It is evident that the current public review process for the Northern Gateway Project is already turning quite ugly. Statements by both sides of this acrimonious debate have simply served to inflame the individuals and organizations for and against the pipeline and hardened the opposing forces into intractable positions, which will continue to exacerbate this situation. Sadly, the only outcomes of this escalating conflict are that the real facts are being clouded by exaggerated opinions on all sides. All parties in the debate are wasting significant time, energy and funds fighting each other, and everyone will ultimately lose regardless of the results of this review. Politics and power will prevail over facts and reason.
The significant challenges and benefits of this project are complex and interdependent limiting the usefulness of any judgment of the project from a single perspective. A cursory review of the revenue flows from this project demonstrates its magnitude and raises the issue of who are the real beneficiaries. Selling 500,000 barrels per day for $100 per barrel will produce revenues of over $18 billion per year and more than $540 billion over the 30-year life of the project. The stated benefits of $2 billion dollars in employment, $2.6 billion in tax revenues and $1 billion in property taxes over the life of the project are about 1 per cent of the total revenues – a drop in the barrel compared to the revenues earned by Enbridge and the tarsands producers.
Clearly an alternative, more equitable approach to this project is needed.
Rather than just supporting or opposing the project as it is presented, a more useful approach would be to bring all the stakeholders together to co-operatively consult and redesign the project to provide equitable lasting benefits for everyone. Develop an alternative proposal using an open, transparent, holistic approach addressing all the dimensions of sustainability. Directly involve representatives of all the parties concerned about this project. Determine the best design of the whole process from taking the raw nonrenewable resource from the ground through its initial processing at the tarsands and through its distribution to its final destinations over the full life cycle of the project. By working together rather than against each other we can develop a significantly improved project that will address valid concerns, provide lasting just and fair social, economic and environmental benefits and serve as a sustainable development model for the whole world.