UPDATED 2:15 pm - see note at end of story
It was a stunning revelation many did not know, and even Terrace City Councillor Brian Downie stated one wouldn’t know it from looking at their website. During a question and answer session at the end of the presentation to the Regional District Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) board, Pembina Institute lawyer, Karen Campbell responded to Director Dave Brocklebank who asked how they are funded. Brocklebank framed his question by stating his belief that consultant reports generally favour those who pay for them.
“The origins of our organization were with big industry, with the oil and gas industries in Alberta,” stated Campbell, “over the years we’ve actually developed what I think is a pretty good reputation working with the Husky’s, Suncor’s the who ever’s. We have worked with them over the years to help them green their operations” adding, “Quite often […] oil companies come to us and say ‘Hey, can you tell us what you think of this’ because they actually want to know how it’s going to be perceived.”
This admission followed her statement that they get 50% of their funding for their work from these corporate sources. The remaining 50% is split between Communities (10-15%) and private donations. Campbell even informed the gathering Enbridge had hired them in the past in regards to employee educational programs. Pembina assists with carbon assessments, energy planning framework projects and employee workforce change programs for the Oil companies.
The meeting began at 7:00 pm Friday, February 19 in the RDKS board room and was very well attended with over 50 observers standing along the walls and out into the halls and lobby. Terrace City Councillors who are the regular Board members, Carol Leclerc and Brad Pollard were at their regular seats and Councillor Bruce Bidgood was in the audience. Noticeably absent were both Mayor Pernarowski and Councillor Downie who acknowledged taking money from Enbridge to attend their meetings out of town yet this meeting was only 5 blocks from City Hall and was an informational meeting of a different perspective. Downie, seemed surprised by the oil industry connections. It was a meeting both he and the Mayor may have learned more about the project. They do have City representatives in the room who will likely provide them with the information second hand.
Campbell began her presentation stating Pembina was started 25 years ago and have 55 staff with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. They work with governments, industry and communities in energy working on sustainability and energy planning to find solutions for policy changes.
In addressing the topic for the RDKS on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal Campbell made another surprising statement for those who are attempting to frame the discussions in an ‘Us versus Them” contest.
“Enbridge is actually a really good company,” she stated after saying, “From a green house gas perspective, a climate mitigation perspective, a lot of different things,” and then ended with, “but accidents do happen.”
Campbell spoke about the proposed pipeline crossing over 1000 streams and rivers; crossing the headwaters of the Fraser River, and then addressed the 17 pipeline breaks that occurred between Telkwa and Prince Rupert between 1971 and 2004. These were on the gas pipeline, which she described as a substance that rises and evaporates, unlike crude oil, which settles into the earth and stream beds slowly releasing the toxins for generations. A map displaying the numerous slides through the Northwest revealed the dangers constantly encountered. A picture of the ruptured pipeline spilling oil into the Pine River near Chetwynd (where Terrace Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ron Poole was hired from as was Terrace’s Leisure Services Director) was displayed, which Campbell stated produced a 20 kilometer long oil slick. The community had to find a new water source.
As for the tankers carrying the crude oil she produced a quote from Enbridge, which stated they had no responsibility for the Oil or the damages if a spill occurred after it left their terminal. The Federal Government has increased their spill recovery fund to $150 million yet the first two years of the Exxon Valdez spill cleanup cost 2 billion.
MLA Robin Austin was present at the meeting and asked if there had been any assessments of the risks navigating around the islands outside of Douglas Channel. There is a separate process underway called a TERMPOL. It is federal government study which is to review the route and the crude oil handling facilities. Campbell couldn’t answer any questions on this subject except to state Enbridge would not be accepting any responsibility for the product after it left their terminal.
Turning to the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) joint process called the Joint Review Panel, Campbell advised the process is already underway where participant funding is being assessed. She compared the Mackenzie pipeline recently approved through the panel and the differences with the Enbridge proposal. The Mackenzie project is 1300 kilometers of gas pipeline from an economically isolated region through relatively safe terrain, which has undergone extensive studies and considerations dating back to 1977. Enbridge’s proposal began in 2006, is 2400 kilometres of crude oil and petroleum products traversing some of the most difficult terrain in Canada.
The Mackenzie Joint Review Panel (JRP) was comprised of 7 members; 3 aboriginal and one other from the region affected along with 3 more from southern Canada. The Enbridge JRP is comprised of 3 persons none from the area; 2 from Calgary and an aboriginal representative from Ontario. The Mackenzie JRP considered the upstream benefits, meaning the impacts good or bad to the area where the pipeline begins determining a benefit to the people there. The Enbridge JRP will not consider the upstream impacts such as the increase in oil sands production.
Campbell stated in regards to the JRP process for the Mackenzie pipeline, “MacKenzie was in the best interests of the Northerners; […] what the panel did was wise.” In regards to the Enbridge JRP, “Here it is more diverse”, she stated, describing how there are many more opportunities for economic development and productive living. There is very little long term benefits with the project with plenty of risk. Out of all those involved in the pipeline only 15% of the construction work force will be hired locally according to Enbridge, she claimed.
The meeting concluded with an ovation from the crowd gathered.
The entire presentation was filmed by the Terrace Daily and can be viewed for going to The Environment Section
and scrolling to the bottom. It will begin immediately.
Approximately 50 spectators attended the meeting. Terrace Councillor Bruce Bidgood can be seen in the middle seat near the front just to the left of the post.
A Controlled burn by Enbridge in an attempt to prevent the spilt oil from reach a river seen in the background
MLA Austin spoke about a trip through Douglas Channel and asked about the navigation hazards outside of Douglas channel