NEWS

Northern Gateway Pipeline report 'flawed', 300 scientists tell PM

06/03/2014 12:02 EDT | Updated 08/03/2014 05:59 EDT
Hundreds of scientists have signed a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying the recent report on the Northern Gateway Pipeline is so flawed, it's essentially useless.

The scientists say the Joint Review Panel report has so many systemic errors and omissions it can't be used to make decisions on whether the pipeline is beneficial to the public.

The 300 scientists from across Canada and around the world say the JRP's recommendation to approve the proposed pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta to the North Coast of B.C. was based on a "flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to B.C.'s environment and society."

"We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this report," says the letter.

The report approval, which was released in December, included 209 required conditions, including developing a marine mammal protection plan, researching heavy oil cleanup and conducting emergency response exercises.

The Harper government is expected to decide whether to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline sometime this month.

UBC associate professor Kai Chan, who helped pen the letter, calls the report a failure.

"The consideration of how the benefits outweigh the costs and risks was really given almost no space and no logic. It's absolutely insufficient as a basis to make a decision as to whether the project is in the public interest," says Chan.

Among the concerns raised in the letter, the group says the report:

- "Failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia. 

- "Reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.

- "Unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.

- "Relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed

- "Relied on information from the proponent without external evaluation.

- Failed "to provide an explanation of how it had reached its conclusions, especially the central one, that the project’s benefits justify its risks and costs."

"Given such flaws, the JRP report is indefensible as a basis to judge in favour of the project," the letter concludes.

MORE:cbcNews