Call this a case of bad timing...or good timing, depending on your perspective: yesterday, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced Enbridge Inc. would be donating $2.5 million to support its work. "We are proud to partner with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and pleased that our investment will help conserve some of Canada's best and most ecologically important natural habitat," stated the pipeline firm's president and chief executive officer Pat Daniel, in a news release. But, a day later, Mr. Daniel also said - in the words of The Vancouver Sun's Dina O'Meara - that Enbridge would be "plowing ahead with a controversial pipeline stretching from Alberta's oilseeds to the inside passage port of Kitimat to open new markets for Canada oil.
"The $5,5-billion Northern Gateway project faces heated opposition from aboriginal and environmental groups because of the possibility of a spill on land or sea - concerns that have deepened as bands of sticky oil approach the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastline following a deep-sea rig explosion," Ms. O'Meara continued.
Asked whether the nature conservancy had a position on that project, its chief communications officer Jane Gilbert told Public Eye, "It's not our business. We're not in the energy business. We're not in the pipeline business. It's not involving land that we're working on. It is completely separate. That is Enbridge's issue."
But isn't the conservancy concerned it's bolstering Enbridge's environmental credentials at a time when the firm is being opposed by environmentalists?
"No. We don't comment at all on a corporation's core business or it's business outside of it's dealing with us. In this case, Enbridge has provided to us a gift - a donation - which we will then utilize in what we think is a very productive, creative way to achieve solid conservation success coast-to-coast. It's not regionally divided," she responded.
"I won't comment though on Enbridge's business and what Enbridge may say," Ms. Gilbert continued, when pressed about how Enbridge might use that donation in future statements to the public and the press. "You would have to talk to Enbridge about their own position. I'll talk about the Nature Conservancy of Canada and what we're capable of doing with donations that come to us."
Enbridge has not yet returned a request for comment placed earlier today. The nature conservancy was the subject an earlier controversy as a result of its work with Shell Canada Ltd. - a story reported The Tyee's Andrew Macleod.
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned news release.
Nature Conservancy and Enbridge to partner on habitat protection
May 4, 2010
Nature Conservancy of Canada joins forces with Enbridge to protect Canada's natural treasures
CALGARY, May 4, 2010 - John Lounds, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), today joins Pat Daniel, President and CEO of Enbridge Inc., to announce Enbridge's largest-ever community investment: $2.5 million in support of NCC's work to preserve and protect important and sensitive natural habitats across Canada.
Enbridge's investment will help conserve and care for more than 7,400 acres (about 3,000 hectares) of some of the best remaining wildlife habitat in Canada. The investment is particularly significant at this time because, thanks to matching funds from sources including the Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program, it will trigger a conservation impact of more than $10 million over the next three years.
The investment aligns with Enbridge's Neutral Footprint program. Under the program, the company will move toward having no net environmental footprint from its future activities. The program comprises three commitments: Enbridge will plant a tree for every tree it removes, conserve an acre of natural habitat for every acre of habitat it impacts, and generate a kilowatt of renewable energy for every kilowatt of power its operations consume. Enbridge's investment in NCC will enable it to meet its "acre for acre" commitment which, under current estimates, requires the company to help conserve about 6,000 acres (about 2,400 hectares) in Canada.
Enbridge will plant a tree for every tree it removes, conserve an acre of natural habitat for every acre of habitat it impacts, and generate a kilowatt of renewable energy for every kilowatt of power its operations consume.
"Enbridge has taken a significant step toward conserving Canada's special places. We are fortunate to live in a country that still has the opportunity to protect the natural areas we love. If we are going to have a healthy natural environment, we must act to conserve these important places and the species they sustain." John Lounds, President and CEO, the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
"We are proud to partner with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and pleased that our investment will help conserve some of Canada's best and most ecologically important natural habitat. NCC is a well-respected organization with a great reputation for thoughtful, science-based conservation work built over nearly 50 years." Pat Daniel, President and CEO Enbridge.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our valuable natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2 million acres (800,000 hectares), coast to coast, 178,000 acres (71,000 hectares), in Alberta. To learn more visit, http://www.natureconservancy.ca/
Enbridge Inc., a Canadian company, is a North American leader in delivering energy and one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations. As a transporter of energy, Enbridge operates, in Canada and the U.S., the world's longest crude oil and liquids transportation system. The Company also has a growing involvement in the natural gas transmission and midstream businesses, and is expanding its interests in renewable and green energy technologies including wind and solar energy, hybrid fuel cells and carbon dioxide sequestration.