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Environmental Groups Sue Canada Over Northern Gateway Pipeline

- Common Dreams staff

Canadian environmental groups joined together on Tuesday to sue the Canadian government over what they say is a failure to make good on legal obligations to protect endangered species by pursuing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.

Humpback whale breaches near the central B.C. coast. (Photo by Art Wolfe) According to the groups, building the pipeline will violate the Species at Risk Act (SARA), as doing so will trample on multiple species of endangered wildlife, adding to a long list of reasons not to go through with the pipeline.

The groups, which include Ecojustice, David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club B.C., Wilderness Committee and Wildsight filed the litigation in federal court in Vancouver, B.C on Tuesday.

“Delay threatens the survival of our endangered wildlife. That’s why the deadlines in SARA for producing recovery strategies are mandatory,” said Sean Nixon, staff lawyer with Ecojustice. “SARA is a good law that could help endangered species recover. The real problem is that the federal government won’t implement it.”

The endangered species mentioned in the suit include the Pacific humpback whale, Nechako white sturgeon, marbled murrelet and southern mountain caribou, all of which have fragile habitats along the proposed pipeline and shipping routes.

The Northern Gateway Pipeline, proposed by Enbridge Inc., which plans to transport Canadian crude oil through twin pipelines running from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, British Columbia, has seen major push back from environmental groups and First Nations Tribes, as the pipeline is slated to cut through sensitive environmental areas and First Nations' lands.

Over 80 community, union, business and First Nation leaders announced plans earlier this month for a mass sit in at the British Columbia legislature to protest the proposed tar sands pipeline. Organizers are calling for the Oct. 22 action to be the "biggest act of civil disobedience" on the tarsands issue in Canada to date.

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