Quirks & Quarks

Scientists to PM: limited, biased science threatens Canada

More than 1700 early career scientists want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to increase scientific rigour and transparency in environmental assessments for large infrastructure and energy projects.
Scientists are questioning the rigour of the research on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion plan. The pipeline would carry oil from the Alberta oil sands to the B.C. coast. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Secretive, biased and scientifically sloppy.

That is the state of environmental assessments - in this country - according more than 1700 early-career Canadian scientists. They are particularly worried about large-scale developments, some of them energy projects.

And they are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action.They say the safety and health of Canadians and our environment is at risk.

These scientists, including Dr. Caroline Fox - a Killam postdoctoral fellow in marine ecology and conservation at Dalhousie University, spelled out their concerns in an open letter to Trudeau. 

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The Liberals are currently reviewing this process with a promise to "make environmental assessments credible again," which is why these early-career scientists felt they needed to address this issue now. 

Dr. Fox also works with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation where she is an expert consultant on large scale projects such as the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension plan, which extends from the Alberta oil sands to the west coast, where oil could be loaded onto tankers.

She says some the science in Kinder Morgan's environmental assessment for the pipeline extension was "low quality." Dr. Fox also refers to what she calls, "errors of omission," where relevant contextual information wasn't provided. She also describes claims she says are not substantiated by scientific evidence. 

The federal government must decide by December 19 whether they're going to approve the pipeline extension. 

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