B.C. says it cannot support the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline as presented because the project has not been able to address environmental concerns.
The provincial government issued a news release Friday morning, saying it had made its final written submission to the 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.”
The province has issued a list of demands that must be met in order for B.C. to consider the construction and operation of heavy-oil pipelines in the province.
* Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of Northern Gateway, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed;
* World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments;
* World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil
* Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed. and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project;
* British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.
“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.”
NDP leader Adrian Dix said in a statement issued earlier today that the Liberals have left the door open to support the pipeline in the future with today’s announcement.
“While the decision by the Liberal government not to support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project is welcome news, it is a case of too little, too late. The B.C. Liberals signed away decision-making authority to Ottawa in 2010 and that has not changed. We know Ottawa continues to support the project, so saying ‘no’ today is a toothless gesture and the Liberals know it. If they had any interest in actually stopping the pipeline from being built, the Liberals would withdraw from the agreement that gives Ottawa the only authority for approval of the pipeline. The B.C. Liberals avoided taking a position on this project for years. Even with this submission, the final say rests with Stephen Harper…”
Alberta environment minister Diana McQueen said that province respects the province’s concerns about the pipeline.
“I understand from B.C.’s announcement today that the government is not comfortable supporting the project as proposed without more assurance that environmental protection and public safety are adequately addressed,” said McQueen.
“B.C., like Alberta, wants to ensure that our energy development is responsible and safe.”
The provincial government said today’s developments are not a rejection of heavy-oil projects and all future projects will be judged on their own merits. Future projects must also meet the province’s five demands.
The province will be presenting final arguments to the Joint Review Panel when hearings recommence in Terrace on June 17, based on B.C.’s final written submission.