With the announcement Dec. 19 that the National Energy Board has given the go-ahead to the Northern Gateway pipeline, it raised great concern with me what lies ahead for the for environment and how the federal government views B.C.’s rivers and coastline, our wild salmon and steelhead, our grizzly bear and caribou populations and our current economy.
In order to pave the path for this pipeline to go ahead, we have seen the Fisheries Act changed by the federal government, allowing for serious harm to fish, where “serious harm to fish” is defined as “death of fish or any permanent alteration to, or destruction of, fish habitat.” Technically speaking, nothing in our world is “permanent,” given enough time. This legislation recently was enacted into law.
The changes to the Fisheries Act were not the only action taken by the federal government, but the vast majority of Department of Fisheries and Oceans habitat staff was told their positions were no longer needed and let go.
Concerns of British Columbians are dismissed as not in the national interest of the economy. When I hear federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver say, “No project will be approved unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment,” I have to wonder how this will ever be done, with a toothless Fisheries Act and gutted Department of Fisheries and Oceans habitat staff?
It gets more alarming with the announcement on Dec. 20 that the National Energy Board has reached an agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to assess potential impacts from oil pipelines to fish and fish habitat. CKNW News reported that “the Memorandum of Understanding essentially means the NEB will assess any aquatic environmental impacts of a pipeline proposal and it and the DFO will communicate on those assessments, on species at risk, and any violations.”
Skeena Wild executive director Greg Knox says, “The NEB has absolutely no capacity or expertise to assess impacts to the fish habitat or to administer the Fisheries Act, so it boggles my mind how they can now take over the responsibility from the DFO.”
Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt told CBC that “we will never allow” the Northern Gateway pipeline to “happen, nor would the Constitution of Canada.” You also have Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, saying that “the fight is not over.” First Nations people have clearly told the federal government that the Northern Gateway that they don’t want this pipeline, but the government is choosing not to listen.
Concerns of British Columbians are dismissed as not in the national interest of the economy.
Freelance filmmaker Dimitri Gammer recently released “Casting a Voice. The film is 35 minutes long and puts a real perspective on the threats posed to B.C. by the Northern Gateway and the importance of protecting not only the salmon and steelhead that it produces, but also the contributions that it makes to the Canadian economy. I urge all of your readers to take the time to watch the film. They won’t be disappointed! It has some fantastic cinematography and really gets down to the true issue that a pipeline should never be built in northern B.C. There are more logical routes for this bitumen to travel, namely to the oil refineries in eastern Canada.
As a British Columbian that has travelled to the Smithers and Terrace area for the last 15 years in the first week of October to fish for wild steelhead on the Skeena and its tributaries, this movie really hit home. I strongly feel that Skeena steelhead and the Skeena watershed is a Canadian treasure that needs to be protected for not only its environmental importance, but also the fact that this is a sustainable industry that, when taken care of, will be here forever.
Please take the time to watch Dimitri’s film. Here’s the link to the Casting a Voice film http://vimeo.com/78876102. It will leave you asking what can I do to protect B.C. from Northern Gateway pipeline?