Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Canadian Conservatives Silence Opposition to the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline

Canada's ruling Conservatives have passed legislation to silence dissenting voices on the Northern Gateway oil pipeline and other environmental review processes. The Conservatives have made no secret of the fact that they want to quell dissent on environmental issues.

These changes to environmental reviews are part of a sweeping budget bill that will restrict who can appear before regulatory panels. This move will effectively prevent many of those who are opposed to the pipeline from sharing their concerns like experts from environmental organizations.

These new rules will also prevent many of the more than 4,000 private citizens who registered to comment from being heard at hearings into Enbridge Inc’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline. Many oppose the pipeline because it will foster more oil sands development and increase carbon emissions.

The pipeline project is intended to move tar sands oil to Canada's Pacific Coast. Both the coast and the land the pipeline will traverse are highly sensitive areas.

The legislation will restrict thousands who have signed up to give 10-minute oral presentations and those who are allowed to participate will be prevented from cross-examining Enbridge, the company building the pipeline.

Rather than give interested parties 10 minutes to speak, hours will be wasted on hearings to determine whether they have the right to speak.

In the province of Alberta, home of the environmentally destructive tar-sands, regulators already restrict hearings. The federal government appears to be following Alberta's lead.

The legislation will expedite the review process and provide the rubber stamp that the Conservatives are looking for. The federal government is undermining the country’s environmental review process. This is the fulfillment of the Harper government's ambition to gut environmental law.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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