Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Canada's Conservatives Downgrade Humpback Protection to Move Forward with the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Canada's ruling Conservatives have bent every rule so that they can move forward with tar sands expansion. One of the most egregious and cynical moves involves the downgrading of the protections afforded the North Pacific humpback whales. They are doing this to make it easier to proceed with the $7.9 billion Northern Gateway pipeline project which would ferry tar sands bitumen to transpacific oil tankers off of Canada's ecologically sensitive West Coast.

If it goes forward, the pipeline will transport crude oil from Alberta to Kitimat in British Columbia where hundreds of oil tankers will transport the bitumen overseas.

The humpback whales status has been downgraded from "threatened" to a "species of special concern" under the Species At Risk Act (SARA). This means that the humpbacks, one of the world's largest mammals, are no longer afforded the protections that they had as a threatened species.

As a "threatened" species the humpback would have been a serious obstacle to the building of the pipeline project. As stated in the legislation, "no person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of any ... listed threatened species".

The humpback is only one of many species at risk from the pipeline. However, whales are in greater danger because of the number of large vessels that could collide with the whales. Whales will also have to contend with oil spills and excessive noise.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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