Read this story from Larry Pynn in the Vancouver Sun on TransCanada's proposed gas pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, BC, which leading environmental critics fear could avoid any environmental assessment under the new Harper regulatory regime - despite crossing 320 watercourses and affecting close to 300 different fish and wildlife species along the route. (Nov. 26, 2012)
TransCanada’s planned 650-kilometre natural gas pipeline to Kitimat would cross about 320 watercourses including the habitat of more than 100 species at risk, such as white sturgeon, woodland caribou and marbled murrelet, company documents show.
But under Conservative government changes to environmental laws, there’s no guarantee the Coastal GasLink project will undergo a federal environmental assessment.
“It’s a travesty of the public trust,” said Otto Langer, retired head of habitat assessment and planning for the federal fisheries department in B.C. and Yukon. “If we can’t have an environmental review on a project of this sort, this is proof we have gutted Canada’s environmental protection.”
The federal government is soliciting public comment on whether a federal assessment is warranted for the Coastal GasLink project.
Céline Legault, spokeswoman for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, said that even if the project is not subject to a federal environmental assessment, “all applicable federal legislative, regulatory and constitutional requirements must be fulfilled.”
TransCanada has also submitted its project description to Victoria in advance of an official assessment by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.
Langer dismissed the notion of a provincial assessment because the B.C. government is “giving the green light everywhere” to projects and that its environmental review process is too soft on industry.
“It’s pretty sad,” he said. “I don’t know how we slipped down this slope so quickly … and I don’t know where it will all end.”
B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office reported in August it had conducted assessments of 162 projects in the last 20 years. Only two were refused outright — Kemess North copper-gold mine in 2008, and the Ashcroft Ranch landfill project in 2011.
Coastal GasLink’s 1.2-metre-wide pipeline would extend from near Groundbirch, a community 40 kilometres west of Dawson Creek, to a proposed liquefied natural gas facility near Kitimat.
The buried pipeline would initially have a capacity of 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, which could be expanded to five billion cubic feet per day.
TransCanada documents outlining the pipeline project say it would cross four major drainages — the Peace, Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat rivers.
Of 286 species identified along the pipeline corridor, about 37 per cent (107 species) are recognized as species of management concern, Trans-Canada says.