Environmental groups launch lawsuit to block Northern Gateway pipeline

Environmental groups launched a lawsuit Friday, seeking to block federal government approval of Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The lawsuit was brought forward by Ecojustice, on behalf of ForestEthics Advocacy, Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Ecojustice is also asking for an injunction to postpone the cabinet decision until the court case is completed.

Hopefully our court challenge will result in better decision making on this project,” said Smithers resident and ForestEthics campaigner Nikki Skuce. “There's too much at risk not to try to use all of our tools in our toolbox to stop Northern Gateway.”

In December, the Joint Review Panel approved the pipeline move forward, but set 209 conditions for it to proceed. The federal government has the final say and is expected to give their final decision on the project this spring.

Among the reasons for the lawsuit are the JRP: concluded that diluted bitumen is unlikely to sink in an ocean environment, even though a federal study released earlier this week suggests otherwise; allowed Enbridge to assess geohazard risks, like landslides, during construction instead of before; did not consider the federal recovery strategy for the Pacific Humpback Whale, whose critical habitat overlaps with the proposed tanker route; and refused to consider the environmental impacts of upstream oilsands development, even though it did include the economic benefits of upstream development.

Any decision about Northern Gateway must be based on the best available science,” Ecojustice said on their website. “That’s why the panel’s incomplete and flawed report cannot stand as the final word on whether Northern Gateway is in the national interest.

The battle over Northern Gateway has come to stand for more than just the fate of one pipeline project. It’s become the epicentre of the debate over Canada’s energy future.”


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