‘Our questions were not satisfactorily answered,’ environment minister says
The B.C. government has officially expressed its opposition to a proposal for the Northern Gateway pipeline project, saying it fails to address the province’s environmental concerns.
The province made the announcement in its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel.
“British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project, including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents,” said Environment Minister Terry Lake.
“Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.”
Lake said the province has carefully reviewed the evidence presented to the panel.
“The panel must determine if it is appropriate to grant a certificate for the project as currently proposed on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning after the certificate is granted,” Lake said.
“Our government does not believe that a certificate should be granted before these important questions are answered.”
In a news release, Enbridge executive vice president Janet Holder said the province’s five conditions can’t be fully met until the end of the review panel process, saying the company is working hard to meet the conditions and earn the confidence of the government and the people of B.C.
The review panel will hear final arguments starting next month, and must present a report to the federal government by the end of the year. The federal government will have the final say on whether the pipeline goes ahead.
Resource development must be ‘safe for Canadians’
In a written statement, federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver said Ottawa will review the panel’s recommendation when it’s released in December.
“We have been clear: resource development will not proceed unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment,” he said.
“That is why, for our part, we are moving forward with our plans to further enhance marine and pipeline safety … We look forward to continued engagement with all provinces on market diversification for oil and gas.”
Colin Kinsley who is chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, a coalition of pipeline supporters, says he’s extremely disappointed in the government’s position, and questions the timing of the announcement.
“I can’t imagine anybody saying that when the most rigorous, open review process of an industrial project in this country has been going on for over three years, and is in its final concluding processes.”
He thinks final judgment on the project should be reserved until after the panel has made its decision.
‘Little evidence’ about good spill response
B.C.’s 5 conditions
- Environmental review needs to be passed.
- World-leading marine oil spill prevention, response.
- World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response.
- First Nations opportunities, treaty rights respected.
- Fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits for B.C.
On Friday, the province also reiterated the five conditions it says would need to be met in order to approve the pipeline, including top-notch oil spill prevention and response measures.
“Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond,” Lake said.
“For that reason, our government cannot support the issuance of a certificate for the pipeline as it was presented to the joint review panel.”
However, the statement from the province goes on to say “the position adopted by B.C. on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project as currently proposed is not a rejection of heavy-oil projects,” keeping the door open to Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion to the Kinder Morgan pipeline and a $13-billion crude oil refinery near Kitimat proposed by B.C. newspaper publisher David Black.
The $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project aims to construct two pipelines stretching 1,177-kilometres from the Alberta oilsands to a tanker port on the North Coast of B.C. with the capacity to move 525,000 barrels of oil per day.
B.C. is expected to present oral final arguments to the joint review panel in Terrace, B.C., on June 17
Dogwood reacts to BC Liberals’ Enbridge recommendation
May 31 – 1pm:
In response to the final argument submitted by the province of British Columbia this morning regarding Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project, Dogwood Initiative Executive Director Will Horter said:
“I think people on the coast and along the Fraser and Skeena rivers can breathe a sigh of relief. The government has now clearly said that it can’t support Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal as presented.”
“The government’s detailed submission clearly concludes that Enbridge hasn’t adequately addressed concerns about oil spills and therefore the project is not in B.C.’s interest. We agree: from the start, First Nations, local governments, British Columbians from many walks of life and political persuasions have argued Enbridge’s proposal is simply not worth the risk.”
“The fight’s not over. Ottawa could still attempt to force this unwanted project on an unwilling province over B.C.’s objections, but I think many British Columbians would not take kindly to that.”
“Ottawa could still grant a certificate for Enbridge while relying on promises to make the project better after the review, but today B.C. has clearly said that a certificate should not be granted. Since the public process is now over, this would mean any changes Enbridge might make to their proposal would presumably be evaluated behind closed doors. After the backlash over the HST, we’re not expecting either Ottawa or Victoria to make backroom changes to their position on such a controversial proposal.”
“The Premier has made the right call today and we hope British Columbians can move on to assessing better, less risky proposals for economic development.”