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UPDATE: Protest planned in Prince Rupert to oppose Enbridge recommendation
The President of Enbridge Al Monaco said the company still has a lot of work to do and that not celebrating despite the Joint Review Panel'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 for the company.
"We and our partners will put our best foot forward to further build trust," he said.
Meanwhile, he said the five conditions the province of B.C. has put forward as conditions before pipeline development can occur "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.
A protest has been planned for noon on Friday at the Prince Rupert courthouse to express opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel's recommendation to approve the project.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice called the decision an affront to democracy.
“As British Columbians, we feel very disappointed and let down ... it is a sad day for democracy when we know our voices haven't been heard,” she said while surrounded by supporters at a news conference on Dec. 19.
Those sentiments were echoed by Tsimshian hereditary chiefs Clarence Nelson and Murray Smith who, although not speaking on behalf of their bands until they had time to speak other tribes, said this recommendation should only serve to bring First Nations together.
“Personally I hope that this will unite First Nations. We have to speak with one voice because this will affect our Nations in different ways,” said Nelson, who called it “cold hearted news”.
“I am so, so disappointed that our voices weren't heard again. My concern is always whether we will be heard or whether we will be pushed to the side, and it is clear that is what has happened again ... we are one voice, and that voice is saying no,” added Smith.
Joy Thorkelson of the United Fishemen and Allied Worker's Union said regardless of the recommendation, the pipeline would not become a reality.
“The 99 per cent, the First Nations and people are going to unite do make sure that doesn't happen,” she said.
Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said he was not surprised by the announcement that the Joint Review Panel had recommended approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, but he was disappointed.
“The process from the beginning was bias to find a positive outcome for the company and to ignore the 10,000-plus submission from British Columbians who said they didn't want it. 'Yes' seemed to be the only answer that could come out of the panel,” he said.
“The risks far outweigh the benefits but the project will move on to the next stage, which I am guessing will be the courts as First Nations are prepared for that ... this has only further marginalized the voices of First Nations people. The government just said to 78 First Nations who opposed this pipeline, 'we don't care'.”
Cullen said he expects the public will begin to mobilize and take action, but said he doesn't expect that action to include civil disobedience.
“We are a long way from that. There are pending court cases, there are many opportunities for peaceful protest before shovels hit the ground ...there is a federal election in 2015 and, more immediately, a municipal election in 2014 and this will be a ballot issue,” he said.
“The risks are still the risks and we cannot allow this for ourselves and, more importantly, for future generations.”
Cullen said if he had one message to Stephen Harper and Enbridge, it would be to find a way to back down while there is still time.
“It is ultimately going to be a very destructive thing. They are not going to build the pipeline and they are going to do a lot of damage along the way,” he said.
“This does not lead anywhere good, certainly not for Enbridge or the federal government.”
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel today recommended the federal government approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, subject to 209 conditions.
"Based on a scientific and precautionary approach to this complex review, the Panel found that the project, if built and operated in compliance with the conditions set out in its report, would be in the public interest," read a statement from the panel.
The Panel's conditions, which would be enforced by the National Energy Board, include requirements for Enbridge Northern Gateway to develop a marine mammal protection plan, implement the TERMPOL Review Committee recommendations, prepare a Caribou habitat restoration Plan, develop a training and education monitoring plan, prepare an enhanced marine spill trajectory and fate modelling, develop a research program on the behviour and cleanup of heavy oils, conduct pre-operations emergency response exercises and develop an emergency preparedness and response exercise training program.
The Panel found that "opening Pacific Basin markets is important to the Canadian economy and society." The Panel also found that "the project would bring significant local, regional, and national economic and social benefits".
The federal Cabinet now has 180 days to approve or reject the panel's recommendation. Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said he encouraged people to see for themselves what the report says.
"Now that we have received the report, we will thoroughly review it, consult with affected Aboriginal groups and then make our decision. We also encourage everyone with an interest to take the time and review the report," he said.
"Our Government will continue to improve the safe transportation of energy products across Canada. No project will be approved unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.”
Look for reaction to the panel's report throughout the day here at thenorthernview.com
~With files from Cameron Orr