BY LARRY PYNN, VANCOUVER SUN
Canada's preeminent environmentalist, David Suzuki, said Friday that Enbridge is a company with "absolutely no credibility" and that the Joint Review Panel that recommended the Northern Gateway project proceed with conditions is nothing more than a federal "rubber stamp."
"Spills will happen, there is no question about that," the Vancouver-based broadcaster and scientist told The Vancouver Sun. "The question, is what do you do about it?"
He said Enbridge has engaged in a "huge public relations campaign," including expensive TV commercials, to tell British Columbians how much it cares for the environment, when in fact the company has no credibility.
"If they really did care about the environment and native concerns...they would have research commitments, all kinds of things done to try to show they are working to deal with the cleanup once a spill happens."
Among the panel's 209 conditions recommended Thursday, Enbridge should: research programs into oil-spill cleanup and the varying physical and chemical properties of the oil intended to be shipped, including studies into dispersion and remediation; conduct pre-operations emergency response exercises and develop an emergency preparedness and response exercise and training program.
"It's absurd to say we have to do state-of-the-art research and all that after the pipeline is allowed to go through," Suzuki continued. "There is no known technology that can clean up the mess once it occurs. They can't sop up most of the oil; it's simply dispersed into the atmosphere, water or land."
Suzuki said he has travelled extensively to coastal native communities and knows "they are desperate for economic development. They need jobs, they tell us that every time...So the economy is very important to them."
That's why their unified opposition to Northern Gateway is all the more striking, he said.
"They're telling us some things are simply more important than money, and no one is getting that."
Suzuki added the fact that the panel cancelled public sessions in Bella Bella on the central coast in April because they were afraid "shows they have no sensitivity or understanding of that community..."
He added it was a "forgone conclusion" that the panel would follow the wishes of Prime Minster Stephen Harper and "rubber stamp" the project.
The 1,177-kilometre pipeline would go from Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, B.C.