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Environmental groups sue feds over Northern Gateway pipeline

Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jan 9 2014

Five environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation and the Wilderness Committee, are taking the federal government to court, claiming it has failed to meet its responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act to protect endangered wildlife threatened by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

The case will be heard by the Federal Court in Vancouver Jan. 8 and 9.

“The federal government’s chronic delays in producing recovery strategies for Canada’s endangered wildlife are forcing species already struggling to survive to wait even longer for the protection they desperately need,” said Ecojustice executive director Devon Page, whose group is representing the environmental groups in this case.

The groups say the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would impact four endangered species – the Pacific humpback whale, Nechako white sturgeon, marbled murrelet and southern mountain caribou. They say the government delayed too long to consider release recovery strategies for these species to be considered by the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel.

“Not having these recovery strategies in place makes it impossible for regulators to consider the full environmental impact of major projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline,” said Page.

Enbridge’s 1,177-km Northern Gateway pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta to Kitimat in northern BC, where oil tankers would transport the crude to Asia for refining.

Although a moratorium on new tanker traffic has kept Canada’s west coast safe from spills so far, approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline would pave the way for hundreds of new tankers to carry bitumen through the storm-prone passages of British Columbia’s north coast.

Ecojustice lawyers are acting on behalf of five environmental groups in this lawsuit: the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club BC, the Wilderness Committee and Wildsight.

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