by business and industry.
B.C. Business Council president Greg D’Avignon said the project is an opportunity for Canada to meet Asia’s growing energy needs, just as America’s oil demand is expected to lessen as they potentially reach energy self-sufficiency.
‚If we don’t meet that energy demand (in Asia), other people will, and they won’t do it as well from an environmental stand point, a sustainability stand point or a First Nations’ engagement standpoint, and from an innovation and reinvestment in new technology perspective‘, said D’Avignon.
The reaction from First Nations and environmental groups was swift, with a vow to do everything in their power to stop the project.
A news release signed by 31 First Nations and aboriginal groups said they ‚will immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project.‘
Among the signatories was the Nak’azdli First Nation in north-central B.C.
Peter Erickson, a hereditary chief with the Nak’azdli, said no amount of consultation is going to change his community’s position. ‚Under no circumstances, come hell or high water, will there be a heavy oil pipeline through our territory‘, said Erickson.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip was among those who rallied against the decision on the streets of Vancouver Tuesday. He called the battle to stop the pipeline and protect the environment ‚the fight of a lifetime‘.
‚British Columbians and certainly First Nations have a different vision of what really constitutes responsible resource development‘, he said, against a backdrop of signs scrawled with slogans like ‚Pipedream nightmare‘, ‚The answer is still no‘, and ‚Our coast, our voice‘.
‚The Harper Government has been pushing around Canadians, British Columbians and First Nations for several years now‘, said Phillip, the head of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. ‚It’s time for us to push back.‘
‚You cannot buy a new earth‘, read a banner held by Indica Keith, a 19-year-old Vancouver resident and a UBC student of economics.
‚This is not serving the democratic will of the people of this province‘, she said in an interview, citing recent polls that have shown opposition to the pipeline among B.C. Residents. ‚It’s overwhelmingly a bad idea and yet it’s being enabled.‘
Keith said the economic gain from the project would be short term, enrich a small number of people and come at the expense of the environment.
Ann Grant, a 73-year old Vancouver resident, said ‚we need to change our ways‘, and stop using fossil fuels.
Grant said federal conditions did not help to assuage her safety concerns about the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
‚They’re into making money, they’re not into making precautions.‘
Grant, like many attending the rally, learned of it through social media.
Jacqueline Lee-Tam, a 16-year-old Vancouver resident, came to the protest painted black.
‚This is a representation of what I and my generation will be cleaning up after the oil spills‘, she said. ‚It’s a matter of when.‘
At least a half a dozen environmental groups, including Friends of Wild Salmon, called the government decision ‚meaningless‘ and said the project will not go ahead.
The B.C. Federation of Naturalists said it will launch a legal challenge of Tuesday’s decision, which will be added to its existing challenge of the NEB decision.
A B.C. environmental activist group, the Dogwood Initiative, pledged to proceed with a petition, similar to the one that led to the defeat of B.C.’s Harmonized Sales Tax in 2012, if the provincial government ends up supporting Enbridge.
‚The (federal government) are tone deaf to what is actually going on in British Columbia and I actually think this is going to be the biggest mistake that Stephen Harper has ever made‘, said Dogwood executive director Will Horter.
In Kitimat, the terminus of the pipeline, Patricia Lange, a teacher, became involved in fighting the project just three months ago. She joined the Douglas Channel Watch and helped campaign for a successful No vote in a municipal plebiscite, where Kitimat residents voted 58.4 per cent against the project.
Lange, who describes herself as a ‚common schmo‘ and ‚no radical environmentalist‘, said she feels strongly about protecting the environment. ‚I’ve had the conversation with my children – how far would I go (to stop the project) … I am willing to go to jail‘, said Lange.
In Ottawa, Mulcair, the NDP leader, said the project is ‚pure folly‘ given the environmental risks, and ridiculed the regulatory process as a sham.
‚Mr. Harper decided three years ago‘ that the project would proceed, Mulcair told reporters.
Mulcair, responding to a question about the potential for civil disobedience and even violence in B.C., appeared to acknowledge that the decision could cause such problems.
‚We’re talking about a severe threat to social order (and) social peace, not only in British Columbia but across Canada if Mr. Harper continues to ignore science, continues to ignore First Nations, continues to ignore communities.‘
Trudeau, who unlike Mulcair has spoken favourably about the proposed $5.4-billion Kinder Morgan pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, said his position on pipelines is ‚nuanced‘ and that he understands Canada’s responsibility to get Alberta’s diluted bitumen to overseas markets.
But ‚we have to do this responsibly‘, he told reporters, adding that Canada needs a ‚referee‘ rather than a ‚cheerleader‘ to rule on pipeline projects.
The project’s critics have argued that Northern Gateway presents a potential threat to a government that relied on B.C. dominance – it won 21 of 36 seats in 2011 – to secure its narrow majority government victory. But analysts question whether Harper will suffer a huge seat loss due to that single issue, noting that he won the majority of his B.C. seats in 2011 – especially in the Fraser Valley and B.C. interior – by huge margins.“
With files from Matthew Robinson
O’Neil reported from Ottawa, Hoekstra and Penner reported from Vancouver and Shaw reported from Victoria
© The Vancouver Sun
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