Originally posted at 11:30 p.m. ET: Critics say budget cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are affecting an environmental review of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project.
Documents filed with the National Energy Board show the environmental review panel studying the project had asked the DFO for risk assessments on the nearly 1,000 waterways the pipeline is expected to cross. But the department was unable to provide the panel with those assessments because they haven't been done yet. Critics are saying that the environmental assessment won't be completed before the federal deadline.
However, after this story was posted, a spokesperson for the Department from Fisheries and Oceans said in an email to CBC News:
"Fisheries and Oceans Canada is participating by providing advice on fish and fish habitat.
The Department has provided its assessment and is of the view that the risk posed by the project to fish and fish habitat in the freshwater and marine environments can be managed by the proponent through appropriate mitigation and compensation measures.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has and will continue to have the resources and capacity needed to participate in environmental assessments under the new Fisheries Protection Program."
The story was posted on CBCNews.ca yesterday, and it sparked a huge reaction from the CBC Community, and over 780 comments.
Most of the commenters were critical of the timeline involved with completing the environmental assessment.
- "The rush. That's one big concern that absolutely nobody can explain.If the decision is to be based on science, then provide the science. If it's going to take another two days, or two years to get - it simply doesn't matter, the oil is going nowhere, the price of oil has continued to rise decade over decade hasn't it? At this point there are no government contracts signed requiring such short timelines, there is dispute between many different perspectives on this matter without a clear consensus in any one way," said stopnthink.
- "I am nether left or right, but think we need to hold our politicians accountable for allowing the only department that protects our drinking water, under the auspice of fishing, to be gutted and made impotent," said tumble weed.
- "It is not the responsibility of opponents to prove Gateway is unsafe. It is the responsibility of supporters to prove it is safe. If there is insufficient evidence to confirm the project is safe, it must be rejected," said Dennis Brady.
- "Well if they can't do the review then they'll have to nix the project," said CoryBarnes.
- "I buy shares in companies that need environment assessments. It takes at least three years to complete," said hockey99.
Others were critical of opposition to the speed of the review.
- "Pipelines have been built for decades, there is no reason a valid study can not be done in a matter of months. Scientists already know which watersheds are the most threatened or pose the greatest risk, so therefore most of the work has been done.
- "Cynically, I think the problem with shorter reviews is consultants on both sides stand to lose income," said NevilleQ.
- "Of course they're going to say there isn't enough time. They'd still claim that if the review was given 1,000 years," said SecondOpinion.
- "These critics will bring up any excuse to question the process, which has been given enough time for study and dialog if they'd get off their duffs and do the work. There never would be enough time for the naysayers. Let the process do its job and see what happens," said poohkin.
- "While I believe in set deadlines for studies and reviews (with room for extension if required) I do not want to see them glossed over or driven by politics (left or right) or by corporate interests. They must be conducted properly and in detail. I have found over the years that industry wants to rush these studies and environmental groups want to use the process to stall them. Both are political actions. In order for the science and engineering to be done properly politics and lobbying must be removed," said Arctic Dude.
- "The 'scientific' study could go on forever. That can't be allowed. Accept the risk, demand the safest pipeline possible and get on with it - or don't. Bundle the NGP with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and BC will soon come around. The political naysayers only want money. The environmental naysayers are too idealistic, imagine Earth-ending catastrophe, and continue to use oil every day. It's all getting very tedious. In the end the balderdash will give way to necessity," said LifeIsButADream.
Thanks for following our coverage. As always, please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.
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