Friday, August 31, 2018

Next Time, Let's Heed Precaution

The Trudeau government won't like it. They'll probably fight, fang and claw, to get around it. The only problem for the federal government is that it's the law of the land.

The law I'm referencing is the "precautionary principle." The Federal Court of Appeal quashed Ottawa's approval of the Trudeau Memorial TransMountain Pipeline on two grounds - inadequate consultation with First Nations and a total lack of consideration of what it would mean to coastal British Columbia.

In other words, Mr. Trudeau has been told that he can no longer slough off the dissent of various First Nations and what happens after all that diluted bitumen reaches tidewater must be evaluated.

The feds have focused on driving their pipeline to "tidewater" in Burnaby.  Past that they've relied on outright lies and deception. Their critics cite a variety of concerns in some aspects similar to but often far, far worse than bitumen spill problems ashore.

Among these perils are getting heavily laden, wallowing supertankers through the treacherous currents of the Second Narrows, on past the Vancouver/North Vancouver waterfront (Canada's busiest sea port), under the First Narrows (Lions Gate) and out through English Bay. It only takes one mishap to cause catastrophic loss to that waterway and the adjacent municipalities.

Then there's getting those vessels through the Salish Sea, the Georgia Strait, the Straight of Juan de Fuca and out into international waters.  Again, plenty of opportunity for lasting ecological catastrophe.

What mishaps? The most common are collisions with other ships, engine failure, loss of steerage, fire and grounding on rocky projections, often in stormy seas that can play havoc with a lumbering, heavily loaded supertanker.

Now our less than honest prime minister (hey, remember that "social licence" bullshit?) will assure us there's no problem. Don't worry, be happy. In fact the only people who are going to be happy about this expanded tanker traffic will be sitting in boardrooms in Calgary or in the legislature in Edmonton and in Parliament. They'll unload all this risk, free of charge, on the people of coastal British Columbia.

The prime minister will chime on about Canada's "world class" spill response. That amounts to six or nine piddling boats bobbing in Nanaimo harbour that can deploy oil scavenging booms - in calm seas.

Both the Royal Society of Canada and Trudeau's own Environment Canada state that no one knows what happens to dilbit spilled into the ocean. What is known is that it breaks down with the lighter oil, the diluent, heading to the surface and the remainder, the bitumen, heading to the bottom.

British Columbia wants to conduct research into dilbit spills. The federal and Alberta governments won't hear of it. Their outrage speaks volumes. What speaks even louder is Environment Canada's approval of the use of Corexit as a supposed oil dispersant. Corexit, which has poisoned marine ecology and spill response crews from the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing but an admission the government knows it can't clean up a dilbit spill in British Columbia coastal waters.

If they don't trash the port of Vancouver and lower mainland municipal waterfronts or the coastal fisheries and marine environment in the Salish Sea and Georgia Strait, there's the enhanced risk of injury or death to the already endangered southern resident Orca population.

Which brings us back to the precautionary principle and the as yet unconsidered onus it places on the federal government. The principle is roughly stated as follows:
"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is [not] harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. ...The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result."
"Sound evidence" - i.e. not just Trudeau's word for it. He says they've "done the science" but the feds have never produced it. Why not? Because he's lying, pulling it straight out of his backside. If he had it he would have produced it a long time ago to quell the critics. Only both the Royal Society and Environment Canada maintain the science he purports to have is non-existent.

In 2015, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the precautionary principle as part of the substantive law of our country. The Supreme Court of Canada has also applied the precautionary principle. Whether Trudeau likes it or not, it's the law and it sets the test he and this pipeline project must meet. Naturally that wasn't a factor in the rigged process the Federal Court of Appeal quashed earlier this week. It will be an issue in the rematch when the coastal questions finally will be heard and it's a hurdle the feds won't be able to duck this time around.


Lorne said...

Passionately argued,Mound. A pity that the public doesn't share some of your knowledge, the better to challenge the lies and misdirection of the government with.

the salamander said...

.. excellent work Mound.. Its such a long winding road, full of twists and turns, just to follow the trail of deceptions, subsidies, captured governments, political donors, lobbyists who lurk behind every turn. You may never find an ally in the realm of MainStream media.. as they become swamped by the sheer volume of lazy media who repeat misconceptions about "the science', compress or muddle the truth, or revert to reporting 'the latest poll' as news

I continue to search for valid info about the overall process and foreign ownerships - from tar sands to supertanker via pipeline.. including the destructive processes involved just to build a pipeline.. or a coastal 'superport'. Of course I do not support the actions, deflections etc of the various political parties or elected governments who keep shouting 'to tidewater' - 'the wealth of Asia awaits our energy exports'. Just the other day we found Andrew Scheer and his party, spewing two nonsensical tweets, that Trans Mountain carried 'the cleanest, most ethical and environment friendly energy source on the entire planet'.. and 'by any conceivable metric, Canada's oil is the best in the world' (this buffoon could end up as prime minister ?) Then there is poor Ms Notely, seeking assistance from a Liberal federal government, in hopes of fighting off that notorios liar and political animal, Jason Kenney.

Now you and I and all other Canadians have become minor shareholders in an aged dilbit pipeline ! Yes we have bought a pipeline with essentially no 'assets'. We paid for the 'approvals" or permits to build the twin expansion from tar sands to Pacific Coast, but these 'assets' vanished when the federal court rejected the latest NEB and federal government attempt at scamming all concerned (per your above article) Their is no government in Canada that gives a damn about habitat destruction, extirpation of species.. and endangered species ! The science and biology. They won't even enforce SARA to save a single wild salmon, the boreal caribou, orca or any of the inter-related species that will collapse. No, its all about the money.. and votes, political power & serving the donors and lobbyists.

Who wants a disease ridden doctor to 'look after you' ? ? Who wants a diseased government or 'a government in waiting' aka diseased political party to look after Canada and Canadians.. or a province ? Revolving door elections are not the solution.. you just give another diseased political party four years to prove they are just the same as the previous.. Just look at Ontario & Dough Ford, or Kenney In Waiting in Alberta or Trump & the GOP.. all obvious 'disease vectors'

The Mound of Sound said...

You're right that there is no government in Canada that gives a damn about the environmnent. Trudeau pretends he's fit to wear his father's buckskins but that's a charade.

The most ardent fans of our boy band prime minister proclaim their relief that the Federal Court of Appeal has quashed TransMountain approvals but these same people ignore that Trudeau isn't giving up. It was a win and an important win but we're still going to have to fight these bastards whether they're red or blue.