Enbridge Joint Review Panel hearing summary September 19
On her third day of questioning, Hana Boye came back to a recurring theme – her client, the Haisla Nation, and its traditional territory will be affected by every aspect of the Northern Gateway Pipelines (NGP) project – the pipeline, marine terminal and shipping port, and the shipping route itself. “For this reason, we are concerned about the risks of spills,” she said.
They are therefore concerned about insurance, and what happens when the insurance runs out after a major spill. “I am asking whether Enbridge will guarantee as a last resort, as a last line of defence, that it will cover any outstanding costs that are not previously covered by insurance or through other mechanisms.”
No direct answer to that question was given, but it emerged that a recent decision had been made to insure NGP on a standalone basis, rather than under Enbridge’s corporate insurance program. One reason, according to John Carruthers, President of NGP, was “that in the event an incident happened within the broader Enbridge company there may not be funds available for Northern Gateway.”
The other questioner for the day was Brenda Gaertner, representing the Coastal First Nations (CFN), which she described as an alliance of the First Nations of British Columbia's North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. She was accompanied by Guujaaw, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, Art Sterritt.
Ms. Gaertner went straight to her first point: the First Nations she represents govern their territories according to their own laws, customs and traditions. They have never ceded the territories, and neither the federal nor provincial governments have exclusive jurisdiction to decide whether this project will proceed.
In questioning the previous day, one of NGP’s witnesses stated that they could not evaluate environmental costs related to salmon because they had not been provided the necessary information. Ms. Gaertner asked,”Whose responsibility is that?”
NGP’s Mr. Carruthers replied, “I think we have tabled significant information, sufficient that a determination could be made whether the project should proceed.”
Ms. Gaertner said that Coastal First Nations are being presented with project that has many implications to them. “I think it’s a quite natural question to say: What other ways could these benefits be achieved?” What alternatives are there?
Mr. Carruthers replied that the primary objective of the project is to provide access for Canadian oil to refineries in Asian and the US west coast. Enbridge has no alternatives which would have achieved that objective.