Will the Approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline in Albert be a misdemeanor or protection of Human rights towards the achievement of Social Justice?
The development of pipelines is advantageous since it carries significant benefits to the human population. They increase revenues, employment opportunities and new markets. However, some of these projects also possess several shortcomings. In this relation, there has been considerable debate in Canada regarding the approval of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. The project aims at connecting twin bridges from Bruderheim in Alberta to Kitimat in British Columbia. One of these heads east and would serve as a transportation channel for condensate, natural gas. The second pipeline that is expected to head west would be a main channel for the exportation of bitumen from the oil sands in Athabasca. The bitumen will be diluted with the condensate to Kitimat’s marine terminal, transferred to super tankers and transported to Asian markets. The pipeline project is expected to cut across approximately 1000 streams and rivers. Although it presents a number of benefits related to the welfare of the people living along its route, it carries the risk of greater damages for the aboriginal groups. Thus, will its implementation be a misdemeanor or protection of Human rights towards the achievement of Social Justice? Both sides of the Enbridge debate will be herein presented and an explanation why it should not be approved offered.
Proposition for the Enbridge Project
The Enbridge Company has suggested the possibility of numerous benefits from the project. In relation to this, they have conducted a lot of research and submitted their safety-related evidence as part of their fear for human rights to the regulatory bodies. The company managers have provided an assurance that the project will be the safest in the continent. They have enhanced the details of the design and operations of the project. They claim that they intend to make a state-of- the-art construction that fulfills the safety and integrity of aboriginal groups through the use of the newest technology in the industry (ENGFGEJ, 2012). As depicted by Guy, this is an indication that they will uphold human rights towards the provision of justice (2012).
The other expected beneficial component of the project has been the creation of job opportunities. Enbridge claims that these opportunities will be made available in the related marine services as the company would have 104 positions of permanent operation and 113 other posts. It will be considered as a step towards providing justice in the society in which the project will run.
Additional stated benefits include training, programs in stewardship and community trust. Roggenkamp, Hernandez, Zilman, and Guayo observe that this project will create a positive change in Canada from a single market in the U.S to the extension of sales into Asian refiners. Asia would thus serve as a valuable new market for the crude oil from Canada and thus increase its proximity to some of the large and expanding oil markets in the world (Daniel, 2010). Enbridge purports that because of this, in over 30 years, Canadian GDP will be boosted by $270 billion hence generate more total revenues with direct and indirect beneficial outcomes to the provincial and federal governments (2010). The Government of Alberta has additionally recognized that the project bears the benefit of providing an access to the West Coast (Narine, 2012). With these, human rights that relate to movement and affordability are expected to be improved.
Enbridge specifies that an agreement can be reached between parties to solve the various land issues. According to Enbridge, most of the risks highlighted by the opposition groups including environmental concerns can be solved or mitigated through different approaches. They claim that most of them can be minimized as was depicted from their promise to offer equity stakes to those living within 80 kilometers of the original land together with individuals from British Columbia and Albert. They can also be compensated for their violated rights as shown by the company’s step to spend $500 to improve the safety measures of the project. As such, they state that the recommendations made from the assessment can be considered (The province, 2012). In addition, they promise to employ extra safety measures during its construction. It thus serves as an indication of their commitment to uphold the aboriginal rights and maintain justice.
The project bears an ambitious nature that makes it an economic catalyst. There is a notion that billions of dollars generated from it will be channeled towards the economy (Daniel, 2010). This is approved by one of the panel members for Alberta Government; Harold York who confirms that reasonable commercial and economic issues have been included (Narine, 2012). As such, despite the negative sides indicated this aspect counters them and provides justice to the aboriginal groups.
The project will also endow native groups with equal ownership opportunities, which include a ten percent investment of the project. It is expected that because of its high demand, shippers who will benefit from the pipeline as oil producers and refiners have made an eager commitment towards funding its regulatory phase. Their human rights will be protected in this way as the equality measures will enhance justice.
With regards to safety, Enbridge Inc. promises a number of strategies that include the thickening of walls on the project, installation of dual leak detection mechanisms and the increase in number of remotely operated valves (ENGFGEJ, 2012). These extra measures show the level with which the company considers the importance of justice.
