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BC Liberal government unveils its position on heavy oil pipelines

VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's environment minister has outlined what the province needs to support the controversial Enbridge pipeline, saying answers to questions about Northern Gateway have so far been "insufficient."

Terry Lake said Monday that B.C. must receive a fair share of the economic benefits to reflect the risks such projects pose for taxpayers and the environment.

The province also wants a joint action plan with Ottawa to ensure an oil spill and all the resulting financial burden posed by a major environmental catastrophe won't fall on B.C.'s shoulders alone.

"When we consider the prospect of a heavy oil pipeline and of the increased oil tanker traffic that would result, it is clear that our spill prevention and response plans will require significant improvements," Lake said in a news release.

The province wants limits to liability in the event of an oil spill to ensure there are sufficient financial resources to properly address the effects of a spill and it is calling for increased federal government response.

B.C. also wants tougher federal rules requiring industry to provide and replace marine response equipment.

And the province wants a Natural Resources Damage Assessment process to give certainty that a responsible party will address all costs associated with a spill.

"Our government has already initiated discussions with the federal government on improving our response plans and resources," Lake said.

The government's policy requires First Nations and treaty rights to be addressed and for aboriginals to be provided with opportunities as part of any heavy-oil project.

The details come just days after Premier Christy Clark was critical of Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., (TSX:ENB) following a U.S. report slamming the company's handling of a major oil spill in Michigan.

Enbridge has proposed the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to port in Kitimat, on B.C.'s West Coast.

Clark has joined other critics in noting B.C. bears most of the risk and almost none of the benefits from the development.

Late last week, Enbridge announced plans to spend up to $500 million to improve safety features for the Northern Gateway project.

However, many First Nations have already dismissed the plan, complaining it fails to address concerns about the environmental threat from tankers carrying oil along the B.C. coast.

The provincial NDP is also opposed to the project. [Tyee]

For more from the Canadian Press scroll down The Tyee's main page or click here.

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