JRP ruling in favour of pipeline draws strong reaction in Kitimat

The Joint Review Panel supports the Enbridge pipeline, and community response is coming in.

The reactions came fast regarding the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation in favour of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal.

The panel said today that subject to 209 conditions, they support the project.

There is 180 days now for the federal government to actually issue a certificate or not.

Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan emphasized that the council is at this moment still neutral on the subject of the pipeline.

“We will take the necessary time to look at it and understand the content,” she said of the JRP report.

She also notes that the District will engage in a survey with Kitimat residents to gather the community’s opinion on the pipeline now that the JRP process has concluded.

But she wouldn’t say if the results of the survey would eventually form an official council position on the project.

Meanwhile  Skeena MLA Robin Austin says the fight is long from over on the project.

“On the one hand I’m a little bit saddened today but I think I’m really reinvigorated for the fight that is going to go up from now,” he said. “If Harper thinks that he can just push this thing through I think he has a big surprise.”

He said it was expected the JRP would side with the federal Conservatives on the project, and discounts the idea that the 209 conditions will do much to make the project any safer.

“As to the number of conditions, we all know that’s complete whitewash. Probably the federal government will forget half the conditions and Enbridge will forget the other half,” said Austin. “I think this is just the beginning of the next phase of opposition. This will anger people not just in northwest British Columbia but will anger British Columbians in general.”

He said he believes there’s no chance the pipeline will actually be built given the opposition the project is still facing.

“Today’s decision serves nothing more than the make people just understand what the agenda is of the Stephen Harper government,” he said. “I would hope that people after today’s decision will recognize they need to contact every single conservative member of parliament in British Columbia, and call the Premier and put pressure on her.”

The Kitimat-based Douglas Channel Watch also issued their own release following the JRP report, saying Enbridge is “incapable” of meeting the panel’s conditions.

“DCW believes that due to geologic and weather related hazards, there are no safe routes for liquid petroleum pipelines through the Coast Mountains on BC’s north coast. We also support Coastal First Nations and communities on BC’s north coast in their seeking a ban on oil supertankers calling on north coast BC ports,” said their written response.

“Douglas Channel Watch believes it will be the First Nations of British Columbia who have the firmest legal ground to contest this project, and we pledge to support them in the many years they will be fighting those battles through the courts,” they added.

The company meanwhile has responded to the report, saying they’ll work to meet the conditions.

“From the beginning of this project, Northern Gateway has worked with one goal in mind: to access new markets by building a safer, better pipeline,” said Janet Holder, leader of the Northern Gateway Project. “The Joint Review Panel conducted the most comprehensive and science-based pipeline review in Canadian history and their report reflects the input of thousands of Canadians. Their report is an important step towards that goal.”

Holder said the Northern Gateway Project team will work to meet the Joint Review Panel’s conditions. The team will also work towards meeting Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions for heavy oil pipeline development, of which the Panel’s recommendation is one, the company said.

The President of Enbridge Al Monaco said the company still has a lot of work to do and that they’re not celebrating despite the JRP’s recommendations in their favour.

“We know that more work needs to be done with some aboriginal communities,” he said in a conference call with media following the announcement.

While he said the company is still going through the report, he said the conditions of the recommendation is tough, but added “they should be.”

Working on gaining a social license will be a focus from here.

“We and our partners will put our best foot forward to further build trust,” he said

Meanwhile, he said the five conditions that the province of B.C. has put forward as conditions before pipeline development “are a very good path forward to ensure we’re doing everything possible that we can to make this a first class project.”

“We welcome any possible input that would make the project better,” he added.

The Northern Gateway Project is a proposed 1,177-km twin pipeline system and marine terminal. The proposed project would transport 525,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil for export and import 193,000 bpd of condensate.