Environmental, Economic and Social Challenges of the Project
Numerous criticisms against the Enbridge project have been received from groups like the Yinka Dene Alliance, First Nations such as Wet’suwet’en and Saiku’z, opponents of oils and sand as well as environmentalists. They have dismissed the development plan owing to its failure to address the issues concerning dangers of oil transporting tankers at the B.C coast. BC NPC through their leader Adrian proposes an environmental assessment for review by individuals from the province. It would ensure that the social, economic, and environmental interests of BC, and that of the First Nations, are met since it will be strictly based on the Province. Consequently, these people will be able to exercise the specific responsibilities and powers related to their rights.
Ethical Concerns raised by the Project Development
Lake; the minister for environment in British Columbia, has disregarded Enbridge’s promises asserting that they fall short of the providence of solid action (CBCNews 2012). The counsel for Alexandra; Caroline O’Driscoll argues that the First Nations have not been considered in the forecasting of oil production or economic benefits involved. It thus signifies the absence of aboriginal rights (Narine, 2012). In this relation, observations have been made that the inhabitants in British Columbia are not likely to get their fair share from the project’s benefits as indicated. They include people living in Victoria who will only receive 8% of the government royalties expected from the pipeline as opposed to the 100% marine related risk benefits promised (Hayward, 2012). This is proof that the project will not respect human privileges and cause social injustice.
Wood McKenzie asserted that the presence of labor, equipment and natural gas directly led to the development of oil sands. However, the decision by the operators to modify the portfolio of their oil sands did not take the rights of aboriginals into account (Narine, 2012). The federal government has disputed the job creation claim and informed several habitat members of staff at several fisheries about their possible termination. It will be an effort to reduce the operational budget in the department. In addition, the $6 billion project that aims at the speedy construction of oil sands has been observed to be accompanied by high inflation due to the cost of construction. Therefore, the project will have violated human rights by making their lives harder leading to great social injustice.
Opponents cite a likely reduction of Canadian refining power with the introduction of Asia as a new market. This will negatively impact a considerable number of the local people who will subsequently lose their jobs leading to a major social injustice.
There are claims that construction of the pipeline reduces the level of safety for people living in the area. It will increase sedimentation and water temperatures in marine environments rendering them unfavorable for trout and salmon. Conservatives note that it will destroy the integrity of the economy and ecology. Speculations are that, in the future, the climate destabilizing impact of the pipeline will be felt on other vital ecosystems such as climate change, hydro developments and forestry (Levy, 2009). It will offend human rights as the aboriginal environment will be destroyed.
Environmental concerns are raised regarding transportation of crude oil across Albert and British Columbia (Tatyana, 2012). It is because the Northern Gateway project is assumed to carry a serious risk of spills and harm to aquatic animals. The super oil tankers that will transport the oil will be extremely large and pose a serious risk of spills. It is hence expected to bear considerable influence on fisheries together with the health of salmon that inhabit such marine environments. In turn, it poses severe issues of social justice since the life of people living around these areas would be directly or indirectly affected (The petroleum economist, 2009). The social justice of aboriginals will not be upheld as they will not be given alternatives to the destroyed aquatic life. It is for this reason that a thorough assessment of risks will be considered necessary (Levy, 2009).
The project also poses an economic challenge to other economic sectors in Canada that do not deal in oil and its products. It is supposed that the project can only be successful if the prices of oil are increased by $3 per barrel yearly. This thus means that families will have less purchasing power, the cost of production in industries that use oil will increase and thus elevate unemployment rate. As a result, a reduction in the real GDP and government revenues would be experienced following increased inflation and interest rates hence the consequent appreciation of the Canadian Dollar (Berkow, 2012). This will be a principal disadvantage for the aboriginals and act against their justice.
The likely occurrence of oil spills has been of considerable concern since the pipes will be transporting extremely toxic petroleum products (Mickleburgh, 2012). Communities and first nations occupying areas near the pipeline’s course are also apprehensive that the project will consume a lot of their traditional land and destroy the wild salmon habitat (Levy, 2009). Because of this, it will tamper with the principle sources of food and vast quantities of marine nutrients that have been depended on for a long time for sustenance (Polczer, 2010). Thus, it is believed to be offensive to the interests and rights of people’s long term energy and a violation against environmental integrity (Hughes, 2011).
