The Northern Gateway pipeline proposal has been in the news a lot lately as it winds its way through the various regulatory processes involved. As is often the case with energy projects, a lot of controversy has surrounded the pipeline project.
However, as the debate rages, I’m reminded of what NDP president Moe Sihota said about the environmental review process a year or so ago while speaking on a CBC talk show. Sihota stated that he helped write B.C.’s environmental rules when he was an NDP cabinet minister and he told a caller “to trust” the environmental review process because it works.
I have to agree with Mr. Sihota, because anyone familiar with energy projects, particularly run-of-river hydro projects, knows that they require more than 50 approvals, permits, licenses and reviews, from more than 14 different levels of government and First Nations, before they can be built. And, typically, there are hundreds of conditions attached to any approvals: The environmental regulations that relate specifically to B.C.’s rivers and fish populations are particularly strict and detailed.
It’s factual information like this that stands in direct contrast to the misinformed claims running rampant in B.C. during the past few years: Misinformed claims that rivers were being sold, destroyed or drained away to nothingness. None of these claims are or ever were true, and not one has been able to stand up to the facts.
I would therefore caution anyone following the Northern Gateway debate to keep Moe Sihota’s words in mind and trust in the review process. Not only does the process work, it protects important environmental values while balancing the legitimate expectations people have for good jobs and a strong economy.