Smithers resident Micheal D. Sawyer filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) for an order that would put TransCanada’s proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline project in federal jurisdiction at the end of July.
If the pipeline is ruled to fall under federal jurisdiction the province’s approval of the project will be null and void. If this occurs the future of the project would be in doubt.
“My primary goal is to get [the pipeline] bumped into the proper jurisdiction.” Sawyer said. “And in that jurisdiction to have a more through environmental assessment that considers all of the costs of the pipeline.”
Sawyer made a similar application to the NEB in 2015 regarding TransCanada’s then-proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline which would have brought natural gas to a export plant on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
Sawyer’s application was initially rejected by the NEB but the lawyer successfully appealed the decision in Federal Court of Appeal in 2017. Three weeks after the Federal Court of Appeal ruling the Prince Rupert pipeline project was cancelled.
Sawyer said he believes the province failed to consider the impact the pipeline would have on caribou, global warming, and what kind of effect fracking would have on ground water and water use in northeast B.C.
When its entire life cycle is taken into account—exploration, processing, shipping— it’s clear natural gas isn’t the clean energy source it’s made out to be Sawyer said.
“If you look at the life cycle cost of a unit of natural gas energy it actually comes very close and in some cases even exceeds the cost of coal,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer said according to numbers provided by industry they will need to drill 21,000 wells for the proposed pipeline in northeast B.C. Most of these wells will be in areas that are already under enormous strain from the cumulative impacts of oil, gas and forestry Sawyer said.
Gas will be coming from areas that have a number caribou herds that are listed as endangered under the federal species at risk legislation according to Sawyer.
“If we put another 21,000 wells in those areas, those populations will go away—absolute certainty, ” Sawyer said.
Sawyer has received financial assistance for this case from West Coast Environmental Law Environmental Dispute Resolution.