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ES101 Study Guide - Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, Porcupine Caribou, Precautionary Principle

Environmental Studies
Course Code
Edmund Okoree

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In the Mackenzie gas project, the precautionary principle is used to
determine strategies and policies that would minimize the potential negative
environmental and social issues around the project. For example, when Mr.
Justice Thomas Berger looked in depth into the issues involved with the
project, he brought attention to the numerous ways the project could cause
harm to both humans and the environment. His recommendations on how to
build the pipeline were precautionary in nature; they aimed to minimize all
damages he thought were a possibility even if he did not have all the
information on the cause and effect. Another example of how the
precautionary principle was used in this project is in the news report, “Panel
warns of Mackenzie pipeline damage; Report foresees hundreds of wells
drilled in NWT” by Dave Ebner. The Canadian Arctic Resources committee
conducted research that suggested the environment of Canada’s last wild
frontier may be damaged and voiced their opinion that uncontrolled
development of the north will cause unnecessary damage. The article also
explained that Imperial Oil must provide more information on the impact of
this project in order to move forward. This article is one of many outlets that
provided valuable information to direct the way the project would be
enacted. For example, policies regarding strict control of the project may be
created to address these environmental concerns. Throughout the media
storm surrounding the project, there were numerous distresses raised by
stakeholders, citizens and government officials. These worries would have
been central in enacting policies and determining the best alternatives to
continue forth with this project.
The integrative principle focuses on managing all problems and is a
principle that would likely come into play when deciding how to address the
most precautionary concerns possible. The Mackenzie gas project would have
used this principle to find the most sustainable methods while meeting all
biophysical, socio-political and economic needs of those involved.
Stakeholders such as the major oil companies may have used this principle
to ensure that the initial concerns of all parties are addressed as much as
possible. They may have focused on their main interests; the economic gain
and need for natural gas and also looked for ways to integrate other needs
such as reducing poverty, minimizing damage on the environment and the
well-being of the people involved. Processes and policies would focus on
systematic integration to ensure happiness of as many parties involved as
possible. For example, these oil companies may focus on controlled
development and highlight that the pipeline will decrease poverty and
unemployment for the surrounding community.
The participatory principle is one that focuses on the involvement of
citizens in environmental policies. This principle was seen in action with the
Berger Commission. This commission gave communities directly involved an
opportunity to voice their opinion and let the government hear their opinions
when enacting policies. As stated above, the findings from the Berger
Commission were also used with the precautionary principle and later the
integrative principle to ensure the happiness of these people. The
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