Cullen says Conservatives have no strategy for environmental compliance, emergency response

OTTAWAThe Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled his report yesterday, and findings were not good. Scott Vaughan pointed to major problems with compliance verification, enforcement and emergency response procedures.

“We have several pipeline proposals in front of us and a government that is failing to ensure that pipelines are safe for the environment and Canadians,” said NDP MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley). “How can any of these projects get approved under these conditions?”

One of the proposals, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, would carry unrefined oil from Alberta’s tar sands through Cullen’s riding. At Kitimat, the goods would transfer to super tankers for transport to Asia.

Enbridge faces fierce opposition from locals, including 130 First Nations. Last week, Cullen met with Gitxsan hereditary chiefs days after they promptly overturned treaty negotiator Elmer Derrick’s unexpected agreement with Enbridge for a $7-million stake in the project. The community remains divided.

“We’ve already seen how Enbridge is willing to tear communities apart,” said Cullen. “Now the report tells us that this government has no strategy for issues of environmental concern.”

Problems mentioned were risks of leaking and bursting pipes, no follow-up on safety deficiencies and the absence of a clear plan of action for emergency response when accidents happen.

“These pipelines are transporting dangerous goods,” said Cullen. “In light of this report, I have zero confidence in this government’s ability to force companies like Enbridge to protect the salmon fishery, the water supply, and First Nations’ land.”

Cullen will appear as an intervenor at the project’s Joint Review Panel in 2012.