Pre-Existing Conditions for the Approval of the Project
The analysis of points from supporters and opposers shows that the approval of the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline would lead to more risks and problems to the aboriginals than the projected benefits. Most of the vital strategies have not been properly formulated (LjunggFren, 2010). It would hence present more challenges for Canada, and the British Columbia Province.
The project should ensure that roads are accessible. This has not been met as hazards related to safety and weather are posed on the oil tankers by the Douglas channel that heads to Kitimat and surrounds the coast waters in the northwest. The critics point out that there lacks sufficient time to complete the outlined science. This is in relation to the deadline mentioned by the federal government for environmental assessment.
Based on the merits and demerits highlighted, the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline project should not be approved. The company still needs to make an effort on the requirements as well as measures to handle emergencies.
Some non-governmental organizations use the prospectus company’s history to reveal the spotty nature of pipeline installation and numerous resultant spills. These would lead to numerous losses and expose the public to different safety dangers. It is for this reason that the Canadian Press indicate that the pipeline company has not instilled sufficient confidence regarding the safety of the project (2012). It is thus a critical issue since the safety of citizens should be given paramount consideration.
Moreover, the Canadian press asserts that, in case of natural hazards such as earthquakes, damage or degradation of pipelines along the route proposed for the Northern Gateway, chances of a pipeline rupture are high (Levy, 2009). The company should establish measures to deal with spills as citizens and taxpayers should not be involved in the responsibility presented by a potential spill. In addition, as stated by Ljunggren, Canada recently faced a serious oil spill that revealed insufficient data to monitor the consequences of development of oil sands on water bodies. Therefore, the country is not adequately prepared to handle a substantial oil spill emanating from a tanker since its emergency strategies are out dated (2010). Accordingly, it would not be a brilliant idea to approve the project since it would create danger and a significant challenge to the country and its citizens (The Province, 2012).
My Alignment as a Participant in the Debate
I believe that the opponents of the project have a stronger argument. According to reports, the company had not made appropriate plans to deal with spills since even six months before the commencement of its operations; a response preparation would not have been finalized. Particularly, the company’s efforts towards ensuring safety are not impressive. Enbridge Inc. retaliate by pointing out that it is impossible to have 0% risks in an oil company (CBCnews 2012). Levy emphasized this by noting that even the pipelines considered as having the best practices and operation practices are not sufficient to eradicate all risks (2009). Although this is true, they should attempt to keep the risks presented by the project as minimal as possible. The chief geometrical engineering at the project highlights that the key focus should be the mitigation of consequent oil spills. Nonetheless, the answers provided by the company have been found to be insufficient and still pose principal risks to human beings as well as marine animals. This, as Narine observes, is an indication that the company did not consider the aboriginal rights during their forecast (2012). Additionally, the company has not been able to honor its promises as no member whose land has been directly affected by the transverse line has signed the deal promising 60% compensation. So, this enormous risk cannot be taken by approving the Enbridge project since the taxpayers cannot take the threat of bearing full responsibility for emergency oil spills.
Currently, there are still numerous challenges brought about by the project as compared to the predictable benefits. Besides, the opportunities mentioned for the aboriginals as part of the heavy-oil project have not been well outlined. Owing to lack of proper strategies to gain enough funds, the Enbridge Company may not be able to honor its promises of an equal share to the aboriginals. This fact is confirmed by York who states that the rights issues of aboriginals have barely been included (Narine, 2012). It is indicated that the project will not guarantee job opportunities to most members of the community as previously indicated. It is evident as some of the aboriginal land inhabitants will get new job opportunities while some at the fisheries department will lose their jobs and thus face some challenges.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada reveals that there are also risks posed by the pipeline at some of the major crossings. They include the Kitimat River tributaries, where the company and the fisheries department have conflicting views on the risks involved. It is still considered a serious threat as relevant measures to protect the fish and their habitat have not been taken (Dyck, 2012).
