Canadian Manufacturing

Scientists blast Northern Gateway review findings in letter to PM Harper

A group of 300 scientists signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to reject the review of the Northern Gateway project because it used flawed evidence



VANCOUVER—Scientists from across Canada have asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject the findings of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) that studied and reccomended following through with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

A letter signed by 300 scientists, including fellows of the Royal Society and holders of the Order of Canada, says the JRP’s recommendation to approve the oil sands pipeline was based on a “flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to B.C.’s environment and society.”

The scientists contend the JRP omitted important impacts and included unbalanced—and in some cases, biased evidence—that led to a faulty conclusion in its recommendation that Northern Gateway be approved.

“The JRP report has so many systemic errors and omissions, we …can only consider it a failure,” says University of British Columbia (UBC) associate professor Kai Chan, who led the initiative with Simon Fraser University assistant professor Anne Salomon and UBC professor Eric Taylor.

“The report does not provide the guidance the federal government needs to make a sound decision for Canadians about the Northern Gateway Project,” Chan says.

The scientists claim the JRP study is flawed in several ways, including:

  • It failed to consider impacts such as increased global greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oilsands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia
  • It reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.
  • It dismissed the unknown risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant.
  • It relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed.
  • It used information from the proponent without external evaluation.
  • It did not adequately articulate the rationale for its findings, notably the central finding that the project’s benefits justify its risks and costs.

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