Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said he hopes the efforts by the B.C. government to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion “are successful.”
The sitting Democratic leader, and former congressman, insisted that the Salish Sea is no place for a five- or six-fold increase in oil tankers in waters where orcas “are starving right now” due to declining salmon numbers and greater difficulties hunting with marine traffic noise.
“We know that that treasure and iconic value system would be put at risk by increasing tanker traffic through the Haro Straits by a factor of perhaps five or seven,” Inslee told the GLOBE 2018 sustainable business summit in Vancouver on Friday.
“The oil pollution risk would increase significantly, and we have serious questions about whether it really makes sense to be making such a massive investment in fossil fuel infrastructure given the fact that we know we’re going to have to ween ourselves off of carbon-based fuels in the decades to come.”
Inslee’s comments come as B.C. is engaged in an escalating dispute with Alberta and the federal government over the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
Inslee, who said he’s hopeful a Seattle-Vancouver rivalry will arise with the creation of a new NHL team in the Emerald City, used a Wayne Gretzky analogy to suggest how the American and Canadian economies should be decarbonizing, instead of building pipelines.
“You need to skate to where the puck is going to be, not just where it is. Where the economy puck is going is clean tech,” Inslee said.
He added that B.C., Washington, Oregon and California have demonstrated that good “climate change policy is not only compatible with economic growth, it is a reason for economic growth” by attracting green businesses and environment-orientated professionals.
Sitting next to Inslee, Premier John Horgan smiled at his Washington state counterpart and even gave kudos to the previous BC Liberal government which implemented one of North America’s first carbon taxes. Horgan called it a signature achievement that went beyond party lines.
Horgan campaigned in the B.C. election last year that he would take all legal efforts to oppose the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline. The province has also taken recent court actions to clarify if it can restrict the flow of bitumen while it scientifically studies the impact of bitumen spills risks on land and water.
Inslee said B.C.’s American neighbours are in step with Horgan.
“We are hopeful that the premier’s efforts to allow the voices of his citizens to be listened to, will be successful, because it is very much in common with our citizens.”
He saved his harshest words for U.S. President Donald Trump.
“And it is doubly of concern to us because we do not have a federal government that is protective of our state right now. It’s sad to say, but we don’t have a leader in the White House who has shown interest in protecting the Haro Straits, or protecting us from ocean acidification, or protecting us from climate change,” Inslee said.
“We feel very vulnerable,” he added. The Ph level, or acidification, of the Salish Sea is 30 per cent above pre-industrial levels.
Washington state’s refineries, together with California’s, are the destination for most of the oil tankers departing from the Port of Vancouver after they load up on petro-products pumped by the existing 60-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline to the West Coast.
Kinder Morgan Canada was asked for comment on this story and has yet to respond.