The government has placed several conditions that are yet to be met by Enbridge Inc. for them to earn the support of the Province. This is despite claims that the company is operating in accordance with approved guidelines. They include the necessity for Enbridge to develop a pioneer new industry as an initiative in British Columbia. It offers them room to boost their relationship with the community and aboriginal inhabitants, refine their approaches towards emergency preparedness, and response before the operation commences (The Canadian Press, 2012). The company will have to provide funding spill prevention systems in response and recovery, in world class land-based and marine. Moreover, they will need to prove to all individuals that the negative reputation associated with them has been corrected, and operations improved. These should be completed before it is approved to avoid disappointments on the traditional groups.
Unless further assessments are made to ensure that the concerns raised can be minimized by the steps indicated by Enbridge Inc., the development of the pipeline company should not be permitted. The Save the Fraser Declaration, which opposes the development of the project, should, therefore, be considered relevant. As such, as speculated by the regulatory regime the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline should not be approved until it lays down the proper mitigation measures as concerns all the relevant issues. Additionally, all the relevant jurisdiction processes should be completed before the company is given permission to proceed with pipeline development (The petroleum economist, 2009).
As such, my opinion about its implementation has been changed. Previously, I had considered the project an immense economic and social advantage to Canada and the aboriginals of the British Columbia province. This was from the benefits projected by the company. However, the disadvantages of the project with regards to human rights still overrun the benefits. Its implementation will act against the achievement of social justice. It will only be solved if Enbridge meets the specifications placed by regulatory bodies. On the grounds of risks and benefits involved, the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline Project should not be approved as it still poses numerous environmental, cultural and economic challenges to the people in the Province and Canada in general. For this, it can be considered a violation of their rights and neglect against their social justice.
Berkow, Jameson. (July 13 2012). “B.C. lays out pipeline approval demands”. The Canadian Press. CBCnews.
Dyck, Darryl. (August 19 2012). “Northern Gateway review hobbled by budget cuts, critics say”. The Canadian Press. CBCnews.
Daniel, Patrick D. (2010). “Enbridge files Gateway Pipeline application”. Pipeline & Gas Technology. Vol. 2010 (6), p38-38. 1p.
Guy, Anna. (October 11, 2012). Exclusive Interview: Enbridge – Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. The international resource Journal.
Hughes, J. David. (2011). The Northern Gateway Pipeline: an affront to the public interest and long term energy security of Canadians. S.l.: Global Sustainability Research Inc.
Levy, David. (2009). Pipelines and Salmon in Northern British Columbia: Potential Impacts. The Pembina Institute: Levy Research Services.
Ljunggren, David. (Dec 7, 2010) Canada couldn’t handle big oil spill: watchdog. Reuters.
Mickleburgh, Rod. (July 30, 2012). “B.C. natives willing to ‘go to the wall’ against Enbridge pipeline”. The globe and mail.
“Natives Protest Enbridge Pipeline” (NPEP). (2010). The Canadian Press. 2010-12-02.
Narine, Shari. (2012). “Revenue sharing, Aboriginal rights questioned at Gateway hearing”. Alberta Sweetgrass. Vol. 19 (11), p12-13. 2p.
Polczer, Shaun (January 21, 2010). “Panel struck to review pipeline to West Coast. Enbridge plan to undergo scrutiny”. Calgary Herald.
Roggenkamp, M. Martha, Hernandez, Lila, & Zillman, N. Donald. (2012). Energy networks and the law: innovative solutions in changing markets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Tatyana, Daniels. (2012). Saying no to the proposed Gateway pipeline is unselfish. Windspeaker, May2012, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p12-12, 1/2p
The Canadian Press. (2012, October 18). “Enbridge not impressing B.C. government on pipeline safety”. CBCNews, p. 1.
The Province. (July 23, 2012). “B.C. government outlines Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline approval demands”. The Canadian Press.
The petroleum economist Vol 76. (2009). London : Petroleum Press Bureau.
Enbridge Northern Gateway Files Reply Evidence To JRP (ENGFGEJ). Pipeline & Gas Journal. Sep2012, Vol. 239 Issue 9, p75-76. 2p.