The Berger Inquiry: An Impact Assessment Process

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Science  03 Mar 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4332, pp. 946-951
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4332.946


The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, conducted by the Honorable Mr. Justice T. R. Berger, undertook to explore thoroughly the issues surrounding the building of a northern pipeline. In doing so, the Inquiry provided a forum for the interplay of the technical and environmental issues with very personalized social and cultural concerns. As a process, it reached out beyond the direct participants: it became one in which all Canadians, north and south, participated. It touched some of Canada's deepest concerns—concerns about energy policy, resource allocation, the price and priority of industrial development, cultural sovereignty, and self-definition. These have become national concerns, not just regional. And so, no matter what the final decision is about the pipeline, the Inquiry will have a profound and lasting national influence.